Entries Tagged 'Book Thoughts' ↓

Trump University Settlement

Donald Trump has settled for $25,000,000. Of course there is no admission of wrong-doing; but I have a different take on this. I call this being a loser; and I don’t like losers. Donald Trump — you are such a LOSER!

(Remember Donald — imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.)

And BTW — If Jeff Sessions does not lock up Hilary Clinton, you rare REALLY A LOSER!

“Rigged” irony

If he does not win the presidential election, Donald Trump said it will be because the political system is rigged. From the day of his birth, Trump has benefited from the rigged system we call capitalism. Here is my suggestion for how educators can teach about the extent to which capitalism is rigged.

We all played Monopoly as children. Teachers should teach economics by having students play Monopoly for short periods over the course of the year. Instead of starting with the same amount of Monopoly money, however, each student would start with the amount of money in inverse proportion to his/her family’s wealth. Poor students would be given the number of dollars that corresponds to starting as a wealthy family; and students in wealthy families, would be given the number of dollars that corresponds to starting as a poor family. Then — roll the dice.

Where are the economics professors interested in creating an algorithm teachers could use to make sure poor students get the Monopoly advantages experienced by wealthy families and wealthy students get the Monopoly disadvantages experienced by poor families? I am giving this idea to anybody who wants to create the algorithm. The profits are yours.

Furthermore, students would learn a lot from this data-driven approach to teaching. I love irony. (The irony, of course, is that no superintendent or school board would allow this game to be played, even though it is a “data-driven” approach to learning — what they claim to want.)

Trump Dilemma

Republicans are wringing their hands over the Trump candidacy. It has nothing to do with the candidate’s unfavorables, rhetoric, style, personality, or business record. It has to do with polls that show he will lose battleground states and the election.

The Republican party has two options. Divide the party by dumping Trump (and losing the election), or divide the party by keeping Trump (and losing the election).

If I am wrong, and Trump is elected, the American electorate will have demonstrated the three vices taught in our public schools:

  1. intellectual incompetence (Don’t think for yourself.)
  2. fear of truth (America may not be the greatest country in the world.)
  3. pride (first of the seven deadly sins).

Update (post election):

I was wrong. Let’s see what happens in the next four years.

Why can’t teachers improve public education?

The elephant in the room of school improvement discussions is the educatedness of the teaching force. During their own school-going days, teachers were taught to be understanding, strong, and generous. Unfortunately, they were also taught to be unimaginative, fearful of truth, and proud. Therefore, even with new technologies, teaching materials and opportunities, teachers lack the imagination, courage, and humility needed to create richer classroom experiences.

You can’t see this, however, if your definition of “educated” is being knowledgeable and skillful, or having college degrees. All recommendations for improving education are rooted in the definition of “educated.” Are teachers asking what it means to be educated in their public school or school of choice? Are parents asking what it means to be educated when they choose a school?

Oh — I forgot — that would require imagination, strength and humility. If we mix metaphors here, we have a Catch-22. Those who want to improve America’s public schools lack the virtues needed to improve them because they attended them. That is a large elephant.

Science that really matters

When educators make sure the “science” part of STEM focuses on building a healthier, more physically fit society, I will be its biggest proponent. Here is the plan:

  1. School boards establish standards for the improvement of health and fitness of its middle and high school graduates.
  2. Schools, teachers and students are rewarded for meeting or exceeding the health and fitness standards set for them. And, of course, they are punished for failing to meet them.

Students are taught the science behind all aspects of healthy living — diet, exercise, leisure, bio-metrics, and fitness. And their learning is evaluated by their health and fitness results. Naturally, everybody would work with Physical Education teachers to improve student health and fitness; which is, by far, the most important science related to the science portion of STEM.

Until then, public education’s emphasis on ScienceTEM is just more learning of unimportant facts. We teach enough of those already.

 

Losing the war? It’s our own fault. Part 2

If you want more proof that privatizers are winning the school reform war, just look at this paragraph from an article in the New York Times about a criminal investigation of school district employees in Montclair, New Jersey (the nature of the investigation is not pertinent to this blog):

Many battles have been fought in recent years between education reformers — who generally favor high-stakes testing and the data-based evaluation of teachers — and those with a more progressive approach to schooling. But nowhere, it seems, is the fight more pitched than in this liberal, diverse township of nearly 38,000 about 20 miles from New York City.

Look at the first sentence. The position of privatizers is clear — they “generally favor high-stakes testing and the data-based evaluation of teachers.” Who can argue with that? Privatizers win because their argument is simple and clear.

Hey Progressives! What is our succinct, clear explanation of, “a more progressive approach to schooling?”

For more on this topic, go to Losing the War, Part 1.

It’s social science, not science

The internet headline reads:

Science says parents of successful kids have these 11 things in common

Let’s go over this one more time:

  1. “Science says” does not mean a study found cause and effect. It means a social scientific study found correlations.
  2. “successful kids” means what the study says it means – nothing more, nothing less. Therefore, the findings (11 things) depend 100% on the study’s definition of “successful.” We don’t know how much they pertain to your personal definition of “successful.”
  3. “these 11 things in common” – If you have worldly experience, you don’t need to read them. If you have no worldly experience, you don’t need to read them either. You need to get some worldly experience.

Update

In case the point about social science research is not obvious, here is the first paragraph from Does Your Child’s Name Influence Whether They Grow Up to Be Smart?

Want to give your baby a head start on becoming a genius? You might want to consider nixing those unique, hipster baby names from your list. Genealogy research website MooseRoots compiled the names of nearly 15,000 philosophers, writers, mathematicians, scientists, inventors, artists, composers, Nobel laureates and MacArthur fellows to make up a list of the most common names of geniuses — and none were the kind of trendy names celeb babies have been given recently.
Of course the answer to the headline question is, “No.” As I finished reading, however, the real purpose of this “research” was clear. The last paragraph has links to websites (which I removed).
If these names don’t exactly appeal to your sensibilities, you could always look at new baby-naming trends, most popular baby names around the world, most popular baby names by decade or baby names inspired by global cities for more ideas!
Share this on Facebook?

Just follow the money.

UNC Chancellors get raise

This morning’s Asheville Citizen-Times (11/20/2015) reported the salary increases granted to Chancellors across the UNC system. According to Lou Bissette, acting Board of Governors (BOG) chairman,  “We looked at our chancellors’ salaries as compared with chancellors across the country and very frankly we were so far below the median it was a little embarrassing for all of us.”

I met Mr. Bissette many years ago. He is a good, generous man who gives to his community in many ways. I shudder to think how embarrassed he and his colleagues will be when they realize salaries of faculty are also far below the median. Feeling such enormous embarrassment, they will hardly be able to sleep at night.

Update on embarrassment:

I just received my WCU salary increase letter. The university gave me a 1% increase because my salary is 86.6% of the “market value”at my rank and professional responsibilities. Now I make 87.5% of market value ($10,000 annually below market value). Thanks WCU.

And to Mr. Bissette:

I am sorry my salary is such an embarrassment to you.

Cut the Crap

Nobody is embarrassed over my salary because I get paid fine for what I do. And nobody should have been embarrassed over the Chancellors’ salaries because nobody put a gun to their heads when they were hired and accepted their salaries. Apparently Mr. Bissette is embarrassed about the poor salary bargains made by our Chancellors.

I thought Chancellors and BOG members were supposed to be smart people. They are not, when they make these kinds of judgments:

1. (Chancellors) accepting embarrassingly low salaries.

2. (BOG members) granting salary increases because of Chancellors’ embarrassingly bad judgment.

Vouchers in North Carolina

In summer, 1978, I was studying educational administration at the University of Wisconsin. I was the only student in my law class who had grown up in Catholic schools, so I wrote my term paper on the emerging idea of vouchers for parents of parochial school children. I made a case against vouchers for two reasons.

First, vouchers would entangle church and state. Giving tax payer money for a special purpose requires state oversight, so church-state entanglement was unavoidable.

Second, I wrote that parochial schools wanting vouchers did not understand what they wished for. Their schools are the education arms of their communities. No matter how minimal the strings attached to vouchers, anything that got in the way of community control violated the essence of a parochial education, which is community control.

In summary, my paper pointed to two principles of American democratic governance: (1) stay out of religious matters, (2) oversee use of public funds. At that time I could not see 35 years into the future, when the North Carolina legislature would toss aside both principles without debate.

 

 

Capitalists and school administrators

Providers of educational training and materials sell products. I understand that. They are businesses.

What I don’t understand is how educational administrators know what to purchase without a definition of what it means to be educated? For example, here is an Education Week advertisement for “The Evolving Role of the School Leader” (a free webinar on March 19, 2015):

The role of the school leader has never been more important or more challenging . . . Successful principals embrace and fully understand the vision and direction of the system, empower staff to collaboratively raise the achievement of all students, and build the instructional focus at every level of the organization.

How do educators know if this webinar is worth their time, if they don’t have a clear definition of what it means to be educated? Without a clear definition, how does anyone know if the webinar is worth their time?

According to the first sentence, school leadership is important and difficult. According to the last sentence, it involves: (1) understanding the system’s mission, (2) empowering staff to raise student achievement (which really means test scores), (3) building an instructional focus into every level of the organization (which really means emphasizing higher test scores).

But there is more to be learned, so administrators should attend the webinar to discover the rest. Providers of training and  materials make money by convincing administrators that their work is difficult AND complicated. In this case, practicing administrators should hear the lessons learned by others who accomplished difficult things in their schools.

So, the advertisement goes on:

Join Phee Simpson, Mike Oliver, and Sue Gendron (moderator) in a discussion of successful school leadership and Q&A centered on the challenges they have faced and the solutions they have implemented in their schools.

I did not attend, but I know what they said. They described difficult situations created by ignorance, intellectual incompetence, weakness, fear of truth, pride and selfishness. Then they described how understanding, imagination, strength, courage, humility and generosity made things better.

In spite of what providers of goods and services tell administrators, leading schools is difficult, but it is not complicated or expensive.