It's down to the wire in the Florida State Senate district between Judithanne McLauchlan (D-Parent, Teacher) and Jeff Brandes (R-"Mostly False"). I've known Judithanne for years, and I contributed to her campaign months ago. I moved out of the Tampa Area four months ago, and I'm supporting her, because she speaks the truth and has her opponent running scared.
Today is the 84th birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. When he and other civil-rights leaders fought for equal schooling in the decades after World War 2, they never would have imagined the level of test preparation we see today, test preparation falsely justified in the name of civil rights. In the name of equal educational opportunity, Congress and former President George W. Bush created the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, and in the past decade and more, school districts across the country have purchased test-prep booklets, mandated that teachers spend hours on narrowly-focused test preparation, and restricted access to the broader curriculum. Instead of supplementing the school day, test preparation has supplanted the general curriculum.
It is time we recognize that both the concrete resources and the time devoted to test preparation threaten the civil rights of students.
While Sandy is forcing us to ponder our reliance on those unionized, overpaid public employees known as first responders, a little discussion about outsourcing is in order.(1) Many years ago, the head of a state department's assessment bureau told me the bureau wrote no tests, though they were responsible for the state's many tests from K-12 to professional exams. Instead, the state let out contracts for every one of the tests, and this long-time civil servant explained that the real job of the bureau was contract management. There were some statisticians to keep the test publishers honest, some people who were very good at the language side of contracts, and a few overall gophers who could keep the big picture in mind and also explain the ability and limits of state tests to policymakers (i.e., the bureau head and a few others). But essentially the office had fewer than 10 people responsible for tests administered annually to many, many thousands of children and adults.
Interior Scene: A band of ragged high financiers is playing high-stakes poker and planning a conspiracy to raise huge wads of cash, fill the airwaves, and support one of their own in lying his way to the presidency.
Reg: He's bled us dry. He's taken everything we built, not just from us, from our finance friends and from our finance friends' finance friends.
Stan: And from our finance friends' finance friends' finance friends
Stan: And from our finance friends' finance friends' finance friends' finance friends.
Reg: All right, Stan. Don't belabor the point. And what has he ever given us in return?
I miss Howard Troxler, former columnist of the St. Pete Times who retired in June and moved out of the state. Troxler had a wonderful way of ending the year of always-biting columns, sometimes with fake carols and always with a fake year-in-review (see 2010 Part I and Part II). Taking Troxler's idea in a different direction, here is my tongue-in-cheek prediction of 2012's education news, week-by-week:
Kudos to Kevin Drum, who caught National Reporter blogger Shannen Coffin writing in a tripery* Thursday for claiming that the White House had sent Bo to Hawaii and then flew him back just so President Obama could go shopping with the dog. Only three problems:
1. Hawaii has a quarantine for pets, so it would have been a fairly immense act of stupidity for the White House to attempt to fly Bo out there in the first place.
2. Bo didn't go.
3. Fala (la la la la la la la). At one level, thank you, Mr. Coffin, for this holiday
libel gift by forgetting one of the great acts of political humor in the 20th century. At another level, ow (the humanity!), for forgetting.
I wasn't intending to write about Planned Parenthood because so many others have written enough. And then an old friend of my wife wrote about her use of PP:
I have never been pregnant. I did have a uterine cyst that was cancerous removed before it turned dangerous. I did have a fibroid the size of a grapefruit that was removed... It was because of Planned Parenthood that I’m still alive to tell you about it.
Planned Parenthood is for saving the life of friends.
Today, the Florida state House leaders told Rep. Scott Randolph to Talk to the Hand. No, no no -- they said that it was undecorous to mention body parts on the floor of the House.
Specifically, the forbidden word is uterus.
One wonders if this were some Through the Looking Glass version of the Groucho Marx talk show where a duck sinks to eye level if the player mentions the secret word, except that if you're a Democrat and mention the secret word, you're chastised by the Speaker of the House.
I have only one thing to say before explaining more (with apologies to Samantha Bee): I came from a uterus and am thus a Uterus-American.
It's the start of another school year, and evidently there was a sufficient threat to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to bring the Doctor openly to campus. But I'm not so sure he's going to succeed, because though there are some scurrilous rumors the attached recording came from the recent Google-Verizon talks, I suspect the reality is dangerous alien opposition to open source software development and net neutrality (wav file). Are they responding to the recent Copyright Office declarations on fair use?
Herewith, a proposal for an addition to the SI catalog of measures for scientific use, to identify and quantify the verbiage of falsehood in public utterance. This would replace the proposed measure under discussion in 2004 but laid on the table (the LimbaughPound, or LP).
Term and usage. Beck (no abbrev.), as grand unit of falsehood-laced verbiage; microBeck (mB, 10-3 Beck) as unit for most laboratory purposes.
Standard unit. The standard Beck is the total broadcast of the Glenn Beck show March 13, 2009.
Rationale. Growing numbers of scientists have documented global climate change, warning of substantial increases in greenhouse gases and consequent average temperatures. Yet despite the existence of SI instrumentation for heat content and temperature, there is enormous difficulty in measuring the direct contributions of human beings to the hot air. This proposal would remedy that gap and stimulate the development of appropriate instrumentation.
In its last day yesterday, the Florida legislature passed a bill that would require a woman seeking an abortion to view an ultrasound of her uterus. Democratic Representative Scott Randolph (Orlando) explained how his wife had recently had an abortion after discovering that their fetus had a fatal, irreparable heart defect, and that forcing her or any woman in the same position to view an ultrasound was cruel.
At the end of March, there were 54 seats in the Florida House that no Democrat had filed any candidacy papers for. (Official filings come in June.) Today, instead of letting almost half of the 120-seat House go uncontested, Democrats are letting a quarter go uncontested: 33 House districts have no Democrats filed. Details below the cut...
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