Saturday, September 23, 2017

Makes You Wonder What She Was Thinking

From Fox News:
A veteran Vermont teacher was axed after she was caught instructing a class of third graders on how to give the Nazi salute.

The substitute teacher had the children perform the stiff-arm gesture as they were walking to the cafeteria Thursday at Georgia Elementary School, accoriding (sic) to a report.

"The children were standing with their arm out in front of them and the teacher was modeling the position," District Superintendent Ned Kirsch told parents, according to the Vermont publication Seven Days. "She then raised her arm slightly and said, 'And now we say, Heil Hitler.'"


I Give Them Credit For Being Honest

Now if they'll just ask people to stop throwing around that bogus 77-cents-on-a-dollar statistic:
The American Association of University Women (AAUW) has finally admitted that the “gender pay gap” is caused by women’s choices.

In a recent article on the gender pay gap, AAUW Senior Researcher Kevin Miller concedes that the pay disparity between women and men isn’t caused primarily by discrimination, but rather by the personal and professional choices that women make.

These choices include the tendency of women to work fewer hours to focus on “domestic work” and accept “reduced job tenure resulting from breaks in labor-force participation to raise children.”

Miller even notes that women tend to choose lower-paying jobs than do men, pointing out that dangerous jobs such as “construction, manufacturing, and transport” are predominantly done by men, while “most workers in health care and education occupations are women"...

Citing data from the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, though, he also confirms that not only are women more likely to work part-time, but also that “among full-time workers, men work longer hours on average than do women"...

The AAUW, which celebrates seven different equal pay days, has campaigned relentlessly over the past few years to argue that the gender pay gap is due to discrimination, but this appears to be the first article in which the organization takes a more nuanced approach to the issue...

“The gender pay gap is an estimate of the actual gap in pay between men and women, not an estimate of the effect of discrimination,” he explains....    link

Why I Support School Choice

This author likes school choice because it helps black kids, I like it because it helps all kids:
Here’s what I need to say to them, to the people of this nation, to people of color — I am involved in the school choice movement because the future of my life and your life depends upon it. Starting the state’s first charter school was one of the most significant accomplishments of my life. Because of our willingness to look beyond traditional divisions and leave beyond our tendency to only work with those with whom we are comfortable, our children of color are closing the achievement gap. African-American students in charter schools are scoring 4% higher on reading tests than those in traditional public schools and Florida charter school students are more likely to attend college. Hispanic students do 12% better than their peers at traditional public schools. These are but two of the many indicators that point to increased success for students of color because their families were empowered to find schools that better met the needs of their children.

Far too many people and organizations, like the NAACP, refuse to acknowledge this. Their recent recommendations to curb charter schools, reduce their numbers and their independence, are wrong, and they expect falsely that all people of color should follow their lead because the color of your skin should dictate who you believe. I have worked a lifetime to change this misperception, to help people see that good policies for our kids do not have a color. 
The author is the president of the Urban League of Greater Miami.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Sticking With It

All that weight I lost in 2010--I've gained it all back, with interest.

I'm going to lose it again.  Just has to be done.

I'm grossly out of shape.  I had no cardiovascular fitness at all last month.  So I set a goal for myself--each morning before work I'm going to get on my elliptical trainer and run.  That first week of school I did 12 min each morning.  I increased it 1 minute each week, so that this week I'm up to 18 min each morning.  I notice that already I'm not only "running" farther than I did when I started, but faster as well.  My goal is to get up to 20 min each morning, and from then on just work on speed and stamina.

I haven't missed a work morning yet!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

And Here In The 21st Century People's Paradise...

...our governor pushes a 19th Century mode of transportation.  Not all of us support this:
California's high speed rail line was sold to voters on the bold promise that it will someday whisk passengers between San Francisco and Los Angeles in under three hours. Nine years later, the project has turned into such a disaster that its biggest political champion is now suing to stop it.

An icon of California politics known as the "Great Dissenter," Quentin L. Kopp introduced the legislation that established the rail line, and became chairman of the High-Speed Rail Authority. He helped convince voters in 2008 to hand over $9 billion in bonds to the Rail Authority to get the project going. Since he left, Kopp says the agency mangled his plans.

"It is foolish, and it is almost a crime to sell bonds and encumber the taxpayers of California at a time when this is no longer high-speed rail," says Kopp. "And the litigation, which is pending, will result, I am confident, in the termination of the High-Speed Rail Authority's deceiving plan."
As Instapundit often opines, there are too many opportunities for graft here for this train to go away.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Starting School Later

Don't get me wrong--when I'm elected World Dictator, high school will go from 10am-5pm.  If, and it's a big if, there's still school sports, practices will be held before school.  Competitions will be held on the weekends. 

But that's just me.

I don't understand this push to start schools later.  I'm told that studies show that a later start time is better for teenagers, but I have questions that remain unanswered:

1)  Kids on farms get up early.
2)  Kids throughout history have gotten up early. 
3)  Do kids in other countries have this "late start time" issue, or is this strictly a US phenomenon?
4)  Has the problem gotten significantly worse in the age of handheld electronics?  In other words, is this partly a self-inflicted problem?

Is the problem such a major issue that it requires the intervention of the state legislature?
California lawmakers have rejected a bill to delay school start times, but the measure will likely resurface in January.
Here's an argument for local control:
The California School Boards Association, the leading opponent of the bill, argues that local school boards should be in control of start times and that a one-size-fits-all approach will not work for all 3,000 secondary schools in the state. The association says the bill will increase the need for supervision before school, create hardships for working families and wreak havoc on schools that purposely stagger start times to meet student demand for bus transportation. Rural districts could apply for a waiver to postpone implementation. 
Sacramento knows best.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article173547526.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article173547526.html#storylink=cpy

Who's Number One?

Is it Berkeley?
Sacramento-area residents looking for a top public university to attend don’t have to go far, according to a national report.

University of California, Davis, ranks 12th on U.S. News & World Report’s recent survey of top public schools. It’s tied with University of Wisconsin-Madison on a list of 132 schools.

The top 10 public schools list includes five other UC campuses, including Berkeley at No. 1. 
Or is it West Point?
United States Military Academy is ranked #12 in National Liberal Arts Colleges. Schools are ranked according to their performance across a set of widely accepted indicators of excellence.
Inquiring minds want to know.

Things Aren't Perfect In Socialist Medicine Paradise? Huh. Go Figure.

For whatever reason, the Brits love their National Health Service.  They know the horror stories, they know and experience the long waits for treatment, but still they love it.  Stockholm Syndrome never had a finer example.

How can medical paradise need more doctors?
American physician assistants are being enticed over to the United Kingdom amid staffing shortages - with promises of long vacations in Europe.
What, no mention of pay?  How are those working conditions?
The National Health Service (NHS) is offering £1,000 ($1,350) to cover their relocation, 41 days paid vacation a year, and free flights home during holidays.

Ultimately, officials say the plan is to recruit up to 3,200 PAs to perform minor operations and monitor wards.
3200?  Why such a shortage? 

A couple paragraphs down we get to the pay:
According to recruitment materials, foreign PAs would earn £30,000 ($40,460) a year.
That doesn't strike me as much for someone who can cut into you, but I'm not really up on the pay of medical professionals.

The article never mentioned why there's such a shortage....

Monday, September 18, 2017

An Idiot With A Degree

A university professor who doesn't believe in free speech?  Color me shocked.

I admit that the concept isn't flawless, but I defy anyone to come up with a better one.  It's like democracy and capitalism--they're bad, except for everything else.

Anyway, you need to read the whole thing in order to plumb the depths of this particular professor's insanity.  Seriously, go read it.
The lecture, given by Prof. Carolyn Rouse, Chair of the Department of Anthropology and Director of the Program in African Studies, was entitled “F%*# Free Speech: An Anthropologist’s Take on Campus Speech Debates.”
Oh, a "studies" person.  Nice.

And here's where we learn that Professor Rouse doesn't know much history:
Towards the beginning of the lecture, Rouse noted that JMP (the James Madison Project) “censored” the lecture title by listing it by a different name on its website—omitting the vulgarity used in other publicity materials. Rouse made a point to “rub it in” that JMP made the edit “to be politically correct,” clarifying that “I use the term ‘politically correct’ deliberately, because ‘politically correct’ simply means ‘appropriate.’”
The origin of the phrase "politically correct" is Stalinist, and what might be "appropriate" if you want to stay alive in Stalin's Soviet Union doesn't quite approach anything that might be considered even marginally related to "truth", if Professor Rouse even believes in any "truth" other than what the marble that rolls around in her skull causes her to believe in at any given moment.

Propagating a Bad Statistic

No one truly believes that 1/5 of women will experience a sexual assault in college.  Such a rate would be worse than some of the most unsafe countries on the planet.  If anyone believed that 1-in-5 number, they wouldn't go to college, or send their daughters to college.

Yet here we have The Economist spreading the lie:
ANY sentence containing the phrases “Donald Trump” and “campus sexual assault” could reasonably be expected to conclude with the word “outrage”. Yet when Mr Trump’s secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, announced her intention to “revoke or rescind” directives to universities on handling sexual assault issued by the Obama administration, the move was quietly welcomed by plenty of colleges. The Obama administration’s determination to discourage campus sexual assault—which is suffered by as many as a fifth of women attending college—was well-intentioned, but poorly thought out.
One could argue that technically, The Economist is correct--they did say "as many as a fifth".  They'd be just as correct had they said "as many as 99%", too, so I don't accept the quibble.

The 1-in-5 number is a bad statistic that traveled around the world before the truth even got out of bed.

According to the Washington Post:
In the Winter of 2006, researchers used a Web-based survey to interview undergraduates at two large public universities, one in the Midwest and one in the South. A total of 5,446 undergraduate women, between the ages of 18-25, participated as part of a random sample. The survey was anonymous and took about 15 minutes to complete. (Participants received a $10 Amazon.com certificate for participating.)
My introductory statistics students can pick apart the problems presented in this paragraph; toss in a low response rate, and anyone who uses that information deserves to be mocked.

Politifact tells the same story, with this tidbit tossed in:
"This ‘one in five’ statistic shouldn’t just be taken with a grain of salt but the entire shaker," said James Fox, professor of criminology, law and public policy at Northeastern University.
The author of the Economist article should be ashamed of him/herself.   The Economist should do better.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

You'd Think This Would Be Max Male-hatred, But I'm Sure There's More (and sillier) To Come

There's no indication that this article is meant to be anything other than sober and sincere:
Some of you will think we’re daft. Some will wonder what kind of jobs we have if we have enough time on our hands to dream this kind of thing up. Some of you may even think we’re having you on. Our intentions, however, are honourable.

Playful urination practices – from seeing how high you can pee to games such as Peeball (where men compete using their urine to destroy a ball placed in a urinal) – may give boys an advantage over girls when it comes to physics. And we believe there’s something we can do about it.

No doubt you have some questions, the first is probably: what could possibly lead us to believe this?
Daft? That's the nicest I'll think of them.

I was expecting their solution to this "gender gap" to be that boys should be required to sit down when taking a pee.  Fortunately, their solution is slightly less foolish:
However, we can make a change: it’s not necessary for physics curricula to begin with projectile motion. Other topics, such as energy conservation, which is more central to physics, could be taught first instead...

Girls are already at a cultural disadvantage in a traditionally male-dominated subject: let’s not add an embodied disadvantage by unthinkingly sticking with traditional curriculum sequencing.
Serious question:  why does no one freak out about not enough men in women-dominated fields?

Saturday, September 16, 2017

A Rebuttal to Ta-Nehisi Coates

If you want to be a victim, you will be successful.  If you don't want to, you'll sound like this:
Dear Ta-Nehisi Coates:

I read your book Between the World and Me, an elegant and poetic elegy written to your son on “the question,” as you put it, “of how one should live within a black body, within a country lost in the [American] Dream.” In the book, you reflect on your revelatory experiences, from the fears you felt growing up in your neighborhood in Baltimore to attending Howard University to visiting the South Side of Chicago to your relentless study of African history to your reckoning with the meaning of the Civil War. Many of your readers will come to know the often lonely and exilic world in which you, as an individual black man, have lived for many years. But your book, while moving, reads primarily like an American horror story and, I’m sorry to say, a declaration of war against my adopted country.

My fear is that Between the World and Me aims to reach far beyond the scope of the reader’s moral imagination and into the actual lives of Americans, black or white, who share this thing you refer to as the Dream. My concern is that you and your book function as deputized stand-ins for the black male and the black experience in America, respectively. And I believe that as stand-ins, both fail.

Because I write as a black immigrant who chose to live in the United States, whose biggest hope as a child was to become an American citizen, and who chose to embrace the American Dream you condemn, please consider these words my Declaration of Independence—an independence that only my beloved America could have given to me.
America is still a beacon of freedom and opportunity in the world, and I want to keep it that way.

Diversity Hasn't Always Been Considered An Asset

A historical perspective can shed a little light on why nirvana has not been reached in our culturally-diverse society.  I've shamelessly lifted the following from Instapundit:
VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Diversity Can Spell Trouble.

America is experiencing a diversity and inclusion conundrum—which, in historical terms, has not necessarily been a good thing. Communities are tearing themselves apart over the statues of long-dead Confederate generals. Controversy rages over which slogan—“Black Lives Matter” or “All Lives Matter”—is truly racist. Antifa street thugs clash with white supremacists in a major American city. Americans argue over whether the USC equine mascot “Traveler” is racist, given the resemblance of the horse’s name to Robert E. Lee’s mount “Traveller.” Amid all this turmoil, we forget that diversity was always considered a liability in the history of nations—not an asset.

Ancient Greece’s numerous enemies eventually overran the 1,500 city-states because the Greeks were never able to sublimate their parochial, tribal, and ethnic differences to unify under a common Hellenism. The Balkans were always a lethal powder keg due to the region’s vastly different religions and ethnicities where East and West traditionally collided—from Roman and Byzantine times through the Ottoman imperial period to the bloody twentieth century. Such diversity often caused destructive conflicts of ethnic and religious hatred. Europe for centuries did not celebrate the religiously diverse mosaic of Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Christians, but instead tore itself apart in a half-millennium of killing and warring that continued into the late twentieth century in places like Northern Ireland.

In multiracial, multiethnic, and multi-religious societies—such as contemporary India or the Middle East—violence is the rule in the absence of unity.

Well, luckily we have Social Justice types to remind everyone that they’re not supposed to get along.
Yes, lucky us.

Schools That Work

The philosophy behind Success Academy charter schools is what used to guide public schools, before bleeding hearts and litigious hustlers removed any sense of discipline:
In 2006, she founded Harlem Success Academy, which grew into the Success Academy charter-school network that today includes 46 schools across the city.

Success Academy breeds success: Its inner-city students outperformed every other school district in the state in the 2017 exams. And one big secret to that success has been the application of the kinds of tactics and strategies that helped bring the city back from the brink more than once — this time, applied to education.

Both “broken windows” policing and Success Academy schooling target minor infractions that create a culture of chaos.

Writing about dealing with disruptive students in 2006-07, Success Academy’s first year, Moskowitz notes that when teachers are unable to stop even one student’s incessant misbehavior, it “can have a domino effect . . . and soon the teacher is playing whack-a-mole rather than teaching.”
Almost every teacher in the country will tell you this is so. Many will also tell you that their hands are tied in the realm of discipline.  Suspension is seen as a bad thing--and even racist!  Standards of discipline are different for different racial groups or for special education students.  Student displays of open defiance or disrespect are not considered troublesome by administration; in fact, they're seen as indicative of a failing on the part of the teacher!  And schools didn't do this on their own--no, lawsuits and investigations by state and federal departments/offices of civil rights did this, assuming that problems and disparities lie with biased adults instead of with misbehaving children.

And while we're teaching students that they can disregard rules with impunity, how is their academic performance coming along?  Anyone think America's schools are the best in the world, or are even improving?

Moskowitz isn't onto some magical secret.  Her philosophy is one based in common sense, one that recognizes reality and rejects unicorn farts and fairy dust.

Update:  School safety is more important than racial balance in suspensions.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

I Figured Out Why One Of My Classes Has Me Down

My district switched to so-called integrated math a few years ago, and at my school we've added a new course each year.  We started with Integrated Math 1 two years ago, added Integrated Math 2 and 2+ last year (2+ is a fast track to calculus), and this year we added Integrated Math 3 and 3+ (students in 3+ will take calculus next year, by passing pre-calculus). 

Would I rather have stuck with Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2?  Heck yes!  And so would the vast majority of my district's math teachers.  That wasn't the input the district suits wanted, though....

Anyway, my department co-chair and I are teaching the two 3+ classes.  We've already planned out which lessons are to be covered each day for the entire school year so that we can cover the material needed to prepare students for calculus.  Not only is there no time for reteaching, there's not enough time for teaching in the first place.

I've been somewhat stressed lately, feeling like I'm not a very good teacher in that course.  These are exceptionally capable students, and I'm just shoveling information at them as fast as they can take it.  If they can take it, what's the matter, right?  Aren't I usually the person who says we should let students accelerate as fast as they can handle?  Yet here I am, in a super-accelerated class, and I feel like I'm not really teaching. Since I pride myself on my teaching, this class has me down.

Something's not right, and I couldn't quite put my finger on it--until yesterday.

As I said, I'm shoveling those students the information as fast as I can. The problem is that I'm not teaching.  I'm showing students how to solve problems, teaching them what they need to know how to do, but I'm not teaching them why what I'm teaching them works.  I'm not giving them the background information that explains an algorithm or amplifies a concept.  Here's the task, learn it, move on.

All that deep understanding, all the Common Core stuff?  That's what I'm not doing.  Believe me when I tell you that there isn't time to do so.  I've stated that I have these kids drinking from a fire hose, and that analogy isn't so extreme.  There isn't time in a 60 minute class to teach more.

That's what's been bothering me.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

We're #1! We're #1!

The major Sacramento newspaper tells the truth about the 6th (or 7th or 8th, depending on who you listen to) largest economy in the world:
One in five Californians lives in poverty, the highest rate in the country, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The “Supplemental Poverty Measure,” factors in cost of living and shows a stubbornly high share of Golden State residents in poverty even as the national rate has dropped slightly.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article172973181.html#storylink=cpy

If It's Such A Great Idea....

Gotta give credit to this person for his creativity:
Republicans worry about vote fraud. Democrats claim that Republicans are just imagining things. But in testimony Tuesday before the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, I will suggest a simple solution that could make both parties happy: Apply the background check system for gun purchases to voting.

Democrats have long lauded background checks on gun purchases as simple, accurate and in complete harmony with the Second Amendment right to own guns. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has bragged that the checks “make our communities and neighborhoods safer without in any way abridging rights or threatening a legitimate part of the American heritage.”

If Democrats really believe that the National Instant Criminal Background Check System doesn’t interfere “in any way” with people’s constitutional rights to own a gun, doesn't it follow that the same system would not constitute an infringement on people’s right to vote? This would give Republicans a system for stopping vote fraud and Democrats a system that they have already vigorously endorsed.
Voting and owning firearms are both constitutional rights....

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Another Good Showing

My alma mater looks good in the US News rankings:
United States Military Academy is ranked #12 in National Liberal Arts Colleges. Schools are ranked according to their performance across a set of widely accepted indicators of excellence.
There's more detail:

Undergraduate data are based on the 2016 school year.