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Schools We Can Envy by Diane Ravitch

Long read. Good read. Ravitch has been on an absolute tear lately. Schools We Can Envy by Diane Ravitch | The New York Review of Books
The main mechanism of school reform today is to identify teachers who can raise their students’ test scores every year. If the scores go up, reformers assume, then the students will enroll in college and poverty will eventually disappear. This will happen, the reformers believe, if there is a “great teacher” in every classroom and if more schools are handed over to private managers, even for-profit corporations. The reformers don’t care that standardized tests are prone to measurement error, sampling error, and other statistical errors.1 They don’t seem to care that experts like Robert L. Linn at the University of Colorado, Linda Darling-Hammond at Stanford, and Helen F. Ladd at Duke, as well as a commission of the National Research Council, have warned about misuse of standardized tests to hold individual teachers accountable with rewards or sanctions. Nor do they see the absurdity of gauging the quality of a teacher by the results of a multiple-choice test given to students on one day of the year. Testing can provide useful information, showing students and teachers what is and is not being learned, and scores can be used to diagnose learning problems. But bad things happen when tests become too consequential for students, teachers, and schools, such as narrowing the curriculum only to what is tested or cheating or lowering standards to inflate scores. In response to the federal and state pressure to raise test scores, school districts across the nation have been reducing the time available for the arts, physical education, history, civics, and other nontested subjects. This will not improve education and is certain to damage its quality. No nation in the world has eliminated poverty by firing teachers or by handing its public schools over to private managers; nor does research support either strategy.2 But these inconvenient facts do not reduce the reformers’ zeal. . . .

February 15, 2012

Read This: Even Critics of Safety Net Increasingly Depend on It

This has a pretty great ending. Even Critics of Safety Net Increasingly Depend on It - NYTimes.com
The government helps Matt Falk and his wife care for their disabled 14-year-old daughter. It pays for extra assistance at school and for trained attendants to stay with her at home while they work. It pays much of the cost of her regular visits to the hospital. Mr. Falk, 42, would like the government to do less. "She doesn't need some of the stuff that we're doing for her," said Mr. Falk, who owns a heating and air-conditioning business in North Branch. "I don't think it's a bad thing if society can afford it, but given the situation that our society is facing, we just have to say that we can't offer as much resources at school or that we need to pay a higher premium" for her medical care... He said that his family appreciated the government's help and that living with less would be painful for them and many other families. But he said the government could not continue to operate on borrowed money. "They're going to have to reduce benefits," he said. "We're going to have to accept it, and we're going to have to suffer."
Of course, taxing the rich and closing corporate loopholes could solve much of the problem.

Dude tries to rob bar, gets ignored until he leaves

I love that a patron walks in and shoves past him to get a pint. Like, no big deal. Just a guy with a gun. You got any Old Speckled Hen on tap?

"Virginia Mandates ‘Unwanted Vaginal Penetration’ For The Abortion-Curious"

And the War on Women rolls on. Virginia Mandates ‘Unwanted Vaginal Penetration’ For The Abortion-Curious
Good heavens, your Wonkette can barely keep up with the hijinx our moral police are getting themselves into, as they bedevil legislatures and statehouses nationwide. Seems they are hell-bent on sticking a finger into every possible pie — up to and including vagina pie! Take the Republican supermajority in the Virginia House of Delegates, for example, which just passed a bill requiring any lady wanting an abortion to first have a doctor determine the gestational age of her fetus and listen to its heartbeat. Okay, whatever, a little jelly on the belly, and then, wheeeeeeee, off to the Abortionplex? Um, NOT QUITE! Virginia is actually talking about the kind of ultrasound that involves a dildo-type sonic boom-generator penetrating the vagina, in a sort of, well, completely non-optional fashion. The Virginian-Pilot explains: The ultrasound requirement may evoke images of the abdominal sonograms standard in most pregnancies, fuzzy black and white pictures conjured by a wand passed across a woman’s stomach. But those ultrasounds are ordinarily done fairly late in pregnancy. In the beginning, particularly the first weeks, an abdominal ultrasound may not be sensitive enough to detect anything. That’s why doctors in many cases use a transvaginal ultrasound. In plainspeak, they insert a condom-covered probe into a woman’s vagina to obtain an image.

Photo Gallery: World Press Photo Contest 2012

These are stunning. World Press Photo Contest 2012 - In Focus - The Atlantic