Wednesday, October 18, 2017

If You Want To Know What Democrats Actually Do Or Believe, Take Note of What They Accuse Republicans Of

Democrats accuse Republicans of being racist.  Then they support Black Lives Matter.

Democrats accuse Republicans of being Nazis.  Then they support Antifa.

Democrats accuse Republicans (2nd Amendment supporters) of being murderers.  But it's always Democrats who are in the news for shooting others, whether it be in Las Vegas or Orlando or San Bernardino or Sandy Hook or...

So this doesn't surprise me in the least.  What does surprise me is that it's finally becoming an issue, a year after Breitbart first wrote about it:
The tables have turned and what was once the media’s favorite message — President Donald Trump colluded with Russia to steal the election — has now grown silent.
Apparently, it’s Bill and Hillary Clinton who’ve been doing the behind-scenes and suspicious dealings with Russia all along. Oh, and perhaps others in the Barack Obama administration, too.
When even The Hill is reporting this as a big deal, it's clearly a big deal.

And, if this isn't Exhibit #8,000,000 that we dodged a bullet in not electing Felonia von Pantsuit, I don't know what is.

Can Teachers Afford To Buy Houses?

From a press release from the National Council on Teacher Quality:
The findings show that while renting a one-bedroom apartment is within reach for new teachers working in most districts, in about a quarter of the districts, it is not. Home ownership is even more difficult. In some districts, saving up for the recommended down payment of 20 percent or meeting mortgage obligations is beyond a teacher’s means, even for a teacher who is at the higher end of the salary schedule. That problem is particularly acute in school districts located in the West and Northeast...

Key findings of the Trendline analysis include:
  • In one out of four of the largest school districts in the U.S., a starting teacher cannot afford to rent a one-bedroom apartment.
  • While the average length of time needed to accumulate a down payment of 20 percent towards a median-price home is ten years, assuming a 10 percent savings rate, there is tremendous variation. Texas is notably affordable with seven of its large districts--San Antonio, Aldine, Brownsville, Fort Worth, Pasadena, Dallas, and Arlington--enabling a teacher to achieve a down payment on a median-priced home in five years or less.
  • At the other end of the spectrum are teachers in San Francisco, Capistrano (CA), Oakland, Fairfax County (VA), and Hawaii, where it would take teachers over 20 years to save a comparable down payment.
  • Only in a minority of districts are monthly housing payments affordable, with San Antonio, Baltimore City, and Philadelphia being the most affordable for teachers.
  • A number of districts, such as Oklahoma City, Polk County (FL), El Paso, and Omaha, are in the lowest quartile for monthly housing costs but have kept teacher salaries so low that homeownership is still a struggle for their teachers.
  • There are eight districts--West Ada (ID), Jordan (UT), Loudoun County (VA), Hawaii, San Francisco, Oakland, Capistrano (CA), and Los Angeles--where a single teacher will never be able to dedicate the recommended 30 percent or less of a salary to monthly housing payments, even when earning the maximum possible teacher salary.
Until I'd read this press release I don't think I'd ever heard of West Ada, Idaho.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Congresspeople Who Don't Understand The 2nd Amendment

The following comes from an article about the desires of certain congresspeople to limit high-capacity magazines for weapons:
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) said the bill banning high-capacity magazines would benefit U.S. national security as well as the country’s public health, adding that Congress has refused to act on gun-violence prevention for too long.

“High-capacity magazines are not needed for hunting. They are not needed for self-defense. They aren’t designed to be a useful tool for the millions of smart and safe and responsible gun owners in America,” he said. “Their only use and the way they have been used time and time again is to kill on a mass scale – dozens of people on one go.”
The 2nd Amendment doesn't exist so Americans can hunt. The 2nd Amendment doesn't exist so Americans can defend themselves from robbers and rapists.  The 2nd Amendment exists as a bulwark against the tyranny of government.  It's the final check on governmental power.  

That shouldn't be just a conservative view, that should be an American view.  Alas, it's pretty much just a conservative view anymore.

Don't Let The Lefties' Keening About The EPA Worry You At All

The river's not going to catch fire, the sky isn't going to rain down particulate matter (except from the Northern California fires), and the earth isn't going to overheat:
Even now, after Scott Pruitt’s EPA move to unravel President Obama’s marquee domestic green initiative, the Clean Power Plan, American energy-related emissions are projected to drop in 2017, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). So what’s at work here? If the Trump Administration is so skeptical of climate policy, why aren’t the projections matching the doomsday rhetoric?

In large part, what’s happened to U.S. emissions since their recent peak in 2007 has occurred despite—not because—of federal policy. The Clean Power Plan was never put into place, as it was still working its way through legal challenges before Pruitt announced his intention to dismantle it. Therefore, we can’t give President Obama’s green aspirations credit for this recent drop in emissions.
Instead, the drop occurred due to market forces, specifically the displacement of coal-fired power generation by cheap, plentiful natural gas provided by the shale boom. Fracking’s flourishing has made our dirtiest form of electricity production less economical, and because natural gas plants emits half as much carbon as their coal counterparts, this shift has also made our energy mix more climate friendly.

It's Officially Cold Out

The last few mornings, when I've left the house at 7:00 the temperature outside has been in the 40's.  Sure, it gets into the 80's in the afternoons, but that doesn't make the mornings any more comfortable.

It's officially cold out.  The "summer" sheets are off the bed and the fleece (not flannel!) sheets are on.  I wear my light "driving gloves" in the mornings because the steering wheel is cold, as well as a warmer jacket.  Even program the heater to warm the house up before I get out of bed in the mornings, as I darn near refuse to get out of bed when it's cold.

A trip to the foothills, specifically Apple Hill, is in the offing!

Monday, October 16, 2017

A Peek Into The Future...From The Past

Ten years ago today, the Freakonomics blog posted predictions about what air travel would be like 10 years hence.  It's now 10 years hence, how well do you think they did?

I give most of them "eh".

College Majors With The Highest Unemployment Rates

I admit, #2 surprised me:
According to career site Zippia, which used US Census data to estimate the unemployment rate for people 22 to 25 years old in various fields, there are several areas of study that make job-finding harder...

Here are the majors that produce the highest unemployment rates:
1. Composition and Rhetoric — 17.54%
2. Environmental Science — 11.79%
3. Anthropology and Archaeology — 11.76%
4. Drama And Theater Arts — 11.42%
5. Film, Video, and Photographic Arts — 11.24%
6. Mass Media — 10.92%
7. Fine Arts — 10.90%
8. Area Ethnic and Civilization Studies — 10.84%
9. Intercultural and International Studies — 9.93%
10. Communication Technologies — 9.40%
11. Biology — 8.76%
Considering that all those numbers except #1 are in descending order, do you think they meant 18.54%?

Credit Where It's Due

I don't often have something positive to say about California governor Jerry Brown, but when he does something right I'll absolutely praise him for doing so.  And in this instance, he's doing the right thing for the right reason:
Jerry Brown Sides with Betsy DeVos on Title IX. In his message vetoing a state law: “Since this law was enacted, however, thoughtful legal minds have increasingly questioned whether federal and state actions to prevent and redress sexual harassment and assault—well-intentioned as they are—have also unintentionally resulted in some colleges’ failure to uphold due process for accused students. Depriving any student of higher education opportunities should not be done lightly, or out of fear of losing state or federal funding.”

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Why Are Millenials Wary of Freedom?

This column makes so much sense that I'm surprised it was published in the NYT.
Fear, in all its forms, is at the heart of these issues — fear of failure, ridicule, discomfort, ostracism, uncertainty. Of course, these fears haunt all of us, regardless of demographics. But that is precisely the point: Our culture isn’t preparing young people to grapple with what are ultimately unavoidable threats. Indeed, despite growing up in a physically safer and kinder society than past generations did, young Americans today report higher levels of anxiety.
My generation sure screwed up as parents.

The Purpose of School

A colleague of mine came up with a pithy but entirely accurate saying this past week:  "Secondary education--where education is secondary."  A teacher who long ago left our school used to say that "our job is to babysit the kids until someone more important needs them."

I'm really starting to not enjoy teaching, and part of the reason is all the non-teaching things I'm expected to do.  And these non-teaching tasks are getting greater and greater in number and taking more and more time.  Let's look at just this past week, starting with the students.

  • Sophomores and juniors were administered the PSAT during school.  Freshmen and seniors didn't have to come to school until 11:15.
  • Immediately after the PSAT, when classes were to be in session, seniors had a mandatory "sexual assault at college" briefing that took 2 class periods.
  • On another day there was a mandatory senior class meeting that took half of a period.
  • There is at least one mandatory briefing this next week, I think it's about drinking and driving.

Now let's look at what I was tasked with just this past week:
  • I administered the PSAT.
  • Mandatory online survey about my attitudes regarding AP classes and the students who should take those classes.  This survey takes approximately 30 minutes.
  • Mandatory online video training regarding suicide prevention; this survey also takes approximately 30 minutes.
  • My district is requiring me to give up my desktop computer and accept a new laptop computer that I don't want.  I must backup all the data, bookmarks, settings, etc., on my computer, disconnect it, take it to the district office, pick up the new computer that I don't want or need, and restore all my backed up data to this new computer.  The instruction sheet on how to backup/restore the data takes two pages.
Secondary education--where education is secondary.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Limiting Press Freedoms?

It was a stupid (and probably unconstitutional) idea when Alabama lawmakers wanted to do it, and it’s still stupid now that someone in Indiana wants to do it. And in both cases, the lawmaker who proposed it was a Republican—and Republicans should know better.
An Indiana state lawmaker has drafted a bill that would require journalists in the state to get a license, in an apparent bid to point out “hypocrisy” in the debate over gun rights.

The bill, drafted by Republican state Rep. Jim Lucas, would require professional journalists to submit an application for a license to the state police. If approved, the license would cost $75 and last for life, while subject to suspension, as first reported by the Indianapolis Star.
I know it's "just to prove a point", but still.  Someone, probably on the other side, will pick up on this idea and provide a winnable justification for it--and you know which side of the political debate would be on the losing side.

Higher Education Spirals Down To Ground

If you have no standards, you can’t fall short of meeting them:
This fall, nearly 40 percent of incoming freshmen at California State University were placed in developmental math or English courses. In the state’s sprawling community college system, three-quarters of any given incoming group is deemed unprepared for college-level work when they arrive.

It will be semesters or even years – and thousands of dollars in additional tuition costs – until these students can begin the general education classes that advance them toward a degree. Frustrated or discouraged, many will drop out before they ever reach that point.

So California policymakers, eyeing educational experiments across the country that improved student achievement, are now pushing for sweeping changes to the traditional way colleges have helped students catch up. By next year, the high-stakes placement tests and non-credit courses could be largely eliminated.

Is It A School, Or A One-Shop Socialism Stop?

In an effort to keep poor students attending class during their periods, California schools will provide free tampons and pads.
http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article178479851.html
I’m at a loss for words on this one.

California Pensions

It’s not CalSTRS, the state teachers retirement system, but I find it hard to believe that STRS is in any better shape than PERS, the public employees retirement system:
The Sacramento region’s largest local governments will see pension costs go up by an estimated 14 percent next fiscal year, starting a series of annual increases that many city officials say are “unsustainable” and will force service cuts or tax hikes.

The increases come after CalPERS in December reduced the expected rate of return from investments, forcing local governments and other participants in the state’s retirement plan to pay more to cover the cost of pensions.
http://www.sacbee.com/news/investigations/the-public-eye/article178561476.html

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Calling A Liar A Liar

A Republican representative from Virginia, Dave Brat, is brutally honest about his fellow Republicans in the Congress:
Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) told PJM that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has violated the law of Moses by not following through on the Republican Party’s promise to totally repeal Obamacare.

Reflecting on President Trump’s time in office, the conservative lawmaker was asked if the president had “excessive expectations” as a candidate, as McConnell has suggested.

"Our new president, of course, has not been in this line of work before," McConnell told a Rotary meeting in his home state in August. "I think he had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process."

Brat replied that Trump “had the exact expectations that Mitch McConnell and everyone in the Senate promised, that they are going to repeal Obamacare – that’s the expectation we all had.”

“Don’t lie, right? The reason we had those expectations is because you all voted on it 50 times on total repeal, not a skinny bill, so that’s a bunch of bull, having the ‘wrong expectations,’ that’s a bunch of bull. The American people had the exact correct expectations if you live in Judeo-Christianity land and you expect people to basically tell the truth, right? It’s in the big 10. Go check Moses,” Brat said during an interview on Capitol Hill.
That's what liberals might call "an inconvenient truth".

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Running Out of STEAM

Not far from where I live, signs for a middle school tout the school's STEAM program.  Everyone who pays attention to education knows that STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math--in other words, a strong math/science-based curriculum.  So what is this STEAM, what does the A stand for?  Why, Arts, of course!

There's a fear that our educational system is falling behind the rest of the world in STEM topics.  That's why we created the nifty acronym, that's why some schools place a focus on the area.  Some worry that women are underrepresented in STEM fields, so there's an emphasis on getting women to enter the fields.

Why put the A in there?  How does A fit in with the rest of STEM, except to make a newer, even niftier acronym?

The answer seems pretty clear to me.  Someone was worried that an emphasis on STEM would diminish the A.  Put A into the acronym, and voila!--the arts are saved!

But throwing everything but the kitchen sink into your acronym kinda defeats the purpose of the acronym.  You know what I call science, technology, engineering, arts, and math?  I call it the curriculum!  That school I mentioned, they're going to focus on the entire curriculum.  Well, good for them!  If everything is your priority, though...

Over at her own blog, Joanne discusses a different interpretation of what STEAM represents:
Integrating art into science and math teaching — turning STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) into STEAM — is “counterproductive” and “pedagogically unsound,” writes Jay Greene in Ed Week‘s arts education package.

“By trying to put the arts almost everywhere, integration is likely to result in arts education almost nowhere,” Greene writes. Separate arts classes taught by specialists will be dropped.
These crazy educational fads.

Northern California Fires

Northern California is a big place.  I'm quite a distance from the fires you might have heard about on the news, most of which are about an hour or more away by car.  Still, though, I could smell smoke in the air at school this morning, and before 10:00 we received the following email from our principal:
Colleagues,

The district has requested we suspend all outdoor activities because of the air quality. We are also looking for teachers that are willing to open up their classroom during lunch for students to sit inside and eat. If you are willing to do that and eat lunch with the students please let (the school secretary) know. The office will be open as well.
Life in the Sacramento area.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Rule #1: Don't Abuse Your Power

This sheriff abused his, and I hope it costs him plenty--and not just in dollars:
Earlier this year, the Worth County (GA) Sheriff's Department enraged an entire nation by subjecting the entire student body of a local high school to invasive pat downs. The reason for these searches? Sheriff Jeff Hobby believed drugs would be found on campus...

The sheriff brought in drug-sniffing dogs and had his deputies frisk every single attending student. The sheriff claimed the searches were legal. And not just legal, but "necessary." The end result of the multiple invasions of personal privacy? Zero drugs, zero arrests...

According to school policies, students may be searched if there's reasonable suspicion the student is in possession of an illegal item. The same rules apply to law enforcement, but they were ignored here. Sheriff Hobby claimed he could search any student he wanted to (in this case, all of them) simply because he was accompanied by a school administrator.

Hobby was wrong and is now facing some serious legal problems. First off, Hobby has been sued by several of the students frisked by his officers...

This lawsuit is a problem for Sheriff Hobby, especially as it will be much more difficult for the sheriff and his deputies to avail themselves of immunity. Indictments have that sort of effect on immunity claims. [via Greg Doucette]  ...

Somewhat ironically, the indicted sheriff's attorney is bemoaning the same grand jury system law enforcement loves when it's indicting civilians
It's not your authority.  The authority belongs to the government, it only acts through you.  When you misuse that authority, you're misusing what isn't rightly yours in the first place.

This sheriff...chose poorly.  And I hope it costs him--perhaps as much as his freedom, but certainly his job.

Monday, October 09, 2017

It's Sad This Is News, But It *Is* A Victory Of Sorts

Good on them:  University of Wisconsin to crack down on disruptions of free speech. “University of Wisconsin System leaders approved a policy Friday that calls for suspending and expelling students who disrupt campus speeches and presentations, saying students need to listen to all sides of issues and arguments.”

Universities need to understand that students are their product, not their client.  You turn out a bad product long enough, no one will want that product, and no one will want to go to your school.  Most recent Exhibit A:  Missouri.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Idiot Teachers

A long time ago I wrote a post called Idiots Who Would Be Teachers, in which I took prospective teachers to task if they failed any part of the entirely-too-simple California Basic Educational Skills Test.  I regret calling those who failed the CBEST "idiots".  They were unprepared, and while I stand by my belief that college graduates who can't pass the CBEST shouldn't be teachers, calling them idiots was inappropriate.

This teacher is an idiot:
Parents in a Wyoming school district are outraged that an answer on a multiple choice test included this option: "Shooting at Trump."