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The Good, The Bad and The Ugly in the Education Blogosphere

If you’ve got 5 minutes, check out the video of the wildly entertaining Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain performing the theme song from the Sergio Leone classic “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.” The first minute is slow, but it picks up. It’s a must-watch [as is this medley which starts with Handel and works into The Eagles, Sinatra and more].

That triad of Blondie, Angel Eyes and Tuco is an awfully fitting taxonomy for the weekly goings-on in the education blogosphere…

blondie, the good

  • Ed in ’08 has finally progressed from their ineffectual “Rock the Vote!”-style participation rhetoric by highlighting the documentary 2 Million Minutes on their homepage. As I’ve written in the past, 2MM is a serious look at how we go about secondary education – and education in general – in the United States as compared to India and China. If you haven’t yet seen the trailer, there’s a link right on the Ed in ’08 homepage – I encourage every education blogger to look into 2MM and request a screening in your area.

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  • The Online Education Database [OEDb] has released their rankings of online education programs. They factored in acceptance rate, financial aid, graduation rate, peer Web citations, retention rate, scholarly citations, student-faculty ratio, and years accredited. The overall score is used to rank each college by its average ranking for each metric for which data was available. In their words, “We think more transparency is a good thing; a set of objective, quantitative rankings — however imperfect — should help shed some light on the relative attractiveness of the most popular accredited online colleges.” This is an excellent first step toward separating the legitimate opportunities for online degrees from the pretenders – and worse, the diploma mills – that weigh down the industry.

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  • Congratulations to Darren of Right on the Left Coast for his 3rd year blogging anniversary. Congratulations are also in order for D-Ed Reckoning, who not only relayed some fine anecdotes about his 15-year history with the internet [$22/hour for CompuServe use?] but also managed to draw ire from Alexander Russo. How dare you suggest that you’ve been reading a seminal education blog longer than that Perez Hilton of the education blogosphere, Mr. DeRosa? You should know your place.

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angel eyes, the bad

  • The Houston Chronical’s School Zone blog is usually fairly good, but they really blew it this week when they posted, “Fried Chicken for MLK?” HISD’s menu, in tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr., included fried chicken. School Zone presented the situation as if a lineup of mammies in blackface gleefully slopped the stereotypical food on the tykes’ plates – but that isn’t even close to the truth. A look at the menu shows that not only was the fried chicken served along with hamburgers and a rancher salad, it wasn’t even headlining the list. Also, the MLK, Jr. Center of Atlanta confirmed that fried chicken was his favorite meal [along with General Lee and many, many others, I might add]. School Zone’s source for internal commentary on the issue? Gayle Fallon, President of the Houston Federation of Teachers. Grow up, School Zone – and specifically the author of this post, Jennifer Radcliffe. Leading with tendentious headlines – then burying the relevant facts in paragraph 4 – is shoddy, race-baiting journalism.

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  • The Hillsborough County School District [Florida] has embraced grade inflation of the highest order – it’s all a curve on the District-level exams. One of the most harmful effects is that the curve essentially pits classes from one school against others. You don’t have to know everything, you just have to beat those dummies over at [insert underperforming school's name]. This is quite likely to mask troubles with this year’s scheduling change that forces teachers to instruct in 6 out of 7 periods – no more planning. Not only has HCSD emasculated the purpose of an exam – an exam being the certification of knowledge – but it’s succeeded in clouding real analysis of its personnel decisions. The Wall sums up the relevant concerns.

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  • The Education schools fail. It’s old hat by now, but Jay P. Greene and Catherine Shock’s pithy City Journal article on the prevelance of “multicultural” courses in education schools relative to math courses is worth a read. From the text: “The average ed school, we found, has a multiculturalism-to-math ratio of 1.82, meaning that it offers 82 percent more courses featuring social goals than featuring math.” Skoolboy’s got it wrong and Sherman Dorn misses the point.

tuco, the ugly

Horn’s latest post, “Unending War Relies on Steady Supply of Dropouts and Pushouts,” plays that tired, offensive reel that our armed forces are populated by hopeless, talentless, dumber-than-dirt dropouts who have chosen the military in lieu of a life in the gutter:

“These youngsters today have failed to make it in the testing factories we call schools, and recruiters, armed with these kids’ school data (NCLB mandates it), have an unending supply of hot leads.

What would that recruiting poster look like–an army one group of dropouts and pushouts who can still contribute to the America’s world class military economy. Sign your body up today!” [emphasis added]

Sign your body up today, you mindless, ignorant rubes! Horn thinks you’re only good for stopping bullets in Chimpy McHalliburton’s never-ending quest to trade Blood for Oil.

I asked one of those animalistic, Morlockian subhumans currently serving in the Army about Horn’s post. After all, he fits Horn’s stereotype well: after graduating from a rural public school in the US, he went to college in Canada [that cesspool of Re-thug-lican, flag-waving, Toby Keith-loving trash, correct?] where he graduated in just 3 years with a double major in international relations and history. A year after earning that degree, he joined up with the US Army – not that he had a choice, being one of those dropout/pushout sacks of garbage that Horn so pities.

He says about Horn’s piece:

Horn’s post is not only factually wrong but deeply offensive. I invite him to visit any major military post and converse with those whom he terms, “poor, brown and black” soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen. He will find young men and women who are passionate about their country, concerned with what is morally right and who seek to improve themselves through their service. - A 2nd Lieutenant, United States Army Infantry

He’d likely decline that invitation, Lieutenant – unless, of course, you asked him to come and enlighten you.

Almost as charming is Sunday’s post that pays tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy. Well, for a sentence – then he takes a shot at George W. Bush. Titled “Tomorrow”:

we can celebrate the life and contributions of a great man, Dr. King

and

we can mark the first day in the last year of the worst President in all of our American history.

Sheesh, and Mr. Downes thought I abused Edmund Hillary’s legacy to make a “cheap political point.”

Why do I have a sneaking suspicion that Horn wrote one of today’s Onion Radio pieces, “Uneducated Outbreeding Intelligentsia Two-to-One” unaware that it’s a satire publication?

Monmouth University should be ashamed of itself for employing Horn, though they surely aren’t. And to Horn, I’ll say what George Patton would say if he were alive today:

You’re one lowlife son of a bitch, Jim.

7 Responses to “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly in the Education Blogosphere”

  1. eloquentmind says:

    Have you heard about the midterm “curves” in Hillsborough County Schools? They were done without notifying teachers, parents, and students in order to make it look like the new 6/7 schedule is beneficial to students. The English exam called an 80 an A, a physics exam called a D a B… very disturbing all this smoke and mirrors… it deserves your attention… How can we call ourselves a school system with all of the academic fraud?

  2. Hi Matthew! Whew! I’m glad I didn’t make the cut for bad or ugly, and hey, don’t hold back now, ya hear? Make sure you really tell us what you think. :)

    btw, I don’t care what else is on my husband and I always watch Patton everytime it airs. He’s a very interesting historical character.

  3. eloquentmind,

    I’ve gotten an e-mail or two about that situation – I’m trying to figure it out a bit more before writing up a full commentary [if I can get the time]. The curve plan is disturbing and seems to undermine the purpose of testing.

  4. Gary says:

    Matthew,

    Thank you very much for saving my mind from a horrid event.

    That Ukulele Orchestra has officially gotten Renaldo’s “I am your brother,your best friend forever” song out of my head.

    Thank you.

  5. EHT,

    Horn’s comments are inexcusable, so I didn’t – and won’t – excuse them.

  6. Gary,

    What an awful, awful song from what seems to be a delightful guy. I didn’t know that his name was Renaldo… your comment forced me to look it up and watch again on YouTube.

    AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

    Now it’s my turn to bounce that song around my head.

  7. Folks who use the OEDB data base site should be aware that if they search on Google and/or Yahoo, they will find many accredited institutions offering online programs in addition to those listed by OEDB. The better sites list accredited institutions only, but when in doubt, prospective students should always double check accreditation.

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