Saturday Cartoon Fun: Obama's Memoirs (Oops!) Edition


Capitalist Industrial Commodity Disease

Joe Bageant on American acquiescence:
...One new favorite ["condition" "requiring" a psychoactive drug] is ODD, oppositional defiant disorder, in which children act like -- surprise, surprise -- the young assholes that children can sometimes be. Teenage rebellion becomes a psychological disorder. Diagnostic manual symptoms include "often argues with adults," an unheard of behavior of teenagers calling for antipsychotics such as Risperidone. Side effects of Risperidone include a mild speed like buzz, a super erection lasting hours, lactation and suicidal tendencies. Phew!

Big Pharma makes billions more in the name of alleviating the people's suffering. Obviously many millions are indeed suffering, but if that is the case, then American society is suffering. Never will it be asked publicly just what psychic anguish our society is suffering from. Because the answer is capitalist industrial commodity disease, and the psychic pathology of Americaness. That would mean consulting Mr. Marx, who predicted much of it, or Arthur Barsky, who brought the definition up to date.

For Americans, self-examination is not just rare, it is nonexistent, which one source of our pathology. Missing from our national character is love of the common good, and our collective civic responsibility toward one another. But if we acknowledged collective responsibilities to the individual members of our society, then we would have to deal with the issue of class in this country. Better to medicate the entire nation. To do that, you need big government....[emphasis mine]


Richard Rothstein On Value Added Assessments (They Can't Work)

Read the first few pages and you will be enlightened!

Rothstein and Campbell's Law

Wednesday Bonus Cartoon Fun: MOSQUE!! Edition

Stella Blue

I am feeling a bit blue today, for no reason in particular. This song, if you ask any Jerry's side deadhead, is the most beautiful, melancholy song the boys would play.

Jerry's guitar actually cries.

Don't hate.

"Stella Blue"

Words by Robert Hunter; music by Jerry Garcia
Copyright Ice Nine Publishing; used by permission.

All the years combine
they melt into a dream
A broken angel sings
from a guitar
In the end there's just a song
comes crying like the wind
through all the broken dreams
and vanished years

Stella Blue

When all the cards are down
there's nothing left to see
There's just the pavement left
and broken dreams
In the end there's still that song
comes crying like the wind
down every lonely street
that's ever been

Stella Blue

I've stayed in every blue-light cheap hotel
Can't win for trying
Dust off those rusty strings just
one more time
Gonna make em shine

It all rolls into one
and nothing comes for free
There's nothing you can hold
for very long
And when you hear that song
come crying like the wind
it seems like all this life
was just a dream

Stella Blue

Wednesday Bonus Cartoon Fun: Intolerance Edition

Wednesday Cartoon Fun: Mentally Ill Edition


That's It. I'm Out.

I have been dealing with the edureform nonsense too long, and not too well. I have pissed off more than one principal and a couple staff development presenters. I don't do well with nonsense, time-wasters, condescension and baseless blame.  I teach little kids, and I do it really well.  Ask them.

I have numerous letters of thanks from parents of former students, the support of my fellow teachers, and a few administrators. But, my principal has it out (in?) for me. Never mind my students' scores (I make my colleagues look marginal, or something) on the all-important state test, or the joy on their little faces when they get to school because they love being in my class, or the fact that so many teachers send their "behavior problems" to my class for a time out, or the creative productions my class always puts on, or the creative way my kids learned about some science--which included stuff that explodes.  Never mind that I used music, humor, technology and my own materials to make learning exciting, fun and desirable.  Never mind that I supervised lunch and recess when it wasn't my turn, because leadership doesn't know how to staff such things.  Never mind that I was technology leader, disaster leader, or was asked to be math leader (I turned it down, and thus began my downfall).

Never mind all that.

Never mind it all because that is not what is important. What is important is that I never question bogus data in public, or point out that a certain curriculum adoption was indeed a sanction, not really a choice like the superintendent said.  I shouldn't call out the principal for not fixing the danger zone near the drinking fountain that caused our oldest and most beloved senior teacher to slip and break her femur, or remind the principal that she has no standing to evaluate my use of the new literacy materials because she hasn't read them yet.  And I should never question the usefulness of rubrics, especially when they are flawed and my students' learning and my teaching will be judged based on the flawed rubric.  No, I should just be quiet so as not to arouse the curiosity of other teachers who have been silenced with fear.  I don't like bullies and I don't like letting nonsense pass as truth.  So I speak up.  Oops.

I admit that I am not the most giving when it comes to lame leadership.  I expected better, and the leadership ain't good.  Numerous parents have removed their kids from the school based on a distaste for the school's leadership.  There have been meetings with the superintendent about the leadership, to no avail.  More than a few teachers have left, or have been pushed out, or outright fired (tenure can't stop a principal with focus).

So, given that my days were numbered, I have left the classroom and will not return.  Thirteen years in the district is all I can do.

This will not be easy, as I don't have any money, I will lose my health insurance, and the prospect of getting hired as a 47 year old man isn't promising.

I do have another alternative, that of expert public school navigator.  I will offer my services to families who have children not being served well by their school.  I will help formulate and then monitor IEPs and 504 plans.  I will tutor kids who require it as part of their plan.  And I will represent parents and students in meetings with administration to see to it that the student I am representing is being served.

There are many opportunities for this kind of work in the Bay Area where I live.  I will be fine.

It has been a hard decision, and a harder couple of years trying to teach the way I think I should while being hammered by a principal who never even taught in elementary school.

Some of you may decide that I have walked out on those who need me the most.  Some of you may be thinking that a teacher who leaves never really cared in the first place.  You would be wrong.  Very, very wrong.

You see, teachers also have lives.  I have had a life, recently, that has taken a toll--cancer, a suicide in my immediate family, more cancer, death from cancer, lack of health insurance, underwater mortgage--all this along with a work environment that is a battleground.  I just can't do it.  I am not so young and healthy like I used to be.

I will continue to blog.  I am hoping to start a new feature too--From The Mouths of the Kids.  We shall see.

I have worked with kids for 30 years, since I was just a kid.  I will still work with kids.  It's what I do.

Monday Cartoon Fun: No YMCA Edition


What Kids Deserve, In Legalese

Although Congress is unlikely to achieve consensus on these complex issues, its duty to enact “appropriate legislation” under Section 5 is best understood as a duty of legislative rationality in construing the Fourteenth Amendment’s substantive guarantees and in choosing the means to effectuate those guarantees. By legislative rationality, I mean something more than what is required under the judicial doctrine of rational basis review, whose undemanding standard serves not as a genuine test of rationality but as a “paradigm of judicial restraint.”

In addressing the questions above, Congress must pursue a deliberative inquiry (through the usual devices of hearings, reports, and public debate) into the meaning of national citizenship and its educational prerequisites, and it must take steps reasonably calculated to ameliorate conditions that deny children adequate opportunity to achieve those prerequisites. Importantly, a legislative commitment to educational adequacy would give priority to the most glaring educational needs over the workaday politics of budget wrangling and special interest accommodation. If educational adequacy for equal citizenship has constitutional stature, then legislative enactment of its essential substance must reflect something more than pedestrian political bargaining. This idea is analogous to notions of legislative duty that state courts have inferred from state constitutions in educational adequacy cases. [emphasis mine]
From The Yale Law Journal: Education, Equality, and National Citizenship

That's what I'm talkin' 'bout!

Quote Of The Day: Sully And Ilk Still Love Catholic Church Edition

The church under Wojtila and Ratzinger took both paths, but the one, alas, has slowly eclipsed the other - until the sex abuse scandal tipped the scales to a near total collapse of moral authority in so many places, Ireland most spectacularly.[emphasis mine]  Sully

That's right, near total collapse of moral authority. Near.

Andrew Sullivan is a smart guy. That he continues to be astonished at his church is, well, astonishing.

Gerald Bracey On Education Myths

I am reposting this because....well...just because.
Nine Myths About Public Schools

None of this will likely strike you as particularly new, but it might be good to have a bunch of myths lined up and debunked all in one place.

1. The schools were to blame for letting the Russians get into space first. Granddaddy of all slanders and a great illustration of the absolute nuttiness with which people talk about education.

Sputnik, the first man-made satellite to orbit the earth, launched on October 4, 1957. On September 20, 1956, Werner von Braun's Army Ballistic Missile Agency launched a 4-stage Jupiter C rocket from Cape Canaveral. After the first 3 stages fired, the rocket was 832 miles in the air and traveling at 13,000 miles an hour. The 4th stage could have easily bumped something into orbit. The 4th stage was filled with sand. There were a number of reasons for this including the fact that the Eisenhower administration was determined to keep its weapons rocket program and its space exploration project separate and von Braun's rocket was clearly a weapon. Its primary intent was to incinerate Russian cities with nuclear warheads. Ike worried how the Russians might react. His Assistant Defense Secretary Donald Quarles actually said "the Russians did us a favor" because they established the precedent that deep space was free and international.

Most US engineers in the space program in 1957 would have graduated high school in the 1930s, but in the media, the schools of the 1950s took the hit for Sputnik. Ike was quite puzzled by this.

2. Schools alone can close the achievement gap. This is codified in the disaster known as No Child Left Behind. Most of the differences come from family and community variables and many out-of-school factors, especially summer loss. Some studies have found that poor children enter school behind their middle class peers, learn as much during the year and then lose it over the summer. They fall farther and farther behind and schools are blamed. Middle class and affluent kids do not show summer loss.

3. Money doesn't matter. Tell this to wealthy districts. Money clearly affects changes in achievement although levels of achievement are more influenced by the variables just mentioned. Most studies are short term and look only at test scores, a very foolish mistake. Economists David Card and Alan Krueger also found investments in school show a payoff in terms of long-term earnings of graduates.

4. The United States is losing its competitive edge. China and India ARE Rising. As economies collapsed all around it, China's economy grew a remarkable 7% last year. On just humanitarian grounds, we should not wish China and India to remain poor forever, but the more they grow the more money they have to buy stuff from us. As China and India prosper, we prosper. The World Economic Forum and the Institute for Management Development have consistently ranked the U. S. economy as the most competitive in the world. Education is only one part of multi-factor systems in rankings. WEF is especially keen on innovation. Our obsession with testing makes testing a great instrument for destroying creativity.

5. The U. S. has a shortage of scientists, mathematicians and engineers. This was a myth started oddly enough by the National Science Foundation in the 1980s in a study with assumptions so absurd the study was never published, but the myth lingers on. In fact, Hal Salzman of the Urban Institute and Lindsay Lowell of Georgetown University found that we have three newly minted scientists and engineers who are permanent residents or native citizens for every newly minted job. Within 2 years, 65% of them were no longer in scientific or engineering fields. That proportion might have fallen during the current debacle when people are more likely to hang on to a job even if they hate it. An article in the September 18 Wall Street Journal reported that before the economy collapsed, 30% of the graduates of MIT--MIT--headed directly into finance.

6. Merit pay for teachers will improve performance. Bebchuk & Fried Pay Without Performance. Adams, Heywood & Rothstein, Teachers, Performance Pay, and Accountability. Bonus pay is concentrated in finance, insurance, and real estate. In most of private sector hard to determine and often leads to corruption and gaming the system. Campbell's Law: "The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort the social processes it is intended to monitor."

7. The fastest growing jobs are all high-tech and require postsecondary education. "Postsecondary education" is a weasel word. A majority of the fastest growing jobs do, in fact, require some kind of postsecondary training. But, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they account for very few jobs. It's the Walmarts and Macdonald's of America that generate the jobs. According to the BLS, the job of retail sales accounts for more jobs than the top ten fastest growing jobs combined.

8. Test scores are related to economic competitiveness. We do well on international comparisons of reading, pretty good on one international comparison of math and science, and not so good on another math/science comparison. But these comparisons are based on the countries' average scores and average scores don't mean much. The Organization for Economic Cooperating and Development, the producer of the math science comparison in which we do worst has pointed out that in science the U. S. has 25% of all the highest scoring students in the entire world, at least the world as defined by the 60 countries that participate in the tests. Finland might have the highest scores, but that only gives them 2,000 warm bodies compared to the U. S. figure of 67,000. It's the high scorers who are most likely to become leaders and innovators. Only four nations have a higher proportion of researchers per 1000 fulltime employees, Sweden, Finland, New Zealand and Japan. Only Finland is much above the U. S.

Consider Japan, the economic juggernaut of the 1980's. It kids score well on tests and people made a causal link between scores and Japan's economy. But Japan's economy has been in the doldrums for almost a whole generation. Its kids still ace tests.

9. Education itself produces jobs. President Obama and Secretary of Education Duncan have both linked any economic recovery to school improvement. This is nonsense. There are parts of India where thousands of educated people compete for a single relatively low-level white-collar job. Some of you might recall that in the 1970's many sociologists and commentators worried that America was becoming TOO educated, that they would be bored by the work available.

L.A. Times: Should We Sue Them?

These are my students' CST scores (the TEST scores) from a couple years ago. Don't bother looking at how well they did compared to the rest of the state or district (go ahead). Look instead at the red box under the red arrow near the upper right. See that statement? It says that the report, which is the report of my students' scores on the high-stakes test and therefore a report about my teaching, is not to be used in any form of teacher evaluation. I don't think that has changed, yet.

The L.A. Times saw fit to discuss teachers, by name, in an article today. It sure smacks of scores being used as a form of teacher evaluation.

How did they get the information? Why do they think they get to publish it? To the 6 people left subscribing to the L.A. Times, maybe now would be a good time to cancel that subscription.

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