Monday, August 18, 2014

They Must Think We're Stupid. And Maybe We Are.

Chapter 1: Test Scores

Well, it's August, so it's time for a lot of concern-and-pleasure over rancid test scores statewide. It is pretty hard to spin a 6% passing rate in seventh grade math, except by comparing it to the 5% passing rate in 2013. But wait, you might ask, shouldn't we compare grade 6 in 2013 to grade 7 in 2014? After all, those are the same kids, whereas comparing seventh graders then to seventh graders now is a mismatch. Well, yes, but then you might notice that sixth graders in 2013 had a 7% passing rate, and the same students this year had a 6% passing rate. And so it goes. My statistician friends would be able to tell me how large a sample one would need to be able to compare unrelated kids overall, or to say that a rise from 7.2% to 7.6% represents growth of any significance. But it really doesn't matter, because the media apparently have no interest in what the numbers mean. It's math! It's hard!

Chapter 2: Rebate

Lucky us, we're all getting a rebate check or two. If our schools stayed within the cap, we might get $50! (Our county administrator estimates something closer to $15.) If we lived in Westchester, we'd get a whole lot more! Gosh, our governor and legislators really are watching out for us.

Chapter 3: Ballot Initiative

The first proposal on our ballot in November is for an "independent" redistricting commission to establish new senate, assembly, and judicial districts. But hold on! Is it "independent" if it's appointed by the legislature and if legislators can thumbs-up or thumbs-down anything that comes out of it? Well, it says "independent" right there on the proposition, so it must be true! Heck, it worked for that nutty casino initiative! Even if you thought gambling was bad, how could you resist something that promised that it was designed "for the legislated purposes of promoting job growth, increasing aid to schools, and permitting local governments to lower property taxes." You couldn't! It passed easily!

Pretty neat trick: First prove that New Yorkers can't read or do math. Then take advantage of that fact.

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