Currently Browsing: New York Education

Great Links Curriculum for Tuesday, November 18

If you aren’t already following me on Twitter, you ought to start. I link to and comment on education stories ’round the clock.

And if you’re new to Twitter or aren’t sure how to get started, check out TwiTip’s 10 Easy Steps for Twitter Beginners. Give it a whirl!

Now for the Great Links… and some real stinkers that also deserve attention.

Via EIA, Andrew Sullivan and Michelle Rheetwo peas in a pod? Believe it or not, yes. I suppose even Sullivan gets to be sensible every once in a while. Blind squirrel, broken clock, etc. etc.

There aren’t too many men teaching K-12, reports Eduflack. In MA, fewer than 25% of K-12 teachers are men. And it’s everywhere, too – in April 2007 I wrote a post about male elementary teachers in NY dropping to 9%, a 40-year low. Some folks like MenTeach have been trying to raise awareness for a while now. Check them out and subscribe.

Ted Tedesco of Woodbury, Vermont is a hero. He’s worked to restore the Pledge of Allegiance in that small school district. The admins’ solution to his request is ridiculous, but at least everyone sees it. That, and a generation of kids in Woodbury knows how important it is to defend their country and their culture. As I wrote in the comments of the Core Knowledge post:

“A few months ago I attended a reunion banquet for a tiny, rural high school that closed shop during the consolidation efforts of the 1950s. Their meeting included the Pledge of Allegiance. When the Pledge came up in the agenda, all of the ~100 in attendance rose – and some with great difficulty, as they were in their 80s and 90s – to recite it.”

You know where I stand on this issue, and there’s a reason why I call the Green Mountain State “The People’s Republic of Vermont.” [Sorry, Jessie.]

Across the pond, here’s why I like the Tories. They’ve got a plan to re-introduce a bit of rigor to GCSEs and A-levels. The GCSEs in particular have been gutted – remember this physics teacher begging the government via petition to return mathematical rigor to secondary physics?

“Hot Boys”? I’d prefer that EdSector’s Quick and the Ed bloggers had a bit more self-respect. I already have trouble taking them seriously – these post titles don’t help.

Schools suing bloggers? You betcha. PRO on HCPS links to a libel case against an unhappy parent. Well, if “libel” means “a school district seething when held accountable by the public.” Guess who won? [UPDATE: PRO on HCPS gives us a better link for schools suing bloggers.]

Litigation is expensive when you’re trying to fire a teacher, administrator or school employee. In nearby Utica, NY, Craig Fehlhaber’s hearings have cost the Utica City Schools $250,000 – and counting. If Fehlhaber wins, the district will likely have to reimburse his attorney’s fees as well. We went through the same process in Cooperstown several years ago. If you ever wondered why schools tend not to dismiss bad employees, now you’ve got one reason.

Dave at ‘Friends of Dave’ – a very sharp blog, subscribe with all deliberate speed – highlights some recent irony in California. The California Association of School Business Officers have a conference at which they’ll discuss our tough economic times and how their districts can cope. And that conference is at a hotel/spa/golf course in Newport Beach. Dave has a sensible take on it all, but c’mon, CASBO. He says, “It is a bit ironic that the people who are typically the ones telling their co-workers that they can’t have an extra ream of paper are the ones having a really nice time at a Hotel and Spa on the beach.” Agreed.

Victory in Iraq Day – November 22, 2008. ZombieTime has declared 11/22/08 VI Day and I’m with him 100%. Read his post to see why it’s appropriate to declare VI Day and you’ll see why I support it, too.

“Building a GREAT teaching workforce,” described by American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence’s Dave Saba. Saba/ABCTE sing the praises – rightly – of a new report on the effectiveness of alternative certification programs.

Great Links Curriculum, Volume 1 – World Premiere!

Thank God for Google Reader. At this point, I follow ~500 blogs, view ~12,000 items a month [about 85% are education related] and highlight/distribute about 2% of those posts in a host of ways.

And then there’s the education blog…

… and Twitter, an excellent, free PR tool. If you aren’t following me on Twitter already – or using it yourself – sign up for free, check my profile and click follow. There’s always a good conversation to have or a good link to click.

That triumvirate of e-media makes it easy to do a roundup of interesting stuff I’ve read, so give a warm welcome to the world premier of the Great Links Curriculum.

The British are one baby step ahead of us in self-destruction. DailyWritingTips brings us a story from the Telegraph about banning “elitist” and “discriminatory” Latin phrases – like bona fide, vice versa and et cetera. Fancy book larnin’s a 20th century skeel, it seems.

“Why Parents Get Angry When They Learn the Truth,” from Motel Special Ed.

“Quantifying Greatness” - Greg Forster debunks an unfounded gripe about the Great Books.

Exhibit 1036a: Perfect example why normal people don’t take educrats seriously, courtesy of Salon. Really, that diagram could be drawn for just about any topic on Earth.

The Carnival of Education is up at the Core Knowledge Blog. This Carnival’s scripting took some real effort – well done.

Flypaper with some sober common sense. Want to retain great teachers? Remove the bad ones.

Obama celebrated in the World of Warcraft? Good Lord, there are so many factual errors in this testimony as to make me want to call the poor kid out. We’ll see.

Having solved every problem in New York public education, the State Education Department decided to buy a ton of fruits and vegetables.

Racial taunts in class for supporting John McCain? You betcha. This ideological intolerance happens a bit more than people realize, and sometimes – as in this case – it can get ugly.

Really, really, really, really smart to get into law school? George Leef at Phi Beta Cons drags that argument back to reality.

Head over to eMailOurMilitary and drop a quick note, even if it’s just a quick thanks.

Bill Gates?!?!? Making curriculum?!?! Relax, mouth-frothers. Ms. Jacobs and Mr. Pondiscio will calm you down.

… and another political candidate in the education world whines while laying bare her ignorance on blogs, media and technology. Advertising, too, I suppose. Well done, Ms. Gallucci of Pinellas County. Perhaps the problem isn’t your makeup or wardrobe, but the woeful inadequacy you bring to the job.

In New York State, the education budget cut spin begins. Give it a day or two, you’ll want to throw money at NYSED just to get this circus to stop.

Why I’m Voting for John Lambert, Jim Seward and Not Bill Magee

I‘m not an evangelical voter, though I’m happy to have any honest discussion about politics. I like information and understanding.

I’m not a secretive voter, either. I don’t mind telling anyone how I vote or why I do it.

As a resident of Otsego County, I’ve got 3 local races to vote on tomorrow:

Otsego County Judge, Jill Ghaleb [D] vs. John Lambert [R]

john lambert

Mr. Lambert turned in an impressive performance last Monday at SUNY Oneonta. Though the Otsego County Judge handles mostly Family Court cases – about 70% are family cases, I think [***please read the addendum below] – a deep knowledge of Surrogate’s and Criminal Courts is necessary. Lambert’s experience as Asst. District Attorney has prepared him will for the job. While Ms. Ghaleb’s familiarity with the Family Court is admirable, it isn’t enough to warrant a 10-year term as Otsego County Judge.

Ghaleb’s speech at the SUNY Oneonta event was weak. I want a clear, confident, knowledgeable judge on the County bench. Mr. Lambert talked to us like a judge. Ms. Ghaleb talked to us like a kindergarten teacher.

My vote for Otsego County Judge is for John Lambert.

*** Mr. Lambert’s campaign sent a brief explanation of the 70% Family Court figure. I could have been more clear, but what’s above does imply that the majority of cases heard by the Judge are Family Court cases. I referred to the number of cases, not the Court’s commitment to those cases.

In short, it stands to reason that several custody hearings are easier than a single murder trial. They explain it this way:

“In your blurb about John, I couldn’t help but see that you mention that Family Court is 70% of the job.  Unfortunately, this statistic is misleading.  Ms. Ghaleb wants us to believe the job is 70% family court, but it’s just not true.  For example, in county court during a given week there may be 5 family court matters.  One a day for the week.  In that same week there could be one trial in criminal court.  That one trial could take the entire week (usually longer).  There are also several steps to a criminal trial that need to take place outside of the court room as well.

So, as far as Ms. Ghaleb’s statistics are concerned,  the above scenario would count as 5 family court cases and 1 criminal court case – While the number of family court cases may show a number at or around 70%, the time it takes to run a single criminal trial is actually much longer.

If Ms. Ghaleb’s numbers were true then Otsego County would probably have its own Family Court Judge like many other surrounding counties.  Also, if the criminal court aspect was less than 15-20%, then Otsego County would not need a full time district attorney and 4 assistants to handle the case load.”

I’d contend that the numbers are true, just that Ms. Ghaleb hasn’t been clear about the meaning of those numbers. I’ve found her commitment to statistics favorable to her to be disingenuous.

111th NY Assembly District, William Magee [D], unopposed

william magee

Though William Magee is running unopposed, I will not vote for him.

I don’t know Assemblyman Magee personally, but he seems like a delightful guy. Unfortunately, Magee could be the posterboy for the philosophy that has turned Central New York into a stale, atrophying wreck.

Check Magee’s questionnaire for the Observer-Dispatch – including his answer of “Yes.” to whether the state Legislature could reduce property tax burdens.

Magee is all over the board philosophically with little for substantial plans. Property tax cuts, yes – school funding from the state? Yes as well, though that tax money has to come from somewhere Magee hasn’t disclosed. He’d like to stop the ‘brain-drain’ but thinks that making New York a “mecca of green” and pushing an ad campaign for hiking and biking will do the trick.

Bill Magee, your platform could be held responsible for 111th District New Yorkers under the age of 35 being damned miserable. I don’t care that you’re unopposed – I won’t give you a vote. It might not be your fault personally, but what you stand for is a problem.

And if I’d known sooner that the Republicans didn’t have a candidate to run against you, I would’ve run against you myself. I thank Assemblyman Magee for his many years of service, but I’d like to see him move along in 2010.

My vote for the 111th NY Assembly District is for no one, despite William Magee running unopposed.

51st NY Senate District, Jim Seward [R] vs. Don Barber [D]

james seward

I attended the 90 minute Seward/Barber debate in Oneonta last Monday. It was a clear victory for Jim Seward, who is one of the finest, most benevolent politicians in New York State. I think if Seward moved to Park Slope, even those folks would drop their arugula and pick up an “Another Family for Seward” sign.

Don Barber comes off as a sneaky, dishonest leftist – not to be confused with a liberal. As I wrote about Barber’s school funding ideas, he’s comfortable with a bait’n'switch on taxes and state healthcare.

I like openness and honesty, and it’s why Barber received the lowest grade [D+] of any profiled candidates who submitted an answer.

I sincerely believe what Barber says about wanting universal healthcare for New Yorkers, and in a way, this race will gauge the 51st District’s interest in and support for that issue. Barber does not, however, address the issue honestly in terms of how the fiscal ramifications will impact New Yorkers.

Seward has exercised excellent judgment during his tenure and has balanced well the interests of our District’s businesses and citizens. Seward is responsible, responsive and has progressive ideas for how to keep Central New York’s talented younger generation in New York – like tax credits to forgive student loans over a 10-year period for those who take up residence. I can’t imagine where Central New York would be right now if it wasn’t for the work of Seward and friends.

In this case, I want more of the same – not a shifty leftist bent on bankrupting our businesses to fulfill the agenda of the Democratic party’s social engineers.

My vote for the 51st NY Senate District is for Jim Seward.

Why I’m Voting for Richard Hanna and John McCain

I‘m not an evangelical voter, though I’m happy to have any honest discussion about politics. I like information and understanding.

I’m not a secretive voter, either. I don’t mind telling anyone how I vote or why I do it.

There are two races on which I’ll vote tomorrow that have national significance:

House of Representatives, 24th District, Michael Arcuri [D] vs. Richard Hanna [R]

richard hanna

Richard Hanna is a breath of fresh air in Central New York. He’s a businessman, not a career politician. If he’s not silver-tongued like his opponent, it’s to his credit. I’ll take a genuine guy over a weasel of a politician any day.

Michael Arcuri is a shill for his party – he’s a Blue Dog on paper only. As late as September, over 80% of his campaign contributions had come from outside our district. Arcuri serves his party nationwide and in Washington more than he serves the 24th Congressional District. They might love him for it. I don’t.

Richard Hanna didn’t have $5,000/plate breakfasts held hundreds of miles from his district. If he’s a shill, it’s for people in Upstate New York – and that’s exactly the type of shill I want.

Their stances on the large, looming national issues are fairly predictable given their respective parties. They did differ a great deal on education funding, as I wrote last week, and on their understanding of public education. Hanna not only gets how we deliver, monitor and improve public education, but he understands how it relates to that ‘brain-drain’ we’ve got in Upstate NY.

After two years of Michael Arcuri’s impotent representation, Richard Hanna is a welcome alternative.

My vote for the 24th Congressional District of New York is for Richard Hanna.

President of the United States, John McCain [R] vs. Barack Obama [D]

john mccain, young

I’m a simple guy. The government’s got two main functions: to keep me safe and to stay out of my way. Senator John McCain will be better than his opponent at both.

My vote for the President of the United States is for John McCain.

Farewell, New York State Education Commissioner Richard Mills

richard mills, education commission of NY

Richard P. Mills has served as New York State’s Education Commissioner for 13+ years. Today he notified the Board of Regents that he’s stepping down in June, 2009:

“Mills continued, “There is no better time for a transfer of leadership than when an organization is strong and the building blocks for the future are in place. I am confident that my successor will find an agency of strength with a compelling agenda for the future.”"

Mills’ tenure has been as unremarkable as the press release. Standard stuff, nothing incredible, nothing awful.

Richard P. Mills is the Tim Wakefield of education. 4th starter, a few flashes of brilliance, a few meltdowns, fairly inexpensive and predictable. 178 Wins, 157 Losses, 4.32 ERA.

On a personal note, Commissioner Mills’ early work on Regents passing grades introduced me to the phrase “Raising the bar by lowering the floor.”

Who’s next? We’ll wait and see. It’s a little early for that.

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