OMG KENNETH FAILING SCHOOLS (Covid edition)

The National Assessment of Educational Progress [NAEP] is often called the “nation’s report card,” and I have thoughts about that to begin with, but today we are looking at the handwringing that has begun over the release of the most recent scores.

You will be shocked to learn that SCORES HAVE DIPPED, KENNETH, after two years of chaos in our schools. Did I call it or what?

So now all the editorial boards and educational poobahs and conservative anti-public-school vampires have started the weeping and the wailing over the LEARNING LOSS KENNETH and how we as a nation are on the precipice.

We’ve seen all of this before, in 1983, with the panic over A Nation at Risk: our schools were FAILING KENNETH and nothing would do but we must TOUGHEN THE STANDARDS and TEST THE CHILDREN UNTIL THEIR EARS BLEED. Nation at Risk led eventually to No Child Left Behind (NCLB, or as we called it in my school, Every Child Dragged Along), which imposed draconian “goals” on our schools and punished us as “failing schools” if we didn’t meet them by 2014.

(At the faculty meeting where we went over the new law, teachers were freaking out over the “goals.” I calmly pointed out that this would only last until the law had to be reauthorized (i.e., re-funded) in 2007.)

So did we achieve all those goals? Pfft. NCLB did nothing to actually solve the problems the law “identified.” Every child reading by 3rd grade? We could have done it, but we didn’t, because NO ONE ASKED US HOW TO EFFECT THAT CHANGE. If what we were already doing was sufficient, wouldn’t every 3rd grader already be reading? But we changed nothing, nor were we allowed to change anything.

No, the nation never actually committed to any of the “goals,” and 2014 came and went without our having met any of them. The only thing NCLB accomplished was to cement the role of standardized tests in assessing student “achievement” and “school success.” It was all “research-based,” you see. (What’s that you say? Standardized tests are a scam to suction off tax dollars for testing corporations? Wherever did you get that idea?)

Sidenote: At Newnan Crossing, we were doing actual research on whether our year-round calendar — 45 days on, 15 days off —was benefiting our Title I students. I was charged with aggregating the test scores for the cohort of students who had been with us since kindergarten, and the only thing the data actually showed was that if kids had a teacher who was not very good, their test scores would go down. Having a good teacher was not a predictor of improved test scores; those were essentially random. Test scores = “achievement”? Pfft.

So here we are, panicking about LEARNING LOSS after two years of predictable “learning loss” and reaching for the smelling salts once again.

The solution? The children must LEARN FASTER AND HARDER. To “catch up.” Once again.

Here’s the deal: Teachers have always dealt with students who were not where they were “spozed to be,” and now is no different other than we have an entire school population who are not where they’re spozed to be. It’s not a “crisis,” just time to roll up our sleeves and start teaching again. (Even so, schools are not back to what passes for normal, nor will they be for the foreseeable future.)

My advice? Take any moneys appropriated for this CRISIS KENNETH and spend it on teachers: salaries, supplies, smaller classrooms. Do not spend it on packaged CURRICULUM SOLUTIONS KENNETH. Do not spend it on suddenly available TECHNOLOGICAL SOLUTIONS. Do not allow LEGISLATORS TO HAVE ANY SAY on how we do our jobs.

Finally, acknowledge the drop in test scores as an inevitable record of the chaos, and then BY CTHULHU CELEBRATE THE GAINS OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS.

A rant about gin

I wish to make a complaint.

Prohibition ended in 1933. So why is it illegal for me to buy this gin?

Sure, if I walk into the General Store at Grand Canyon, I can buy it there, but I certainly can’t buy it at Kroger here, nor at any Kroger in the state of Georgia.

Not only that, even though Coweta County finally repealed Prohibition last year — 90 years late — and we are starting to get our first liquor stores now, I can’t buy it there either, nor at any liquor store that I know of.

Why is that?

I’ll tell you why: the Georgia Alcohol Dealers Association. Go read their page. They control what the liquor stores in Georgia can and can not sell. If Thumb Butte Western Sage Gin is not on their list, stores can’t sell it and you can’t buy it.

Not only that, but GADA is determined that you can’t buy it directly from the distillery either. (Go read their page!) The very idea of grocery stores having a liquor section gives them the fantods. PROTECT OUR PACKAGE STORES is their entire raison d’être — consumers be damned.

Why is this? These bottles are filled with legal substances. Why is it illegal for me to buy them? I need answers.

(I must give a tip of the hat to Rep. Matt Brass, who is otherwise a rightwing dinglehopper, for introducing multiple pieces of legislation to free us from all this nonsense.)

Oh, darling, let’s talk.

Yesterday this person was in line in front of me at the Kroger:

(image blurred for privacy)

His shirt says:

IN 1775 THEY TRIED TO TAKE OUR GUNS

WE SHOT THEM

Very patriot. Much brave.

Yes, you can buy these shirts, although there seems to be some confusion amongst the rabble about their exact precedents.

::sigh::

The American Revolution is not my time period, so I could be out of the loop on the latest historicity on the founding of our nation, but I do not remember the confiscation of weapons as being any part of the effort to break free of England. It was pretty much all about the self-governance thing, No Taxation Without Representation, et al.

If you needed an object lesson in how divorced from reality the right-wing nutjobs are today, here it is. They have concocted a fake national memory and are wearing t-shirts to advertise their deeply held religious beliefs in this fake memory. If I had asked this person to explain how and when “they” tried to “take our guns,” they would have blathered about the Second Amendment but they would not have answered the question. They would not have been able to answer the question.

More than that, they would not have known that they didn’t and couldn’t answer the question.

And here we are.

I, on the other hand, would have told him that perhaps he and his ilk were thinking of Shay’s Rebellion in 1786–7, when lots o’ muskets were confiscated after a group of disgruntled farmers and vets took up arms against the government of Massachusetts. It led semi-directly to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, which led to the Bill of Rights, hence and ergo the SECOND AMENDMENT (MAY THE LORD JUST BLESS ITS HOLY NAME AMEN) KENNETH. (To be fair, I think those rebels had some cromulent complaints, unlike our current crop.)

But 1775? Nah. You just made that up, bubba.

Get a grip.

Critical Race Idiocy, Oklahoma edition

(An earlier version of this post, and tweets referring to it, named Arkansas as the state in question. Even though the mistake is understandable, we regret the error. Oklahoma, this is on you, babe.)

As you probably are already aware, the amygdala-based lifeforms among us have decided to be afraid of something called Critical Race Theory, which is not, as the amygdala-based lifeforms would have you believe, teaching kindergartners that WHITE PEOPLE BAD KENNETH, but rather an actual socioeconomic critique of the role of race in U.S. history, particularly the role of slavery in our economy (big) and politics (bad). It is taught at the graduate level, not in kindergarten.

However, because our Republican Party is nothing if not solicitous of their amygdala-based lifeforms, they have sprung into action in state legislatures everywhere to write laws to assist our teachers to avoid the evils of CRT in their classroom.

Just kidding. They’re trying to cover their lily-white heinies so that schools don’t end up teaching the actual history of our country, which unfortunately is hella racist in most regards. (Also, they’re trying to keep the amygdala-based lifeforms riled up for voting purposes.)

Here are a couple of excerpts from a recently proposed bill in Oklahoma (42nd in education, if you believe U.S. News and World Report).

Ah yes, the 1619 Project, or as Wonkette refers to it, Satan’s Own Bible. Moving on…

Mercy. “One race”? Who on earth could they mean by that? And who might this “another race” be?

Honey, please.

Note: What they’re doing is trying to cast a wide net over the whole world and for all of history, so that white Americans don’t look that bad if you squint hard and believe that Egyptians and Mongols had anything to do with the political writings of Jefferson and Madison. Yeah, right.

But you know me: I am nothing if not helpful, and so I have prepared a handout for Oklahoma teachers who need to teach how slavery just kind of happened in this land and white people are definitely not to blame no not never racism is over WE’VE HAD A BLACK PRESIDENT KENNETH.

over 38,000 circles, 37 of which are colored red, each circle representing 100 slaveholders
Click to download a PDF version of this.

CAVEAT: The numbers are kind of wonky, since the only readily confirmable numbers I could find on short notice were the number of white slaveholders from the 1860 Census and the number of free black slaveholders from the 1830 Census. However, it definitely shows that NOT ALL WHITE SLAVEHOLDERS KENNETH, amirite?

Several ideas spring from this:

  • I could create a version of the handout with all blank circles, and you could have the students color in 37 of them to represent the free black slaveholders. NOTE: They will need magnifying glasses and 0.5mm pens. If you would like such a handout, just email me and let me know.
  • For math skills, have your students calculate the percentage of free black slaveholders to the total number. [KEY: <1%]
  • For advanced classes, like AP U.S. History, you could have the students find the actual number of slaves owned by white slaveholders v. the number owned by free black slaveholders. There we might use the 1830 Census numbers for, you know, greater fairness in depicting the multiracial responsibility for slavery in this country.

Speaking of APUSH…

Does anyone think that the Educational Testing Service or the College Board are going to alter their standardized tests to accommodate the amygdala-based lifeforms? Or is it not more probable that students in Oklahoma (and Texas and Virginia and Florida…) simply are going to flub those questions on the test? I don’t see this raising Oklahoma’s ranking in the U.S. News & World Report ranking, do you?

This breaks my brain

So this was on the Twittermaschine just now (#HoldTheLine was the trending topic), and I just…

Look, I know these people do not have a full command of logical thought, but this is just… I don’t know, velcro that doesn’t stick anymore? Brainworms? Unfortunate result of too much glue-sniffing?

Apparently #HoldTheLine is being used by those brave, brave souls who see mandates for vaccines as what they truly are: SUPPRESSION, KENNETH, OF OUR PRECIOUS BODILY AUTONOMY NOT NOT YOU LADY WHO WANTS AN ABORTION JUST US WITH OUR PRECIOUS BODILY FLUIDS.

Free — as we say — dumb.

Let me say up front that the Toronto Star probably shouldn’t have gone with this approach. Even though I agree 100% with the sentiments expressed, it nonetheless seems antagonistic.

However, Mr. Changizi the Unvaccinated’s reaction is stupid. The rest of us are indeed exasperated by the unvaccinated’s refusal to protect themselves and those around them, and yet somehow Mr. Changizi the Unvaccinated sees this as some kind of purge that we are doing to them.

Dude, no. It’s the other thing, the reverse of that. We’re doing everything we can to keep you from catching Covid-19 and dying from it, which is significantly more likely if you are unvaccinated.

He is not alone. Here is one of the responses to his tweet:

“Mass genocides.” “Never again.” Jebus H. Cthulhu. And brave, brave Winston Smith, standing up to Big Brother, who is even as we speak hunting down the unvaxxed in the streets of Toronto and hauling them off to the labor camps and crematoria of Saskatchewan I guess. Nor is he the only one who responded like this. There were dozens of people shaking their little fists in anger against this Holocaust they definitely didn’t make up in their heads.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?

Let me say it again for the hard-of-thinking: WE ARE NOT TRYING TO PURGE YOU IDIOTS. WE’RE TRYING GET RID OF THE VIRUS, and we can’t do that if y’all insist on refusing the vaccine because [reasons]. The more y’all get sick, the more likely it becomes that those of us who are vaccinated will suffer a breakthrough infection. Not only that, but the longer y’all remain unvaccinated, the more likely the virus will use its free access to your precious bodily fluids to mutate into yet another variant. You’re plague dogs.

Has our empathy for the willfully unvaccinated who are sick with this pernicious virus worn thin? You better believe it. At least we had empathy to start with, unlike your obvious lack of empathy for those who cannot get vaccinated because of health issues. But do we wish death on you? No. We wish you’d get vaccinated.

And maybe some mental health counseling.

Also too: The Sociopathic Style in American Politics

Satanic Milton

Let me tell you a story.

Years and years ago, when I was media specialist at East Coweta High School, the assistant principal in charge of curriculum bustled in, needing my assistance.  A mother had come in to complain that her son was being taught Satanic literature in his college-bound senior English lit class, and they wanted my recommendations for an alternative assignment.

I raised my eyebrows and pursed my lips and inquired as to exactly what Satanic literature this woman could possibly be objecting to in the British Lit textbook.  The asst. principal turned to the page and showed me.

Satan being cast down from heaven, from Milton's Paradise LostIt was Paradise Lost, by John Milton.  Right there, opposite the first page of text, was a full-page woodcut illustration of a leather-winged Satan being cast down from Heaven.  There was more: the text contained such damnéd names as Lucifer and Beelzebub. LUCIFER AND BEELZEBUB, KENNETH!

Really?  Really?? I asked the asst. principal.  We’re going to confirm this woman’s crazy, superstitious, ignorant error?

Well, Day-uhl, we have to accommodate parents’ requests, came the reply.

We’re not going to explain to this woman that she’s wrong, that in fact John Milton was a Puritan and wrote Paradise Lost to prove that Christian themes could support epic poetry?  (Leaving aside the fact that Satan is by far the most interesting and dynamic character in the whole piece…)  That her son is in a college prep English class and that he kind of will be expected to know at least something about the poem when he gets to college?

Oh, Day-uhl—as if I were the one who needed to be humored…

So I assigned him “L’Allegro and Il Penseroso“.  Served him right.

update 1/25/2022: This just appeared on Facebook.

It’s simple.

A local church has on its street bulletin board the message:

“IT’S SIMPLE. GET AMERICA BACK TO GOD!!”

That’s good. Simple is good.

But as H. L. Mencken reminds us, “For every complex problem, there’s a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong.

And so I’d like to ask some questions.

What does that mean, exactly, to “get America back to God”? I know where the concept comes from, all those Psalms and Old Testament moanings about Israel “turning away” from Yahweh, wherein Yahweh got testy if the Israelites weren’t paying attention to him 24/7. I suspect this church means the same thing, i.e., make everyone worship exactly as they do — since we haven’t been doing that, God has allowed (or worse, caused) our problems.

What mechanism is the church thinking of, exactly, to “get” us back to God? Public whippings? The stocks? Re-education camps? Blue laws?[1] The Mildred Layton Committee to Stamp Out Strife and Tribulation?

What problems, exactly, have been caused by America’s not paying attention to God? Are these real problems, like global warming or income disparity? Or are they the imaginary boogeymen that are the usual sources of fear for this church’s amygdalas, like Teh Gays and illegal immigrants and some soaring crime rate that doesn’t exist?

Does this return to God involve increasing freedoms and liberty and prosperity to every American and non-American in our country? Or does it involve repression and hiding and cutting off? Do they want everyone to support each other with love or are they demanding that we all straighten up and fly right?

Do they mean that we should throw our weight behind politicians who are going to vote to provide for the least of these, with policies like socialized medical care and childcare and a livable minimum wage? Or do they want to restrict our tax dollars to those who “deserve” it?

It would be uncivil of me to put words in this church’s mouth, so to speak, but I think the odds are pretty great that what this church means is that this nation has changed in ways that make them uncomfortable. Where before there were tidy boxes for every category — and there were categories — now we have boxes and crates and beanbag chairs and waterbeds, and people keep going from one to the other with shocking ease. Those People act as if they have a seat at the table, and this church wants us to remove those chairs immediately. With prejudice.

In the end, their sanctimonious sign is empty posturing, a static version of the gospel of Luke’s Pharisee in the Temple, smug that they are not as other men are. They might be better off reading Matthew’s reporting.

—————

[1] Blue laws, for those too young to remember, required local businesses to be closed on Sundays — and yes, this church would be in favor of their return.

It’s not me, it’s you.

I’ve been reading back through this blog and have come to a conclusion: I write really well.  But let that pass. Here’s a thought I had after reading one of my Liberal Rants posts.[1]

The post is titled Amygdalas. Why is it always amygdalas?, and it’s an explication of a spam email that invites you to click on several links to discover the hideous plots to put Hillary Clinton[2] into the White House, KENNETH.

Here’s what struck me:

It is true, boys and girls, that there are conspiracy-minded amygdala-based lifeforms on both sides of the aisle — and here I am thinking of Seth Abramson and the small flock of liberals who tweet day after day that the Trump crime family/Matt Gaetz/etc are going to be indicted/arrested ANY DAY NOW NEXT MONTH FOR SURE, KENNETH — but Jebus H. Cthulhu we got nothing to compare to the fevered brains on the right.

Remember Jade Helm?

Sovereign Citizens?

Barack Obama’s birth certificate?

Pizzagate?

Mike Lindell?

QAnon??

Here’s my point: these are all the same thing. It doesn’t matter that none of them were true, that none of them could even be true.[3] What matters to the amygdala-based lifeforms is that these theories provide the life-giving jolts of fear and anger that their brains need to live.

And let’s face it, half the conspiracy theories that give the amygdala-based lifeforms all the tingles in their pink bits are, if not invented by, at least cynically embraced by the leaders of our conservative movement to keep the amygdala-based lifeforms focused on the sweet, sweet buzz in their brains rather than the facts at hand.

This is what gives us comments like the one posted by some Georgian on Governor Brian Kemp’s Facebook page:

And these frauds with old lucy stole Karen handles seat how many fraud voters did she fly in from Delta state to state and bused in 10 time district to district fraud votes absentee ballot stuffing old abrams still pushing bathhouse barry hussain un aca commercials!

Foaming at the mouth and falling over backwards, indeed.

I don’t have a solution other than to calmly and firmly stamp out this idiocy whenever and wherever it shows up. We’re not going to disabuse the amygdala-based lifeforms; they’re addicted like lab rats and are going to keep pushing that button. But we can at least help others see the danger of addiction.

Further: Lauren Boebert, lost in a cacophony of crazy

—————

[1] Those posts are particularly tasty.

[2] aka Satan.

[3] Comet Ping Pong Pizza, for example, doesn’t even have a basement, a key detail in the conspiracy. At least Seth Abramson, et al., have actual investigations on which to hang their hopes and dreams.

How They Do It

If you are of sound mind and body, you may wonder how on earth Fox News viewers are so blindered. It’s a remarkable sleight-of-hand, and after you’ve seen it in story after story, you begin to think that maybe perhaps the misdirection could be possibly on purpose. (Click for larger image.)

You will notice that Fox is not reporting on the policies that had President Biden saying mean things about those who don’t follow pandemic protocols. They are reporting only that he said mean things.