Dr. Stat

Dr. Stat is a Statistics Professor. This blog is his opportunity to share ideas and opinions about education (especially math education), politics, and whatever else comes up.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Elections

Let's face it. The presidential election is a farce. The only people who can win are those who have lots of money backing them and a good share of the media as well. In order to get elected, politicians either have to lie or sell out.

I wish I could be president. Of course, I don't have any of the qualities. I'm not a schmoozer. I have been known to say stupid things in public. I'm not rich. I don't have political experience. I don't have an "organization." I have principles.

I wouldn't take any money. (Meaning, of course, that I couldn't win.) As soon as a candidate takes money, he owes somebody, and principles are out the window. We Americans have dug this hole for ourselves. We refuse to listen to principled candidates. We let the media drive the campaign, and the media runs on the sensational and the novel, not the principled. We make decisions on sound bites and perceived personality traits (i.e., who is the best actor).

Oh, how nice it would have been if we had listened to the founding fathers. They TOLD us not to elect the president through popular vote. They TOLD us not to tax individuals directly. They TOLD us that powers not enumerated in the constitution were reserved to the states, in order to keep the national government from becoming too strong. They TOLD us to maintain balance of power between the branches of government. They TOLD us to protect our nation's sovereignty. We are on the verge of losing everything. There are voices (other than mine) sounding the warning. For some reason, not many people are truly listening. They will pay--we will all pay--for this. We will pay with our lives and treasure. I fear time is growing short.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

No Child Left Behind is a Failure

as many of us have known, suspected, predicted, preached, whined, cajoled, cried, complained, and generally tried to get anyone to notice.

But, you know, anytime you have a big government program that "benefits the children" no one will pay any attention to the fact that it is bad, wrong, useless, harmful, inefficient, or even unconstitutional--which NCLB clearly is, as the federal government has NO AUTHORITY in the area of education. Paul Weyrich, in the linked article, explains again what is wrong with NCLB. The idiotic measure of "progress" have nothing to do with real progress or real education. Teachers all over the country know what we all should have known to begin with--the program causes wasted efforts to prove the school is proficient which, in most cases, only takes resources away from other important areas. Yes, some math and reading scores are up. A little. But they were on their way up before NCLB, and who knows if the trend would have continued or not? Meanwhile, science, history, geography, music, and art are shunted to the side. I know reading and math are most important. But not to the exclusion of all else, IN PARTICULAR, when reading and math can so readily be taught WHILE teaching science, history, geography, and maybe even music and art.

Local schools and local teachers can figure these things out, but large bureaucracies (expensive bureaucracies) can't. So more teachers are "highly qualified?" I wouldn't believe it. Maybe. Giving attention to teacher qualifications is important. But so many are receiving spurious or nominal certificates that come from completing some busy-work program that likely does nothing significant to improve their actual teaching performance. Good teachers have to be SMART. You don't get smart by attending a certificate program. Good teachers have to be GOOD WITH KIDS. This is an innate quality that I don't think anyone can be taught, certainly not by taking a few evening classes from an Ed. School.

I wish somebody would give me a chance to fix the schools. The first thing I would do is give the federal government the boot, right where it belongs.