Chriropractic really is BS

I’ve always been skeptical of the practice of chiropractic, even though I’ve used a few for actual back pain. Some seemed to me to be out-and-out money-grubbing frauds, some not. But I had no idea how completely bogus was the origin of the the field in the first place. (Spoiler alert: it involved séances. You know, darkened rooms, ouija boards, spirits of dead doctors giving advice….) For details, read this article:

Published in: on June 23, 2017 at 10:35 am  Comments (1)  

Panama Canal History

Cheeto45 is so ignorant that he didn’t realize that:
(A) the original Panama Canal was built (by the US government) over 100 years ago;
(B) the new, larger, faster, and more-water-efficient Panama Canal locks were built by the Panamanian government and opened almost exactly one year ago (See link) doubling the size of Panamax — the capacity of the largest ship that can get thru the waterway.
Of course, neither Cheeto45 nor his Nazi-loving, racist KKK dad had anything to do with any of this construction.
PS: reportedly, the reason that the Drumpf organization was able to build a lot of buildings in NYC without the problems that faced other builders is that the Drumpsters had no problem with making large, hidden, payoffs to the Mafia for labor and legal peace.

Published in: on June 20, 2017 at 9:55 am  Comments (2)  

Teachers quit both DC charters and regular public schools at very high rates…

Probably because:

– the work load is impossible;

– they are blamed for everything

– they are held responsible for things they cannot possibly control

– they are required to enact policies that harm their students

Etc, etc, etc. Here is a report from Valerie Jablow detailing the numbers:

Um, Teacher Retention Is Not Just A DCPS Problem

Published in: on June 19, 2017 at 1:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

The impossible complexities of teaching

Larry Cuban has a blog post on how difficult it is to actually teach in the US k-12 setting. Worth reading and showing to anybody who thinks it’s easy:

Published in: on June 16, 2017 at 9:14 am  Leave a Comment  

Teacher firings based on VAM are unconstitutional!

This is BIG: firing teachers based on scores derived by secret VAM algorithms is unconstitutional — so says a federal appeals court!!

Published in: on June 15, 2017 at 4:25 pm  Comments (1)  

Some useful thoughts on teacher evaluation

From Mitchell Robinson, link is here.

Published in: on June 11, 2017 at 8:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Mercedes Schneider on “Choice” and Devos

Very well written and (to me) factual.

Published in: on June 1, 2017 at 10:08 pm  Comments (1)  

Just who gets to make the choices in a supposedly random ‘school choice’ lottery (DC Version)

Valerie Jablow has dug into this issue in her typical yeo-womanly manner. 

The short version of the reality of DC School Choice is that people who are more worthy than YOU (or me) get to decide who is admitted into the relative handful of highly-regarded publicly-funded schools in DC (both public and charter) — where most kids do not attend their in-boundary school. (Mine mostly didn’t either — Brookland and Stevens ES; Stuart-Hobson MS; and SWW and Banneker HSs.)

All this leaves us with a two-track educational system, where in some schools there is strict discipline and relatively high test scores, lots of college admissions, and where only wealthy or well-connected families or those kids with good academic records are allowed in. (Think Banneker, BASIS, some of the KIPPs, Walls…)

And then there are other schools where the majority of students are absent for 3 or more weeks (not days) every school year, and hardly ever show up on time. (Think Cardozo, Ballou and Chavez Charter, among others)

Also See the recent post article about large numbers of DCPS teachers quitting in the middle of the year, mostly because they find it impossible to, uh, teach, because they are not allowed by school administration to have any classroom control or discipline. And are required to do enormously burdensome data-gathering work that is (almost intentionally) designed to take away from teaching time but to make the teacher look bad when it comes time for annual evaluations… and pretty much no matter what disruptive things a student does, teachers’ requests for disciplinary help are either ignored by administration or are used as excuses to attack the teacher…

Teachers at BASIS, Walls, KIPP, and Banneker don’t have to put up with that sort of nonsense. Others do. Obviously much more academic learning happens in one of these tracks than the other, but the fact that we still have these tracks, 60+ years after Brown v Board, should be intolerable.

But it’s applauded instead.

Published in: on June 1, 2017 at 11:47 am  Leave a Comment  

#45 being paid by Putin, according to Kevin McCarthy?

If you read the transcript of the secret June 2016 meeting among Ryan, McCarthy and other Republicans, you see that they are discussing the various methods that Putin and the Russian leadership are using to subvert all the nations to its west — including hacking the DNC and fomenting anti-democratic groups in Europe.
When McCarthy said in the transcript that Putin was paying off Mango Mussolini and Dana Rohrabacher, I think he was probably serious.
Read it for yourself and share what you think.

That being said, of course we all should realize that the CIA and the US Government also try to subvert their opponents by bribery, propaganda, and lots of dirty tricks. And so does every other government that has the means to do so. 

However, it’s quite scary when you have a President and a party that controls 3 major branches of the US government is in thrall to a totally undemocratic, kleptocratic, and kakistocratic bunch of ruthless thieves like Vladimir Putin and his fellow oligarchs.

Published in: on May 17, 2017 at 6:48 pm  Comments (3)  

How NOT to save money: operate two (or a hundred) different school systems in the same district

I would like to reprint the entirety of Valerie Jablow’s recent blog post on how the District of Columbia manages to waste enormous amounts of taxpayer money by opening and closing schools at random. (If you haven’t been keeping score, the total number of publicly-funded schools in Washington DC is at an all time high, while the number of students is NOT.)

The DC Education Costs That Shall Not Be Named

by Valerie Jablow

Testifying the other week during the council’s budget oversight hearing for the DC public charter school board, education advocate and DCPS parent Suzanne Wells called for a study by the DC auditor to compare the costs to run DCPS schools versus charter schools. Wells asked that the study look at administrative in addition to facilities costs in each sector.

Right now, city leaders are consumed by the percentage increase in the funding formula for public school students in the FY18 budget. The mayor’s original proposal for FY18 gave a 1.5% increase–an historic low. Last week (perhaps sensing blood in the water), the mayor proposed raising the increase to 2% . Plenty of others—including a group convened by the state superintendent of education (OSSE)—have recommended a 3.5% increase, and a petition to the council advocating a 3.5% increase has now garnered more than 1000 signatures.

But amid this legitimate concern over funding, there is dead silence about costs.

Imagine, for a moment, anyone in DC leadership going on the record with this statement:

“If there are 32 students in a class and two go to charters, you still have to have a teacher for the 30 [remaining] students.”

That’s what Philadelphia’s chief financial officer recently said after a study commissioned by that city determined that Philadelphia pays nearly $5000 per student in stranded costs each time a student leaves a by right school to attend a charter school. Those stranded costs include staffing, utilities and building maintenance for the schools that such students no longer attend, but that need to keep operating nonetheless because those schools are the guarantors of the right–not chance or choice–to an equitable public education.

Judging from the silence and averted eyes when I asked the council (during the DCPS budget hearing) if DC has a black budget for creating new schools, I’d have to say that discussing stranded costs and associated fiscal drains of opening and closing schools is not exactly, um, popular in these parts.

But such costs are a real issue in DC for tens of thousands of kids and their schools—no matter how little political will there is in DC to account for (much less name!) those costs.

For instance, right now as the deputy mayor for education gets down to updating the master facilities plan, the closure rate of DC charter schools ranges from a low of 33% to a high of 40%.

The closure rate at DCPS is even higher: The deputy mayor for education’s February 2017 report on DCPS closures notes that since 1997 (a year after charter schools started here), 76 DCPS schools have closed—a closure rate of 41%.

Now, if you add those closed DCPS schools to the 38 charter schools closed since 1996, you get a total of 114 DC public schools closed, for an eye-popping closure rate of 57 public schools per decade–or 5 public schools closed every year on average in the last 20 years.

And here’s the kicker: we know school closures cost a lot of money.

So, in addition to not acknowledging those costs of school closures, no one in DC leadership readily acknowledges the emotional cost to children, parents, and staff of school closures. Particularly with neighborhood schools, those buildings are often the core of their communities, sources of pride, civic engagement, as well as shelter in distress.

And that’s not even talking about the longer, sometimes dangerous, commutes for children to avail themselves of the right–not chance or choice–to an equitable education in the wake of DCPS closures. Who is accounting for that cost to our kids and our neighborhoods?

And yet, even while closing a breathtaking 5 schools every year for two decades, DC’s creation of choice-only schools and seats outpaces our growth in living, breathing students to fill them.

That is, even as more than 10,000 public school seats are currently unfilled, more seats are created every year by the charter board. The current crop of proposed new charter schools would, if approved next week, add about 3000 new seats. And that is not counting the (thus far) sidelined proposals of DC Prep and KIPP DC to create almost 4000 other new seats. (See here on both from the April charter board meeting.)

Sadly, the costs entailed by such growth go well beyond unfilled seats:

In school year 1999-2000, DC had 185 public schools serving 74,800 students. In school year 2014-15, DC had 223 public schools serving 85,400 students.

Thus, over a decade and a half, with a gain of 10,600 public school students (14% growth), DC had 38 more public schools (20% growth). Each school created requires infrastructure and staffing, raising costs overall. The mismeasure between those numbers adds to those costs–and increases them further when stranded costs are taken into account.

(All data in my analysis here is from the DME’s 2017 report; the 21st Century School Fund; the NRC report on PERAA (also available here); and a report from the Progressive Policy Institute, in addition to the charter school applications.)

Right now, however, such growth is completely uncoupled from any notional idea of coordination and planning—even with the master facilities plan in the balance and the cross sector task force dedicating a working group to school facilities.

Instead, we as a city pretend that there is an unseen budget that covers all new schools such that we do not tie the approval, location, size, or function of those new schools to any budgetary considerations whatsoever—much less to the best fit for both our students’ needs as well as preserving their right to equitable public education in every neighborhood.

(Come to think of it: Maybe I should have asked the council how our city got so rich that it could be uncaring about where its money goes–and how my kids’ schools can get some of that apparently endless cash?)

So, while the city gears up for oral arguments in the lawsuit filed against the city by charter advocates for supposedly unfair charter school payments, our city leaders remain unwilling to even acknowledge the huge cost implications of school closures and openings—all the while making political hay (and more) about the increase (or lack thereof) in the per pupil funding formula.

All I want to know is:

Can we catch up to Philly, DC auditor Kathy Patterson, and do a study of the costs between our public school sectors?

The cash saved might ensure we won’t have to fight over a 2% increase ever again–something that all city leaders can get behind without fear.

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