tripe, n.: something, esp. speech or writing, that is false or worthless; rubbish.

tripe, n.: something, esp. speech or writing, that is false or worthless; rubbish.

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Move America Forward – Contribute to the Largest Care Package Drive in History

Move America Forward is an unprecedented fundraiser to send packages to our soldiers in the Middle East – you can make contributions both small and large.

And I don’t care how much you’re paying for gas – cut something out for a day or two and drop a gift to our troops.

Two men who I knew – neither close friends, but both were men who I’m proud to have known – served in Iraq and are gone. One was killed there, the other after his discharge. Last week I came up with a list of people I knew from high school and college who are serving or have served in Iraq/Afghanistan. It wasn’t a short list.

Since my name isn’t on that list, and yours likely isn’t either, the least we can do is send a few gifts their way to show our love and appreciation.

As I listened to today’s broadcast, the hosts relayed a call from a veteran of the Vietnam War. He said that in 1967, he received a Christmas package from someone unknown – it was a random send – filled with cookies. It was the only Christmas present he got that year, and he’s never forgotten that.

Again, take a minute to throw our guys and gals some gifts. They, like that Vietnam vet, won’t ever forget it.

A live stream of the event, which is loaded with all sorts of personalities, is at HotAir.

marlboro marine

Fisking Jay Mathews on the Global Economy and Education, Part 2: Analyzing Creativity

he'll squawk at your kid's birthday party for $20!

Back to the task at hand.

Fisking Jay Mathews on the Global Economy and Education, Part 1 started a look at the recent debate between Bob Compton, Executive Producer of Two Million Minutes, and the Washington Post’s Jay Mathews.

John at the AFT’s NCLBlog called it a “cablicious babblefest,” which I can only assume is a mashup of “cable” and “-icious.” It sounds better when said aloud than it looks in print.  I like it.

And John is right that the debate left him and others “know[ing] less about the subject than I did before.” That’s what you get when one side [or both, as happens frequently on cable] presents terrible arguments.

Time to pick up where I left off in sorting out Mathews’ Mess.

“In order to get jobs, in order to get effective jobs, you have to be creative.”

I think that by “effective jobs,” Mathews meant to say “high-paying jobs.” If he really meant what he said, then I know a lot of people he’d willingly label as having “ineffective jobs.” If they only knew how useless their lives were!

Here’s a top-20 list of the highest paying jobs in the US [as ranked by BizJournals]:

  1. CEO
  2. Physician/surgeon
  3. Dentist
  4. Lawyer
  5. Aircraft pilots and flight engineer
  6. Engineering Manager
  7. Securities and commodities sales agent
  8. Computer and information systems manager
  9. Marketing and sales manager
  10. Optometrist
  11. Pharmacist
  12. General and operations manager
  13. Natural sciences manager
  14. Computer and information scientist
  15. Financial manager
  16. Computer software engineer
  17. Public relations manager
  18. Announcer [radio/TV]
  19. Purchasing manager
  20. Industrial production manager

Some of these professions, of course, are more creative than others. I want my PR firm to be creative; I want my airline pilot to stick to the protocol he’s given. I want my lawyer to win my case even if it means inventing an untried legal strategy; I want my pharmacist to exercise little creative license in the distribution of my medication.

You get the picture.

These 20 jobs all depend on creativity to an extent. At the least, creativity comes into play on the personnel side. A surgeon might specialize in just a handful of procedures that he repeats, but there’s more to his job in addition to those few hours a week when he’s holding the scalpel [though flawless repetition of procedures and various administrative duties are the meat and potatoes of his success].

But all of these jobs – every single one of them, from 1 to 20 – require the mastery of basic skills, with about half requiring stringent professional certification. You might have all the creativity in the world – and we know that CEOs, lawyers, and financial managers do some wildly creative stuff that reaps professional rewards – but if you’re an aspiring financial manager who can’t process data, you don’t become a financial manager.

You pass Organic Chemistry en route to becoming a surgeon.

You pass a multitude of physics courses en route to becoming a computer software engineer or an engineering manager.

You pass through a host of language/literacy-related training to become a successful marketing/sales manager.

And if you can’t get through the basic training required for each of these “effective jobs,” you never get the job in the first place.

Consider the series of commercials running in the northeast [maybe nationwide, I don't know] for TimeWarner Cable in which several normal people relay their ideas for phone/internet services. They explain the creative ideas they’ve brainstormed – “make the calls less expensive,” or as this YouTube video shows, “I had an idea: video on demand. Movies at the touch of a button.” Well, to the actors’ shagrin, TimeWarner offers those services now, and these folks lament that their idea was stolen.

It’s a 30-second bit of comedy. We see creative types without any means to act on their creativity; we see the company that has successfully produced the same ideas. That creativity means little without a foundation of skills is such an obvious thing that this series of commercials presents it as universal humor that everyone can understand.

Well, almost everyone, it seems.

Creativity can separate the winners from the also-rans, but creativity isn’t what gets you into the race. Creativity has a real impact when it’s on a solid foundation of skills – and little impact without that foundation. Mathews is worried about the proverbial cherry on top; Compton is worried about the rest of the sundae.

The crux of the argument here between Compton and Mathews is about the base skills required to compete in an industry [Compton] and the unique qualities necessary to rule that industry [Mathews]. Mathews is right when he intimates that the next Bill Gates is more likely be an American citizen than an Indian citizen – the odds are with that argument when political and social factors are involved.

But Compton’s next 200 programming hires aren’t likely to be from the United States – he’s not alone here in searching for competent, skilled college graduates and left wanting – and those are the numbers that add up.

Here’s a bit from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s remarks at Harvard a few weeks ago – courtesy of Mathews’ Washington Post. In describing research on the American economic surge of the 1990s, Bernanke said:

“One key finding of that research is that, to have an economic impact, technological innovations must be translated into successful commercial applications. This country’s competitive, market-based system, its flexible capital and labor markets, its tradition of entrepreneurship, and its technological strengths–to which Harvard and other universities make a critical contribution–help ensure that that happens on an ongoing basis.”

Food for thought.

Happy Trails to Columbia’s Madonna Constantine, Race-Baiting Third-Rate Scholar Extraordinaire.

see ya, madonna!

From the NY Sun:

Teachers College at Columbia University is suspending indefinitely Madonna Constantine, a professor who claimed she was the victim of a hate crime after an investigation began into allegations she committed plagiarism.

Check The Bwog for Columbia student reactions. So far there are only two – both of which support her suspension. Bwog comments spread like kudzu, so there will be plenty to read in a couple hours.

Back to the Sun article:

The letter, obtained by The New York Sun from a source at Teachers College, said the faculty advisory committee upheld an 18-month investigation by a Manhattan law firm, Hughes Hubbard & Reed, which found that Ms. Constantine had plagiarized two dozen times works of two former doctoral students and a former colleague.

“During the months since the College levied sanctions against her,” the letter said, “Professor Constantine continued to make accusations of plagiarism, including in at least one instance to the press, against those whose works she had plagiarized.”

When news of the plagiarism investigation became known in February, Ms. Constantine strenuously denied the charges. In addition to saying that it was she who the victim of plagiarism, Ms. Constantine said the school targeted her because of the “structural racism that pervades this institution.”

I guess we’ll see how her appeal goes.

The Sun’s PDF file of the letter to Teachers College faculty is corrupted, so I’ll steal again from Bwog:

madonna constantine, suspended

Remember: back in October 2007, a noose was placed on Constantine’s door. Students and staff rallied against Columbia’s obvious, super-duper racism – and every other -ism, too – and Constantine was the belle of the ball. I thought that TC dealt with it poorly, but that’s another issue.

Now there are doubts about the validity of Constantine’s victimhood. There are suggestions that associates of Constantine placed the noose on her door to distract from the plagiarism investigations.

Oddly enough, her faculty profile on the TC website has no mention of all this news on the ‘In the News’ tab, though an early piece about the noose incident appears. Lots of archived coverage here if you’re interested.

Constantine wrote of her mistreatment in February:

“I am left to wonder whether a White faculty member would have been treated in such a publicly disrespectful and disparaging manner.”

I wonder what statements will come next?

In my opinion, plagiarism is one of the more colorblind offenses – but that’s just me.

And a late answer to Constantine: Columbia may have dealt with you publicly because you accused the entire administration of being motivated by racism without providing any evidence to substantiate your claim.

Just sayin’.



Hear hear!

There’s an ice fishing tournament in Hell tonight.

“Just as attacks on the patriotism of one side or the other of foreign policy debates only raises the level of acrimony and diminishes the substantive discussion, the level of educational policy debate is debased by claims that one or another position does not care about children. It’s time to put it to an end.” [emphasis mine]

- Edwize, the United Federation of Teachers blog

I jest [and will continue to jest a bit], but I do agree with Mr. Casey here even if he, as a UFT leader, is a remarkable hypocrite.

Broken clock right twice a day, blind squirrel and nut, etc. etc., but I’ll take what I can get.

I like fiscal responsibility. I don’t like super-tiny, expensive classes. I don’t like 99% of teachers-to-be in NYS passing their certification exams. I don’t like barely-literate administrators. You get the idea.

The criticism received constantly – so often that the jabs have formed a bit of scar tissue in certain spots – by those of us who vote against bad school budgets is just what Casey describes. We hate kids. Hang’em high, save a buck!

Most of that criticism comes from school administrators and union-sponsored ad campaigns that imply that denying a funding proposal or thinking that whole language sucks = kid hatin’.

And if Casey and anyone else disagrees, watch television in NYS all day during an election season – plenty of folks out there seem to have the cash to run ads “for the children,” which obviously implies that voting against candidate X or proposition Y means that you *aren’t* “for the children.”

You know, it means that you’re against the children. How could you? Don’t you want those little scamps at the Kids Protest Project to stop being so sad?

Guess what, sad kids, Park Slope activist-moms, and third-rate principals within a 200-mile radius of Cooperstown:

I vote against your ill-conceived, irresponsible proposals because I do care about children. I want principals to break 400 on the GRE verbal [!] because I care about children. I argue daily that Web 2.0 ought not be the future of education… because, again, I care about children.

The list goes on.

Like Leo says, it’s time to put the suggestions that I don’t care about kids, or that any opponents don’t care about kids, or that reformers don’t care about kids, to a well-deserved end. It’s a baseless, stupid claim that ignores the reality of our stances.

Good Lord, even Billbo cares about kids. It’s a low bar – I think I’ve only met 2 or 3 people in education who truly, actively, knowingly did not care about children. If those 320-Verbal-GRE principals cared about kids more than they cared about themselves, they wouldn’t go into education at all, but that’s a separate issue of caring.

The real issue here is that caring is largely irrelevant, and that’s what I hope we’d focus on. Good intentions really don’t mean much; one can love something deeply and still hurt it despite all intentions.

Of course, Leo’s suggestion won’t be taken seriously by any of the rank and file in education – and this is regrettable. When September or October hits, I’ll be inundated with ads from NEANY showing starving, crying, motherless kids and begging me to take my jackboot off their little throats.

But at least we tried, Mr. Casey. I agree with you on this one.

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