Saturday, September 23, 2006

Seattle School District Gets Results By Getting Parents Involved But Sadly Does Not Realize It.

Interesting article in the Seattle Times about academic success in some of the more "demographically challenged" schools in the Seattle School District.

The key sentence to then entire article
She got their parents involved.

That is it, nothing more.

Sadly the Seattle School District does not seem to recognize this fact as later in the article they say:
The district is working toward having a common curriculum among schools, said Chief Academic Officer Carla Santorno. That won't close the achievement gap on its own, she said, but it makes it easier for her to get schools to try strategies that work. Among them: teachers working together and comparing student work, using data to figure out exactly what kids don't know.

and then later:
"I'm more than confident that if we have the right environment, leadership, highly skilled teachers, connections with the families, instructional material that is very excellent, every child — black, white, Asian — every ethnicity, will be able to succeed in our Seattle public schools," said Pinchback-Jones.

But Maple Elementary Principal Pat Hunter questions whether it's really that simple. Her staff is key, she said. Her teachers are "intentional," especially in the fourth grade, when students take the WASL.

But there isn't a curriculum she can point to. There's not a model other schools can follow to achieve the same result. A couple of years ago, she said, the School Board's Student Learning Committee asked her for her secret during a presentation and she showed them a staff photo.

The closest she can come? "Hard work."

"I think so many people who are not in the classroom think that you can just go in and bottle this and sell it," she said.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Jim McDermott Votes Against Earmark Reform For Fear of Lower Taxes

From Ace 'O Spades, word that earmark reform passed the house by a vote of 245-171. Instapundit links to the actual vote which shows my Congressman, Jim McDermott, voting against the bill.

So I called Rep. McDermott's Seattle office and asked why he would vote against the earmark bill. The official answer was, while the Congressman is in favor of earmark reform, this bill had too many loopholes for tax cuts and tax breaks. For example, the bill covers tax breaks that are specific for one company but if it was for more than one company, such as Exxon and Amoco, that would not be covered.

So it sounds to me that while Congressman McDermott may be against earmarks, what he is more concerned with is lower taxes. Trust me, I am not making this up because it is not possible for me to make something like this up.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

University of Puget Sound President Ronald Thomas Talks About Race Without Saying Anything

Ronald R. Thomas is president of the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, has an Op Ed piece in the Seattle Times about race and education. His point seems to be that "people of color" are left behind when it comes to education. He specifically states that:
It's September and time to go back to school for many Americans. But not for others. The likelihood of a student of color completing college in most states is about half of what it is for whites. In some states, the odds are twice as bad. Clearly, in the race for education, too many of us are caught behind the color line.

My first question... "But not for others." Is that really a sentence? Not sure, I am just a blogger typing in my pajamas, not the President of a University.

While he may very well have a point that students of color complete college at half the rate of whites, I know if you take a look at the demographics of the University of Washington and compare those to the demographics of Seattle, King County and the State of Washington, "students of color", if anything are over represented in the U.W. student body... if of course you include Asians as students of color. The education / racism crowd never seems to want to include Asians as part of the students of color group. Now UPS does not break out its student population by race, and I am guessing there is a good reason for that. The closest they have is this page which list a total enrollment of 2785 students, of those, a grand total of 449 are "ethnic and minority". So in a state that is 18% minority, a county, Pierce, that is 22% minority and a city, Tacoma that is 31% minority, UPS has an enrollment that is 16% minority.

What really bothers me about the op-ed is the lack of anything resembling a solution. In fact there is not even any real finger pointing to a cause. The closest he comes is in the last two paragraphs:
How do we get from the conditions of today's reality to the content of the dream? We will not do it by not thinking about race. Our only hope is to think about it very hard, to learn about it as much as we can, to become more conscious about how and what we teach about race every day.

Teaching and learning make up the art and science that is at the heart of our mission as educators, and the contested subject of race provides an urgent opportunity for us to teach and to learn something fundamental about ourselves as Americans. And if we take it seriously enough, it offers the prospect of doing something constructive about it, too. It's time for all of us to go back to school.

So if we all just think very hard and learn as much as we can, that is the solution? Not sure I buy that. How about this, why don't we connect the dots between kids that are raised in one parent families and kids with low academic performance? For the most part I am not talking about kids of divorced parents but rather kids born out of wedlock who for all practical purposes do not know one parent, most likely the father. It is easy enough to go to the Seattle Public School test main page and look at the demographic numbers of students "not living with both parents" and compare that percent to test scores and see a relationship.

It is not the amount of pigment in your skin, it is not the amount of money in your bank account, it is about having parents, plural, that make sure you get to school, who make sure you do your homework when you get home from school, who go to your parent teacher conference and PTA meetings and talk with the teacher on a regular basis. As soon as President Thomas realizes this fact and spends a little more time working on keeping families together and spends a little less time thinking very hard about racism, the sooner we can get that minority enrollment percentage at the University of Puget Sound a little closer to the demographic it is suppose to serve.

Friday, September 08, 2006

CBS "Experts"

From NRO's Media Blog, here is a judges opinion on someone CBS uses as an expert:

Claimant’s credibility is the key issue in this case, both because there is frequent conflict between her version of events and that of other witnesses and because her perception of events is the principal component in her belief that she has been discriminated against for her protected activities. Accordingly, much of this part of the decision will address claimant’s credibility.

Getting right to the point, Cate Jenkins is the most disingenuous, evasive, and self- serving witness I have ever observed. She is an intense woman who believes that any means are acceptable if, in her view, the ends are desirable, including lying (even under oath), searching through co-workers' personal effects, and leaking confidential information. She further believes that any person, rule, or law which stands in her way can be ignored. She has acted and continues to act as if she believes she is the only person at EPA who is concerned with the public interest and everyone else is selling out to the industries regulated by EPA. Accordingly, she irrationally assumes that every criticism of her job performance, no matter how obviously valid, is part of a plan to impede her efforts to protect the public and the environment. It does not appear to have entered her mind that proposals which differ from hers may nevertheless be meritorious or even worthy of consideration, nor does it appear to have occurred to her that her "ends justify the means" philosophy may compromise both her credibility and that of the EPA. Dr. Jenkins' sanctimonious, condescending, and distrusting attitude toward her colleagues made it inevitable that serious problems would develop in her employment relationships.* [...]

Complainant's utter lack of credibility could only truly be appreciated through personally observing her six days of testimony. I do not often rely solely on demeanor in determining a witness's credibility, but the complainant's demeanor was so disquieting that it is dispositive here by itself. Complainant often appeared to be in her own world, divorced from reality. She frequently answered questions with long discourses that quickly became unfocused. During her period on the witness stand complainant lied with impunity and did not appear the least embarrassed when she was caught in these lies (e.g., TR 968-82, 1014-17). She bragged about her bizarre behavior which she seemed to have no idea was in any way aberrant or unusual ( e.g. TR 1245-55). In addition, she had alleged lapses of memory on unfavorable points so frequently that it was obvious the problem was one of honesty rather than memory. She has her own moral standards which are not in accord with those of the rest of society. She has no concept of team or organization, refuses to recognize the authority of her supervisors, and has no sense of loyalty to anything other then herself. She also has an enormous ego. When Thoreau wrote supportively about marching to the beat of a different drummer, I do not think this is what he had in mind.

* Complainant appears surprised that her relationship with her then-supervisor, Matthew Straus, began to deteriorate in October 1986 after she wrote a memo which was critical of Straus. See TR 767. Likewise, complainant seems not to have drawn a connection between her bizarre behavior at work, such as searching through colleagues’ offices, brandishing a fake pistol and disclosing the existence of a confidential criminal investigation, and her estrangement from the EPA staff. See TR 790-92.

Good lord.
Cantwell's Lobbyist Problem

Sounds like Maria Cantwell's cozy relationship with a lobbyist is starting to cause issues for the campaign. Sound Politics does it's normal excellent job of covering the issue here and here. Ace 'O Spades also has picked it up.

For those who know nothing of the story. Maria Cantwell and lobbyist Ron Dotzauer have a detailed history where they once dated and at one time or another each worked for the other. Her as an aid in his business and he as her campaign advisor. Mr. Dotzauer is currently an unpaid advisor to the Cantwell campaign. The odd thing to me is:
U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell's first personal financial-disclosure report, filed in 2001 with the Senate and covering the previous year, contained an usual item: a loan to Ron Dotzauer, valued between $15,001 and $50,000, the range contained in the form.

Every year since, Cantwell has reported this outstanding loan as a financial asset, a debt yet to be repaid and separate from the salary Dotzauer drew from managing her campaign in the 2000 election.

When asked about the amount and terms of the loan, Dotzauer thought for a moment, then laughed. "I actually don't remember, to be honest with you. I don't even know, I'm trying to remember why it's there. I think it's just because in six, seven years, we haven't dealt with it. I haven't had one conversation, except now."

Cantwell wouldn't talk about the issue. About the loan, Cantwell's aide, Michael Meehan, said simply: "In 2000, Ron was going through a personal circumstance."

First off, doesn't Senator Cantwell know that she is suppose to be taking money from lobbyist, not the other way around?

What I want to know is when will the MSM get an answer to what was the loan for? How can a high powered lobbyist who owes a U.S. Senator that kind of money not know what the loan was for? Any chance a reporter can, oh I don't know, investigate what could be a big story and find out?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Islam or Christianity?

Which is the true religion? Here is the answer.