Sunday, December 21, 2014

Fresh Eggs for you

1.       When you first saw the initials LOL, did you think it meant ‘laughing out loud’ or ‘lots of love’?
2.       Regardless of your answer, it is falling into meaninglessness because people are using it as a punctuation mark for what they say on social media. Too many posts end LOL and I can’t help thinking, ‘Why are they laughing?’
3.       Watching Joyeux Noel, a dramatization of the time when German, French, and English troops held an impromptu truce Christmas Day 1914, I wonder what would have happened if they had laid down their arms and refused to fight any longer.
4.       But that is iron pyrite in the affairs of men—fool’s gold. When you can’t persuade people by the merit of your ideas or the power of your personality, you will enforce by … force.
5.       The most tragic conflicts in the world are taking place in Nigeria, South Sudan, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
6.       Fresh water, so abundant upon the Earth, is a limited resource. I understand fracking and extracting oil from rock, but even so, it seems like we are using up something vital to our survival.
7.       For instance, the Chinese divert so much water from the Yellow River it rarely deposits anything into the sea. Don’t sneer, we Americans and Mexicans do the same thing to the Colorado.
8.       For the second time in his Presidency, I can give unrestrained kudos to President Obama. The first was the courage he displayed in authorizing the mission to go for bin Laden. The second, his opening of relations with Cuba. The Castros won’t last forever. Everyone realized that when they passed from the scene, a new era in relations would open between the two countries. Obama is positioning the U. S. to be in a better position when that happens.
9.       Stop quoting MLK, Jr. at me. If he was still alive, you wouldn’t like what he would be saying now, white people or black people. We can’t move forward when we live in the past.
10.   The greatest sermon I ever heard was by a preacher named Ken Young, who talked about four types of churches: mausoleum churches, museum churches, merry-go-round churches, and mission churches.
a.       Mausoleum churches are dead. They enshrine the past and exist only as a monument to those past glories. “It will never be the same.”
b.      Museum churches aren’t dead, but they live on past memories. “Remember when so-and-so was live?” or “When such-and –such happened?”
c.       Merry-go-round churches exist for the current membership. They are all about social events and having fun. The pot-luck is their high ceremony. As a result, they never see the need that exists around them.
d.      Mission churches are those that embrace the great commandment to go out and make disciples of all people.
11.   The gloomy skies hanging over Florida remind me of why we have festivals this time of year. Face it, Christians, there is no historical evidence that Christ was born at this time of the year. But at the Winter Solstice, when sunlight is at its least strength (Northern hemisphere), it is a depressing time. We had to invent something to keep from going mad. Christianity took over because … the Romans had too much fun … ‘nough said.

12.   Whoo, boy, did I just step in it?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Fresh Eggs

I haven't posted in a while, too busy writing stories and helping friends. But here's another collection of fresh eggs, random and unrelated thoughts that don't merit a full post:

  1.        There are 38 college football bowl games this year. That's 76 teams getting in out of 129 total, or 59%. Somehow, it doesn't seem impressive that a team has a better chance of getting into a bowl game than winning the coin flip that will start it.
  2.        Over the last two decades, there has been movement among the college conferences as schools sought the best place. Six to eight team conferences are history. The only way forward is to join a two-division, title game playing conference. Consolidation is taking place. Within the next ten years, probably sooner, there will be three major conferences: Pacific, Southeast, and Big 10. The Atlantic Coast, Big 12, and others will compete to be the fourth. Then it will be easy to set up championship playoffs.
  3.        Once colleges have collapsed into four major conferences, they will get together and form their own overarching governing body. The NCAA will pass away, irrelevant and unmourned.
  4.        A collapse of the United States is nowhere as close as much of the world thinks.
  5.       North Korea is wasting its time attacking Sony Entertainment. The premise of the movie is dumb and that never fails to produce a flop.
  6.      Tigers are cool.
  7.      The casual racism of classic Looney Tunes/Warner Brothers cartoons of the 30s, 40s, and 50s is such that I can never be amused by the antics of Bugs Bunny and his pals again.
  8.      There is a reason venture capitalists are called vultures. The latest casualty, the operators of Edgewood Bakery, probably have no idea what they signed over to Shad Khan through his firm, Stache Investements, in order to receive funding. Neither did Steve Jobs the first time around when he was forced to leave Apple Computers.
  9.      Shad Khan will sell the Jaguars in a few years when the tax write-offs run out if the team does not start winning.
  10.   150 years ago, we were five months away from wrapping up the conflict that forged our national identity, whose ensuing consequences still marks our life today. Yet there has been almost no notice of the sesquicentennial of the War Between the States, the Civil War, or the War of Northern Aggression. What you call it depends upon your ancestry.
  11.   Really, with Obama in office, you would think the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation would have been celebrated loud and long. At least used as a moment to mark our progress as a nation, a moment of reflection, and an opportunity to move forward.
  12.   Kids will always read books when they get books they want to read.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Parent Halloween Prank

I have not watched the video. I didn’t see it originally. I’m not going to link to it. This will be a short post.

I’m talking about the parent prank on children, “I ate all your Halloween candy.”

Cruel: teasing children to video their immature reactions, after all, they are children, for laughs on TV and YouTube.

And doing it to your own children?

Not funny.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Wedding Shop

The gist of the story is that two ordained ministers, running a chapel that offers weddings and related services, refuse to perform wedding ceremonies for two persons of the same sex although such marriages are now legal in their state (Idaho). The State’s position is that their professional activities qualify as a public accommodation and, under existing non-discrimination statutes, are subject to sanction if they refuse to abide by the requirement to not discriminate against those with a same-sex preference.

The opposition maintains that this is an infringement of First Amendment rights that guarantee religious liberty, freedom of conscience, and protection against government coercion.

The confusion results because few understand the nature of marriage and its true reality, a social contract between two persons that is sanctioned by the state.

Marriage is a universal phenomenon that is shared by all cultures everywhere throughout history and current times. Marriage is not an expression of religious belief although people have always sought a religious blessing upon the contract because marriage is the most basic and fundamental relationship anyone will ever have. Government, even in its most primitive expression as the elders of a small village, has an interest in promoting social welfare. Therefore, it is in the interest of the community to provide for stabile marriages, for protecting the weaker party against the stronger, and ensuring that the result of the marriage are protected and provided for—children.

Ordained ministers conduct marriage ceremonies that complete the contract as an agent of the state. They are responsible for ensuring that couples have a valid license before they administer the vows. They are responsible after the wedding for signing the license, ensuring that witnesses have signed the license, and mailing it in to the local government clerk. If they fail to register the license with the clerk after the ceremony, ministers are subject to sanctions. Clergy perform weddings as government agents. As such, they are subject to the policies and statutes of government authorities.

If they have a matter of conscience and feel that their religious beliefs prevent them from administering marriage vows for any and all couples the State has sanctioned by issuing a license, ordained clergy have an option. Stop performing marriages. It is not an inherent and essential part of their calling.

Rather, in western culture, the Christian minister began conducting marriages as a historical accident. In ancient times, after the church was legalized by Constantine, couples continued to go to the local government clerk to register their marriage. Afterward, having taken their vows, devout couples went to the church to receive the blessing of God upon their union. Traditional wedding ceremonies retain these two features of the devout wedding: the taking of vows to complete the marriage contract and the receiving of divine blessing upon the union.

When Rome fell and Europe passed into feudalism, illiteracy spread among populations. In remote villages and small cities, the only literate people were clergy, those who had to learn to read and write in order to study scripture and write sermons. As the only literate person in the village, the feudal authority, often illiterate itself, turned to the clergy to function as government clerks to keep essential records of birth, marriage, and death.

This historical arrangement continues into the present day. It is not necessary, but it has been convenient as people traditionally look to the church as the place to get married.

Therefore, it is within the authority of the State to require its agents, including ordained clergy, to perform the marriages it has sanctioned. (Of course, the State does not have the authority to require the clergy to use church property for these ceremonies or to go to venues outside the normal scope of the clergy’s activities. But the State can pull the agency if it desires. Ministers have no right to perform marriages.)

Clergy who no longer perform marriages may still conduct ceremonies to bless the union according to the beliefs of themselves and their congregations. The State cannot demand that they convey a religious blessing that violates their conscience.

Now, for the second aspect of the story that very few know, perhaps including lawyers, whose legal degrees required them to study the foundations of law. In this aspect, the wedding shop story is no different from that of the bakers, those who are in business to create wedding cakes but refuse to sell to same-sex couples because of their religious beliefs.

Centuries-old English common law required that common carriers take all comers. They could not refuse or discriminate in providing services. From Wikipedia:
A common carrier is distinguished from a contract carrier (also called a public carrier in UK English),[2] which is a carrier that transports goods for only a certain number of clients and that can refuse to transport goods for anyone else, and from a private carrier. A common carrier holds itself out to provide service to the general public without discrimination (to meet the needs of the regulator's quasi judicial role of impartiality toward the public's interest) for the "public convenience and necessity".

It is generally understood in the modern business climate that this holds true for all businesses. Those who open their doors to provide goods and services to the public must do so without discrimination.

The State is within a centuries-old tradition to require those who provide public accommodations, that is, goods and services to the general public, must do so without discrimination. We may disagree with the requirement, but we are not exempt from it because we claim it violates our conscience.

To be in business means you must accommodate all comers, regardless of conscience, without discrimination, unless a condition that a reasonable person would agree is not discrimination, but a valid reason, exists for refusing.

As much as people may not like same-sex couples, that is not a valid reason for refusing to accept their business. The Wedding Shop cannot refuse to perform the ceremony as a matter of First Amendment protected conscience.

Sunday, October 12, 2014


For the past two days, I’ve woken up and the story of the Biblical prophet has been in my head.

Not the story from your childhood: Jonah swallowed by a whale, three days later, miracle of miracles, he emerges alive.

That’s part of the story, but it’s not the point.

By the way, the text never says it was a whale. The behemoth swallowed him. No one knows what that was. Some say a huge fish. Jacques Cousteau held out for grouper.

We love Hollywood special effects. Who could resist this fantastical story?

But it’s not the story of Jonah.

Jonah was called to preach. He had a specific assignment: Go to Nineveh and preach doom. Three days, and this city will be overturned.

But he didn’t want to do it. He ran away.

That’s how he found himself in the belly of a sea creature. He ran to the coast, boarded a ship, and sailed away.

However, no one easily says no to God.

A storm overtook the ship. After the seamen threw everything overboard to save the ship, Jonah shared his secret. He was the problem. The ship was lost unless they threw him overboard too. The seamen resisted, but Jonah was persuasive. At last, after doing rites to absolve themselves from guilt, they did as he said. They threw him overboard.

Only then did the great sea creature swallow him up.

 By the way, that was not the point. Jonah spent his time in self-reflection—he had been saved. Why?

Let’s recap. Lost to the world, having run from God but finding out that was not possible, Jonah was entombed so he could reflect upon his actions. He repented. Only then did the creature bring him to shore and vomit him upon the land.

Jonah went to the city. He preached. Miracles of miracles, greater than the belly of a fish and three days of survival, the people listened. They repented. God relented of the judgment He was about to bring upon them. Nineveh lived.

That made Jonah angry. He told God that was why he ran away. He knew God was a God of compassion, mercy, and forgiveness. He knew if the city listened, God would set aside his judgment. Jonah didn’t like that. He didn’t want that.

He sulked outside the city. In the hot sun, he pouted. A vine grew up to shelter his head and he was grateful. Then a worm ate through the stalk, the vine died, and Jonah sat in the hot sun. He cursed everything he could think of.

Then came the lesson.

It’s not about a whale. It’s about following one’s call without regard for the consequences. Sometimes shelter will come, but it will not last. When you honor God’s call, there are no guarantees. But the very last thing one should do, any of us, is to sulk because God extends mercy to those with whom we are angry.

What has this to do with me?

I’ve been angry. And I want to run away. I’ve made no secret that I am applying to other school districts to get out of Nineveh, the wicked city, run by those who worship false gods: testing, career advancement, anything other than listening to the God who has compassion for the students who spend so much of their lives in the belly of our whale.

Three days and this city will be overturned. Like anyone in the district wants to hear that preaching even as they run it into the ground. They are the panicked seamen on the ship. Everything tossed, they no longer know what to do. Am I supposed to throw myself overboard to save them?

It is difficult. There is no shelter any longer. A worm has bit through the stalk of my big-leafed vine. I am seen.

The message remains. Three days …

When I guest post in a certain blog, things happen. Certainly there is correlation, although I do not have the ego to claim causation. Even so, there is so much correlation … three days.

One thing only I know, I will not sulk if the city heeds the message.

But why is this story in my head?

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Wall!

Every time you hear education, think Common Core and when you hear teachers, think DOE or Arne Duncan in your head (someone needs to do a mash-up):
HIT SUBSCRIBE FOR MORE CLASSIC VIDEOS Pink Floyd - Another Brick In The Wall Lifted from "Pink Floyd The Wall" film, this video is actually comprised of two ...

Friday, October 3, 2014

A New Journey for Jacksonville

In 2008, the murder rate in Jacksonville, Florida was climbing up the chart without ceasing. Outrage built while emotional capacity was exhausted as the city mourned the death of children killed by stray bullets penetrating their houses while they lay on the floor and prayed for deliverance. Finally, city leaders, pastors, residents in crime-torn neighborhoods, people from all parts of the county came together and said, “Enough.”
A large task force was formed to study the problem from all angles and propose solutions. The task force divided into subcommittees to work on different issues: the criminal justice system, community programs, schools and suspension, early education, jobs and economic opportunities, I don’t remember them all but the point is that the task force looked at all contributing causes to consider solutions for the city.
Many programs were considered, recommended, adopted, and funded. They may not seem directly related to the problem of murder, such as centers where suspended students could report during the day to keep them out of trouble, centers with counselors and social workers to help the students work on why they misbehaved at school, or funding for after-school programs such as Team-Up for youth who would otherwise be left loose on the streets with no supervision, but overall, the Journey worked. The murder rate declined.

Now our schools are in crisis. Students are bringing loaded weapons onto campus. Discipline is out of control. Teachers are cussed, threatened with physical violence, bossed around, and ignored. Parents are frustrated and lashing out at school-based personnel before pulling their children for alternatives: charters, private school vouchers, home schooling, whatever they can think of, and who can blame them? They are trying to do what is best for their kids.
The Journey offers a way that Duval County Public Schools can pull the city together to consider the problem of school discipline and solutions that will address the systemic problems that are destroying the schools.
Systemic problems need a systemic approach. DCPS needs to stop the spin and admit the full scope of the problems. We need a new Journey. We need pastors, leaders of community institutions, city leaders, parents, residents of crime-torn neighborhoods, students because oh, yes, they really are involved and know what to do to bring them hope and a future, we need teachers and clerical personnel and security guards and custodians, we need representatives from all places and categories to come together in a task force, study the school system, and propose solutions that change the system that is producing the threats.
How about it, Jacksonville? Do you want a new Journey to work on the problems in our schools? It’s put up or shut up time. How about it, Wayne Weaver? Gary Chartrand? Trey Czar? Are you willing to fund an effort to make our schools safe? You pony up the bucks for many other initiatives. Are you willing to stand up for our students? Our children?

We can wait no longer or we will cease to be the Bold New City of the South. 

Guns at School

Unbelievable, but it really happened:

And now the post, and understand that I am looking at more than my school, I am thinking about incidents across a 166 or more schools urban school district:

We were asked not to discuss specifics, etc. and I am going to honor that. But I have some general observations based on this ongoing problem of students bringing weapons to school. As someone who works in a secondary school, the issue interests me greatly. I read and follow each story as it appears in the media. I have been thinking about this for years.
Observation 1: Overall, the schools remain safe. Despite students having weapons, I can recall only one incident where a weapon was used. (It was not a gun.) That was in defense after the student tried to walk away from an aggressor. It is very important that we understand that weapons are being found on campus, but they are not being used.
Observation 2: The incidents involve student disputes. They are about individual, specific situations that are not related to what is going on at school. Problems come in from the neighborhood. Therefore, parents should allow their fears to lessen unless they know that their child is involved in a dispute that the adolescents will not resolve or get past. If that is the case, the parents need to notify the school so intervention can take place before a student decides he/she needs to carry a weapon.
Observation 3: Each time it happens, the student involved expresses fear in relation to aggression from another student. Usually that fear is for times of transition to and from school. At school, with School Resource Officers, security personnel, active administrators, and alert staff, students feel safe. They leave the weapon in their vehicle or otherwise hide it. It is on the way home when they fear for their safety.
Observation 4: Punishment won’t solve the problem. If a student is in fear for his/her safety, is the threat of a suspension going to have an effect? There has to be consequences: expulsion and prosecution for the severity of the offense. But we must also recognize that we need alternatives that address root causes before a student brings a weapon. Putting intervention and counseling programs only at the alternative school is not working. We need to get support programs into neighborhood schools.
Observation 5: The new student code of conduct, which standardizes consequences, was an improvement. But it cannot stand on its own. On its own, students get (and have gotten) the idea that there is no punishment for misbehavior. Embedded in a comprehensive approach of encouragement and reward for appropriate behavior, intervention and support for problematic behavior, and consequences for infractions, the student code of conduct will perform at the desired level of effectiveness. However, while terms like positive behavioral support and restorative justice are thrown around, implementation is wanting.
Observation 6: Academics and conduct are part of the same continuum like space and time are one continuum. Few people understand this. Much of classroom misbehavior stems from bored students entertaining themselves inappropriately. Then someone gets mad, a dispute or altercation breaks out, then teachers complain about no support, then administrators blame teachers for a lack of management, and the cycle goes on. If we improve student engagement, misbehavior goes down and what does occur happens at lower levels of severity. This is not only a teacher problem, though; administrators need to be active and visible in classrooms every day. When they are not, even when they say other concerns occupy their time, things spiral down.
Observation 7: Student conduct, at all levels of severity, is a systemic problem. Systemic problems are not solved by focusing on one aspect such as code of conduct, transitions, or punishment policies. Systemic problems demand a comprehensive approach or else the displaced bad energy reappears somewhere else in the system. Problems move but they are not solved. Changing people does not work. The problems persist under new leadership because they are systemic.

Observation 8: The Jacksonville Journey is an example of a systemic approach to a severe problem of misconduct (murder rate). When it was implemented fully, the misconduct diminished in frequency. Something of the same approach and commitment needs to happen in our schools.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Jameis Winston in The Crime Upon the Table

It reads like a murder mystery, this ongoing saga of the young man without a moral compass. The mystery is why Florida State University decided to act on a minor misdemeanor, a very typical young man stunt of shouting something, we don’t know what but its nature was vulgar and directed toward females, based upon an internet meme traveling among the social media of college-aged students.
Previously, FSU went with the decision of the local State’s Attorney’s Office that as there wasn’t enough evidence to support prosecution of a young woman’s claim of rape, there was no need for the University to conduct an investigation into the conduct of Winston in that incident.
Only when the Feds got interested under Title IX did the University feel the need for a pretense that they would do something. This is FSU, remember, and Jameis Winston is not the first athlete whose questionable behavior was ignored as long as the Garnet and Gold won football games.
Is it a case that (wink, wink) sexual escapades are part of the make-up of muscle-bound, virile, testosterone-fueled young male athletes who smash heads on a grass-covered field in the afternoon and then seek a different conquest at night? Everyone remembers the wild oats of their youth or the wild oats as they wished it had been?
Notice the male oriented nature of that paragraph. Women must have a very different orientation or why, long ago, in my college days did two women take out a personal ad in the campus newspaper calling out the winning quarterback, “Hey, (name deleted), you had one pass that failed Saturday night!”
The incident in the supermarket continued the bad press just when FSU could hope that the attention would fade away. Again we had excuses: he forgot to pay, he had a moment of “youthful ignorance.” (His words.)
In this case, he received a civil citation to divert the case from criminal court, performed community service (he had seven days to do so; one must wonder how many hours were assigned), reimbursed the store, and served a suspension from the baseball team.
But there were no football penalties. That might cost victories.
Until now. Jameis Winston was suspended for one game, which was first a half-game suspension until media condemnation resulted in FSU making the punishment a full game.
Winston took the reprimand to heart. So much so that he was seen in full uniform taking snaps and throwing passes during the pre-game practice.
The coach ordered him off the field. He returned for the game wearing his jersey and sweatpants.
Some suspension. Really, FSU? Seriously?
At a minimum, he should have been banned from the stadium. Allowing him to stand on the sidelines, to be there should the back-up falter as a visual I-told-you-that-you-can’t-afford-to-play-without-me, negated any effect upon him.
A more effective punishment would have been to mandate him to attend classes about showing proper respect to women and then taking one hour of practice time for the entire team to listen to him share what he learned. That would sanction not only the quarterback, but the entire program that fosters a culture of tolerance toward the misconduct of its players.
Similarly, he could have been ordered to attend counseling sessions for one hour every week at a time that would cause him to miss practice. The counseling would help him to find his motivation for his behavior and attitudes as well as to realize that the NFL will not want him if this is what he brings to the professional gridiron. They have enough troubles of their own.

Jameis Winston in The Crime Upon the Table. The mystery is why a major university shows no remorse for the culture it encourages.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Saturday Morning Musings on the Common Core

The debate is fierce with good points being scored by both sides. Here is what I agree with:

·         The lack of early education experts in developing the standards resulted in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) being developmentally inappropriate for the early years of K – 2 especially, but even the upper elementary grades.
·         Testing of the standards should be separated from instruction by the standards.
·         Standardized testing of young children in the early grades is not appropriate.
·         The standards are being confused with inappropriate methods of teaching by the standards.
·         Inappropriate methods of instruction are being created by educational publishing houses because they are also creating the tests and that is how they plan to write test items.
·         Teachers are therefore forced to use inappropriate methods of instruction.
·         CCSS is a huge change: the period of transformation is not long enough. Those who call for a three year hiatus from high stakes testing are correct.
·         If the purpose of testing is to determine the quality of teachers and schools, then statistical sampling should be used to test a small number of students. If Gallup can sample 2000 adults and accurately predict an election, we should be able to test a small number of students and reach accurate conclusions about teachers and schools. (Shout out to Mark Naisson, Badass Teacher, for the idea.)
·         Having a common set of standards that all states implement is a good idea.
·         States should not be forced to accept a common set of standards from federal government coercion, achieved through its taxing power and subsequent ability to dangle huge sums of money in front of states, but states should voluntarily adopt a common set of standards because they recognize the advantages of doing so.

Windows 9 is under development and has reached the point where Microsoft will release details of its technical requirements to third party software developer partners so they can begin to develop new versions of their products to work under the new operating system.

Stay with me. Microsoft has a hit/miss history with Windows. Windows 98—terrible. It was so bad I abandoned Windows for a few years and ran my computers under the Linux operating system. 2000—a joke. Then we got XP, an OS so popular that it still runs on hundreds of millions of computers around the world. Microsoft had to extend the life of XP many times because people would not give it up.

But the world of computing advances rapidly. Microsoft tried to develop a new version of Windows, called Vista. Vista was terrible. People hated it. Microsoft figured out what was wrong and how to deliver a great OS. Windows 7 was born, a Windows so good that Microsoft allowed the overarching brand name to be attached. They did not develop a sub brand like Millennial Edition, XP, or Vista.

Windows 8 was garbage. Microsoft tried to force the cellphone or mobile platform onto people’s desktops. User complaints were loud and constant. Microsoft tried to put a sub brand onto this, Metro, which ran into trademark problems in Europe and that forced them to change to Modern, but it didn't take. Now they’re moving to Windows 9 as fast as possible.

How does this relate to CCSS? It seems to me that the standard setting movement is in its Vista moment. CCSS is crap. There’s good stuff in it, but overall the experience is crap.

Let’s move on to a better set of standards. And this time, standard setters, listen to the users: teachers, parents, students, school based administrators, developmental experts, and do it right.

If colleges are complaining that students are not ready for college, maybe colleges should self-reflect on their mission and change to meet their matriculating students’ needs.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

A Mathematical Rant

I am angry. I am angry this morning at know-it-alls who think that what works for me should work for everyone. I am tired of self-appointed experts in education who are actually ignorant of learning and how it happens.

This rant is brought to you by the people who share this and damn it with no understanding of why this type of thinking helps children to understand math:

And then there is this internet meme that’s gone around for over a year:

I’m tired of hearing “this is how I learned it in school and everyone else should do the same.”

Because it’s not working. Because I have to teach children 12 to 15 years old who cannot add, subtract, and multiply. Memorizing math facts with no understanding works for a few, not all.

Why don’t you know-it-alls try talking to a math teacher about what these techniques are helping children to realize? They are learning how numbers are put together and how they can be manipulated to find answers when performing basic operations. By the time the learning takes hold, the students will be able to do arithmetic in their heads and have the fluency to excel at higher mathematics: algebra, geometry, and calculus.

To Jack’s parent I say this: You have a college degree in electrical engineering and you can’t figure out the assignment? The termination you’re talking about, buddy, is yours. Employers do not need nor do they want employees who work out of recall with no understanding. They need workers who have flexible thinking processes to approach problem-solving with a confidence that they can find a method out of their existing knowledge.

To say that basic recall is all that’s needed for success—and these are TEACHERS talking—have you ever heard of Benjamin Bloom? His work is 50 years old and still relevant today.

Lastly, if the people who share these internet memes would bother to read the actual common core standards (you can download them here: , you would find out that fluency, the ability to perform arithmetic based on memory and recall, and standard algorithms, which those memes promote, are required. They are a part of the standards.

I do have questions and concerns about the Common Core standards, but enough is enough. I have had it with knee-jerking reactionaries across the political spectrum. Do your homework or zip your lips.

Rant over.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Instructional Reviews

Go here to find my thoughts on Education's equivalent of the Spanish Inquistition (why does that bring an image of Monty Python into my head?):

A Daughter's Hand for a Wedding

Traditions: those things we do because theyve always been done when we no longer have a reason for doing them.

Does that fit as a definition? I’m reading a post to a Facebook group in which a mother joyously announces her daughter’s engagement. It was a wonderful story, but a jarring detail caught my eye.

The lucky young man called her father and asked for her hand in marriage. Mom thought that was sweet.

But what does that imply? Asking for a hand in marriage is an old custom, a legal custom, that was necessary when the legal system viewed women as property of a man. When a woman married, her custody moved from her father to her husband. This act was signified by the woman taking the name of her new husband. It’s no longer done, but Betsy Smith would become Mrs. Joseph Clark upon marrying Mr. Joseph Clark.

Nowadays, the name change is limited to the last name. Sometimes the couple tries to finesse the issue by hyphenating both names, but that is socially awkward and people will default to one name, usually the last one on the hyphen, which I’ve always assumed is the male name.

As people marry later, that can cause confusion in the woman’s work world. It is not unusual for a woman to maintain her birth name as her professional name even as she changes for social venues.

Children receive the father’s surname. This happens in all situations. However, when the parents do not live together, children mostly remain with the mother. Great confusion arises when children named Johnson live with a mother named Williams.

An improvement would be for a woman to keep her name and children to receive her surname. If anyone needs to change a name, let the man do it.

As for the hand in marriage, it is an insult to an independent, legally competent woman to act as if her approval, her consent, is not enough. The counterargument is that it is only a custom with no real meaning. Why do it then?

Maybe because receiving the goodwill of the parents will be important to the success of the marriage. Why then does no one ask the mother?

Asking a father for a daughter’s hand is a tradition that no longer fits our society. Let’s allow it to die out.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Fresh Eggs, 9-1-14

I took some time off from posting, but I am back. Since I've missed the regular schedule, I’ll get some bonus posts up. Today is Fresh Eggs, a sampling of random, unconnected thoughts in short bullet points:

  • ·         It’s amazing how the body uses many muscles to accomplish the most ordinary of tasks. We never know how many muscles we are using until one of them becomes sore. Then, how we do feel it!

  • ·         Israel opening up 1000 more acres of West Bank land for settlements means that the current government has given up on having a meaningful peace process with the Palestinians.

  • ·         Vladimir Putin will not stop playing footsie with the West until the West stomps on his foot. He is a masterful politician, the best of this generation, but that doesn’t make him unstoppable.

  • ·         As long as teachers support the Democrat Party, without questioning its agenda and policies that hurt them, the same Party will take them for granted. Stop voting for them! The same is true for African-Americans. Seriously, what has the D.P. or the current President done to help them in the last six years?

  • ·         Jack and nada.

  • ·         Why is it that some workers do not have a holiday on Labor Day, the day set aside to honor the American worker? I can wait until Tuesday to have my trash picked up.

  • ·         When I was a kid, grocery stores closed on all major holidays. They would put signs up the week before: Get your barbecue and beer now because we will be closed to give our employees the day to spend with their families. I miss those days.

  • ·         One bad apple doesn’t spoil the barrel, but it does cause people to turn up their noses and get their food somewhere else. Human beings will judge all apples by the example of the bad one.

  • ·         Three generations from now, the Surgeon General will pull a 1964 and warn against the use of marijuana. Cancer stick, anyone?

  • ·         Power has been flowing to the center for a very long time. School boards have very little authority left: they can pick superintendents and fire misbehaving employees. Everything else is decided in state capitals and Washington, D.C.

  • ·         Small municipalities that sell utilities to their citizens have no tolerance for unpaid bills. They cut them off very quickly. Commercial enterprises, under regulation, are far kinder.

  • ·         Fresh eggs expire quickly, and these thoughts are no different. They are good for the moment, but events move quickly. That’s what makes a blog like this one difficult: I seek to write after long contemplation. Many drafts quickly become outdated and irrelevant. But I will soldier on.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The ALS Challenge

The ALS challenge is to dump ice water on your head and post it on social media to promote donations to the charity. It is quite the understatement to say it has gone viral. Everyone is doing it and posting video.

They’re getting it wrong. The challenge is to donate money or dump ice water on your head. If you dump ice water, take a video, and post it, you’re telling the world you’re a piker, a chiseler, a miser—you didn’t donate.

A friend told me that actually the challenge is to give $100 and the failure to give that sum meant the ice water. Also, that many people are doing both. Another friend said that ALS has received $5 million dollars from the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Is that actual cash-in-hand or pledges?

Nevertheless, there’s something deeper about the challenge—a greater issue—to look at, especially for Christians.

Jesus said, “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before others, to be seen by them … when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by people … when you give to the needy, do not let your right hand know what your left hand is doing, so that your giving may be done in secret ….” (From the Sermon on the Mount.)

Let’s update for technology. Do not show off your charity with cell phone videos, as hypocrites do via Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, to be admired by your friends. When you give to the needy, do not let your cell phone record what your hands are doing, so that your giving may be done in secret. That way the God you believe in will reward you.

How about it, Christians? Is it time to hit the delete key?

Really, why are you doing it? To be popular? If the trend hadn’t gone viral, you couldn’t care less? You have to join the crowd? Everyone’s doing it, right?

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few will find it.”

Does anyone know what research ALS will do with the money? What are you funding? Does it contradict your values if they are conducting research with embryonic stem cells from aborted fetuses? Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. Have you done your homework?

“Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”

I am neither, but I won’t jump on a bandwagon before I think through the action and issues to decide if it is right for me. Sorry to spoil your fun, but my challenge (I can’t resist the irony) is that you do so before accepting the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Harry Potter's Influence on Millenials

The Question: Did Harry Potter influence the political views of millennials?

(A millennial is someone coming of age during the 90s—the generation that came after Generation X and the Baby Boomers.)

The Facebook post suggests that Harry Potter did: It turned millennials against the administration of G.W. Bush, helped elect Obama, and made an entire generation turn rock-hard liberal.

I disagree. First, we are moving beyond the conservative/liberal divide. People previously divided are converging in opinions and ideals on issues as they recognize common ground. Political factions and parties will always be with us, but realignment will happen. Not a shift between Democrats and Republicans, but something more fundamental.

For example, education. Both major parties are for the 20 year old reform agenda that is destroying public schools. A huge backlash is in motion. This is one of several issues that will redefine us as we push onward into the postmodern world.

But this was supposed to be a fun post. Harry Potter, you know? Tarantellagra to make a fool dance! Rictusempra for all those who can’t stand to be tickled. And for you comment trolls: Peskipiksi pesternomi!

What I liked about J.K.Rowling’s narrative was that it induced one to be skeptical of government authority. She introduced a new generation to the consequences that could occur should corruption enter government and reach to the highest levels.

Further, even when government’s intentions were good, the overregulation was hilarious and instructive. Do we really need government to decide how thick the bottom of our cooking pots should be? Why should they hold power over who can use a certain type of transport? And the bureaucracy of inane departments: isn’t there a subtle message about limits on government scope?

Often as I read Harry Potter I would laugh out loud about the subversive message Rowling sent her readers. Pompous ministers were mocked; ridiculous regulation was laughed at by the most popular characters. Power-hungry politicians were questioned even if they wanted too much power to do what was right and moral.

European-style socialist government was disrespected. That’s a good thing.

Rowling attacked the evils of racism, totalitarianism, and intolerance. She promoted diversity and looking at others as equal in social status: Dobby is a free elf.

 I’m afraid the early Boomers are a disappointment and the later ones don’t offer much either. As one of the latter group, I can talk about my generation. Look to the young.

Did Harry influence them? I certainly hope so.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

We Don't Know

I'm late with my Sunday post, and I apologize. But here it is:

We don’t know. We don’t know what happened. The one witness has told one story; the police, a very different story. Given the fact that the police changed their story every few hours, telling a new version, we are justified in treating their version with great skepticism.

But we simply do not know. Hopefully, as independent and objective agencies investigate, the true unfolding of events that hot Saturday in Ferguson, Missouri will be discovered.

Maybe someone on that street was watching through the curtains. Maybe someone stepped onto their porch and got their phone out in time to video. If so, maybe we’ll get a better idea of exactly what happened.

But until we do, we must admit we don’t know. However, having said that, I take up a greater theme.

I don’t know what the causes were, but we all know the result. What I have to say in response is this:

The killing of black boys must stop.

The how doesn’t matter: whether it is drug-related violence in the ‘hood, arguments at the club over girls, unreasonable fear in a convenience-store parking lot, overly aggressive action by a neighborhood watch volunteer, a cop in the middle of the street, one truth must stand out.

The killing of black boys must stop.

The who doesn’t matter: young black men in gang-related competition, middle-aged white men afraid to be in a city they don’t know, Hispanic neighborhood watchers reacting to break-ins, or police, one truth must be told.

The killing of black boys must stop.

When will we pick up a blue pencil, scribble 33 and circle it (the editor’s mark that an article is complete and ready for print), and end the long list of names: Michael Brown, Jordan Davis, Treyvon Martin …

The killing of black boys must stop.