Dogs on the grill. In the rain.

A Lansing day. A long one, but a good one. Alan had a similar one. Which is to say, it was a hot dogs-on-the-grill-and-a-bag-of-chips sort of evening. Then we remembered we had some McClure’s pickles in the fridge, and the evening improved.

Yeah, more rain.

Let’s take a look at what the Internet tide washed up on NN.c’s beach, then.

I strengthened all my important passwords around the new year, but obviously someone needed to at the AP — a hack of the Associated Press Twitter account touched off a brief 100-point drop in the Dow when the hackers tweeted a prank about the White House being bombed. Everything recovered, but as the linked story points out, it’s time for Twitter to start getting serious about security.

My former colleague Jack Lesssenberry had a good commentary on Michigan Radio yesterday. He touched on something that has always bugged me about the current discussion of public education, that schools aren’t doing a better job at turning out workers for the new economy. I see their point, but, well. There was an education summit in Lansing Monday, and the state school superintendent said something about it. Jack put his finger on it:

What (superintendent Mike) Flanagan said that bothered me so much was this. “Most of us in education have grown up with an ethic that was something like this: Education for Education’s Sake. That’s just silly.”

Well, excuse me, Dr. Flanagan, but no, it’s not silly. There’s nothing wrong with education for education’s sake—if that means teaching people how to think, and how to learn.

You didn’t used to have to explain that to people, but I guess you do, now.

Speaking of learning how to think, may I break out of my rainy slough of despond to ask, calmly, WHERE THE HELL DO THEY GET THESE PEOPLE, AND WHY AREN’T THEY WEARING STRAITJACKETS?

Not that I am grumpy.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Media |

58 responses to “Dogs on the grill. In the rain.”

  1. coozledad said on April 24, 2013 at 1:58 am

    Just last week we had a town hall with our state reps(both Dems, miraculously). The loudest bastard at the meeting was one John Greg “Billy” Bass, a perennial school board candidate and warbling evil hick. His contentions were 1.That common core curricula were nothing but indoctrination, and that “That’s where a little Bohemian corporal got his start” (I shit you not), and 2. The state’s refusal of the medicare expansion was a good thing because “That federal money ultimately comes out of YOUR pocket.

    A straitjacket would have looked so much better on that moribund flesh than the black Hawaiian shirt he’d scored at a Dollar General, but he’s probably sunk all his clothes money into gold. I see this moron outside the public library every election talking about how hard it is to get ammo “ever since, well, you know”.

    I’ve owned chickens that could outperform this douche on standardized tests, and he wants to be on the school board.

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  2. Brandon said on April 24, 2013 at 2:10 am

    @coozledad: Is this the guy?

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  3. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 24, 2013 at 7:13 am

    Like the lion says, “Ars gratia artis.”

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  4. Connie said on April 24, 2013 at 7:31 am

    People magazine has declared Gwyneth Paltrow the world’s most beautiful woman. Really.

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  5. coozledad said on April 24, 2013 at 7:36 am

    Brandon: That’s the guy!
    I feel I must amend his campaign themes:
    “I am a true super conservative. You should see me without my pants.”
    “I support our Vets and Troops right to a pointless death in Central Asia.”
    “I am for Term and Age and Race limits.
    “I have owned and operated my own business, and done it all with my finger up my arse.”
    “NO contributions, please. we’ll talk about that when I get elected county fecal engineer!”
    “As a Republic we practice: law, medicine and democracy. Grammar not so much.
    “Republicans want to save the Republic. Lincoln knew that and so do I. I got a BA in history from High Point College. I can just about get a windshield spotless with a old newspaper and some vinegar.”

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  6. Deggjr said on April 24, 2013 at 7:55 am

    Some ‘peer into the future’ book from about 20 years ago suggested that it will not be possible to graduate from college and ride that knowledge for a 40 career. At some point it’s necessary to learn something new in order to support yourself.

    That seemed to make sense at the time and still does.

    It would be nice if the state superintendent of education would incorporate a similar philosophy into his calling but he may not consider his position a calling.

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  7. Prospero said on April 24, 2013 at 8:04 am

    Connie@4: I think it’s my pard and livein. But who’s considerin.

    Term limits? Remember that horseshit? those assholes never believed?

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  8. basset said on April 24, 2013 at 8:06 am

    You don’t need to peer too far into the future for that – Basset Jr. is still underemployed a year after graduation, but he has a history degree so maybe we should move him to NC and get him into politics.

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  9. Suzanne said on April 24, 2013 at 8:12 am

    I have definitely seen a shift in thinking about education since I went through school. The point of education, at least as I was told, was to teach you how to think, how to learn. Now, heaven’s no! It’s to teach you a job ready skill so the employer doesn’t have to spend 5 minutes training you. I’m seeing it all backfire, though, because of the technology that every job uses, that no one seems to be able to figure out, especially figure out enough to train employees how to use and they can’t figure out because they haven’t been taught how to learn. So, the economy is dragged down by a bunch of people sitting at desks making mistakes…
    I had more on-the-job training for a cashier job in the ’70s than any job I’ve had in the past 5 years and the computer systems that any job uses are way, way more complex than in the past.

    I can’t even wrap my head around the guvmint official who thinks the Boston bombing was a set-up, but I know I run across these people far more often than I am comfortable with. The downside of the internet. Any kook can post anything and gain a following. Which goes back to education as job training and not teaching critical thinking…

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  10. Julie Robinson said on April 24, 2013 at 8:29 am

    Lack of critical thinking is a common theme, isn’t it? I’d say proclaiming the Goopster most beautiful is another case. And here’s another example, an Iowa hospital shipping undocumented workers back to Mexico since they’d be so expensive to treat: Lack of critical thinking + no shame, apparently.

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  11. beb said on April 24, 2013 at 8:42 am

    I sometimes think the central problem with education is that too many people approach it as they would a factory: raw material goes in, is processed somehow and model citizens come out the other end. If the final product isn’t up to snuff it’s the faukt of the production line and not with the basic concept. Kids aren’t uniform, they don’t all learn at the same rate, some don’t learn at all. It’s not the teacher’s fault that they don’t have all smart students and to use some simple-minded, one dimensional metric (like average class scores) to evaluate teachers is just plain crazy. But that’s where we’re at today.

    Watching the Detroit Public Schools go through one superintendent after another (hiring them for three years, firing them after two…) I get the impression that the career of School Superintendent, like used car salesman, is inherently the province of flim-flam artist. They have no actual skills, they’re just good at selling the moon.

    87 dead (maybe more) in a factory collapse in Bangladesh. In one of Ayn Rand’s books an architect blows up a b uilding he designed because the owners weren’t following his plans. I wonder what the ethical Randian response should be for an architect who’s building collapsed? Blowing himself up as a failure?

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  12. beb said on April 24, 2013 at 8:56 am

    Seen while browsing Yahoo news…
    A New Jersey middle school principal has upset parents for saying girls could not wear strapless dresses to an eighth grade dance…

    These are like 13 year olds? Then these parents wonder why their 15 year old daughter’s pregnant.

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  13. BigHank53 said on April 24, 2013 at 9:03 am

    A few words about the New Hampshire legislature: It’s larger than the US Congress. The pay is token, something like $400/year and transportation expenses to the state capitol. So it’s mostly composed of people who can afford to not work a forty hour week for a couple months a year. Lots of retirees and spouses and small business owners with flexible schedules. Each member is only representing about 3500 people. So it’s not that hard to get elected–being able to stand up and tell people you’re a Republican without biting the head off a live bat will get you more than halfway there.

    The GOP started scraping the bottom of the barrel a long time ago, and it seems like they forgot one basic fact: that gunk you knock loose winds up on the surface sooner or later.

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  14. Mark P said on April 24, 2013 at 9:10 am

    I didn’t have to read past a mention of Glenn Beck to know where that story was going. I don’t understand how people can be that misguided. I started to say “stupid” but I don’t think that’s the right word. I suppose it is lack of intelligence, but surely not just that.

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  15. Suzanne said on April 24, 2013 at 9:20 am

    Beb @12. Yes. When our daughter went to a dance as a freshman in high school, one of her classmates showed up in a little black cocktail dress that laced up the side leaving quite a bit of open skin.I didn’t think I was a prude, but seriously.

    And I can’t tell you all the Confirmations I’ve attended with the 13-14 yr old girl confirmands clothed in strapless mini-skirt length dresses. Yesirree! This for a religious ceremony. Thank goodness they usually wear robes!

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  16. BethB said on April 24, 2013 at 9:23 am

    During my 35 years in public school education, I saw a definite trend toward “teaching to the test” and not teaching students how to think, how to learn. Pressure is put on teachers to raise test scores, and some school districts are evaluating teachers based on how well their students perform on standardized tests. Pressure is put on principals by the superintendent to have schools that out-perform others. It all trickles down to the students who may be able to perform well on a test but not be able to perform well in life because they haven’t learned how to think.

    In response to beb: junior high girls in my last school had more cleavage than I’ve ever had, and they loved showing it off. Seventh grade girls dressed in clothes that seemed more appropriate for a hooker, and their parents let them leave the house looking that way! My friends used to comment that it must be something in the water or the additives to poultry and beef from feed lots. But, I’ve seen parents dress completely inappropriately for Parents’ Night, too–mothers in tight shorts and tee shirts or dressed for a night out on the town rather than a visit to a junior high, dads in flip-flops and beer logo tees, and ALL with phones pressed to their ears as they navigated the halls, going from class to class as they followed their child’s schedule. It all made me sad and feeling way too old.

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  17. coozledad said on April 24, 2013 at 9:36 am

    BigHank53: Speaking of gunk:

    I knew an intern to Jesse Helms. He was more of an outright thief and a scam artist than a loathsome masturbatory blackmailer. But the depraved can always seek new depths.

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  18. Peter said on April 24, 2013 at 9:49 am

    Rep. Stella, or should I say the 2013 Michelle Bachmann Memorial Crazy Bat Shit Lady Award Winner, once said that Woodrow Wilson approved of Adolf Hitler’s methods and thought highly of him, which is some feat, seeing as Wilson turned into a vegetable before Hitler led the Munich Beer Hall Putsch.

    Beth, I feel bad for you. I don’t what’s worse – being the only parents who showed up at a class (that’s happened to me a couple of times), or being in a room with a bunch of them who clearly didn’t want to be there but wanted to know why their precious isn’t doing better. And, of course, it’s YOUR fault.

    And Beth, you’re right about kids who perform well on tests but may not perform well in life – I work with a lot of architecture students, and some of them have a meltdown if there’s a glitch, and in this business, a slow day is when you get a glitch an hour.

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  19. BethB said on April 24, 2013 at 10:07 am

    Peter, parents almost always blame the teacher or the school if their precious child isn’t making straight A pluses. Besides learning how to think, the trait that I felt was most important for children to learn was ‘taking responsibility for one’s actions.” If students can learn the importance of saying, “Yes, I did that,” or “Yes, it’s my fault,” etc., they will be much better citizens of the world than many of the public figures of our day who never seem to take responsibility or “own up” when they are wrong. What a terrible example to set for our children.

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  20. BigHank53 said on April 24, 2013 at 10:07 am

    My goodness, Cooze, that’s some varsity-level misogyny there. The thing that get me is that there are, you know, businesses in which you can pay women to remove their clothes for you. It’s all legal and everything. It’s not even expensive.

    It does, of course, involve consent, which seems to be a big turn-off for this guy. It doesn’t take much to predict where he’d wind up. Bravo to his intended victims for going to the cops–and to the cops for paying attention. (Though I suppose they have a lot more experience with the incremental progression from creep to criminal than most of us, and are happier to catch them early.)

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  21. Prospero said on April 24, 2013 at 10:34 am

    World’s most beautiful woman will always be Dianna Rigg:–t3UeCjHYHS9QT95IDwBw&ved=0CD8QsAQ&biw=1920&bih=947.

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  22. Peter said on April 24, 2013 at 11:10 am

    Amen to that, Prospero.

    I had a classmate who said his goal was to dress like Brian Ferry and date someone like Dianna Rigg.

    He came up short, but in the final analysis, don’t we all?

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  23. Charlotte said on April 24, 2013 at 11:14 am

    If anyone needs a little pick-me-up this morning, I present Tilda Swinton and Chaz Ebert leading a dance-along at Eberfest. I now kind of want Tilda to be my bestie:

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  24. Mark P said on April 24, 2013 at 11:24 am

    BethB, the institutional pressure to get high scores on standardized tests is apparently what led to the cheating scandal in the Atlanta public schools. People got bonuses for increasing test scores. A bunch of teachers and administrators, including the former superintendent, are now facing criminal charges. I don’t want to prejudge all of the people who have been charged, but it seems that there was systematic cheating, like teachers erasing wrong answers or giving students the right answers.

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  25. Peter said on April 24, 2013 at 11:28 am

    Hey Rana, I was checking yesterday’s comments and I saw yours about being in Chicago looking for work (or perhaps I read that wrong).

    What type of employment are you looking for?

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  26. Jakash said on April 24, 2013 at 11:54 am

    Regarding the takedown of Chicago by that DePaul professor in the NYT Book Review. I concur with most of what’s been said by others among the nn.c crowd. The author was on “Chicago Tonight”, a local PBS news and features broadcast last night. The host asked her “What do YOU like to do in Chicago?” Her response was “I like to walk by the lake”, or something like that. Period. Now, I like to walk by the lake, as well. But that trite response to a completely open-ended question seemed to me to be either an indication of a stunning lack of curiosity about the many cultural riches on offer in a city like Chicago, or a tip to the fact that she’s beseiged by the response to her “review” and is gun-shy about indicating that there ARE a lot of good things about the city, which she has to realize.

    The host really tried to pin her down on whether the NYT solicited this review or whether she suggested it and sent it along herself. She dodged as best she could, but it seemed clear to me that she had an idea for writing this “essay”, airing her gripes about her adopted home city, and then used the framework of that book review as the best way to get it published prominently.

    Neil Steinberg was on a local NPR show yesterday. (His book was one of the 3 that were the subject of the review.) Amidst several opinions about the whole affair, it emerged that his attitude seemed to be that he blamed the NYT for publishing such a lame effort and that he was thankful that his editors keep some of his lesser work from seeing the light of day.

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  27. Jakash said on April 24, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    Speaking of the NYT Book Review, this short interview with Anna Quindlen was also featured there this week, and I thought that several of her responses would resonate with some of the folks around here.

    “I never miss Laura Lippman’s novels.”

    “I think ‘experimental fiction’ is a synonym for ‘Give me a break,'”

    What book has had the greatest impact on you?

    “Oh, such a Miss America answer: the Bible. I grew up Catholic, and it’s hard to separate the New Testament from all my aspirations, inspiration and political positions. I’m a liberal because of the Sermon on the Mount.”

    If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be?

    “‘The Best and the Brightest,’ by David Halberstam. Smart people make bad decisions about policy and then compound them by refusing to admit they were wrong. I wish George W. Bush had read it before invading Iraq.”

    “‘The Catcher in the Rye’ seems genius when you’re 15, and when you’re 35 — not so much. I thought Ayn Rand was amazing when I was in high school, and now the only thing I find amazing is that I ever felt that way.”

    Anyway, YMMV, as they say:

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  28. Jolene said on April 24, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    Very cool video, Charlotte. Thanks for posting it. I wonder what will happen with Ebertfest in the years to come.

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  29. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 24, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    You get what you measure. That saying, being pounded into the ground most days in American education, is a sword that cuts both ways. Hey, we’re getting higher test scores.

    As the manager says so eloquently when he and Fred Astaire get their big Hollywood deal by breaking up Bing Crosby & Marjorie Reynolds, “Boy, are we happy!”

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  30. brian stouder said on April 24, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    So, the local TV station – which is one rotten tomato’s throw from our backdoor – has this headline on their website

    Marathon bombing suspects on welfare

    With this lead:

    The suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings killed in a shootout with police received welfare benefits from the state up until last year, when he became ineligible based on family income.

    I suppose this is a worthwhile fact, but a headline?

    PS – Jeff, true! And Michelle Rhee is a towering fraud, but we digress

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  31. Jolene said on April 24, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    The now-fired profane broadcaster from ND is going to be on Letterman tonight.

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  32. Kirk said on April 24, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    I work with a guy who told me that he quit the Boy Scouts over Diana Rigg. The troop meetings were on Thursday night, when The Avengers was on, and he couldn’t bear to miss it.

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  33. Scout said on April 24, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    Mr. John Greg “Billy” Bass’s wiki page says he was in the Air Force for 3 years. That is curious since minimum enlistment is four years. Has it been ever thus?

    In any case, he, Rep Tremblay and the rest of the Teapublican Loon Parade are doing a great job of making our case for us that the modern GOP is 500 pounds of batshittery in a 200 pound bag.

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  34. Peter said on April 24, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    Thanks Jackash, I needed an excuse to continue my rant and you came through for me. I owe you one.

    Chicago Magazine online has an article by Carol Felsenthal that includes an interview with the author that has this gem:

    “CF: When you were a student there, starting in 1982, did you leave the campus and explore the city?

    RS: No, I rarely left Hyde Park.”

    Ya see? Did I call it or what? The rest of the interview is a hoot as well.

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  35. MichaelG said on April 24, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    Gwyneth Paltrow the most beautiful woman in the world? First of all, there is no such person and if there were, it certainly wouldn’t be that skinny twit Paltrow. I’ve liked Diana Rigg for many years but have always and still do have a letch for Monica Bellucci.

    Brian, Michelle Rhee is married to Kevin Johnson, former NBA star and current mayor of Sacramento. I’ve run into them at the early morning airport several times. She favors a pony tail, baggy sweats and no make up when flying. Oh well, KJ’s married to her, not me.

    Speaking of airports, the news has been full of the delays resulting from ATC furloughs. One idiot on the TV news advised that since there were projected to be delays of two to three hours, travelers should show up at the airport an hour or two early to ensure that they didn’t miss their flight. I’m still trying to figure out how that works.

    And talk about a nonsequiter, Brian. That welfare thing. It’s like the old “Did you know that over 99% of people who die of heart disease cut their toenails”.

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  36. Brandon said on April 24, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    @MichaelG: You beat me to share the news of Gwyneth Paltrow as Most Beautiful Woman in the World. They edged out Beyonce for her!

    I know a lot of people here snark on her, and I think, What’s the big deal? She’s had health scares and many of the characters she plays meet horrible ends (Seven, Cantagion). But then I hear she’s promoting string bikinis for toddler girls, and … maybe you have a point.

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  37. beb said on April 24, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    Mark P, there’s a similar cheating scandal going on in the DC school district, the one once presided over by Rhee. She also picked one test as the do or die factor in teacher’s careers so it’s no surprise there was a lot of cheating. Freakonomics was an interesting book applying economic principles to real life situations. One chapter was on the similarities between Sumo wrestlers and Chicago teachers. In both causes future income depended on test scores so in both cases there was a lot of cheating.

    BethB is talking about what has come to be called “helicopter parents” because they’re no where in sight until their kid gets in trouble then they fly in to fix it for them. They’re really no different from the parents Jeff (TMMO) was talking about yesterday, the ones who resent anyone telling them their children are misbehaving.

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  38. Catherine said on April 24, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    Are you saying that testing should be stopped because some people cheat? By that logic, I don’t know, the Tour de France should be stopped because some people cheat.

    School tests are typically good predictors of what? Well, the thing they most strongly predict is how the student will do on next year’s test. And so on, up to predicting how well a student will do on the SAT, which is in turn a pretty good predictor of how a student will do in his/her first year in college. What would you rather have tests predict? They are doing what we have created them to do. What outcomes would you rather have schools focused on? Define those outcomes and come up with another way to measure them.

    But let’s not go back to the point where schools could tell students that they were doing great — right up until they got that 600 on the SAT and discovered they had no college prospects and a meaningless diploma.

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  39. brian stouder said on April 24, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    Catherine – I’m mostly with you.

    Perhaps we would both agree with the proposition that a small number of high-stakes tests are unhealthy – both in terms of the effect they have on the students’ education, and also the effect they have on the institution (and the concept) of public education.

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  40. Prospero said on April 24, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    I love standardized testing because I’m ridiculously good at it. SATs? I’ll take them for you and guarantee high scores. They are just fracking easy.

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  41. Sherri said on April 24, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    I’d say at this point we have enough evidence that the current high stakes testing model doesn’t do anything to help. The gap between rich and poor and between black and white hasn’t budged, SAT scores haven’t improved, and colleges are complaining more than ever that students are unprepared for college work. It’s been 12 years since NCLB was passed; my daughter, who is entering college this fall, has been tested relentlessly her entire school career. Where has all this testing actually helped things?

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    • nancy said on April 24, 2013 at 3:24 pm

      NAILED it.

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  42. Prospero said on April 24, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    What the hay?

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  43. brian stouder said on April 24, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    Where has all this testing actually helped things?

    In all seriousness, I believe the answer is: nowhere.

    Unless – seriously – you’re some charlatan who wants to kill public education and make a profit while it tumbles down; in which case these high-stakes tests and one-size-fits-all ‘common core’ standards are just the battering rams you need to force entry into the edu-market.

    Here in Fort Wayne there is an empty school or two, which – by law – must be made available to charter “school” operators for $1 per year. And do you know what? Rather than take the free buildings, these scam artists have wholly-owned real estate investment firms that buy other buildings and then lease them to themselves, thus pocketing (in one case) $500,000 per year in rent that theypay to themselves.

    I think the definition of a “public school” is – an institution supported by taxpayers which must take any kid who shows up at the door (including Burmese or other kids who speak no English) and educate that young lady or gentleman right up into a thinking young citizen of the community.

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  44. brian stouder said on April 24, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    non-sequitur from last week:

    So, a year ago I bought a fairly tired minivan from my brother in law (activate flashing yellow alert), and it carried me back and forth to work most days since then.

    The gas gauge didn’t work, and – being a gravel-road van from the day it was brand new to the day I bought it, it was basically filthy from front to back. And, the driver-side power window didn’t work (the window was stuck up).

    And although the windshield wipers worked, they remained up on the windshield when they were off. (I found THIS to be the most annoying thing, btw…although the gas guage was a trying thing, too).

    But, it always started.

    Lately, it began to smell like burning antifreeze and oil, and it would run with the temp guage pegged in the red zone.
    Our mechanic told us that the head gasket was shot, and it would cost about $1,700 to repair that.

    Since this sounded a lot like ‘good money afer bad’, we opted to stop-loss on the van, and shop for a simple ‘go-to-work’ car.

    And let me just say, buying a used car was a strange experience, all around. Have you ever wandered onto a “BUY HERE, PAY HERE” lot? Short version of the story: when I told the sales person I wanted a car in the $3k range (more or less), and that we’d pay for it on the spot, he told me point-blank that he had nothing on the lot for me(!)

    I gathered that the business plan is to sell a (ridiculously over-priced) car, on credit, to a person who has no other choice, and then hook it when they fall behind on the payments – thus pocketing whatever money they extracted from them and STILL having the car to hook another sucker with. (No car on the lot looked like it was actually worth anywhere north of $5,000).

    Skip to the climax*: we got a 2001 RED Pontiac Grand Prix for a price well within my desired range, from an individual from Auburn that Pam connected with via a virtual garage sale site. The thing is Ferrari red, and quite different from that clunky van I was driving. The one strange thing about the deal? The seller insisted on cash money – no cashier’s check. This threw Pam and I for a loop…and we completed the deal in our bank lobby. I was thinking that if anything bad was going to happen, I wanted it on video tape. (Further research indicates that this – insisting on cash – is a trend, although I’d never heard of it.)

    *I always do that!

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  45. beb said on April 24, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    The cheating in Georgia, DC, Chicago and elsewhere was because a superintendent decided to make one test the make-or-break test for the teachers career. If superintendents used multiple metrics and especially if measures besides testing are used than there won’t be the imperative to cheat.

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  46. Catherine said on April 24, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    Sherri, let me say that I agree with you that I don’t care for my kids being tested relentlessly. But let’s also look at it from a public policy standpoint separately from what we think is best for our own kids.

    The gap between rich and poor and between black and white hasn’t budged — Yes. Was testing supposed to fix that? I think it was just supposed to provide data. At least we can now measure objectively what approaches do and don’t lead to positive change — and there are places that are making strides.

    Colleges are complaining more than ever that students are unprepared for college work — As the daughter of two college professors, it seems to me that it was ever thus, but YMMV. Colleges are trying to provide more of a safety net now instead of letting kids drop out, it seems to me in part because we are measuring and paying attention to drop out rates.

    SAT scores haven’t improved — Yes, but. Let’s compare 2000 to 2010. In 2000, ~16% of children lived in families at or below the poverty line. In 2010, it was 22% (yeah, that’s a whole nother rant). It has been shown that increases in family income are tied to increases child achievement, and it might follow that the reverse is also true. If you agree that family income is predictive of test scores, then SAT scores should have dropped during that time period. Holding even, you might argue, is a testament to the hard, heroic work of educators, perhaps even a triumph over the people that just want to see the rich get richer.

    Sorry for the lengthy rant, but this whole topic pushes my buttons (and not the good ones, as one friend of mine would say).

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  47. Catherine said on April 24, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    beb, I’m sorry but by your logic every educator in the district would have cheated — they were all facing the same circumstances.

    And, most teacher evaluation systems that use test scores do not use them 100% — they look at the “value add,” not raw scores, and give them about 30% of the weight. What these systems do best is identify the outliers — the really terrific teachers and the real duds. Most of the time the principals and superintendents already know who these people are anyway, but it gives them data to help make personnel decisions.

    You may think teachers are getting fired unjustifiably. Did you know that in CA a teacher gets tenure after only 2 years on the job? Do you have any idea how long it takes to get rid of a teacher who’s tenured? I saw one instance in which it took an extremely determined principal THREE YEARS to get a teacher fired, and even then she quit right before she was going to get fired. Three years in which she was given tons of constructive feedback, support to change her ways, and the smallest classes (to keep her from affecting too many kids), none of which had the slightest effect on her practice.

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  48. Sherri said on April 24, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    Catherine, my feelings about testing aren’t really about my daughter, who is fine no matter what the regime is. I was just using her as an example to note that an whole generation of school kids have gone through this system, so we ought to be able to draw some conclusions.

    Testing done well should be a means, not an end. It should be about collecting data to see where students are falling short, or where their weaknesses are, and where they need to improve. The problem is, as it has been implemented, testing has been used for almost everything but that. Tests designed to measure students have instead been used to measure schools, principals, and teachers, without any validation. Even in measuring students, tests have been used less to help students but to punish them; pass this test or don’t graduate. The information a student, parent, or even a teacher gets back from a student’s test is generally so vague it’s not all that useful in helping that student improve.

    Testing has become an end, important for its own sake, the thing driving everything else in education. The only thing that matters is test scores; that’s how every intervention, curriculum, proposal, change, everything is evaluated these days: will it raise test scores? Will it address the gap in test scores?

    When you only measure one thing, then that one thing distorts everything else. That’s true whether we’re talking about a high poverty district or the most affluent district (believe me, test scores are just as important there, because they affect property values.)

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  49. Brandon said on April 24, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    Never mind Kansas. What’s the matter with Tennessee?–abc-news-topstories.html

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  50. basset said on April 24, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    Beb@11, the average tenure for a big-city school superintendent is somewhere between two and three years… they get hired to fix all the problems, the board and community start souring on them when it’s not done right away, and they run ’em off and get another one who’s really, I mean it, I have the magic key, gonna straighten everything out this time. Mix that with the occasional wacko and/or tea bagger school board member, and it’s surprising most superintendents last as long as they do.

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  51. basset said on April 24, 2013 at 9:51 pm

    Meanwhile… I am probably the only sentient being in the whole USA who hadn’t seen the sorority girl email before tonight:

    Had to wait for it to percolate up to

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  52. Kirk said on April 24, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    No, Basset, you were one of at least two.

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  53. Kirk said on April 24, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    What’s the problem? Morons who join outfits like that signed up for that kind of crap.

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  54. MichaelG said on April 24, 2013 at 11:25 pm

    Cunt punt?

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  55. Kirk said on April 24, 2013 at 11:27 pm

    All class.

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  56. LAMary said on April 25, 2013 at 12:17 am

    Speaking of Gwyneth Paltrow, back on 4/3 one of her recipes was in a Washington Post article referenced here, I think. Black bean chili with sweet potatoes. I made that recipe tonight and it was great. Unlike a lot GP’s recipes, the ingredients were all easy to find. She frequently includes stuff like duc.k bacon. Good luck finding that

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  57. MarkH said on April 25, 2013 at 1:54 am

    Last three. My little sister was a DG. I’ll report back to you on her reaction.

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