Monday, August 21, 2017

There's Nothing Educational About "Credit Recovery"

I what's considered "old fashioned". 

I don't think everyone deserves a high school diploma.  A diploma should signify some minimal level of education and competency.  If you don't earn a diploma, the problem is yours; the taxpayers shelled out a lot of money for you, and you either wasted it or weren't capable of meeting those minimum standards.  That's not a judgement, that's a recognition of fact.  The sky is blue.  The sun rises in the east.  Objects fall down.  You didn't earn a diploma.

Some people, however--and they work in education--think everyone is entitled to a diploma, whether they know anything or not.  It's bad enough when parents think that way, but we're doomed when teachers and district administrators think that way.

Which means we're doomed.

Credit recovery is a lie.  It's a sham.  It's a way to skirt requirements and give a diploma to people who haven't really earned a diploma.  And it's making a mockery of those who actually try to teach and learn:
Online credit recovery programs are used by 88 percent of U.S. school districts. They give high school credit for just a few weeks (sometimes a few days) of work, with little or no evidence that much is learned. School districts know they have a problem but often look the other way.

I can see why. Allowing students to cheat on the exams has helped raise high school graduation rates to a record 83 percent. In a recent column I suggested we overlook the problem, since restless students who hate high school are just going to drop out if we don’t give them some escape, like credit recovery.

Having thought more about the stories Jonnard, Davis and other teachers are telling me, I see I was wrong. Letting such dishonesty thrive poisons any respect teachers, students and parents have for our schools.
Integrity is important.  Accountability for taxpayer dollars is important.  Learning is important.

A graduation rate, when you think about it in detail, is a very difficult thing to measure.  Who counts?  What about people who move away?  How do you measure a school's "drop out rate" or "graduation rate"?  So we cobble together some convoluted formula, call it a "graduation rate"--and you know what?  It's just a marker.  It doesn't signify that anyone's learned anything, we just know, or think we know, that a higher number is better than a lower number.  In that way it's a lot like the "body count" statistic during the Vietnam War.  It didn't mean we were "winning" the war, whatever that would have looked like, we just knew that a higher number was better than a lower number.

And how did that turn out for us when all was said and done?

There is no value in credit recovery except for the school and district administrators who get to pretend that they're educating more children than they really are.

Weight

This morning's weight was 196.6 lbs, but who knows how accurate that is.  I can step on the scale 3 times and get three different values, sometimes with a range a 3 lbs!

Danged digital scale.  A spring scale might not be entirely accurate, but at least it would be consistent.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Good Guys

Remember, the press is trying to sell you on the story that these are good guys.

Just because you don't like fascists (even when you use their tactics) doesn't make you a good guy.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Have We Jumped The Shark With Bullying Yet?

The idea of "bullying" has gotten out of hand.

Before you bleeding hearts start squealing in mock outrage--no, I don't in general think people should exert physical or emotional control over others.  The issue is what constitutes bullying. 

I'm allowed not to like you.  I can even let you know I don't like you.  At what point does it become harassment or bullying?

How about this situation?
A former Los Altos High School student and baseball player is suing the school district and his former coach for hundreds of thousands of dollars because the coach repeatedly benched him.

According to the suit, the school’s head varsity baseball coach, Gabriel Lopez, repeatedly refused to let 17-year-old Robbie Lopez, no relation, play throughout his senior year. The suit claims this constituted a pattern of “harassment and bullying.”

The teenager and his parents are seeking $150,000 or more, according to the suit...

“It’s more of a targeted situation” than a standard case of a coach using his own judgement, Ponce said. “These are repeated actions by the coach, which we feel, my client and I, as well as his father, feel are intentional. They’re targeted against (my client) specifically.”


Ponce referred to a recent case in South Carolina in which a cheerleader claimed she was bullied by her coach, who made “derogatory comments about (the student’s) private body parts, causing other students to laugh at” her. The student and her father won a $100,000 judgment.

Ponce claimed what happened to his client was “more egregious” than the South Carolina example. But in a phone interview, Ponce did not give any examples of derogatory comments the coach made to the teenager. And no examples of insulting comments by the coach were presented in the lawsuit.
It's up for grabs whether the coach acted appropriately or not, but bullying?  Really?

What a wuss.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Why It's Becoming Increasingly Impossible To Negotiate With The Left

The American left is moving so far, so fast, to the left, that you can't even take them seriously anymore.  It was only 21 years ago, in 1996, that President Clinton, running for reelection, touted his welfare reform, celebrated putting "100,000 police officers on the streets", and correctly identified illegal immigration as a problem that had to be corrected for the country.  Less than half my life ago, those are things Democrats celebrated.  Today no Democrat would be caught dead cheering such words.

With leftists, though, it always comes down to violence.  Scratch a leftist, and a thug bleeds.  They've moved so far to the left, though, that some don't even think it necessary to hide their bloodthirsty tendencies anymore:
For anyone paying attention over the last 100 or so years, it was only a matter of time before America's establishment Left, meaning elected Democrats and the mainstream media, found themselves so frustrated they would finally come right out and validate violence, or what can only be described as political terrorism, against their ideological enemies.

Going back to the Bolsehviks straight through to Barry Obama's terrorist-pal Bill Ayers, violence is always the end result of an ideology that demands purity and conformity, even at the point of a gun. And now, probably because they have been unable to bully President Trump to its will, The Washington Post has finally revealed itself as an un-American and un-democratic monster.

In an editorial published Tuesday, N.D.B. Collins, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University, was handed the imprimatur of The Washington Post to call for "direct action," direct action in the form of actual political violence.
The editorial itself can be found here.

For too long conservatives have turned the other cheek, not fought back, let leftists define the terms of debate and set the agenda.  They're not going to like it when conservatives have had enough.  You want to riot, Mr. Collins?  Remember which side in this country's schism has more firearms and ammo, Mr. Collins.

Be careful what you wish for, Mr. Collins.

I'm As Surprised As I Am Hopeful

I hope her idea bears delicious fruit, I really do:
Carol T. Christ, UC Berkeley’s 11th chancellor and the first woman to lead the nation’s top public research university, unveiled plans Tuesday for a “Free Speech Year” as right-wing speakers prepare to come to campus.

Christ said the campus would hold “point-counterpoint” panels to demonstrate how to exchange opposing views in a respectful manner. Other events will explore constitutional questions, the history of Berkeley’s free speech movement and how that movement inspired acclaimed chef Alice Waters to create her Chez Panisse restaurant.

“Now what public speech is about is shouting, screaming your point of view in a public space rather than really thoughtfully engaging someone with a different point of view,” Christ said in an interview. “We have to build a deeper and richer shared public understanding.”
Not the kind of language I'd expect to come out of Berkeley.  I hope she's sincere and wish her luck.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Another Climatologist Explains the Global Warming Scam

Dr. Judith Curry conducted an interview with YouTube which was published on August 9, 2017 where she clearly lays out the many flaws and failures of “consensus” climate science and how this highly politicalized scheme tremendously misleads policy makers regarding the need for government directed climate actions.

Regarding the role that human greenhouse gas emissions play in driving the earth’s climate Dr. Curry concludes that:

“On balance, I don’t see any particular dangers from greenhouse warming. {Humans do} influence climate to some extent, what we do with land-use changes and what we put into the atmosphere. But I don’t think it’s a large enough impact to dominate over natural climate variability.”
The entire article, which includes the video below, is here.

Here's some info about Dr. Curry from the YouTube page:
Judith A. Curry is an American climatologist and former chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her research interests include hurricanes, remote sensing, atmospheric modeling, polar climates, air-sea interactions, and the use of unmanned aerial vehicles for atmospheric research. She is a member of the National Research Council's Climate Research Committee. As of 2017, she has retired from academia.Curry is the co-author of Thermodynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans (1999), and co-editor of Encyclopedia of Atmospheric Sciences (2002), as well as over 140 scientific papers. Among her awards is the Henry G. Houghton Research Award from the American Meteorological Society in 1992.
Regarding climate change, she thinks that the IPCC reports typically neglect what she calls the "Uncertainty Monster" in projecting future climate trends, which she calls a "wicked problem." Curry also hosts a popular science blog in which she writes on topics related to climate science and the science-policy interface.

Judith Curry has argued that climatologists should be more accommodating of those skeptical of the scientific consensus on climate change. Curry has stated she is troubled by what she calls the "tribal nature" of parts of the climate-science community, and what she sees as stonewalling over the release of data and its analysis for independent review.

My Fiefdom Is Gone

(read this song with The Pretenders' "My City Was Gone" playing in the back of your mind)

I started teaching statistics in 2010, I think.  Prior to that time we'd always had 2 sections of stats; starting with the year I taught it, we've always had 3 sections.  And sections are always filled to the brim.  The course has always been open only to seniors, but because of some initiatives being pursued by our district, we decided we might open it up to certain juniors this year.

But still so many seniors signed up that we couldn't fit in any juniors.

Just yesterday our vice principal decided to open a 4th section of stats (there's all sorts of this that goes on the 1st month of school each year--don't get me started why!).  Teaching 4 of the same course would be sort of boring for me, and to minimize the movement of kids to new teachers he gave that section to a teacher who has previously taught statistics but is new to our school this year.  This class starts tomorrow--we don't have a teacher's edition of the text book for him, or even any books for his students!

Fortunately the first few days of stats is all about definitions of terms, and he'll only be 3 days of instruction behind me, and with a few waves of the magic want he'll be caught up to me by a week from this Friday--our Chapter 1 test.

For 7 years I've been the stats guy, but not anymore.  Now I have to share that title.

My fiefdom is gone.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Weight

Forgot to post it yesterday, but the scale hit 198.2 lbs.

It Arrived Today

It was only a week ago that I went to the DMV and, for the first time in many years, past the eye exam without corrective lenses.  Well, that's not entirely accurate--I still wear a corrective lens, but I wear it at night.  It changes the shape of my eye while I sleep, and the next day I have 20/20 vision.  In the corrected eye I have better than that, because in the uncorrected eye I have 20/70 vision, but I have 20/20 when using both eyes together.  Monovision is working great for me.

So for the first time in a long time, after "RSTR" (restrictions) on my license the word "NONE" is listed.  And in what used to be the empty space below that, my license now says "VETERAN".

I was at DMV a week ago, and my new license arrived today.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Speech vs Action

I am of the opinion that the Supreme Court screwed up when it invented "symbolic speech".  Words, whether spoken or written or otherwise published, are very different from action.  We have free speech, we have free press (to publish our words), and we have the right to peaceably assemble.

That's how it was the first 230+ years of our Republic.  That this needs to be said shows have far we've fallen in the past decade or so:
You have the right to be angry. You do not have the right to attack people, no matter how angry you are.

Trump made a vague statement about this madness. It’s not enough. He needs to call out both the alt-right morons and the Antifa dummies by name. And if he refuses to, he deserves the criticism he’s getting for it.

Political violence is wrong. It doesn’t matter how you justify it to yourself. It doesn’t matter how many memes you post of cartoon characters punching Hitler. If you take the law into your own hands to silence people, no matter how repulsive you find the things they’re saying, then you’re no better than they are.
Not quite sure what I'm talking about? We can start with the woman in this video I posted yesterday.  We can continue through Antifa (anti-first amendment) and BLM and anarchists and assorted other leftists.  We can continue with the 20-yr-old who drove a car into protesters a couple days ago (BTW, Virginia has the death penalty--do you lefties like it now?  I do.).

We need to get back to the values we held that allowed this country to become a beacon of freedom in the world.  If we lose those values, if we commit violence against each other just because we disagree, we'll be no better than many of the crapholes from which immigrants saw our beacon.  And our beacon will burn out.

Update:  what I wrote above is exactly why this is entirely the wrong way to go:
Professors attending a recent academic conference were advised to treat racial microaggressions in the classroom like actual assaults, according to attendees’ tweets...

“Treating racism in our classrooms as we would an assault removes the burden from the victim and begins to create safe space,” one scholar in attendance, Professor Shawna Mefferd Kelty of SUNY Plattsburgh, tweeted out.

Another attendee, Penn State Professor Jeanmarie Higgins, also tweeted: “Faculty: Treat racist microaggressions in classroom as you wd assault. Overtalking puts burden on students of color. -K Papailler.”

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Berkeley Teacher "Demands" Charges Against Her Be Dropped

How do you even discuss things with someone whose reality is as warped as this woman's is?  I mean, she makes every logical fallacy in the book.  Talk about cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs....

Saturday, August 12, 2017

A Sad Situation All Around

Sue and Wil are my classmates from West Point.  West Point cadets at that time were divided into 36 companies of 100+ cadets who lived and ate together and roomed in the same barracks, and Sue and I were in the same company from the beginning of our sophomore year till her departure at the end of our junior year.  I knew of Wil, knew who he was, but didn't really know him at all.  Wil was not in our company.

I read Sue's 2013 blog posts accusing Wil of rape and was saddened by what I read.

Based on the details I read in those blog posts, I know whose story I found more credible.  I don't know if a rape occurred or not.  Almost thirty years after the fact I don't know how a determination could be made one way or the other.  This wasn't a rape case, though, it was a defamation case, and the jury decided fairly quickly whom they believed.

This is just a sad situation all around.  The last four years have been a black mark on our class.

And for a variety of reasons, I'm not going to say publicly which one of them I believed more.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Loch Ness Monster Sighted!

This story cannot be true, as I'm told that voter fraud is a myth:
A Virginia college student was sentenced this week to 100 days incarceration for submitting fraudulent voter registration forms listing the names of dead people and other faulty information for a political organization connected to the Democratic Party.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

An Inauspicious Start

I went back to work on Tuesday.  Most of Tuesday was spent in meetings, but yesterday I had my computer on and connected all day. 

This morning, students showed up.  Yes, today was the first day of school!  So I turned on my computer, and what did I see?

Updating Windows.  Do not turn off your computer.  1/135 updates.

Are you freakin' kidding me???

It took well into 1st period before everything was done and I could take roll.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Damned If You Do

In a recent post Joanne, freshly back from England, writes about freshman (freshperson?) orientation at Rutgers--and the crazy SJW stream that runs through it.  I'd recommend reading her entire (relatively short) post, but if you just want the denouement, here you go:
Imagine being an 18-year-old away from home for the first time. You’re told that a casual remark could harm another student and be reported as an act of bias. Would you talk to a student who’s not in your racial/ethnic group? The safest way to avoid giving offense — just about the only way — is to socialize only with your own kind.

But microaggressions also can be nonverbal, the Rutgers training states. They include “avoiding people.” So, you’re screwed.
Yep, pretty much.

I'm So Old (How Old Am I)?

I thought I recognized her name.

One of our new teachers at school, her name sounded familiar.  I didn't recognize her face, though.  At all.

Today I was refreshing some returning teachers, and teaching new teachers, how to set up the online attendance and grading system our district uses.  This lady was among the teachers new to our district.  I don't remember what prompted her comment, but she mentioned that she had been one of my students in perhaps her sophomore year.  I think she graduated 9 years ago.

I've had a former student say that he became a math teacher because of me.  I don't know if the reason is true or not, but it was a kind thing to say.  We've had one or two teachers at our school that were students during my time there, but not my students.  This is the first time a former student has become my colleague.

Trivia question: from what 70s game show does the "spirit" of the title of this post come from?  And who was the host of that show?

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Weight

I was in Reno until yesterday afternoon.  This morning's weight was 199.6.

I Can See Clearly Now



Back in May I posted about the contact lens I wear at night that corrects my eye like a retainer does teeth. I just got home from the DMV.  Now, for the first time in I don't know how long, my drivers license will no longer have a "must wear corrective lenses" restriction on it. 

Monovision--correcting only one eye so that I have one eye to see up close and one eye to see distance, giving me fairly good vision overall--is really working out well for me.  No distance glasses, no reading glasses, nothing.

And while I was at DMV, I paid an additional $5 to have a "veteran" designation put on my license.  One never knows when that might come in handy!

Monday, August 07, 2017

How Much Is The Rich's "Fair Share" of Taxes

Liberals want to "tax the rich", but at some point you're just killing the goose that lays the golden egg.  Even the New York Times sees this, although they sugarcoat it a bit in this story:
Our top-heavy economy has come to this: One man can move out of New Jersey and put the entire state budget at risk. Other states are facing similar situations as a greater share of income — and tax revenue — becomes concentrated in the hands of a few.

Last month, during a routine review of New Jersey’s finances, one could sense the alarm. The state’s wealthiest resident had reportedly “shifted his personal and business domicile to another state,” Frank W. Haines III, New Jersey’s legislative budget and finance officer, told a State Senate committee. If the news were true, New Jersey would lose so much in tax revenue that “we may be facing an unusual degree of income tax forecast risk,” Mr. Haines said.
It isn't just New Jersey: 
In New York, California, Connecticut, Maryland and New Jersey, the top 1 percent pay a third or more of total income taxes. Now a handful of billionaires or even a single individual like Mr. Tepper can have a noticeable impact on state revenues and budgets.

California had to account for a “Facebook effect” in 2012 and 2013 after that company’s 2012 initial public offering of stock. The offering generated more than $1 billion in revenue — much of that from the chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, and a small group of company shareholders. Washington, D.C., had an unexpected $50 million gain in its 2012 fiscal year — which helped create a budget surplus — after the death of a local billionaire increased its estate tax receipts.

Some academic research shows that high taxes are chasing the rich to lower-tax states, and anecdotes of tax-fleeing billionaires abound. But other studies say there is little evidence showing that the rich move solely for tax purposes. Millionaires and billionaires who move from the high-tax states in the Northeast to Florida, for instance, may be drawn by the sunshine, lifestyle and retirement culture, in addition to lower taxes.
The NYT is a liberal paper, so you knew "income inequality" had to come up somehow:
“In a time of rising inequality, I’m not sure the right answer is lowering taxes or making them less progressive,” said Kim S. Rueben, senior fellow of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center at the Urban Institute. “It’s more about keeping an eye on people, seeing where they are and enforcing the tax rules.”
Don't let those rich people move!  And if they do, tax them to death

Seems to me that the states listed above can't afford to kill their golden goose.  I'd suggest that if their budgets are overly dependent on just a few people, they probably shouldn't chase those people away with confiscatory tax rates.
In California, 5,745 taxpayers earning $5 million or more generated more than $10 billion of income taxes in 2013, or about 19 percent of the state’s total, according to state officials.

“Any state that depends on income taxes is going to get sick whenever one of these guys gets a cold,” Mr. Sullivan said.
Liberals decry the rich--even though so many of them are rich themselves!--but can't fund a government without them.  Hey libs, you want to be the party of science?  Study some economics.

Guest Blogging

My guest blogging posts at Joanne's blog for yesterday and today are:
Justice Department To Address Affirmative Action at Universities, and
What Is The Proper Response To This?

Finally, An Official Press Release

I'd seen the pdf file of the orders identifying the senior cadet leadership positions at West Point, and I saw a blog post (from a blog I'd never before heard of) identifying that the brigade commander, known colloquially as the First Captain, will be a black woman for the first time.  Here's an army public affairs story containing the press release:
Cadet Simone Askew of Fairfax, Virginia, has been selected First Captain of the U.S. Military Academy's Corps of Cadets for the 2017-2018 academic year, achieving the highest position in the cadet chain of command. She will assume her duties on Aug. 14.

Askew, an International History major, currently leads 1,502 cadets as the Regimental Commander of Cadet Basic Training II.

As First Captain she is responsible for the overall performance of the approximately 4,400-member Corps of Cadets. Her duties also include implementing a class agenda and acting as a liaison between the Corps and the administration.

Askew is the first African-American woman to hold this esteemed position. 
The press release itself is here.

It's hard to tell from the unisex names on the press release of leadership positions but I read that three of the four regimental commanders are also women.

I wish good luck to all of them as they undertake their last year at West Point.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Another Well-Intentioned Step On The Road To Hell

I don't think too many people genuinely honestly truly want to destroy higher education.  There are plenty who are clueless, who don't think through the ramifications of their proposals, who naively or stupidly think they're genuinely helping people.  In other words, I'm inclined to think the best of people even when the idiocy of their ideas should be a trumpet call to battle.

But that positive view of people's motivations can be stretched to the limit sometimes, and I'm nearing that point with university math.  Recently the chancellor of California's community college system recommended eliminating the algebra requirement for college because too many minority students can't/don't pass it (link).  I'll take him at his word that he truly wants to help people earn an associate's degree; he and I would no doubt disagree on whether or not his proposal devalues the degree and hence the reason for earning it.

That proposal was bad enough.  That was a stick of dynamite.  Let's jack that up to bunker-busting-bomb level:
Cal State plans to drop placement exams in math and English as well as the noncredit remedial courses that more than 25,000 freshmen have been required to take each fall — a radical move away from the way public universities traditionally support students who come to college less prepared than their peers.

In an executive order issued late Wednesday, Chancellor Timothy P. White directed the nation’s largest public university system to revamp its approach to remedial education and assess new freshmen for college readiness and course placement by using high school grades, ACT and SAT scores, previous classroom performance and other measures that administrators say provide a more accurate and comprehensive understanding of students’ knowledge.

Cal State will no longer make those students who may need extra help take the standardized entry-level mathematics (ELM) exam and the English placement test (EPT).

The new protocol, which will go into effect in fall 2018, “facilitates equitable opportunity for first-year students to succeed through existing and redesigned education models,” White wrote in a memorandum to the system’s 23 campus presidents, who will be responsible for working with faculty to implement the changes. The hope is that these efforts will also help students obtain their degrees sooner — one of the public university system's priorities. Cal State has committed to doubling its four-year graduation rate, from 19% to 40%, by 2025.
When you see the words "equitable" or "equity" in an education context, run for the hills.  Those words don't mean what they mean in ordinary English; allow me to translate:

"Too many minority students have been placed in remedial classes, and that's not 'fair'.  To solve this problem we're going to get rid of the remedial classes."

Sure, they're spinning this as a wonderful positive:
Under the new system, all Cal State students will be allowed to take courses that count toward their degrees beginning on Day 1. Students who need additional support in math or English, for example, could be placed in “stretch” courses that simultaneously provide remedial help and allow them to complete the general math and English credits required for graduation.

Faculty are also being encouraged to explore other innovative ways to embed additional academic support in college-level courses. A few other states have experimented with these approaches, and the results so far are encouraging, administrators said.
This is a "social justice" action given the lightest veneer of academic respectability.  I'm not buying it. I want to see evidence of improved math ability

There is good commentary of the community college chancellor's idea in the comments on my three posts at Joanne Jacob's blog:
Here We Go Again With Algebra
Getting Rid of Algebra, Part 2
Getting Rid of Algebra, Part 3--The Empire Strikes Back
Such comments are even more applicable in the university setting.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Guest Blogging

My guest post over at Joanne's today is Whiny Misfit, Victim, or Both?

It's Not Heavy Statistics, But The Numbers Are Telling Us Something

When it comes to college admissions, it's hard to deny that Asians are the new Jews:
One microdrama this week came from a leaked document revealing that the Justice Department may staff up an investigation into “intentional race-based discrimination” in college admissions. The left is accusing Justice of dismantling racial preferences, though acceptance practices at elite universities deserve more scrutiny, particularly regarding Asian-American applicants.

In 2015 a coalition of more than 60 Asian-American groups filed a complaint with the Justice Department Civil Rights Division that alleges admissions discrimination at Harvard University, and the details are striking. In 1993 about 20% of Harvard students were Asian-American, and that figure has barely budged over two decades, even as the Asian-American share of the U.S. population has grown rapidly. Harvard’s admitted class of 2021 is 22% Asian-American, according to data on the university’s website, and the numbers are roughly consistent at Princeton, Yale and other Ivy League schools.

Compare that with California, where a 1990s referendum banned the state’s public universities from considering race as an admissions factor. The share at University of California campuses at Berkeley and Los Angeles tops 30%, as the complaint notes. At the private California Institute of Technology, which by choice does not consider race as a factor, more than 40% of students were Asian-American in 2013, up from 26% in 1993.

Also notable is research on how much more competitive Asian-Americans must be to win entry into Harvard or other hallowed progressive halls. All else being equal, Asian-American must score 140 points higher on the SAT than a white counterpart, 270 points higher than a Hispanic student, and 450 points higher than a black applicant, according to 2009 research from Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade and co-author Alexandria Walton Radford.

Schools are allowed to consider race as a “plus” factor, and Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in recent years has muddied the legal standards, most recently in Fisher v. University of Texas. But the Asian-American disparities look like evidence of de facto admissions quotas that the High Court has explicitly declared illegal.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Guest Blogging

My posts over at Joanne's today are
Cognitive Privilege, and
I Can Think Of Worse Pursuits for Teenagers

Culture Isn't Stagnant

That's one of the lesser reasons why the idea behind so-called cultural appropriation is not only wrong, but insidious.  And yes, immigrants to the United States should learn English and should integrate their former cultures into the greater American culture:
In fact, the only difference between the ctrl-left and the alt-right is how they envision the treatment of these “minority cultures.”

And I hate to say it, but if the innate nature of language and culture were correct, the alt-right would have the right idea. If a culture can’t be assimilated into your own, if the descendants of your immigrants will never understand your political system, your language, or be able to participate fully in the life of the nation, immigration amounts to a poison pill.

Which makes the left’s position that we should bring in these minorities, encourage them not to assimilate and give them all sorts of linguistic accommodations, like a lot of their other beliefs essentially suicidal. They hate themselves and have since the day they were born, but are too wussy to eat a bullet, and therefore they seek to destroy their homeland, their co-citizens, their own culture, in an ecstatic fit of oikophobia.

Note the if in the above sentence. If language and culture were innate, the alt-right would be at least self-preserving.

The problem, of course, is that the alt-right and the ctrl-left both ignore reality.

That Big Yellow Thing In The Sky

Do you think it has an influence on the earth's climate?  I do, and have for a long time.  Here's some more evidence for that belief:
In a just published study in The Open Atmospheric Science Journal here, German scientists Horst-Joachim L├╝decke and Carl-Otto Weiss have used a large number of temperature proxies worldwide to construct a global temperature mean over the last 2000 years, dubbed G7, in order to find out more about the sun’s role on climate change.

Their results drop a huge surprise on the laps of scientists who have long believed the earth is warming due to human-emitted CO2.

The analysis by the German scientists shows the strongest climate cycle components as 1000, 460, and 190-year periods. The G7 global temperature extrema coincide with the Roman, Medieval, and present optima, as well as the well-known minimum of AD 1450 during the Little Ice Age.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Leftist Indoctrination Begins Before The First Class Starts

A very astute observation about college freshmen reading assignments:
The indoctrination is probably unnecessary. After all, studies show that today’s high school graduates – especially those who listened well, earned the best grades and gained admissions to top schools – are more likely to identify themselves as “liberal” or “far-left” than at any time since the early 1970s. They are more committed to “social justice” and increasingly support efforts to shut down speakers whose views they disagree with (no wonder the left fights so hard to preserve the public education status quo).

And during four, five or six years on campus – sorry mom and dad – students will be instructed by professors who support Democrats. In their book, “Passing on the Right,” Jon A. Shields and Joshua M. Dunn Sr. noted five major studies that “all placed the percentage of Republican professors between 7 percent and 9 percent in the social sciences and somewhere between 6 percent and 11 percent in the humanities.”

Nevertheless, North Carolina’s top schools make sure to signal the rules of the game from the get-go through the books they ask every incoming freshman to read...

As a classical liberal, I find the left-wing tilt of these books disturbing. Their underlying message is that American culture is cruel and close-minded, a problem to be overcome. Training our future leaders to see we the people as members of separate identity groups engaged in a Darwinian struggle is a form of national suicide.

I also see the sad logic of it. The elite culture these schools are training students to join is defined by a bundle of progressive attitudes. These include the idea that there are single right, unquestionable answers on a range of complex issues, from race, gender and identity to climate change and health care.

I do not deny that African-Americans, Muslims, LGBTQ Americans and others face special challenges.

My concern is that the books assigned do not leave room for the larger purpose of education: to question and challenge ideas, to truly engage in what the left calls “courageous conversations.” The three books selected by the North Carolina schools are, at bottom, personal stories. They are not collections of facts – which can be debated objectively – but of opinions, which, by their nature, are unassailable.

They are words to be heard, not scrutinized or challenged.  (boldface mine--Darren)
The only people who are supposed to challenge their own ideas and beliefs are those the left doesn't agree with.

I like the author's closing:
Indeed, the growing intolerance we see on campus reflects this failure. Such authoritarian behavior is the long-favored response of those who see the world in black and white, who insist that their opinion is Truth, and who lash out in frustration because they lack the words to form a cogent response.

Addressing that is higher education’s greatest challenge. 

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/j-peder-zane/article164863872.html#storylink=cpy

Guest Blogging

My post today at Joanne's is about Digital Natives and Multitasking.

Microsoft Office World Championship

When teaching statistics I use a variety of tools--small scientific calculators, TI-83's, Minitab on laptops.  I also use Microsoft's Excel spreadsheet software, as much to introduce its functionality to students as for its statistical analysis tools.  The vast majority of my students have never used a spreadsheet before taking my class.  Digital natives?  Outside of a few apps on their phones, I'm not so sure.

These kids, though?  They know what they're doing, and it looks like they're having fun doing it:
Like many teens, John Dumoulin passed the summer before his senior year of high school in front of a computer screen. But he wasn’t playing “League of Legends,” streaming “Game of Thrones” or watching hours on end of YouTube videos.

He was mastering the art of the pivot table.

The 17-year-old from Virginia spent several hours a day perfecting his technique in Microsoft Excel. He was training for what he calls the “Olympics,” after all.

This week, John was one of 150 students from 50 countries competing in the Microsoft Office World Championship at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim. At stake: cash, prizes and the clout that comes with being the best in the world at Excel, PowerPoint or Word.
Very cool!

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

My Kinda Feminist

While she holds many views that I don't, Camille Paglia is someone whose ideas about feminism are ones I often share:
Camille Paglia has been called the "anti-feminist feminist" for decades but she's not one to back down.

As a self-proclaimed "leader of the dissident wing of feminism," she maintains that her arguments with what she calls "mainstream feminists" are necessary to shake up a movement she sees as stuck in near-religious ideologies.

In Paglia's recent collection of writings from 1990 to today, Free Women, Free Men: Sex, Gender, Feminism, she argues "[w]omen will never know who they are until they let men be men."

Her key message to feminists: "Stop blaming men."
I like this part, too:
Paglia's advice to young women wanting to succeed in today's world:

"They should model their persona on me and on fellow Amazon feminists of the 1960s," says Paglia, "which is that you are responsible for how people treat you."

Calexit Goal: To Eliminate the Middle Class

He said it, not me!  And he is a leader in the movement for California to secede from the union.
Fox News’ Tucker Carlson asked “Calexit” leader Shankar Singam how California could stand as its own nation given their current mismanagement has caused the middle class to move to other states.
Singam, who believes the Golden State is “not the U.S.,” argued that it is a “good thing” that the middle class is leaving California because it makes room for new immigrants.

“We need to open up for the new wave of immigrants to come up,” Singman said. “We’re exporting our middle class to the United States–you guys should be thanking us for that.”
link

At least we're going to get the socialist worker's paradise without the killing fields of Cambodia, the famines of Ukraine, the gulags of Siberia, the Cultural Revolution of China, or the walls and fences that keep people in instead of out of every communist country that's ever existed. No, this time we're just going to chase away the bourgeoisie and import our peasants!


Guest Blogging

My post over at Joanne's today is
Educated, Yes, But Smarter? Happier?

How Bad Is The Environment at Evergreen College

You've probably heard of the explosive, racially-charged events that took place earlier this year at Evergreen (State) College in Olympia, WA.  After getting plenty of well-deserved negative press, the school has pledged to "educate" its students about discriminating against students based on the color of their skin.  That would be straight out of 1964 were it not for the fact that white students were the ones being openly harassed, attacked, and threatened:
After a white Evergreen State College student filed a formal complaint citing claims of “racially driven violence and harassment” from peers of color, a campus official has pledged that future training topics for student leaders will include preventing bias based on race.

The complaint had been filed by student Steve Coffman*, a junior and history major at the embattled university, who stated that at a heated campus meeting in late May organized by students who claimed the campus is racist and attended by President George Bridges, Coffman was told to get out of the seat he was sitting in and move to the back of the room because he is white.

“I entered about 20 minutes before the meeting started and sat in one of the numerous provided chairs in the room. Subsequently I was approached twice about being a ‘white person’ sitting in chairs that were ‘reserved for people of color,’” Coffman stated in the emailed complaint, a copy of which was obtained by The College Fix.

“Twice I was told I should not be sitting in those chairs and I should leave the room or stand in the back. 
You'd think minorities, specifically American blacks, would be sensitive to issues about being told to sit in the back (of the bus).
“I refused to move and was repeatedly harassed by event organizers and other students around me,” Coffman added. “As this happened on college property and at an event attended by college leadership, it is patently obvious that attempts to discriminate and deny access to facilities based on race or ethnicity occurred in violation of state law and college policy.”
Ya think?
Also in mid-July, a memo emailed from an Evergreen State College administrator to students warned them that aggressively cornering and shouting down faculty, staff and peers and blocking campus exits is actually illegal and future occurrences could result in criminal charges.
One wonders why the school didn't enforce these rules last May.

Another student, while claiming that the campus isn't a hotbed of racism, somehow survives swirling inconsistency after writing this:
I’m left wondering, where is the racism I keep hearing so much about? This place is so not racist. If it was any less racist, it could be the textbook example for MLK’s dream. It’s so far left its professors and policies often make Bernie Sanders look moderate.

Yet I kept hearing about racist campus police, and racist professors, and racists campus policies, and institutional racism. Then I asked for specifics. Big mistake.

The response I get in person and online can be summarized thusly: “Asking about racism is perpetuating racism.” “Seeking evidence is oppressive.”
It's not racist because it's so leftie?  *retch*

After a few more observations he states,
I say this as a non-traditional student in nearly every way. I’m 37 years old and a junior. I’m a gun-toting libertarian atheist who voted for George W. Bush. Twice.
The racism is right in front of him but he refuses to see it.  Impressive, dangerous, clueless, or some mixture of all three?

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

What Is There For The University To Investigate?

The man clearly didn't rape the woman.  The evidence--video, no less--shows the sex was consensual.  The legal case against the man has been dropped.
Prosecutors will no longer pursue a case against a USC student accused of raping a fellow undergraduate after a judge’s decision that there was not enough evidence to send the case to trial, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said Monday.

Charges will not be refiled against 20-year-old Armaan Karim Premjee, who was accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old student in her campus dorm on April 1, said Shiara Davila-Morales, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office. Premjee’s preliminary hearing was held in Los Angeles Superior Court last week...

Emily Gersema, a USC spokeswoman, said in an email Monday that Premjee is registered for courses in the fall. Gersema said she could not confirm whether the university was conducting its own investigation.
What could a university "investigation" possibly uncover?

Totally left out of this story are two questions that need to be answered:
1) Who reported this alleged rape?
2) Are charges being filed against the person who falsely reported a rape?

Update:  Then there's this, also from USC, which should be proof enough that the university can't be and shouldn't be trusted to investigate alleged sexual assaults.  Leave such investigations to law enforcement:
A former football player was “railroaded” by a “rogue” Title IX office at the University of Southern California, according to a surprising source — his alleged “victim.”

Zoe Katz, the captain of USC’s women’s tennis team, is accusing the university of not only ignoring her protestations that her boyfriend Matt Boermeester didn’t assault her, but threatening her for speaking up...

She denounced USC for conducting a “horrible and unjust” investigation: “Looking back, Matt never had a chance. Before he was even interviewed by the Title IX investigator, he was suspended from the University"...

“I was told that I must be afraid of Matt, which I definitely was not and am not,” Katz wrote in her statement denouncing USC. “When I told the truth about Matt, in repeated interrogations, I was stereotyped and was told I must be a ‘battered’ woman, and that made me feel demeaned and absurdly profiled.”

Instead she fears “further” retaliation from USC’s Title IX office, which she says isolated her by prohibiting her from speaking with Boermeester and even her own friends....
USC is not covering itself in glory on this topic.

Guest Blogging

My post at Joanne's today is about teaching in International Schools.

Monday, July 31, 2017

This Is Where Socialism Leads

Ignore Bitcoin, buy World of Warcraft tokens--if you live in Venezuela:
Digital gold from Blizzard’s massive multiplayer online game “World of Warcraft” is worth more than actual Venezuelan currency, the bolivar, according to new data.

Venezuelan resident and Twitter user @KalebPrime first made the discovery July 14 and tweeted at the time that on the Venezuela’s black market — now the most-used method of currency exchange within Venezuela according to NPR — you can get $1 for 8493.97 bolivars. Meanwhile, a “WoW” token, which can be bought for $20 from the in-game auction house, is worth 8385 gold per dollar.

According to sites that track the value of both currencies, KalebPrime’s math is outdated, and WoW gold is now worth even more than the bolivar.
I've written before about hyperinflation (here, for example).  This is what hyperinflation looks like at the beginning.

Venezuela is starving. And it was only a few years ago when Chavez and his socialism were being praised by American leftists (here's another).

Update, 8/2/17:  A couple of days behind me is the Los Angeles Times with this op-ed:
Remember all those left-wing pundits who drooled over Venezuela?

Privilege

Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son.

Methinks the "white privilege" crowd has jumped the shark with this one:
The University of Iowa’s student newspaper has announced the discovery of a special privilege which intelligent people acquire as an accident of birth. This new privilege — called “cognitive privilege” — functions in essentially the same way as white privilege...

As with skin color and much else, Daily Iowan author Dan Williams argues, people have no control over how smart they are. Life is a huge cosmic lottery full of winners and losers.
I teach in a public school and live in a 1240 sf house.  What has my cognitive privilege gotten for me? That I've avoided two of the faults in the Animal House quote above?  Yeah, hate me for that.

Guest Blogging

My post over at Joanne's today references the exorbitant amount of money the Los Angeles school board pays itself:

How Much Should School Board Trustees Be Paid?

Weight

It's not the eating, it's the lack of exercise.

Today's weight:  200.6 lbs.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Guest Blogging

My posts over at Joanne's today:
Doubleplus Ungood Crimethink, and
Elder Abuse?

California Pensions

Funny how it's the "elephant" in the room when it's the donkeys who run this state and have created this problem:
Jerry Brown has been a strong governor and a moderating force on budget issues. But when it comes to pensions, the new state budget projects that California has nearly $206 billion in “unfunded liabilities” for the state’s two public pension funds.

Over the last eight years, we added $100 billion in unfunded retirement liability for these funds. This is the elephant in the room of state finances, and it is time we got serious about it.

You probably haven’t heard much about the looming pension crisis because elected officials don’t like talking about it and it’s easy for them to kick the can down the road: they can make promises to public employees now that won’t come due until they’re out of office.

But the slow creep of pension costs is crowding out investments in other areas, including education, environmental stewardship, social services, and public transportation. In essence, the state is being forced to default on its social obligations to pay for its pension obligations. If you’re a progressive, fixing this problem may be the most important issue facing the state.
I'm not a progressive, I'm a conservative.  You don't have to be a progressive to think that fiscal solvency is good for a government.  In fact, that's a pretty conservative belief!

An Update on My "Christmas In July" Present

You might recall the story of my buying a massage chair at Costco.  What I didn't tell you was that it took days for the salesman to actually be able to complete the sale, and during those days I worried that the deal would fall through.  Perhaps he didn't have the authority to sell me a floor model at the price he did...

But as I said, a few days later he called me and asked me to come in to Costco.  At that point I paid for the chair and felt a lot better about the situation.  It was much more likely now that I'd actually get it!

I was told the chair company would contact me with shipping information in order to schedule a delivery.  A few more days went by and they didn't contact me.  I called them.  Fortunately, on my second attempt at a call I spoke to a real human (who was quite friendly and helpful) and got the shipping company and tracking information.  I looked up the tracking info.

On July 26th my chair left New Hampshire and on the 27th it arrived in Newark.  On the 28th it left Newark and is still listed as "en route".  It should arrive in California on August 1st; it would be nice if I could get it delivered on August 2nd.

I shouldn't have had to wait so long and put so much effort into giving a company 4 digits of money, but that feeling fades as August 1st gets closer and closer.  I'm so looking forward to sitting in that chair!

Update, 7/31/17:  As of 1:30 this morning my chair was at SFO.  Getting closer!

Update, 8/1/17:  I called yesterday and scheduled a delivery between 11 am and 3 pm today.  I just checked and it left SFO at 9:20, so that rules out an 11:00 sharp delivery!

Update, 8/2/17:  It arrived in the early afternoon.  But the delivery driver would only deliver it to my porch, saying he's not allowed inside people's houses.  A friend came over and helped me get the 200+ pound behemoth inside.  It was missing a couple clips to hold the footrest/calf massager onto the chair, so I jerry-rigged it with wire (the clips will arrive in the mail within a week, I was told this morning).  It feels so good!  I probably spent an entire hour or more in it yesterday!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Rescinding Admissions

I'm not sure it's entirely justifiable for UC Irvine to rescind admissions for incoming freshmen because they didn't submit transcripts by a certain date--but for poor senior year grades?  Absolutely.  And yet people are complaining because they think they're entitled to admission.

Probably not the strongest argument for rescinding:
UCI’s stated reason for the rescission, Gonzalez said, was that the campus had not received one of two required transcripts on time — though she and her mother say they mailed out both documents in the same envelope two weeks before the July 1 deadline.
These are the snowflakes who need to suck it up, buttercup:
Yunek said UCI had revoked acceptances only for students who had not met the conditions of their admission contracts. Those conditions include receiving a high school diploma, maintaining a weighted 3.0 senior-year grade-point average with no Ds or Fs in UC-approved courses...

And then there's the overreaction:
A petition stating these demands had been signed by more than 640 students, relatives, alumni and community members as of Thursday afternoon.

“We are so sorry that UCI admin has decided to ruin students lives...."
The drama, the drama.

For those students from whom UCI didn't get the paperwork, just send them a notification that the document hasn't been received and give them one more week.  After one more week send a nastygram letting them know they have 3 more days or their admission will be rescinded.  Or, send out that first warning a week before July 1st reminding students.  Something.

For those students who got senioritis and bombed a class?  You don't belong at a university.  Full stop.  It's not because you couldn't succeed there, it's because you didn't meet the academic admissions requirements.  Your spot went to someone more deserving, someone who met the requirements. Deal with it.  Accept responsibility for your own shortcomings and move on from there.  Apply again next year.

Update, 8/5/17:  Irvine has rescinded some of the rescissions:
On Wednesday afternoon, Gillman announced that Irvine was reinstating the offers to almost 300 students whose acceptances had been rescinded because of a missed deadline (so long as their final high school transcripts don’t show problems, such as an F). Roughly another 200 students, whose senior-year grades fell too steeply or whose transcripts contain inconsistencies, will still have to win an appeal in order to enroll.

“We are a university recognized for advancing the American Dream, not impeding it,” Gillman wrote in a public letter. “This situation is rocking us to our core because it is fundamentally misaligned with our values.” He added: “The students and their families have my personal, sincerest apology. We should not have treated you this way over a missed deadline.”

Screw Up, Move Up

When I was in the army--more than half my life ago--we used to have a saying:  "f*** up, move up."  When someone screwed up they were moved up to a staff position in higher headquarters.  True, they were out of a "line" unit, but they also had more decent working hours and much less field time.

As it was in the army, so it is in higher education:
Linda P.B. Katehi, who resigned last year as UC Davis chancellor after months of controversy, will return as a distinguished professor in September at the same pay rate she received as campus leader, university officials said Friday.

Katehi will be paid $318,000 on a nine-month contract – when annualized, equivalent to the $424,000 salary she received as chancellor. She will teach electrical and computer engineering, as well as women and gender studies, according to a UC Davis bio.

Her salary appears to make her the highest paid faculty member in either department, based on the most recent UC salary data available to the public.
Let's recall why she's no longer in charge at UC Davis:
Katehi, 63, resigned last August as an embattled chancellor who faced questions about her actions and leadership. She initially drew criticism for accepting a board seat from for-profit DeVry Education Group while it was under federal investigation for allegedly misleading students. She later came under fire when The Sacramento Bee reported she spent heavily on image-enhancing firms to boost her reputation after the 2011 pepper-spraying of student protesters by campus police.
Doesn't sound good, right?  Well, check out the wrist-slap she got:
University of California President Janet Napolitano launched a $1 million, four-month investigation that ended with an agreement allowing Katehi to return in 2017 as a member of the faculty. But first, as is the tradition, she was allowed to take a year off at her chancellor’s pay, plus retirement and health benefits.
Does that sound reasonable?
“This is exactly why so many people are so cynical about government,” said Ed Howard, senior counsel for the Center for Public Interest Law.
No feces, detective.

Guest Blogging

My post over at Joanne's today is about Peer Tutoring.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Fool Me Once, Shame On You, Fool Me Twice...

I didn't buy or watch Al's first movie, and now his second is coming out:
Former Vice President Al Gore’s new global warming film debuts in select theaters Friday, just in time to see if his 2006 prediction came true that humanity would face a “true planetary crisis” if nothing was done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

It didn’t, but that hasn’t stopped Gore from going on a whirlwind media tour to promote his new film “An Inconvenient Sequel.”
As an educator I did get a free copy of the original movie.  It's in my safe doing a two-fer:
1) no one is watching that copy, and
2) after 20 years I'll show it and let people see for themselves how wrongheaded the current environmental movement is.

It's Almost Like The Civil Rights Movement Never Happened

I thought we decided before I was born that government wasn't supposed to treat people of different races differently.  Yet it does, all the time--but does a government arm have to go this far?  Can this be justified on any legal grounds?
The University of Minnesota is banning white and straight students from a safe space on campus, according to a Thursday report.

The school’s Gender and Sexuality Center for Queer and Trans Life hosts “Tongues Untied,” a space in which people can congregate to discuss the impact of sexuality, race and gender, according to Campus Reform. But not everyone is invited.

“For our allies: we do appreciate your voices and commitment to dismantling racism and homophobia; however, please note that this is a space created for LGBTQIA and/or same-gender-loving people of color,” the space’s description reads.

“If you identify as a queer and/or trans indigenous person or person of color, we welcome you to take part in our discussions,” states the group’s Facebook page.

Guest Blogging

My post over at Joanne's today is
Getting Rid of Algebra, Part 3–The Empire Strikes Back

Update:  Just added another one:
District Admits Asst Principal Acted Illegally

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Guest Blogging

My posts over at Joanne's today are

Getting Rid Of Algebra, Part 2, and
Charter Schools Are Racist? The Answer Isn’t Black and White

"Digital Natives My A**"

Kids today may be "digital natives", may have grown up with electronics in their hands, but most don't know much about them besides how to use a few chosen apps on their phones.  Seriously, I've encountered more than a few students who couldn't save a file to a flash drive on a computer.  Asking them to folders on their phones so they could organize pictures so they don't have to scroll through thousands to find the one picture they want to show me--"You can do that?"

Teachers who use the "digital native" term are merely looking for an excuse not to teach.  Yes, I know I just painted with a pretty broad brush, but the statement is more true than not.  There's a world of difference between teaching and letting kids play with electronics.

It should be obvious to anyone who knows anything about electronics that most students don't know as much about electronics as many in my generation do; after all, we taught ourselves how to program in BASIC on TRS-80's!  We used DOS, ferchrissakes!  We're more familiar with how things operate because we were in at the beginning and, while not having used electronics all our lives, we've used electronics for 30+ years (I bought my first computer in 1981).  Kids know how to use Snapchat and Instagram, but that doesn't mean they know much about anything else electronic.

And it certainly doesn't mean that we should teach them differently:

Abstract

Current discussions about educational policy and practice are often embedded in a mind-set that considers students who were born in an age of omnipresent digital media to be fundamentally different from previous generations of students. These students have been labelled digital natives and have been ascribed the ability to cognitively process multiple sources of information simultaneously (i.e., they can multitask). As a result of this thinking, they are seen by teachers, educational administrators, politicians/policy makers, and the media to require an educational approach radically different from that of previous generations. This article presents scientific evidence showing that there is no such thing as a digital native who is information-skilled simply because (s)he has never known a world that was not digital. It then proceeds to present evidence that one of the alleged abilities of students in this generation, the ability to multitask, does not exist and that designing education that assumes the presence of this ability hinders rather than helps learning. The article concludes by elaborating on possible implications of this for education/educational policy.
Go read the whole thing. The text itself is only 5 pages, plus title page and references.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A Liberal Acknowledges That Liberals Own A Large Portion of the Blame for The Disdain Conservatives Have for Universities

The author shows his own prejudices, to be sure, and probably isn't even aware of them (how many do you find in just the snippet below?).  But despite that, he's headed in the right (like that pun??!!) direction:
And given the endless controversies on college campuses in which conservative speakers get shut out and conservative students feel silenced, the public relations work is being done for the enemies of public education by those within the institutions themselves.

Who’s to blame for the fact that so few Republicans see the value in universities? The conservative media must accept some responsibility for encouraging its audiences to doubt expertise; so must those in the mainstream media who amplify every leftist kerfuffle on campus and make it seem as though trigger warnings are now at the center of college life.

But academics are at fault, too, because we’ve pushed mainstream conservatism out of our institutions. Sociologists Neil Gross and Solon Simmons have found that about half of professors identify as liberal, versus only 14% who identify as Republican. (At the time of their study, in 2006, only a fifth of American adults described themselves as liberal.)

In “What’s Liberal About the Liberal Arts?” Michael Berube describes and defends a philosophy of non-coercion and intellectual pluralism that isn’t just an intellectual curiosity, but an actual ethos that he and other professors live by. I grew up believing that most professors lived by that ethos. I don’t anymore. And when I suggest it’s a problem that academics are so overwhelmingly liberal, I get astonished reactions. “You actually think conservatives should feel welcome on campus?”

In my network of professional academics, almost no one recognizes that our lopsided liberalism presents a threat to academia itself. Many would reply to the Pew Research Center’s findings with glee. They would tell you that they don’t want the support of Republicans. My fellow academics won’t grapple with the simple, pragmatic realities of political power and how it threatens vulnerable institutions whose funding is in doubt. That’s because there is no professional or social incentive in the academy to think strategically or to engage with the world beyond campus.
The last paragraph shows that his reasoning is based on practical rather than philosophical considerations.  In fact, it wouldn't be too much of a stretch, from what is excerpted above, to conclude that the author wouldn't worry at all if Democrats ran all levels of government and hence universities wouldn't have to worry about funding.  Still, despite his traveling down the wrong road, he arrived at the right destination.

School, District, and University Administration

Much like any agency of government, I want educational administration at any level to be lean and to focus only on certain narrowly-defined tasks.  I want administration to do those tasks, only those tasks, and to do them well.  Yes, it's naive, but it's certainly not a harmful belief.

It seems that administrative bloat is not restricted to the western shores of the Atlantic, as we learn from a British university professor:
Then there’s the administration. Leaving aside the widely pilloried and Sisyphean administrative exercises known as the Research Excellence Framework and now the Teaching Excellence Framework, to put it simply we have in recent times witnessed an administrative coup in UK academia. In an article focussing on Oxford University but painting a picture that will be familiar to most academics, The Spectator wrote that the “university’s central administrative staff is now almost three times what it was 15 years ago. There was no similar increase in full-time academic staff, the people who teach students or do research…”. I won’t speculate here on the many reasons why this might be, rather I’ll merely point out that an increase in administrators—lovely and well-meaning as most of them are as individuals—naturally does not do what you might naively expect, i.e., take care of the administration so that academics can focus on academic work. No, instead it breeds ever more complex administrative mazes that are not just difficult to navigate but are de facto becoming the main part of the job. Kafkaesque would not be pushing it too far by any means.
I'm reminded of the discovery of the element Administratium:


The heaviest element known to science was recently discovered by investigators at a major US research university.  The element, tentatively named administratium, has no protons or electrons and thus has an atomic number of 0.  However, it does have one neutron, 125 assistant neutrons, 75 vice neutrons and 111 assistant vice neutrons, which gives it an atomic mass of 312.

These 312 particles are held together by a force that involves the continuous exchange of meson-like particles called morons.  It is also surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.
Since it has no electrons, administratium is inert.  However, it can be detected chemically as it impedes every reaction it comes in contact with.  According to the discoverers, a minute amount of administratium causes one reaction to take over four days to complete what would normally have occurred in less than a second. 

Administratium has a normal half-life of approximately three years at which time it does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons, vice neutrons and assistant vice neutrons exchange places.  In fact, an administratium sample's mass actually INCREASES over time, since with each reorganization some of the morons inevitably become neutrons, forming new isotopes.  This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to speculate that perhaps administratium is spontaneously formed whenever morons reach a certain quantity in concentration.  This hypothetical quantity is referred to as "critical morass".