Wednesday, December 30, 2009

ECC reports

I consider the Education-Consumers Clearinghouse a must have tool for understanding and interacting with the public school system. I learned about this Tennessee gem about 15 years ago and always appreciate their valuable information. Their new charts on value added are now posted and don't overlook their cost analysis report showing how Tennessee can save $121+million. In fact just scroll down their home page and check out what you've missed. And, if you can spare 'em some cash for all their hard work click here and make a tax-deductible donation.

Hat tip: Brett via the Education-Nashville elist.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

More MCC fun

When the proposal is a ridiculous as the Music City Center is, it's gonna get mocked--and it should be.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Best Kitchen Gadget 2009

Just in time for Christmas baking, cooking and cleaning up I discovered this new style sink stopper at the Opry Mills Bed, Bath and Beyond's gadget wall. It's called a Sinktastic. I haven't been able to find a sink stopper that would actually be easy to open and close, stay open or closed and not get unplugged while washing. The last thing you want to see when you're trying to clean as you cook a big holiday feast is that your sink of hot water is gone--again! Not going to be a problem here anymore.

This two part plastic device sits in the drain and gets sucked down tight when you fill the sink with water. The top part slips easily into one of two places. Either it shuts the drain or double strains the water as it drains. It will not get undone accidentally when wrangling the pots and pans or fishing about for that last spoon in the murky depths. The silver version at the above nearly disappears in our stainless steel sink. It comes in various colors with some germicidal magic infused in it. Made in Canada. Maybe the best $5.99 I've spent in a good long time.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

2009-12-23 Education Round Up

Tennessee may submit Race to the Top application for $500 million: My BIG concern is how much more what should be our local schools will be controlled by Washington DC, Arne Duncan and his 'safe schools czar' as a part of this payoff. He who pays the piper calls the tune, ya know.

"The governor insists, therefore, that tests should be made the largest factor in tenure decisions and teacher evaluations." (City Paper) Bredesen's spot on with that. I'll reiterate my suggestion that this information be posted, along with the teacher's CV, for every parent to see.

And for a link to the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) Race to the Top score card check this link from EduWonk.

Talks break down in NAACP school discrimination suit: No surprise here. It's my opinion the NAACP didn't go into either of the two meetings held willing to compromise. I'm betting they're counting on Judge John Nixon to rule in their favor. I'm hoping he doesn't. Was it done perfectly? No. Imperfect isn't a crime--else MNPS would have had many of its schools shut down years ago.

Avoid quick fixes that hurt teaching: Even if it improves the education of students? Like every good union the MNEA fights to protect their territory and works supply and demand to their favor. Their union pushes the efforts that have demanded teachers become more social engineers than teachers and refuse to recognize the reality that it doesn't take a teaching degree to teach. Gatekeeping doesn't ensure competency as we all know so well, and that's why they fight tooth and nail using those student scores to rate teachers.

A suggestion: if the union and their members want to encourage more folks to get into teaching it would help if they'd quit whining about how little they get paid, how bad the conditions are how, how under appreciated they are etc. Their students are listening and they're teaching them they've got a lousy job. Who'd want to join them?

Nashville school chief set job goals: And how is this different than the Garcia reign?

"Board members are trying to develop an in-depth evaluation tool that reflects the goals of the school district and measures the director against those goals..."
The BOE has had quite an elaborate evaluation tool that they failed to utilize on former Superintendent Pedro Garcia. What's our assurance that the BOE will develop a better one and/or use it THIS time?

Family sues Metro schools after child shocked by pencil sharpener: Not surprising. I remember a school with a pile of donated computers that couldn't be installed for lack of adequate electric service. Seems to me it was this same school that had light fixtures explode during a parent meeting. Both MNPS and Metro Nashville have failed for decades to focus on maintenance. If we cannot maintain what we have why should we take on more?

Lottery Brings In $280.2 Million For Education: Out of sales of $1BILLION dollars. When the figures are flipped and the students get $720 million instead of Rebecca Paul, her staff, the advertising and printing company, the vending manufacturing companies and the janitorial staff that has to sweep up all the scratch-off litter that'll be news.

States Struggle to Stitch Together Pre-K-20 Data: Talk about mission creep. The public school system used to be grades 1-8. Then 1-12. Then K-12. Now pre-K through 12 and coming up soon Pre-K through 20!

Private Colleges Question Kindergarten-to-Career Data Collection: I have some privacy concerns about this effort. If I'm not in the public system...why should I submit to this data collection? I'm also concerned about the breadth of the information that will be gathered. See what's emphasized in red below.
Tn DOE Spokesman Rachel Woods kindly forwarded me a copy of this grant application. I haven't had time to read all 122 pages and still wrap gifts and bake cookies but here are a couple of snips:
The Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) and the state of Tennessee propose to build a longitudinal student data system that will push the frontier in collection and utilization of P20 data and promote improvements in program administration and educational outcomes. The initiative will significantly increase teacher, school, and district-level use of near real time student data by employing sophisticated, as yet underutilized longitudinal data for predictive and retrospective identification of student achievement growth and academic risk factors.
TDOE and its partner, the University of Tennessee Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER), will collaborate with the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) and the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (L&WD) to expand the P12 LDS to a P20 system.
The project will develop a secure and adaptive database architecture that will integrate academic data on teacher/student relationships, attainment,
course completion, and test scores, as well as data on health, children’s services, mental health, and delinquency. This project envisions and plans to execute what is coined as TLDS 360: Tennessee Longitudinal Data System 360 Degree View of the Student. TLDS will incorporate data elements from other child-serving departments and will facilitate more robust characterizations of health, social welfare and behavioral conditions that influence students’ progress from earliest child care, through P12 and higher education, and into the workforce.

The Explosion of Charter Schools in America: Well, explosion in some states. Hardly a hiccup in Tennessee though by the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the educrats you'd have thought education choice folks had stabbed them in the back instead of providing a hand up for students. (Hat tip: Jay Greene's excellent blog.)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Believe in Nashville cause Santa isn't real

I love Eartha Kitt's "Santa Baby" and this new rendition made me smile. Remember, Santa doesn't really put presents under the tree and neither will the Music City Center.

Feeling hosed

Sam's Club doesn't sell real gasoline anymore. They're adding ethanol now. I've been buying gas there for years on my weekly grocery runs and have been getting a steady 27 mpg with every fill up. My ethanol laced fill-ups at Sam's are now yielding just 23 mpg and I'm searching for real gasoline that isn't owned by Hugo Chavez.

Time to dissolve political bands

Last night 60 Democrat members of Congress thumbed their noses at the very Constitution they swore to uphold and defend. I cannot think of any better evidence that they have become domestic enemies of our Constitution, the rule of law and honest conduct and so the American people. Our Federal government has become too big, too powerful and too unconcerned about accountability to mere legal citizens of each state. The only way to stop their mad rush to more power is to ensure the states and the states' citizens take it back.

Last night I started reading through the Declaration of Independence and as a result of the unbelievable actions of the Democrat controlled Congress and I recognized clearly that those with unbridled power don't have to be reasonable. I began to understand that tyranny had come back to America.

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
...deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government,

in every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Last night's vote was not "just powers from the consent of the governed." We shut down switch boards, email systems and have flooded the mail room with Petitions for Redress to no avail. They were compelled to hide in the cover of darkness and a snowstorm to conduct their evil business. Congressional Democrats have given us the back of their hand since gaining their majority. They have vilified the very citizens that have called them to accountability and mocked them and their motivations.

Today I read a headline at Roll Call that the GOP is considering throwing in the towel on healthcare in order to be home for Christmas. Fair warning: do not expect us to go to battle for you in 2010 if you won't stay and fight this week. If you don't fight every minute, every procedure and every hill of this battle do not expect America to support you ever again. Do not consider yourself patriots. When I think of patriots I think of long cold nights with not but rags between you and a freezing death and nothing but the likelihood of lead meeting you in the morning. If you are cowed by Nancy, Harry and can you even face those children at home let alone any veteran or voter who sent you to Washington as their advocate? And if you go home and the new year dawns do not be shocked to learn that loyalty to a party that failed to protect America in this battle to take over America resulted in the dissolution of bands to the Republican Party. Decide today if you are a politician or a patriot.

UPDATE: We need more of this over and over and over again.
On Monday, Rep. Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet) and Rep. Debra Young Maggart (R-Hendersonville) asked Tennessee State Attorney General Robert Cooper to prepare to take the appropriate legal action against the federal government in the event HR 3200, the controversial federal healthcare reform legislation, passes into law. The legislators requested this action in order to grant Tennessee relief from the unfunded mandate contained in the bill that Tennessee complies with the expansion of the federal Medicaid program.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

From Yard Signs to FB

A remarkable shot that clearly demonstrates how far political campaigns have come since Sen. Douglas Henry (D-Nashville) first served in the Tennessee House back in the 1960's. From signs on the lawn to sites on the web.

Curiously, if you go to his FB page or his own website you won't see any bragging about how many decades this Democrat has been in Tennessee's legislature. Now, is not the time to brag about being the longest serving legislator and a life long politician.

Ray Stevens sings a letter to Congress

Thanks Ray. They're not listening to us...maybe they'll listen to you. I do think they'll be streaking out of Washington come November 2010 after all their underhanded shenanigans. Republicans...don't go wobbly. We need you to to be the party of NO!

Hat tip: Taxing Tennessee

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Government competition

I saw this via Taxing Tennessee and realized this also applies to our current Music City Center debate. When government can regulate and tax its competition we suffer a loss of freedom. That goes for everything from convention centers to education. If our legislator don't understand that they should not be in the business of competing with private business we have to push back. Yes, let's vote on on Mayor Dean's convention center.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Quote of the Day

Sharlonda Buckman, chief executive officer of the network, called for criminal and civil action against those charged with educating the city's children, The Detroit News reported. (snip)
"Somebody needs to pay for this," Buckman told about 500 parents. "Somebody needs to go to jail, and it shouldn't be the kids." UPI
But it is the kids going to jail in every district in the nation when the students leave the system without a decent education and their frustration and anger result in a life of crime.

Context: "test results showed [Detroit] fourth- and eighth-graders had the worst math scores in the nation and teachers prepared to vote on whether to strike.

Hat Tip: Taxing Tennessee

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Safer than at home?

Safer than at home?--The Tennessean provides lots of inches to push Schools Under Surveillance: Cultures of Control in Public Education by Vanderbilt Professor Torin Monahan. A lot of 'duh' statements in this overview such as:

"Generally speaking," [Monahan] said, "surveillance is not good for preventing crime. It's more useful for catching people after the fact."

But this statement certainly wasn't.
"Schools are some of the safest places you can be," Monahan said. Students are "significantly safer there than on the streets or at home." [Emphasis added]

Add this to the already growing pile of "expert" statements that are being collected to prove that government knows better than parents how to keep children safe and raise them correctly.

Another take on school safety: School Choice Reduces Crime, Increases College-Attendance...: According to Harvard researcher, David Deming:
Seven years after random assignment, lottery winners have been arrested for fewer and less serious crimes, and have spent fewer days incarcerated… The reduction in crime persists through the end of the sample period, several years after enrollment in the preferred school is complete. The effects are concentrated among African-American males whose ex ante characteristics define them as “high risk.”
Maybe we should say YES to choice so we can save that $2.2 million in security costs for curriculum, paying good teachers well or maybe even fixing a roof or two.

Monday, December 07, 2009

2009-12-7 Miscellany

Remedial Education: From Governor Bredesen via the Times-Free Press (hat tip: PostPolitics)

“If you are not ready to do the work at a standard four-year college, you need to go to a two-year school and get ready,” the governor said. “We need to get the four-year colleges out of the remedial business.”
No, Governor. You're wrong here. You don't push back far enough. It's not the business of higher education to remediate this problem. It's the business of K-12 school systems across the state to ensure that their graduates receive diplomas that actually mean they're ready for higher education.

A looooong time ago, MNPS offered a guarantee to employers. If the graduate needed remediation MNPS would pay for it. Seems to me this guarantee should be have been extended to students instead.

Frosty the inappropriate snowman: Just a heads up here, parents, keep that TV remote very handy.
"CBS is doing much the same thing that alcohol and tobacco companies have done in the past -- namely, using imagery in advertising that would naturally attract children in order to market an adult product," [Bob] Peters [of Morality in Media] said in a statement to
We shouldn't expect anything less, I suppose, considering our "Safe School Czar". It's long been a pet peeve of mine that an appropriate family program is polluted by inappropriate advertising.

Charter schools: still not enough freedom. And there won't be as long as the public school foxes are in charge of the whole process. From Jamie Sarrio at the Tennessean

The Center for Education Reform Monday released its annual report card on charter school laws and Tennessee earned a "D," despite changes to the law this year.

Most lights per square foot nominee

Condo living means a postage stamp sized front yard for these folks. They're certainly taking advantage of every square inch. Add to the fun---half of it flashes on and off.

The Griswolds are alive and well in Madison.

Friday, December 04, 2009

2009-12-4 Miscellany

Reading List: Let's just get the worst of this out of the way right off the bat. Some of you already know that the "Safe Schools Czar" Kevin Jennings has failed in the past to actually safeguard a student. His founding of GLSEN is also well known. What isn't well known, what many parents don't even want to imagine, let alone confront, is GLSEN's recommended reading list. Gateway Pundit has slogged through the filth so we don't have to (but they provide screen shots if you want to verify their findings). From their two part blog post:

Above all, the books seemed to have less to do with promoting tolerance than with an unabashed attempt to indoctrinate students into a hyper-sexualized worldview.
As if that job wasn't being done very well by the media. Let's make it clear. Every person is valuable and no person should be ill treated. However, every parent must have the right to know what resources are being used to educate their child and have the right to veto its use.

Remedial Education: From the University of Minnesota comes a new twist for their teacher credentialing program which is designed to:
"...ensure that "future teachers will be able to discuss their own histories and current thinking drawing on notions of white privilege, hegemonic masculinity, heteronormativity, and internalized oppression."
"The U, it says, must "develop clear steps and procedures for working with non-performing students, including a remediation plan." Katherine Kersten via Star-Tribune
I will never understand how this ensures that any child actually learns to read and do math.

Climategate: Science is dying--I thought this essay by Daniel Henninger at the WSJ stood out.
"Postmodernism, a self-consciously "unprovable" theory, replaced formal structures with subjectivity. With the revelations of East Anglia, this slippery and variable intellectual world has crossed into the hard sciences."
Those of us who believe in an Intelligent Designer have known for a long time that hard science had been co-opted by another type of faith. Ben Stein made a movie about it. The California University system won't allow credits acquired while using ID resources--regardless of the student's grasp of evolution. And now we have Climategate, an instance where 'scientists' purposefully hid the truth. In a better world science would be...well, scientific. It would demand facts based on replicable proofs and would welcome full review. It would not encourage or suffer for a moment another Piltdown man--Noble/Oscar prize winning or not. If all truth is relative...why bother? If you put your faith in science--it has failed you.