Archives for category: Humor

In part 1, we learned that Forbers asked a group of billionaires how to fix American education. In this installment, a group of leaders review the billionaires’ agenda.

“In our last installment, Forbes called a summit of Many Very Rich People to lay out what it would cost to fulfill the Must Have list for remaking American education. Now, we’re going to sit around with some alleged representatives of education stakeholders. And we should note that it’s happening in the department of Forbes.

“Paul Tudor Jones (founder of the Robin Hood Foundation) will be directing traffic as Andy Cuomo, Arne Duncan, Randi Weingarten and Kay Henderson (DC school chancellor) jaw about this. I should note that I’ll be walking you through the Short and Marginally Sweeter transcript; apparently there is a longer version, but I just can’t bring myself to go there.”

So here are the billionaires’ five Big Ideas:

“1) Teacher efficacy– recruit best and brightest

2) Universal Pre-K– because childhood is too long

3) School leadership– give principals greater power over staff

4) Blended learning– broadband and computers for everybody

5) Common Core/ College Readiness– insert all classic baloney arguments here”

What do our leaders think? They love the Big Ideas. But they have different timelines and slightly different strategies.

Take Cuomo, for example:

“Cuomo observes that he didn’t get anything done by being nice, so he made everybody’s money contingent on how well they follow his orders and he hasn’t had any problems since. Money buys compliance!”

Here are Kaya Henderson and Arne Duncan:

“Henderson gives Arne some strokes for being the only government guy who will fund innovation, and I think we can all agree that using a bureaucratic waiver maneuver to create new laws without the benefit of Congress is pretty innovative. The guillotine was also hot new stuff in its day.

Arne will now deliver more History from an Alternative Universe:

Having a common way of measuring success is just so basic and fundamental to all of your businesses–that’s a radical concept in education. We need to get to that point of having a high bar and having clear ways of measuring how everybody is stacking up against that bar. Under No Child Left Behind, about 20 states dummied-down their standards, they reduced their standards. Why? To make politicians of both parties look good. It was terrible for children. Not one person challenged those politicians. Until [philanthropic leaders] and the broader citizenry hold politicians accountable, we’ll continue to be mired in mediocrity.

“It’s true. In thirty-plus years of teaching, I have never measured success in any manner. Just throw darts at a board and call it a day. But states did not dummy down under NCLB to make politicians look good. They did it to save their states’ school from punishment under the heavy brainless hand of top-down federal mandates. They did it to avoid an unavoidable punishment that was inevitable because the feds set standards that nobody believed could be met, but they set them anyway. The dummying down was a completely predictable result of the perverse incentives built into a unsustainable punishment-based test-driven system created by educational amateurs in Washington DC. Dammit, Arne, if you want to learn a lesson from NCLB, learn that one, and learn it in some manner other than repeating the same damn mistakes.”

On his blog “Cloaking Inequity,” Julian Vasquez Heilig conducts an annual poll seeking to identify the “Turkey of the Year.” This year’s winner, hands down, is Arne Duncan. This was an unusually impressive victory because in the listing of candidates, Duncan’s name appeared last. And better: he garnered a majority of the votes, even though there were several choices.

Arthur Goldstein, highly effective high school teacher in Queens, New York, posted the following on his blog NYC Educator. Since he says he found it on the Internet and its authorship is unattributed, I am shamelessly borrowing from his blog. If you open Arthur’s link, you will also get an illustration of a turkey teaching in the classroom to turtles.

 

Full disclosure–found on the internet, unattributed.

 

 

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.

 

Developing: You set the alarm, but don’t get up and the turkey is undercooked. 3 children are laughing while you say grace. 4 of your nephews refuse to watch the game with the rest of the family because you have failed to offer differentiated game choices. Conversation during dinner is marked by family members mumbling under their breath at your Aunt Rose, who confuses the Mayflower with the Titanic after her third Martini. Only the drunk guests thank you on the way out. Your team loses the game.

 

Effective: The turkey is heated to the right temperature. All the guests, whom you have invited by formal written correspondence, arrive on time with their assigned dish to pass. Your nephew sneaks near the desert dish, but quickly walks away when you mention that it is being saved until after dinner. You share a meal in which all family members speak respectfully in turn as they share their thoughts on the meaning of Thanksgiving. All foods served at the table can be traced historically to the time of the Pilgrims. You watch the game as a family, cheer in unison for your team. They win.

 

Highly Effective: The turkey, which has been growing free range in your back yard, comes in your house and jumps in the oven. The guests, who wrote to ask you please be invited to your house, show early with foods to fit all dietary and cultural needs. You watch the game on tape, but only as an video prompt for your family discussion of man’s inhumanity to man. Your family plays six degrees of Sir Francis Bacon and is thus able to resolve, once and for all, the issue of whether Oswald acted alone.

Originally posted November 28, 2013

 

 

For your viewing pleasure.

You know I love dog and cat videos.

We can be grateful that Peter Greene has accepted the burden of reading the reports that pour forth come D.C. think tanks, saving the rest of us the trouble. Of course, when we read Peter’s analysis, we often end up reading the report anyway to find out if it is as bad as he says.

 

Here Peter analyzes a study produced by the Brookings Institution on the crucial importance of character, drive, and prudence. Peter titles this post “Poor Kids Suck,” because they get worse academic results, which presumably means they are lacking character, drive, and prudence.

 

Peter writes:

 

When it comes to slick-looking research of questionable results in fields outside their area of expertise, you can always count on the folks at Brookings. They have a new report out entitled The Character Factor: Measures and Impact of Drive and Prudence, and it has some important things to tell us about the kinds of odd thoughts occupying reformster minds these days.

 

The whole report is thirty-five pages long, but don’t worry– I’ve read it so that you don’t have to. Fasten your seatbelts, boys and girls (particularly those of you who can be scientifically proven to be character-deficient)– this will be a long and bumpy ride.

 

Character Is Important

 

Yes, some of this report is clearly based on work previously published in The Journal Of Blindingly Obvious Conclusions. And we announce that in the first sentence:

 

A growing body of empirical research demonstrates that people who possess certain character strengths do better in life in terms of work, earnings, education and so on, even when taking into account their academic abilities. Smarts matter, but so does character.

 

In all fairness, the next sentence begins with “This is hardly a revelation.” That sentence goes on to quietly define what “character” means– “work hard, defer gratification, and get along with others.” But we push right past that to get to Three Reasons This Field of Study Is Now a Thing.

 

1) There’s concrete evidence to back it up, a la Duckworth et. al.
2) That evidence suggests that character is as important as smartness for life success
3) Given that importance, policymakers ought to be paying more attention to “cultivation and distribution of these skills.”

 

The report brings up the marshmallow study, to introduce the importance of deferred gratification among four-year-olds.

 

There has been some great research in the last forty years to parse out what this hoary old study might actually mean and might actually miss. I like this one in particular from Rochester, because it finds a huge difference factor in the environment. Some researchers behaved like unreliable nits, while others proved true to their words, and the result was a gigantic difference in the children’s wait time. This is huge because it tells us something extremely important–

 

It’s much easier to defer gratification till later if you can believe that you’ll actually get it later. If you believe that deferring gratification means giving it up entirely– you are less likely to defer. Brookings does not include the new research in their report.

 

Brookings concludes this section with

 

Drive and prudence contribute to higher earnings, more education, better health outcomes
and less criminal behavior.And as long as we’re just making stuff up:

 

We can also easily imagine that they are important for marriage, parenting, and community involvement.

 

Plus, we can imagine that they give you better hair, firmer muscle tone, and fresher smelling breath. Plus, you probably won’t get cancer. But as unsupported as these suppositions are, they are still a critical part of the foundation for what comes next.

 

Yes, Rich People Really Are Better

 

Brookings now bravely turns to the question of how class is related to these character strengths. And I can’t accuse them of burying the lede:

 

If character strengths significantly impact life outcomes, disparities in their development may matter for social mobility and equality. As well as gaps in income, wealth, educational quality, housing, and family stability, are there also gaps in the development of these important character strengths?

 

This is followed by some charts that suggest that poor kids do worse on “school-readiness measures of learning-related behavior.” Another chart shows a correlation between income and the strengths of persistence and self-control through the school years.

 

Here is the good news! Peter writes:

 

Brookings, who don’t always seem to get all of the reformster memos, go a page too far now by suggesting (with charts!) that their prudence and drive measures (which would be a half-decent band name) are as good a predictor of success as cognitive/academic measures. Which means that we can totally scrap the PARCC and the SBA tests and just check to see if the kid is able to sit still and wait fifteen minutes for a marshmallow. I will now predict that this is NOT the headline that will be used if leading reformster publications decide to run this story.

 

Bottom line:

 

Best case scenario– we’ve re-demonstrated that people who come from a high socio-economic background tend to be successful in school, and those who don’t, don’t. Staple on some tautologies as a side show and call it an insight.

 

Or maybe this is a report that buttresses old farts everywhere by suggesting that since if your kid can’t learn to sit still, he probably lacks character and is likely to fail at life.

 

And remember up above when we decided to call these “character strengths.” That meant these behaviors are deeper than simple learned behaviors, but not quite genetically hardwired. So we’re stopping just short of saying that poor kids are born with a lack of character.

 

But at worst– at worst– this is codified cultural colonialism. This is defining “success” as “making it in our dominant culture, which we will define as normal for all humans.” And then declaring that if you want to make it as (our version of) a normal human, you must learn to adopt our values. This is going to Africa and saying, “Well, of course these people will never amount to anything– they don’t wear trousers.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is getting harder and harder to separate parody from reality. In this post, The Onion tell us of a new report from the U.S. Department of Education urging online education for 3- and 4-year-olds. It is almost too close to the reality to be funny. You could read it in your local newspaper and believe it.

 

This is too uncomfortably close to reality:

 

WASHINGTON—Saying the option is revolutionizing the way the nation’s 3- and 4-year-olds prepare for the grade school years ahead, a Department of Education report released Thursday confirmed that an increasing number of U.S. toddlers are now attending online preschool. “We found that a growing number of American toddlers are eschewing the traditional brick-and-mortar preschools in favor of sitting down in front of a computer screen for four hours a day and furthering their early psychosocial development in a virtual environment,” said the report’s author, Dr. Stephen Forrest, who said that the affordability and flexibility characteristic of online pre-primary education are what make the option most appealing, allowing young children to learn their shapes and colors on a schedule that works best for them. “With access to their Show-And-Tell message boards, recess timers, and live webcams of class turtle tanks, most toddlers are finding that they can receive the same experience of traditional preschooling from the comfort of their parents’ living room or home office.

 

There is more. Read it all.

Jon Stewart has a very funny spoof of the corporate good-will television ad run by Koch Industries. You deserve a laugh today. Enjoy!

Thanks to Pam Hricik for sending this gem of a question.

Read this and evaluate Mr. Jackson.

Ok, I’m a sucker for dog videos. Especially if they make me laugh. There is this guy named Nic, and he has a wonderful chihuahua named Pancho. There are many Nic and Pancho videos, all very short. This is the funniest.

I have a big mutt named Mitzi. She is part German Shepherd and part many other breeds. She is not trained to do anything. But she is very lovable and sweet. When people see her, they are frightened, because she is big, about 65 pounds. But she doesn’t have an aggressive bone in her body.

In response to a post about the Common Core, contemplating whether the ship had already sailed, our resident poet “SomeDAM Poet (Devalue Added Model) wrote these lines:

from the old folk song

Oh, they built the Common Core, to sail the ocean blue.
For they thought it was a standard that Gates could ram right through.
It was on its maiden trip, that a teacherberg hit the ship.
It was sad when the Common Core went down.

Chorus

It was sad, so sad.
It was sad, so sad.
It was sad when the Common Core went down (to the bottom of the….)
Duncans and Rhees, Pearson Testing lost their fees.
It was sad when the Common Core went down.

Oh Obama smiled and winked
As the ship began to sink
And he said “The scores are surely going to stink”
So he S.O.S.ed Bill Gates
And he sealed both of their fates
It was sad when the Common Core went down

Repeat chorus

They were not far from the shore, ’bout a thousand miles or more,
When the states refused to teach the Common Core
So they canceled all their waivers, and burned up all their “savers”
It was sad when the Common Core went down.

Repeat chorus

Oh, the teachers saved the weak, as the ship began to leak.
And a band of VAMmers played their mathy hymns
With, “Nearer my God to Rhee”, they were swept into the sea.
It was sad when the Common Core went down.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 118,241 other followers