First, dismantle public school funding. That was pandering to the charter school people he was sitting with. Second, more “no child left behind” type policies. Third, increase classroom size. Because classroom size doesn’t matter. Fourth, cancel teacher improvement programs.

From the Washington Post:

During the roundtable session, Romney said there was no correlation between classroom size and student performance, citing a report by consulting firm McKinsey & Company. That sparked a debate with some educators and other leaders around the table.
“I can’t think of any teacher in the whole time I’ve been teaching, for 10 years, 13 years, who would say that more students [in the classroom] would benefit,” said Steven Morris, a music teacher at the school. “And I can’t think of a parent that would say I would like my teacher to be in a room with a lot of kids and only one teacher.”

Yes, some studies showed that but as far as I can tell, they were comparing class sizes that were too big with class sizes that were way too big. Turns out there is not much difference between totally broken and way totally broken.

In the form of song.

High school students in Dunkerton, Iowa were expecting an assembly about bullying and making good choices. What they got instead was the Christian rap/hard rock band called Junkyard Prophet delivering an anti-gay and anti-abortion rant.

After the band played, they broke the students up into gender-based groups and then lectured them.

“They told my daughter, the girls, that they were going to have mud on their wedding dresses if they weren’t virgins,” said Jennifer Littlefield, whose 16-year-old daughter, Alivia called her in tears after the event. Reportedly, one of the band members led the girls in a chant pledging purity and encouraged them to be submissive to their husbands after marriage.

Here’s part of the presentation:

And another:

Let me tell you two things about this: 1) It is an outrage; and 2) This kind of thing happens in high schools across the country on a regular basis; it is not that frequent, but it happens.

Hat Tip: Gwenn Smith Olson

Unfortunately, the fundraising goal for this creationist project was $24.5 million. The groundbreaking of the park has been delayed numerous times.

LEO Weekly tried to find out from the state Tourism Cabinet what was going on, and their representative claimed that they’d heard nothing from Ken Ham’s organization. But, they lied. Emails obtained via the Freedom of Information Act indicate that there has been communication, and that the situation for the Ark Park is not good: Continue reading

Gene Marks, you wrote an essay for Forbes that has gotten a lot of people rather upset. People are upset because you display insensitive unchecked privilege and, essentially, you blame an entire class of people as the victims of what is mostly not their fault but rather, your fault and the fault of the modal Forbes reader, as well as society more broadly, history, culture, economics, racism and all sort of other things that are largely beyond the control of the Poor Black Kids of the Inner City of whom you write.

I think you meant well, but you did not do well. There are many ways in which you display a marked lack of a clue about your topic. How so? Let’s start at the beginning of your essay: Continue reading

The competition is fierce. This isn’t only Free Thought Blogs vs. other blogging networks. This is also blogger against blogger. I need you to visit my donation page and GIVE MONEY TO WORTHY SCHOOLS.

Remember last summer’s tornado in North Minneapolis? North is one of the more challenged neighborhoods in the region, with a high poverty rate and where the schools are struggling against all odds. One of the schools in North Minneapolis that needs your help is one of the schools damaged by that tornado. So they got a double hit. I’ve hand selected all of the schools based on my interaction with local and regional schools, with a focus on supporting doable project related mainly to science or math. In addition, DonorsChoose carefully inspects budgets and proposals to make sure they are reasonable.

Please visit my donations page and give a few bucks to one of these schools. Or more than one. The X Blog is already behind some of the other blogs in donations! Get in there and show them we aren’t going to be left behind!!!!

Thank you very much. Please pass this on to rich people you may know.

i-68efa548cdb44e33126c5936c96fe3ed-evolution_2008.jpgContinuing with our discussion of the Evolution 2008 conference …Yet another item from the first day of the conference, the pre-conference teachers day sponsored by Evolution 2008 and the Minnesota Citizens for Science Education (MnCSE) …The Minnesota Citizens for Science Education presented Ken Hubert with an award. I am blanking on the name of the award right now, but eventually, the MnCSE web site will probably have a page on this, or an announcement about it. (We need time for some dust to settle.)Who is Ken Hubert?Well, when it comes to the Evolution – Creationism ‘debate’, Ken is Case Law 101… Continue reading

i-68efa548cdb44e33126c5936c96fe3ed-evolution_2008.jpgContinuing with our discussion of the Evolution 2008 conference …Karen Oberhauser talked about the “single species” approach to pedagogy. This involves focusing on a single species and using it throughout an entire course. Karen has taught classes on this approach for teachers’ professional development programs.The species she uses is the Monarch Butterfly.i-43aa3685b219a3a899cb18cca4e9fbba-monarch.jpgKaren is a world class expert on this insect, and runs a major research project with them.The idea of a single-species approach is that a student learns a great deal about one particular species, to the extent that this species becomes an organizing theme as well as a kind of living mnemonic device for all that is learned throughout the course. The individual seemingly disconnected aspects of biology and ecology can become seemingly connected by referring back to a single species. If there is something that this one species does not give you that you need to use in your class, there is almost alwasy a way to work it in. Continue reading

Birds: Nature’s Magnificent Flying Machines is a book by Caroline Arnold and illustrated by Patricia Wynne for, I’d say, Pre-Elementary School kids and first/second grade. This is a good book to read to a pre-literate kid. Then put it away for later when the first grade academic report on birds is due … it will be an excellent reference.i-ef9e18512105a401e2989534c1e754a0-Arnold_birds.jpgThis is a well done and highly recommended book. Continue reading

There is a point that I’ve been trying to make for the last few weeks now, off and on, and it is not working. So I’m going to try something new. Please bear with me, and consider the following three scenarios regarding the idea that the Earth is Round (or, possibly, flat): Continue reading

How should public school administrators react to students who sit through the pledge of allegiance in the US? This issue came up recently in a small town in western Minnesota, where kids were suspended and possibly humiliated because they failed to stand (in once case entirely by accident) for the pledge.There is now an on line poll being run by the Star Tribune in Minneapolis asking your opinion on this issue. Here.Hat Tip: Stephanie Z

A Missouri House Committee has just approved for consideration of the House an Academic Freedom Bill drafted with the aid of the Discovery Institute.The bill has a nice twist to it in that it prohibits the consideration of any boundary or difference between religion and non-religion in regards to what to teach or how to teach it. In other words, the bill requires that state agencies, school administrators, and teachers ignore the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America in deference to state law. Therefore, challenges to this particular form of the bill would be a challenge to state’s rights.Such a challenge would result in the bill being struck down as clearly as any with any other challenge, but it could take longer. If there are sympathetic judges in the right places, a school district that obeys the higher level Federal law (or a teacher or a particular school) could be forced into the court system for one or two rounds of slash and burn lawyering.The best way to fight this sort of thing? Probably to make sure that individual legislators who introduce such bills, and who chair the committees that approve them, and so on, are held accountable for the legal fees that will be paid by cash-strapped school districts. Of course, such elected officials can’t be held accountable in any pecuniary way, but they can be made to pay by being tossed out of office by disgruntled taxpayers.The stamp of the Discovery Institute is obvious in both the wording of the bill and the fact that not a single news outlet has coverage of this event, but it is covered on the DI web site. They really ought to be a bit more discrete as I’m sure they will later want to deny involvement in this particular effort (at about the time the legal bills come in).This is just more of the Wedge Strategy, more of the Trojan Horse approach, and more of the same attack on our public school system, it’s children, and their teachers.Here is the main text of the bill: Continue reading

This is described in UDreamOfJanie:Ronda R. Storms is a Florida sate senator (Republican) who has spearheaded efforts against Planned Parenthood, against her local LGBTA community, and so on, is now linked to the Discovery Institute in regards to her latest project, the Florida “Academic Freedom” bill.In regards to Academic Freedom, Storms …

…took the age-old ethical high-road known as ‘Lying for Jesus’. She insists that this bill is about the freedom to inquire about all `scientific information relevant to the full range of scientific views regarding biological and chemical evolution in connection with teaching any prescribed curriculum regarding chemical or biological evolution.’ When asked if this is just a backdoor for sneaking in ‘Intelligent Design’, she wouldn’t answer the question.

In a move that now sends the deceptively named “academic freedom” bill to the Florida Senate floor, the Senate judiciary committee voted 6-3 to approve it. It looks like some Democrats can see the potential (almost guaranteed) lawsuit pitfalls to come, but the bill marches on nonetheless. I’ll have more later …

What’s wrong with you people? Do we not ridicule you enough? Do you not feel stoopid enough? Are your jaws not slack enough and your chromosomes not homogeneous enough?Get out there and De-Elect these Senators!Florida Citizens for Science may have more soon. Here.

Accepting his 2008 TED Prize, author Dave Eggers asks the TED community to personally, creatively engage with local public schools. With spellbinding eagerness, he talks about how his 826 Valencia tutoring center inspired others around the world to open their own volunteer-driven, wildly creative writing labs. But you don’t need to go that far, he reminds us — it’s as simple as asking a teacher “How can I help?” He asks that we share our own volunteering stories at his new website, Once Upon a School. Continue reading


The University of California Board of Regents today (March 27) voted unanimously to appoint Mark G. Yudof, current head of the University of Texas system and a recognized leader in American higher education, the 19th president of the University of California.The appointment was made during a special meeting of the board following a search committee’s recommendation last week. Yudof will succeed Robert C. Dynes, who last August announced his intention to step down by June 2008 after nearly five years in the position.Yudof’s appointment will become effective this summer, with the exact date to be determined.”I am deeply honored by this appointment,” said Yudof. “The University of California stands as a model for the world, creating tomorrow’s leaders and innovators and helping to solve many of society’s most pressing problems. I can think of no greater personal privilege than to have the opportunity to lead this remarkable institution.”Yudof, 63, has served as chancellor of the UT system since 2002. He heads one of the largest university systems in the country with 15 campuses, 194,000 students and an annual operating budget of $10.7 billion. Yudof previously was president of the University of Minnesota and a longtime faculty member, dean and provost at the University of Texas at Austin.

If you are interested in astronomy, you know that there are a lot of Planetarium applications that you can install on your computer in order to find your way around the night sky. Kstars is a well known standby for KDE (but of course it will run under Gnome as well). Search for “stars” in your package manager and you’ll see quite a few other pieces of software as well.But when you get to “Stellarium” … stop and install that one. Continue reading

There is an intersesting study being reported (at the annual Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness meetings in D.C.) on elementary school achievement gap dynamics. The study indicates that the usual “racial/ethnic” gaps are seen in early years, but that a lot of gap-closing happens by fifth grade. Continue reading

…. Have you ever had this happen: You are minding your own business, teaching your life science course, it’s early in the term. A student, on the way out after class (never at the beginning of class, rarely during class) mentions something about “carbon dating.” This usually happens around the time of year you are doing an overview of the main points of the course, but before you’ve gotten to the “evolution module” (more on the “evolution module” another time … or come to the Bell on Friday to hear me rant about that in person).

Jeanne d’Arc was a very influential 10th grader. I understand she gave her Life Science teachers a very hard time. This is the only contemporary depiction of Joan of Arc. Some say the banner reads “IHS” but I’m pretty sure it says “AIG.”

The student is talking about C14 dating and how it “has problems.” But you are a life science teacher and can’t think of a single point in your class that you really touch on C14. Dating in the evolution section does not involve C14. This is for later time periods, more in the area of archaeology, and you know nothing about it. So you brush off the question but are left with an uneasy feeling.

Continue reading

i-6d830b7f85d83707170f6da2bd1804a3-teachers_under_fire.jpgIt is very common, across the U.S., for science teachers to dread the “evolution” unit that they teach during life science class. As they approach the day, and start to prepare the students for what is coming, they begin to hear the sarcastic remarks from the creationist students. When the day to engage the evolution unit arrives, students may show up in the classroom with handouts from anti-science sites like Answers in Genesis, to give to their friends. They may carry a bible to the lab station and read it instead of doing the work. If there is a parent conference night around that time, the teacher may be verbally abused by some of the parents for not including “alternative theories” in the classroom. Continue reading