Alabama opts to remain stupid

No doubt Common Core is imperfect, but at least its goals are aspirational — something Tea Party types won’t abide.

They claim it’s the heavy hand of big government they fear, but in truth their opposition  is all about  imposing a delusional, fundamentalist Christian worldview on impressionable kids.

Alabama appears poised to opt out of Common Core, as you’d expect from a state that consistently ranks near the bottom of the 50 states in public education.

Perhaps that explains why Common Core opponent Danny Hubbard, chairman of the Talladega County Republican Party, doesn’t know who wrote “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

I believe it’s written by a fellow from Montgomery,” Hubbard told The Anniston Star. Or a woman from Monroeville, Ala.

“Mockingbird” joins John Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath,” Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451″ and William Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying” on the list of books deemed  “highly controversial” by the Alabama GOP due to “vulgar language, explicit description of sex acts, incest, rape and host of other sexual perversions.”

They also object to Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” because it dishonors the legacy of a great American: Joe McCarthy. Seriously.

“Now that all the records are out, it’s clear that McCarthy didn’t go far enough,” Hubbard said.

State Sen. Scott Beason, a likely candidate for Congress, agrees. “So we’re comparing the McCarthy investigations of the 1950s, in which he turned out to be right, with the Salem witch hunts,” he said.

Beason said he merely wants balance, pointing to a Common Core textbook’s inclusion of the poem “Hiroshima,” a remembrance of the dropping of the atomic bomb told from the Japanese point of view.

“It doesn’t sound like we’re being very good folks, does it?” said Beason, addding the poem “undermines American values.”

Next they’ll be scrubbing any mention of slavery because it makes Confederate Americans look bad and reflects unfairly on large plantation owners, the “job creators” of their time.

Onward Christian robots

The Republican Party of Texas seeks a ban on critical thinking. You can’t make this stuff up.

We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

Of course, the revised Texas textbooks have done their part to make Lone Star students’ dumber.

No Test Score Left Intact

A fairly remarkable piece of journalism by the AJC, which analyzed test results for 69,000 public schools and found “high concentrations of suspect math or reading scores in school systems from coast to coast.”

Suspicious test scores in roughly 200 school districts resemble those that entangled Atlanta in the biggest cheating scandal in American history, an investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows. …

“These findings are concerning,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in an emailed statement after being briefed on the AJC’s analysis.

I won’t ask those who dismiss the relevance of daily newspapers to defend themselves.

If you’re not embarrassed by Rick Santorum you’re an embarrassment

Father Santorum plays to the crowd.

Rick Santorum took a swipe at the president’s higher education push on Saturday.

“President Obama once said he wants everybody in America to go to college,” Santorum said. “What a snob.”

The GOP candidate was speaking to a crowd of Tea Party activists in Troy, Michigan.

This post may require counseling

Fresh Loaf’s Gwynedd Stuart expresses some sympathy for Luis Rivera, the obviously contrite Gwinnett County math teacher forced to resign for crafting some rather ignorant word problems.

Rivera’s 20-question homework assignment used slave beatings and picking cotton to link lessons about ex-slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass to math computation. One of the problems read: “If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in one week?”

Reprehensible, no doubt, and the punishment, though severe, is not unreasonable. That doesn’t excuse the grandstanding by the perpetually indignant, especially when you consider there’s nothing to indicate the teacher, while clearly overmatched, is some Klansman. Last I checked the Triple K wasn’t too fond of guys named Luis Rivera.

Stuart:

A guy named Henry White — who, the AJC pointed out, doesn’t even have kids — called the incident an “egregious act of assault on the minds of a kid by an adult” at a Gwinnett County School Board meeting. And several parents said they wanted the school to make counseling available to their children. I don’t want to say they’re overreacting … but maybe they’re overreacting.

A commenter counters:

Would you feel the same if the homework questions were about the holocaust? I thought so.

It won’t be long before someone demands Stuart attend sensitivity training for her egregious assault on the minds of readers.

The counseling bill is in the mail, Gwynedd.

Garth Brooks in, George Washington out of Texas textbooks

The new Texas textbooks have debuted and, thanks to the America deification crowd, history will now be viewed through a Palin-esque prism.

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson or John Adams? They are nowhere to be found in the new high school TEKS. Students apparently learned everything they need to know about them in eighth grade.

A Texas high school history teacher  points out that “both the positive and negative impacts of … country and western music” will be taught, along with the historical importance of Estée Lauder.

If you think she is one of the 68 most important historical figures, you agree with the board. Yes, the board included her in the state curriculum, but not George Washington.

The new textbooks also vindicate alcoholic conspiracy theorist Joe McCarthy, confirming the findings of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. That’s patently false, and not up for debate, but in Texas it’s taught as fact — at least to the unwashed masses.

 I will not have to deal with that issue in some of my classes because my Advanced Placement U.S. History classes are not required to follow the state curriculum. I am guessing that the Texas Education Agency realizes that students could never pass national exams while learning the state-mandated curriculum.

Hard to distinguish between reality and parody.

REMINDER: Texas public transit will not operate today so employees can celebrate Earth Day with their families. #sboe #p2 #tcot

22 Apr 10

That’s Texas for ya.

The University of Texas Inc.

It may not be long before George W. Bush’s title as worst president from Texas is usurped.

Rick Perry, often described as Bush on steroids, has spearheaded an effort to “re-engineer Texas’s leading public universities to become more like businesses, driven by efficiency and profitability.”

The initiative stayed pretty much under the radar until last fall, when it became public that Perry’s alma mater, Texas A&M University, had compiled a spreadsheet ranking faculty members according to whether they were earning their keep or costing the school money.

Well since everything must be run as a business, perhaps we should start ranking doctors by the profits they generate. That might discourage keeping people alive, however, a real quandary for the party of Terri Schiavo.

Perry, meanwhile, is getting ready to play host to a who’s who of Christian extremists at his non-ecumenical prayer meeting.

One of the endorsers of the event, for example, has gone after Oprah Winfrey. Mike Bickle, founder and director of the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, says in a YouTube video that she is a precursor to the “Harlot Babylon” movement that he says will bring on the Antichrist at the end of this world. Winfrey, he says, is “a charming woman but has a spirit of deception, and she is one of the clear pastors, forerunners to the Harlot movement.”

One of AFA’s outspoken leaders, Bryan J. Fischer, confirmed in a brief interview with the Texas Tribune on Thursday that he would be attending the event. Fischer has said homosexuals “gave us Adolf Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews.” He also once blogged that that social welfare programs made black women want to “rut like rabbits.”

Why I’m tough on teachers

My experience with public school teachers was decidedly mixed.

I had some good ones. A few were inspirational. I had a tough-as-hell advanced math teacher (one of the mistakes of testing; I had zero aptitude for math, and less interest) who coaxed a B- out of me. Ms. Summers kicked ass.

Regrettably, a sizable minority of my teachers sucked. One told me, in front of my mother, that she didn’t think I should become a writer. Wouldn’t say why, she just didn’t think I should pursue my dream. Seems she never forgave my critique of the new Baptist-only health club, the one where they’d kick out the little brown kids playing ping-pong because the minister was concerned they’d mess up the carpeting.

My mother was heroic that day.

Another teacher regularly mixed bourbon in her coffee before class. At 9 a.m. One of my high school counselors told a good friend she shouldn’t attend Berkeley because her parents couldn’t afford it. The university whose president just happened to be the counselor’s husband was a better option, my friend was told.

My sisters, who studied only to keep from flunking out, were on track to become teachers. Those who can’t … Fortunately, marriage prevented them from sharing their lack of intellectual curiosity with malleable minds.

Of course I have great respect for committed instructors. It’s a tough job, though not thankless. But we should accept the fact that many of our teachers are below par.

Now what are we going to do about it? More rationalizing?

Shirley Franklin hates the media (cont’d)

According to a colleague, Atlanta’s former mayor was on the radio this morning blaming the media for the resignation of the city’s scandal-plagued schools superintendent, Beverly Hall.

Franklin and Hall have a lot in common. Their tenures as mayor and superintendent, respectively, started strong but ended poorly.

It’s the media’s fault.

Dumb-ass Americans

Three more cheers for the American education system (via Shit My Students Write):

  • The rebel and onion armies showed grose negligence by having many of their battles right inside national parks, like Gettysburg.
  • Although I am my own person, my relationship with my girlfriend of two and a half years has lead to a significant change in almost every aspect of my life such as my behaviors, believes, values, personality, and even my appearance.

Boehner (wisely) calls Obama’s bluff

The Ohio Republican, along with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), will introduce legislation on Wednesday to reauthorize the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program, the speaker’s office said Monday, making a school voucher initiative that Democrats, including Obama, have strongly opposed as a bargaining chip for beginning discussions on the administration’s desired education proposals. …

Teachers unions have fought against the voucher program and Obama’s budget pulled funding for new scholarships after 2010.

Supporters of the program, which currently funds scholarships for roughly 1,000 D.C. students, argue that it gives poor students access to better education.

De-funding the program would return many of  those students to D.C.’s public schools, decreasing their odds at success. The stats prove it, but such change doesn’t jibe with a progressive orthodoxy that demands blind support for teacher’s unions — even when they’re a large part of the problem.

Teachers unions can’t handle accountability

National and local teachers unions sharply criticized The Times on Sunday when the newspaper published a database of about 6,000 third- through fifth-grade city school teachers ranked by their effectiveness in raising student test scores.

“It is the height of journalistic irresponsibility to make public these deeply flawed judgments about a teacher’s effectiveness,” said a statement issued by United Teachers Los Angeles.

The rankings may indeed be “deeply flawed,” but the teachers unions have resisted performance-based reviews since their inception. They can’t be trusted, and the results speak for themselves.

Fortunately, two budding political stars in New Jersey — Newark mayor Cory Booker, a Democrat, and Chris Christie, the state’s Republican governor — seem determined to take on the unions without the usual equivocations. Booker, especially, deserves credit, as he’s taking on one of his party’s key constituencies.

A nation of Adam Sandlers

Wanna know why our education system sucks? Guys like this are teachers:

This Wednesday, July 14, 2010 photo shows teacher and author Ray Sabini, who goes by the pen name Raymond Bean, during an interview about his book for middle grade readers, “Sweet Farts, Rippin’ it Old-School,” in New York. The book chronicles a 9-year-old boy’s multimillion-dollar science fair invention of tablets that can change foul-smelling gas into the culprit’s scent of choice _ summer rose, cotton candy, grape _ even pickles. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Preschool prom

In metro Atlanta and a few cities across the nation, some early childhood programs are giving their students a chance to experience prom, senior week and senior class trips before they march across the stage to receive their “diplomas.”

The pomp and circumstance is part of a growing trend to introduce 4- to 6-year-olds to what they can expect as high school seniors. It’s part dropout prevention, praise and picture-perfect memories for parents.

So are they going to take the young’uns to Panama City?

Seriously, who thinks this is a good idea?