Friday, January 16, 2009

A Few Educational Odds and Sods With a Musical Kicker

This feeling of moving through cold molasses this morning isn't because of the cold, or my still having a lingering effect of two or having a cold, but the cold shudder that results from my realization that a day of "professional development" awaits. Man do I hate these "In-Service" days. I hate them so much that I feel bad for the "facilitators" who are faced with my negativity toward them. Which makes me guilty. I hate feeling guilty.

And I'm not too fond of feeling lethargic, but here's an observation or two to go into the weekend:

  • Driving home last night listening to 89.1 for the APS School Board candidate forum I had two distinct thoughts: 1. Where do these candidate people come from? Is it another planet where they talk some form of language and breathe oxygen, but have no other similarity to humans whatsoever? 2. The APS School Board has about as much to do with my teaching, classroom and school as the town council in Kiev. and, oh yeah, 3. the strongest argument for appointed school boards is listening to any school board candidate forum. Wow.
  • The Governor and the teacher's union are starting to dig trenches for a battle over funding this legislative session. Thinking back, January is always the time for doom, gloom and calamity thinking when it comes to public education funding. This year will just be the doomiest, gloomiest year ever. Frankly I'd be kinda excited to get some popcorn and pull up a chair to watch the hijinks if it wasn't for the fact that the Governor might steal my popcorn, and the Union would pull the chair out from under me.
  • I'm setting the early line for passage/institution of the new New Mexico education "funding formula". The morning line is: 500/1. Place your bets. Place your bets.
  • After having suffered a long period of dislike for any "indie" record in recent years (the latest Calexico not included), I can report I liked the new A.C. Newman on first listen. I'm sure Mr. Newman and the entire music industry will be heartened/saved by this pronouncement.
  • And finally back to education. With all this talk of belt-tightening, reversal of costly initiatives such as the 181st day and capping kindergarten at 20 kids, why is nobody seriously discussing the reversal of idiotic NCLB-related mandates like the institution of the America's Choice™ Math Navigator 30 minute remediation-in-a-box? I'm sorry to mention this arcane example and run (gotta get ready for the ultra-excitement of "professional development"), but why? Why not just use the Great Depression II as an excuse to say: "Hey Federal Government, we New Mexicans are gonna just use the parts of NCLB we can really afford these days and ditch the rest until the economy improves dramatically and we feel like it. And if you don't like it, we'll just sue the U.S. Department of Education to be absolved of the whole NCLB crapshow, hire a bunch of newbie lawyers to keep filing motion after motion and voila! it's 2011 and nobody gives a damn about that old, washed up No Child Left Behind anyway.
Have a good weekend, everybody. Hope to see you at the MLK march on Sunday. (and yes, the only link I could quickly find was about animal adoption at the march site...anybody gotta better link with details?)


Kelsey Atherton said...

I will have to check out his new album - I really enjoy The Slow Wonder, and hope that is the kind of music I eventually settle into. Not to seize upon the indie rock, but if you are listening to AC Newman on his own and not either Neko Case or the New Pornographers, you totally should be.

Anonymous said...

I was at the forum. There are more than a few of them who deserve a little more respect.

jscotkey said...

Anon: You are completely right. Even in the few minutes I could stand to listen to I heard one or two salient, cogent thoughts. I guess I just tend to focus on the wackier tin-foil hat folks among the candidates.

To the salient, cogent folks I apologize.

Oh, I forgot to mention that this school board election may feature lower than 4% turnout. The tin-foil hat crowd has gotta like those chances.

ched macquigg said...

There are now for candidates, one in each district that promise to lay the truth on the table.

That is a majority, and an whole new direction for the APS.

There were only 50 or 60 non-APS admin at the forum.

This is really a shame.

ched macquigg said...

make that "four" candidates.

Anonymous said...

Frankly I'd be kinda excited to get some popcorn and pull a chair to watch the hijinks if it wasn't for the fact that the Governor might steal my popcorn, and the Union would pull the chair out from under me.

LOL You are just too brilliant. I especially like your take on NCLB!
I mean, education didn't get a bail out, only Winston, thanks to the dead beat incumbents on the board!

steve said...

Well said. The only exception is that I don't see how the Union is pulling the chair out from under you. The problem is the lack of common sense being shown by politicians and the superintendent. The only significant predictor of school achievement remains socio-economic status. No block-schedule (which has no statistical effect on achievement), after-school initiative, or contintuous classroom improvement model seems to be capable of overcoming a lack of resources in a family. Other than indidviduals beating the odds, the one exception to large-scale hubristic efforts that has been shown to have a small but statistically significant effect is reduction in class sizes, which the union has been in support of for years. The governor's solution to the budget shortfall? Raise class sizes. Way to go education governor!

ched macquigg said...

My understanding is that reducing class size doesn't have a statistically measurable effect until you get down to a PTR of 15 to 1. That is never going to happen.

As to SES. This is less of a problem where schools recognize that what ever gets done, is going to get done at school between 8 and 3.

It is more of a problem in schools where the leadership is still saying that they are going to mitigate problems by "getting parents involved".

For as long as people have been promising to solve the problems in education, they have been promising to involve parents.

So far, with no success. Involved parents is the part of the dynamic over which we have the very least influence.

We need to start electing school board members that understand that; and who will start focusing attention on problems that we can ameliorate; like chronically disruptive students.