Entries Tagged 'Cut the Crap' ↓

Thanks Joe, Heidi and Susan

Thanks to Joe Manchin, Heidi Heitkamp, and Susan Collins we have three more examples of the principle that has corrupted both political parties–above all else, get re-elected.

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin was the only democrat on the Judiciary Committee to vote “yes” on confirmation. Why is that? The reason behind Manchin’s vote is the same as the reason behind all Senators’ votes. They vote the way they do to get re-elected, including Heidi Heitkamp. She could vote “No” on confirmation because she was already losing by 12 points in the polls. Way to go, Heidi and Joe.

When Susan Collins went to the floor of the Senate to explain her vote, she should have saved her breath. No explanation was necessary. She voted the way she did so she would be re-elected in 2020.

But I was troubled by some of the points she made in her speech. After describing the partisanship of the Democrats’ opposition to Kavanaugh, she said,

One can only hope that the Kavanaugh nomination is where the process has finally hit rock bottom.

Evidently, Senator Collins is blinded by her own partisanship. (I love irony.) The process “hit rock bottom” with the nomination of Merrick Garland.

Collins went on to say that she values the Senate’s advice and consent role:

Against this backdrop, it is up to each individual senator to decide what the Constitution’s advice and consent duty means.

Informed by Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist 76, I have interpreted this to mean that the president has broad discretion to consider a nominee’s philosophy, whereas my duty as a senator is to focus on the nominee’s qualifications as long as that nominee’s philosophy is within the mainstream of judicial thought.

I have always opposed litmus tests for judicial nominees with respect to their personal views or politics, but I fully expect them to be able to put aside any and all personal preferences in deciding the cases that come before them. I have always opposed litmus tests for judicial nominees with respect to their personal views or politics, but I fully expect them to be able to put aside any and all personal preferences in deciding the cases that come before them. I have never considered the President’s identity or party when evaluating Supreme Court nominations. (italics added)

Really? I don’t recall Senator Collins lobbying Mitch McConnell for hearings and a vote on Merrick Garland. In that case, consideration of the president’s party was the only factor in evaluating a Supreme Court nominee. Just look at those three paragraphs. They are beautifully constructed to mask the lie that is the last sentence. Way to go Susan.

Senator Collins’  speech went on to describe her private discussions with Kavanaugh and her assessment of his judicial record. Her speech is primarily noteworthy, however, for what she did not say. She did not say she believes Kavanaugh’s under-oath testimony in front of the committee. If she had, it would mean she believes what nobody believes–(1) “the devil’s triangle” is a drinking game, (2) students in all-boy high schools express their respect for girls in their yearbook, and (3) Brett never referred to himself as Bart.

So, Senator Collins’ speech taught us about the difference between how Republicans and Democrats try to hide the reason for their votes. There was no “hiding” for Joe Manchin or Heidi Heitkamp. He had to vote “Yes” in West Virginia, and she had nothing to lose for her “No” vote, for which the left-wing press called her courageous. Republican Susan Collins gave a long speech of platitudes to hide the reason she voted “Yes.”

Cut the Crap

Heitkamp is just as courageous as Kavanaugh and Collins are honest. How is that term limit thing going, Senator Collins? Or did you say you were in favor of term limits just so you could get elected? Never mind. No more speeches. We know the answer.

FBI investigations and politics

Instead of re-opening the FBI investigation of Judge Kavanaugh, conservative columnist Cal Thomas wrote this:

If the FBI wants to investigate things that need investigation there is much behavior from the Bill and Hillary Clinton era that would keep agents busy and produce results of interest to the public and law enforcement, including alleged Chinese hacking of Hillary’s emails while she was secretary of state, Uranium One scandal, foreign gifts to the Clinton Foundation and so much more.

Accordingly, when Trump is out of office, I am sure Cal will call on the FBI to investigate the Trump company’s alleged associations with money laundering, foreign election contributions, overseas tax havens, and Melania’s immigration status.

Cut the Crap

Cal was not writing about FBI investigations. He was arguing against re-opening the Kavanaugh background file. Why do Republicans refuse to hear under-oath testimony from anybody other than Kavanaugh and the accuser? Why isn’t Kavanaugh calling for testimony from others? Why isn’t he offering to take a lie-detector test?

We don’t need to know anything else to know who is telling the truth. It is common sense.

But we are governed by the rule of law, not by common sense. The rule of law is a fancy term for enabling powerful people to hide the truth. Thanks to Brett Kavanaugh we have a clear example of how this works.

As of tonight, Pence has all the power

It’s Friday night, October 7, and Mike Pence is the most powerful person in the world. With the video of Donald’s locker room talk being played over and over, Pence can give Trump the following ultimatum:

Either you step down as the Republican Presidential candidate, or I will quit as your running mate.

Trump is powerless. He can continue to run for President, but even he must know he cannot win the election after his running mate abandons him. Or he can try to save face by saying it was all rigged, and let Pence be the Republican Presidential nominee.

Either way, Donald loses. I love irony.

(BTW — You read it here, first.)

Saturday update:

The CNN website has several stories about whether or not Trump will quit the race and who has called for him to do so. Two headlines are Trump to WSJ: Zero chance I’ll quit, and Utah Republicans out front in opposing Trump after recording.

Other stories say Republicans can’t force Trump to quit, and Donald says the same thing in published reports. Nobody, however, discusses the ultimatum described above. Pence can’t be forced to continue as the running mate. If he quits, Donald becomes the laughing stock of presidential elections.

Instead, Pence said he cannot defend Trump’s remarks and he wants to hear what is in his heart at the debate on Sunday.

Wednesday, October 12 update

Still no ultimatum from Pence.

Cut the Crap, Mike Pence

Just call Donald and say:

Either you step down as the Republican Presidential candidate, or I quit as your running mate. Conversation over. (click)

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.

“The scene was stunning.”

Here is the NC Spin description of a recent debate in the North Carolina legislature:

There’s something exciting happening in North Carolina: Young, liberal African-American politicians are breaking away from teachers’ unions to support school choice.

“If you are able to look at a poor parent in the face, and you know that they don’t have the same opportunities as someone that lives across town, and say, ‘Yes, ma’am, I know that that school isn’t working for your child, but you live in that zip code and you must stay there’ — if you’re prepared to call that Democratic or progressive ideals, I’d like to challenge you on that,” a North Carolina legislator said recently while speaking in favor of a school voucher bill.

The speaker continued, “I will stand up here and fight for my constituents to have equal access and equal opportunity to choose their schools.”

To say the scene was stunning would be an understatement.

A Democratic member of the North Carolina General Assembly had just stared down the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) — the education establishment and the core of the Democratic Party.

This scene was truly stunning; but not because an African-American legislator “stared down the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE).” It was stunning because of the ignorance it represents:

  1. Some state legislatures equalize funding, so children living in property poor districts have close to the same educational opportunities as children living in property rich districts.
  2. North Carolina’s legislature does not (which he acknowledged) because of legislators like him.
  3. Yes — a Democratic, progressive ideal is that state legislatures should provide EEO within a system of public, taxpayer-funded, K-12 schools.

But the most stunning part of all is the statement, “I will stand up here and fight for my constituents to have equal access and equal opportunity to choose their schools.” A state legislator, whose job is to provide EEO for all NC children, will fight for his constituents to choose from among the unequal schools he provides. I love irony.

What educational problem does technology solve?

Technology Crap

This morning’s newspaper has an advertisement that shows bored business people in a conference room. The man on the left is looking down; the man in the center has his head on the table; and the woman on the right looks disgusted.

Beneath the picture the text reads:

Don’t let an outdated conference room limit the impact your organization can have on all of its audiences.

Cut the Crap

Nobody in a boring meeting says, “This meeting needs modern technology to have a greater impact on me and our audiences.” But that is the “pitch” in the ad.

And that is the same “pitch” educators make when they argue that disinterested students become interested, when teachers use smart boards instead of chalkboards, when students read ipads instead of books, or when computer-based simulations replace role plays.

Just like business people who want a shared purpose for their meeting, students want a shared purpose for their learning. Purpose makes learning relevant and important, not the tools that are used.

When educators say schools need modern technology to generate student interest, they really mean students who are interested in the purpose of a lesson benefit from using modern technology. Those who are not interested won’t care what tools are used — just like the people in the newspaper ad.

If modern technology improves the interest of those who are already interested in learning, what educational problem does it solve?

Data-driven schools — Really?

Data-driven decision making is the latest silly idea in the education improvement cycle, which goes like this:

1. Education entrepreneurs, researchers and policy makers come up with a silly idea.

2. Teachers resist it.

3. Teachers are blamed for resisting change.

4. Education does not improve, so everything goes back to Step #1.

At this very moment, someone is saying teachers and schools should be data-driven.

Cut the Crap

Yes, we have more data than ever before.  And yes, this is a good thing — if we understand the limitations of that data. But the phrase “data-driven decision making” signals the failure to understand those limitations. Education decisions are driven by judgment. Good decisions come from good judgments. Bad decisions come from bad judgments.

Researchers, test companies, and publishing houses promote the data-driven idea so they can sell data, data collecting and data analysis tools to schools. And educational administrators and policy makers are so unimaginative they fall for it, proving once again that poor decisions are driven by poor judgment, not poor data.

No matter how much data are collected and analyzed, schools improve when teachers and administrators use good judgment.  They can start by rejecting “data-driven decision making.”

Dear Dr. Amy:

According to the Huffington Post, you were unhappy that one of your patients did not show up on time for her appointments:

An OB-GYN in St. Louis is under fire after posting a Facebook status about one of her patients. According to KMOV, Amy Dunbar, a physician at Mercy Hospital, was so frustrated with an expecting mother’s lateness that she ranted about it online.

Did you really “rant” about a patient being late? Surely you realize we “regular” people have to wait 40-80 minutes in uncomfortable waiting areas every time we have a medical appointment. Surely your medical school taught you to schedule your days so you never wait for patients, even if that means they have to wait for you — 20 minutes in the lobby and 30 minutes or more in the exam room.

Cut the Crap

I love the irony of an MD being unhappy because someone was late.

Dear MDs:

It’s simple, if you want your patients to be on time, be on time!  And don’t give me that “we are short of doctors” crap.  If we are short of doctors it’s because your medical schools limit enrollments so we ARE short of doctors. And the AMA keeps it that way, not because it is difficult to become a doctor, but so you can charge ridiculous prices for the marginal services you provide.

Or if you did more to educate the public about prevention, your patient load might decrease enough that you could be on time once in a while. But that would blow your cover — the great myth of the busy, devoted MD, whose time is more important than everyone else’s.

What a crock!  If you want veneration, be on time once in a while.

Stating the obvious — again

The six virtues are sometimes criticized for stating the obvious. But educators state the obvious all the time.  Some even get paid to state the obvious to large audiences. Bill Daggett has been getting paid to state the obvious for more than 20 years.

According to him, students are more likely to respond positively to math problems that are relevant to their lives. He gave two examples:

Calculate percentages of advertising in a newspaper. Tour the school building and identify examples of parallel and perpendicular lines, planes and angles.

And district superintendent Dr. Beth Everitt said,

That’s a framework that’s interesting and relevant to students. It’s important to put their work into a context that they can understand.

Really?

Cut the Crap

Thirty-five years ago I “tricked” students into learning by assigning activities relevant to their lives. Does Daggett know why educators don’t “trick” students  more often with relevant lessons? It’s not because they disagree. It’s because they lack the imagination, courage, and humility to develop meaningful, relevant lessons within the constraints of a K-12 school.

It’s because today’s educators dutifully learned three vices in their own K-16 experiences:

A. As they sat still, kept their mouths shut, and didn’t ask too many questions; they learned intellectual incompetence.

B. They learned to fear truths like these: (1) Nineteenth century U.S. history is about the government stealing land from native tribes.  (2) States legislate unequal educational opportunity. (3) Our economic system would collapse if citizens stopped making unnecessary, unhealthy purchases.

C. And they learned to be proud — proud to be an American, Texan, Minnesotan, Floridian, etc.

Of course not all K-12 teachers demonstrate these vices, but these are norms among public school educators.

Instead of adopting the six-virtue definition of the educated person, public school policy makers hire people like Bill Daggett and district superintendent Everitt to state the obvious — “It’s important to put their work into a context that they can understand.”  Brilliant.

What makes a good teacher?

According to PBS’s American Graduate project, this is a “simple question at the center of almost any discussion on education reform.” Hari Sreenivasan does not answer the question, presumably because:

. . . the answers are many and often complex, and the question can lead to highly polarizing debates over exactly how and how often teachers should be evaluated on their job performance.

Really?

Cut the Crap

The answer is simple, if you know the six virtues of the educated person.

PBS doesn’t know the six virtues, so they broadcast a program about teacher evaluations at a charter school in Connecticut that goes through extensive evaluation procedures. The school has a 360 degree evaluation process and a five-stage career path. Does anybody else think it strange that they go through so much, but they don’t know “What makes a good teacher?”

Maybe I shouldn’t pick. So what if the question was posed and never answered? So what if they broadcast a story about a charter school that does not answer the question?

At the end Jeffrey Brown invites us to go online:

There’s much more online, including a video about Bridgeport Academy’s strict rules, uniforms and college expectations. Plus, tell us what you think makes a great teacher.

Dear Jeffrey:

Good teachers are understanding, imaginative, strong, courageous, humble and generous. But don’t take my word for it. Remember your own “good teachers.” Did they bring the six virtues into their classrooms, or were they ignorant, unimaginative, weak, fearful of truth, proud or selfish? Why don’t you come to this website and answer that simple question. I love irony.