Archives for category: Humor

One of the funniest and sharpest commentators on the follies and madness of contemporary education policy is EduShyster, known to friends and family as Jennifer Berkshire.

 

Jennifer is launching a podcast, which she calls “Have You Heard?”

 

Her first podcast is about the opt-out movement in Philadelphia. She is a great interviewer, and her podcasts will help to spread the word about the good and terrible things happening in education today.

 

She travels the country in search of stories, and she will be interviewing some of the leading figures in education from different ends of the ideological spectrum, asking tough questions.

 

Add EduShyster’s podcast to your reading and listening routine.

Gene Glass, the eminent researcher, reviews here the year just finished. 

 
It is a month-by-month account of big events in education.

 
For example:

 

 

July

 
Scientists at the American Institutes for Research release study that shows that the first two hours of the school day – from 5:30 am to 7:30 am – account for less than 1% of the day’s learning due to students’ somnambulant state. Study recommendations include delaying the start of school until 5:45 am, so as to ensure that high school grads will be college and career ready.

 

 

The American Association of University Professors releases the results of a 14-day study that pronounces 99% of America’s high school graduates “not ready for college.” AAUP petitions the federal government to create a special loan program to support all Freshmen while they complete two semesters of remedial courses.

 

 

The National Association of Manufacturers issues a statement in response to Common Core supporters that they have “not the faintest idea what skills will be needed by persons entering the workforce of 2025.”

 

 

August
Nothing happened in public education in the month of August as tens of thousands of teachers treated their union thug representatives to cruises on their yachts in the Mediterranean and Caribbean.

 

 

Watch this video of a baby conversing with a husky.

 

I am a sucker for dog videos. You may have noticed.

 

I have a beautiful, 75-pound mutt. She is part German shepherd, part Husky, part Akita, part Lab, part everything. She is all black with white paws, so she is called Mitzi for her mittens. She intimidates people because she is so big but in fact she is the sweetest, most affectionate dog ever. When I walk with her at night, she gets frightened of everything and I have to remind her that she is there to protect me, not vice versa.

 

 

 

 

Time for a laugh in a world that is not so funny. 

This is an essay that was written by a South Carolina school superintendent named John Taylor in 2002. It was originally called “Absolutely the Best Dentists.” It was supposed to be a satire, but reality overtook the jokes, and it was retitled “No Dentist Left Behind.” It was reprinted again and again. It was supposed to be funny.

Imagine a government system to rate dentists by the number of cavities their patients have. When the dentist in the story says that he chooses to serve patients in a poor neighborhood, and he can’t control how often they brush their teeth or what they eat, he is too to stop making excuses.

A dozen years ago this story was a satire. It was laughable and absurd on its face. Now it is federal policy, an integral part of Race to the Top. No one is laughing.

Paula Poundstone, comedian, has advice for parents: break your children’s addiction to electronic devices.  Is she right or wrong? Who made the decision that all the tests had to be taken online? This leads to a need to teach keyboarding schools in kindergarten or earlier. Shouldn’t children spend time making things, not just consuming what someone else has made? Shouldn’t they have time to use their own imagination, not just imbibe the products of someone else’s imagination?

 

She writes:

 

Screen devices wreak havoc with the brain’s frontal lobe. Diagnosis of ADHD in our children has taken a steep rise since the proliferation of screen devices.

 

Yet, even when presented with that information, parents often won’t hear of protecting their kids from the harmful effects of screen devices. “Kids love them!” they say. Yes, they do, and kids would love heroin if we gave it to them. I’m told that after the initial vomiting stage it can be a hoot!

 

We didn’t know this when we first brought these shiny new toys into homes. But, now, we do know. Still, adults aren’t doing anything about it. Why? Because we’re addicted. Addiction hampers judgment.

 

You see it. Everywhere you look people are staring at their flat things. We’re terrified of being bored. No one drifts or wonders. If Robert Frost had lived today he would have written, “Whose woods are these? I think I’ll Google it.”

 

Screens are tearing away our real connections. Ads for “family cars” show every family member on a different device. Applebees, Chili’s, Olive Garden and some IHOPs are putting tablets on their tables. These restaurants claim they are providing tablets just to make ordering easier. Well, gee, if saying, “May I please have chicken fingers?” is too difficult for our young ones, wouldn’t we want to work on that?

 

The tech industry has profited from the “Every child must have a laptop in the classroom” push, but education hasn’t. Research shows that the brain retains information better read from paper than from a screen, and students who take notes by hand are more successful on tests than those who type their notes on a computer.

 

Yet, art, music, sports, play, healthy meals and green space — things we know help the developing brain — are on the chopping block of school districts’ budgets annually.

 

Even knowing this, at the suggestion that we get screen devices out of our classrooms and away from our children, people gasp, “But they’ll need them for the world of the future!”

 

Our children will need fully-functioning brains for the world of the future. Let’s put that first.

As we wait impatiently to learn what the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Act will mean for classrooms across the nation, as we hold our breath while elected officials decide how public schools should function (as if they knew how), the New York Times has a wonderful parody of legislation to guarantee that our elected officials are smart enough to do their jobs.

 

It is called The Smartness Act of 2015, and it consists of tests for elected officials. If we were serious, we would require all state and federal officials to take the eighth grade mathematics test (PARCC or SBAC) and publish their scores.

 

The parody starts like this:

 

PUBLIC LAW 114–69 114th CONGRESS

 

An Act

To ensure that elected and appointed officials of State and Municipal governments are sufficiently prepared (i.e., “get it”) to enforce the Basic Skills provision of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, the United States Federal government has enacted the Common Core Standards Reform Act for Government Officials.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as “The Smartness Act of 2015.”

SEC. 2. PURPOSE.

The purpose of this Act is to improve the implementation (i.e., “doing it”) of Basic Skills by establishing minimum academic standards for State and Municipal government officials that must be achieved within sixty (60) days of their taking office. It is believed that core knowledge provides a foundation for being “smart” and that smartness is in the best interests of the United States of America, now more than ever what with computers and all.

SEC. 3. RESPONSIBILITIES OF GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS.

(a) Common Core Standard 1 English Language Arts (ELA)

(1) Read one (1) book in its entirety.

(A) Pop-up books, picture books, other nice books with cardboard pages, joke books, motor vehicle manuals, foldout maps and really thick magazines will not be considered in compliance with CCS1 except in the following States that have been granted waivers: Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, Wyoming and any other State with legalized casino gambling.

 

(B) Cliff’s Notes, Spark Notes or other study guides will not be permitted as substitutes for reading a book except for “Beowulf,” “Middlemarch,” “Ulysses,” “The Godfather” and anything by Gabriel García Márquez. In the case of “The Godfather,” viewing the filmed versions (“The Godfather” Part 1 and Part II, but not Part III, so disappointing) will satisfy the requirement in the following States that have been granted waivers: New York, New Jersey, Florida, California and Nevada. Alternatively, line recitations as spoken by the films’ main characters (e.g., “Don’t ask me about my business, Kay”) will also satisfy the requirement in those States.

(C) The approved book must be written in English except for any book written in Latin. If you can understand Latin, go for it, Sophocles. Books whose original language is French and were translated into English will be prohibited except for “The Charterhouse of Parma,” which many government officials liked for some bizarre reason a while back, but no other French book like “Madame Bovary,” “In Search of Lost Time,” “The Stranger” or those paperbacks that look rained on and never move from the outdoor tables in Montmartre. It’s all so pretentious. Speaking of pretentious, any book by Gertrude Stein will not be in compliance with CCS1 even though, technically, she was an American and wrote in a language that sounds like it could be English. Can anyone explain “Tender Buttons”? “Stick stick call then, stick stick sticking, sticking with a chicken. Sticking in a extra succession, sticking in.” Really?

 

Paul Lauter, distinguished author and scholar, found the following disciplinary principles, which were posted in German state schools in the early twentieth century, circa 1910.

The basic idea: No excuses! Conform! Obey! Authority is always right!

Sound familiar?

Translation:

–Students must sit up straight

–Hands must be kept together on the desk (table)

–Feet must be placed side by side on the floor.

–Students must keep their eyes on the teacher.

–Laughing, whispering, talking, moving or looking around are forbidden.

–Students must signal with the pointer finger of the right hand; the left hand supporting the elbow.

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Hope I am not too late in posting this wonderful piece, which appears on NYC teacher Arthur Goldstein’s blog NYC Educator.

 

Arthur says the writer of this send-up is anonymous. Credit to him for posting it on this day.

 

It begins like this:

 

Ineffective: You don’t know how to cook a turkey. You serve a chicken instead. Half your family doesn’t show because they are unmotivated by your invitation, which was issued at the last minute via facebook. The other half turn on the football game and fall asleep. Your aunt tells your uncle where to stick the drumstick and a brawl erupts. Food is served on paper plates in front of the TV. You watch the game, and root for the Redskins.

 

 

A time to laugh and celebrate that the dumb policies of No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top are widely recognized as failures and will soon go into the dustbin of history, where they belong. To make a better world for children and educators, the fight goes on, to replace poor leaders and failed policies, to save public education from privatization, and to make real the elusive promise of equality of educational opportunity: for all, not some.

 

 

nclb_cartoon

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