Posted by: nhfalcon | February 27, 2011

J.A.R.D. v.2.27.11

* – hey, I’m a dinosaur geek, ok? Kill me.

* – wrong ringtone, wrong time:

* – I don’t think this ad has anything to do with the cigars it’s pimping, but it’s funny anyway:

* – waste of a perfectly good stripper pole, if you ask me…

* – hey, Christina Aguilera, THIS is how you sing the national anthem:

You know the words COLD, and you sing it the way it was written. You don’t “interpret” it or try to make it “your own.” It’s not your own – it’s the country’s.

* – is this missing any iconic movie quotes?:

* – this article is mostly about interviewing the new Superman, but it also details quite a list of upcoming superhero flicks.

* – you go, girl!

* – look, I’m not denying the Red Sox have some serious questions to address, but you’re gonna have a hard time convincing me I shouldn’t be enthusiastic about their chances this year.

* – ah, the swimsuit issue (I shoulda learned how to be a painter… 🙂 ).

For those who care – which is probably nobody 🙂 – I’d rank that quintet in this order: Kate, Kenza, Izabel, Alyssa, Shannan.

* – oh, I have to know the full story behind this:

* – as much of a breast man as I am, this is just EWWW!

* – yeah, sure, this game is fine for 12-year-old.

NOT!

* – way to go, Maryland!

* – this particular rep from Georgia, on the other hand…

* – this is just unacceptable, regardless of which side of aisle you’re on.

* – not a bad job by Senator Paul here:

Not perfect by any stretch, but not bad.

* – “The American people believe in immigration, but they also believe that we can’t tolerate a situation where people come into the United States in violation of the law… For those who wish to become citizens, we should require them to pay a penalty and pay taxes, learn English, go to the back of the line behind those who play by the rules.”

Any idea who said that? Anybody? Anybody want to take a guess?

Barack Hussein Obama. I kid you not. On June 6, 2009 at the Esperanza National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast and Conference.

Why do I think he’s had a change of heart since then?

* – I’m having a hard time deciding who I love more – Chris Christie, Bill Whittle, or Allen West:

For the record, I do not believe Islam is at heart a violent religion (the Koran, after all, begins with “In the name of Allah, the merciful and compassionate…” (emphasis mine)), any more than I believe that Christianity or Judaism is. I do not believe all Muslims are terrorists or that all terrorists are Muslims, and – as I think he made quite clear in that second clip – I do not believe Colonel West feels that way either.

However, the Koran (which, according to Muslim tradition, was actually revealed to Mohammed over a twenty-three year period in the first half of the 7th century AD, not the 8th or 9th century as Colonel West stated), does in fact have passages that advocate violence:

“Slay them wherever you find them…Idolatry is worse than carnage…Fight against them until idolatry is no more and God’s religion reigns supreme.” (Surah 2:190-)

“Fighting is obligatory for you, much as you dislike it.” (Surah 2:216)

“If you do not fight, He will punish you sternly, and replace you by other men.” (Surah 9:37-)

“If you should die or be slain in the cause of God, His forgiveness and His mercy would surely be better than all the riches…” (Surah 3:156-)

“Seek out your enemies relentlessly.” (Surah 4:103-)

“Fight for the cause of God with the devotion due to Him…He has given you the name of Muslims…” (Surah 22:78-)

“Muhammad is God’s apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another.” (Surah 48:29)

However, guess what? The Bible and the Torah have such passages, also:

“You shall destroy all the peoples … showing them no pity.” (7: 16)

“… All the people present there shall serve you as forced labour.” (20:12)

“… You shall put all its males to the sword. You may, however, take as your booty the women, the children, the livestock, and everything in the town — all its spoil — and enjoy the use of the spoil of your enemy which the LORD your God gives you.” (20:14-15)

“… You shall not let a soul remain alive.” (20:17)

These passages, when taken out of context and/or used only to support one’s agenda, could easily be used to whip the ignorant into a frenzy and send them out to wage a holy war; that’s what Muslim extremists like Hamas, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda have done. That’s also what bigots who thoughtlessly want to kill anybody who doesn’t think the way they do have done.

On the other hand, for that man to stand there and dare Colonel West to find “one passage” that proves that the Koran advocates violence was simply stupid. The question is not that simple, nor is the answer.

* – speaking of Mr. Whittle.

* – I shouldn’t leave out Andrew Klavan, either:

* – and now for the Wisconsin Standoff portion of our show:

Did you catch the dollar amounts from the first minute-and-a-half of that clip? I’m sorry, but I thought union dues were supposed to for union member strike protection and stuff like that. Am I missing something here?

To quote Stephen from Braveheart, “… just answer the fookin’ question!”

(the question, btw, is whether or not Langyel supports doctors handing out fake sick notices for teachers)

Tell me exactly how this “patient’s” privacy rights are being violated by this reporter when her “consultation” with her “doctor” is being held in the middle of a frickin’ protest rally?

Based on the racism, bigotry, and violence going on at these protests, you’d think it was a Tea Party rally or something…

From Jefferson City, MO:

From Denver, CO:

From Washington, D.C.:

Also from Washington, D.C.:

From Providence, RI:

(the relevant part starts about seven-and-a-half minutes in)

From Sacramento, CA.

Michelle Maklin sums it all up pretty well here.

It’s kind of hard to sympathize with these teacher’s unions when their members are getting results like these.

Look, I know poor performances by students does not fall solely on the teachers. Remember, I’ve been there, if only briefly. I have a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of New Hampshire and I did a Social Studies teaching internship for the 2006 – 2077 school year at Winnacunnett High School in Hampton, NH. Three of my very best friends, Mrs. Chili, Bowyer, and Bowyer’s wife, Tonks, are teachers, as is my mother-in-law. I am well aware of the fact that the poor performance of a  student is just as likely the fault of the student or the student’s parent as it is the fault of the teacher, if not more so. It’s also a possibility that the blame is shared.

However, when two-thirds of the 8th-graders in a state cannot read proficiently, the blame goes back on the teachers in my book. I simply cannot believe that two-thirds of the 8th-graders in Wisconsin are that unintelligent and/or mentally challenged and/or uncaring and/or have difficult living situations and/or just test poorly. When two-thirds of 8th graders in a state cannot read proficiently, they are being taught poorly and/or are just being passed through the system because nobody wants to deal with them anymore, and THAT is unacceptable. THAT tells me that these teachers do not have a leg to stand on when they start bitching about not making enough money and/or having to pay more into their pensions and benefits.

Thank you, Mr. Bennett. Pressure for school reform should be building.

How about those fleebaggers, huh?

At least this has all been good for the tourism industry in Rockford, Ill…

🙂

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Responses

  1. Falcon, I’m going to challenge you on putting the failure of a significant portion of a class back on the teachers and invite you to recall, about five years ago, when Bowyer’s job was threatened because “too many” of his students were failing. It didn’t matter a bit that “too many” of this little darlings didn’t bother to show up to school at all, or that they failed produce even the easiest of the work that he was requiring (I mean, really; filling in a damned worksheet from the BOOK?!). It didn’t matter a bit that his teaching methods had been investigated and deemed not only adequate, but exemplary. There was a critical mass of students who just didn’t bother to do what was required of them, and the Powers that Be decided that was Bowyer’s fault.

    Fortunately, he had a union to back him, and he wasn’t just summarily dismissed.

    Here’s the thing; unless a student is motivated, that student is not going to do anything s/he doesn’t care to do. It doesn’t matter how energetic or enthusiastic the teacher is. It doesn’t matter how well trained or caring the teacher is. It doesn’t matter how nice the school is or how tasty the lunches are. We can lead them to all the water we have access to, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to deign to drink any of it.

    I consider myself a pretty damned good teacher (and I know you think that, too) who’s working in a nearly ideal environment; small classes where I can (and do!) give individualized attention to each student, a flexible and dynamic curriculum, the freedom to teach the things I love (and for which I can pass that love on to the kids), yet at this very moment, as I write this, 20 out of the 46 students in my core English classes are failing. That’s 43% – damned near half.

    Should I be held responsible for this? As it is, the work I’m giving the students is, in my opinion, too easy. I mean, really; every week, the kids have to write ONE sentence using a new vocabulary word. Most of them don’t even bother to do that. We’re making ourselves crazy as a staff trying to figure out what’s going on; the kids readily admit that the work we ask them to do isn’t HARD, and none of them is incapable of it, they just…. don’t….. care. Not a single one of my students is failing because they aren’t smart enough to do what I ask of them. They’re all going down because the just don’t turn shit in. They don’t do what I ask of them to PROVE to me that they’re capable of doing what I ask them; it doesn’t matter enough to them to bother.

    I told my boss the other day that if she’s judging my performance based on what my students produce, then she needs to fire my ass right now. She knows better than that, and thank Goddess she does, or we’d ALL be out of jobs. My point here is that we have to find some other way of determining a teacher’s job performance, and my further point is that stripping collective bargaining rights is a singularly TERRIBLE idea. Teachers are crazily undervalued as it is; taking anything from them – especially the right to fight for decent working conditions (and let’s not forget that that’s decent working conditions for the STUDENTS, as well) and protections against those who would further seek to undermine our work amounts to national suicide.

  2. I do remember that moment, Mrs. C. Very clearly. It was b.s., and we all knew it.

    We are, however, I think, talking about slightly different situations here. You’re talking about a group of students – Bowyer’s – who, in the grand scheme of things, were a VERY small sampling group and who’s performance was being based on the course of a trimester-long class, which, of course, means a long string of successive evaluations of their learning.

    I’m talking about an entire STATE taking a one-shot test. I’m willing to give you a margin of error. I’m willing to grant you that some of the kids who took it viewed it as a lark and didn’t even try. I’m willing to grant you that some of them just weren’t smart enough to pass it at at least a proficient level. I’m willing to grant you that some of them were under some form of stress (medical, mental, emotional, etc…) that distracted them from giving the test their best. But 68%?! At what point is it ok to say, “you know, maybe we should look into our teachers..?” 75%? 80%? 90%? 100%? At some point teachers have to shoulder the load, too.

    And let’s keep in mind that these were 8th-graders, which tells me that we’re not only judging their learning as 8th-graders with this test, we’re also judging the quality of the educators that have been teaching them to read over the past half-dozen years or so. After all, it’s not like they were fine readers up until this point and suddenly forgot everything they once knew – their problems as readers (I have to assume) have been developing since Day One.

    As far as basing a teacher’s pay or employment status on merit goes, I will say I am for that, but I will also say that we do have to be very careful as to how we evaluate that merit. For example, when looking at Bowyer’s situation, I would say it would be unfair to judge Bowyer based simply on how those students are performing in Bowyer’s class. That sounds counterintuitive, I know, but follow me on this. If these students are doing great in every class but Bowyer’s, then I would say there’s something wrong with Bowyer’s teaching. If these students are doing poorly all or most of their classes, however, I would say the problem is with the students. Attendance obviously has to be factored into the equation. If the kids aren’t there, Bowyer can’t teach them. What about the ability level of the students he’s teaching? Many schools – like Bowyer’s – are level-based, and one would expect it to be easier to have higher-performing students in an Honors level class than in a C level class. What level students is Bowyer teaching? There are other factors the could be included, I’m sure, but these are the ones that immediately pop into my head.

    How do we get students more motivated? Well, it would be nice (not really “nice,” but you know what I mean…) if our students truly suffered the consequences of their actions, but how often does that really happen? How often is a student forced to repeat a class? Held back a year? Prevented from graduating until s/he passes all of her classes at an acceptable rate? How often do you personally hold firm to your late policy in regards to an assignment, as opposed to, at the end of a semester, in a last-ditch attempt to save them from themselves, granting them a “one-time” extension? You think that doesn’t generate a “they gave me an inch, so I’m gonna take a mile” mentality? They pass the class anyway. They graduate anyway. They get into college anyway. They see and hear stories about it all the time, and so whenever we try to tell them that they’re only fucking themselves by fucking off in our classes, the just nod and go “uh-huh, yeah, right, so anyway Bobbie and Susie got really wasted at this party Saturday night and…”

    Now, for this next (and final) topic, I will admit that I do not have hard data at my fingertips, that I am running on what could be false assumption here, so feel free to set me straight if necessary. Why are private schools better than public schools, on average? Correct if I’m wrong, but private school teachers aren’t unionized. They make less than their public school counterparts. Yet they produce lower dropout rates, higher graduation rates, better test scores, and better GPAs. Why is that? What good are your unions doing you again? Making sure you have acceptable working conditions? Isn’t that what we have a Department of Labor for?

    BTW, this doesn’t have to be a back and forth just between me and Mrs. C., folks. Feel free to chime in, regardless of which side of the issue you’re on.

    Oh, and Mrs. C.? Thanx for coming back. You’ve been away for far too long. I know you’re reluctant to make an appearance because we’re mostly conservatives over here, but I missed you.

  3. I love Mrs. Chili ’cause she makes me think.

    And this is slightly O/T re: comments so far, but if Allen West didn’t already have a lovely family, I’d offer to create one for him. Love that man. Brains are verrah sexy.

  4. My bud Charles and I spent a very enjoyable evening in Rockford most of 12 years ago, taking in Cheap Trick’s silver anniversary concert (later released on CD and DVD as Silver).

    I think that was the 9th or 10th of the 14 times I’ve seen Cheap Trick.

  5. As a late comer to this thread, it looks to me like there are 2 topics here: the whole union issue, and teacher evaluations. I find the second easier to summarize, and my class starts in 10 minutes, so here goes:

    Teachers should be evaluated (and promoted) the same way the private sector is. Their bosses (department chairs, principles) should evaluate them, and make their decisions. Yes, there will be cases where the boss will play favorites, and yes there will be situations where a really good teacher is in a school that doesn’t fit, and they won’t get promoted. The free market will drive things. Good teachers will migrate to the schools that are willing to pay them, and to administrations that recognize their value. crappy teachers will migrate to the school districts that are more interested in passing all their students, regardless of mastery of material.

    Yes, this will result in crappy schools getting crappier. If the parents care, they’ll get the school administration punted, or move to another district. If parents don’t like the fact that their little shits are failing in a good school, they can do the same thing.

    The idea of some universal measure of teacher performance is a nice utopian concept, but in reality is simply not something that will ever work. Oh yeah, and that whole concept of tenure in k-12 education? Idiocy at best. Just because a teacher has managed to hang on for 20 years doesn’t mean that they are any better than a new teacher – they’re probably behind the curve on technology, and if they are working in the sciences (and not involved in active research), they have definitely been left behind.

    Of course, none of this change is possible with the unions in place (where seniority indicates that you’ll probably hang around and keep paying your dues, so you’re worth more), but that’s a different discussion…

  6. OK, having just spent an hour plus going over the ideas behind quantum physics with 10th graders, I think I’m ready to rant about unions in education.
    Let me start out by saying that I’ve been in a number of union shops (not all of them teaching unions), and in every single case, the union has been an impediment to negotiations, and has caused way more problems than it ever solved or avoided (at least during my tenure). My experience with union shops has been so universally bad that I now absolutely refuse to work in any job that requires that I provide any support to any union. there. full disclosure.

    OK, as to unions for teachers. The obvious problems with being unable to get rid of bad teachers, rubber rooms, tenure-based pay, etc. are all familiar old saws, so I won’t waste time going over them yet again. Instead of grinding through the problems with unions, I’d rather look at what they accomplish that is good, then see if it is enough to counter the (fairly well known) problems that they bring along with them, or if there are other solutions that may be better.

    The first obvious advantage that unions bring is bargaining power to ensure that teachers get paid what they’re worth (I’m talking in general now, not tenure etc.). There are a couple of problems with this idea. First, unions don’t really act to encourage negotiations. They come up with a set of demands (often that don’t actually reflect what the employees want, but that fit into a larger plan that the union has – this is particularly bad with unions that represent more than one job), then enter ‘negotiations’ with management. The problem is that the negotiations are never really negotiations. They’re demands. I’ve negotiated countless contracts, employee packages, corporate buyouts, mergers, and so on. The ones that work are the ones where both parties come to the table with a common goal – to come up with a mutually beneficial deal that leaves everyone more or less equally happy (or unhappy). ALL successful negotiations are based on the premise of a common goal. the purpose of the negotiations is to work out the details to get to the goal.

    The problem with unions is that their goal is to maximize the benefits, as they see them. The benefits for the union – not the membership. Unions are simply specialized PACs, and their marketing hook is that they work for their members. Sure, just like the democratic party, or republican party, or tea party – works for the voters, and not for the party. Note that there isn’t anything there that any management team could possibly consider a reasonable goal. The management teams goal is maximize product (be that education, widgets, or whatever). Unless the managements goal is to maximize union membership/political influence, there is no common ground. What you end up with is the union pushing a platform that has nothing to do with the goals of the business, and often in ways that are actually detrimental to the business. Think back of the autoworkers of the 1970s that spent 80% of the year on fully paid furloughs – great for the ’employee’, but ended up driving all the jobs overseas (where labor costs are lower and there are no unions), and eventually bankrupting the auto industry (yes, there were other factors, but unions were a big part the failure).

    If the unions approach was “how can we meet our business goals in a way that is mutually beneficial”, there would be common ground – even if the union’s goals are to become a bigger/stronger PAC. Instead, their approach is “we’re big enough that we’re going to force things to come out he way we want, regardless of what it does to the business”. granted, they have learned that driving the business bankrupt is a bad path, but they’ve also gotten large enough to ensure that their real bread and butter organizations will never be allowed to fail – regardless of how insane the benefits the union demands are (If the unions took half of the money they spent lobbying for the auto company bailouts and simply gave it to the automakers, the bailout wouldn’t have been needed).

    So, given that the unions have little to no concern for the health of the business, and are primarily interested in ensuring that they have maximum income (as many union members as possible), it isn’t surprising that we have rubber rooms. After all, those bad teachers are the ones that are most at risk of getting punted if the union isn’t there to protect them, so they’re the most vocal supporters, and the ones most likely to scream if their undeserved job security is put at risk.

    And it isn’t just teachers. The Seattle Attorney General has admitted that he won’t even consider prosecuting bad cops – no matter how bad their offenses – because the union makes the prosecution to expensive, and has too much political pull. Last summer, a cop shot an unarmed deaf man because he crossed the street. Witnesses statements and dashcam video both suggest that the cop had no reason to get out of his car and shoot this guy (without warning). The police themselves have admitted that the shooting was unwarranted. They can’t fire the cop (there’s the union again), and AG won’t prosecute him because the union swings to many votes. So the cop is still on the force, getting paid, carrying a gun….. When his own department has admitted that he’s a cold blooded murderer. But he pays union dues, so…….

    OK, enough on negotiating. I can’t see that there is much good coming out of that. Teachers are certainly underpaid for what they do, so they union is failing that aspect of negotiations as well. Benefits? Sub par. So what DOES the union bring to the average employee. Guaranteed pay raises if you stick around. Guaranteed employment, no matter how ineffective of incompetent you are. Not much else that I see.

    So, I guess if you think that “time in service” is the best measure of how much you should be paid, and you like the idea of working in a field where there is no way to cull the incompetents (or you ARE one of the incompetents) , the unions are a win for you. Otherwise, they’re probably not doing you much good, but are still costing you money….

    Oh yeah, and that “right to work” concept – the one that says if you don’t want to be a member of the union, you can work without joining, and only pay the amount of money that the union spends “negotiating for you”. First of all (once again, in my experience) – the amount of paperwork and time you need to go through to get out of the union (you ALWAYS start out as a member, then have to opt out) makes the tax code look simple. And for some reason, the paperwork gets lost, is misfiled, is on the wrong for, took to long, etc. Even if you do mange to get the paperwork done, the union will still take a large chunk of their dues because they “are negotiating for you”. Kind of like the guy that breaks into your house, paint your kitchen a color you don’t like, then forces you to pay him….

  7. Welcom to the Eyrie, Sphyrnatude! Glad to have you!

    And, yes, I would say that even if you disagreed with me! 🙂

  8. ….thanks. It’s been a while, but I’m really busy with the new teaching gig… Mrs. C won’t let me skip these fun discussions though!


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