Posted by Peter Greene: 06 Jun 2016 07:01 AM PDT

One of the dreams of ed reform has been to come up with a system that is teacher-proof, a program or script or curriculum that works exactly the same way no matter what carbon-based life form you have propped up in front of the classroom.

Systems are particularly appealing as a method of controlling “bad” actors, with “bad” defined as “does not do what I want them to do.” This is a false hope, a snare and a delusion. Systems rarely fix bad actors, and frequently hamstring your best people.

You have a troupe of dancers, some of leap and soar and move with grace and beauty, and a few of whom dart around the stage like spastic rhinos. So to get the rhinos slowed down and under control, you put everyone in the company in forty-pound cement shoes. The rhinos are now chastened and restrained, but your best dancers can no longer leap and soar and move with grace and beauty.

Read more here: CURMUDGUCATION: System

Please Read Bill Mathis’ Profound Reflection on the Public Purpose of Education in America

“We have made great progress in establishing a universal education system, as evidenced by graduation rates being at an all-time high. Yet, substantial disparities in educational resources, opportunities, and outcomes continue to undermine our vision—and ultimately our society… Given the broad scope of inequities in schools and in society writ large, the most sensible approach would be to inventory the full range of social and economic needs, and address the multiple factors—which extend well beyond the traditional boundaries of schools—that contribute to the enduring and increasing opportunity gap that children experience in schools. Fair housing policies, investments in distressed neighborhoods, good jobs, and policies that reduce income disparities are all essential… Misreading the achievement gap as an indicator of school failure rather than a measure of unequal opportunities, some economists suggest that simply improving math scores will eradicate economic malaise. This mindset provided the rationale for the prevalent reform philosophy of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries: test scores will make the nation strong, and those scores can be improved by pedagogy and driven by punishments, regardless of the vast differences in student circumstances. This approach failed.” – William J. Mathis is the managing director of the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado Boulder and the former superintendent of schools for the Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union in Brandon, Vermont


According to his biography posted at the National Education Policy Center, “William J. Mathis is the managing director of the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado Boulder and the former superintendent of schools for the Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union in Brandon, Vermont. He was a National Superintendent of the Year finalist and a Vermont Superintendent of the Year. He currently serves on the Vermont State Board of Education and chairs the legislative committee.”  Bill Mathis brings a long career of experience—a local, state, and federal perspective—to his thinking about public schools.  An excellent writer, Mathis has penned a short defense of the public role of public schools in the United States.  I urge you to read Mathis’ paper in full.  Here is just a taste.

“We have made great progress in establishing a universal education system, as evidenced by graduation rates being at an all-time high. …

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Trading Spaces: Beekeeping Edition

My Adventures in Beekeeping

trading spaces logo.png

Remember the TLC show Trading Spaces? I think it was the home remodeling show that paved the way for the MANY shows that exist now! I remember when it was all the rage. For those of you who may have missed this trend, the premise was two neighbors would “trade spaces” for the weekend and remodel (a bedroom, a den, a living room) and then there was this great reveal at the end. Of course the show featured designers with pretty wild styles and those styles did not always mesh well with that of the homeowners, so the excitement in the big reveal at the end was to see if the homeowners loved the new digs or hated them (sometimes they really did hate them).

Last week my husband and I had the privilege of playing Trading Spaces with some unsuspecting bees. We can only hope they love their new…

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The Romance of the Typewriter – A Writer’s Ode

Live to Write - Write to Live

typewriter love 1I cannot pass by one without pausing to admire it. If it’s within reach, I cannot resist touching it. I trace the retro curves and mechanical angles before finally letting my fingers settle reverently on the keys. Glass and lacquer, enamel and chrome, Bakelite and celluloid – the keys are the most irresistible part of these elegant machines.

The first commercially successful typewriter was the Sholes and Glidden Type-Writer. E. Remington & Sons began production of this historic machine, which they dubbed the Remington No. 1,  in 1873 after striking an agreement with the patent holder. Though E. Remington & Sons produced a variety of items, including agricultural equipment and sewing machines, the company was perhaps best known for its rifles and other small arms. It’s odd to think of one company producing both firearms and typewriters. It makes me wonder which of those two products has had a…

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The First 5 Pages

Live to Write - Write to Live

I find myself in a very interesting situation.

20160414_104156(0)I have an idea for a book, it’s a memoir based on the experiences I just went through with my mom in residential hospice. A little bit of magic happened in the 2 months she was there and I want to write it up. Realizing this early on, I took notes, interviewed my mom, and have created an outline and story arc. It’s a middle-aged coming of age story. I’ve already written about half of the book. It wouldn’t take me long to finish. The pitch is still bubbling around, but I was able to capture enough of it to form an informal query which I sent to a literary agent.

The agent is young, she handles new and current books, but I thought I could appeal to her “someday your mother is also going to die fear.” I felt a younger…

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Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder: I’m still politically relevant… I’m still politically relevant… I’m still politically relevant…

 “He knows that he is being … seen as someone who has lost his political capital…and he’s trying really hard to push back on that,” said Ron Fournier, a Detroit native and senior political columnist for the National Journal who presented at the conference.
   “He struck me as someone who was, generally speaking, awfully determined to put up the façade as someone who wasn’t in doubt,” said Fournier, who said he sat down with Snyder for 20 minutes on the island. “(He was) really defensive, leaning really hard with his case and his talking points for the progress that has been made in Flint and Detroit and the successes that he thinks he’s had and where he hopes to take the state.”
   Snyder remains popular among business leaders. He had a 59 percent approval rating in a May survey of Crain’s subscribers conducted by Lansing-based Epic-MRA. More respondents favor Snyder than President Barack Obama or any of the remaining candidates vying to replace him.
   Survey respondents overwhelmingly say they believe Snyder should remain in office, with 78 percent in favor of the governor finishing his term.
   Among all voters, it’s a different story. A new poll of likely statewide voters found 52 percent disapprove of the job Snyder is doing, The Detroit News reported.

Read more here: Bridge • The Center for MichiganGov. Snyder: I’m still politically relevant