Sunday, November 19, 2017

Yes, Please Focus On This Instead

Small schools and Common Core?  Thank Bill Gates.

Quit screwing with other people's kids, Bill.

I'm probably doomed to get Alzheimer's.  Both my grandmothers had it, and...  So, I'm doomed.

I don't know if Bill's money would direct research into dead ends or if it would open up new roads, but I know that I'm probably going to get Alzheimer's either way.

So, after screwing up education, would Bill and his money be a benefit in Alzheimer's research, or a hindrance?  I'm willing to give him a shot.  After all, those with a predilection for Alzheimer's are already screwed, unlike the children on whom Common Core was thrust.  They were only screwed after Common Core.

Polar Ice

Oh no!  The polar ice sheets are shrinking!  Glaciers are retreating!

Oh, wait....

How Do People Think This Way?

I was reading this story about income inequality in California and was floored to read the following:
“Every day, people are on the road for an hour, two hours, each way. We’re wasting so much talent and skill and the disparity in income is just ridiculous,” said Clark. “The government’s job is defense, and building roads and schools. But another part of the government’s job is income distribution and too much of it has gone to the super-wealthy.”
No, Mr. Clark, part of the government's job is not income distribution.  But people like you who think that way sure screw things up.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Scoring School Accountability

California ditched its numerical school accountability system a couple years ago and is going to a "dashboard" system:
Another prominent education research and advocacy organization that disapproves of California’s approach to school accountability has ranked California’s new system at the bottom nationwide in a report released Tuesday.

The low score by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute reflects a core disagreement over how best to identify and work with schools needing help. California education leaders are unapologetic about the route they’ve chosen, and they say the Fordham analysis contains a key error.

Like Bellwether Education Partners, which harshly criticized the state’s approach in an August analysis, Washington, D.C.- and Ohio-based Fordham gives high grades to states that will rank schools with an A-F letter grade or a similar method that’s understandable at a glance. States will use rankings to select the lowest-performing schools, as required by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

California’s color-coded school dashboard does not give a summary school ranking. Each measure of performance, whether test scores, graduation rates or student suspension rates, gets a separate color rating. Gov. Jerry Brown and the State Board of Education say that this approach focuses attention on specific areas that need work. While this is more complex — and, some critics say, confusing — advocates say it is more helpful in diagnosing problems.
Confusion never helps anyone--except those with something to hide. And if the system is supposed to help diagnose problems, then it's for the schools themselves and not the public. Who should the results of an accountability system be geared towards?

Update:  Joanne has a brief post on the topic.

The Start of Thanksgiving Break

I was so tired yesterday that I came home and took a nap.  When I woke up from the nap over an hour later I realized I was still tired, so I went to bed.  I woke up around 3 am after 8 hours of sleep, checked the blogs and the news, and went back to sleep until after 7 am. 

I'm starting to feel awake :)

I've been procrastinating lately, so I have plenty of bills to pay and other such domestic administrivia to keep me busy.  I also gave quizzes in 4 of my 5 classes yesterday, so I have those to grade.  My plan is to grade 10 quizzes a day over the break; that should take so little time as to allow me to feel that I'm not spending any time at all, but doing so will allow me to have the vast majority of the quizzes graded before I return to school.  I'll probably get them all done, but I'm willing to cut myself a little slack on that.

I've got a couple of family birthdays to celebrate this week, and I'm going to a friend's house for Thanksgiving.

We've had some light rain recently, and a few more drops are forecast for Monday.  Other than that it should be a nice week with highs in the 60s.

Should be a nice week off.

Thursday, November 16, 2017


First, white male privilege:
Many of my peers of color and their progressive allies said I had no right to offer my opinion because I am a male with white skin, so according to them I don’t know what it’s like to face challenges. I should just shut up and support them.

Yes, I do enjoy privilege — as an American. I live in the greatest country in the world with the most opportunity and fairness.

But my critics incorrectly assumed that my male whiteness gave me some special attributes that made my argument meaningless. I was just another dissenter whose critics racially condemned me without knowing anything about me.

My alleged privilege does not mean money grows on trees in my family. They have no idea that I worked part-time at a sandwich shop during high school to save money for college. This is in addition to taking mostly AP classes — prompting three-plus hours of homework a night. I also managed to squeeze in playing a varsity sport.

My alleged privilege did not allow me to skate through high school. My nights, weekends and nearly all of my spare time was spent either writing essays for AP classes, asking a customer if she’d like her sandwich “Mike’s Way,” or spending another four hours of my day on the golf course (with clubs I paid for myself after using my grandfather’s old hand-me-down set).

My alleged privilege did not make it any easier for me to get into a college after high school. Like my Asian-American peers, if you’re white, it’s well understood that your ACT or SAT scores must be much higher than peers of color. So I spent roughly 10 hours a week for over a month preparing for the ACT in addition to everything else I had going on.

My alleged privilege still wasn’t enough for me to afford to attend Chapman all four years. It simply was not financially feasible for my family and me, despite the fact that I was admitted as a freshman and had been offered a very generous, partial academic scholarship. Unlike my privileged critics at Chapman University, I was not able to attend the same school as them for all four years and live on campus.

So with my alleged privilege, I started at a community college my freshman year to save money...
Go read the whole thing.

I, too, didn't start out with much in life. Growing up I didn't do without as far as food, clothing, or shelter (although, for several years, 5 and then 6 of us lived in a 3BR, 1BA, 925 sf house), but I had some other disadvantages.  I guess they don't count, either, because I lack melanin?

But on to female privilege:
The way the news is these days: In the middle of a storm of disgusting national stories about male sexual predators, we get our own local countercase — a fired Dallas County assistant district attorney, sobbing on camera, offering every conceivable excuse in the book for her terrible behavior with a young Uber driver.

District Attorney Faith Johnson fired Jody Warner, 32, an experienced assistant prosecutor, on Monday after Johnson reviewed an audio recording of Warner drunkenly threatening and abusing 26-year-old Uber driver Shaun Platt over the weekend. In a press conference Tuesday, Warner set some kind of new world record for the least apologetic apology since Donald Trump did Access Hollywood...

And here’s the thing: The guy even gave you a break for being totally sloshed. Platt, the driver, told reporters he was sure you were a nice person when you were not drunk. Well, guess what. He was wrong.

You’re a worse person when you’re sober. Sober, you are mean-spirited and brutally callous, willing to slime a young man’s name by suggesting he’s a predator and doing it just to give yourself some wiggle room that you richly do not deserve...

I listened to the recording. In that state, I don’t know I would trust you to know the difference between a sexual predator and a stop sign. Isn’t that what we’re really talking about? Hey, maybe you saw a stop sign, and you thought it was coming on to you. I can’t know what was in your heart because your heart was pickled in alcohol.

But I do know this: A man in your position would not get away with your behavior at the press conference. He would not be able to stand in front of the cameras, wipe away tears and make all kinds of simpering little-boy-lost sexual suggestions about the woman he had just drunkenly and verbally abused on tape.

You abused your office that night, and it got way worse later when you did your press conference after you got canned. You exploited your status as a woman in a way that I suspect was cynical and calculated.

Hey, how many dozens and dozens of times have you stood up in court and appealed for somebody to get sent up the river while his loved ones sobbed in the pews? I bet you never shed a tear then. But when you were appealing your own plight, you couldn’t turn off the waterworks for five seconds? 
She only tried it because she thought it would work--and it probably would have, were it not for the audio recording.

Racial Pandering

This is one of the worst, most transparent, examples of racial pandering I've ever seen:
The net result would likely be a major penalty for those who choose to go to college, and an even greater one for those who pursue advanced degrees. Asian-Americans would be devastated by this change as the group with the highest rate of college and graduate school attendance in the nation: More than half of Asians in the United States 25 and older have at least a bachelor's degree, compared with about 28% of Americans in general, and 21% have advanced degrees, versus 10% of all Americans.
I'm waiting for someone to point out that since Asians do so much better academically than blacks and Hispanics do in this country, that this tax proposal is actually some form of "equity".

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Not A Fan of Communism

I spent the first several years of my adult life training to go to war against communists.  Communism is a foul philosophy directly responsible for the lives of over 100 million people in the last century; by contrast, the Nazis and their relatively paltry 6 million Jews seem like pikers compared to Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and the gang.

Honestly, I think there are a few reasons communism appeals to certain people, and not just the stupid.  Even in theory, communism just can't work, as it doesn't comport with human nature.  In practice, though--in practice, it works even worse than it does in theory.  People who claim to support communism remind me vaguely of a quote attributed to George Orwell, "The notion that you can somehow defeat violence by submitting to it is simply a flight from fact. As I have said, it is only possible to people who have money and guns between themselves and reality."  Liking communism in theory is a lot different from having to live under it.  I've never met a person who lived under communism who didn't say it was horrible, who didn't think our system was obviously superior in every way. Here's one:
A recent poll found that fifty percent of millennials say they would rather live in a communist or socialist country than in a capitalist democracy. These numbers can’t be laughed off -- they should frighten you. Maybe they don’t know what communism means.

I do. I lived in Communist Poland.

Perhaps those fifty percent of millennials were not properly taught about communism in school. That’s too bad, and dangerous. So here are some examples for those misguided millennials to ponder, all of which I experienced in communist Poland.
Go read the whole thing.  And add secret police to the story.

Too Stupid To Be In College

This story encapsulates so much of what's wrong with lefties: rabid hatred.  Shameless stupidity.  Total lack of personal responsibility.  And since this is California, there is a non-zero chance that this lawsuit will actually not be thrown out of court.
Exactly one year after a car struck Revelle sophomore Mariana Flores as she entered Interstate-5 during the election night protests, Flores’ attorney filed a personal injury and property damage lawsuit against UC San Diego and several other entities. According to the complaint submitted to the San Diego Superior Court last Wednesday, Flores suffered wage loss, loss of earning capacity, hospital and medical expenses, general damage, property damage, and loss of personal property as a result of the incident.

The protests during which Flores was injured began shortly after Donald Trump was announced the projected winner of the 2016 election. Students living in all six colleges gathered on Library Walk and spread throughout campus, chanting criticisms of the president-elect as they moved. The protest then spilled off-campus near the freeway, where demonstrators walked onto the interstate.

As an emergency vehicle was attempting to shut down Interstate-5 by driving in an “S” formation across the southbound lanes, the driver hit Flores, crushing her pelvis, fracturing her leg, and causing other serious injuries.

Flores’ attorney Gene Sullivan informed the UCSD Guardian that due to the nature of her injuries, Flores’ medical bills over the course of her life will be in the millions of dollars, so he and his client hope that the university will offer assistance in covering the costs.   

The lawsuit, which also names the UC Board of Regents, the City and County of San Diego, the State of California, and the driver of the vehicle as defendants, states that the protest was organized by the university and that UCSD is responsible for failing to end the demonstration. 

“Plaintiff was participating in a citizen protest that had been organized by the University of California, San Diego and/or the University of California Regents,” the complaint reads. “The protest continued all over campus for hours and was never stopped, controlled, or refrained by the County of San Diego, City of San Diego, State of California, University of California Regents or the University of California, San Diego.”   

Sullivan explained that there are a number of people culpable for the accident, including Flores herself, but because the university is partially responsible, it is also partially responsible for the harms and damages...
She wants me, a taxpayer, to give her money because of her own stupidity.  It's someone else's responsibility to keep her from doing something that any 4 year old, not to mention a university student, knows to be unsafe?  To steal from Hall & Oates, "I can't go for that, no can do."

Because I'm such a bright and cheerful guy, one who always looks on the bright side of things, I can of course see a silver lining.  If her suit survives, goes to trial, and she actually wins, perhaps our universities will be less likely in the future to tolerate these kinds of activities.

Stupid should hurt.  I wonder if this is the first time in her life Flores is learning that lesson.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Double Entendre

So this pervert got a few thousand of his fellow Utahans to agree that the plural of the new school mascot, the Phoenix, sounds too much like male genitalia.  The school's spokesman didn't help matters with his double entendre:
Fraughton then proposed that students, who chose a phoenix as their mascot, be allowed to vote a second time so the Davis County School District doesn’t “bear the responsibility of our children being bullied.”

Chris Williams, a rep for the school district told Fox 13 Now, "We don’t see anything about the plural version of phoenix having anything to do what’s going to be happening at the school or on the football field."

"We think students are going to rise to the occasion," Williams said. 

A Reasonably Pleasant Day--With Yahtzee!

I didn't have a prep period today--three 2-hr classes!

Usually such days are murder.  No one, not even a math teacher, likes being in a math class for 2 solid hours.  But today I was able to take a little of the edge off.

I taught some new material.  We took a brief recess.  And then I taught my students to play Yahtzee.

Huh?  Wha?  You want to know where Yahtzee is in the Common Core math standards?  I'll admit that it's not explicitly called out, but there are plenty of standards relating to probability.  And that's how I used Yahtzee.

It used to be fairly common on probability tests to ask questions related to the probability of drawing such-and-such a card from a deck, or the probability of getting this card followed by that card if you don't replace the first card, etc.  The problem is that so many of today's young people don't know what constitutes a deck of cards!  What used to be common knowledge isn't so common anymore.  So rather than continue to ask questions about a deck of cards, I taught my students how to play Yahtzee and in the process of doing so, asked probability questions. 

For example, I might have rolled 2 3's, 2 4's, and a 5 on my first roll.  What's the probability of getting a full house?  If I roll a 2-2-3-4-5 on the first roll, what's the probability of getting a large straight?  (BTW, both of those answers are the same.)  If I get a 1-2-3-4-6 on the first roll, what's the probability of getting a large straight?

I admit that a large reason for playing this was for fun, and make no mistake, there was lots of hooting and hollering and flexing when great things happened!  Still, though, I was able to make the lesson almost as much about math as it was about having fun. 

It was much more enjoyable, and much easier, to teach Yahtzee than to teach any number of card games (along with their associated probabilities).  And when I ask questions about probabilities in Yahtzee on the test, I won't have to explain what I mean by "large straight" or "full house", etc.

Several of my students said they were going to download Yahtzee onto their phones :-)

Monday, November 13, 2017

Mote, Meet Beam.

The Wisconsin College Democrats Vice Chair lashed out against “white men” last week, tweeting that she feels emphatic hatred toward the demographic.

According to the images obtained by Campus Reform, Sarah Semrad, a junior at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, allegedly wrote that “I f***ing hate white men” in a tweet on Thursday...

Semrad’s recent tweet is not the only controversial statement made by the Wisconsin College Democrats Vice Chair in recent weeks. Another image of her Twitter profile obtained by Campus Reform appears to show Semrad admitting to “tearing down all the pro life Christian pregnancy resource center fliers” that were posted on campus...

“I believe everyone, regardless of race, age, religion, or gender deserves the equal opportunity to [achieve] anything they put their mind to,” she adds, noting that she also believes in strong labor unions and the right of individuals to “marry the person they love.”  link
If you don't know the titular reference, see Matthew 7:3 in the King James Version of the New Testament.

Update, 11/16/17She's resigned.
A Wisconsin College Democrats leader -- who had interned on Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign -- resigned Tuesday after tweeting “I f---ing hate white men.”

Sarah Semrad, a student at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse resigned from her state-wide College Democrat leadership position, Campus Reform reported.

How's That Global Warming Coming Along?

NASA’s top climate expert, James Hansen, predicted that by 2018 the Arctic would be ice-free, and Lower Manhattan would be underwater. Democrats call him a “climate prophet.” Only six weeks left to go!
Link is here.

Funding? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Funding!

Here’s how we fund college classes in California:
Weeks after Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 19, which waives fees for first-time freshmen at California community colleges, officials in the Los Rios Community College District are wondering where the money will come to pay for the tuition breaks…

Implementation of the program is still contingent, however, on securing funds – one of the reasons that Gov. Brown’s own Department of Finance opposed AB 19.

In its August analysis of AB 19, the finance department said the bill “creates significant new and ongoing Proposition 98 General Fund costs that are not included in the Governor's Budget plan.” The Department estimated that this strain, coupled with the loss of student fee revenues, could reduce funding for community college districts by anywhere from $30 to $50 million.

Proponents are hopeful that the governor’s 2018-19 budget will include funding to cover the cost.

Los Rios supported the bill, but spokesman Gabe Ross recently expressed concern that money could wind up being diverted from the district’s general operating funds. (italics mine—Darren)
Unicorn farts. That's how we'll pay for it.  Unicorn farts and fairy dust.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Report: IRS Investigating the NEA

No details yet, but the report is here.  The linked source is credible to me, I obviously cannot evaluate his unnamed sources.

The Myth of Teacher Losses

“Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”
― Winston S. Churchill

That thought came to mind as I read that teachers don't leave the profession any more so than in any other profession, despite the breathless paranoia surrounding the potential teacher shortage that has been "just around the corner" since I started teaching 20 years ago:
Teacher Turnover Is High — Except When Compared With Other Professions. “They came on in the same old way,” the Duke of Wellington said of the French attacks at Waterloo, “and we saw them off in the same old way.”

I was reminded of this line after reading yet another report by the Learning Policy Institute to frighten us into thinking the U.S. has high teacher turnover rates. Their foray into this territory last year was rebuffed by the elementary methods of a) looking at the numbers; and b) comparing them with those of all other professions. Lo and behold, public education employees quit their jobs at a lower rate than virtually any other profession in the United States.
Read the whole thing.

Good Suggestions For Everyone, Not Just Millenials

The law professor author of this piece laments that he has to "uneducate" his current students from the illiberal illogic our society and their education has given them and teach them to use their brains and not their feelz:
First, except when describing an ideology, you are not to use a word that ends in “ism.” Communism, socialism, Nazism, and capitalism are established concepts in history and the social sciences, and those terms can often be used fruitfully to gain knowledge and promote understanding. “Classism,” “sexism,” “materialism,” “cisgenderism,” and (yes) even racism are generally not used as meaningful or productive terms, at least as you have been taught to use them. Most of the time, they do not promote understanding.

In fact, “isms” prevent you from learning. You have been taught to slap an “ism” on things that you do not understand, or that make you feel uncomfortable, or that make you uncomfortable because you do not understand them. But slapping a label on the box without first opening the box and examining its contents is a form of cheating. Worse, it prevents you from discovering the treasures hidden inside the box. For example, when we discussed the Code of Hammurabi, some of you wanted to slap labels on what you read which enabled you to convince yourself that you had nothing to learn from ancient Babylonians. But when we peeled off the labels and looked carefully inside the box, we discovered several surprising truths. In fact, we discovered that Hammurabi still has a lot to teach us today.

One of the falsehoods that has been stuffed into your brain and pounded into place is that moral knowledge progresses inevitably, such that later generations are morally and intellectually superior to earlier generations, and that the older the source the more morally suspect that source is. There is a term for that. It is called chronological snobbery. Or, to use a term that you might understand more easily, “ageism."

Second, you have been taught to resort to two moral values above all others, diversity and equality. These are important values if properly understood. But the way most of you have been taught to understand them makes you irrational, unreasoning...
So he's made a few rules to amplify his explanations:
1.  The only “ism” I ever want to come out your mouth is a syllogism. If I catch you using an “ism” or its analogous “ist” — racist, classist, etc. — then you will not be permitted to continue speaking until you have first identified which “ism” you are guilty of at that very moment. You are not allowed to fault others for being biased or privileged until you have first identified and examined your own biases and privileges.
2.  If I catch you this semester using the words “fair,” “diversity,” or “equality,” or a variation on those terms, and you do not stop immediately to explain what you mean, you will lose your privilege to express any further opinions in class until you first demonstrate that you understand three things about the view that you are criticizing.
3.  If you ever begin a statement with the words “I feel,” before continuing you must cluck like a chicken or make some other suitable animal sound. 
I wish more people thought this way.

Are We So Desperate For Soldiers?

Combat experience can create mental health issues for soldiers, and we have a hard enough time as an army and a society trying to help those soldiers.  How bad off must recruitment be if we're willing to accept into the army people with a known history of mental illness?
People with a history of “self-mutilation,” bipolar disorder, depression and drug and alcohol abuse can now seek waivers to join the Army under an unannounced policy enacted in August, according to documents obtained by USA TODAY.

The decision to open Army recruiting to those with mental health conditions comes as the service faces the challenging goal of recruiting 80,000 new soldiers through September 2018. To meet last year's goal of 69,000, the Army accepted more recruits who fared poorly on aptitude tests, increased the number of waivers granted for marijuana use and offered hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses.
The fact that democracies won't stomach war for so long, combined with a rapidly improving economy after 8 years of stale growth, no doubt are influences.  Still, there have to be better ways of handling the situation than this.

Update, 11/16/17Not so fast:
USA Today reported the decision to open Army recruiting to those with mental health conditions comes as the service faces the challenging goal of recruiting 80,000 new soldiers through September 2018.

To meet last year's goal of 69,000, the Army accepted more recruits who fared poorly on aptitude tests, increased the number of waivers granted for marijuana use, and offered hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses, the outlet reported.

The Army, however, said it made a "simple, administrative change" to how waiver requests are approved, Seamands said.

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Biggest Con

I'm just going to lift this entire post from Instapundit:
FOR THE SAME REASON PONZI SCHEMES WON’T STOP: IT’S AN EFFECTIVE CON THAT ZEROES IN ON HUMAN WEAKNESSES. Why Won’t The Nightmare Dream Of Communism Die? A century of Communism achieved four main results: poverty, oppression, war, and mass death. So why does anybody still think collectivism is ‘idealistic’?
Ponzi schemes capitalize on greed. Communism capitalizes on envy, which is why it’s largely sustained by intellectuals, in whose personalities envy tends to be a particularly powerful component.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

They Need A Workshop For This?

Maybe Harvard student aren't bright enough to figure out sex on their own.
Harvard Just Hosted an Anal Sex Workshop Called 'What What in the Butt'
Harvard University Offers ‘What What In The Butt: Anal Sex 101’
Best and brightest my...well, you get the point.  But I won't say where.

I guess anal sex jokes are easy--kinda like people who...oh, never mind.  :-)

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Keyboards, Then and Now

I heard this song from Booker T and the MG's this weekend:

Listen to the sound of the keyboard.  Doesn't it sound a lot like the keyboard in this Doors classic, Light My Fire?

To me they share a very distinct sound.  Now compare that sound to the (stereotypical) keyboard sound of this 80's song, Who's Zoomin' Who:

A very different kind of keyboard!

A General Grant Moment

When some of President Lincoln’s people trashed General Grant as a drunk, Lincoln said, “Find out what he’s drinking, and send some to my other generals.”

Find out what Sac City’s union is drinking, and send some to the union that(supposedly)negotiates my contract.
The Sacramento City Unified School District and its teachers union reached an agreement Monday on a new contract that gives teachers up to an 11 percent raise over the three-year deal and averts a strike for the 43,000-student district.

The deal was finalized after being brokered over the weekend by Mayor Darrell Steinberg, school district Superintendent Jorge Aguilar and the Sacramento City Teachers Association. The parties met for hours on both Saturday and Sunday, hammering out the details at the mayor’s Greenhaven home over soda and kettle corn, according to Steinberg.

“This brings relief from some very anxious moments for many, many parents and students,” Aguilar said.

The agreement, announced at City Hall, ended more than a year of bitter contract negotiations and rhetoric between the district and the teachers union. The deal came just two days before the union’s 2,800 members planned to strike.
Our union cheered itself for securing a 2% raise last year.

Read more here: