Weekly Roundup of Testing Resistance and Reform News from FairTest

FairTest

National Center for Fair & Open Testing

TO: Journalists Who Cover Education
FROM: Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director
RE: Testing Resistance & Reform News
DATE: June 24, 2014

What a week!

The impacts of “Testing Resistance & Reform Spring” protests reverberate across the nation with more states suspending testing requirements or pulling out of testing consortia. Bill Gates’ call for a moratorium on some consequences from Common Core exams, quickly implemented by some political allies, reflects another way grassroots power is forcing policy elites to backpedal. To take advantage of this opportunity, parents, educators, students, and community activists need to step up advocacy campaigns to end standardized testing misuse and press for implementation of higher quality performance assessments.

Remember that back issues of these weekly updates are archived at:http://fairtest.org/news — let me know if you want to be added to the regular distribution list

What the Gates Foundation’s Embrace of a High-Stakes Testing Moratorium Really Means

http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2014/06/john_thompson_time_for_a_truce.html

http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2014/06/is_a_high_stakes_moratorium_wo.html

http://radicalscholarship.wordpress.com/2014/06/22/debating-the-gates-moratorium-or-life-among-the-roadbuilders/

http://garyrubinstein.wordpress.com/2014/06/21/gates-foundation-sends-reformers-scrambling/

Plan for Common Core Testing “Fractures” As States Withdraw

http://hechingerreport.org/content/common-common-core-fractures-state-support-falters_16420/

Common Core National Field Tests Had Major, Known Data Security Flaw

http://www.arizonadailyindependent.com/2014/06/16/parcc-field-tests-had-major-data-security-flaws-and-of-course-they-knew-all-about-it/

Bid-Rigging Lawsuit Throws $240Million/Year Common Core Testing Contract Into Limbo

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/06/11/core-business-major-testing-company-pearson-lands-controversial-common-core/

Colorado Parent’s Letter: Fixation on Testing Hurts Local Education

http://www.reporterherald.com/opinion/letters/ci_26020119/focus-testing-hurts-local-education

DC Public Schools Take “Hiatus” From Test-Based Teacher Evaluation

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/dc-public-schools-takes-hiatus-from-test-based-teacher-evaluations-as-city-moves-to-common-core-exams/2014/06/19/184b8b44-f7c2-11e3-8aa9-dad2ec039789_story.html

Supers Question Florida Writing Test Scores

http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/testing/superintendents-voice-strong-doubts-about-fcat-writing-tests/2185177

Florida Teacher Who Decried “Toxic Culture of Education” Now Running for School Board

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/features/blogs/school-zone/os-orange-teacher-toxic-culture–school-board-,0,1357720.post

Turmoil Over Indiana School Testing Continues

http://www.thestarpress.com/article/20140618/OPINION01/306180015/Common-Core-education

Indiana Parents Protest Testing Frequency

http://www.elkharttruth.com/news/schools/2014/06/24/Goshen-schools-questioned-by-parent-group-over-frequency-of-student-tests.html

Louisiana Governor Seeks to Block Common Core Test

http://www.thetowntalk.com/article/20140618/NEWS01/140618007

Common Core Fight in Louisiana Needs Common Sense

http://www.theneworleansadvocate.com/opinion/9505036-171/guest-oped-common-core-doesnt

Massachusetts Super: Adding New Tests Fits the Definition of “Insanity”

http://superintendentlps.blogspot.com/2014/06/insanity-doing-thesame-thing-over-and.html

Debate Over Massachusetts Testing System Ignores Larger Educational Questions

http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/editorials/2014/06/22/debate-over-dueling-test-systems-avoids-larger-education-questions/IgYBduPxOCpPHFLCGhTG3N/story.html#

New Jersey Assembly Votes to Put Brakes on Common Core Testing

http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/14/06/18/assembly-votes-to-put-brakes-on-impact-of-common-core-testing/

New York Educator Union Head Seeks Overhaul of Exam-Score-Based Ratings

http://ny.chalkbeat.org/2014/06/18/nysut-head-getting-rid-of-test-scores-only-a-first-step-toward-evaluation-overhaul/#.U6LVa2OiUng

Common Core Testing Concerns Spur Teacher Evaluation Change

http://www.lohud.com/story/news/politics/albany-watch/2014/06/19/common-core-concerns-spur-teacher-evaluation-changes/11031011/

New York Parents Outraged That Testing “Pause” Does Not Include Students

https://dianeravitch.net/2014/06/19/new-york-parents-outraged-by-cuomos-deal-on-tests-what-about-the-children/

Ohio Legislature Delays Common Core Testing Impact

http://www.springfieldnewssun.com/news/news/local-education/state-slows-down-new-curriculum-testing-standards/ngMwd/

Rhode Island Legislature Passes Grad Test Suspension Bill

http://www.providencestudentunion.org/2014/06/20/ri-students-win-3-year-high-stakes-testing-ban/

Happy Rhode Island Teenager Was Prime Example for Exit Exam Repeal

http://www.providencejournal.com/news/education/20140622-barrington-teen-who-was-denied-diploma-really-happy-ri-lawmakers-voted-to-dump-necaps.ece

South Carolina Retroactively Gives Diplomas to Adults Who Failed High School Grad Test

http://www.greenvilleonline.com/story/news/education/2014/06/18/former-students-seek-diplomas-new-law/10830371/

Tennessee Quits PARCC Testing Consortium

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2014/06/tennessee_quits_parcc.html

Legislators Seek Tennessee Ed. Head’s Resignation Over Test-Score Manipulation

http://www.fox17.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/lawmakers-demand-education-commissioner-huffman-resign-mikayla-lewis-21922.shtml

Texas District Super: Test Does Not Define Your Child

http://www.ketknbc.com/news/lindale-superintendent-shares-thoughts-about-staar

Education “Reform” — A National Delusion

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-nelson/education-reform-a-nation_b_5511589.html

New Analysis Rebuts Claims About Accuracy of “Value-Added” Teacher Evaluation

http://nepc.colorado.edu/newsletter/2014/06/adler-response-to-chetty

Cartoon: Transforming Teachers Into Mere Test Proctors

http://blackeducator.blogspot.com/2014/06/taylorism-20-transforming-teachers-into.html

What Real Learning Looks Like (Hint: It’s Not Test-Driven Classrooms)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/06/18/what-real-learning-actually-looks-like-in-class/

How Standardized Testing Keeps Us Stuck in the 20th Century

http://www.eschoolnews.com/2014/06/18/testing-education-update-738/

Why Education in Finland Works

“Good Morning Mission Hill” — A Model for a U.S. School Promoting Real Learning

Why Machines Should Never Be Allowed to Grade Student Writing

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/06/18/sarcasm-scarlett-johannson-and-why-machines-should-never-grade-student-writing/

College to Applicants: We Won’t Look at Your SATs (or ACTs)

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/college-to-applicants-we-wont-look-at-your-sats-2014-06-18

Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director
FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing
office- (239) 395-6773 fax- (239) 395-6779
mobile- (239) 696-0468
web- http://www.fairtest.org

Higher Urban Charter School Market Share Linked to Lower NAEP Test Scores

With over a decade of data, now can answer quite a few questions about the billionaire-led so-called education reform that has shuttered so many schools, atomized low-income neighborhoods that used to be centered around their local schools, created so much churn in the teaching profession, and turned many urban schools into all-test-prep, all the time.

We can now tell whether students are actually learning more on national tests like the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) as a result of No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and the Common Core.

Along with many other researchers and commentators, I have been showing repeatedly, on this blog, that the answer is, “No.”

My latest piece of evidence comes from two sources: the NAEP Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) test scores for 21 urban school systems published by the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), and data on the percentages of students enrolled in charter schools in those cities, published by the National Alliance for Charter schools. 

We have been repeatedly told that more charter schools means better education for all; supposedly the competition with the charter schools will cause the regular public school systems to improve dramatically as well.

So if you plot the “market share” of charter schools in a bunch of cities against their NAEP math or reading scores in the 4th or 8th grade, you should see a strong positive correlation, something like the data I invented in the graph below:

hypothetical charter market share vs test score graph 2

Imaginary data showing that higher market share for charter schools (y-axis) is positively correlated to higher NAEP test scores (x-axis)

Well, it happens to be the other way around.

We do not see strongly focused scatterplots with linear correlations going up and to the right.

We instead see strong trendlines going DOWN and to the right.

Yup, for the 17 cities that NAEP TUDA and the National Alliance for Charter Schools both have data, for these 17 large cities, the higher the fraction of charter schools, then the worse the kids in the public schools do on the NAEP in 4th and 8th grade reading and math.

For example:

This greenish scatterplot has the “market share” of charter school students in these 21 cities on the y-axis on the left, and the NAEP grade 4 math average scale score for that entire city along the x-axis on the bottom. It’s quite clear that higher NAEP scores are linked with lower charter school enrollments.

naep 4th gr math vs charter market share

 

In the graph above, the value of R-squared is 0.454, and the value of R (the coefficient of correlation ) is 0.6738.  For completeness, I also plotted the average score for all US urban students (238) and he average for all US public school students (241). The topmost blue dot on the left represents Detroit, and the next highest dot, at about 43% market share, is Washington, DC. The dot near the bottom center at a NAEP score of 220 is Fresno. The system at the very bottom, with a score of 234, is Louisville KY (aka Jefferson County).

In the next graph (tan/blue), we see the exact same data, only for 8th grade:

naep gr 8 math vs charter market share

In this one, R is almost 0.7, and R-squared is about 0.49, both quite strong correlations.

In the next graph (gray and tan), we see the same data, only for 4th grade reading:naep 4th grade reading vs chaerter market share

 

The very alert reader may notice that this is the graph that I used to make up some phony statistics that DO NOT EXIST but are predicted by many pundits who haven’t been in a public school classroom for a very long time.

My final graph for today shows the same thing, but for 8th grade reading.

naep 8th grade reading vs charter market share

 

All of the correlations have been rather strong, but this one is the strongest of all.

Of course, correlation isn’t necessarily causation. We don’t know from the data alone which factor causes the other, or if there is a third factor causing  both changes.

But in any case, the argument that charter schools and choice — as defined by Gates, Wallton, Rhee and Duncan — would inherently lift all boats is definitely demolished.

==========================================

Unfortunately, we don’t have disaggregated average NAEP charter school scale scores in these 21 cities. Charter schools used to be included in each of the cities’ scores, but in most cases, that reporting stopped in 2009, so we only have the scores for the kids in the regular public schools, not the charters or the voucher or private or parochial students in these cities. (In a previous post, I tried to calculate the charter school NAEP average scale scores for Washington, DC, and they mostly agree with what Erich Martel calculated, but I’m not 100% sure about them yet because I don’t know if private school scores are, or are not,  included with the charter school scores. And I don’t have any data that would allow me to calculate any average charter school scores on the NAEP in any other city on this list.

Anthony Cody The Gates Moratorium

I am quoting all of Diane Ravitch’s post on this:
========================

Anthony Cody: Is Gates’ Moratorium Real or a Tactic to Defuse Opposition?

by dianeravitch

When the Gates Foundation issued a press release calling for a two-year moratorium on the use of test scores to evaluate teachers, its position met a mixed reception. Some saw it as a victory for the critics of high-stakes testing; others as an attempt to weaken the critics by deferring the high stakes.

Anthony Cody says, don’t be fooled. The Gates Foundation gives no indication that it understands that its path is wrong, it is simply buying time.

The question we should all be asking is how this one very rich foundation took charge of American education and is in a position to issue policy statements that should be the domain of state and local school boards. What we have lost is democratic control of public education; while no one was looking, it got outsourced to the Gates Foundation.

Cody writes:

“As a thought experiment, what would it look like if the Gates Foundation truly was attending to the research and evidence that is showing how damaging the new Common Core tests and high stakes accountability systems are? Would they simply be calling to defer the worst effects of this system for two years?

A real appraisal of the evidence would reveal:

“VAM systems are unreliable and destructive when used for teacher evaluations, even as one of several measurements.

“School closures based on test scores result in no real gains for the students, and tremendous community disruption.

“Charter schools are not providing systemic improvements, and are expanding inequity and segregation.

“Attacks on teacher seniority and due process are destabilizing a fragile profession, increasing turnover.

“Tech-based solutions are often wildly oversold, and deliver disappointing results. Witness K12 Inc’s rapidly expanded virtual charter school chain, described here earlier this year.

“Our public education system is not broken, but is burdened with growing levels of poverty, inequity and racial isolation. Genuine reform means supporting schools, not abandoning them.

“The fundamental problem with the Gates Foundation is that it is driving education down a path towards more and more reliance on tests as the feedback mechanism for a market-driven system. This is indeed a full-blown ideology, reinforced by Gates’ own experience as a successful technocrat. The most likely hypothesis regarding the recent suggestion that high stakes be delayed by two years is that this is a tactical maneuver intended to diffuse opposition and preserve the Common Core project – rather than a recognition that these consequences do more harm than good.”

Moratorium or no, he notes, we are locked into a failed paradigm of testing and accountability. Standards and tests are not vehicles to advance equity and civil rights. If anything, they have become a way to undermine democracy and standardize education.

Published in: on June 23, 2014 at 9:12 am  Comments (2)  

Judge Treu’s Folly

The whole idea of making a monetary calculation of the impact of a teacher — only as measured by some arcane and complicated formula involving predicted and actual test scores (VAM) — is ludicrous as soon as you look at the details. Those VAM scores fail the most basic test: they are utterly unreliable. It’s not clear what they measure, but I think it’s like random , Brownian motion unless someone has their fingers on the scale — and we know that here in DC, Atlanta, and a bunch of other cities, none of the clearly fraudulent bonus awards were ever clawed back. Honest teachers are put at risk of losing their jobs by cheaters. Adults. And they are using this to claim that pretty much any job protection for teachers is unconstitutional? And the main reason that poor and brown or black kids in CA get crappy educations?

Give me and the public a break.

And let’s look at those lifetime earnings — an alleged $1,250.00 difference in LIFETIME earnings. Hmm. If you work part or full time for 40 years, that’s a princely sum of about $313 more dollars per year, or a bit more than SIX DOLLARS PER WEEK. Less than 1 hour of work at the currently- much-too-low minimum wage.

Are they serious? That’s nothing! They claim they can measure that kind of difference !?!? That won’t pay for a single drink at a restaurant or bar where these economists get wined and fined and applauded by the billionaires intent on ignoring the fact that it’s precisely their greed in cornering so much of the economy that is causing such misery and self-destructive behavior in most of our ghettos: people see the opulent lifestyle of the rich on TV but they live in crapoy conditions, constantly overworked or underworked and just a few steps before going bankrupt, losing their car, being deported, being locked up, losing their house or apartment…

Anybody who pretends that having Teacher C as opposed to Teacher M for kindergarten will make a kid earn SUX MORE DOLLARS A WEEK needs to have their head examined . That’s a joke.

Published in: on June 16, 2014 at 9:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

John Merrow’s take on Vergara

John Merrow’s take is that the Vergara decision was correct, in that the seniority rules, in and of themselves, are indefensible. I recommend reading what he has to say here.

 

A few paragraphs:

Teacher union foes like Whitney Tilson and RiShawn Biddle could hardly restrain themselves, while union leaders Weingarten, van Roekel and New York City’s United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew complained that the decision diverted attention from social unfairness[5] and then attacked the man behind the lawsuit. Here’s part of Mulgrew’s statement: “What shocks the conscience is the way the judge misread the evidence and the law, and sided with a Silicon Valley millionaire who never taught a day in his life.”[6]

Judge Treu stayed the decision pending appeal and urged the legislature to fix the problems, but how likely is it that the California legislature will act to make earning tenure a more reasonable process, perhaps after three or even four years of teaching, instead of two?

That’s probably not going to happen because the CTA still wields great power. But if California needs a model, New York City’s approach to granting tenure seems to work well, as Chalkbeat explains here.

“Last hired, first fired”–using seniority as the sole factor in layoffs–is as indefensible as 2-year tenure, but it is alsocounter-productive because it alienates young teachers, some of whom are showing their displeasure by declining to support their national and state unions. That’s happened in Modesto, California and Wicomico, Maryland, where local chapters want to disaffiliate with their state association and the NEA itself. In neither case has it been pretty.

 

You have probably heard of the Vergara decision in CA where a judge ruled that it’s teacher rights to due process mostly or only that are responsible for low achievement among poor, black or brown students. I haven’t written anything original on this, but here is some statistical discussion cited by Diane Ravitch. I also recommend looking at Jersey Jazzman.
Here in DC, teachers have already lost almost all tenure and seniority rights, and well over 90% of the teachers in DCPS and the charter schools were hired and “trained” under the Rhee-Henderson chancellorship regime, or have been already replaced several times over.
So you can’t blame any black-white or income-level achievement gap in DC on us VETERAN teachers and our jobs-for-life, because we either retired or got fired quite some time ago.
But what’s that? Oh, those NAEP results, concerning that achievement gap here in DC?
Well if Judge Treu’s arguments made any sense at all, then with removal of all DC teacher seniority or tenure rights (ditto for principals, too!) then DC should show the greates Gains anywhere in the US on closing that achievement gap.
Well, guess what?
DC — both public and charter — continues to have the VERY LARGEST ACHIEVEMENT GAP IN THE NATION.
THERE HAS BEEN NO NARROWING OF THE GAP.
The judge is wrong on all of the facts, but the other side had all the money for the best lawyers.
Guy Brandenburg

Sent from my iPhone so full of hilarious errors… ;-€}}
Begin forwarded message:

From: Diane Ravitch’s blog <comment-reply@wordpress.com>
Date: June 13, 2014 at 10:00:27 AM EDT
To: gfbrandenburg@gmail.com
Subject: [New post] The Statistical Error at the Heart of the Vergara Decision
Reply-To: “Diane Ravitch’s blog” <comment+p6kq961q173snstbha30bbwt@comment.wordpress.com>

Respond to this post by replying above this line

New post on Diane Ravitch’s blog

The Statistical Error at the Heart of the Vergara Decision

by dianeravitch

Jordan Weissman, a business correspondent for Slate, read the Vergara decision and noted that the judge’s conclusion hinged on a strange allegation. The judge quoted David Berliner as saying that 1-3% of the teachers in the state were “grossly ineffective.” The judge then calculated that this translated into thousands of teachers, between 2,750 and 8,750, who are “grossly ineffective.”

Weissman called Professor Berliner and asked where the number 1-3% came from. Dr. Berliner said it was a “guesstimate,”

He told Weissman, “It’s not based on any specific data, or any rigorous research about California schools in particular. “I pulled that out of the air,” says Berliner, an emeritus professor of education at Arizona State University. “There’s no data on that. That’s just a ballpark estimate, based on my visiting lots and lots of classrooms.” He also never used the words “grossly ineffective.” And he does not support the judge’s belief that teacher quality can be judged by student test scores.

Dr. Berliner mailed Weissman a copy of the transcript to show that he did not use the term “grossly ineffective.”

Weissman then called Stuart Biegel, a law professor and education expert at UCLA, to ask him “whether he thought that the odd origins of the 1–3 percent figure might undermine Treu’s decision on appeal. Biegel, who represented the winning plaintiffs in one of the key cases Treu cited, said it might. But he thought that the decision’s “poor legal reasoning” and “shaky policy analysis” would be bigger problems. “If 97 to 99 percent of California teachers are effective, you don’t take away basic, hard-won rights from everybody. You focus on strengthening the process for addressing the teachers who are not effective, through strong professional development programs, and, if necessary, a procedure that makes it easier to let go of ineffective teachers,” he wrote to me in an email.”

dianeravitch | June 13, 2014 at 10:00 am | Categories:

A telescope old and new

004
No, it’s not a home-made pumpkin cannon.

Instead it’s a trap for photons.

Or more conventionally, it’s a fine astronomical telescope** made by a teenager named Stewart S about 50 years ago.

That’s the part inside the white metal tube.

The plywood box that looks a bit like a Civil War cannon is actually a fairly conventional Dobsonian-style plywood alt-az mount that I made over the past few gloriously clear days in the driveway of my house in Brookland (Northeast DC). #

Yes, that tube is LONG – over seven feet long. It’s finely welded aluminum plate, bent into a cylinder and formed by one of my predecessors in leading telescope-making classes in the DC area, Hoy Walls (whom I never met).

The plywood mount used almost all of a full four-feet-by-eight-feet sheet of 3/4″ hardwood plywood.

I was pleased to see that my calculations were all correct, so that the scope just barely fit inside the plywood pieces and that the mount as a whole behaves well. No filing or last-minute sanding was needed. And the balance is pretty good – all I needed to do was add an old three-pound Barbell-type weight to the front end – it’s the dangly thing near the flange in the front. Having that weight imbalance is actually a good thing, because it gives us leeway to add a small finder scope to help aim the scope at objects of interest.

The flange is actually a plywood ring that I cut with a router and a decent commercial template for circles. The plywood ring fit perfectly, which was gratifying. No sanding or filing was needed — a first! I added it because the front end of the tube had been banged up or pressed hard at some point and was no longer circular.

I made an adjustable clamp inside the scope that seems to be working quite well. One can loosen the clamp and then rotate the tube to make it easier for shorter people can reach the eyepiece. Or one can move the tube forward or backwards to fix any future balance changes. And then clamp the tube back into its new position.

The optics were in very good shape – very clean, not a bit of dust or insect debris, on a beautifully smooth and fully-polished out mirror. I checked the optics briefly with a Ronchi test, and found that it had no turned down edge (which is a good thing) on its surface. I did not have time to use the Couder-Foucault Zonal Knife Edge test to calculate how well-corrected the optics are. Correction is a technical term involving changing a near-sphere to a near-paraboloid by carefully removing less than 2 cubic millimeters of glass — all together — in just the right spots, over a period of weeks or months to try to reach perfection.&&

Since the scope is done, the normal final test is to try it out on Polaris or some other fairly bright star with a short-focal-length eyepiece, looking at the diffraction rings when you roll the eyepiece into and out of focus.

Which brings me to why I had to build or modify the mount that it came with.

The mount that Stewart and Hoy made and that Stewart donated to NCA was very, very heavy, being a classical example of a heavy-duty – modified – plumbing – and – automotive – parts style of telescope making that many amateurs used around 30 to 60 years ago, before John Dobson revolutionized amateur telescope making with his eponymous telescope mounts and his unusual mirror-making methods using cast-off naval portholes as substrates for mirrors.

IMG_0693

That’s me above on the right, wearing an Escher tessellation Y-shirt, at Almost Heaven Star Party near Spruce Knob, WVa, next to a green telescope I made with Nagesh K. It’s called a Lurie-Houghton telescope design because of the geometry of the lenses and the mirror. Bob B did most of the lathe work for the aluminum finder scope that Jan appears to be touching with his left hand. Unfortunately, this telescope is so far a complete and utter failure although all of the individual pieces seem OK or great. Until we figure out what went wrong, we are stuck in limbo. The mount, but not the scope design, is a Dobsonian.

 

 

IM000274.JPG

The late John Dobson visited our telescope-workshop once, perhaps 10 years ago. He is the oldest person in this picture, facing us, with a bright blue jaket and white hear. It looks like I am doing some sort of incantation over the mysterious batch of molten pitch, but it’s all scientific — no magic spells. *

Unfortunately, the mount on the long aluminum telescope as it came to us was impossible even to roll through doors and was incredibly heavy. We (Mike L, Bob B and I) tried to fix the wheels on the platform that held the mount (sorry, I can’t find any of the photos I took of it), but we then found that the scope literally would not hold still. As a result there was so much backlash that you could not aim it anything and actually look at the object for any length of time at all. I considered putting three jack-screws so that the platform could be jacked up (much the way cranes and RVs will jack themselves up off their wheels) to be stable, but I couldn’t think of any way that wouldn’t require an enormous amount of time or money.

I also wanted to see if I could make a Dob mount in about three days.

I did.

And it worked.

Right now, you can aim the 10-inch f/long scope at an object and the object will stay there in the finder except for the Earth’s rotation. The tube is reasonably well-balanced. With some muscle and the clamp I made, you can change the balance point. Unfortunately, the mount really could use a little bit of beefing up as far as the base is concerned, and I’m contemplating how to do that without adding too much weight.

Alan T helped me take out the guts of the telescope, wrestle the tube into the plywood mount, and then re-assemble the optics. We looked through it at Hopewell Observatory last night. The Moon, Mars, and Saturn were well placed and looked pretty good, and it seemed like the air was pretty stable. We did not crank up the magnification very far, and the Moon was so bright we all cast shadows on the grass, so very few stars and no Milky Way were visible. A formal star test will need to come later.

On behalf of National Capital Astronomers, I would again like to thank Stewart S for donating this fine telescope.

 

================================================================

# I hope my neighbors will forgive me. I didn’t work on it at night.

* Some of us amateur telescope mirrors will admit to uttering curses from time to time, but unlike what happens at Hogwarts, they never work. Guess we are just Muggles, condemned to obeying the laws of physics and the other sciences.***

** This scope is not my personal property, nor does it belong to the Hopewell Observatory in northern VA where this photo was taken and of which I’m a member and current president. The telescope tube and a different mount were donated by Stewart S to National Capital Astronomers and is currently housed at Hopewell as a service to NCA. Stewart is obviously no longer a teenager!

*** Actually, I’m rather glad that the laws of physics and other sciences don’t seem to be under the personal command of any individual, and that they seem to be exactly the same for all people and – as far as we can tell so far — everywhere else in the universe. (Yeah, I know that some astrophysicists and cosmologists make claims that certain basic constants of nature change in certain ways over time, but I’m reserving judgment on that. OTOH I hope I live long enough for someone to figure out what ‘dark matter’ is. It remains spooky and awesomely mysterious that with all of our current state of ever-expanding scientific knowledge, most astrophysicists still believe that the vast majority of the matter and energy in the universe is still completely unknown. We don’t know what it is. I find that the idea that the universe has immutable rules, many of which have not been discovered, much more comforting than having a universe where somebody else could get mad at you or me and change the laws of physics in your immediate vicinity with the purpose of doing us harm — and that all those powers are accessible by certain individuals who claim that they have been in personal communication with a personal deity, who uttered cryptic messages and incantations and rules that must never be questioned. How could powers like that NOT corrupt somebody?

 

&& like a small sand grain.

Published in: on June 8, 2014 at 9:17 pm  Comments (3)  
Tags: , , ,

A TV Appearance by Me …

Last Saturday I taped a few segments on education at DCTV as part of a four-part show being put together by Willie Brewer. He is one of the hundreds of DCPS teachers fired by Chancellor Michelle Rhee back in the fall of 2009 under false financial pretenses. He is continuing to move forward on a lawsuit against these illegal firings.

My taped segments were on the sordid history of the ‘reforms’ being instituted under charlatans like Rhee.

I don’t know when it all will air. I haven’t seen my own segments yet, but at least my ugly mug didn’t break the camera. I had a LOT of slides, so if you do see it, you won’t have to look at me too much.

Unauthorized Teaching Activities

A satire from Susan Ohanian. She has bureaucratese jargon down pat.

An excerpt:

“It has come to the attention of the US Department of Education, Bill and Melinda Gates Substation that there has been recent unauthorized activity preceding the above referenced Common Core test. You have been identified as the for-hire person responsible for the classroom containing the following unauthorized materials

construction blocks;

finger paints and paper;

sand table;

play house with kitchen utensils and costumes;

piano;

improper ratio of fiction and non-fiction books. (See Guidelines 723.94A)”

“Through the work of our research partners and poll results showing the skills most in demand from the Fortune 500, the US Department of Education, Bill and Melinda Gates Substation has determined that the activities resulting from these materials is in violation of Part 276, of the CCSS Pre-Test Plan for Preparing Workers for the Global Economy, Sections 218.27634 to 218.27686 of the CCSS Pre-Test Compiled Laws annotated.

“We find the activities resulting from such materials are inherently hazardous to preparing children for their futures in the Global Economy and cannot be permitted. The Department therefore orders you to cease and desist, removing all unauthorized materials from this location and to restore your classroom to a globally competitive work-ready condition. “

Published in: on May 25, 2014 at 6:07 am  Comments (1)  

Meet Jose Vilson

Very interesting print interview by EduShyster with Jose Vilson here,

 

A quote:

ES: One of your main points is that we can’t just be angry and rail against what’s wrong with the state of public education and the misguided effort to reform it. We have to be thinking about what our vision of reform is.

book-launch-285-4102JV: It’s critical. We can’t have an anti-everything movement. We can’t just be about deconstructing a house—we have to build a better one. And our house has to be more inclusive of those on the margins—that’s always my thing. In my heart of hearts, I believe that there are a good number of us who believe in that vision. But unfortunately, I also see that there is a certain set of us who either don’t think we need a plan, or don’t want a plan or think the good old days were good enough. I have news for those people. The good old days weren’t that good for a lot of us and they aren’t going to be good for any of us going forward if we don’t put forward some kind of positive vision. 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 374 other followers