That’s Right Nate

Thoughts from a right thinker.

Posts Tagged ‘Education

So Where Has Nate Been?

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Sometimes, I go through writer’s block and nothing in the news catches my ire enough to inspire me to produce a new blog post.   In general though, I figure I’m good for 5 a week.   That number has fallen well off despite this being a banner week for stupid people doing stupid things.  So what gives?  What’s so important.   The only answer I can give is to go to my other blog. Things should return to normal by Saturday.  Please keep visiting.  I still read the responses.



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May 19, 2010 at 9:09 pm

Texas Races for Educational Excellence

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There is an old saying that winners write history.  Well nobody is a bigger winner than the state of Texas whose Board of Education approved a social studies curriculum that will finally tell the conservative side of history.  A lot of internal debate has been splitting the Texas Board with those who question Darwin’s theories of evolution on one side and those that scream and throw things when Darwin’s name is mentioned on the other.

The new version of history in Texas shows a country guided by God’s divine light until the Obama administration and features such important historical figures as The National Rifle Association, Focus on the Family, and Tom Landry.   This is an American guided by God and inspired by Ronald Reagan to be the greatest country in the Earth.   We are the country that won the American revolution, provided hope to countless immigrant refugees, save the world from Axis tyranny, found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and continues to thrive despite the Obama recession today.

Now, I know some of you supposed “historians” will say that some of those things aren’t true.   Well, really who is to say.   Historical records are spotty at best.   How do we know what is happening in the world today? We watch Fox News.   Simply by being on Fox News, we know that something is news.  In much the same way, being in a text book will make things history.   We get irritated when madrases in the Middle East teach that the United States is a great Satan, but that’s because they aren’t winners.  They have no right to decide what is history.

Maybe a few small facts get changed.  Instead of Thomas Paine writing, “The Christian religion is a parody on the worship of the sun, in which they put a man called Christ in the place of the sun, and pay him the adoration originally payed to the sun,”  he now writes, “The Christian religion is worshiping the son of God.  I think it’s great.”   Sure, the meaning changes slightly, but which is the moral that you want your children to take away?   Will hip hop culture be as angry if black children can read that they were happier under slavery?  I think not.

The price of our unique greatness is that we must not only be great going forward, but we must accept the challenge of being great going backwards as well.   To do this we have to change a word here or a fact there, but it is a price I’m willing to pay and I’m glad to see Texas shares my vision.  I just hope they don’t secede before American textbook companies start printing to this curriculum.  As one of the largest states, Texas has a huge impact on what appears in books all over the country.

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March 13, 2010 at 11:25 pm

Protecting Our Children from Smutty Dictionaries

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Long time readers of this blog will know that I am not a big fan of books.   The printed page is an outdated communication tool that belongs back in 17th Century Germany with the inventor of the printing press Steven Gutenberg.  I am opposed to my tax dollars being wasted on libraries to store these useless relics of an earlier age.   However,  the one book that I find especially dangerous is the dictionary.   This book contains the words that spell out all the smutty, vulgar, and deviant writings that we need to protect our children from.   It only requires a relatively clever child to put the dictionary words in the right order to tell a story that would make a sailor blush.  Furthermore, our founding fathers were schooled on creative spelling–the authoritarian rule of the spelling conventionalists  is a slap in the face to American values.

Fortunately, some good folks in Riverside, California complained to the Menifee Union School District and got the dictionary pulled from the schools.   Isn’t it a parent’s right to teach their children new words?  This is how government indoctrination starts.  “It’s just not age-appropriate,” said school spokeswoman Betti Cadmus,  “It’s hard to sit and read the dictionary, but we’ll be looking to find other things of a graphic nature.”

One board member told the Press-Enterprise that there are probably more objectionable terms in the dictionary.  You can count on it.   Unfortunately, a group of liberal thug parents demanded that the dictionaries be returned to the school classrooms and the school board caved.  However, I am hoping that this case will illustrate  the dangers of a dictionary for young kids.  They can not only find smut, but learn the correct way to pronounce it and its derivation.  This is not what our tax dollars should be going for.

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January 29, 2010 at 9:32 pm

Fantasy School Perfect for Arm Chair Teachers

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The prevalence of teacher data has made for a wonderful past time for my buddies and I.    As soon as Fantasy Football season ends, we begin to play a game that I invented called Fantasy School.   Now that state test results are available for every grade and every school in Illinois, it’s rather easy to draft teachers just like you would draft football players.   It’s just as exciting as other fantasy sports and gives you a rooting interest in standardized tests that you don’t normally care about.  The advantage of starting the league now, is the schools are fairly settled and you are less likely to have a student transfer or a surprise pregnancy spoiling your fantasy season.

The rules are rather simple.   You must select a faculty consisting of the following teachers:

  • Two for each of the 8 primary grades
  • Two substitute teachers taken from any grade
  • One ESL teacher
  • One Special Ed Teacher
  • We are looking forward to President’s Physical Fitness results being online soon so that we can draft gym teachers.

The draft lasts 20 rounds and this year my Ronald Reagan Elementary School is looking to improve on last year’s 5th place finish out of 16 schools.   I was let down by my 6th and 3rd grade faculty.   Fortunately, there is no such thing as tenure in Fantasy School and they have been let go.   There are several scoring options, but we go by student improvement.   I have been pouring through newspapers and websites looking for  the teachers who I think will be on the top of their games.   I found out one of my early favorites is pregnant and another one won the Golden Apple and is missing half the year on sabbatical.

Because we go by the amount of improvement, taking the best students isn’t enough.  If some teacher out in the wealthy suburbs takes on  a homeroom where 95% of the students are meeting or exceeding standards, they can only get you 5 points and in fact they’ll probably go down.   On the other hand, a teacher at an inner city school who brings up students from 30% meeting standards to 52% meeting standards is going to win you the pot at the end of the year.  I try and look for young teachers who are still worried about their job and more likely to teach to the test.   We’ll be getting together to draft in a few weeks.  I’ll give you a progress report then.  Any teachers out there that I should be scouting?

Written by thatsrightnate

December 7, 2009 at 9:56 pm

Edumacation Archive

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I have decided that the time has finally come to spin off a separate education blog.  I seem to be able to write satirically on every other topic that is important to me, but I am either too close to education or I am simply not that skillful a writer.   I am going to move the Michelle Rhee and Imagination Charter stories to the other site.  I hope that some of you will move with me.   Have no fear, this blog will continue to not only be regularly updated, but it will continue to be my main blog.  After all, the atheists begin their war against Thanksgiving in earnest tomorrow.    I’m sure I’ll have something new up tomorrow that is more my usual style.  The new blog is located at:

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November 25, 2009 at 9:45 pm

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Michelle Rhee and the Washington Education Miracle Part IV

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And now gentle reader, we find ourselves at the penultimate act of our little drama.   Throughout the summer of 2009, the DC Public Schools recruited like a drunken frat boy collecting phone numbers at a kegger.  By the end of the summer, there were a whole host of new, young, and energetic students ready to take their places as teachers in the system.   Then calamity struck.

The schools had a $40,000,000 budget shortfall and the only way to close it was to cut staff.   There is nothing harder for an administrator than when you suddenly reallize that you don’t have $40 million that you thought you had.  I still get embarrassed over the time I was 8 and went to the local convenience store for chips and pop and didn’t have enough money because I didn’t know about sales tax.   The Chinese word for crisis is the same as their world for self-serving and manipulative stunt.  Knowing this Michelle Rhee made lemons out of lemonade by getting rid of some of those tired and worn out teachers I mentioned in part 2.

Over 200 teachers were let go and the day was saved.   Police were dispatched to classrooms and the older incompetent teachers were forcibly evicted.  This provided an excellent lesson for students who witnessed their teachers’ removal about not getting old and lazy. Much fat was trimmed.  A few examples I found using this internet machine of mine:

  • Students at McKinley Tech told NBC4 that their French 3 class became an introductory Spanish class when the French teacher was fired.
  • Jodie Gittleson, a teacher at Shaed Elementary School who was laid off, told the Washington Post that her students were being mixed among the second and fourth grade classes.
  • Students related a host of problems to WAMU-FM Dana Downs from Alice Deal Middle School says she was in the middle of a science project she was excited about. Now a different teacher has come in and abruptly changed course. Downs says students are also acting out in class, taking advantage of their new teacher. She says “they will talk really loud and won’t listen to her and throw things.”
  • Many of the district’s councilors received layoff notices just as students are getting their applications together to submit to colleges.
  • Taesha Hines from Ballou Senior High School complained that gym is required for graduation, but the cuts have left her school with only one gym teacher

Many of the teachers who were laid off had excellent performance evaluations.  These are exactly the kind of deadwood that are so difficult to trim because at a due process hearing they will simply use the superior rating the principal had given them to cast doubt on that principal’s claims of their incompetence.   Fortunately for Washington, DC, this budget shortfall provided a nice route around those kind of regulations.

There have been other moments of note in Rhee’s tenure.   Standardized test scored did improve, which is usually a good sign that the district is becoming more conscious of standardized tests.  Rhee also dropped support for National Board Certification–a highly valued national program for improving classroom instruction.  She has charged straight ahead with her vaunted IMPACT program which was piloted in Fairfax County in 1987 much to the amusement to one of the guinea pigs, Erica Jacobs.  Unfortunately, the union contract still seems stalled.  For some reason, the union is having trouble trusting Michelle Rhee to bargain in good faith.

I’m not from Washington, DC.  I’m from Chicago where we have had our own miracle worker Arne Duncan chosen for better things.   I won’t tell DC parents how to feel about their own child’s education prospects from hundreds of miles away.   However, in my previous entry, EFavorite posted the link to a comment by a Washington Post reader claiming that Michelle Rhee’s administration has fascist tendencies.   I can’t really speak to that, but I wonder if the sight of police leading teachers away in front of stunned students might answer the question for me.

This blog is satirical and my regular readers must be hating the last 4 articles which have gradually become less and less of my usual style.   However, some things are quite difficult to joke about–the future of our children is one of them.   A lot of well meaning liberals have gotten behind this new generation of education reformers who believe the two best ways to improve education are to bust unions and replace older largely African-American career teachers with young privileged white teachers who will spend 2 or 3 years in the classroom before moving on to bigger and better things.   These people believe that experience is a detriment and not an asset.  I wonder how these became liberal values.   Yes, the Bush family have embraced Michelle Rhee, but so have the Obamas and Oprah.

School reform has always been something that has been done to teachers, not by teachers, or with teachers.   Parents have rarely had a say either and of course children don’t know what’s good for them.   You can’t reform anything that way.   When the largest stakeholders in any endeavor are seen as the opposition you will fail.   There is another type of education reform you don’t hear much about.  If people gave it a chance, it might have a hope of accomplishing something substantial.   I don’t agree with everything that these people want, but a lot of it sure looks worth looking into.  The idea of a free, equal, and quality education is an ideal that binds us as a nation.   It has sadly never been a reality in the United States.

[As always, I appreciate feedback and comment whether you are in DC or not.  If you missed the other 3 parts of this story, please go to part 1.]

Written by thatsrightnate

October 24, 2009 at 9:40 pm

Michelle Rhee and the Washington Education Miracle Part I

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Previously, I have posted about the wonderful work done by basketball player turned educator Arne Duncan in Chicago.   Tonight, we  look at the dynamic young go getter who is  saving the Washington DC public schools.  Her accolades are many with education luminaries like Oprah and George W. Bush singling her out for praise.

Michelle Rhee began her teaching career where it ended at Harlem Park Community School in Baltimore from 1992-1995.  According to her official biography, Rhee was praised in the Wall Street Journal and on Good Morning America for her success as a classroom teacher.   Unfortunately, when the Daily Howler did a search they could find no record of any Good Morning America appearance or writeup in the Wall Street Jorunal.   This is a shame as I am sure they were amazing.  Her claims of huge gains among her students also couldn’t be substantiated, but I’m sure they were likewise amazing.  We were able to find one newspaper article that praised the cleaner hallways at the school, but I am not sure if she actually had anything to do with the cleaning detail.

Michelle Rhee’s recent comments on her teaching career are even more inspiring.   Rather than being the educational wunderkind of her official biography, Rhee struggled in the classroom at least  initially.   In the recent article on her in Time Magazine, it states, “Rhee suffered during that first year [of teaching], and so did her students. She could not control the class. Her father remembers her returning home to visit and telling him she didn’t want to go back.  She had hives on her face from the stress.”

That really doesn’t matter.  What matters is that somewhere in her second two years of teaching, Michelle found the secret to being an outstanding teacher and immediately left the classroom.   It’s a very good thing she did  because had she stuck around in the classroom, her teaching experience would have disqualified her from most positions in education reform leadership.  After leaving the classroom, Rhee went into teacher recruitment before being hired in 2007 to be Superintendent [Chancellor–see comments] of DC Public Schools.

Rhee represents the new thinking in education reform that believes that the biggest impediment to education is teachers who have different concepts of how a classroom actually works than business people and politicians do.   These people believe that the main reason companies outsource production overseas is not because they can pay employees 17 cents an hour, but because our schools are not as good as Haiti’s or Sri Lanka’s.

In the second part, I’m going to look at the way Michelle Rhee has found to get rid of older teachers and replace them with more energetic new teachers who as a bonus also cost the district less money.

[Click here to read part 2]

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October 21, 2009 at 7:08 pm