Oct 29

NCLB Does It Again

Blogger Amy Sullivan writes that, thanks to NCLB, father, an award-winning teacher of history with twenty-seven years of experience is not allowed to teach history anymore. Apparently, he majored in English, not History, so there you go.

I took one computer class in college, but I’m pretty proud of what I’ve built with technology at Beacon. I’m waiting for someone to tell me that I cannot teach technology anymore because I was an English major.

You know… with everything that needs fixing in public education today (small classes, small schools, anyone?), you would think that the government could make sure not to enact laws that make matters worse.

Unless of course, that’s what they want to do.

Oct 28

The White House Doesn’t Want You Searching

Courtesy of Brad Delong… it looks like The White House is disallowing any spider searches on its site for Iraq.

It’s amazing that the White House doesn’t want you to look up documents it has already published about Iraq.

I think I need to talk to SOS about doing a huge Voter Registration Drive this year.

Oct 28

Testing Twists and Turns

This one almost got by me… but a NY State Regent is now advocating for an appeals process to the Regents, so that if a student shows strong progress in their classes but fails the Regents, they can appeal for graduation.

He also argues for portfolio-based evaluation of student work as an alternative, stating:

"I’m a big outcomes guy, and their outcomes are so good," he said.

Richard Mills, of course, countered, arguing that Regents work. More disappointing is that Joel Klein agreed with Mills. (Hey Joel… how about listening to your own people for a change?)

But it’s clear that with the debacles over the Math and Physics Regents the last few years… and the roll-back of Regent scores so that 55 is now passing… that these tests aren’t working. The fact that a Regent would come out publicly in favor of alternatives shows that the wall is crumbling.

For Beacon, this means we just have to stay committed to our portfolio based assessment, because the testing "standards" based movement is going to fail, and we have to be ready to step in with an alternative when that day comes.

Oct 26

Privacy and the Internet

You know, with Citibank’s latest commercials about anti-identity theft commercials, you’d think that Citigroup would be all for stronger privacy laws. (What… you mean that a company might use advertising to mislead the public as to their actual politics? Shocked… shocked I am to find gambling in this establishment!)

Well, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights wanted to make a point to Citigroup about the need for strong privacy laws, so they skywrote Citigroup CEO’s social security number directly over the Citigroup building in Manhattan yesterday.

According to the head of the FTCR, the group was able to buy Prince’s SSN over the net for $26. They also claim to have Donald Rumsfeld and John Ashcroft’s SSNs too, but they are afraid to post those numbers for fear of prosecution under the Patriot Act.

I’m really not sure how I feel about the actions of the FTCR. Their actions seem extreme and borderline illegal, but at the same time, I’m all for making CEOs deal with the consequences of their actions.

Oct 26

The Ethics of Care

Nel Noddings’ ethic of care really resonates with me. I admit, I’ve read Noddings before, and for me, she was someone who was very important in the development of what I see as my decision to prioritize kindness as the most important way human action. I’ve seen so many bright people who could just logic and ethical language to justify behavior that, in the end, was just not kind. It did nothing to better the condition of those around the actor. In the end, my ethical beliefs boil down to a very simple statement – try to leave the world a slightly better place because you happened to live in it. And for me, and ethic of kindness and care has the chance to do that.

Oct 26

Ethics in the Real World

[So… I’m doing a far amount of writing in my grad school class on ethics… and since I’m not finding time to post here, I’m going to post some of my logs here. Besides, it’s as relevant as anything else I put up here… This was a log based on a case-study, should a principal resign when the Board of Education in her town makes her change her ‘second-chance’ school in ways she disagrees with or should she make the best of it?]

I think I was somewhat taken aback by the degree to which so many people thought it was ethical for Sandra Jones to resign. Granted, there’s no question that, by retiring, she does not have to compromise her principles and either a) water down her school or b) mislead her bosses. However, the problem is that her kids live in a real world, and by resigning, she consigns her students to a leader, board-appointed, who will follow the mandate. And while it’s good to feel that you’ve not had to make the “least bad” decision, I believe both the utilitarian and liberal egalitarian ethics systems would argue that Ms. Jones must stay and continue to serve her students as best she can.

Oct 22

Lack of Postings

Sorry to the four or five folks out there who regularly read this blog for the lack of postings of late. We’re in a rather hectic time of year, as I wrote last week. I’ve got to get through next Wednesday, when my midterm paper for Prof. Sobol is due, and then I will get a little bit of breathing room, although not a ton.

More and more, this year is seeming to be just a little too breakneck of a pace for me. Afternoon catnaps are becoming a little too frequent just to make the day managable. I define that as officially not good.