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Colleges manipulate and fail athletes as a matter of routine

The Academic Counseling Racket - NYTimes.com
It is not news, of course, that universities accept athletes who read at the fifth-grade level or worse; quite often academic counseling is remedial. But McAdoo wasn’t in that category. He had been an O.K. student in high school, and his mother, a schoolteacher, was adamant that he get a college education. He told his recruiters he wanted to major in criminal justice. Once he got on campus, however, he was quickly informed by his academic counselors that North Carolina didn’t have a criminal justice major. According to McAdoo, his counselor picked his major, African-American studies, because it wouldn’t interfere with football practice. Among the first classes he was “assigned” (as he phrases it) was a Swahili course, an “independent studies” class taught by the department chairman, Julius Nyang’oro. “There wasn’t any class,” McAdoo recalled. “You sign up. You write the paper. You get credit. I had never seen anything like it.” He never once met his professor. Despite the strange circumstances, he researched and wrote the paper. It was that paper that got him in the trouble with the N.C.A.A. “All the academic counselors knew about the paper classes” — as they were called — “and they all steered athletes to them,” says Mary Willingham, a former academic counselor at the university. But when the N.C.A.A. went after McAdoo, there was no mention of the phony classes. The school certainly never mentioned them, and as for the N.C.A.A., all it cared about was whether McAdoo had committed academic fraud for getting citation help in a class that never met. McAdoo’s contention — that he had no reason to believe he had done anything wrong, because he had simply done what he’d been told to do — fell on deaf ears. His college career was sacrificed so that the N.C.A.A. could maintain its longstanding pretense that college athletes are supposed to be students first.

January 30, 2013

Missouri to force all six-year-olds into gun safety classes, still has no Sex Ed

Missouri Bill Would Require All First Graders To Take NRA-Sponsored Gun Class | ThinkProgress
Students in Missouri have no sexual education requirement, so there’s a good chance they don’t know how to properly protect themselves from STIs or unintended pregnancy. Soon, though, they may be able to protect themselves from guns. Missouri state Senate is considering a bill that would require all first graders in the state to take a gun safety training course. Using a grant provided by the National Rifle Association, it would put a “National Rifle Association’s Eddie Eagle Gunsafe Program” instructor in every first grade classroom. The irony that there’s no requirement for students to learn about their bodies — but that there is one for deadly weapons — seems lost on the legislators proposing the measure, one of whom lamented, “I hate mandates as much as anyone, but some concerns and conditions rise to the level of needing a mandate”:pushing for its passage: Sen. Dan Brown, R-Rolla, told the Senate General Laws Committee Tuesday that his bill was an effort to teach young children what to do if they come across an unsecured weapon.[...] “I hate mandates as much as anyone, but some concerns and conditions rise to the level of needing a mandate,” Brown said. Senators watched a brief segment of the training video during the hearing. The segment featured a cartoon eagle telling children to step away from an unsecured gun and immediately report it to an adult.

January 29, 2013

Who is more qualified to judge academic achievement, a teacher or a low-paid temp?

This is the heart of the problem with standardized testing. Once you get past multiple-choice tests (which we can all agree are awful) you *need* someone to actually grade what students write. And nobody wants to pay actual professionals to grade tests so we end up with this: low-paid temps in a factory farm determining your kid's future, her teacher's future, and her principal's future. The Biggest Testing Scandal of All -- Diane Ravitch's blog
Pearson has a contract with the state of Texas for five years that is worth close to $500 million. That ought to bring gold-plated service and products to the children of Texas, right? Wrong. Pearson is advertising for test graders in Texas on craigslist! The graders need only a bachelor’s degree, and they will be paid $12 an hour. They will be “trained,” of course, but think of it. Their snap decisions will decide the fate of students, teachers, and schools. If they aren’t that good at what they do, children will fail, teachers will be fired, and schools will be closed. Because of decisions made by a temp worker. Shocking as this is, it is nothing new. Todd Farley wrote a book called Making the Grades: My Misadventures in the Testing Industry, in which he described his many years inside the testing industry. . . . Why trust the judgment of a fallible teacher or principal, when you can rely on the judgment of a $12 an hour temp, supervised by a Target manager? This is crazy.