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Art School Tells Students to Buy Pictureless $180 Art History Book

Art School Tells Students to Buy Pictureless $180 Art History Book
What is this, October!? According to a blog post published by a disgruntled parent of a student, the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) is forcing students to buy an art history book for $180 — which wouldn’t be unheard of, but the catch is that the publishers of this book didn’t get any of the image rights for the artwork it includes. To reiterate, that’s an art history survey without any pictures. WTF? Instead of having pictures of artwork, the book, Global Visual and Material Culture: Prehistory to 1800 (so named for the course it goes with), instead just has placeholders with instructions to see a digital version for the actual image. It’s like a website with only broken image links.

October 14, 2012

El PAso schools caught banning poor testing students from school in a scheme to raise school test performance

El Paso Cheating Scandal: Who Is Next? -- Diane Ravitch's blog
But in the cheating scandal that has shaken the 64,000-student school district in this border city, administrators manipulated more than numbers. They are accused of keeping low-performing students out of classrooms altogether by improperly holding some back, accelerating others and preventing many from showing up for the tests or enrolling in school at all. It led to a dramatic moment at the federal courthouse this month, when a former schools superintendent, Lorenzo Garcia, was sentenced to prison for his role in orchestrating the testing scandal. But for students and parents, the case did not end there. A federal investigation continues, with the likelihood of more arrests of administrators who helped Mr. Garcia. Federal prosecutors charged Mr. Garcia, 57, with devising an elaborate program to inflate test scores to improve the performance of struggling schools under the federal No Child Left Behind Act and to allow him to collect annual bonuses for meeting district goals. The scheme, elements of which were carried out for most of Mr. Garcia’s nearly six-year tenure, centered on a state-mandated test taken by sophomores. Known as the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, it measures performance in reading, mathematics and other subjects. The scheme’s objective was to keep low-performing students out of the classroom so they would not take the test and drag scores down, according to prosecutors, former principals and school advocates. Students identified as low-performing were transferred to charter schools, discouraged from enrolling in school or were visited at home by truant officers and told not to go to school on the test day. For some, credits were deleted from transcripts or grades were changed from passing to failing or from failing to passing so they could be reclassified as freshmen or juniors.

October 12, 2012

It's absurd that the major literary awards still ignore genre books

National Book Awards: Genre fiction dissed again - Salon.com
The National Book Awards is no more to blame in this respect than any other prize: The Pulitzer, the Booker and the National Book Critics Circle prizes have all refrained from honoring any title published within the major genres. (True, some observers considered “Snowdrops” by A.D. Miller — shortlisted for the Booker last year — a crime novel, but the entire 2011 Booker selection process was enveloped in controversy arising from the judges’ much-denounced remarks on behalf of “readability.”) The genres have their own prizes, but the most prestigious of the awards remain the private reserve of literary fiction. Yet we live and read at a time when the lines between genre and literary fiction are being persistently rubbed away. The literary quality of the best genre novels is higher than ever, and literary novelists have increasingly embraced elements of the genres in their work. Jennifer Egan won the Pulitzer last year for “A Visit From the Goon Squad,” a novel that has elements of science fiction, and it’s hard to regard “No Country for Old Men,” by one-time NBA winner Cormac McCarthy, as anything other than a thriller. Flynn is only one among a cadre of women writers (along with Tana French, Kate Atkinson and Laura Lippman) who work within the established genre of crime fiction, expanding it into new and more challenging territory. The traditional objections to genre fiction — that it is formulaic, psychologically inauthentic and indifferently executed — are not without merit, but then neither are the genre fans’ familiar retorts that literary fiction is self-indulgent, feebly plotted, overwritten and dull. The average work in any fictional category will be underwhelming; what really counts are the best. I have a hard time seeing why Thomas Pynchon is regarded as an important novelist while Neal Stephenson, who writes in a similar vein but with (to my mind) more intelligence and maturity, is viewed as merely the high end of science fiction.