joshwriting: (Default)
R.I.P., Kids College.

May your killers someday understand what they did.
joshwriting: (Default)
We got "Whatever it takes!" pins on Tuesday, as symbols of our commitment to do "Whatever it takes!" to reduce the "dropout" rate.

Meanwhile, in the interest of fairness, I have to share that I now understand why I was so frustrated with the Summit.

Here, from the Summit website, are Maine’s Three Key Objectives for the Summit:

1. Highlight the numerous initiatives currently going on within the state using the 15 dropout prevention strategies (Clemson University) and the 5 promises (America’s Promise)

2. Have student groups develop a branding mechanism that all initiatives aimed at putting an end to the dropout epidemic can utilize

3. Raise a broader awareness of the dropout problem in Maine

Given those three objectives, I have to admit that Summit achieved its goals. Period.

Here are two things I would have expected to have as goals:
a. Learn what has and has not worked in current and prior programs.

b. Explore new ways to increase high school completion.

Silly me. Clearly, I had inappropriate expectations and should have read the advance material more thoroughly.
joshwriting: (Default)
Earlier this week, I was up in the greater Bangor area to attend the Maine Drop Out Prevention Summit, along with more than 250 other folks, almost all of whom were from Maine, unlike me.

The event was tightly structured, from the 8:20am start on Monday to the final pre-lunch session on Tuesday. By tightly structured/i>, I don't merely mean the starting and ending times of sessions, but how the so-called breakout sessions were handled.

There were 12 groups, with 3 assigned to each topic (in no particular order):
1.) Early Intervention
2.) Making the Most of Instruction
3.) School and Community Perspectives
4.) Core Strategies

I'm not going to go through our process step by step, but suffice it to say that for every step, there was a form to fill out. Within our room, we went to 2's and 3's and each small group developed a broad list of needs. From there, we had to report 2 of those to the room as a whole. Then the room voted on which of those should get the most focus.

The next day, we were shown our top 4 vote-getters and told to determine which two of those to detail actions for. Those two would be read to the entire group, with actions.

Then we would be done.
*********

Aaaaaaaargh!

I'd gone to this event with the intention of being mostly quiet. I know that while I have my strengths, I am hardly an expert in drop-out prevention, and I was looking forward to hearing from those who were, or at least who were more experienced than I.

There was a panel in the morning of the first day at which a variety of programs from around the state were represented, and those folks talked briefly about what their programs did and for whom. Unfortunately, it was decided (not by the attendees) that the scheduled Q & A with the "panelists" wouldn't fit the timeframe, and they could not keep the Commissioners waiting, so the "Children's Cabinet" was presented and given a sample case to discuss - which they rightly noted had too little information to permit them to make an informed decision.

The loss of the first was frustrating. Its being replaced with the second... just too much.

While there were more folks with alternative schools experience gathered than anywhere this side of the alternative schools conferences, they sure didn't seem to have critical mass, overall - and their voices and experiences were given no particular credence in the room my group was in. I've not heard that it was different elsewhere, though it may have been.

So... some notions - notions that work, mind you - were shot down as things to consider, without discussion. Our facilitator was just that - she was not an expert in our field, seeking to guide the discussion, beyond "the commissioners won't go for that," and similar valid, but limited, observations.

Our group reported out two recommended needs, though the second one pretty close to a last minute addition when we were running out of time:
Policies that interfere with completion of high school must be changed or eliminated.

All students' learning styles must be assessed, addressed, and valued. ("Valued" was tacked on the end of my wording, and it was no longer worth arguing, if I wanted the rest of it included.)
*********

One of the other groups suggested to the assembly that we get rid of NCLB.

*********

Okay, so we didn't really listen to or consider, collectively, the experiences of those in the field. And we really didn't get the breadth of ideas to play with.

But at least we got to discuss and explore the ideas presented to the assembly by the 12 teams, right?

Bzzzzzzzzzt!

Nope. Upon completion of the report-out process, a few closing words were uttered, we watched a slide show of snippets of the two days, and we were done.

Done.
joshwriting: (Default)
I've been boggled by this one for a few days now.

Two judges in Pennsylvania have been railroading juveniles into a pair of detention facilities, apparently in return for kickbacks from the facilities - to the tune of ~$2,600,000 between them.

Hundred and possibly thousands of kids have been convicted and sentenced, often for incredibly trivial issues - and usually without either having lawyers or being informed that they were entitled to them.

They pleaded guilty. One of them expressed remorse. The other allegedly closed the public facility and arranged for the private ones to get contracts with the state, contracts deemed excessive - and yet, the process was not examined, let alone the results, for years.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29142654/
http://blogs.usatoday.com/ondeadline/2009/02/2-pa-judges-adm.html&cid=1303722996&usg=AFQjCNHerNw1_KSBOjI6LeQJtfD_Ii-yPA
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5h88VgykKcn87UozOYaETJS6yufvgD96AP8FG0

I just don't get it.
joshwriting: (Default)
I can't believe I actually did that. *sigh*

Tonight, I was heading into Cambridge to have dinner with my friends Eric and Liz, who'd not met, but have lots in common. I noticed, as I got into the car, that I needed to get gas on the way in.

About 30 minutes later, with the gauge showing an 1/8th of a tank below empty, I remembered this. I was on a stretch between I-495 and the Concord Rotary on Rt. 2 - next gas station a few miles ahead, at the rotary.

I pulled into the left lane and hoped.

2/3rds of the way around the rotary, the engine died. With it died the power steering and power brakes.

I coasted the rest of the way around the rotary, into the gas station, and stopped at the pump.

Piece of cake.
joshwriting: (Default)
After a searching two-year look at the economy, the Committee for Economic Development last week came to the conclusion that the U.S. is virtually depression-proof. "Changes since before the war in our financial, budgetary and psychological situation," said the committee's report from top businessmen, have all but done away with the dangers of an oldtime deflationary spiral. While there is no guarantee that there will be no more recessions, the changes do mean that what "might have turned out to be a severe depression would be a moderate recession and what might have been a moderate recession can now be relatively mild."

Such economic stabilizers as the Federal Reserve Board powers to buy Government bonds and make loans to banks (which would give banks needed cash without calling their loans), unemployment compensation and a big backlog of consumer savings "add up to a powerful package." Tax cuts and public works, said C.E.D., should be used only in the event of a serious decline, since "there is a danger of doing too much too soon and causing inflation, as well as a danger of doing too little too late."

The remained of the article is here:
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,819700,00.html

The date? Mar. 29, 1954
joshwriting: (Default)
I was on my way to my father's house on Monday night, and ran into a bit of a back up, just off the ramp to the Amoskeag Bridge. The cars in front of me were slowly parting, ala the Red Sea, to go around a vehicle stopped dead in the middle of the road.

Nobody seemed to stop or even to roll down their windows to ask the driver if she needed help.

The car had its lights on, and... it was facing the wrong way on a one-way stretch of road.

When I got up to the car, I opened my window to ask if they needed help (as there was also a passenger). "No, I'm fine," said the driver. "I could drive, if the traffic would give me a chance!"

"So," I replied, "you DO need help - you need somebody to get the traffic to stop."

"Oh. Right."

"Well, my car already has one lane blocked. So, hang on a sec." And I popped out, held up the other lane, and watched her do a 3 point turn and drive away with a wave of thanks. I got back in my car and went on my way.
*************

Apparently, the back-up had been there for 15+ minutes when I got there. Why, oh why, did nobody stop? Why didn't the driver ask her passenger to pause traffic for her? Why...

Just so many different elements of absurdity for words - even before you get to wondering how she got there.
joshwriting: (Default)
So, the never ending quest to prove that even conspiracy theorists have a sense of humor...

In one of the 70000 threads on a forum that is discussing if Obama (or McCain) are really U.S. citizens, I just posted the following:

Baruke Skybama: "You killed my father!"

Darth McCain: "Baruke, I am your father!"

Baruke Skybama: "Noooooooooooooooo!"
joshwriting: (Default)
http://www.politico.com/arena/perm/James_J__Zogby_CFCB073B-D3F9-4CFA-BDEC-510D805D6676.html
James J. Zogby, President, Arab American Institute:

When, a decade ago, Pat Buchanan unleashed his "pitchfork brigade", many recoiled at the ugly face of nativism it represented. We are seeing it again at McCain/Palin rallies, and it is no less ugly or frightening.


Economic dislocation, insecurity and "fear of the other" are a lethal brew. And when stirred with enough incitement, the results can be explosive. Add together the wink, wink snide comments at rallies, the subterranean rumor campaigns (amplified by the bullhorn of Rush and his ilk), and the toxic suggestiveness of the 30 second spots - mixing liar, terrorist, foreign, "different than us", Muslim - and the results can be dangerous.

And no, I can't give McCain credit for attempting to distance himself from all this (some of which Palin helped to fuel), especially when, in response to that sad old woman's concern that she couldn't trust Barack Obama because "he's an Arab", the best he could do was say "no, he's a decent human being". And then as the crowds booed, he took a step back.


I'm concerned about this election, to be sure. And, to be honest, I'm concerned about the impact that this bigotry will have on young Arabs and Muslims in the US. More than that, I am concerned about the future of our country. Once unleashed, nativism, will not quietly go away on November 5th.
joshwriting: (Default)
For some reason, somebody in the Palin for Queen office believes that they need to keep proving the old dictum that truth is stranger than fiction.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27105917/

Sarah Palin's campaign office, on Thursday, released a report in which they clear her of any wrong-doing.

Say what?

"Today, Governor Palin looked in the mirror. She determined that she is innocent!"

Obviously, I have not seen this report. (Oh, wait - what if I go on the McCain website. Is it there?) It is not linked from the AP news story at any of its postings or on their site. It is not searchable on the McCain.com website, at least not so far. And I have been unable to get a newsroom to answer their phones to tell me if they have read it, though AP seems to have.

Did the McCain campaign interview the 7 state employees who said that the Legislature had no standing to subpoena them? Why does the campaign think they need to offset the Legislature's investigation? And...

Why on Earth do they think their own report would do it?

Edited to add: The fine folks at the AP Main Office don't seem to know where the report is, and referred me to the Alaska office, but they seem to have gone home for the night.
joshwriting: (Default)
NPR: Given what you’ve said, senator, is there an occasion where you could imagine turning to Gov. Palin for advice in a foreign policy crisis?

McCain: I’ve turned to her advice many times in the past. I can’t imagine turning to Senator Obama or Senator Biden because they’ve been wrong. They were wrong about Iraq, wrong about Russia.
*********
You can watch these yourself:
http://ta-nehisicoates.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/10/this_is_just_frustration.php

Meeting Tuesday with the editorial board of The Des Moines Register, McCain was asked why he picked the Alaska governor, someone "who doesn't have a lot of experience."

"Thank you, but I disagree with your fundamental principal that she doesn't have the experience," McCain replied before citing Palin's work as a PTA member, city council member, mayor and governor. "You and I just have a fundamental disagreement, and I am so happy the American people seem to be siding with me."

When it was suggested that Palin's lack of experience worried voters, McCain turned sarcastic.

"Really? I haven't detected that in the polls, I haven't detected that among the base," he said. "If there's a Georgetown cocktail party person who, quote, calls himself a conservative who doesn't like her, good luck. I don't dismiss him. I think the American people have overwhelmingly shown their approval."

(snip)

a questioner at the Register noted a McCain commercial that suggested Obama favored comprehensive sex education for kindergartners and assertions by his campaign that a "lipstick on a pig" comment Obama made was a reference to Palin. News media fact-checking the sex education ad deemed it deceptive and a distortion of Obama's position.

"It certainly is your opinion and I respect your opinion, but it's not the facts," McCain said in the interview. "I respect your opinion. I strongly disagree with your assertion."
joshwriting: (Default)
Senator McCain will resume “all activities and the senator will travel to the debate this afternoon. Following the debate, he will return to Washington to ensure that all voices and interests are represented in the final agreement, especially those of taxpayers and homeowners,” the McCain campaign said in a statement released around 11:30 a.m. ET.

Boy, I feel safer knowing he suspended his campaign activities for that day and a half (except for an interview, a speech, and some campaign advertising) in this crisis.

Where would we have been without his sacrifice and leadership?
joshwriting: (Default)
This whole thing is a put up job - McCain IS going to 'rally' the republicans to achieve a compromise for the good of the people and all the republicans who change position will laud him for his role

"Oh, well, Senator McCain helped us to see how vital this was."

"He really saved the day!"

"Thank God for John McCain a real American."

I sure hope that somebody puts this out to the news agencies as the expected results BEFORE it happens, or they (and the public) will be surprised.
joshwriting: (Default)
Today, Rick Davis, campaign manager for John McCain told Chris Wallace of Fox News that:
McCain running mate Gov. Sarah Palin won't subject herself to any tough questions from reporters "until the point in time when she'll be treated with respect and deference."

So when will she subject herself to questions?

"When we think it's time and when she feels comfortable doing it," Davis said, praising a Fox News Channel profile of Palin that ran last night.

Why is she scared of answering questions? Wallace asked.

"She's not scared to answer questions," Davis said, "but you know what? We run our campaign not the news media."

Wallace said inappropriate intrusions into Palin's family and personal life aside, there are legitimate questions about whether she is prepared to be vice president.

"Sarah Palin will have the opportinity to speak to the American people," Davis said. "She will do interviews, but she'll do them on the terms and conditions" the campaign decides.


I am both amused and aghast at this. What is she, the Queen, that the press must give her deference?

But Mike Graves, a libertarian and the friend of a friend of mine, had a more pragmatic concern which he expressed thusly:

WALLACE: It's been more than three weeks since President McCain has had a press conference. With the coup in Pakistan two weeks ago and the reports of more than 10,000 killed in intense fighting in three different regions of Pakistan, including reports of American planes, helicopters and the display of what look to be the recovered bodies of American soldiers, do you believe the President owes the American people answers to questions he wasn't willing to give in his address to the nation a week ago yesterday.

DAVIS (Now Press Secretary): The President has not been satisfied with the objectivity of the press on this issue...

WALLACE: But doesn't he have an obligation to answer questions at some point on these developments?

DAVIS: The press doesn't determine the timing or content of the President's communications, the President does that.

WALLACE: Can you at least provide some criterion for what the President expects in terms of 'objectivity' before he will agree to answer questions from the press?

DAVIS: I don't have a fixed test or measure to give you, but I will say that the press frenzy over the past weeks has been far from satisfactory to the President.

WALLACE: We received unsubstantiated reports last night that another carrier group has been dispatched to the Indian Ocean, where it would be deployed if it were needed in support of more intensive military operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Can you provide any information on this report?

DAVIS: The President is in constant consultation with the theater commander, and will present himself to the American people when events warrant.

WALLACE: That sounds like it may be another address, no questions...

DAVIS: As I said, that will happen at the discretion of the President.

WALLACE: So you can't give us an expectation for the President or his representatives to field questions on what has in less than a month become a violent, bloody war in Pakistan, possibly involving large numbers of US forces?

DAVIS: No.

********

The white text is real. The red one is a fictional interview. McCain is not yet President.
joshwriting: (Default)
I've been sitting on this post for a couple of days, waiting to see if my irritation faded or if I found something profound to say on the topic, but pretty much the burn is still there while depth of content seems to be escaping me.

I returned from my trip to Canmore, Alberta on Monday (or, really, Tuesday, but I left and was supposed to be back on Monday), and overall it was a great time. But one aspect of it continues to leave a sour taste in my mouth: The treatment of people (present and not, alive and dead) by prominent individuals in the Dabrowski community.

Roughly 30 years ago, there was a falling out between the late Dr. Dabrowski and his co-author and friend, Dr. Piechowski, over Dr. Piechowski's edits and additions to the English language of a book of theirs that was about to come out. Without spending a lot of time on the details, suffice it to say that Dr. Dabrowski felt that his ideas were being misrepresented in the name of efficacy and sales. He communicated this quite effectively to, among others, his last student who received the legacy to preserve and grow Dab's theory. Unfortunately, Dab died just a couple years later, leaving no real time for the disagreement to heal between him and Dr. P.

30 years later, it is as if the wound is still fresh and bleeding. At the conference, one presentation spent more than half of its allocated 45 minutes shredding the professional and personal reputation of Abe Maslow. Why? Because one of the core aspects of the dispute was that Dr. Piechowski likened Level IV (Organized Multi-Level Disintegration) to Maslow's Self-Actualized Man. It was not enough for the presenter to clarify exactly what Maslow said and meant about the S-A Man. He had to go into what Maslow said about his mother, rape, and heaven knows what else!

The shame of it was that the final 15-20 minutes of the presentation was important and worthwhile stuff, looking at how to take ideas from each of Maslow and Dabrowski to extend the theories.

The crap expressed itself in other ways, as well. For another example, on the first full day, as the schedule slipped, an announcement was made that lunch would be pushed back 15 minutes so a (favored) presenter could have a full session. On the second day, the same slippage happened - but the (unfavored) presenters were not accorded the same opportunity and lunch was not pushed back. When they were stopped, they negotiated permission to finish after the last session (mine).

But when I finished, the leaders of the conference (including the Maslow presenter) gave 'closing remarks,' to symbolize the end of the conference. It was only when I asked if we could have more of the other presenter that we were grudgingly told "If you want to." They then left - but at least half the attendees stayed for what proved to be a stimulating and extended presentation. (I think we got almost twice as much of them as we would have had they simply been given their original timeframe!)
*******

This was all on top of what I felt was somewhat unfortunate conference management by the coordinators. The keynote really doesn't get the theory. Another presenter started by explaining "I haven't actually read Dabrowski's own work..." And, for all that I found the discussion that ensued to be somewhat interesting, a session expressly designed for the presenter to gather information seems inappropriate, especially in a single track conference.

Ah yes, the single tracking... Friday - 9:00 to 4:15pm, and then Saturday - 8:45am to 4pm. 1 hour keynote on Friday (that ran 75 minutes, instead), and 15 forty-five minute sessions over the two days, some of which ran wrong. (I know - you're shocked.) A lunch period each day of 1 hour. That leaves 30 minutes of breathing room each day - too little, in my opinion. (I simply skipped out on session that were too basic for words. That gave me the space I needed. Not everybody is prepared to be 'rude' that way.)
*******

The crap has been going on for years, and I have remarked on it before. "Which side are you on?" has been asked of me by one side. The other side just wants the mistreatment to go away.

Somehow, I think Dabrowski would be appalled.
joshwriting: (Default)
CNN has an article about the impact the budget deficit will have on whichever person gets elected.
http://money.cnn.com/2008/07/28/news/economy/deficit_record_candidates/index.htm

In it, the second sentence says:

But surely John McCain and Barack Obama are aware of the cautionary verse from Scottish poet Robert Burns: "The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry."

I'm not sure I can read CNN any more.
joshwriting: (Default)
Today I got in the mail a new Educator's License for Vocational Education.

Unfortunately, it belongs to Dennis H____.

Why, you might wonder, did I receive Dennis's license to teach? Well, truth be told it was not supposed to go to this house, but the town renumbered the street in the early 90's. It actually should have gone to Rich W's house, instead.

*watches eyebrows go up*

Well, it seems that the Board of Education, in its inestimable wisdom, is redoing its licensure system, and has sent out new licenses to all currently licensed Vocational Education teachers.

Unfortunately, they are using a data base with information that is up to 40 years old!
joshwriting: (Default)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/2277298/President-George-Bush-%27Goodbye-from-the-world%27s-biggest-polluter%27.html

"The American leader, who has been condemned throughout his presidency for failing to tackle climate change, ended a private meeting with the words: "Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter."

He then punched the air while grinning widely, as the rest of those present including Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy looked on in shock."

Wow.
joshwriting: (Default)
http://thinkprogress.org/2008/06/25/parhat-combatant-solitary/

So, the SCOTUS ruled. Now, these folks get to contest the decision to keep them locked up in Guantanamo, right?

Well...

Gitmo Detainee’s Lawyer ‘Not Allowed To Tell Him’ He’s No Longer An ‘Enemy Combatant’»

Nearly two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that detainees held at Guantánamo Bay have the right to habeas corpus and can thus challenge their detention in civilian courts, a U.S. Court of Appeals dealt another blow to the Bush administration’s detention policy.

The appeals court ruled that the Pentagon improperly designated Huzaifa Parhat, an ethnic Uighur Chinese national, an “enemy combatant” after being swept up by the U.S. military in Afghanistan in 2001 and then sent to Guantánamo Bay, where he has been held since.

Despite the ruling, Parhat has yet to see any of its benefits. In fact, he doesn’t even know about it. Parhat’s lawyer told CBC radio’s As It Happens last night that Parhat is currently being held in solitary confinement and “has no idea” the appeals court ruled in his favor because, he added, “I’m not allowed to tell him”:

DEREK STOFFEL, CBC HOST: Mr. Willett, what’s your client’s reaction to this ruling?

SABIN WILLETT (PARHAT’S LAWYER): Boy what a great question that is because my client doesn’t know about this ruling because I’m not allowed to tell him. […] He’s sitting in solitary confinement today. He has no idea what’s happened as far as I know.


There is more to the story, and both the video and a transcript of the interview.

I am not surprised. I am, however, appalled.

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