Friday, August 31, 2007

Aging Is Wasted On the Aged

Last night was "Open House" at my school. This morning is "Shut Eyes" as I recover inadequately from "Open House". This rock-star middle school teacher life is just like Keith Richards' circa-1969, but with more lunch detention. Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration, more like Keith Richards circa-2007, perhaps.

Party on, Garth...we're heading, staggering toward the three-day weekend. Speaking of partying like an indie band, a friend or two tried to get me to go see the Okkervil River show last night. Fat chance that. The mere thought of having gone to the Launchpad last night and staying until midnight almost puts me in a coma. Where's Dorian Gray when you need him? Where's the coffee?

Have a good weekend, all.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

P-r-e-s-e-r-v-i-n-g the Spelling Bee

No time this morning! Just down a cup of coffee...make that two, drink the latter cup in the shower and head out. But here's an idea.

Trib closing down, and what to do with the Spelling Bee? Journal won't have anything to do with it, no doubt, as it's controlled by the evil Scripps nation. Let's have Marty run it! Make it an audition for running school stuff. I'd say APS should jump in and run it, but such an easy PR coup would be so unlike The District to envision.

Yikes, times up! Can one blog in the shower? What about if I shield the water fairly well? Glug, glug.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

All The News That's Fit To Inadequately Recap

I know this is going to change the daily time-wasting blogreading plans for millions around the globe, but Burque Babble is switching to evening posting from the ridiculously early morning half-dead sleep-posting of recent days. Posting before dawn should be on the "Don't Bee Blogger" list of mistakes right beneath "drunk posting" and "so pissed off you can't use punctuation posting".

So I happen to decide this on a day when:
  • Alberto Gonzalez is still resigning and it's so old now that it's not worth bringing up anymore.
  • Idaho Senator Larry Craig is so rabidly not gay that he "allegedly" has to succumb to some perverse alter-ego who seeks out sex in public restrooms to have rabidly not gay sex.
  • The Albuquerque Tribune announces it is for sale, which is exactly the same thing as saying it is ceasing publication because the chance of it being sold is about the same as the chance I have of winning this year's NL Cy Young Award.
  • Johnny Mango publishes a piece on Duke City Fix that seeks correlation between Feudal Prince Marty and his difficulties in dealing with women, particularly politically powerful women.
Jiminy, as Idaho Senator Larry Craig would say, where to start? Uh, let's just go down the list making brief, yet still inane, comments about each of these items.

Alberto Gonzalez: Just like with Karl Rove, the long-awaited euphoria of the U.S. Attorney General's resignation ended up very anti-climatic. I can't remember a real G.W. Bush Administration resignation that really reached euphoria levels since Donald Rumsfeld, and I think this Administration owes us something and it might as well be euphoria. So I'm holding out for VP Cheney to quit before Friday at 5:00 P.M. Let's go into a three-day weekend with some big-time euphoria to experience. I promise I'll host a party if Cheney quits, and I loathe hosting parties.

Larry Craig: I'm certain some bloggers and "analysts" out there are probably making the case that sexual repression is so central to Republicanism circa-2007 that it might as well be a plank in the GOP platform in '08. Far be it for Burque Babble to assert something like that. That would be a level of psychological analysis far beyond the scope of your humble blogger, and a cheap shot. But Jiminy Jesus H. Not Gay Christ! How much self-loathing can one political party have? Yes, Democrats have a wide array of losers, miscreants and ne'er-do-wells, but the GOP has just about cornered the market these days on Kevlar-closeted gay guys who take the perfectly okay act of gay sex and twist it and themselves into seedy bathroom stalls hookups. And no, I wouldn't care about this nearly as much if these Kevlar-closet guys weren't the same exact politicians calling for things like a "Sanctity of Marriage Amendment" and banning gay marriage. Get some therapy guys, and stop telling everybody else what to do.

Albuquerque Tribune: One nice thing about writing about stuff everybody else knows is that I don't need to link to anything. Which is kinda the whole problem with the Tribune and newspapers in general. Links. Video killed the radio star and the combination of large-scale functional illiteracy in the U.S. and the Internet are going to kill off X number of print newspapers (where X = a really big number). I almost ashamed to admit it, but I only read the Trib online, haven't had a hard-copy newspaper in the house for years (even since the quickly piling bulk of Sunday NY Times became too high and unsteady). I feel a bit more ashamed because: 1. the Tribune has been publishing the occasional rant from your humble blogster; 2. I don't know if I would pay for the online version of the Tribune. I think it's pretty much universally agreed that two newspapers are better than one, but the truth is our "universe" is small, and the number of people who really don't give a rat's ass about the world is big. Okay, I'm depressed now...I think I'll go read Or go see some fake news on "The Daily Show". Oh, you're saying there might be a correlation between the rise of fake news and the death of real news coverage? Getouttahere.

Mango and Marty: Johnny Mango over at DCF put out a post this morning about Mayor Marty Chavez. I'm guessing about 95% of Babble readers check out DCF (oh, if only the reverse was true...damn you popular Fix!) and have seen the article, so I won't go over details. Speaking of correlations above, what Mango seeks to do is find a correlation between Marty and his treatment/interactions with women. I've been on the fence about posting a comment to his story in large part because of the Hyper-BlogCommentHell (HBCH) generally experienced at DCF and the 9th level of HBCH going on in response to Mango's story.

If I were to comment (and I might just copy/paste this over there, or not) I would say Mango is making a type of statistical "false positive", i.e. finding someone guilty of a crime they didn't commit. The assertion that FP Marty might have a problem with women is a false positive because Marty has a problem with EVERYBODY HE CANNOT CONTROL, REGARDLESS OF GENDER. The "problem with women" is a red herring, and condemning him for the crime of having trouble working with women a strange false positive. This does not mean he is a nicer person. It really only means that he is an equal opportunity jerk, who treats 100% of the non-compliant population poorly.

Man, alot going on and I haven't even mentioned the fact the Yankees are playing the Red Sox and Angels are going against the Mariners as we get ready for September pennant-race baseball. Sometimes the news just trumps entertainment for its ability to entertain. And that reminds me again about the Tribune. I'm getting depressed again.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Dysfunction Junction, What's Your Uh...Such As South Africa

Living here in the desert provinces, it's easy to get the impression that our local public schools are the beyond-a-doubt worst, most awful, baddest, superbad schools in the world with problems no other school district in the western world faces.

So it's good in a perverse way to read this morning's NYT for a story about the nationwide teacher shortage and how districts are giving bonuses (money is always in good taste) and such to recruit folks, especially in math, science and Special Education. The story is also good for some quotes that should be hung from walls out in the desert provinces to remind ourselves that we're not the only ones with a problem (oh, pshaw merely a quote, let's grab a few hefty paragraphs):

The federal No Child Left Behind law requires schools and districts to put a qualified teacher in every classroom. The law has led districts to focus more seriously on staffing its low-performing schools, educators said, but it does not appear to have helped persuade veteran teachers to continue their service in them.

Tim Daly, president of the New Teacher Project, a group that helps urban districts recruit teachers, said attrition often resulted from chaotic hiring practices, because novice teachers are often assigned at the last moment to positions for which they have not even interviewed. Later, overwhelmed by classroom stress, many leave the field.

Chicago and New York are districts that have invested heavily and worked with teachers unions in recent years to improve hiring and transfer policies, Mr. Daly said.

“But most of the urban districts have no coherent hiring strategy,” he said. Many receive thousands of teacher applications in the spring but leave them unprocessed until principals return from August vacations, when more organized suburban districts have already hired the most-qualified teachers, he said.

“There isn’t any maliciousness in this,” Mr. Daly said, “it’s just a conspiracy of dysfunction.”

In Guilford County (New York), Washington Elementary School, which serves students from a housing project, had churned through several principals and most of its teachers several years ago, and had repeatedly failed to make federal testing goals, said Dr. Grier, the superintendent.

“Teachers were worried it was becoming a failing school,” Dr. Grier said. To rebuild morale, he recruited a principal from Chicago, Grenita Lathan. Her first year at Washington was a nightmare, Ms. Lathan said, because her predecessors had been so panicked to fill classroom vacancies that they had hired “just anybody.”

“All they wanted was warm bodies in the classroom,” she said. At job fairs, qualified teachers she tried to hire shunned her, she said.

And just so you know, the same crappy methods (hiring "just anybody") happens in APS, too. But we're not the only ones! See, it happens in New York, too!

Look at it this way: the teaching profession isn't any better or worse than most every other profession. In other words, it's almost exactly like "The Office". Just as dysfunctional as Steve Carrell and gang; just as cringe-worthy funny if looked at from afar. Up close, you just kinda hang your head and keep plowing forward, listening to that year's sad/funny hiring stories with a mixture of gallows humor and dysfunctional awe.

Or you start really listening to the stories, internalize what they mean and quit the profession.

For some reason, it certainly helps to plow forward reading that other districts are doing things in the same Dunder Mifflin-esque way that your own is.

In a seemingly unrelated note, it's also strangely reassuring as a teacher to view the YouTube video of the South Carolina beauty pageant contestant answering a question about why Americans are so stupid when it comes to geography. In case you haven't seen it, here it is. One strongly gets the impression South Carolina public schools have some problems of their own.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Give Me a H! Give Me An O!

As someone who teaches a "film class", and lives in the new Hollywood that is surely Burque/NM, I read stories like the one about "Kid Nation" with a mixture of bemusement, condescension and old fogey killjoyism..

A story about mistreated "talent" during a movie/TV shoot? Shocking.

You mean being in a movie/TV show isn't just like being thrust into an episode of "Entourage"? I don't believe it.

Are you going so far as to tell me Hollywood can be as soul-crushing and morally vacuous as any other form of prostitution? You got to be kidding me.

And no, I'm not talking about the content of the films/TV shows. I'm talking about the content of the movie/TV show making process. For example, we're supposed to be excited about the following (from a Dan Mayfield story about a rilly big show being shot in town):

"When 'Entertainment Tonight' and 'E!' come out, they'll be here at the studios."

Am I the only one in town who reads something like that and wants to throw one's self into a wood-chipper , "Fargo" style?

You can't spell H-O-L-L-Y-W-O-O-D without H-O. Welcome to glamorous superstardom, Albuquerque.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Elegy, And Thanks, For a "Water Feature"

I could try to give a report on all the hallucinogenic sights and sounds I experienced over the course of a rather strong four-day cold that seems on the wane (and, as a side-effect, seems to have left me with the inability to write a coherent sentence), but really about all I remember is sleeping, groggily staring at various things and more sleeping. I think I went to work a couple of days in there, too.

About the only specific thing I remember is being feverishly splayed on the couch Monday night watching various City Councilors, advocates and opponents ramble on about a "water feature". I remember this being very funny to watch. It might have just been the cold medicine talking, but I still get a big smile on my face just thinking/saying "water feature". Try it yourself: say "water feature" five times fast. Now try to say it like you're a city planning official and you're talking at a City Council meeting and everybody is staring at you and you have to say things like "possible active recreation activities at the water feature could casting".

As mentioned above, I was in a cold/drug fugue state and don't remember the name of the poor CABQ woman who talked about "fly casting", but at least back on the splayed couch of Monday night it was roll off the couch funny to watch/listen to her.

Evidently, not everybody thought it was funny because it looks like there won't be any "fly casting" at a "water feature" installed at Balloon Fiesta Park. Pity. I see the Council voted down the "feature", the Mayor gave up on the "feature" and now we're just left with a big hole in Balloon Fiesta Park that's already been dug for the dear, still-born and now dead, "feature".

Thanks for the memories, "feature". Whenever I have a cold/flu in the future I will think of you, and the joy you brought me on a dark, hallucinogenic night. And special thanks to that unnamed CABQ planning person who talked about "fly casting". I needed a laugh to balm my achy, cough-rattled soul and you were there for me. Big time. Thanks.

And who says city government doesn't do enough to help its citizens.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Summertime....And the Living Is NyQuil

How does it feel to have a cold when it's 97 degrees outside? About the same as it does this early morning, except with more darkness and a higher proportion of mucus to sinus capacity. I'm didn't ask for that information.

Maybe the reason all those faux cops called in faux sick last Friday was that they knew something I didn't, namely that viral/bacterial biological agents were being released by operatives of some obscure terror group called "Middle Schoolers". The faux cops couldn't share this secret intelligence information, as they knew it would blow their cover as ultra-elite members of an elite anti-biological weapons outfit so elite that the CIA doesn't even know it exists. A group so elite and mysterious that nobody could ever tell whether they were faux cops or real cops.

That's one theory, anyway.

Whatever the actual reality, I am a barely walking billboard for NyQuil this fine Monday morning, still on the fence about making it into work on this, only the fifth day of the school year. Can anybody lend me one of those "bubble boy" suits for a day or two? Missing a day during the first few days of a school year is like not bringing guns to a jewelry just doesn't set a good tone. But then there's the chance I am a walking biological agent myself.

Oh, the dilemma. Oh, the mucus.

Have a good Monday everybody, I'll be over here in the corner curled in the fetal position, mucus pooling slowly beneath me. If the faux cops show up today wearing their special elite ninja outfits, remember it was me who said so first.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Wanted: Saturday Morning Anger Management Strategies

Also on Friday, board president Paula Maes, who made the motion to keep the police department status quo, said she had been misunderstood.
She said she actually recommended the adoption of the commission and the superintendent's recommendations to allow officers to carry guns.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph people. I'm taking today, Saturday, off to rub some horses' ears, and vegetate (this working four straight days in a row is murder), but just can't let the above quote pass by without comment. At the same time, I find myself pretty much incapable of comment as I am utterly awestruck by how....oh I'm looking for a word other than stupid...I want to be nicer...but I can't think of one...stupid Board President Maes appears in today's Journal story. It's embarrassing. And the APS faux cops' sick-out is embarrassing. And it's only the first week of school, for Jesus, Mary and Joseph's sake....

I gotta go pet some horses. Otherwise something is getting broken, smashed and thrown through a window here, pronto.

P.S.: Did I mention Maes is the Board President, yet? Can anybody get this woman a "Robert's Rules of Order"?

Friday, August 17, 2007

A Word or Two From Your Poor Relatives Down In the South Valley

"Conditions at the (West Side) animal shelter are more comfortable than they are at Ernie Pyle school," she said.

That a good line in this morning's Journal from a woman named Kirbye Davis, who according to the article "has been monitoring the conditions at Ernie Pyle for several years". It seems that Ernie Pyle Middle School, smack dab in the heart of the South Valley, has regularly/perpetually broken or near-broken evaporative coolers due to the fact they are so old that

"when a (cooling) motor breaks down, replacement parts have to be manufactured at a commercial machine shop."

This according to APS Maintenance and Operations (the famous/infamous "M&O") Director John Dufay. The story then cites about 10 other horrific infrastructural problems at Ernie Pyle, problems that don't seem to be going away any time soon (i.e., fixed anytime this decade or possibly next).

The article goes on to mention that at Georgia O'Keeffe Elementary, well-ensconced in the far Northeast Heights,
"maintenance crews spent Thursday replacing motors for air conditioning units, but the problem had been fixed by Thursday afternoon" (emphasis mine).

No, I do not mean to imply from this that well-ensconced NE Heights schools get better infrastructural service than South Valley schools. I'm sure Andrea Schoellkopf's story in the Journal doesn't mean to imply that either. Still, as a South Valley resident (and I apologize for constantly mentioning this), it's hard not to repeatedly infer from news reports and reality in general that we "just don't get nice things" quite as regularly as other parts of town.

Which, of course, gets me to this year's version of the annual "South Valley should be its own city" story I ran across on KRQE-TV yesterday afternoon. If you read the linked text version of the story, you get this really funny line in reference to whether SV folks think ABQ secession is a good idea, namely:

"Many residents there certainly think so."

I can almost see my old social science statistics professor's head explode when reading sentences like "many residents there certainly think so". One wonders, as my old professor always did, what the "sample size" and "question construction" employed by the KRQE reporter was to come up with that tasty assertion.

I digress and nitpick (always a bad combination). But something needs to be done to address the easily defensible contention that the South Valley gets the short end of the "nice things" stick 'round these parts. Maybe instead of splitting up APS and/or making the South Valley a city (fiefdom, principality, province, whatever), we SVers should just do a better job of twisting the arms of the existing political entities to get what we want and need. That is, if we could only agree on what it is we want and need. Splitting off from APS/ABQ might prove to show we're not nearly as unified as "many residents there certainly think so" might imply.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Does Humor Belong In Blogging?

An ABQ Ride Prologue: Before I get to the Frankness below, those few interested in matters ABQ Ride might enjoy, if that's the right word, this post about another ABQ bus experience and some resulting aftermath. Now on to Zappa...

There once was a deeply driven man who used sophomoric humor as a tool to sell his profound 20th century musical compositions at a time in which few profound musical compositions were being created.

That man's name was Frank Zappa.

Then the man died, but only after taking on many political and religious folks over whether he and others had a right to use sophomoric humor and naughty words in their music.

If I were one to have idols, false or otherwise, Frank Zappa would be one of them, even though I don't care much for sophomoric humor myself (well, most of the time). One of Zappa's buttload of records is entitled "Does Humor Belong In Music?" Of course Zappa was asking the question rhetorically, as if it one would have to be nuts to think humor doesn't belong in music or any art form. This is perhaps the biggest reason Zappa would be an idol of mine if I had idols, false or otherwise.

Humor is really, really, really important if you ask me, although I'd rather you didn't ask because the only thing worse than not having "a sense of humor" is talking about how important humor is and "what makes something funny".

As you probably already figured out, I bring all this up because Frank Zappa's son, Dweezil, is leading a touring band which is making a stop in 'Burque tonight, and I'm going to the show. It will be the first large venue concert show I've seen in almost five years. It will be the first time I've seen/heard Zappa's music performed live in almost 30 years. I guess those two facts only go to show that I'm getting old, but I prefer to think they illustrate how much Zappa's music (and his "philosophy") mean to me.

Hope to see you at the show tonight. I'll be the middle-aged guy with a goatee. I should be easy to spot, as only about 98% of the crowd will be male, middle-aged and have goatees. What musical, philosophical rebels we are.

P.S.: Today's Tribune should have one of my periodic "opinion columns" (they run every 1st and 3rd Wednesday, in case you're wondering). I apologize in advance for the column's lack of humor, but ABQ Ride is one of those organizations that doesn't kickstart much in the way of funny ha-has from me. Perhaps those who have ridden the city bus in 'Burque understand why, while I strongly suggest those who have never taken the city bus here to give it a whirl. I think you'll find it fascinating, if not necessarily funny.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Retreating Into The Pre-Dawn Routine

The exhibition season of teacher meetings and registration is over, and now it's opening day for schooling. Given that it's: A. totally dark outside; B. I'm 9/10ths asleep; C. I'm still hanging on to my commitment to take public transport extensively this year (thus, forced to leave about an half hour earlier every morning) I'm not so sure much in the way of insightful blog prose is gonna happen in these morning posts. Okay, I'm sure...nothing insightful is even remotely going on here, especially this morning.

I did happen to run across the Andrea Schoellkopf story in this morning's paper entitled Prosecutors Get Word that Tapia Failed Drug Test, no wait wrong story, entitled Vendors Pay Tab For APS Brass and it's good to see Monica Armenta already earning her money explaining why APS does the things it does. As to the heart of the matter, whether APS big-wigs should have retreats in Ruidoso funded by corporate sponsors who happen to regularly receive APS contracts...I'm too asleep to have a real opinion about it.

I will say this, the mere mention of the word "retreat" makes my skin crawl. A corporate sponsor would have to pay me tons of money to go hang out with a bunch of co-workers at some hotel conference room talking about our supposed "Vision Statement". Not to mention our "Mission Statement" (and yes, your humble blogger was once at a "retreat" of sorts at which the nuances of whether an inelegantly constructed complex/compound sentence featuring phrases like "continuous improvement" and "service delivery" constituted a "Mission Statement" or a "Vision Statement").

So with my sleepy eyes focused on the horror of the word "retreat" I kinda skipped over the whole concept of having a problem with Pepsi paying the Tab (get it, Tab? obscure soft-drink reference? okay, I must be waking up and that might not be a good thing).

I did notice Armenta's quote (and I must tell you that I am much looking forward to quoting/referring/opining re: Ms. Armenta in the coming months) in response to Schoellkopf's setup sentence of "Armenta criticized criticism of the conference", namely:

"At some point, the public's got to decide whether principals and administrators are really valued as much (as other professions)," she said. "Our pool is getting smaller and smaller, and these people are some of the most educated in the community ... It's a double message constantly."

Which sounds just like my Mom back in the day when she would look around our trashed out trailer home in the North Texas prairie and ask rhetorically: "Why can't we have nice things?" I never could answer my mom on this point, and don't really have one in response to Ms. Armenta's this early, early, early morning.

Lastly, I do notice that blogger, gadfly and all-around critic-about-town Charles MacQuigg gets quoted in this story, and wonder if this might mean Mr. MacQuigg might be on his way to a position of formal punditry here, a sort of anti-Monica Armenta entity if you will. I say we get both of them together on various media stages around town....that would make for some interesting TV on KNME's "The Line" for instance. Deviously interesting, perhaps.

Alright, morning has broken, like the first morning of the school year, it's showtime folks.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Strange Bedfellows and NCLB

Came across a guest column by Michael DeWitte, chariman of the "NM Business Roundtable for Educational Excellence" (yeah, the business thing with Chamber Honcha Terri Cole on it), in today's Journal (online) and found a paragraph that had me agreeing with an entity that would have Terri Cole as a member. Trust me, that doesn't happen often.

Anyway, here's the quote:

Students whose cognitive abilities do not match their chronological age are stressed and frustrated by having to take tests that, through no fault of their own or of their teachers, they cannot pass. The way in which assessments are administered to students with disabilities and the grade level at which students are assessed should be driven by the student's Individualized Education Plan, as required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The percentage of students with disabilities allowed to take alternate assessments should be increased and driven by the number of students in a district that qualify as opposed to an artificial "cap."

Yeah, too many euphemisms, and an obvious attempt to avoid using the words "Special Education" at all costs, but the bottom line is that the "NM Business Roundtable for Educational Excellence" doesn't think many SpEd kids should be taking the exact same standardized test that "Regular Ed" kids do. I agree. And if I agree with an entity in which Terri Cole exists, then not only must there be a sizable rip in the space/time continuum, but there must be a ton of people who think the same way.

So let's get this done. Raise the proficiency standard for "Regular Ed" kids from its current pathetically low percentage, and give "SpEd" kids a different test, one that they have a chance to succeed upon. Do it for the kids. Do it for Terri Cole. Do it so I don't throw my laptop, wardrobe and whatever else I can find out the window in righteous anger.

P.S. Then there are "English Language Learners", about which the DeWitte of the "Business Roundtable" says:

English-language learner programs are severely underfunded and under-supported. NCLB has no provisions for students to be tested in mathematics with assessments in their home language, which means these students are tested with an English-language math assessment. This greatly handicaps non-English speakers who may understand the mathematical concepts but have limited fluency in English.

Man, this is freaking me out. I agree with that sentiment as well. Maybe I should change my voter registration to Republican, buy a Hummer and get some Mitt Romney bumper stickers. At this point, I'd almost promise to do all that if we'd just blow-up NCLB and start over with ideas like those expressed above. Now I have to go watch some golf on TV.

Friday, August 10, 2007

When Political Parties Apologize, You Win

A while back I posted a little something about my experience calling the Democratic Party of NM office. In the highly probable case that you missed it, you can click the link or simply read the Executive Summary: it was a bad experience.

Well, yesterday I received the following as a comment to that blog posting. I paste it here in toto, as it was a comment and not a direct email to me. To wit....

Dear Frannyzoo,

I am sorry for the delay in posting this comment. I would have preferred to be timelier, but your post was only recently brought to my attention.

Please let me provide an unequivocal apology. My name is Brian Colon and I am chairman of the Democratic Party of New Mexico and the behavior you described on your post is 100% unacceptable. Indeed the response you received to your inquiry was all the negative things you said it was.

That being said, I am confident you spoke to a volunteer who was trying to invest time in the Party in order to be helpful. Based on your post, I will be implementing a more formal policy about who answers and/or returns calls to the DPNM HQs.

Thank you for expressing your justified frustration and disappointment. We will work hard to do better in the future. If you would like to contact me directly, I would be happy to take your call.

Best regards,
Brian Colon

Now it's very simple and typical to go directly to CynicLand here, and dismiss such a reply as an empty gesture. It's hard not to do that when it comes to politics and those who practice it. At least it is for me. But I'm truly a bit encouraged right now to receive such a post. Personally, I accept Mr. Colon's apology and wonder if maybe things won't truly be handled a bit differently 'round these parts, at least in the near term future when it comes to this kind of stuff.

I know some readers may be saying to themselves: "Okay, is Scot being sarcastic?" No, I'm not. I can't say I'm heartily drinking the Democratic Party Kool-Aid or anything, but I'm just sittin' here thinkin' about what it all means, and posting the story/reply as something for y'all to contemplate as well this fine Friday.

In case you're interested, I still have that Voter Registration Change Form sitting on my desk, as yet uncompleted. I'm gonna sits and think for a spell this weekend and figure out what to do there. And no, I don' t have a clue as to why I suddenly started writing with a Southern accent this morning. I'm sure my more Jungian readers can explain that to me in some depth, and are encouraged to do so.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Media Comfort Food And Coffee To-Go

Last week our "look, a shiny object!" impetuous, over-saturated media story was about a collapsed bridge. This week, we get trapped miners. Next week I'm guessing "first major hurricane of season" or the beginning of "Alex Rodriguez chases Bonds HR record" if nothing blows up or blows into the country.

Anything but Iraq. We're fatigued about that, quite obviously. One wonders how fatigued the people of Iraq are about Iraq at this point.

Meanwhile, speaking of fatigue, I'm sitting in the dark, blearily typing with one hand while ingesting coffee at high-speed using the other. Thanks to the reader who mentioned the "caffeinated soap". That would mean faster typing (for many reasons) and I love the idea of turning a bath into a multitasking experience. The adjustment from life of summer leisure to life of schoolyear high-speed coffee ingestion in the dark continues.

And speaking of trapped miners, it's interesting to note (at least to me) that unlike last week's over-saturated bridge story and its concomitant "We've got to fix all the bridges!" stories/action, no one is writing or suggesting that "We've got to stop using coal!" or "We've got to expand solar/wind and maybe even nuclear energy development!" No, it's just too bad about those miners, and how fast can that drill go in and save 'em, and maybe this story can hold on until the hurricane kicks up in the Atlantic.

Oh well, back to the high-speed ingestion Look, a pink VW Beetle!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Whaddya Mean, "Wake Up At 5:45"?

With my first day back to work tomorrow, your humble blogger undertakes a "dry run" today and gets up far earlier than has been his custom. Report: the outside world is prettier at this time of day, but the coffee doesn't seem to be working.

Despite my bleary-eyed lack of wakefulness, I was all set to plunge, delve, and muck about more deeply into the recently released standardized test scores, but notice the subgroup specifics aren't out yet. I'm sure readers are devastated that your humble blogger's penetrating analysis has, therefore, been delayed as well. If I'm mistaken, someone please hip me as to where to find these figures. From looking around, it would appear those numbers didn't appear last year until September 15th. Now that I think about it, I believe I remember griping about that fact back then. But with this waking up so early my brain is even more unreliable than normal. That's quite unreliable.

Meanwhile, the APS website is even lousier than I remember it being. For instance, check out the Research, Development & Accountability (RDA) page. Better yet, don't check it out, unless you want to read through documents like:

Web-Based Assessment Data Collection: Using User-Centered Design and Agile Programming Methodologies to Ensure Usability and User Buy-In

which are featured at the top of the RDA site, while no mention of any 2007 test scores can be found, anywhere. By the way, I seriously doubt that APS or anyone has a copyright on

Web-Based Assessment Data Collection: Using User-Centered Design and Agile Programming Methodologies to Ensure Usability and User Buy-In

thus making this title available for use in your next Master's Thesis, explanation of sexual topics with your small children, and excuses to spouses about your whereabouts. "Honey, the truth of the matter is that last Friday night I was doing some:

Web-Based Assessment Data Collection: Using User-Centered Design and Agile Programming Methodologies to Ensure Usability and User Buy-In

(end quote)

Okay, time for another pot of French Roast. Does anybody know of a socially acceptable drug stronger than coffee, but without the deleterious effects of meth? I'm just asking, as they say.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Fun With AYP Numbers: 2007 APS Edition, Volume #1

Okay, after a wee bit of digging on this second to last day of summer vacation for us APS teachers (most of us, anyway), I come up with the following:

As per the Journal story on test scores, 82 of 127 APS did not reach "AYP" (Annual Yearly Progress) this past year. That's 64 percent (actually 64.5, and the Journal rounded down incorrectly, but who's counting?), as stated in the article.

After going through the APS per-school reports*, I find that of the 82 schools that didn't make AYP:

21 of the 82 (25.6%) made AYP in every area EXCEPT "Students with Disabilities"

8 of the 82 (9.76%) made AYP in every area EXCEPT "English Language Learners"

16 of the 82 (19.5%) made AYP in all areas EXCEPT both "Students with Disabilities" and "English Language Learners"

So.......combining those three categories:

45 of the 82 failing APS schools (54.9%) made AYP overall, but are considered to be failing due to one of the three categories above.

If one were to take those 45 schools and move them to the "passing" column, overall APS figures would show that 90 of the 127 District schools ( 70.9%) made AYP. Conversely, that means only 37 of 127 (29.1%) did not achieve AYP overall.

Of course these disaggregations of the data are fraught with questions both statistical and philosophical. I'll leave those questions alone for now, and just roll the numbers around in the old noggin. Anyone wishing to fill in some thoughts, assumptions, inferences about these and other AYP numbers are certainly invited to chime in here.

*Note: I overlooked the specialty schools (e.g., New Futures) in my own count, as these schools typically don't have sufficient numbers of subgroup (e.g. "students with disabilities") test-takers to statistically qualify for subgroup calculation. I'm pretty sure the Journal story includes them in the overall figures, however.

Tanned, Rested and Ready

Actually, I'm pasty and somewhat exhausted after spending a weekend in a certain American city known for its extreme laxity concerning social mores and extensive mob control. And no, I'm not talking about Santa Fe.

In short, I spent a long weekend in Vegas playing an obscure form of fantasy baseball across the hall from the "International Belly Dancing Convention".

There a longer form of the story, but I think I'll hold onto that one for a bit while I process and leave you, dear reader, with a case of the "huh, Scot did what?"

The upshot is that despite my pasty, somewhat exhausted outward appearance, I really am jazzed about the school year. The time for visiting a wide gulf in cultures (Mayan villagers in the Guatemalan Highlands, barflies in Culver City, California, black bear family members in the Coloradan South San Juans, obviously mob-connected denizens of the Las Vegas Strip) is over. Now is the time to re-enter the twisted atmosphere of Albuquerque Public Schools, the anti-logic of Special Education, and the bewildering & strangely compelling mind of the middle-schooler.

Meanwhile, I see I missed a bunch of stuff, including the release of standardized test scores. And a bridge fell down. And a certain jerk hit a home run, and another guy everyone feels is a jerk just because he makes $252 million over 10 years hit one, too.

I thought I was going to have 'Net access over the weekend, but evidently the mob-controlled hotels of Vegas feel it is better to force their more geeky guests out of their rooms via outrageously expensive wireless access charges. I hope to catch up on a few things shortly, including the test scores.

For now, I just need to mainline coffee and stand in the New Mexico sun for a while. I'll be back to normal soon. I better be; our first day of mind-numbing school "in-service" meetings starts on Wednesday and registration is Thursday. Better go put on another pot of coffee.