Archive for the ‘Education’ Category
A lot of old jazz videos have entered the public domain, and can be seen on YouTube. This one is a fascinating study in so many ways:
Louis Armstrong nearly single-handedly invented the improvised solo, and thus what we now think of as jazz, with implications for rock as well (so-called “guitar gods” like Hendrix, Clapton, etc….). So, this is American history and music history in the making.
It also reminds me of a Miles Davis comment on Armstrong, acknowledging Armstrong’s legacy, yet adding something to the effect of “But I couldn’t stand all the smiling he did.” There’s some clowning in this video, presumably to please a white audience, seemingly a perfect fit for another Miles Davis observation on race:
White people have certain things they expect from Negro musicians — just like they’ve got labels for the whole Negro race. It goes clear back to the slavery days. That was when Uncle Tomming got started because white people demanded it. Every little black child grew up seeing that getting along with white people meant grinning and acting clowns. It helped white people to feel easy about what they had done, and were doing, to Negroes, and that’s carried right on over to now. You bring it down to musicians, they want you to not only play your instrument, but to entertain them, too, with grinning and dancing. –Miles Davis, 1962
Needless to say, a Miles Davis video roughly 30 years later, shows a very different demeanor:
In high school I was best in music class on the trumpet, but the prizes went to the boys with blue eyes. I made up my mind to outdo anybody white on my horn….
I don’t dig people in clubs who don’t pay the musicians respect. You ever see anybody bugging the classical musicians when they are on the job and trying to work?
Of course, there is nature as well as nurture. Armstrong was, by all accounts, a playful extrovert by nature, and that very playfulness probably led him down the path of increasingly improvised music. Davis was, by all accounts, a surly introvert, smiling so rarely he named one of his albums “Miles Smiles” in reference to his reputation (it’s one of my favorite Miles Davis albums, I might add).
I’ve never seen a pride-based logo or meme for being the parent of a gay child. There are plenty of expressions of parental pride, such as “My child is an honor student at…”, and I once saw a bumpersticker proclaiming “My child can kick you honor student’s butt!” (I’m ashamed to say I giggled). And, there are many expressions of gay pride and straight support for the gay community. But, I’ve never seen an expression of specifically parental support.
Why does it matter? It’s widely reported that parental homophobia is very destructive, since it teaches the kids to hate themselves. It’s also a well-known cause of teen homelessness. Articles like these are increasingly common, and back in the late 90’s when I volunteered at an agency for homeless youth, we were told as part of our regular training that gay and lesbian kids being kicked out by their parents was a common cause of homelessness.
On that note, a few sketches of something that could go on a t-shirt, or become a meme in some way….
The triangle-heart combination seems a bit awkward, as a matter of graphic design. A friend suggested the pink triangle had a negative historical connotation, since it originated with the Nazis, although I think the gay community has completely reappropriated it.
Some do-it-yourself design sites are set up to make this easy on a retail basis.
Maybe I’m out to lunch, having no personal experience with the issue. It’s just a thought that popped into my head after working with marginalized teens, reading articles such as the one from Rolling Stone, and then a story on NPR yesterday that the Orlando shooter may have had repressed same-sex interest. Basically, parents who support their LGBT children are good role-models for “at-risk” parents, so why not give them a vehicle to play that role?
We judge an education by comparing it to a standard or other educations. Sally, an eighth-grader, met the eighth-grade benchmark at the end of the year. Success for Sally! And her school! More students at her school than the one down the road met the benchmark. There is something wrong down the road. Losers!
But, what if Sally entered the eighth grade already able to meet the benchmark? What was her school’s duty to her in that case, and did it meet that duty? How could anyone tell?
If we evaluate the school by how many eighth graders met eighth-grade standards, then we don’t care whether it taught Sally anything. She began the year already able to meet the standards. So, what was her school’s duty to her?
If you believe in “school equity,” you believe the school should devote fewer resources to students like Sally. Many resources (the teacher’s one-on-one time, for instance) are finite. Investing them in a student who can already meet the benchmark, means withholding them from a student below benchmark. That will lower the number of benchmark-meeting students, reduce equity, and possibly mark the school as “failing.”.
We create “equal” distributions by compressing ranges–of wealth, education, etc. Devaluing the further progress of high achievers may (or not) be valid in the case of wealth, but it is wrong to do that to someone’s education.
So, affluent parents of a high-achieving student often send that kid to private school. It’s their duty to their child not to care about equity.
What if schools didn’t have a duty to maximize the number of students that meet a standard based on averaging? Suppose a teacher’s sole purpose were to guide the student to fulfill her own potential, whatever that may be. What would that classroom look like? How would it define “equity”? How would we measure the teacher’s effectiveness?
Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. (SPJ)
Waiting for Superman
Taken together, the two biggest teacher’s unions, the NEA and AFT, are the largest campaign contributors in the country. Over the last 20 years, they’ve given over $55 million to federal candidates and their parties, more than the Teamsters, the NRA or any other individual organization.
“Taken together,” the NEA (National Education Association) and AFT (American Federation of Teachers) are not an individual organization. The comparison is misleading. From 1989-2012, the NEA ranked 5th among political contributions by special interests, behind AFSCME (a conglomeration of local unions), AT&T Corp. and the National Association of Realtors.
The NEA and the AFT are the only organizations representing the interests of teachers. The proper comparison is between organizations serving teachers “taken together” and organizations serving other interests “taken together.” For example, how do the political donations of teachers’ unions compare to those of the banking industry?
Education & Banking National Education Assn $42 million Goldman Sachs $39 million American Federation of Teachers $34 million Citigroup Inc $30 million American Bankers Assn $26 million JPMorgan Chase & Co $25 million Morgan Stanley $23 million Bank of America $21 million UBS AG $18 million Credit Suisse Group $15 million Merrill Lynch $14 million Teachers’ Unions $76 million Banks & Investment Banks $211 million
“Taken together,” the banking industry is the largest campaign contributor in the country. Its political donations are almost triple those of the teachers’ unions.
The organizations that should be “taken together” are those that share self-interests. The self-interest of the rest of the financial sector overlaps that of the banks (they all want financial deregulation, for example):
Other Interest Groups in Financial Sector National Assn of Realtors $44 million Credit Union National Assn $21 million Deloitte LLP $20 million Ernst & Young $20 million PricewaterhouseCoopers $19 million AFLAC Inc $17 million Natl Assn/Insurance & Financial Advisors $17 million American Institute of CPAs $14 million American Financial Group $13 million KPMG LLP $13 million New York Life Insurance $12 million Prudential Financial $11 million Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance $11 million MetLife Inc $11 million Indep Insurance Agents & Brokers/America $11 million Other Financial $254 million TOTAL Education Sector $76 million Financial Sector $465 million
“Taken together,” the financial sector gave six times more money to political candidates and parties than the “education sector”.
Some other special interest groups, taken together:
Telecommunication Industry AT&T Inc $49 million Time Warner $22 million Verizon Communications $22 million Comcast Corp $15 million BellSouth Corp $13 million TOTAL $121 million *Communications Workers of America $32 million Military Industry Lockheed Martin $22 million General Electric $22 million Boeing Co $18 million Northrop Grumman $15 million General Dynamics $14 million Honeywell International $14 million Raytheon Co $13 million TOTAL $118 million *Machinists & Aerospace Workers Union $28 million
* Relevant unions, which I didn’t count in the industry totals, although they have overlapping interests.
Waiting for Superman’s statement that “…the NEA and AFT are the largest campaign contributors in the country” is absurd. It violates the journalist’s pledge to serve the public with honesty.
The popular methods seem to involve test scores and graduation rate. Test scores are a valid part, but only a part: education is not test prep. Graduation rate shouldn’t be a factor at all, since it isn’t independent of school policies.
A natural approach would be to identify the measurable effects of education. Then, identify the non-school factors influencing those outcomes. Then, predict outcomes based on those factors. Achievement beyond the prediction is probably due to the schools. For example….
Measurable outcomes of schooling probably include SAT scores, college attendance, college success, employment, and crime rate. These are aspects of a post-schooling life influenced by education.
Non-school influences on those outcomes probably include the average (and median) income and educational level of neighborhood families.
So, a given level of income and education in a school’s families should predict a certain level of outcomes (SAT scores, crime rate, etc.) in the school’s students after they finish school. If the school does better than what is predicted, it is a successful school.
Generally, statsitics are relevant to groups. This method wouldn’t work at all in assessing individual teachers. It might be better at assessing districts than schools. All such methods are aproximate. Something is always lost in a statistical snapshot.
On Dec. 21, 1988 Pan American World Airways Flight 103 exploded during its flight from London to New York. All 259 people on board died, as did 11 in the town of Lockerbie, Scotland, where the plane crashed. The newspapers described how a “middle-aged woman…fell to the floor, on her back, screaming ‘Oh my baby! Oh my baby!'” when informed of what happened.
A record cold snap swept down through North America recently. It began in Alaska, where temperatures reached 80 below. Car tires went flat, and airplanes could not fly. Because of isolation, many Alaskans were without new supplies for prolonged periods, but no deaths were reported from the cold.
Interest rates are expected to rise, one of many reasons why most market watchers are uncertain about the direction stocks will take in the coming year. Some feel that the long-term bull-market of the last several years is over, and that a downward cycle in stock prices is about to begin.
Over 100 people cheered, sang, and lit sparklers as Ted Bundy was executed at 7:16 AM, January 24 1989. Bundy’s instruction that “The ashes are to be spread over the Washington Cascade Mountains,” was protested without effect by local residents. One caller asked “Isn’t that like releasing his spirit up there?”
An essay anthologized in The Norton Reader entitled “College Is a Waste of Time and Money” argues that college is not, in strictly financial terms, a sound investment. The essay also discussed a poll in which college professors estimated that no more than 25% of college students were “turned on” by their work. Theoretically, professors were once students; students often try to imagine what this must have been like.
From the picture windows of the Reed College library, it is especially easy to observe the lives of squirrels.