…”It takes a college education to be that stupid”, I think he may have been directly referring to this article.
There’s an old Hungarian saying; “the best way to become wealthy is to appear is if you already are”.
It’s true – and it applies far beyond wealth. One good way to get promoted is to dress, and perhaps act, like your boss. Acting as if one is happy in a relationship can make you…happy with the relationship.
Amid all of the squawking and clucking about college educations and credentials – how little we got for all of Barack Obama’s education, how much Scott Walker has accomplished without a formal piece of paper – one of the most important lessons for people to learn, especially younger people just starting out, is how to take what you do know and turn it into something useful. And sometimes, it’s more a matter of taking what you think you know and you’re sure you can do.
I’ve told a few of those stories; how I wasn’t actually formally qualified for either of my post-radio careers, technical writing and user experience; I’d had no formal training in either. I just found opportunities, did what it took to get hired, and then worked like a sled dog to deliver the goods.
I love a good Horatio Alger career story; I’m drawn to them.
And NPR gave us a great one over the weekend – the story of Adrián García Márquez, who’s been a spanish-language sportscaster for, well, pretty much every spanish-language sports broadcasting operation the past decade and change; he’s pretty much turned into the Jack Buck of spanish sportscasting.
And he had a start for the record books; he started out as a strugglingl minor leaguer – until he and his girlfriend got pregnant:
So he got a part-time job with the promotions department of San Diego radio station Jammin’ Z 90. A few months in, he started DJing overnight.
“In my heart, I didn’t want to be a hip-hop disc jockey,” he says. “I mean, I loved it. But I wanted to go to sports.”
But a radio station was a radio station, and working there was better than nothing.
Actually, these days it’s frequently not. But this was still the nineties, and Spanish radio still makes decent money, so let’s rejoin the story:
Then, he remembers, a colleague told him, “I have a buddy of mine who told me that he has a buddy that knows this guy” who wanted to broadcast a handful of San Diego Flash games in Spanish on TV. (At the time, the Flash were an A-League soccer team — basically a minor league team, Garcia says.)
There was a problem, though. To get a sportscasting job, he says, you have to have a demo tape of yourself actually calling a game — a college game, a high school game, any game.
“How do I get a demo, on the fly, out of nowhere, having zero experience? Make one. Fake one, basically.”
I did the same thing, back in 1986, to cajole my boss at KSTP into letting me have a talk show. It worked – although not as well as it did for Márquez.
But Garcia didn’t have one.
“So how do I get a demo, on the fly, out of nowhere, having zero experience? Make one. Fake one, basically.”
He looked around the house to see what he could use.
“I did have a Sega. I did have [the video game] FIFA Soccer, 1995 edition,” he remembers. “So I pop that into the console, I recorded the beautiful crowd chants that they had. Because technology was advancing, so it sounded like a real soccer game. So I figured, I’ll grab that crowd noise, and put it on the tape.”
He put the soccer chanting in the background, called the video of a recorded soccer game, turned it into a tape…
…and the rest is history. More or less. Read the whole story.
And pass it on to a kid. Because ones own ingenuity is as important as ones credentials, unless you’re trying to be a cardiac surgeon or an engineer. And college (and education in general) these days seems to do a fine job of squeezing that out of kids.
Sheila Jackson Lee – one of the dumbest, least effective members of Congress: graduated from Yale.
Scott Walker – one of the best, most effective governors in America: attended Marquette but didn’t get a degree.
Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:
Liberals exclaim that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s lack of a college degree proves he lacks knowledge.
I knew a guy who was frighteningly well educated. He could tell you why it rained, when it was going to rain, what made it rain . . . he just didn’t have enough sense to come in Out of the rain.
Knowledge is not wisdom.
Knowledge is learned in college; wisdom is won in the world.
I wish our current President had more worldly wisdom and not so much college knowledge.
I sincerely hope our next President does.
Anyone still talking about where they went to college more than five years after they graduated, unless there in an academic field, probably has nothing to be proud of in their post-college life.
Anyone who barbers about where someone went to college, unless that person is operating on the child or building their bridge, is probably an idiot.
Saint Paul Public Schools Superintendent Valeria Silva is giving her state of the district address later this morning, down at the SPPS’ Stalinesque fortress headquarters at 360 Colborne Street.
As the PiPress notes, most of Silva’s goals remain unmet. It looks pretty bad, but for one little bit of silver lining – or so the PiPress (or perhaps the SPPS’ press release) would have you believe:
By 2014, she said, her overhaul of the school district would lift student proficiency on math and reading tests to 75 percent; four-year graduation rates would climb to 75 percent; and by signing up a greater share of the city’s students, enrollment would jump by 3,500 to 5,000 students.
Four years later, only the graduation goal has come close to fruition — up 8 points to 73.3 percent in 2013. Meanwhile, enrollment is up just 64 students, and math and reading scores have fallen further behind Minneapolis and the rest of Minnesota.
And that’s not all:
- 42% of St. Paul 3-8 graders hit the state’s math targets in last year’s standardized tests – down a point in the past year. The figure statewide jumped from 58 to 63 percent; even benighted Minneapolis’ scores, somehow, leapt from 37 percent to 45 percent.
- Reading proficiency for same sample was 38% in Saint Paul last year – versus 42 percent in Minneapolis and 59 percent in the parts of the state that vote GOP.
But notwithstanding the fact that Saint Paul’s students are performing worse and worse on every other test, at least the graduation rate – up from 65 to 73%. So that’s good news, and a vindication for Silva – right?
Well, no. As we discussed last year, graduation rates throughout Minnesota jumped last year. They did it immediately after the DFL-dominated legislature removed graduation testing requirements. If a student puts in 12-ish years without formally dropping out, trying to stab a teacher or saying anything Republican, they’re pretty much going to get a diploma and a handshake. And while I can not prove that the correlation leads to a causation, the complete lack of evidence that anything else is improving in the SPPS seems to be evidence in the affirmative.
But notwithstanding the fact that she did nothing that couldn’t be attributed to “political pennies from heaven”, she’s in line to get a raise, to over $200K, plus the kind of perks that’d make a corporate CEO blush.
So I’ll tell you what, SPPS; if you want, I’ll take a run at it. Pay me the relative bargain rate of $160K. I’ll make a bunch of promises that I (likely) can’t possibly keep. At the end of the contract, you’ll have gotten precisely the same results – for a 20% discount!
The last place to look for fearless, open, free-wheeling speech for its own sake is any university town.
See Northfield, Minnesota – home of a couple of tony private colleges – where publican Norman Butler of the pub “Contented Cow” has been doing something I wish a bar in the Twin Cities would do; hosting a series of discussions and debates over the winter.
But when word got out that Butler invited conspiracy theorist Jim Fetzer to do a series of talks on historical events on which he holds controversial opinions, some customers revolted.
They say that Fetzer is an anti-Semite because he also denies aspects of the Holocaust. Several residents sent notes to Butler saying they would stop frequenting his pub unless he canceled the talks.
We’ve run into the whackdoodle Fetzer (and, in the comment section, his fan club) on this blog before. He hasn’t changed:
[Fetzer's] “truths” include Fetzer’s belief that the Sandy Hook school shootings never really happened, that the 9/11 attacks were a “reality fraud” by the government conspiring with Israel and that the plane crash that killed Sen. Paul Wellstone was a possible assassination.
Fetzer’s posting of critics’ e-mails apparently caused one of his readers to send a threatening e-mail to one professor.
By Monday, Fetzer had agreed to change the events from speeches to debates, inviting people with expertise to rebut him. On his website, Fetzer said the community response “has shattered any lingering illusions I may have had about Northfield as an enlightened and intellectual environment.”.
If Fetzer believes any university town is a place for intellectual inquiry, it’s no wonder he denies the Holocaust and thinks 9/11 was an inside job. He’ll buy anything.
Kudos to Mr. Butler, anyway:
As of Tuesday, Butler was not backing down on the forums.
“I almost folded this morning,” he said. “I was down on my knees almost. But I got a second wind.”
Asked if he expected the backlash, the England native channeled British comedy troupe Monty Python: “Well, I didn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition.”
And that was that – until the professors got into the rhubarb:
One of those who oppose Fetzer’s appearance is Gordon Marino, professor of philosophy at St. Olaf College.
He called the appearance “unbelievable.”
“Is this some free speech thing?” Marino wrote to Butler. “If so, why not some pro-slavery person as well?”
OK. So why not?
I mean, it’d be a short, sharp debate, probably ending badly for the proponent – but why the hell not?
Isn’t free speech about meeting bad speech with more, better speech?
Goodness knows college kids can’t debate even easy subjects like the existence of slavery or the Holocaust these days without resorting to the left’s “debate” playbook, strawmen and ad-hominem. Having some of them see how it’s done might be a better learning experience than they’d ever get at Saint Olaf or Carlton.
…our semi-retired President is going to propose paying for “free” communithy college for everyone…
Two points, here.
Face Value: If we take the President at his (ostensible) word, that means the nation’s community college system will inherit the worst of both worlds; the government control that’s made the public school system such a sclerotic disaster, and the financial firehose that’s led to the “higher education bubble”. And let’s not even concern ourselves just now with the deepening ideological conformity that this would impose on the higher ed system?
What could possibly go wrong?
Shelf Life: But fear not. As with everything else in Obama’s presidency, it’s not about educating young people. It’s about trying to demigogue the education issue, to give the Democrat Party a chanting point in the next election. Republicans who vote against taxing people who saved for education to benefit those who didn’t is an ideal demogogueing point.
And that’s really all there is to Obama’s “free community college” proposal.
Minneapolis School superintendant Bernardeia Johnson resigned her office yesterday.
Johnson was also recently thrust into a dicey position by incendiary news stories and a legislative probe into a questionable $405,000 no-bid contract awarded to Community Standards Initiative (CSI), a politically connected group run by community activists Al Flowers and Clarence Hightower. For months, groups in the African-American community exerted enormous pressure on Johnson to take a side and say whether two Minneapolis DFLers — state Sens. Bobby Joe Champion and Jeff Hayden — strong-armed her into going forward with the CSI contract. Some of the pressure came in the form of a viral social media campaign using the hashtag #JimCrowJr.
An affidavit submitted to lawmakers in her name suggested she strove to protect the district from an untenable situation. A state Senate committee hearing into the matter proved to be more partisan theater than a quest for facts that might have supplied some much-needed context.
By all accounts I’ve read and heard, she was a perfectly capable school administrator.
Of course, by all accounts, all of the superintendents have been capable administrators, as far as we know – and yet Minneapolis’ school district is a mess (outside some of the elite challenge programs), and the mess has largely resisted any number of bureaucratic initiatives to change the situation.
And Johnson had her share of those:
Perhaps the most symbolic of the problems that dogged her tenure was the teaching corps’ failure to consistently and enthusiastically dive into a program central to her vision, Focused Instruction. Johnson struggled to articulate the merits of the approach, and it’s believed that half or more of the district’s teachers simply ignored the initiative.
Focused Instruction is a form of data-driven teaching that is, on one level, something that works in some districts and, on another, is one of those buzzwords that translates into “one size fits all approach to teaching tens of thousands of individual kids”. There’s more to it than that, of course – it’s not the dumbest teaching fad to hit the market.
But just as politics is the worst possible way to allocate resources or solve problems, it’s also the worst possible way to education individual children. School districts are fundamentally political institutions, not educational ones. Any solution they proffer will first and foremost be, necessarily, a political one, designed to be the most attractive common denominator for the student body as an aggregate (and their teachers, administrators, district stakeholders, etc etc etc). Nowhere in that aggregation is the idea that kids are unique individuals who aren’t interchangeable cogs on an intellectual assembly line.
So the next Minneapolis superintendent may be, like Bernardeia Johnson, a good person, a well-respected administrator, and a capable bureaucrat. Or they might be a complete schnook. And it probably won’t matter much, because in the end they’re all selling one-size-fits-all education that is designed to serve everyone, and therefore serves nobody.
To: Students of Harvard Law School
From: Mitch Berg, Angry Dean
Re: Test Schedules
Dear Most Annoying Students in the World,
Starting at 8AM Monday morning, please line up in the front hall of the administration building in alphabetical order. You will all be issued refund checks. Because clearly we at HarvLaw have failed you as an institution.
The evidence – you all know that term, right? – is right here:
Those Harvard students have produced an open letter, in which they demand that their examinations be delayed. “Like many across the country,” its authors claim, students “are traumatized” and “visibly distressed” — to the extent that there is now a “palpable anguish looming over campus.”
I hope I’m long dead before I have people from big law firms writing me, chocking back their outrage at his institution for turning out such a vacuous pack of hamsters and calling them not only “lawyers”, but “Harvard Law School Grads”.
The “national crisis” that has been provoked by the cases of Garner and Brown, they argue, has left them with no choice but to “stand for justice rather than sit and prepare for exams.” And, like their brethren at Columbia, they contend that their “being asked to prepare for and take our exams in this moment” amounts to their “being asked to perform incredible acts of disassociation” — requests, which taken together, have led them “to question our place in this school community and the legal community at large.”
I can’t wait to see you vacuous children of boundless class privilege try that on a client in the real world; claim the violence inherent in the system makes it impossible for you to come into the office and work on your cases. But at least you won’t “question your place in the legal community at large”, because by that point you’ll be transferring to the “fast food community”.
The bottom line? That students must be given “the opportunity to reschedule their exams in good faith and at their own discretion.”
And in good faith, I, your dean, will allow you and your faith and discretion to move your exams to any time another law school will let you, provided you get admitted.
Pick up your checks. You haven’t failed. I have.
That is all.
I get to catch Rush Limbaugh maybe once a month, usually for about five or ten minutes as I’m going to some noon-time appointment or another.
Yesterday, I tuned in to the sound of Limbaugh citing a story from the Jamestown Sun, the daily newspaper in my hometown, about a North Dakota legislative proposal to require high school kids to pass the same test new immigrants must pass to become Americans.
The bill is part of the national Civics Education Initiative, an affiliate of the Joe Foss Institute. Foss, a former South Dakota governor and Marine Corps pilot who received the Congressional Medal of Honor, started the nonprofit to enlist veterans to teach young people about the value of their freedoms. He died in 2003.
The effort counts among its supporters former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day Sandra Day O’Connor, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Carl Bernstein and actor Joe Mantegna.
A similar legislative effort was announced in September in South Dakota with support from former U.S. Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, former Citibank president Ron Williamson and former Sioux Falls mayor Dave Munson, among others.
[NoDak governor Jack] Dalrymple said the goal nationally is to have all 50 states adopt the civics test requirement by Sept. 17, 2017, the 230th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution.
The state’s education commissioner notes that students can retake the test as many times as they need to get to 60% – which, I think, is the right idea; the point is that they learn the stuff.
To: Valeria Silva, Superintendant, Saint Paul Public Schools
From: Mitch Berg, Uppity Peasant
Re: How You Can Superintendantsplain Things To Your Black Students
In the immediate aftermath of the Ferguson Grand Jury release, you tweeted:
No indictment for officer Wilson! Very sad day in America. How do I explain this to my black students?
I’m here to help. You can start by explaining to them…:
- The reasons Saint Paul – despite spending more money per student than almost every district in the state – continues to have among the worst black student achievement gaps in the country. Worse even than other urban toilets like Detroit or Philadelphia.
- You can explain why it is you support the current school board, which – being elected city-wide rather than by ward, is thus under the complete control of the DFL vote machine, and thus represents the wishes and whims of the city’s Crocus Hill DFL elite; lots of gnashing of teeth about multiculturalism and the morality of Junior ROTC, and absolutely nothing about pulling “your black students” up. You could explain why you aren’t actively working to return the school board to a ward-based system.
- You can explain to them, maybe, that while there are bad cops, there is also nothing in the world more stupid and unpredictable than an 18 year old boy, and that even if a cop is bad (and I’m not saying Office Wilson was), provoking them is a really really bad plan.
- Explain that rioting is a good way to get a good chunk of society to swing from “middling to sympathetic” to “loading up with birdshot and walking their sidewalks with their neighbors”.
- Perhaps you should explain the reasons that Saint Paul shouldn’t follow New Orleans’ lead, shut down the public school system, and go all charter? Because the African-American community in NOLA – much bigger than in Saint Paull, btw – is doing much better since they did exactly that. Three reasons will do.
Let me know if you need more help. Being a public bureaucrat, I’m sure you rarely have to deal with the actual public.
A kid spends ten years in public school. Then, less than a year as a home-school kid. Then enrolls in a public university.
And then kills his mother and 26 other people. Four years after ending a year of home schooling.
Obviously it’s Home Schooling’s fault!
Under a new law proposed this week by Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy’s Sandy Hook Advisory Commission, every homeschooling parent with a child who has been labeled with a behavioral or emotional problem would be forced to submit to a host of strict, burdensome regulations.
The scheme put forth in the commission’s draft recommendations on mental health would require homeschooling parents to submit individual education plans regularly to a local education bureaucrat.
School officials could then decree whether parents may continue to educate their own children, reports the Connecticut Post. Administrators could pull the plug on any parents’ homeschooling by declaring that the child failed to make “adequate progress.”
Bear in mind that Lanza was well on his way to loopdie-land when he was in the public school system. What good did any of them do?
Members of the Democratic Governor’s Sandy Hook commission have conceded that the additional burdens they have recommended for homeschooling families may be controversial.
Dear Connecticut; the entire United States would be better off if the Blue States seceded – and if you want to get the ball rolling, that’d solve problems for everyone.
The headline is sarcastic, of course. Saint Thomas University, a Twin Cities catholic school, has never tolerated conservative opinion or action. Under their previous president, Father “Hanoi Dennis” Dease, they disinvited conservative speakers, harassed conservative newspapers, and – in 2000, when a Cuban national team baseball player in town to play an exhibition against Saint Thomas defected at the airport, Dease forbade any Saint Thomas students from harboring him.
Dease is gone – he apparently retired last year – but his legacy lives on. A Saint Thomas school mascot – some sort of rodent, I think – “wiped his rear” with Republican literature on campus:
Angie Hasek, Chairman of the Minnesota College Republicans, posted a brief description of the event on Facebook.
“Tommie Mascot just wiped his rear with some GOP lit. I wouldn’t have expected someone at UST to stoop to that level.”
“Tolerance at its finest,” Hasek said.
According to the university’s website, the Tommie Mascot Team consists of up to six undergraduate students with the goal of “foster[ing] school spirit in a positive and professional manner.”
I was at a comedy club a few weeks back.
A very angry – and not especially funny, while we’re on the subject – woman who, I kid you not, identified herself as having been a political science major, told a joke (I’ll be generous) about “science”. She ended with something like “That’s called ‘science’. Take that, creationists!”
But it started me thinking about the contempt that the left feels for creationists.
Now, I’m not one of them – if you read the biblical creation story as allegory, there is no conflict between the Bible and the record that is captured in the physical science of the world around us.
And I wanted to stand up and ask the “comedian” something.
“So if we have to choose between…
Someone who believes the Earth is 6,000 years old, and lives their life accordingly – whatever that means? A belief for which there may be little empirical basis, and even less empirical impact outside the faith community? Or…
Someone who believes that:
- raising taxes during a recession helps the economy,
- banning firearms for the law-abiding lowers violent crime
- jacking up regulation on market economies will stop the climate from changing like it’s been doing for between 6,000 and 20,000,000,000 years
- Unionizing daycare providers will alleviate the scarcity of daycare
- Raising the minimum wage will alleviate poverty
- Pouring a bottomless bucket of money into Public Education will ever give us a better-educated populace
- Mandating increased healthcare services without increasing the supply of caregivers won’t raise the price of healthcare
- “Racism” is harming black Americans more than the Public Education system, a toxic “urban culture”, fatherless families and voting for Democrats who want to keep them that way are
- Giving terrorists a “save the date” card for leaving one of their homelands isn’t going to result in an epic surge of bloodshed
- “Anti-Poverty” programs have alleviated poverty over the past fifty years
- Barack Obama deserved that Nobel Peace Prize,
…which does more actual harm to the world?”
It wouldn’t have made a great “heckle”, unfortunately.
New Rochelle New York’s school board cuts the crap and moves to elminate public input at school board meetings:
In her first act as the newly elected senior board President, Merchant waited until the last minute to unveil sweeping changes to board policy that eliminates any guarantees of public input into school board meetings as what can only be seen as a prelude to eliminating entirely any public involvement in school board meetings.
Beset by criticism over an unfolding story of corruption and incompetence on its watch, and infighting among its own members, the New Rochelle Board of Education last night proposed to “solve” that problem by severely curtailing public engagement during school board meetings.
Minneapolis and Saint Paul would never do that.
When I was five years old, I walked to kindergarten every day. It was three blocks each way. For that matter, so did nearly every other five-year-old who lived within three blocks of the place.
The next year? First grade? I and all my friends walked six blocks each way to school.
My parents would probably be arrested today.
That’s the subject of Ross Douthat’s latest.
And besides the usual snickering at the overweening, overprotective helicopter parent run amok, Douthat points out something much more corrosive:
Third is an erosion of community and social trust, which has made ordinary neighborliness seem somehow unnatural or archaic, and given us instead what Gracy Olmstead’s article in The American Conservative dubs the “bad Samaritan” phenomenon — the passer-by who passes the buck to law enforcement as expeditiously as possible. (Technology accentuates this problem: Why speak to a parent when you can just snap a smartphone picture for the cops?)
20 years of watching John Walsh has turned us into a nation of Dwight Schrutes.
Except when child protective services gets involved, nobody walks away laughing.
I got this email from one of the socialist parties whose email list I somehow got onto; it’s by one Nicole Troxell, a Sociology professor in Kentucky:
When I was 19 years old, a college professor changed my life. I took his Feminist Political Thought course and realized for the first time that I could be smart and capable. …
When I was 19 years old, a college professor changed my life. I took his Feminist Political Thought course and realized for the first time that I could be smart and capable. I decided I wanted to give students what he had given me. I talked to professors about what it was like to teach college and it seemed perfect. There would be time for artistic and intellectual work, a chance to foster curiosity and critical thinking, building community, freedom to work a flexible schedule mostly from home, good wages and benefits, and opportunities to contribute to research.
In other words, she thought she’d hit the jackpot; getting paid big money to spend very few hours per week teaching an utterly valueless discipline.
What could go wrong?
No one ever mentioned the word “adjunct” and I didn’t know what it meant until I took my first teaching job at a community college. I thought an adjunct position was probably a trial period for a full-time post that was sure to open soon. I was still full of hope for my career.
Today I have classes that run four, five, six, 12, and 16 weeks long at three to five different schools. I work more hours than a full-time college professor, yet I get paid less than half as much. I work so many hours that I sometimes average less than the minimum wage.
That moment when practicioners of valueless trades almost, but don’t quite, realize that their trade has no value.
I am working hard and not seeing tangible fruits for my labor. I can’t afford health insurance, even under the Obama plan; and I have nothing saved for retirement. I can’t pay my student loans and barely manage to pay basic living expenses. Occasionally I get warm fuzzy compliments from students who become passionate about what they learn from me, but mostly my poor students get a tired, overworked, unenthusiastic teacher who has to try hard to “fake it until I make it.” Why do I keep doing this? Simply because it was my dream to teach college.
Sucks, doesn’t it? I hit that same wall when I was 29; It was my dream to do major market radio, but I was making $8 an hour with two kids to feed and #3 on the way. I had to adapt.
So is “adaptation” in the future for Ms. Troxell?
Adjuncts are not without hope, however. Thousands are organizing around the country in unions like Service Employees International (SEIU)…Adjuncts can shake things up and galvanize change by urging their local unions to start organizing. Better wages and benefits would take away the incentive for adjunct positions and hopefully encourage universities to employ more full-time teachers.
Er, yeah. Hopefully.
Or – more likely – they’d realize, as value-conscious students are, that “women’s studies” and sociology are of no real value to them (beyond, maybe, general requirement survey courses, and even there I’d be pissed at any college that required me to waste any of my hard-earned time on either), and they’ll contract those departments even further, leading non-tenure-track academics to careers in insurance, real estate, and fast food.
The New Orleans school district has just shut down its last five “traditional” public schools and converted the district to 100% charter schools.
And the Educational-Industrial Complex is going to go crazy about it.
With the start of the next school year, the Recovery School District will be the first in the country made up completely of public charter schools, a milestone for New Orleans and a grand experiment in urban education for the nation.
Of course, charters started in Minnesota – and have caught on both in Minnesota and nationwide primarily among “underserved communities” – immigrant, Latino and especially African-American students. 44 of students in the District of Columbia attend charter schools. But in New Orleans – whose city district was among the worst in the nation before Katrina forced an epic reboot – the district embarked on a radical experiment in school choice.
And it’s galling the hell out of the factory schoolmasters.
The creation of the country’s first all-charter school system has improved education for many children in New Orleans, but it also has severed ties to a community institution, the neighborhood school, and amplified concerns about racial equality and loss of parental control.
I’m not sure if it’s because the media have no idea how education really works, or they’re buying into propaganda from the educational-industrial complex – but they always seem to read their chanting points from Big Education handouts.
- Charter schools are in neighborhoods, too.
- Big city public schools, on the other hand, may be in a neighborhood, but they are inevitably controlled by school boards who are beholden not to parents or neighborhoods, but to the special interests that get the board elected. You think a parent’s voice is heard at Saint Paul’s school headquarters, locked away in their concrete fortress on Colborne street?
- Racial equality? Parents choose their kids schools. Black, white, integrated - its’ voluntary!
- Anyone who thinks parents have even the most trivial input, much less control, over big city school systems is too stupid and pathetic to even politely ignore.
More chanting points?
Critics of the all-charter New Orleans model say it is undemocratic, because leaders of charter schools are not accountable to voters.
Another statement that can only come from the ignorant, the deluded, or the cynical. Parents at a charter school are 1-2 votes among dozens or hundreds; in the factory system, they’re among tens of thousands or more.
“They don’t answer to anyone,” said Sean Johnson, the dean of students at [one of the ex-public schools], whose father attended the school while growing up in the Black Pearl neighborhood. “The charters have money and want to make more money. They have their own boards, make their own rules, accept who they want and put out who they want to put out.”
And Johnson is lying. Charters follow the same rules as public schools, and get the same money.
As New Orleans continues to succeed, look for charter opponents – like the DFL – to get more and more desperate.
Last week in the Strib, an op-ed by Will Stancil – described as “Will Stancil is a researcher at the Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity at the University of Minnesota” – declared:
But in the Twin Cities, many of those grade-schoolers are sitting in segregated classrooms. Single-race schools have been making a comeback in Minnesota.
It’s the charter schools that are the problem. Charters are rapidly growing, but still controversial, with their effectiveness hotly debated. Despite that controversy, or perhaps because of it, a disturbing reality about charters is widely overlooked: Many boast student bodies that are entirely composed of members of one race.
We can’t allow new ideas about education to erode civil rights progress…Charter advocates frequently insist on the need to close the equity gap and create opportunity for all students, no matter their race. But their commendable agenda cannot proceed in a segregated organization. As we celebrate Brown’s legacy, we should also remember its lessons: that integration is the grandfather of all equity issues and that racial separation is a root cause of American inequality…Charter schools should not allow themselves to become flagbearers for a divided system reminiscent of an uglier era.
I read it – and marked it down to address this week.
But Bill Wilson – the first black Saint Paul City Councilman – and education activist Joe Nathan did it first, in the Strib, and did a fine job…
…in part by noting Stancil’s invocation of the “S” word was cheap, inflammatory and wrong (emphasis added):
Some critics don’t seem to understand the huge difference between forcing people, because of their race, to attend a school, and giving new options to people, especially those from low-income families and families of color.
This exposes the great divide in education – between:
- the “public” mandate that uses the school system to send society a symbolic message (however good that message may be), and maybe “educate” the kids in the bargain
- The “individual choice” model, which empowers families to, y’know, see to their kids’ education.
For many kids, school is hard enough without having to solve all the social problems their parents kicked down the road to them. And so their families choose – choose! – schools that actually work, on the assumption that it’s better for their kids to compete on a more level intellectual playing field later than to serve as some bureaucrat’s statistical incentive today.
Read the Wilson/Nathan piece. Compare it with Stancil’s tone-deaf vapidity.
And then remember which party has always fought against school choice.
Twenty years of warnings that one of their janitors was an alleged pedophile weren’t enough to spur the Saint Paul Police…
Yesterday, Ramsey County officials announced they’ve hit [former SPPS janitor Walter] Happel with a smorgasboard of new charges, including first-degree criminal sexual conduct, three counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct, and five counts of surreptitious invasion of privacy.
The new charging documents don’t exactly bathe the St. Paul police or Linwood Monroe in glory, as both allegedly ignored credible warnings Happel was a pedophile.
The allegations now facing Happel are Sandusky-esque — there are too many alleged victims to share each and every one of their stories in one report. But with regard to the 1991 case, after news of the initial charge against Happel broke a couple months ago, Happel’s son, identified as “AH” in charging documents, came forward to tell police his father sexually abused him from the time he was four until he was 14 or 15.
…or Saint Paul Public Schools…
As far as the Linwood Monroe allegations are concerned, yet another charging document says that when a parent (“AB”) talked to a school social worker this past winter to share concerns about Happel brandishing his penis in a school bathroom to their child, the social worker said Happel “had been there forever and wouldn’t hurt anyone.”
“AB later called the school and spoke with a woman about the incident, but she never got a return call from anyone with the school,” the charging document continues. “AB finally reported the incident to the police.”
Yet another charging document says school officials didn’t tell police about a January 17, 2014 incident where Happel allegedly “lightly slapped a student’s behind” and said, “I told you I was going to do that if you sagged your pants,” even though just a week earlier, the school principal received an email from a parent who was concerned about Happel giving candy to two students who didn’t have father figures in their lives.
The story – by the City Pages Aaron Rupar – gets worse. Much worse.
So – will local journos start poring over the SPPS’ records, looking to elevate incompetence and institutionalism into a cover-up?
Or are they too exhausted from all the time they’ve spent going after the Archdiocese of Saint Paul?
As anyone who’s done hiring for web designers, Java programmers or network techs knows, there’s no shortage of technical workers; wages throughout most of the IT sector have been worse than stagnant for quite some time.
And yet not only do our kids constantly have “Take STEM courses!” beaten into their heads, but the government and business want more tech workers immigrating to the US.
Now, a survey shows there isn’t a shortage:
In looking at the latest government data available, my co-author and I found the following: In 2012, there were more than twice as many people with STEM degrees (immigrants and native-born) as there were STEM jobs — 5.3 million STEM jobs vs. 12.1 million people with STEM degrees. Only one-third of natives who have a STEM degree and have a job work in a STEM occupation. There are 1.5 million native-born Americans with engineering degrees not working as engineers, as well as half a million with technology degrees, 400,000 with math degrees, and 2.6 million with science degrees working outside their field. In addition, there are 1.2 million natives with STEM degrees who are not working.
Meanwhile, less than half of immigrants with STEM degrees work in STEM jobs. In particular, just 23 percent of all immigrants with engineering degrees work as engineers. Of the 700,000 immigrant STEM workers allowed into the country between 2007 and 2012, only one-third got a STEM job, about one-third got a non-STEM job, and about one-third are not working.
But enough about the statisticians – what is the market saying?
Wage trends are one of the best measures of labor demand. If STEM workers were in short supply, wages would be increasing rapidly. But wage data from multiple sources show little growth over the last 12 years. We found that real hourly wages (adjusted for inflation) grew on average just 0.7 percent a year from 2000 to 2012 for STEM workers, and annual wages grew even less — 0.4 percent a year. Wage growth is very modest for almost every category of STEM worker as well
The drive to jam kids – especially girls – into STEM classes is just a long-term plan to drive down tech costs.
The fact that someone has beaten me to giving the graduation speech I’ve always wanted to give – especially at a Minnesota school - is tempered by the fact that I will never be asked to give one.
In an episode that’s getting national attention, near Cooperstown, ND (about 30 miles from the Berg ancestral home), a family dog lays on a lost boy, keeping him warm and dry until searchers could find him.
Which just goes to show you that even a North Dakota farm dog is smarter and more intrinsically human than some Saint Paul school administrators.
On the one hand, it’s almost a good thing that a school district, somewhere, is trying to teach some kind of critical thinking. Kids today seem to get virtually none of it.
The Rialto school district in California is under fire over a stunning eighth-grade assignment that asked students to write an argumentative essay about the Holocaust and “whether or not you believe this was an actual event in history, or merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain wealth.”
Now, this story is only from the mainstream media – the San Bernardino Sun and KTLA TV – so take it with a block of salt.
[the assignment] gives students three sources to use to write their essays. One of the sources reportedly alleges the gassings in concentration camps were a “hoax” and there is no evidence Jews actually died in gas chambers.
The source, traced to a webpage on biblebelievers.org.au, states: “With all this money at stake for Israel, it is easy to comprehend why this Holocaust hoax is so secretly guarded. In whatever way you can, please help shatter this profitable myth. It is time we stop sacrificing America’s welfare for the sake of Israel and spend our hard-earned dollars on Americans.”
The other two sources were from About.com and History.com, KTLA-TV reports.
Teaching the youngsters to deny the deniers? Plausible.
But how much do you want to bet the kids have gotten to eighth grade without really knowing what the Holocaust is?
Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:
College costs too much so students take loans. But there are no jobs so graduates can’t repay the loans. But the federal government made the loans so they cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.
An alternative is for private investors to offer to pay your college in return for your promise to work for them in the future. Some already are doing this.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla) wants national legislation to legitimize the program and add safeguards.
Cripes, you can’t even trust Republicans to keep their greasy mitts to themselves. Look, Marco, you’re a US Senator. The US Government student loan system is busted. You are one of 534 people in the world who can do anything about it. But no, you’ve got your eye on “helping” private investors and students use an alternative arrangement. They wouldn’t need an alternative arrangement in the first place, if you were doing your job and fixing the busted system.
The idea – investors “investing” in students in exchange for future earnings – is a fascinating one.
The Fed’s involvement will quickly make it a hopeless mess.