Entries Tagged 'I Love Irony' ↓

Are the six virtues ever vices?

Naturally, I was drawn to the September/October, 2013, Psychology Today article entitled, “When Virtue Becomes Vice” (by Mary Loftus). The author should have read my book, where I explained that the greatest of all social science truths is, “In all situations, it depends on the situation.” That was her main point, although she didn’t state it in the article. Continue reading →

Are they smart or not smart?

A school board member wrote an email to his friend about taking the Florida tenth grade standardized test:

I won’t beat around the bush. The math section had 60 questions. I knew the answers to none of them, but managed to guess ten out of the 60 correctly. On the reading test, I got 62%. In our system, that’s a “D”, and would get me a mandatory assignment to a double block of reading instruction.

The friend is Marion Brady, who wrote the blog (updated by Valerie Strauss). Continue reading →

Poll: “Parents back standardized tests”

When pollsters question people who know very little about the topic of the poll, we say they are polling an “uninformed population.” This poll is an example.  Although parents don’t know the difference between norm-referenced and criterion-referenced tests, and they don’t know why we give the first and not the second, they “back standardized tests.”

From hearing policy makers talk about test scores, I already know uninformed people back standardized tests. I love irony.

 

“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.

The irony of Dick Cheney

According to former Vice President Dick Cheney:

The performance now of Barack Obama as he staffs up the national security team for the second term is dismal.

I love the irony of Dick Cheney denouncing what might happen in the future. Does he think we don’t know what happened in the past?

At the 1:45 mark of The Daily Show on February 12, we get Jon Stewart’s explanation for why we should not listen to Dick Cheney.

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.

Who is responsible for wasted $1 million?

I love these stories about bad teachers (story available but not video).  This one is especially juicy because it involves the waste of more than $1 million over thirteen years. Teachers have the right to what lawyers call “due process.” In states with teacher bargaining rights, all the technicalities of this process are spelled out in the Master Contract, which is agreed to by the school board and the teacher union.

So, let’s be clear about who is responsible for this person receiving more than $1 million in salary. It is the school administration and the school boards that agreed to the Master Contract language.

Have we learned anything from this gross misuse of resources?  Apparently not. The last statement in the video is, “No major plans to change the policy have been announced.”

If you don’t need to know more than (1) we have this situation that needs to be changed, but (2) nothing is being done to change it, you can stop reading here. But if you want to know how we got to this point, here is the short story:

Collective bargaining involves lawyers in crafting language and strategies aimed at getting what they want for their side — either the school board or the teacher union. For many years school boards sought to hold down teacher salaries, so they gave teachers what they wanted in the “language” part of the Master Contract, which includes procedures for supervising and evaluating teachers. Board members agreed to many unwise language provisions so they could say to taxpayers, “I kept salaries low; teachers didn’t strike; re-elect me.”

So — to all who revere the democratic process, how is that working?  Do you like that we are paying this person more than $1 million to not teach? Do you like that we have no plans to change the policy? If not, why do you like the democratic governance of public education that created this situation?

Or is there somebody out there who wants to replace democratic governance with educational governance — governance that models the six virtues of the educated person? If not, we will continue to have uneducated school board members elected by uneducated citizens. Of course some of our most “uneducated” board members and citizens will have multiple college degrees. I love irony.

It’s a test score, not “achievement.”

Educators don’t believe in the six-virtue definition of the educated person. It’s not that they evaluated it and found it wanting; it’s that they believe an “educated” person is one who earns degrees by scoring high on tests. That’s what I call, “schooled.”

Professors of education know the importance of precise definitions. They know that studying a teaching method’s “effectiveness” starts with an operational definition of “effective.” The word has no meaning, until they give it one. That’s why definitions are important. Even social scientists start with the inductive thinking that asks, “What is the meaning of ‘effectiveness’ in this study?”

The most common way to define “effectiveness” is in terms of higher test scores. Researchers realize the shallowness of higher test scores, however, so they report their findings and rationales by saying things like, “The data show increases in student achievement (or performance, or success, or learning).

They don’t say, “Data show increases in student test scores,” because then we would ask:

  1. How much of an increase?
  2. How many more correct answers did students get?

And then we would find out that the answer to the second question is that 25 students averaged fewer than two more correct answers on a 50-item test. In other words, educators spent the whole year teaching students to get one or two more correct answers on the end-of-year, 50-question, multiple-choice test.

High standardized test scores determine a person’s level of “schooling.” More information is needed to know if the person is “educated.” I love irony.

“Educated” or “schooled” in school?

Americans agree on what it means to be “schooled” because of our common school experiences. We agree that highly “schooled” people are those with academic knowledge, academic skills, diplomas and degrees. Had those same school experiences been educational, we would also agree on what it means to be “educated.” Too often they weren’t, so we don’t. I love irony.

What is a teacher’s job?

Dear Teacher:

You believe your job is to apply what research has found to be “effective.” I believe your job is to appreciate your subject matter and students. We believe in different job descriptions for the same reason — your experiences taught you to believe in yours, my experiences taught me to believe in mine.

Professors of education taught both of us that teachers should be professionals who apply what research has found to be “effective.” The difference in our experiences comes before that. You were taught to embrace what is taught in school, I was taught to challenge it.

Even though you can’t describe a time when applying what was “effective” had the desired effect, you will continue to believe that is your job because that is what you were taught. When we believe things we can’t support with experience or reason, we “just believe” them, anyway.

In this case, though, the results are disastrous for the improvement of education. Because 99% of teachers “just believe” what is not true — that teaching is an applied social science — schools have not improved over the last 50 years. If you believe they have improved, describe how they are improved and describe the social science findings that were applied to achieve that improvement.

BTW — when you had classes with education professors, did they describe the research findings they were applying? Did you ever wonder why they didn’t?  Now you know why. I love irony.