Some complaints.

So, Ted Nugent will be attending the State of the Union address, as the guest of Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Crazytown. Good. Good, I say. In fact, I say gooooood, and rub my hands together like Montgomery Burns. Maybe Nugent will try to bring a machine gun into the House chamber, or wear camo, or poop his pants. At the very least, I expect him to do some brand-building of the sort he’s so well-known for. I expect nothing less than an outburst, or at the very least, some stupid statements afterward.

People keep trying to warn the crazy wing of the GOP, but they won’t listen. So, fine. Don’t listen, have fun with the Motor City Madman (although I think we should be cleansed of him now, and the nickname should really be switched to something Texan). Enjoy your twilight years.

I’m starting to feel the same way about popular criticism of the Catholic church, although HA HAW HE WEARS A DRESS hardly counts as such. I am no fan of Pope Benedict, the institution of the Catholic church, or all the trappings that go with it. The reasons go without saying, right? (Scrolling through the photo galleries yesterday, I was struck again by how much I despise the way the Vatican requires non-Catholic women like the first lady dress up in silly outfits just to be in the same room with the man.) We can all agree that if you’re not a Catholic, you owe the man no extraordinary respect or reverence, and if you are Catholic, I guess you owe him whatever your conscience or church says you do. But I grow weary of the standard tropes of papal disrespect — that he looks like the evil emperor in “Star Wars” or the sparkling observation that he wears a dress and Prada shoes, or that someone “just has a feeling there’s more to this,” i.e., the resignation, because surely “they” caught him in a “live boy/dead girl type of situation.” Stop. You look ignorant and silly. He’s an old man who’s going to die soon, and he cares enough about his job to leave it when he knows he can no longer do it. There are legitimate criticisms of the about-to-be-vacated papacy. Study up.

Boy, I’m feeling bitchy, aren’t I? Well, I’m hungry.

There’s also this (HT: MMJeff), a retired teacher’s lament of why so many high-school students, even bright, accomplished ones, are arriving at college unprepared to do college-level work, i.e. thinking. Please don’t dismiss it as the complaints of an overpaid, spoiled teacher wanking about No Child Left Behind. Read. I think this man speaks the truth:

In many cases, students would arrive in our high school without having had meaningful social studies instruction, because even in states that tested social studies or science, the tests did not count for “adequate yearly progress” under No Child Left Behind. With test scores serving as the primary if not the sole measure of student performance and, increasingly, teacher evaluation, anything not being tested was given short shrift.

Further, most of the tests being used consist primarily or solely of multiple-choice items, which are cheaper to develop, administer, and score than are tests that include constructed responses such as essays. Even when a state has tests that include writing, the level of writing required for such tests often does not demand that higher-level thinking be demonstrated, nor does it require proper grammar, usage, syntax, and structure. Thus, students arriving in our high school lacked experience and knowledge about how to do the kinds of writing that are expected at higher levels of education.

For a while now, I’ve been puzzling over a paradox in my own home: I have an A student who hates school. Hates it. Not one class has sparked her fire, although individual units in some classes — primarily science — have warmed her a bit. To her, school is a grind of boredom and homework. It’s easy, in these cases, to say a kid isn’t being “challenged,” and recommend a tougher course. Well, she’s in the tough courses, and all they are is boredom with more homework. I’m starting to think it’s not her, but the teaching, the testing, the endless hoop-jumping. By junior year of high school, which she starts next year, I was starting to look forward to it. There were interesting class discussions, projects that sent us down fascinating paths — you know the drill.

But I reflected, reading this, that NCLB has been a reality for my kid’s entire term in public education. And what was the impetus for it? Imposition of a business model on something that isn’t a business. You don’t make a decision in the business world without seeing the numbers, right? So test them! Then test them some more! And if they’re not learning, turn the whole enterprise over to the market, where the Invisible Hand will figure it all out.


During my years in the classroom I tried to educate other adults about the realities of schools and students and teaching. I tried to help them understand the deleterious impact of policies that were being imposed on our public schools. I blogged, I wrote letters and op-eds for newspapers, and I spent a great deal of time speaking with and lobbying those in a position to influence policy, up to and including sitting members of the US House of Representatives and Senate and relevant members of their staffs. Ultimately, it was to little avail, because the drivers of the policies that are changing our schools—and thus increasingly presenting you with students ever less prepared for postsecondary academic work—are the wealthy corporations that profit from the policies they help define and the think tanks and activist organizations that have learned how to manipulate the levers of power, often to their own financial or ideological advantage.

I’ll leave you with that. Time to brew a pot of coffee, see if I can’t improve my outlook.

Posted at 6:56 am in Current events |

86 responses to “Some complaints.”

  1. Deborah said on February 12, 2013 at 7:11 am

    I’m in agreement with your Kate. I hated high school, it was boring as hell and I was miserable. My mother died when I was in the 9th grade, maybe that was why? I went through high school in a fog, almost catatonic, and learned practically nothing. College was much better.

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  2. David C. said on February 12, 2013 at 7:42 am

    B. Barry Bamz now needs to add a line to the state of the union about our new Secratary of State and our Secretary of Defense nominee who answered our country’s call to duty and didn’t crap their pants in fear. Then watch Nuge go off like a light.

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  3. James said on February 12, 2013 at 7:51 am


    Sorry if I offended with that dead girl/live boy comment, but it was literally the first thing that came to mind. Call me ignorant.

    Oh, I guess you did.

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  4. Linda said on February 12, 2013 at 8:00 am

    I think that self-starters do better the higher they go in education, because it becomes less and less about people sitting on you to make you work and follow rules, and more about getting off your butt and working. I know I hated grade school, liked high school somewhat better, and really liked college. People who needed babysitting were lost in college because you either sink or swim by your ownself.

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  5. nancy said on February 12, 2013 at 8:19 am

    James, I had totally forgotten that. Trust me: You weren’t the only one to say that. Seriously, though — the man is 85 years old. I think his sex life left with all the rest of his physical abilities, right on schedule.

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  6. beb said on February 12, 2013 at 8:28 am

    Live boy/dead girl? Digby ( ) suggests that sort of is the case. Or rather at the time Cardinal Mahoney of LA was covering up predator priests Ratziner was the cardinal at the Vatican in charge with that issue, and thus was complicit in the cover up. This seems credible since the last pope was a dodering old man for years and never retired. Personal, as a non-Catholic, athiest I don’t understand why the Vatican is regarded as a Nation-state deserving of its own ambassador.

    I guess the reason Ted the Texas Teabagger Nugent is being invited to the State of the Union address is to counter all the Dems who are bring victims of gun violence along. He’s already promised to have remarks after the SOTU address so that will be the third Republican response to the President.

    I’ve been reading comments about the Rove v. Teabagger feud. The thing that strikes me is that Rove isn’t trying to pull the party towards the center but that he wants to get rid of all the people who can’t open their foot without talking about “legitimate” rape or “uppity” people in the White House. In short he wants a party better able to lie so people don’t find out how radical they are until after they get elected.

    Our daughter hated school and did poorly because she would just blow off homework. But what she really hated was that in her junior year there was a whole class devoted to nothing but rehearsing for the NCLB tests. Instead of testing her something useful they wasted her time on that.

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  7. brian stouder said on February 12, 2013 at 9:36 am

    I could not possibly agree more with this observation, and especially the sarcastic conclusion: You don’t make a decision in the business world without seeing the numbers, right? So test [the students] Then test them some more! And if they’re not learning, turn the whole enterprise over to the market, where the Invisible Hand will figure it all out.

    See – the most general concept of “No Child Left Behind” is fine, as far as it goes; we should not write off children who (for a multitude of possible reasons) have trouble learning. But we also must not and canNOT leave public education behind. Public education controlled by a locally elected governing body, entrusted with the education of all our children, and maintenance of the system going forward. Vouchers are blunt instruments, like non-selective herbicides, that simply kill everything. Organized, publicly run educational organizations can be knocked down, and then….what?

    I have no patience at all with this sort of societal nihilism, wherein “52 card pick-up” is the whole plan.

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  8. Julie Robinson said on February 12, 2013 at 10:02 am

    NCLB has legislated creativity out of education just as we need creative responses to problems more than ever. After the basic building blocks, critical thinking is the most important skill students need when they leave school. Very few life situations have clear and easy solutions of the type that can be solved by filling in a bubble on a multiple choice test. I think these skills are built through the arts, which are no longer given time and importance.

    Here’s a little chuckle from my facebook feed, a faux pas from Faux News: Seems they were blathering about how real happiness comes from one woman and one man, only the wedding photo they used was of two women. Whoopsie!

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  9. Charlotte said on February 12, 2013 at 10:09 am

    I think the most modern thing this pope has ever done is this resignation, and the more I think about it, it might be the one thing I admire about him. To bring the Church into a world in which power can transition peacefully, in which a former pope, like a former president, can exist alongside a new one — that’s really a very modern concept, especially for someone like Ratzinger, who is not a modern thinker. And I vastly prefer the idea that after serving, a pope can go off and spend his final years in contemplation … certainly seems more humane than dragging those poor old men out to mumble over the crowds.

    Every bright kid I know is struggling with high school. I have one who dropped out of public high school, started her own band in LA and is taking courses from the correspondence school the actor kids all use, one who I’m doing supplemental reading/writing with at my house, and one who I sent off to Beloit really worried because she’d never been asked to write a real paper in high school — she’s doing great, but only because Beloit has retooled it’s freshman year to accomodate these kids who have only ever taken multiple choice tests.

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  10. Connie said on February 12, 2013 at 10:12 am

    Julie, that same sex couple bought the bride’s dress on “Say Yes to the Dress.” It’s not like they were trying to keep it secret.

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  11. Scout said on February 12, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Ted Nugent at the SOTU is yet one more example of how badly we really do need comprehensive gun measures. These idiots keep making our case for us.

    The resignation of the Pope has certainly been big news this week, but as a non-Catholic I am not affected by it one bit.

    I will, however, continue to mock the living shit out of the moron who got us into two lost wars and tanked our economy, my livelihood included. I think he is subliminally trying to cleanse himself of his sins.

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  12. Bitter Scribe said on February 12, 2013 at 10:21 am

    Everything I’ve ever heard or read indicates that NCLB has wrecked public education in this country. That is Dubya’s true legacy. No wonder the little bastard hardly shows his nose in public anymore.

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  13. Deborah said on February 12, 2013 at 10:46 am

    I know what you mean Scout, Bush really botched things up for everyone. If I painted as badly as that I’d be embarrassed to show any one my work, not even my sister. Why would he take photos of those completely amateurish pieces of crap and send them to anyone? It’s like a toddler being proud of the poopy he made in the pot and wanting to show his mommy. Do you think Bush is having Alzheimer issues?

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  14. MarkH said on February 12, 2013 at 11:26 am

    Folks, forget the Nuge, SOTU, NCLB, W’s artistry, etc. THIS is happening now.

    They’re probably overrunning Charlotte’s house now. Then heading south to infest Yellowstone just in time for the tourist season. Then on to my neighborhood in the Tetons. Guess I better start practicing my best Clint Eastwood, “Get off my LAWN!”

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  15. LAMary said on February 12, 2013 at 11:31 am

    Neither of my sons loved high school, but the older one enjoyed academic decathalon and that kept him engaged. The younger one truly hated it, never did homework and dropped out one year ago today, his 18th birthday, when I could not stop him. He went to community college for a quarter and took a couple of random classes. In September he started, nearly at gunpoint (from me) at a charter school that uses self study and classroom testing. There was a lot of reading and writing required. He graduated yesterday, the day before his 19th birthday. He had to do units on pre-calc, economics, poetry, plant biology, Latin American history and political science, among others. He completed all his credits in five months with a 3.7 GPA. Mostly he was genuinely engaged, whether he would admit it or not. His school readings lead him to seek out other reading on similar topics. He’s also reading more fiction, good fiction.

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  16. Prospero said on February 12, 2013 at 11:44 am

    The resignation of the Pope has certainly been big news this week, but as a Catholic I am not affected by it one bit. American Catholics gave up listening to the Pope a long time ago, with contraception being the straw. When the “Princes of the Church” decided to fast-track J2P2 to canonization instead of the more obviously saintly John XXIII, they lost my ass completely. When the Vatican shunned and censured Liberation Theology activists, they failed to support basic Catholic and Christian truths.

    Human education in modern times is based upon a single discipline: reading for understanding. American culture ceased to include a reading cultural habit a llong time ago, despite the rise of the serial chapter books. I’vew mentioned before that the first novel I read was The Mysterious Island, which I’d say is a damn sight more challenging than a Twilight book. Not to be crabby gramps, but Madden on the Gameboy may foster drone operating skills, but it does nothing for critical thinking.

    The situation is exacerbated by dumbass shit like this:,

    and the mindless trope that there is a business model for every sort of human endeavor. I mean, how soul-killingly stupid is that fracking idea? I say, teach Latin in 7th grade if higher test scores are desirable. Supporting teachers rather than scapegoating them and trying to employ them on the cheap might be an intelligent approach, too. As far as vouchers and charter schools are concerned, both programs are invariable designed and operated by GOPers as a means to providing middle and upper class welfare and avoiding teaching actual science. The aim is to do to public schools what the 75-year out funding law is doing to USPS.

    A question, and I’m not going to say any more on the subject. Other than Awlaki, is there another “US citizen” that has been executed summarily? I mean, he seems to be it, and if you move to Yemen and join Al Quaeda, seems to me you effectively renounced your citizenship. I’m not talking about any other aspect of the drone killings, just this “killing Americans without due process” meme that is being promoted as if somebody sitting at home in Hahira is about to be taken out by remote control, just before ATF jack-booted thugs sieze all his gunzandammo. At best, this idea is being grossly misrepresented by people that didn’t find anything wrong with Shock and Awe at the beginning of Shrub’s illegal invasion of Iraq:

    That probably ran up a collateral damage toll it would take decades or centuries of drone attacks to equal.

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  17. Danny said on February 12, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    You know, while we’re discussing the current state of public education and apparent failures or areas for possible improvement, I have to wonder what role, for good or bad, that technology plays in all of this. Everyone seems so distracted these days by the little screens that we hold in our hands and the younger generation probably has this to a greater degree. Being addicted to technology seemingly drives a lot of what I might term ADHD-by-choice behavior.

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  18. Connie said on February 12, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Danny, our Thanksgiving dinner prayer last year began with a request to put away all phones and tablets until the meal was complete. That was a first.

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  19. Prospero said on February 12, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    LAMary@15 Congratulations to your keedo. That’s a serious and admirable achievement. The focused nature of those class units will stand him in good stead when it comes to thinking critically, for himself.

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  20. brian stouder said on February 12, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    In the run-up to the Oscars, one of the channels has been running various oldies-but-goodies uncut and without commercials – and the other night Bonnie and Clyde pulled me in again. And indeed, not for nothing, but what due-process preceded those American citizens’ “targeted killing”?. Or, for that matter, any number of other similar folks from that era (thinking of Dillinger or Baby-face Nelson, et al)

    The thing that concerns me about drones is – how long before we have errant drones from who-knows-where, threatening our key people?

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  21. Charlotte said on February 12, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    Julie @8 — here’s an interview with one of the kissing couple in question:

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  22. Sherri said on February 12, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    School did get a lot better in junior year for my daughter, because she was done with all the state testing nonsense. She had passed all the required state tests for graduation (I think we’re up to four now) and the state writing requirement is fulfilled by normal coursework. NCLB testing is done by then, too. Her classes were more interesting, so even though the homework load in junior year was quite heavy, she was happier.

    I’ve discovered, though, that even AP classes have been infected by test-prep-itis. The College Board has standardized and specified the curricula for AP classes, certifies teachers, and there’s a whole secondary industry of add-on curricula for improving AP scores. I’ve found some of my daughter’s AP classes to be really good, others less so. She’s taking AP English Lit this year, and they do very little writing that isn’t geared toward test prep: short timed essays from a prompt. In fact, that describes the majority of her writing in English classes in school, because that’s what the state writing tests in the lower grades consist of, that’s what the SAT and ACT writing portion is like, and that’s what the AP test have. That’s what the AP tests had back in the dark ages when I took AP English Lit, too, but we still wrote three page essays every couple of weeks and a term paper.

    The AP science classes she’s taken have been less infected, and the AP Calculus sequence the less infected of all, because she’s got a teacher who’s been teaching it for years and doesn’t worry about test prep, she just teaches them calculus.

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  23. velvet goldmine said on February 12, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    I think you might be wrong about the resignation. Or I might be. Big things are at play here, including never-ending investigations into his negligence in the abuse cover-ups, and yes, his age — the universal leveler. But neither of us is silly.

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  24. Jeff Borden said on February 12, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    I’ve taught part-time at a fine Jesuit university –Loyola University Chicago– since 2004 and remain both impressed and energized by the students. In fairness, many of them come to us from Catholic schools, where perhaps the testing obsession is not quite so strong. I honestly don’t know. But they seem pretty adept at thinking things through, looking at problems and solutions from different angles, etc.

    They are absolutely obsessed with grades –an A- brings tears while a B+ leads to thoughts of suicide– but I don’t know if that is connected to NCLB. Maybe is result of a lifetime of grade inflation. It’s the one part of teaching I really dislike. You want to year your students say they really learned something, but most of their comments seem related to their performance.

    Count me among those who are thrilled to see the Republican Party fracturing as the tenuous links between the big money, big business types, the religious fanatics and the teabaggers are stretched to the breaking point. How lucky can we be when a major league asshole (and traitor) like Karl Rove is clashing with minor league assholes in Teabagistan like the unlamented Joe Walsh, R-Deadbeat Dad? Or when a transplanted Connecticut douche like Rep. Stockman tries to act all Texan by inviting a deeply disturbed creep like Ted Nugent as his guest? Marco Rubio is getting his prom king tryout tonight after the SOU, but the washed up rocker and gun nut will get more attention because he says more stupid shit.

    This is no way to run a country. We need an engaged GOP. But this group at this time? What a repulsive bunch of ignorant goobers and peckerwoods. Republicans have more than earned their 40 years in the desert. I hope they take Ted Nugent, Wayne LaPierre, Mooselini and the rest of the clown car brigade with them.

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  25. Julie Robinson said on February 12, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    Mary, good on you for finding a program that worked for your son. Charlotte, thanks for sharing your link; it’s obvious that Stephanie Figarelle has taken the lemons life gave her from being harassed and made one very wise-woman lemonade. Deborah, your image of toddler Bush and his poopy will be making me smile all day!

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  26. Danny said on February 12, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    I can’t believe that the IOC has decided to cut wrestling from the Olympic games starting in 2020… a sport that was also part of the ancient games… incredible. So we can have golf or baseball? Geesh.

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  27. Brandon said on February 12, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    From the Wikipedia article on the No Child Left Behind Act:

    The legislation was proposed by President George W. Bush on January 23, 2001. It was coauthored by Representatives John Boehner (R-OH), George Miller (D-CA), and Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Judd Gregg (R-NH). The United States House of Representatives passed the bill on May 23, 2001 (voting 384–45),[6] and the United States Senate passed it on June 14, 2001 (voting 91–8).[7] President Bush signed it into law on January 8, 2002.

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  28. Danny said on February 12, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    Brandon, good point. A lot of bipartisanship surrounded that legislative endeavor. Not a palatable narrative for some, but there it is.

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  29. Bitter Scribe said on February 12, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    So Bush got some Democrats to go along with his stupid idea. And your point is what exactly?

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  30. Danny said on February 12, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    You are unintentionally hilarious, Bitter. Co-authorship by two Dems, including one who was regarded as one of the most liberal and who was called the “last lion” of the Senate, and passage by 89.5% in the House and 91% in the Senate hardly qualifies as “some.”

    And your point???

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  31. Prospero said on February 12, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    Regarding the fracking of the GOP as described by Borden@24. I’ve a vivid mental image of a buncha Tejas fundagelicalictment Teabangers bing ecposed to Wango Tango or Cat Scratch Fever at high volume. Hard to believe any of them would ever support Stockman again.

    Part of the incentive behind No Child was the Shrub family bad apple Marvin’s business ventures into canned educational programming. It legislated a niche.

    And taking Graeco-Roman wrestling out of the Olympics is a terribly lame thing to do. Maybe if they changed it to singlet and olive oil optional as it was at the original games, it would garner a bigger following. Better than those MMA beefcakes in their short-shorts 50’s Jantzen nylon trunks pantomiming 69. Unfortunately, I’d bet that cutting wrestling from the Olympics is connected to the disappearance of NCAA wrestling programs in the US to meet Title IX requirements. And before anybody attacks that surmise, I support Title IX completely, but somebody should have thought of including provisions for the size of football teams, which, of course, generally pay for the other sports. But cutting men’s programs in cross country, wrestling, gymnastics, etc. to reach dumbass numerical equality can’t possibly be what the original Title IX crusaders had in mind, unless they were more misanthropic than idealist.

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  32. adrianne said on February 12, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    Bright kids turned off by high school – count my two sons among them. Although the youngest has been inspired by a few really good teachers (English, history, physics) so that he’s engaged with those subjects. But the relentless testing is ridic.

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  33. Jolene said on February 12, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    I don’t want to speak in favor of NCLB because I am not up to date on its implementation and outcomes on a national scale, but I do think we’re being a bit unfair to its history. The vote distribution that Brandon reports does not reflect getting “some Democrats to go along”; it shows broad bipartisan support. Miller and Kennedy were among the most liberal members of their respective bodies.

    The legislation was supported so broadly because it promised to do what had not been done–hold schools accountable for the educational outcomes of minority children. The “soft bigotry of low expectations” was not just a catchphrase; it is a real and consequential social phenomenon. The law was intended to make it possible for schools to see clearly where they were succeeding and where they were failing and to make it impossible to ignore the latter.

    How all that has played out in practice across the country . . . I would have to do more reading on the topic.

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  34. Brandon said on February 12, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    My point is that it enjoyed overwhelming bipartisan support. Bush may have proposed it but it passed in the House 384-45, with 4 not voting and in the Senate 91-8, with 1 not voting.

    This is not to say it was a well-written or well-administered law, just that it had bipartisan origins and favor.

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  35. Brandon said on February 12, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    And taking Graeco-Roman wrestling out of the Olympics is a terribly lame thing to do. Maybe if they changed it to singlet and olive oil optional as it was at the original games, it would garner a bigger following.–Prospero

    Wouldn’t it be something if they replace it some years later with professional wrestling (e.g., WWE) or ultimate fighting?

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  36. Bitter Scribe said on February 12, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    NCLB is the signature “achievement” of Dubya’s administration. He owns it. Again, so what if some Democrats voted for it? Some Democrats voted for his stupid useless wars too. That doesn’t make them any less stupid or useless. And it doesn’t make Danny’s posts any less inane.

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  37. Jolene said on February 12, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    A word about disenchanted high school students: I remember going through my own, now long ago, high school graduation with a huge smile on my face. I was absolutely thrilled to be “getting out” and moving on. I don’t mean to dismiss anyone’s unhappiness, but perhaps it was ever thus–that bright kids of certain personality types are bored, irritated, frustrated by high school. It shouldn’t have to be that way, but it may be that making things better for intellectually adventurous kids is beyond the capacity of a public school that is striving to keep others in their seats long enough to certify basic skills.

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  38. mark said on February 12, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    I wonder why Obama wants to extend the master plan of evil George Bush?

    “…the Obama Administration’s blueprint for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.”

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  39. Danny said on February 12, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    mark, probably to make my post look even more “inane.”

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  40. Prospero said on February 12, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    I’m not an expert on Bush-ed, but I have read the law and followed its history as legislation by education czar, and it’s my opinion the damage has been done by slipshod legal language and misadministration. And claiming Teddy Keennedy as a co-author? bills have co-sponsors, and Teddy signed on to the disaster that was airline deregulation, too.

    And Mark, a few links in, your Obama Administration blueprint is talking about an overhaul of assessment tools (testing) that represent a sea-change from Shrub-era policies:

    We will support the development and use of a new generation of assessments that are aligned with college- and career-ready standards, to better determine whether students have acquired the skills they need for success. New assessment systems will better capture higher-order skills, provide more accurate measures of student growth, and better inform classroom instruction to respond to academic needs.>/i>

    I’d trust Arne Duncan on this farther than I could throw Michelle Rhee, or anybody Shrub had on board.

    And nobody claimed Shrub’s education policies were evil, just incompetent. He used up his reservoir of evil blowing up Sadr City, handing the keys to the defense bank account to Halliburton, letting the Wall Street banks run scot-free, and enforcing the death penalty. Sitll, evil as he ever was, W was always Wormwood to Dickless’ Screwtape.

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  41. Prospero said on February 12, 2013 at 2:52 pm

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  42. brian stouder said on February 12, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    (complete this sentence):

    I’ll be happy if President Obama includes in his State of the Union address…..

    (my answer is: at least a tangential nod to our 16th president’s 204th birthday)

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  43. Sherri said on February 12, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    I agree, Jolene, that high school kids were often disenchanted. But the number of hoops students are required to jump through to graduate has increased dramatically from when I was in high school, and they keep increasing. To graduate from high school, my daughter must:

    -have 22 credits, 4 in English, 2 in Science, 3 in Math, 3 in Social Studies, 1 in the Arts, 1.5 in PE, 0.5 in Health, and 1 Occupational. (In order to take 3 years of of a foreign language and 4 years of math and science plus 3 years of choir, she took health on line. Fortunately, AP Environmental Science counts as an Occupational credit.)

    -pass High School Proficiency Exams in Reading, Writing, and Math

    -create (starting in 8th grade) and maintain a High School and Beyond plan.

    -demonstrate that she is proficient in writing with a literary analysis essay, a persuasive essay, and a compare and contrast essay

    -demonstrate that she is proficient in quantitive and scientific reasoning by producing a formal lab report

    -do a culminating project.

    Most of those are state requirements. The essays and lab report requirements are local, and the state only requires 20 credits. But state testing requirements are adding a science test for the class of 2016, and the district will be requiring 2 foreign language credits for that class as well.

    Oh, and the 3 credits in math – that means through Algebra II. It’s possible to get a waiver for Algebra II, but not for Algebra I or Geometry.

    So, high school has become mostly about hoops now.

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  44. kayak woman said on February 12, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    My kids had a decent time in high school but they went to a highly rated alternative school — admission by lottery with 3-4 times the number of students applying than available spaces. (No idea how that place has morphed with NCLB and all the other “reforms” going on these days.) One daughter had a *miserable* time in a large bureaucratic middle school. As a 20-something, she once said she thought kids in that age group would be better served by going off to work on a farm for the duration. Doing something real. I can’t say I disagree.

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  45. mark said on February 12, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    Ah, “career ready standards.” How could I miss the sea-change?

    Big ears testing good, shrub testing bad.

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  46. Danny said on February 12, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    Sherri, the class load and distribution you listed sounds pretty reasonable and so does the proficiency testing, but the last four seem like a lot to pile on (though none of those four appear to be a result of NCLB).

    mark, the “sea change” comment… I almost shot salad out my nose.

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  47. Danny said on February 12, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    I’ll be happy if President Obama includes in his State of the Union address…

    … a two-thumbs-up shout out to the Nuge with a comment as to how awesome the lyrics are to “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang.”

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  48. Sherri said on February 12, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    Danny, the proficiency testing is only as good as the test, and the test is a waste of time. My daughter’s entire school career has been during the boom of testing, and I have yet to see one of these tests that is worthwhile. For one thing, the standards they’re testing against are constantly shifting. The tests aren’t normed against anything, because they haven’t been around long enough to do so. Because the tests are high stakes, cheating is a big concern, so you get very little useful information back in feedback from the testing, either as a teacher or as a parent. (I’ve seen tests, because I’ve been willing to fight through all the bureaucracy necessary to do so; federal law requires that you be allowed to see your child’s test. I had to submit a form to the state, who sent the test to the district, who notified me when I could come to the office, surrender my cell phone, and view the test under the oversight of a district official.)

    As for the distribution, what’s unreasonable is that it tries to be all things to all people. If you’re college-bound, and want to do band or orchestra or choir, or multiple sciences in a year, it’s hard to fit in all the health and PE and occupational credits without going outside the school and taking them online in the summer. If you’re not going to college, then you have no room to explore anything else. I’m a techie person, and I’m still not convinced that everybody needs to take math through Algebra II, especially not until we figure out how to teach math in elementary school better.

    We’re pretending that if we set the standard that everybody should go to college, that everybody will go to college. Reality doesn’t work that way, especially as we’ve also stopped funding colleges.

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  49. Danny said on February 12, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    Interesting, Sherri and kudos to you for going the extra mile to look at the tests.

    As for the math, I figure that you’re probably a math nerd like me and had calculus in high school, but I see your point that Algebra II is a bit much for everyone to be expected to have. IIRC, we did Algebra I & II before Geometry and Trig. Is that still the order?

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  50. Danny said on February 12, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    There’s a Sam Cooke song lurking in this thread today.

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  51. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 12, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    A general comment — we are embarked on a great experiment, whose uncertainty of delivery right now does not undermine the intent behind it. No similar geographic area and breadth of cultural diversity has ever tried to say, as our country is right now, that “we intend to bring 94+% of all children up to a certain minimum standard of educational accomplishment.” I think much of what we’re doing is handicapped by a combination of a) dragging down much of the upper quintile in order to make the separation between them and the rest of the population less dramatic, and b) attempting to legislate “fairness” in terms of one-size-fits-all-edness.

    But any large landmass that’s tried to deliver education this broadly, in a comparable manner, has generally excluded large groups entirely from the process, or ended up delivering quality in most major population centers while leaving most of the hinterlands high and dry. I can tell you that high school students in Rio Arriba County, NM, Greenbrier County, WV, or Licking County, OH have startlingly similar experiences, and that was utterly not true just twenty years ago. Our urban core schools are hamstrung by a mix of systemic racism and economic implosion that are reinforced in toxicity by a deeply embedded culture that is itself a result of that same racism and economic injustice, and we are still trying to figure out an adequate answer that works for more than 30-40% of the students in that context, but good people are trying hard (including even many in union leadership, even if not the top officials).

    American education is a marvel, and the “hoop jumping” Sherry notes is a contrast to the possibility not so long ago in most districts to get a HS diploma with minimal effort and little impact on the mind or memory. You are expected to know something and be able to show ability to go with that knowledge if you get a diploma, but expecting each district to reach that benchmark with 90% or more of their students is a NEW challenge, and I can’t say that often enough. 50% grad rates, measured by all children, not by those who began high school, was a good school as recently as the 1980s in much of the country.

    But the still highly uniform approach to instruction and assessment is breaking under the strain, and it has to. Charters and such will be part of the ideal mix, assuming optimistically that we’ll get there (to an ideal), because while we can cost-effectively educate about 75 to 80% of kids in one large building, the further you push into that remaining quartile, the more expensive and targeted it has to be to deliver an educational outcome.

    All of which is to say: I’m encouraged and hopeful in many ways about the big picture, but the general quality of the best students, say the top 20%/quintile, as measured by their knowledge of social studies, literature, and effective written/verbal communication, is going to stay dramatically lower for some time, because we not only aren’t focusing on those kids the way we used to — not entirely a bad thing! — but in order to do these other things for most/all, we’re not doing the humanities & critical thinking & expression parts of learning for any. I don’t think it’s a malign conspiracy to make cattle of us, but there’s a real reason to worry, and an opportunity for church youth groups and service clubs and art studios and many other extra-curricular venues to jump in and pick up what’s been dropped.

    Lastly, the electronic thing? I think it’s a symptom, not a cause. The dot-filling, short answer, mechanical testing approach was getting big well before most of my students even had cell phones, as was the proficiency test wave gathering strength. Writing essays in blue books was a quirk of that one weird History 151 adjunct back in 1994, and it was a struggle to get complete sentences or literary allusions into or out of college firstyears even then.

    Sorry for the long comment, but that’s what I wanted to lay alongside of the article, which I think is important in its own way, but not the whole story.

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  52. Joe K said on February 12, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    I’ll be happy if president Obama includes in his state of the union address.
    I have been wrong demonizing owners of private jets, I now realize that they are a business tool not a play toy, and the major majority of owners use them to efficiently move personnel to city’s that can’t be reached in any other way, by being faster and more efficient these company’s can manufacter their products cheaper and not have to look off shore to maximize profit. I also realize that by making it easier for company’s to purchase and depreciate these jets it will keep Many high skilled high paying jobs here in the United States. Please accept my apologies.
    Pilot Joe

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  53. Julie Robinson said on February 12, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    “Writing essays in blue books was a quirk of that one weird History 151 adjunct back in 1994, and it was a struggle to get complete sentences or literary allusions into or out of college firstyears even then.”

    jefftmmo, blue books were a staple of my college years back in the 70’s. I know you went to the school in red brick land where engineering is king, but in the limestone land of liberal arts, essay tests were standard.

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  54. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 12, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    Julie — yes, but now? My point is that blue book essays were on the way out in intro classes by ’94, and I got pressured by my department head to discontinue the practice because, and I quote “you’re making the faculty look bad.” Because they all, without exception, used Scantron bubble grids for their tests in US History Columbus to 1877. I held on until I left to return to Ohio in ’99.

    Now-now, of course, it’s online and you’d type your essay into a window on a secure webpage for the class assessment material — or do you? I don’t think essays of the “tell me ten true things in complete sentences under this topic heading” are still considered a test method in undergrad ed today, but I’d be happy to be shown I’m incorrect.

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  55. Sherri said on February 12, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    Danny, the order of the math classes depends on the district. In my daughter’s district, it’s Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, then Pre-Calculus (which includes Trig.) Geometry can really go in there just about anywhere before Trig.

    Some districts use Integrated Math, where you don’t separate Algebra and Geometry into separate classes but teach them as strands within the same year throughout high school. One of our neighboring districts does this, but I don’t know how well it works.

    Then, independently, there’s the whole question of the actual curriculum and textbooks, many of which aren’t very good. My daughter’s Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II textbooks were lousy, but fortunately she had good teachers and two parents who were math nerds. The days when you could pick up a textbook and teach yourself math are pretty much gone, but the textbooks have lots of pretty pictures! I’m not a back to basics, drill and kill math activist, but I wasn’t very happy with many of my daughter’s math textbooks before pre-calculus, which was okay.

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  56. alex said on February 12, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    As someone who knows a lot of long-time teachers who have recently left the profession, the recurring theme I’ve heard has been that the schools might as well hire automatons with no special qualifications because there is no such thing as teaching anymore, no originality in the classroom, no input with regard to textbooks or curricula, nothing, zilch. Just lots of extra hours to work in exchange for decreasing pay and benefits and being micromanaged by the sort of uneducated white trash that run for school boards in places like Huntington and Steuben Counties.

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  57. Sherri said on February 12, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    Jeff(tmmo), I’d like to agree with you that we’re embarked on such a grand experiment, but I’m not convinced that we really are trying to bring 94+% up to a certain level of educational achievement. I’m not complaining about things for my daughter; my daughter’s fine. She’s had a good education, with good teachers for the most part. She would have succeeded regardless, because if the system were too bad, we’d have bailed and educated her privately. I know how the system works, and how to get what my child needs, and she’s just fine.

    But I’ve spent a lot of time and effort trying to help other kids, who weren’t so fortunate as to have two highly educated parents. I’ve volunteered in classrooms with kids who didn’t speak English and were on free/reduced lunch. I’ve run political campaigns for tax measures for education. I’ve helped create a district foundation to raise money to supplement the public money the district gets. I’ve worked on alternative programs. And I’m also convinced that much of the reform push of the last 20 years has been in the wrong direction. Some of it has come with the best of intentions, but some of it has come, I’m convinced, from a faction that would be happy to destroy public education.

    Before I was so heavily involved in public education, I thought standards were a good thing. After having seen how standards work, I’ve come to the conclusion that standards never taught a student anything. I’ve seen 5 sets of standards (really!) during my daughter’s time in public schools (we did move from California to Washington during her schooling, but we went through 2 standards in California and are on our 3rd set in Washington as Washington transitions to the Common Core.) My favorite was when we were given the standards, and then we were given the “power standards”, the subset of the standards they actually had time to cover in a school year.

    Alex is right about teaching today. There are curricula (I’ve seen them in action) that script exactly what teachers are supposed to say and do, and the teacher isn’t supposed to deviate from that. More and more is determined further and further from the classroom, by people who don’t spend time in classrooms, and it’s less and less useful. It’s turn the crank education, and it’s not working. It’s not that we’re not paying attention to the top quintile anymore; it’s setting everybody up to fail. And I think the Tea Partiers want that; they don’t want to pay for government schools any more.

    End of rant. My daughter only has one more semester of public school, then I send her off to a (private) college. I might be able to stop thinking about public education for a while (though I doubt it.)

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  58. Jolene said on February 12, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    There are curricula (I’ve seen them in action) that script exactly what teachers are supposed to say and do, and the teacher isn’t supposed to deviate from that.

    It used to be said that, in France, you would know that, if it’s 2 PM on Tuesday, you know what every student in the country is doing because they are all doing the same thing. As in other areas, such as healthcare and gun policy, Americans seem to think we have little to learn. The answer to problems with standards isn’t to throw the standards out, but to refine them and figure out ways of meeting them.

    The idea that teachers should have lots of opportunity for creativity would be great if all teachers were really smart, well-educated, energetic, and highly committed to doing great job for all their students, but, guess what, they’re not. New teachers are, unfortunately, not even drawn from the most accomplished college graduates. The best teachers are world-beaters; the rest need guidance, feedback, and support.

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  59. Jolene said on February 12, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    If you’re interested in poking around a bit in contemporary research on education, check out this web site. Scroll down to “No Child Left Behind, Act II” for one researcher’s ideas about where we should be headed.

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  60. Jolene said on February 12, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    Here’s a very short article that supports Jeff’s point re the general quality of education in the US, along with some embedded links to more detailed discussions.

    Education is soooooooo complicated. Teacher characteristics, kid characteristics, teaching strategies, measurement techniques. The fact that any of it works at all is sort of amazing.

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  61. Prospero said on February 12, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    Mark @45: Not all testing is equal. Or maybe it’s all equal but some tests are more equal than others. And While no Bushie would admit W fucked anything up beyond all recognition, plenty of Obama supporters are dissatisfied with his policies in some areas. Your attempt at sarcasm is another example of GOPer equivalency derangement syndrome. Remember the ludicrous US attorney layooffs by the Shrub misAdministration. The job interviews for their replacements began with “Do you consider yourself a loyal Bushie?” Because the people they were replacing wouldn’t pursue bogus legal action against Dems and in the interest of voter suppression when directed to do so by Kommissar Karl Turdblossom.

    My last full load teaching, I had a block-scheduled (7:30 am, 1hr.-45min., first 15 min. coffee and donuts)AP anatomy class with only eight kids in it. I tested with essay-take homes and the result was terrific. These kids were as jaded as anybody would expect from a bunch of privileged kids from gated communities (one firecracker ringer from the ghetto development). Grading those exams was a treat, and the student’s comments and my responses made my day. Parents actually questioned my method and complained to the principal. How would the kids learn if they could use references. My response: They were learning to think.

    When I was in HS, Algebra II included Trig. Thank God for that, since the trig tables have come in handy so many times hence over the years. Those extrapolations have pulled my ass out of a fire many, many times. But gutdom, how I hated that shit in school.

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  62. Danny said on February 12, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    I’m trying to imagine what taking a class with you as the teacher would have been like, Prospero and the only experience I can perhaps draw upon is that of dropping several hits of acid when we camped out for those Who tickets back in 1982. You are a trip, my friend.

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  63. Prospero said on February 12, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    Well, every one of those kids got AP credit the next fall at college and every one of them wrote to let me know about it. We did spend a lot of time on the nervous system. And I was interrogated about past pharmaceutical experiences.

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  64. Dexter said on February 12, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    I was a nervous kid in high school, so focussed on making the starting five on the basketball team that I could barely concentrate on algebra and chemistry and the one that stymied me totally, physics.
    Not being “basketball-tall” at six feet, try as I might I only started a few games, so I was frustrated and that made me worse, and I didn’t feel like pursuing my studies with any fervor.
    I had begun worrying about my future as early as eighth grade as well…while my older brother worked any job he could get and squirreled away every penny into his college fund, I was so busy playing baseball every day in summertime I had no time to make any money except my paper route pittance.
    High school is a rough time…a few girls liked me but I had to have the cheerleader who hated me, or no one at all. was no girl at all.
    I could have used a good counselor! Our HS guidance counselor tried to funnel as many kids as he could into the Vietnam war machine. He’d gladly talk to middle class parents and kids who could afford IU, PU, Manchester, Tri-State, or Davidson (we did have a kid who went to Davidson), but working class kids were on their own, like my brother. So of course I ended up going to college after I went to the Vietnam war, and quit school when the high-paying factory began hiring. Canned beans get old after a while!

    I know nance was investigating Kate’s chances of getting into U of M a while ago, and whether she goes there or the Juilliard School, Music Division, or Moo S U or to any fine school after high school graduation, I think I speak for all of us here at nn.c —we wish her well.
    She hates school badly; she’s just like the kids who went to high school before her. Some who hated school the most look back over the years and sort out the good times. But high school reunions are weird at times. 🙁

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  65. john not mccain said on February 12, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    looks like the script for vin diesel’s comeback movie is almost done. will the networks have to cut away if dorner’s done during the sotu?

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  66. Danny said on February 12, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    It’s going to be a bit surreal, but I’m betting SOTU and live coverage of the situation will be split screen… or picture-in-picture.

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  67. Little Bird said on February 12, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    Off topic here; Deborah is currently en route from Chicago to Santa Fe via Amtrak. Expect to hear her (possibly horror) stories tomorrow night. This will have been her first long distance solo train trek. I just hope I prepared her for all possibilities.

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  68. Jolene said on February 12, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    The White House has posted a cool graphic re the people who will be in the First Lady’s box tonight. Hold your mouse over the chairs to see brief bios and be inspired.

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  69. Prospero said on February 12, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    Thanks Jolene. Great link. I had forgotten about the Sikh Temple shooting, I’m ashamed to say. And there will be wingnuts bitching about Valerie Jarret being there. I love that there is a guest representing craft brewing: that is serious entrepreneurship. And though the critics say such jobs are non-existent, there is a green job success story. And of course, Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden are a formidably accomplished pair of women.

    I wonder if Nugent is bringing a 12 year old date per his abnormal predatory predilection. If they cut to Dorner, I’m hoping he’s in a white Bronco with AC Cowlings at the wheel. And I’d cast Ving Rhames as Dorner, while wishing that Isaac Hayes was still around for the part (based upon his brilliant turns as Gandolph Fitch in Rockford episodes).

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  70. Prospero said on February 12, 2013 at 7:19 pm

    Message from Seator Elizabeth Warren about her SOTU guest:

    Every senator is allowed to bring one guest to the gallery of the President’s State of the Union Address. My guest tonight will be Kim Odom.

    I’ve known Kim for a year or so. She is the pastor of True Vine Assembly Church in Dorchester, along with her husband, Ron. They have five great children and two beautiful grandchildren.

    On October 4, 2007, Kim’s 13-year-old son Steven was walking home with a group of friends after playing basketball. But Steven didn’t make it home that night. A gang member mistook one of Steven’s friends for a rival gang member. Just steps away from the Odom family’s front door, Steven was shot and killed.

    Like so many mothers and fathers across the country, Kim and Ron Odom never thought that this kind of tragedy would happen to them. Kim asks why her innocent son was killed, and she also asks why gun violence is allowed to take so many of our children.

    Kim has turned her grief into action. She is an advocate for violence intervention and prevention, and came to Washington, D.C. today as a supporter of Demand A Plan, a campaign of Boston Mayor Tom Menino’s organization Mayors Against Illegal Guns. She has told Steven’s story to bring attention to gang violence, mental health and easy access to firearms. Kim is determined to work for changes that will keep our children safer.

    I’m grateful for Kim’s work, and I’m inspired by her courage. And I’m very honored that she has accepted my invitation to the State of the Union.

    When you listen to the President tonight, I hope you’ll think about Kim and Ron and other mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters. Gun violence isn’t an abstraction that happens to other people. It happens in our communities to our children, and we owe it to our children to do a better job of protecting them.

    And with that, I say that anybody that claims 100% background checks infringe on 2nd Amendment rights, fuck you and learn how to read. Look up “well” and “regulated” in a dictionary and copy out thedefinitions until the phrase is etched into your shit for brains.

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  71. Catherine said on February 12, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    If there were a Like button, Jolene’s posts about NCLB would have gotten a lot of love from me today. I will say it less nicely: Privileged middle class folks, NCLB was not about your kids. I’m sorry your kids’ classrooms are less “creative” and the teachers think they’re being “micromanaged.” But what NCLB was meant to do, and has done, is to put numbers against the utterly craptastic educations that many, many lower SES kids were getting — all while their parents were being told that they were doing well & totally college material. You have options — you can spend the time and the money to drive your kid to the good charter school or find an online alternative, just to name two possibilities. Your kids got good starts in reasonably happy, financially secure, educated two-parent homes, in which they developed everything from vocabularies to reasoning skills to empathy. Your kids are going to be fine; and frankly it’s not about them.

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  72. Prospero said on February 12, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    Amazing Dorner play by play.

    Drudge says the big concern for law enforcement is to prevent Dorner from dying on camera. Says it would cause rioting in LA, where the black populace is rooting for Dorner. Jesus, what an asshole that guy is.

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  73. Basset said on February 12, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    Nance is exactly right about Ted “brand-building,” can you still get Ted Nugent brand beef jerky in Michigan? Saw a big tub of it at a flea market in Kentucky awhile back so maybe it’s been discontinued and remaindered out.

    Also ran across some Ted brand 30-30 ammunition at a Dunham’s in Columbia, Tennessee last Saturday, all the common brands were sold out and Ted was the only one on the shelf. Possibly because it was $44.95 for 20 and Remington, the most common brand, is about $15.

    I can’t find .22 rimfire anywhere, though – went to that Dunham’s, a local gun store, Bass Pro and two Wal-Marts, none of em had any.

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  74. Jolene said on February 12, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    The brand-building seems to be working.

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  75. Sherri said on February 12, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    Catherine, if I thought that NCLB and the resultant changes in education were actually doing anything to help improve the education that lower SES kids were getting, I’d be out leading parades in favor of it. But from my experience, not just with upper middle class kids with educated two parent families, what’s going on in classrooms today helps no one.

    Like I said, my kid is fine. My kid was always going to be fine. I’ve put a lot of time and effort into trying to make sure that the system worked for kids without her advantages, and from what I’ve seen on the ground, NCLB didn’t improve classrooms.

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  76. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 12, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    Jolene, “The fact that any of it works at all is sort of amazing.” I tip my hat to you; precisely what I was muddling around saying.

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  77. Danny said on February 12, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    Biden looks like he smoked a joint and Boehner looks like he needs to.

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  78. alex said on February 12, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    If Marco Rubio is the Republicans’ best hope, then God help them. Deer in the headlights, stiff, taking on the president’s compelling and lively speech with a bunch of non-sequitur talking points that are falling even flatter than their pitifully piss poor delivery.

    Bravura Obama.

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  79. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 12, 2013 at 10:49 pm

    I got retweeted by Mark Knoller during the #SOTU, so now I can die happy. (fans self briskly)

    Rubio’s water bottle move is a gif that will keep on giving, well through 2016. Happy Ash Wednesday everyone! Lent begins at midnight or whenever you give up on getting more beads from the floats.

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  80. beb said on February 12, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    Boehner always looks like he could use a good enema.

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  81. alex said on February 12, 2013 at 11:04 pm

    Regarding hating high school, I certainly did but then I was sent to a hellhole that was touted as a fix for your defective faggot child. I got released after much protest but graduated from a mediocre middle-class high school that probably didn’t do any better by its students back then than it does now, never mind that people want to send their kids there because of its supposed prestige. If the teachers there at present aren’t allowed to bring any originality into the classroom perhaps it’s a good thing because far and away the majority of my teachers were ignorant fucks who were my intellectual inferiors when I was fourteen. I feel sorry for any kid having to endure today’s high schools. At least we didn’t have to make up snow days and the administrators were so stupid I could call myself in sick pretending to be my father and pull it off.

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  82. Crazycatlady said on February 12, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    Our daughter is now 20. She was a ‘B-C’ student who placed at the top of her senior class for getting the highest ACT score in her class (Tied with the class genius.)She took college courses as part of her high school credits. She doesn’t want to end up with tons of college debt and she has zero job skills.The future is uncertain for her. And us. Kate is going to like college better, I’m sure.

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  83. Dave said on February 13, 2013 at 12:19 am

    Alex, all I can say is that I’m the father of three children, all three of them went through this school system from K-12. All three of them said essentially the same thing after they’d been at college for awhile, that school prepared them better than they had ever realized because they all knew things and how to do things their classmates didn’t seem to know. All three graduated from three different schools, three different degrees. Your time there was a different era. I’m simply reporting what our experience was.

    It would also be true that we were very glad to see the last one graduate, that was in 2007.

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  84. Catherine said on February 13, 2013 at 12:41 am

    Sherri, I’d just say that you can’t fix it if you can’t measure it. The testing requirements of NCLB are the first time that assessment been tried in the US in a consistent way (NAEP aside). It’s not the be-all — in fact there are lots of flaws — but it’s a start.

    And I would say that I have seen positive changes in classrooms — the main one in my direct experience being that ELLs’ issues are much more apparent and thus addressed. For instance, even good teachers can’t always tell that someone who speaks and reads English fluently has poor English reading comprehension. With consistent formative and summative assessment, that skills gap can be identified and quantified, and the impact of specific, different interventions can be quantified, too. Good teachers can do a lot with data.

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  85. Sherri said on February 13, 2013 at 2:01 am

    I’m a big fan of data and assessment, Catherine, but that’s not really what NCLB has brought to education. The state tests have been used for almost every purpose under the sun except for useful assessment of student needs, because we’ve turned them to high stakes tests tied to school funding and teacher evaluation and other political footballs. If assessment of students were really the goal, then it would be more organic and on-going, and you couldn’t “teach to the test.”

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  86. Zg said on February 13, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Late to the party, but wow, what a bunch of fossilized thinking on education! Go to any office, factory, hospital today and then compare it to how it was run 50 days ago. Almost unrecognizable. Then walk into a k-12 classroom. Looks pretty familiar. Teachers yak yak yaking in front of students sitting passively in a row. Really? The whole model needs to be busted wide open, and breaking the government school monopoly on access to public funds for education is step 1. Let the experiments begin! Some will be great, some will fail, but choice, innovation, and accountability to students is the right way forward.

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