Thursday, July 27, 2006

Thursday 7/27/06

Last evening I attended the Leadership Nashville Alumni Association School Board Candidate Q & A Forum at the Adventure Science Center. 9 of the candidates attended. Notebly absent were Dr. Awipi and Karen Johnson of the 6th District. No explanation was given for their absence and so Mr. Dominey had free reign. Predictably the flap over Ms. Harkey's attempt to help a child get into a magnet school was brought up.

I felt pretty fortunate to get fairly easy questions regarding whether the system was better of now than 5 years ago (not in District 5) and should Intelligent Design be taught in MNPS along with evolution? My response was something like: "What I know about science is that it's fundamental to question everything. If our children are not allowed to do the same with every theory of where we've come from, if we don't give them the tools and criticial thinking skills they need we've failed them."

This morning the four District 5 candidates and the two District 8 candidates were on NewsChannel 5's "Newsline" program.

I choose to use a good portion of my introductory minute to point out the downward trend in Ms. Porter's last school (showed the chart) and remind viewers that the very folks that had brought District 5 to the hard place it is now were endorsing her for this race. Her excuse for the performance was that the entire district was trending down.

Mr. Hart piggybacked on that and asked Ms. Porter to reveal what PAC's were giving her money and how much. His premise being she'd be beholden to them if she got on the board. She responded that it would be on the financial reports. However Mr. Hart wasn't buying that asserting that the money would surely not have been given until after the reporting date and so still hidden from the public until after the election. She pointed people to her website for the endorsements but didn't go ahead and just name the PACs and the amounts. I did have a copy of her website endorsements with me handed it to the moderator. But he decided to move on.

I learned from the Harkey / Fox segment that Ms. Harkey had actually nominated Pedro Garcia for the Superintendent's position. When asked if she'd vote to renew his contract she responded by saying that was up to the new board. Mr. Fox said as long as the system was 'trending in the right direction' Garcia will get his vote.

This evening I'll attend the Summer School Graduation at Hillsboro. Certainly, better late than never. Thanks for hanging in there guys. :-)

Just a week left in this election cycle. You can still vote early today, tomorrow and Saturday. Election day is Thursday, August 3 from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

32 comments:

Ryan Kaldari said...

That's a pretty deft job you did of avoiding the Intelligent Design question, but what's your real answer? If a proposal came up to switch to science textbooks which talk about Intelligent Design, would you support such a proposal (all other things being equal)?

burrito said...

You obviously don't know that much about science. "Question Everything" is a bumper sticker. We have something called the "Scientific Method" which is a rigidly formulated system. It is pivotal to our discipline.

ID is nothing more than a veiled attempt to encroach upon our industry with not a SHRED of evidence. I'd be glad to explain the entire situation to you, as I am very worried about your role in school administration and your repeated attempts to bring religion into the science classroom.

Believe me, this movement will never see the light of day in public schools. You are making a mockery of your own supposed understanding. Unless you'd like some lessons in Chemistry, Math, Physics, and Biology, I'd suggest you drop this ID nonsense. We are watching these events like hawks. You can blog all you want, but the TVA will not take kindly to action.

-A (rather passionate) Molecular Biologist

ryan kaldari said...

Also, what is your stance on school uniforms?

Disclaimer - I actually live in District 5, so your answers may affect how I vote :)

Kay Brooks said...

Ryan,

That is my real answer. We ought to be able to fully discuss the pros and cons of every theory. That won't work as well in elementary school but by high school those children ought to be capable of some pretty lively discussion. Hopefully, they'll come out knowing why they know not just parroting anyone's dogma.

Other than the lack of 'self-expression' that may be involved in having to wear uniforms, what might the downsides be?

Burrito,

I didn't bring up the ID topic. Someone attending the forum that evening brought it up. I've never brought up the subject. So your statement regarding 'my repeated' attempts is just wrong.

Yes, there is a 'scientific method' let's explain it to the children and test every theory against that method. No one, nothing gets a pass.

"...the TVA will not take kindly to action."

What does that mean? What can TVA do other than not hire whomever it believes to be incompetent?

George Rand said...

burrito,obviously your passion trumps your science(or else your knowledge of biochemistry consists of a killer burrito recipe). It is appropriate that you enclosed the scientific method in quotes, since you obviously know nothing about it or deliberately misrepresent it in your polemic. You betray yourself as you slide into an attack on religion.

Unlike your assertions there is an extensive body of research grounded in the real scientific method supporting intelligent design(which is not "religion into the classroom"). Unless you consider that Michael Behe, a professor of biochemistry at Lehigh and Sir Fred Hoyle and his collaborator, Chandra Wickramasinghe(they were jointly awarded the Dag Hammarskjold Gold Medal for Science) came to their conclusions in contradiction of the scientific method there is significant scientific support for intelligent design.(The later two are atheist by the way.)

Anonymous said...

I suggest that anyone who thinks that anyone who thinks that there are any "pros" to so-called Intelligent Design is fairly ignorant of just about all modern biology. And I don't want such a person on the school board. (Yes, I live in district 5 and I vote.) Behe and his buddies (they are prizewinners, alright, but in astronomy--they are no experts on biology) have been debunked and rebutted and refuted over and over again. Want some basic facts on this question? Take a look at www.talk.origins.org

nm

George Rand said...

anonymous provides a clasic illustration of the diversionary tactics of the Darwiniacs, by throwing in that "Behe and his buddies" are astronomers and no experts in biology.
They were cited as experts in the scientific method-Are astronomers not followers of the scientific method? Wickramasinghe holds a doctorate from Cambridge and is a professor of applied mathematics(the scientific basis for intelligent design is mathematical) and astronomy and is the director of the Cardiff Centre for Astobiology. Dr Behe is a professor of biochemistry. Anonymous and burrito's comments are typical of the pseudo-scientific blather supporting Darwinian evolution and dismissing without argument the many scientifically grounded arguments in favor of intelligent design.

Ryan Kaldari said...

I'm sorry that you don't feel capable of giving a direct answer to my question Kay. I'm afriad that I won't be able to vote for you without some kind of real answer on that question. Obviously we want to teach children critical thinking skills, that is not at issue. But do you believe that Intelligent Design should be presented in our science curriculum? It's a pretty striaghtforward question, really.

Regarding the issue of school uniforms, there is also a financial burden on low-income families. Do you believe that Metro would benefit from a mandatory school uniform policy?

Anonymous said...

Other than the lack of 'self-expression' that may be involved in having to wear uniforms, what might the downsides be?


The downside would be that you'd have administrators with an additional "discipline" issue to deal with and enforce. They'd be with kids in the office more rather than observing teachers, helping their classroom management and instructional effectiveness, and accumulating evidence for the dismissal hearings before the board.

Anonymous said...

Kay, since you repeatedly call out Gracie Porter's scores, we'd all like to see your children's scores. Fair is fair, after all.

Kay Brooks said...

No, that wouldn't be fair. Fair would be requiring both Ms. Porter and I to reveal OUR children's scores. I'm not asking for that.

I'm asking her to account for the failing scores of other people's children that she was charged with overseeing. She was principal of Alex Green. During her time as principal the scores were heading down. She said the whole city had scores trending down. That's context and not an explanation.

As a school board representative will she excuse a continued downward trend for her friends and associates?

jim collins said...

Looks like rank politics,Kay.I would think that someone singing the blues about political flack a couple of days ago,would steer clear of poltical games.Unless,it's to your advantage,huh.

Kay Brooks said...

Clothing children can be expensive no matter what we provide. Poor parents will do what we've done for years--be thankful for hand-me-downs, shop the thrift stores, take advantage of clothing swaps and budget the purchase. What I know about uniforms is that they are usually very hard wearing and able to suffer the abuse of several children. Going out of fashion isn't an issue that parents will have to deal with--a biggie for many of them, I assure you. And they are certainly modest. Not much to distract from the job of learning.

Anonymous said...

Still no answer to intelligent design question....waiting

Kay Brooks said...

Anonymous:

Is this the question you want a very specific answer to?

"But do you believe that Intelligent Design should be presented in our science curriculum?"

Do you want our students to fully understand the topic or not? Do you believe that even a brief overview of the criticisms of these theories would so taint their impressionable minds that their science education would be ruined for life? It is possible that a legitimate discussion of the theories might actually be enlightening and helpful to their understanding of science--which I thought was the goal.

Anonymous said...

Your answer implies a yes then?

Given that it is not science, I have a serious problem with it.

Now if you want to put it into a Constitutional law class, I have absolutely no problem.

Anonymous said...

re:uniforms

Our kids have attended public and private schools. Uniforms were a wonderful part of the private school experience. They are a great leveler in the sense that no one feels out of place because they arent wearing the latest fashion. They were economical, sturdy, able to take the worst abuse a student could dish out. And it made getting ready for the school day so much easier not having to decide what to wear or argue about the appropriateness of certain attire.

Uniforms would mean one less thing for a parent to worry about, for the student to fret over, and one less distraction from the learning experience.

Kay Brooks said...

Anonymous wrote: "Given that it is not science, I have a serious problem with it."

I understand that's your position.

Do you understand my position?

Again:

Do you want our students to fully understand the topic or not? Do you believe that even a brief overview of the criticisms of these theories would so taint their impressionable minds that their science education would be ruined for life?

Anonymous said...

Put it in sociology, psychology, constitutional law no prob...where it can be challenged as social theory - not scientific. But it is not science and cannot stand up to validity. And if you think it can then you have not read enough on the issue. It falls apart day by day as more of Darwin is reconfirmed and validated by discovery.

But the more important question is this: Do you have a curricular agenda?

Anonymous said...

Clarification: Agenda around intelligent design?

George Rand said...

I have already cited several eminent scientists who support intelligent design/reject evolution as not scientifically proven. Kay has not called for accepting intelligent design as proven science; she has called for open debate in a scientific manner of competing hypotheses. Although your assertion, by the rules of logic(which are scientific), need only be refuted by an assertion, how about Francis Crick's rejection of evolution as not scientifically valid? Surely this is scientific evidence enough for the discussion of intelligent design and evolution as competing theories in a science class.

Anonymous said...

Eminent is stretching it. 20 years of experience in higher ed have made me realize the prof's have discovered perpetual motion machines, cold fusion and that the World Trade Center Tower was a vast right wing conspiracy by the Bush administration. I'll believe what the other 99% attest to thank you.

Not getting into a debate about that. Want to know if Kay has a curricular agenda regarding intelligent design. So I can be a well informed voter.

Kay Brooks said...

I do not have a curricular agenda--to include intelligent design.

Eric Holcombe said...

"burrito" said...

"...encroach upon our industry ..."

What an interesting choice of words... most revealing I must say.

Since 45% is all that is required to pass the Biology gateway exam, I would estimate only "micro" versions of any of the theories would be retained.

Anonymous said...

It's not about posting your children's scores, Kay. It's about posting the scores of children you are responsible for educating. You are your children's educator same as Gracie Porter was the lead educator at the school she was responsible for. And your point is that she didn't do a very good job. As a voter, I'd like to know how good an aducator you have been and the only way I can know that is to see the scores of the children you are responsible for, who just happen to be your children.

Anonymous said...

As a voter in the 5th district, I am also interested in the scores of those you've educated. If you hadn't pointed out the grades of Porter's students, this would be an unfair question. However, you have chosen to use that as a reason why district 5 constituents should not vote for Porter, so really it is not only fair that you post your student's progression of scores over the years, it now looks as if you have something to hide. Can you tell us why you refuse to post the scores of your students?

Eric Holcombe said...

Don't look now, but I think your straw man is on fire...


I think I'd just report all zeros. That way, the scores are directly proportional to the amount of public dollars used -- and to the 'right' of the public to the information.

Anonymous said...

>Do you want our students to fully understand the topic or not?

Yes, I want them to fully understand the topic of science, not some religious baloney invented to make science more compatible with fundamentalist Christianity.

>Do you believe that even a brief overview of the criticisms of these theories would so taint their impressionable minds that their science education would be ruined for life?

No, but I would much rather they spend their time learning more about science than debating Intelligent Design, the Flying Spagetti Monster, or Santa Claus. If any of those topics is deemed scientifically relevent by the National Acedemy of Sciences, I'll gladly support their inclusion in the curriculum.

Jim Collins said...

Just remember,Ms.Brooks,you were NEVER elected to your current position,you were appointed in a most unusual and questionable manner.Maybe tommorrow will be your "judgement day" and a lesson in politics.


KEEP POLITICS OUT OF MY SCHOOLS!

Anonymous said...

to Jim Collins, Kay Brooks WAS elected to the Board by a vote of the Council. You may not like the outcome but it is a fact.

Regardless of the outcome tomorrow, Kay Brooks has shown more class than you have and should be proud of her service.

Keep up the good work Kay!

Kay Brooks said...

Thanks for the support, Anonymous. I appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

Very well said anon.