Tuesday, December 24, 2013

50 Equal States

What does America look like when population is equalized? For one thing, we end up with much of PA and NJ, in the land of Pocono. From Neil Freeman via Daily Kos.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Find Your Linguistic Roots

This is a fun and pretty accurate toy from the NYT. I turn out to be fairly downstate, with Paterson, NJ, thrown in.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


Shortly before he died, Cornell's Carl Sagan taped this prescient interview.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

New Websites

I spent the last few days putting together a couple of new websites, one for me, and another for the Dryden Drama Boosters. Next up, the County Democrats. If only someone would pay me, this could be a new career.

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Petition Worth Signing

If you live in NYS, consider it.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Case to Watch

The NYS teacher's union is suing the state to have the tax cap declared unconstitutional. I don't think much of their chances, but certainly their analysis is exactly correct.
"The way New York funds public education is already grossly inequitable, denying the poorest students with the greatest needs the rich array of programs and services they need for success - services more affluent students get every single day," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. "What the tax cap does, in essence, is to take this grotesque educational inequality and accelerate it even more."
It's nothing new; the Statewide School Finance Consortium has been banging this drum for three years. But NYSUT did the math and has mounted the suit. We'll see what happens a week from tomorrow.

And Another Merger Fail

This failure is more surprising than the earlier Romulus/South Seneca defeat, because in this case, both districts would have won something. SVE needed Candor's financial stability, and Candor needed SVE's student population. It is likely that SVE will now have to look at a major tax hike just to maintain basic services. But you can't fight history, or so it appears.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Another PISA Fail

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) sponsors testing in 70 nations via its Programme for International Student Assessment, known as PISA. They test every three years, and the results from 2012 are just out now. In our defense, we educate all our children, who are anything but homogeneous. Nevertheless, we haven't improved an iota in years. I heard someone on the news this morning claiming that this proves the reform agenda isn't working. But implementation of the Common Core has just begun. We'd need to check back in about 9–12 years to see whether our 15-year-olds' scores had improved. Given typical trends in U.S. education, we won't be given 9–12 years and will be on to something new before we have a chance to witness change.

I like the way PISA has pulled out certain states to make a point about achievement. Why Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Florida were selected, I do not know. In general, MA and CT did better than the national average, and FL did worse, which I could have predicted without the data.

When I try to argue in favor of the Common Core State Standards, I usually pull out two points: PISA scores unbecoming a world power and NAEP scores that indicate significant disparity among states in terms of student achievement. This report illustrates both.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Required Reading

I wasn't always a fan, but I am now. Here's local Amy Dickinson interviewed on her marriage to Bruno Schickel. Really a lovely piece.