The Bitemaster winters in the breathtakingly beautiful Transbaikal where it’s so cold that the politicians keep their hands in the own pockets, where we have to light a fire to thaw out our words just to know what we’re saying, where we measure the ambient temperature in degrees Rankine because it feels warmer (today, it’s 450 degrees Rankine outside).
Though we’re a bit isolated, we do manage to keep up with the news from North America on our short wave radio, thanks to late-night “skip” propagation.
One figure who’s been in the news a lot lately is New York City mayor Bill de Blasio. He’s now in his second term. and here’s how we think he’s been doing:
- Affordable Housing — this was always a scam. It wasn’t going to happen and it will never happen, unless we repeal the fundamental laws of economics. And de Blasio is smart enough to know he was lying when he made his campaign promises.
- New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) — NYCHA houses 400,000 people in 300 developments. The housing stock is aging, and the money from the state and federal governments is drying up. It’s not going to get any better in the near future no matter what de Blasio does.
- Rikers Island — the Rikers Island jail has an average population of 10,000 inmates. Current plans call for the jail to be closed and the inmates to be housed “in the community.” The idea of closing Rikers is a complete scam. Nobody wants a bunch of prisoners moved from an isolated island to their block. Even if it were to happen, what will they do with the island? It will probably go to Trump for $1.
- Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) — If ACS takes too many children away from their parents, there’s a hue-and-cry in the media. If they let too many die at home with their parents, there’s also a hue-and-cry. It’s a perpetual “can’t win” and it doesn’t matter how much money you spend, either.
- Education — every administration claims to have “fixed” the city’s education system but none has succeeded. The problem is not money — the city spends plenty. The problem is that the city has no coherent education policy. Biteme has attempted to fill the void here and elsewhere on this blog.
- Police — the citizens want to be safe on the streets but don’t want to be harassed (or worse) by the police. It’s a difficult balancing act and I’m not sure any other city has done better.
So how does de Blasio’s report card look? We grade on a pass-fail system and give him a “pass.”
An interesting but troubling story in today’s SF Chronicle about students, although internet savvy, can’t distinguish fake news stories from the real facts. You can read it at http://tinyurl.com/zpow9ye
When presented with a big, colorful chart sponsored by the oil company Shell versus a screenshot of an article from the Atlantic, high school students overwhelmingly argued that Shell’s post was the more reliable of the two “because it provided more data and information” than the article did. Only about 15 percent of students noticed the paid post
was sponsored by Shell and said the science article was the more trustworthy source.
This inability to evaluate information persists even after students are accepted to major colleges and universities — including Stanford, Wineburg said.
The “great majority” of college students tasked with evaluating information from the American College of Pediatricians, a conservative advocacy group that has been named a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its vehement opposition to women’s and LGBT rights, were unable to suss out the group’s bias, even when given the chance to independently check the group’s credentials. Some even cited the professional-looking website of the organization as reason to trust its pseudo-science.
College women worried about sexual assault should avoid “parties where there’s a lot of alcohol,” Republican presidential candidate John Kasich said Friday.
It makes sense to me. Similarly, college men who want to avoid being assaulted should avoid drunken parties. And, If they want to avoid being killed by hazing, they shouldn’t pledge a fraternity.
Likewise, there are plenty of parks and neighborhoods that I would advise everyone to avoid at night.
This isn’t “blaming the victim.” This is just plain common sense.
Source: Kasich says co-eds should avoid parties to avoid sex assault – NY Daily News
The school announced that it would name their school the Antonin Scalia School of Law, abbreviated ASS Law and ASSoL.
Did the University do this out of their high regard for the late Supreme Court Justice? Nah. The Charles Koch Foundation and another donor ponied up $30 million, in return for which the University agreed to change their law school’s name. What I want to know is how much we’d have to pay GMU to get them to change the name to The Bite Me School of Law?
Source: Scalia law school switches name after acronym becomes joke
You can read the Dean’s letter about the name, the funding, etc.
Bill Gates writes about two historically Black colleges which take low-income students and students with poor grades. These two schools, Johnson C. Smith University and Delaware State University, give their students the support and remediation that they need in order to succeed in college.
But here’s what struck me:
Both institutions collect and analyze huge amounts of data to track students throughout their college careers. If a student taking a psychology quiz gets a failing grade, it triggers an email or phone call from a counselor to find out what went wrong and how to get that student back on track.
Gates was impressed that both schools are using data analytics to improve the quality of the education that they provide. The other thing he liked is that both schools are innovative.
So we learn what catches Bill Gates’ attention: innovation coupled with rigorous data analysis.
Source: Meeting Students Where They Are | Bill Gates | LinkedIn
Tennessee State Representative
Sheila Keckler Butt (HD 64)
On October 9, 2015, — Yesterday afternoon, Tennessee State Representative
Sheila Keckler Butt filed HB1418, which mandates disestablishment in the public schools of Tennessee.
. . . my bill will mandate that religious studies not be taught before grades 10-12. . . . My bill also mandates that only a study of comparative religion, as it relates to history or geography, may be taught but that no religion shall be emphasized or focused on over another religion.
Finally, if the curriculum standards in grades prior to grades ten through twelve include a reference to a specific religion or the role and importance of a religion in history or geography, then the state board shall ensure that the reference does not amount to teaching any form of religious doctrine to the students.
See Raw Story and Rep. Butt’s website.
In the midst of a social media backlash joined by the likes of Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama, police announced Wednesday that the teen’s arrest on Monday resulted from a “naive accident” that doesn’t warrant prosecution.
Young Ahmed Mohamed brought a homemade electronic clock to school. Teachers thought it could be a bomb, police were called, kid was hauled off in handcuffs.
- In a world of “If you see something, say something,” I think the school did the right thing by calling the cops.
- If the cops didn’t call in the bomb squad — and as far as I can tell, they didn’t — then they didn’t think it was really a bomb. And if they didn’t think it was really a bomb, there was no reason to arrest the kid.
- As for the handcuffs, if the local police use them on white students, then they’re ok to use on Ahmed.
- Lastly, Obama has invited the kid to the White House and both Bristol and Sarah Palin have weighed in against. Who cares?
Source: Ahmed Mohamed swept up, ‘hoax bomb’ charges swept away as Irving teen’s story floods social media | Dallas Morning News
Despite never having historically represented the Confederacy as a country nor officially recognized as one of the national flags, it is commonly referred to as “the Confederate Flag” and has become a widely recognized symbol of the American South.
Students in Maple Valley, WA, Charleston, SC, Canyon County, ID, and elsewhere are finding that they can get in trouble for displaying the Confederate flag.
If you support the Tinker decision — and we do — then you have to support the right of these kids to wear or wave a Confederate flag.
Well, it’s that season again, where we struggle to understand what’s wrong with our schools, both in New York and nationally.
The Bitemaster first became interested in education policy by reading Fred and Grace Hechinger in The New York Times. More recently, the Bitemaster put forth his education manifesto and mocked Bloomberg’s education failures.
So where do we stand today?
Mayor De Blasio did hire Carmen Fariña, who was an outstanding school principal. But neither De Blasio nor Fariña know what they’re doing; they have no concept of the big picture. So it devolves to the Bitemaster to fix that.
- A school system of a million students cannot be run as a federation of little fiefdoms.
- It needs process control of the kind that industrial engineers design.
- It needs a clear definition of the kind of output the system should generate. E.g., what skills should a student demonstrate in order to be granted a high school diploma?
- It needs rigorous measurement (i.e., testing).
That’s the big picture. Now for some of the lesser items:
- Parents don’t know much about education but have strong feelings anyway. We’ll need some political genius to convince parents to buy into a system where they will have no input.
- Charter schools cannot scale up to a system that educates 1,000,000 children. Charter schools are divisive and a distraction.
- Money is not the main problem. Bloomberg doubled the schools budget with no appreciable improvement.
- Teachers are not the problem. There is no research demonstrating that NYC teachers are any worse than teachers elsewhere in the country.
- Kids are not all the same. We need accelerated tracks for some children, remedial tracks for others, and vocational tracks for those who don’t have the aptitude for academics.
Now that the Bitemaster has explained it all to you, read what Newsweek wrote about The Best Schools In The World
This month’s scramble by Chicago school officials to find enough cash to pay the bills is the result of “an appalling situation” years in the making — a cascading financial crisis that could hit classrooms this fall when nearly 400,000 kids return to school.
For years, the Chicago school system has been paying the bills on a hope and a prayer. Now it’s time to pay the piper. They don’t have the dough to pay what they owe to the teachers’ pension fund. Their creditworthiness has been downgraded to “junk” status. They lost over $100 million on a series of complex interest-rate gambles engineered by their former COO, David Vitale, who previously — you’re gonna love this — served as Vice Chairman at Bank One Corp.
Unless Mayor Rahm Emanuel can squeeze some aid out of the state government, things look bleak for his school system.
Source: Chicago Public Schools faces cash crunch now, possible crisis in the fall