Sep 30, 2007

Here in the Olympia, much controversy arose when the School Board, in a 3-2 split, adopted the Connected Math Project, or CMP2. (You can read the end of the months-long and exciting exchange in the March 12 minutes [pdf].) Problems with the process drove at least one current school board candidate, Jeff Nejedly, to seek office in the upcoming.

But all our fractiousness over fractions may be for naught, as the Frenchification of Washington's public education gathers speed. The Kitsap Sun reports:

home wreckers: Hawks smash 49ers in San Fran

Picked to lose by ESPN's AccuScore, and victims of two tough 2006 losses, the vengeance-minded Seattle Seahawks brought down wrath upon the 49ers, sending Alex Smith home early in a 23-3 victory. The game shouldn't have been that close: several Seattle drives stalled in the red zone, and the Hawks recovered only two of the Niners' five fumbles. (San Francisco punted 10 times, one shy of the record.)

I love the way ESPN describes the game's fastest drive:
The Seahawks' offense also started slowly, managing only one field goal until Branch ran past $80 million cornerback Nate Clements for a 65-yard catch midway through the second quarter. Engram then caught a 17-yard pass over the middle to complete the two-play, 82-yard TD drive.
It was a thing of beauty. Thankfully, it's archived on the Seahawks' website. Click on September and scroll.

how to teach the WASL

The Science Goddess is sharing her methods for approaching the WASL in the classroom. It's not just for science teachers, either. Check it out.

there will be a quiz

The Associated Press tries to clarify the potential NL tiebreaking scenarios. God forbid a four-way tie:
If Colorado, New York and Philadelphia win Sunday and San Diego loses, all would finish 89-73. New York and Philadelphia would play the NL East tiebreaker Monday; the loser would play a three-team, two-day, wild-card tiebreaker with Colorado and San Diego on Tuesday and Wednesday. In that scenario, Colorado (the team with the best head-to-head record among the three teams in the wild-card tiebreaker) would get the choice of having a bye on Tuesday or playing both games at home.
Oh, and what's sad: the Mariners, 7 back in the AL West, coulda won the NL central.

Update: The Phillies won the NL East. Buh-bye, Mets. The Padres and Rockies will meet in a one-game playoff for the wild card spot.

Sep 29, 2007

this week's upset blogging

Update 9/30: And now for the even bigger upset that wasn't: The Dawgs couldn't quite take down #1 USC. That woulda been the day's biggest.

Tulane was tough in the first half, but faded in the second, letting LSU slip away:

At the day's end, I'll add the best upset that's as shocking as an upset that's really shocking. (Ah, Simile School. I am a lifelong student.)

And here it is: Kansas State shocks Texas: with special teams!

a libertarian traffic solution

Want drivers to become more courteous? In a German town, they're removing all street signs, leveling sidewalks, and creating "shared space" for bikers, pedestrians, and drivers, in hopes that folks will slow down and pay attention. KOMO has the video.

You can see the insurance agent / obligatory skeptic at the end thinking, "If this works, we'll have to--choke--lower our rates!"

group therapy for the city council

In Ashland, Oregon, City Council members' open disagreements are more like open sores:
They curse and bicker regularly in public. They disagree on almost everything. But now they've agreed to see a counselor for a second shot at their broken relationship...

Starting next week they'll put their future collaboration in the hands of an Ashland naturopath who counsels corporations and cable news channels on conflict resolution and adapting to change.

Rick Kirschner will lead the council in the first of a five-month series of therapy sessions on Oct. 6, for which the city's taxpayers will pay Kirschner $37,000.

Kirschner has written several books about the art of persuasion and human relationships, including "Dealing With People You Can't Stand - How To Bring Out The Best In People At Their Worst."

The council's cry for help was highlighted once again Tuesday night when Councilman David Chapman told Councilman Eric Navickas to "shut your f——— mouth" during a formal discussion about council rules at a special session.

"I just lost my temper," Chapman said Wednesday. "He's lost his temper with me before. We kind of take turns."
No matter how contentious Olympia's local politics have been, we haven't reached the point where we've had to bring in a therapist.

Not yet, anyway.

[via Obscure Store, where the commentators have other suggestions]

twin camazing

I swear, Officer, I didn't know it was a school zone.

Sep 28, 2007

home sweet homecoming: Capital 38, Clover Park 13

Update: Photos added below.

Capital, playing in front of a feisty home crowd, scored early and often, soundly defeating Clover Park in the Cougs' homecoming match, 38-13.

For three quarters Clover Park dogged the Cougs, but couldn't close the gap, eventually falling to Capital's balanced attack. Reid and Riley Wall outran and outzigged the Warrior line, and a charged up defensive unit kept pressure on freshman QB Tana Pritchard, who tossed up two interceptions to his one touchdown.

The Warriors couldn't solve the Wall twins, especially Riley, who scored two touchdowns in the first five minutes. His quick cuts and long runs after the catch took him at least to 175 multipurpose yards [207, says The Olympian]--and he could have gone for more, if not for a couple crucial false starts and holding calls.

Kellen Camus pitched a solid game, going 11 for 18 9 for 17 with two touchdowns and, more important, no interceptions.

Key Plays:

Down 31-7 in the first half, Clover Park punched in a touchdown on a QB keeper with time expiring. After a roughing the kicker penalty, Clover park decided to go for two. They failed.

With 7:33 remaining in the 3rd, the Cougs faced fourth and inches on their own 40. Coach Johnson called a run play, and Michael Peters pounded the ball ahead, sustaining the drive and eating up precious time.

Five minutes later, trailing by 18 on third and long near midfield, a Warrior receiver made a tough catch and appeared to reach the down marker--but then coughed up the football when hit hard from behind. The Cougars recovered, and Clover Park's hopes faded.

The band takes the field.

The band and drill team perform at the half.

The homecoming court limo attempts to run down our mascot.

It was 51 degrees at gametime, and 48 when we left, victorious. Melissa's sporting her new hand-knit scarf, in official Cougar cardinal.

[All stats are unofficial. Stats updated.]

time machine

The photo of yesterday's tacky tie, a repeat from last year, features a screen shot of decorabilia past--including a digital photo from last year's Spirit Week. Sadly, this year's hall decorations lacked verve, although the Simpsons theme was done fairly well.

I don't need a traditional time machine. I need a machine that expands time.

Sep 27, 2007

stop me before I vote again!

In Texas, they like democracy so much, they can't stop themselves from voting. For others.

"They" means legislators, of course.

[via the inimitable Radley Balko]

how to flirt

Apparently, it's all in the eyebrows.

Seriously, watch this guy:
That's about all he's got.

(Need further help? Visit the internet's number one dating advice site thing.)

Sep 26, 2007

Shoreline teacher strike: just the quotes

Via the Times article. The strike begins--and ends--tomorrow. But the hurt will last until summer, at least.
"The reputation of the district is in jeopardy with the actions of the association. There wasn't a town here originally, there was a school district, and people moved here to be a part of that."

--Sue Walker, Superintendent

"[Ben] lost it. He said, 'Why me? Why me? Why did they pick me?' The right that we have to a good education, by this decision by the administration, has been hindered."

--Sharon Reijonen, parent

"We're trying to use our resources more effectively than we have in the past."

--Dan Mann, School Board member

"Before we do something this instructionally damaging, we believe we should have exhausted all possible avenues for revenue generation and for cost reduction."

--Elizabeth Beck, Shoreline EA co-president

"This is the first time in my teaching career I have ever been embarrassed to be in this district. They're sucking the soul out of Shoreline."

--Kaydee McGillivray, longtime elementary teacher

"There's definitely a sense that in this whole struggle to bring the financial picture back into line, there's been a certain callousness and overlooking what's happening in the classroom. It's past the eleventh hour, it's past the twelfth hour. It's the third week of school."

--Ed Coleman, parent

"I don't think the strike is going to change what's going on, and I think it sends the wrong message to the community. Frustration and disappointment are my primary emotions at this point."

--Mike Jacobs, Board president
The administration could at least make some sort of conciliatory gesture: move into tents to save on building costs, and fight the budget battle as if it's a real war. We're all in this together, right?

public sculpture in an ambivalent century

The Bean is a high point. See some of the low points, and a few changes of direction, at Dushko Petrovic's Slate piece. Sample:
Nowadays, public sculpture does something quite different. In Chicago, for example, tourists and locals alike flock in huge numbers to Cloud Gate, a giant, mirrored bean that makes the lakeside AT&T Plaza much more popular and photogenic. For the interested parties, the $23 million project has been an unmitigated success; Mayor Richard Daley has even proclaimed May 15 to be "Cloud Gate Day." Still, one of the many things this ingenious landmark reflects back at us is the fact that we inhabit a decidedly ambivalent era for public sculpture.
Cloud Gate's better known nickname is just further proof of Petrovic's thesis.

blog solicits board race concerns

The Olympian's education blog asks:
We'll be writing more about the upcoming school board races this fall, and I'm curious about the issues that are on your mind. Do you see other issues influencing the races? What are the biggest issues facing the Olympia School District? Are you a parent, student, teacher, staff member or community resident with a stake in the election? I want to hear from you!

E-mail me at or post a comment on this blog. I'll publish a sampling here in the next few weeks.
I can already see the responses shaping up:

1. Math curriculum.
2. Budget woes.
3. Communication issues.
4. Equity across the district.

As a teacher, I'm most concerned about the budget process. I survived the last major RIF, and don't want to see younger teachers go through that again.

Sep 25, 2007

school board blogging

Not by me, but by Rich Nafziger, responding to the press release by Russ Lehman and Bob Shirley. (The upcoming school board election is turning into one of the more heated in recent memory, as at-odds Board members line up behind opposing candidates.)

On a more positive note, Nafziger also has thoughts on how to "make the best [district] better."

For the record, the OEA endorses Frank Wilson and Carolyn Barclift. I sat on the endorsement committee, interviewing Wilson and Barclift and their opponents, Jeff Nejedly and Lucy Gentry-Meltzer. The decision in each case was difficult--all seem like genuinely good people with a real desire to reach out to the community. We made our choice having no idea that we would get stuck in the middle of a crossfire between competing visions.

[Nafziger link via Emmett O'Connell]

National Board update, tacky tie, and other Tuesday miscellany

Last night at our National Board cohort meeting, as part of our monthly therapy, we teacher-students were asked to share our Good, Bad, and Ugly moments over the past couple weeks, and then to name our theme song. (Mine: the weird whistle score from "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.") We spent the next two hours going over Entry 4, The Teacher as Learner, Leader, Collaborator, Community Member, Policymaker, World Pacifier, and Hostage Negotiator.

I came home at 9:00, relieved and exhausted. National Board seems less daunting every time I analyze it--and yet more time-consuming every time I sit down to work on it.

My goal is to finish by February.

Debate students came to practice for the first time this year. It mostly involved catching up on summer fun, laying out topics, updating contact information. We'll start the real work next week, when the new LD resolution arrives. Oh yeah: I'm also a debate coach.

Today I passed our new daytime lead custodian, who's been walking the campus circuit a lot more this week. "I'm going to lose this baby," he said, pointing to his gut.


Brian Baird Olympia Town Hall video

YouTube now has the video of Baird's recent visit. From Part One, embedded below, you can keep clicking.

Also, Emmett O'Connell has posted TJ Johnson's diatribe.

Sep 24, 2007

Baird visit exposes Democratic hypocrisy

Writes the Teacher / Ref / Poet. A sample:
Because I disagree with Baird, I'd look closely at anyone running against him from either party. But I am deeply saddened at how hypocritical my party has become. They want me to love their dogma more than I love evidence, analysis, and legitimate debate. But my dedication to cool, reasoned disagreement and careful consideration of issues has me defending Baird here.
My blog neighbor is referring to the Baird visit to Capital, which echoed an earlier trip to Vancouver. Both times Baird was met by vocal, strident, at times asinine opposition.

And the question I asked afterward still stands: if Baird is forced out by "sheer fury," who's going to replace him?

disagreement is denigration

If this is really why the prof was fired, it's perhaps the strangest firing in the history of academic firings.
Steve Bitterman, 60, said officials at Southwestern Community College sided with a handful of students who threatened legal action over his remarks in a western civilization class Tuesday. He said he was fired Thursday.

"I'm just a little bit shocked myself that a college in good standing would back up students who insist that people who have been through college and have a master's degree, a couple actually, have to teach that there were such things as talking snakes or lose their job," Bitterman said.

Sarah Smith, director of the school's Red Oak campus, declined to comment Friday on Bitterman's employment status. The school's president, Barbara Crittenden, said Bitterman taught one course at Southwest. She would not comment, however, on his claim that he was fired over the Bible reference, saying it was a personnel issue.

"I can assure you that the college understands our employees' free-speech rights," she said. "There was no action taken that violated the First Amendment."

Bitterman, who taught part time at Southwestern and Omaha's Metropolitan Community College, said he uses the Old Testament in his western civilization course and always teaches it from an academic standpoint.

Bitterman's Tuesday course was telecast to students in Osceola over the Iowa Communications Network. A few students in the Osceola classroom, he said, thought the lesson was "denigrating their religion."

"I put the Hebrew religion on the same plane as any other religion. Their god wasn't given any more credibility than any other god," Bitterman said. "I told them it was an extremely meaningful story, but you had to see it in a poetic, metaphoric or symbolic sense, that if you took it literally, that you were going to miss a whole lot of meaning there."

Bitterman said he called the story of Adam and Eve a "fairy tale" in a conversation with a student after the class and was told the students had threatened to see an attorney. He declined to identify any of the students in the class.

"I just thought there was such a thing as academic freedom here," he said. "From my point of view, what they're doing is essentially teaching their students very well to function in the eighth century."
So "I don't think a particular religion is 'literally true,' for the following reasons" is "denigrating religion?" Granted, the "fairy tale" description might be a little harsh for a fragile young student, but it was said outside of class as part of a conversation. Even so, isn't that protected speech?

Hope there's more to the story.

Update: There is. He was too "brash," students claim, even reducing a 19-year-old to tears.

[via Obscure Store]

time for legislators to join the 21st century

Sure, an "e-memo" saves money and resources. Sam Hunt knows:
"I see this E-newsletter as a way both to meet my responsibility to inform citizens about what's going on in the Legislature, and to save the thousands of dollars it costs to produce and mail thousands of hard copies of the newsletter," Hunt said in his news release, which directs voters to go to his home page, to see the lengthy newsletter.

Hunt said he expects to save most of what he's been spending on postage and printing. House records show Hunt's discretionary legislative expenses ranked him No. 92 in the 98-member chamber last year with $25,373 in spending for travel, meals and other per diem, printing, postage, and other expenses.
But why not a blog?

no letter grades? no problem.

Nice writeup in The Times this morning. Increasing enrollment, unique programs, and unparalleled success:
Ninety percent of a recent graduating class was working or in graduate or professional schools within two years, according to the college's 2006 study of alumni.
Sometimes it shocks people to learn that I'm a proud Greener Grad (Master's in Teaching, 2002). Must be the ties. My wife will join our number when she walks this June.

Sep 23, 2007

browser issues?

If you're having trouble with "errors on the page" in any version of Internet Explorer--or if you can't see the sidebar to the right--please let me know in the comments.

Update: Changes are happening. Thanks for your patience, and please let me know if anything turns non-functional. (Thanks, Ariel, for verifying.)

lessons of the Brian Baird visit

In case you missed it, Baird came to Capital High School this past Friday, defending his Iraq War conversion experience and taking flak from anti-war protesters. It took me a couple days to digest the experience. Here are some of my observations, distilled and purified.

1. The left seems ready to sacrifice one of the more reasonable members of Congress out of sheer fury. Who's going to replace Baird, though? Not someone from the Green Party, that's for sure. "Intuitive faith" won't get us out of this mess.

2. This debate coach was impressed by Baird's handling of the situation. He was almost unflappable in the face of unrelenting criticism and emotional tirades. Baird got a little heated, though, when comparing fired-up locals to those who actually have "skin in the game." Baird was merciless with one commentator, who had called him out for "not representing his constituents." The Congressman shot back, "So should I have voted to go to war back when it was popular?"

3. A whole lot of folks need a course in basic logic, rhetoric, and argumentation. I'm fully convinced that Debate should be a required class in high school. For the sake of democracy.

4. Speaking of democracy, it's hard to know exactly what was accomplished Friday night. People vented, which I suppose could be healthy, but Baird didn't appear about to change his mind. Maybe that's good for T.J. Johnson's political career, as Emmett O'Connell notes, but it's not changing the situation on the ground in Iraq, or in the halls of Congress. There were scads of choir-preaching, and strong feelings of solidarity, but precious few minds changed.

5. An open mike without a time limit is an invitation to disaster.

6. If you say you're not going to respond to hecklers, you just have to rein it in and absolutely refuse to respond to hecklers. Not even once. If you can't resist zinging in a quick comeback, the floodgates open.

7. Thank God the air conditioning worked.

great moments in collective bargaining history

Compliments of the greatest union president of all time.

Sep 22, 2007

five in five: Capitol Campus upgrades planned

Five new buildings, nearly $450 million in development, in the next five years.
"All these projects are on the fast track. That puts us on the fastest track," said Mary Sue Wilson, president of the parents' board for the Capitol Campus Child Care Center....

[General Administration] is planning to demolish its headquarters on 11th Avenue near the Capitol as soon as the Information Services buildings are complete.

In its place, a $111 million Heritage Center will be built into the hillside leading to Capitol Lake, and a six-story, $75 million Executive Office Building will be at campus ground level. Although less expensive than the Information Services buildings, they are expected to be far more dramatic in style and better serve campus visitors.
There's much more, and it's all found in the Master Plan.

that 70s city

Took a walk downtown with Melissa, as is our custom. This time, I brought the camera to capture two favorite architectural features. The first: the doors to the downtown Olympia Federal Savings branch. White brick, dull brass panels, scads of glass, and... ornate wooden doors. With giant keys.

The second: the Free TV sign for the Olympia Inn Hotel. (Inn or Hotel just weren't enough on their own.) Rotary phone included. Welcome to the twentieth century.

Shoreline teachers strike to protest class sizes

Taking Thursday off, with a vote of no confidence for the Supe. From a Seattle Times update:
Elizabeth Beck, union co-president, said the strike vote was in response to a move by the district to shuffle elementary-school students between classes, resulting in some class sizes as large as 28. The no-confidence vote was the first in Shoreline in at least a decade, she said.

On the district Web site, Walker wrote that the district had added seven elementary teaching positions on Sept. 13 to deal with too-large classes in nearly half of the district's elementary classrooms. Those new teachers are to shuttle among overloaded classrooms, providing extra help during portions of the school day.

The one-day strike adds tension to the already strained relations between teachers and administrators in the 9,000-student district. A strike was averted before school started, but Beck said Walker and her staff are already violating terms of the new contract.

those were the upsets that weren't

Nebraska survived a rowdy Ball State squad, and Florida squeezed by Mississippi State.

If you're on the main page, click the title to see the video.

board members: face the budget crisis now

Bob Shirley and Russ Lehman are proposing that the Board tackle the impending budget crunch now, instead of in the spring, The Olympian reports. I'll look at their proposals in turn.
•Eliminate up to $1 million in expenses not supported by state funds. In particular, the two board members cited student transportation as a potential area to make cuts.
This would potentially involve reducing routes for students who live within 1 mile of school. I'd suggest a tiered approach: cut service to secondary-level students who can walk to school, and thus combine elementary routes, given the freed-up seats. (Hey, maybe it could work.)
•Create a new performance- and skills-based compensation program for principals. Under the two board members' proposal, such a program should reward leadership and acquisition of knowledge and skills.
I believe it was Lehman who floated this idea when the Board was deciding on the last budget (he and Shirley, if you recall, voted against). I'm initially skeptical that this would fly with principals, who face different situations across the district and might see this solution as creating inequities in compensation.
•Create a teaching schedule that has one half-day each week devoted to teacher collaboration and skill development and one half-day each week devoted to classroom preparation. The two board members' proposal states that the district doesn't have the money to create this type of schedule now but should plan for the future.
We recently ended our D schedule collaboration days. I'm not sure anyone really misses them. The existing option for collaborative staff development could be expanded without creating another disruption to the schedule (and bus routes and parents' lives).
•Choose additional budget cuts now that will take time to implement.
Forward-thinking is a plus. I'd like to see what Shirley and Lehman recommend.
•Join the Network for Excellence in Washington Schools' lawsuit. That's the coalition of community groups, school districts, and state and local education associations that sued the state this year, claiming Washington has not upheld its constitutional obligation to fully fund public education for all children.
Lehman floated this a while ago; it's worth bringing back as the lawsuit plows ahead.

Whether starting early will help the Board make better decisions is an open question. At least, though, we can provide time for community members to have their say.

The Olympian notes:
The Olympia School Board has a study session to discuss budget process issues planned for 6:30 p.m. Oct. 15 at the Knox Administrative Center, 1113 Legion Way S.E., Olympia.

The meeting is open to the public, but public testimony won't be taken.
The proposal can be read here [Word file].

Capital falls to state's best team, 41-9

This is becoming a season of character-building. Capital, facing Lakes, the state's top-ranked 3A squad, struck first, but couldn't hold back a powerful offense, eventually losing 41-9.
Capital (1-3 overall, 0-2 WCC) showed an ability to sustain drives against Lakes with a conservative passing game from sophomore Kellen Camus and tough inside running by twin brothers Riley and Reid Wall. But in the end, Lakes (4-0, 2-0) just had too much offense on the ground and through the air.

Schmidtke, a transfer from Life Christian, completed 20 of 27 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns and Dominick Davis ran wild for 168 yards and three touchdowns. His touchdown runs of 50 and 43 yards in the third quarter broke open the game after the Lancers led 20-9 at halftime.

"I thought they were bigger, faster and stronger than us," free safety Joseph Ingman said.

Lakes amassed 476 total yards of offense and it could have been worse had Lancers receivers not dropped a couple of deep passes that were on the mark.
Up next: Clover Park, who dogged Timberline for a while before fading. We're probably out of the playoff picture, but could use a win just to bring back some confidence.

The Olympian covers Baird's visit

Old Media was there, too, snapping pictures, gathering quotes, and mostly representing the tenor of the evening. There aren't many major differences--a few slightly different renditions of quotes, though the gist is the same, and that because my journalism skills are only at 95%.

A sample:
My version
"You're very lucky and you're smug," says a commentator, "because we loathe the Republicans and have to vote for Democrats."

The Olympian
"You're very lucky and very smug because you know we're so disgusted with the Republicans, we have to vote for a Democrat."
As you can see, my rough-hewn amateur blogger version gets it mostly right.

There's only one major anecdote, found on the second page, that The Olympian misreports:
At one point, a man asked people to raise their hands if they wanted the U.S. to start withdrawing troops. Virtually every hand shot up. Just one man, who appeared to be wearing a rubber mask, stood when asked who supported Baird's position.
As I point out in my liveblog, the fellow in the rubber mask--an actual, not just apparent, rubber mask--was supposed to represent Death. He carried a sign reading "Thanks for making my job easier." The man who asked the question said, "Who here wants our troops to come home?" And really, anyone's going to raise their hand to that. Except Death Troll.

Sep 21, 2007

Brian Baird comes to CHS: a decorabilia liveblog exclusive

Update 9/25: Now, with video!

Update 9/23: I've posted my recap.

Update 9/22: The Olympian was there, too. As were some of the folks over at OlyBlog.

Update: This is getting long. Click the title or the timestamp to see the whole thing. Also, here's a link to the opposition's Talking Points.

I have wireless, outlet power, a commanding view, and infinite patience. Welcome to the Brian Baird CHS Town Hall liveblog.

After watching the video of the last Baird meetup in Vancouver, I'm wondering exactly how much animus he'll receive in the hotbed of antiwar sentiment that calls itself Olympia. My prediction: less time for open mike.

So far, the crowd inside is small and aged and subdued.

Staffer Kelly approaches to make sure I'm not going to trip any elderly folks with my power cord. How did she know?

The Vancouver debacle lasted 4 hours, she said. I think my battery could last that long.

(Passing by, Baird steps effortlessly over the cord.)

Starting to fill up. Just heard that TVW's going to be broadcasting the Town Hall. Haven't yet seen Emmett O'Connell--but then, I haven't heard the flurry of trumpets either.

"Does anybody have any gum? We had some... onions."

Emmett is going to point out the movers and / or shakers. Toni Bailey photographs for The Olympian. "Really nice." Terence Knight of the Sitting Duck, one of our best local alt papers. Walt Bowen, former ThurCo Dem chair. John Cusick, the current chair. Baird himself. (I knew the last one.)

"Bring them home!" The chant begins and lasts about twenty seconds, scattered throughout the crowd.

Baird begins, remarking that this is around his 280th Town Hall. Microphones are set up on either side for questions and comments. Let's not all shout down me, please.

Starts with education, a "non-Iraq" issue. Regarding Iraq: "Seems to be misunderstanding about that"--"No, we get it," says a wag.

Applause line: career and technical education should be prioritized as much as college education.

Health care: has introduced a bill asking for a Congressional health care plan for all Americans. "Bicameral, bipartisan support." Supported by some unions and employers. General applause.

The Iraq discussion begins. Baird talks about his pre-war opposition, his anti-war cred. All in all, the Bush administration's handling of the immediate post-war situation: "A huge mistake. But what do you do?"

The crowd is generally respectful as Baird explains himself. Protesters are still filtering in. One holds aloft a sign reading "END THE KILLING." Another, dressed like a troll, which I guess means Death, holds another reading "Thanks for making my job easier."

As Baird continues talking about the complexities and potential pitfalls of pulling out too soon, Emmett O'Connell, seen at right, steals my laptop to link from WashBlog to this site. Thanks, Emmett.

On a visit outside the Green Zone: "I'm not going to say it was like an Iowa farmer's market. I don't wear Kevlar--maybe I should--but I don't wear Kevlar at a farmer's market."

As Baird continues describing "the conditions that our actions created in the country," a few start calling out "lies." Others shush them. "Don't shush us," they say. Then don't interrupt.

Baird says that we have seen success in Iraq. "I believe that if we pull out now we would lose that success." A young woman shouts, "We've heard all this before."

Baird wraps up, to polite applause, mostly, with a few jeers and one ape-like cackle.

Shariya (sp), the first commenter, talks about the growing problems of poverty and homelessness. Links to increase in military spending. "You're absolutely right," Baird says. "So end the war," a few in the crowd shout.

Henry Lamb, a "Korean-era veteran." Complaints about the VA mess. The same fundamental concern: the war is distracting us, destroying our VA system. The last call: "Impeach Bush!" That gets the crowd whoopin' and a-hollerin'. "Impeach Baird," shouts another wag.

Baird remarks that Democrats are fighting for veterans.

TJ Johnson, City Council. "People are asking us to take action, because you're not." As Johnson notes an irony--having this meeting on a day of peace--"I'm not defending the war of occupation," says Baird. "Yes you are!" shouts the crowd. Johnson leads up to a question: what is your definition of success?" (There's a lot more, but that's the gist. Johnson gets interrupted by someone with less patience than I.) "You no longer deserve the privilege of representing this country," Johnson says, and the crowd erupts in applause and shouting.

Baird responds coolly, though the color in his cheeks is rising. This is a hostile crowd, prepped to be hostile. "Where do we go now?" Every time he raises this question, the response is immediate and strident: "Bring them home!"

Baird notes an uncomfortable irony: "I see certainty on either side. It was certainty that got us into this mess."

The sporadic interruptions are shushed or applauded depending on--I can't quite figure out what. A strange brew of civility and raucous populism. This is democracy, I suppose.

Baird notes the lack of training, lack of equipment of the Iraqi forces; "They need some more time.... I think this if frankly, TJ, our last chance.... Success is a civil Iraq, relatively free of Iran. I don't support permanent bases there."

This crowd is ready to jump on any little thing: Baird says, along with conservative estimates, that 100,000 have died, and over 2 million have been displaced. The crowd shouts, "Millions!" Baird tries to give himself credit for coming here, and the shouts come again: "That's your job!"

Baird includes blogs in his list of untrustworthy media.

"You're very lucky and you're smug," says a commentator, "because we loathe the Republicans and have to vote for Democrats."

To a "corporatocracy" complaint that invokes Jon Stewart, Baird offers his support for a War Profiteering Act.

After a labored speech by a commentator about "pulling out" of a "hopeless" situation, Baird responds, "You have every reason to be skeptical," and attempts to point to successes in training US troops in Arabic, working with locals.

This is turning into a staff meeting. When no one provides time signals, you get an inequitable distribution of vocal resources. ("A staff meeting?" Emmett says. "Must be a teacher thing.")

A complaint about Big Oil. Baird doesn't like the original agreement, which didn't do enough to share the wealth with ordinary Iraqis. Progress is "frustratingly, agonizingly slow"--and won't be helped by the refugee crisis. Seeing progress in "venture capitalism" efforts.

Someone who "worked at the CIA and studied under Scoop Jackson" says that war is inherently evil, and that the occupation is sowing seeds of fascism in America. Another call for impeachment, to general tumult.

Green Party advocate says that the two major parties are both to blame. Brings up the Greenspan memoir: it's about oil. Starts citing from Baird's website, making it sound like Baird considers oil a "vital interest" in the region. Baird responds to his question, "What's our vital interest?" by asking, "If we left tomorrow, what do you think will happen?"

The Green Party guy says he has "intuitive faith" that Iraqis will "straighten things out" themselves. And you wonder why these guys never win elections.

Baird, despite interruptions, answers the question: our "vital interest" is our international reputation. We have an obligation to help fix the problem we created.

Growing frustrated with the chronic jumping-in, Baird fires back at a young man who mocks an Iraqi's anecdote: "These are people who have skin in the game. They are not in bloody Olympia Washington."

A "lifelong Democrat" accuses Baird of abandoning the Democrats, by arming the Bush administration with rhetoric and imagery of an "independent Democrat," backstabbing MoveOn and Nancy Pelosi.

Before Baird can launch into his plea for reasonableness and open-mindedness, the man walks away. Baird calls him back. "I don't want a response," says Cranky Dem. "I just came here to tell you to go to hell."

I see some folks trickling out. I think I can last another 28 or so minutes.

Finally, a clear, easy question: how long should we stay? Problem is, there's no clear, easy answer. Baird isn't Bush. He has this thing called nuance.

When Baird raises the specter of a nuclear Iran, the crowd responds with predictable skepticism. "What about our nukes?" one lefty asks.

Baird asks for one more question.

"You don't carry the sins of your government in your soul," says our resident Tim O'Brien.

As Evergreen prof Larry Mosqueda begins speaking, the previous commentator breaks into tears and leaves.

One gentleman asks the audience to raise their hands if they want to see the troops come home. Everyone raises their hand. "Anyone who feels the other way?" The Death Troll stands up and waves. He was waiting all night for that chance.

Baird asks people to check out George Packer's latest New Yorker piece.

I'm mentally packing it in. I'll recap and add some photos in a little while. Emmett will stick it out for me, right, Emmett?

anti-Baird talking points left at CHS

Update: By request, photos of the Talking Points added.

Someone took it upon themselves to broadcast (in the old sense of the word) leaflets describing "talking points" for tonight's Town Meeting at CHS featuring Brian Baird. (Administrators plucked them from various wall perches, since they didn't have the quite literal stamp of approval.)

They appear to be the work of (or affiliated with) Olympia's chapter of Veterans for Peace.

I've transcribed the talking points intro below.
This Friday (9/21) let us challenge and protest Congressman Brian Baird at the town hall meeting he has called at Capital High School's theater to justify his pro-war stand.
Banner holders, sign makers and pamphleteers will be out front starting at 6pm. Please join us.
Bring and make signs at 6:00. Help us hand out leaflets with questions to ask Baird that take apart his rationale. Come early to line up for questions.
Challenge him. He is getting national publicity for "his courage" for taking a pro-war stand. We have a responsibility to show that he is not speaking in our name.
It could be a fairly raucous meeting tonight. If I can get the right setup, I'll be there, liveblogging.

Update: And I was there.

gimme back those falsies!

It's Slow News Day in Olympia, apparently. (Brian Baird won't be at Capital until 7:00.) Perfect for a Friday diversion:
Robert Henry Stahl, 62, was charged Thursday in Delaware Circuit Court with felony robbery and battery causing bodily injury, a misdemeanor. If convicted of robbery, he could face two to eight years in prison.

Police and prosecutors said they did not know if Stahl had retained an attorney.

Billie Townsend, 56, told police he went to a bar on July 27 to pay Stahl money he owed him, then Stahl asked him to go outside and started punching him repeatedly.

During the fight, Stahl allegedly put Townsend in a headlock and removed his false teeth. "He said, 'You ain't getting these back,'" Townsend told police.
Insert your own analogy.

Sep 20, 2007

never hike alone

Rules for hiking in the wilderness:

1. Never hike alone.

2. Let someone know where you're going.

3. Prepare for any weather.

4. And, God forbid, should you ever get lost, unless you have a reallllllllly good reason, STAY WHERE YOU ARE.

This is why.

Update 9/21: Thankfully, she was found alive.

red light cameras under fire in Ohio

This blogger is quite skeptical about the relative efficacy of red light cameras (click here and scroll to see skepticism in action). Most of my doubt is empirical: ticketing red-light runners might reduce some red-light running, but not as much as lengthening light times, and at the risk of increasing rear-end accidents and expanding the ever-bloated nanny state.

In Ohio, though, the cameras are under legal fire for creating a conflict between jurisdictions.
At issue before the Supreme Court is whether the city's use of civil fines for traffic infractions captured on camera lodged against the vehicle's owner and not the driver, violates state home-rule laws.

Stephen Fallis, a city of Akron assistant law director, told the justices that the local laws established with the traffic cameras are a complement to existing state laws and help ensure safety around schools and high-accident areas.

Akron attorneys Warner Mendenhall and Tony Dalayanis argued that the camera laws are in direct conflict with existing state statutes. They contend local governments are exceeding their authority by creating a branch of civil penalties attached to existing traffic laws.

They also said the civil penalties assessed by the city circumvent state laws that call for points being placed on a driver's license and fines being paid through local courts.

The argument of constitutional issues such as due process protections were not part of the arguments before the Supreme Court. That could come later.
The ruling is expected in about 3 months. Though Washington, to my knowledge, has no similar legal situation, let's hope the publicity of the Ohio case spurs citizens to ask tough questions of revenue-hungry municipalities.

[via Popular Mechanics via Instapundit]

beautified storm drains

Via BoingBoing, some lovely graffiti.

magenta, white, and blue


"Designer Collection."

Proudly made in the U.S.A.

Thursday's tribute to taste.

Hamsterdam comes to life

In Season 3 of The Wire, Major Colvin, fed up with lack of statistical progress in Baltimore's raging drug war, creates an unofficial "Free Zone" in a largely vacant neighborhood. His cops are sent out to relay the message to the dealers, leading to this frank exchange:
"This corner's indicted. We're coming back tomorrow and when we do, everybody wears bracelets — unless you people move your shit down to Vincent Street, down where the houses are all vacant. You do that and we don't give a shit."

"Vincent Street is like Switzerland. Or Amsterdam," explains another cop.

"The fuck is that?" asks one of the dealers.

Marlo's man Fruit still doesn't get it. "Look: We grind, and y'all try to stop it. That's how we do. Why you got to go and fuck with the program?"
Now, a real-life Baltimore City Councilman is not just talking decriminalization, but is writing up a formal proposal.
Baltimore City Councilman Jack Young is taking his war against the “war on drugs” one step farther.

On Monday, Young said he will introduce a resolution seeking a hearing — with testimony from the Baltimore Police Department and the city Health Department — to open a dialogue on what he said is a failed strategy against illegal drugs.

“Like I’ve said before — what we’ve done is not working,” he said....

Among Young’s rhetoric is at least one specific proposal: to make possession of small amounts of marijuana punishable with only a citation, an idea that may end up on a future ballot as part of a citywide referendum, he said.
We'll see if it gains any traction. Ironically, as "Fruit" explains above, drug dealers might have the most to lose.

[via Jason Kuznicki]

Sep 19, 2007

why we teach literature

Two former students visited today.

One is finishing up her college degree in neurology. Her enthusiasm for her work diagnosing brain disorders, combined with her trademark eloquence and enthusiasm for the writings of Dr. Oliver Sacks, strengthened my faith that scientist-writers are not an extinct species.

The other is finishing up a turbulent career at Capital. I remember his patience-taxing sophomore days when he would say whatever bubbled up to the front of his brain, no matter how stupid, obnoxious, or profound. I was one of very few teachers who never kicked him out of class, and in retrospect, I'm not sure how I did it.

But it was a well-timed shove into the wellspring of American Lit by one of our elder teachers that pushed him into maturity. Today, talking with him about the universe, the future, small-mindedness, and the fundamental uncertainty of existence, I marveled at the power of Transcendentalist thought, nearly two centuries after Ralph Waldo Emerson re-entered the Ether, to reach across time and shake up a young man's life.

Books are powerful. Literacy isn't dead. We still have a purpose.

easy being green

I left school at 9:00 last night after a thrilling and exhausting Open House. That's why Tuesday's tie is showing up only today. It's the newest member of the collection, a summer Value Village find.

Brian Baird coming to Capital

At 7:00 on Friday, to defend his change of heart, reports The Olympian:
U.S. Rep. Brian Baird said Tuesday he'll have a town hall meeting in Olympia on Friday, giving residents their first opportunity to quiz him about his position in support of keeping U.S. troops in Iraq longer.

The event is at 7 p.m. at Capital High School on Olympia's west side.
Maybe it was the only available slot in Baird's schedule, but I'm a little dubious that 7:00 on a Friday evening is the best time to host such a meeting. I'm not sure if I can attend, but I'll definitely give students extra credit if they go and report their experience.

Okay, back to my National Board / planning / post-Open House hole.

Sep 17, 2007

life once again imitates parody

Me, over two years ago, in jest:
The College Board today announced the release of a new test that measures a student's ability to take standardized tests. Called the Standardized Test of Aptitude for Testing, or STAT, the new assessment allows test prep companies to target students likely to perform poorly on other metrics.

"The time for such a test is long overdue," noted Marisol Hernandez, director of public relations for Kaplan. "We can no longer rely on students' own perceptions of potential failure. It's better that they know with precision and confidence that they need remediation."

Jonas Underwood, president of Fight Against College Testing, disagreed. "Biases are littered throughout this new moneymaking scam for the testmakers and test preppers," he said. "They'll laugh all the way to the bank. And they'll drive there in those new hybrid SUVs."

High school students have begun to feel the pinch of added testing. "Whatever it takes," said Amaria Gorney, a sophomore at Rockefeller Central High. "I'd sell a kidney to get a perfect STAT score."
The Kitsap Sun, today, in utter seriousness:
With all the emphasis on the WASL, some parents might think their children are already taking enough tests in school.

But the North Mason School Board heard about a different kind of assessment this week, one that might help teachers zero in on their student's learning needs and improve their academic performance.

The board took part in an online seminar at its meeting Thursday night on the Measures of Academic Progress — or MAP — tests given by Lake Oswego, Ore.-based Northwest Evaluation Association....

"MAP is supposed to be a good predictor of WASL scores, and that is the key; we need something we can link to WASL," [North Mason union prez Vicki Hopkins] said.

Sep 16, 2007

Keyes baaaaaaaack

Alan Keyes,"Illinois' loserest politician," is running for president. Now Ed Brayton has a new full-time job.
I hereby pledge to report every stupid, counter-factual or crazy thing Keyes says during the campaign until he inevitably withdraws due to lack of funds and single-digit polling numbers.... If I should die before completing that duty, I ask that Jon Rowe continue my important work.
Who is Alan Keyes, you ask?

Actually, that's what everyone else asks, too.

Update: Rowe has pledged to carry on, should Brayton expire before Keyes' campaign does.

dropouts, the WASL, and a number massage

Sure, 84% of seniors are on track to graduate, thanks to passing the WASL.

But what about students who are behind in credits, and thus don't show up in the official statistics? And what about dropouts?
Bergeson's office this year didn't count all the students it has counted in the past. For the first time, it looked only at seniors who've passed enough classes to be on track to graduate this June. That left out 5,457 members of the class who are considered juniors or sophomores because they're behind in credits.

When those 5,457 students are added back, the passage rate drops from 84 percent to an estimated 81 percent — leaving about 15,000 students who still need to pass reading or writing on the WASL, or an alternative. When dropouts are considered — which some argue they should be — nearly a third of the class of 2008 has either left school or has yet to pass WASL reading, writing or both.
I've noted this several times in the last few years: in our WASL frenzy, we're losing focus on the bigger picture. WASL progress hasn't led to progress in the state graduation rate. Slowly, the media is catching on.

Sep 15, 2007

leading exporters of first-rate comedy

Leave it to an Onion commentator to provide a perfect example of cherry-picking, a common intellectual sin.
by grapplepie
America: Dane Cook, Ben Stiller, "Brat Pack", Bill Cosby

Canada: Jim Carrey, Mike Myers, Kids in the Hall

United Kingdom: Eddie Izzard, Monty Python crew, Ricky Gervais, Peter Kay, Edgar Wright & Simon Pegg

UK wins even if it does lose points for Rowan Atkinson

That's it, I'm moving
And leave it to another commentator to deliver the appropriate logical smackdown:
by Hunsweasel
Sure, we can all play that game:

America: Richard Pryor, The Marx Brothers, Woody Allen, Lenny Bruce
Canada: Red Green, Royal Canadian Air Farce
UK: Benny Hill, Bernard Manning, Ken Dodd

Looks like the U.S. takes it! Alternate version:

America: Wayne Flowers and Madame, Larry the Cable Guy
Canada: John Candy, Phil Hartman, Martin Short
U.K.: Bob Monkhouse, Jimmy Tarbuck

Oh Canada!
And thank you, Onion commentators.

upsets of the weekend: Alabama and Washington

The upset that was: John Parker Wilson led Bama into the Promised Land. (If you're on the main page, click the post title to see the videos.)

The upset that wasn't: freshman Jake Locker led the Huskies out of the Promised Land.

put on a happy... electrode?

What makes you happy? A kiss? A fuzzy blanket? A replacement Old Yeller?

Deep-brain electric stimulation?

[via Instapundit]

plus ├ža change: is sexual orientation malleable?

My brother's miniblog makes it sound so simple:
Can Homosexuals Change?

APA: Absolutely not. New research: yup.
But it's just not that simple. From the research in question:
"Most of the individuals who reported that they were heterosexual at Time 3 did not report themselves to be without experience of homosexual arousal, and did not report heterosexual orientation to be unequivocal and uncomplicated. Sexual orientation for the individuals in this study (and indeed for most of us) may be considerably more complicated than commonly conceived, involving a complex interplay of what we are instinctively attracted to, what we can be attracted to with proper attention and focus, what we choose to be attracted to based on how we structure our interpersonal environments, our emotional attachments, our broader psychological functioning, (of course) our religious and moral beliefs and values, and many more factors. We believe the individuals who presented themselves as heterosexual success stories at Time 3 are heterosexual in some meaningful but complicated sense of the term."
"Meaningful but complicated" after four years of therapy and concerted effort--and only in about a third of the small, self-selected group.

In fact, that's the problem with the research: reader Lynn David points to a particularly troublesome passage in the study's first chapter [pdf].
"Of the ministries that agreed to participate, some referred all of their participants to us (as described later) while others clearly referred only a sample, again introducing unknown variation in our sample. Some of the most influential studies ever conducted on homosexuality (e.g., the iconic studies by Evelyn Hooker, Alfred Kinsey, Bell and Weinberg, and Bailey and Pillard) have presented conclusions based on convenience samples, samples of no known representativeness. We believe that our sample is a fair representation of religiously motivated individuals seeking sexual orientation change, but of completely unknown representativeness of all homosexually oriented persons."
So people who really, really, really want to change can change--somewhat.


To borrow the phrase, sexuality is indeed "meaningful and complicated." Dogmatism about its biological nature, its ethical import, and its psychological malleability isn't warranted on any side. Fundamentally, though, the moral question comes first. Even if we could, through patience and therapy, make gays turn straight--or straights turn gay--it wouldn't make it right.

Sep 14, 2007

Capital loses heartbreaker to Timberline, 6-0

Deep in Capital territory, a bad snap sailed over sophomore QB Kellen Camus' head, and in the aftermath, Timberline pounced on the ball in the end zone. The lone score would stand up in a struggle marked by strong defense by both squads in the Cougs' first league contest.

Timberline's fast DEs and linebackers had little trouble containing the Spread, sacking Camus several times in the first half and holding the Cougs to only 44 rushing yards overall. Late in the third quarter, though, Coach J.D. Johnson switched the offense into a Power T set.

It would give the Cougs new life. Capital ran with much more success in the new formation as the Blazers struggled to identify the ball carrier. Fullback Michael Peters pounded the ball inside for several crucial first downs. Eventually, with two minutes in the 4th, the Blazers got their one needed stop, and the Cougar rally ended.

I wonder if Johnson is going to roll out the Power T in future games against teams with fast defensive backs. It seemed to provide Camus with better protection--he completed several roll-out passes--and, more often than not, moved the chains within three downs.

Timberline opens its season 1-0 in league, and looks to continue its run next week against Clover Park. Capital heads over to face Lakes, perhaps the Western Cascade Conference's toughest squad.

Update 9/15: The Olympian weighs in.
In a scoreless shutout, in a game where first downs came less often than punts, Timberline desperately needed a break Friday.

And midway through the second quarter against Capital, Timberline got that break when Dylan Maxwell recovered a high snap that sailed over the quarterback's head and into the end zone, giving the Blazers a hard-fought 6-0 victory.

In a defensive battle where each team had less than 80 yards rushing and less than 100 yards passing, defense came up with the game's lone score.

"We hang this win on our defense," Timberline coach Nick Mullen said. "If we can hold a team under 21 points, we know we've got a shot at winning. That's our goal each game."
Update II: Our trip to Lakes could be the toughest of the year. Lakes, according to Tom Wyrwich, is vying with Skyline for the right to be called best in 3A.
They have the state's most-recruited senior in Kavario Middleton. What's amazed most people I've talked to is the rhythm the Lancers are in so early in the season. They were that way even in week 1 against Gig Harbor, and have kept it up. "It's like they're already playing in the state tournament," another scribe told me.

Put simply, I don't think there's another team out there in Class 3A that can match up with Lakes' athletes. Could Skyline win? Absolutely, especially if coach Steve Gervais, one of the area's most accomplished coaches, came up with the perfect gameplan.

Both teams are very good. But in my opinion, Lakes is just that good right now.

FBI seeks "Bandit-Resembling Bandit"

Eludes fashion police

September 14, 2007

SEATTLE, WA -- The FBI is seeking an unidentified white male who has been wearing a hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses when entering area banks.

The Seattle office of the Fashion Bureau of Investigation says it is having trouble enforcing recent legislation creating a banking dress code to prevent robbers from hiding their faces from surveillance cameras.

The law, passed last week, was no match for the "Bandit-Resembling Bandit," who was seen entering a Venture Bank in Lacey. Security cameras captured his movements, but a large hoodie and dark aviators obscured his face.

"Make no mistake: this guy is a lawbreaker," said FBI agent Darrel Washnip. "The dude looks like a bandit. We're making every effort to track him down."

Washnip added, "It'd be much easier if he weren't wearing sunglasses. Which is why we need this law in the first place."

The FBI dress code does not affect customers who cover their growing bald spots in shame.

the phenomenology of Larry-sight

"I can't see! I can't see!" Larry shouts.

"Why's that?" Moe asks, alarmed.

"I got my eyes closed!"
Of course he can't see. Or can he?

[via Online Papers in Philosophy]

UW versus OSU: the college football game of the week

The Times calls it 21-17, Ohio State. Seattle Sports Report calls it 20-17, Washington.

Obviously, the game will end in a tie.

And because of National Board orientation at PLU, I have to miss most of it.


Sep 13, 2007

perfect tie for a perfect world

Utopia never looked so good.

what I learned from calling all my 9th-grade parents

In preparing my National Board portfolio, I've discovered a weakness in my teaching: I'm heavily involved in leadership and collaboration, but not as good at communicating with the folks at home. So, in addition to the letters home and the email responses and checking messages and posting assignments to a blog, I decided to try the impossible: calling each and every family of my freshfolks, 75 in all. Here's what I learned.

1. It can be done.

2. No, really. I had a teacher warn me that I'd be sucked into endless conversations. Never happened. Parents were surprised ("Is he in trouble?") and delighted ("Thanks for the personal touch!"). Since it was early in the semester, I didn't talk much about the student--just invited the folks to our upcoming Open House.

3. Block off at least 1.5 hours per class. Have a pre-printed list of phone numbers (if your district has Skyward, this is easy).

4. Set up a spreadsheet or other document to keep track of your conversations.

5. I didn't want students to know I was calling--but this meant that some of the numbers weren't entirely up-to-date. In the future, I'll be smarter about this. Get contact info on a 3x5 card for each one.

6. You sent a letter home inviting families to Open House. Maybe your letter got lost in the blur of the first week. Maybe it never got delivered. Maybe it was given to Parent One, who didn't share it with Parent Two, for whatever reason. Regardless, wager that only 20% of your contacts have any idea about Open House until you call.

7. Drink lots of water. Keep that voice fresh.

8. Don't try to do it all in one night. Not possible. Besides, not everyone will be home.

9. Expect the underexpected. My favorite: being hung up on because I sounded too much like a telemarketer.

10. It can be done.

districts failing AYP in special ed

In Thurston County, only 3 of 8 districts meet federal Adequate Yearly Progress benchmarks in Special Education--simply because they don't have enough students in that category. Elsewhere, trouble brewing:
"I anticipate we'll have more and more districts have (Adequate Yearly Progress) problems if there's no change in the rules," said Alan Burke, superintendent of Yelm Community Schools.

Most students in special education programs take the same assessments as everyone else in their grade level....

With the large increase in districts that did not meet federal benchmarks, state officials seek assessment alternatives for students in special education programs statewide.

"What we're trying to do is honor the intent of the law, but at the same time, provide alternatives for kids," said Catherine Taylor, director of assessment alternatives at the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. "The dilemma always is that we don't have any power over the alternatives to offer because it's a federal law, and we go by their guidelines."
Have to wonder how a system arose that provides qualitatively different education but expects quantitatively similar results.

Pac-10 standing tall

I've said that the Pac-10 is, right now, the conference to beat. With help from an online Cal fan, Bud Withers says that it's been this way for a while:
Using raw data from the Web site, he crunched numbers from 2000 to 2006, tracking how the six BCS conference teams and Notre Dame did in nonconference games against BCS-league opponents (on the basis of league alignment at the time of the game), including bowl games.

Notre Dame was the winner, going 41-30. But — surprise — the Pac-10 had the best record of the six BCS leagues, at 66-60, followed by the SEC's 68-65. The other four leagues had sub-.500 records.

True, it's only one small measure of competence, and not necessarily the ultimate test. A win against Duke gets you one point, just as a victory against Ohio State does. And it's questionable whether the statistic is any more relevant than performance in bowl games, where, for instance, the Pac-10 went 3-3 last season compared to the Big East's 5-0.

Still, consider it a little more kindling in the crackling debate that Miles stirred over the summer, when he said of USC, "They're going to play real knock-down, drag-outs with UCLA, Washington, Cal-Berkeley, Stanford — some real juggernauts — and end up in the title game."
With UW facing Ohio State and USC heading to Nebraska, this could be the biggest chance for the Pac-10 to prove to East Coasters that it, not the SEC, is the NCAA's premiere conference.

Sep 12, 2007

Patriots accused of cheating

Stealing signs is a grand sports tradition, like singing "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" in the 7th-inning stretch, or tearing down goalposts after an upset, or doping in the Tour de France.

When you steal signs ineptly and with videotape, though, watch out:
NFL security officials confiscated a camera and videotape from Patriots video assistant Matt Estrella on the New England sidelines when it was suspected he was recording the Jets' defensive signals. Sources say the visual evidence confirmed the suspicion.

Goodell is considering severe sanctions, including the possibility of docking the Patriots "multiple draft picks" because it is the competitive violation in the wake of a stern warning to all teams since he became commissioner, the sources said. The Patriots have been suspected in previous incidents.

The Patriots will be allowed an opportunity to present their case by Friday, sources said, most likely via the telephone.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said on Tuesday that no official decision has been made and that the club has not been notified.

The league also was reviewing a possible violation into the number of radio frequencies the Patriots were using during Sunday's game, sources said. The team did not have a satisfactory explanation when asked about possible irregularities in its communication setup during the game.
Did they cheat? And, if so, did cheating give them a real advantage? Hard to say. Takes a bit of the luster off the smashing of the Jets, though.

Sep 11, 2007


We observed 9/11 this morning with a moment of silence.

My 9th-grade students, who fidgeted as the silence dragged into eternity, would have been eight years old that day.

By the amount of their squirming, I got the feeling that most of them suffered from the same guilty ambivalence I described last year, only worse: they were children then. Their distance from the day is almost unimaginably vast.

My silence was splintered with anger. Anger at the slow and pitiful search for justice. Anger at a bearded lunatic who, inconceivably, still stalks the earth. Anger at distracted politicians and fickle citizens. Anger at my own inconsequential anger.

I will confess that I did not ask them how they felt. I was afraid to know.

from a distance they could be cougars

School spirit, a day late and 7.53 yuan short.

Big Parent is watching you

I guess it's not enough that parents can access their students' grades online. Now, in Florida, the folks at home will be able to scour their teachers' discipline records at one handy online database. To self-policing, add parent policing.

OSD high school enrollment down

140 fewer than the estimate, The Olympian reports.
That's likely to mean a $692,000 drop in district revenue this school year, Jim Crawford, the assistant superintendent for fiscal and operations, told the school board Monday night.

"That's why enrollment is so important," he said.

However, the district's bottom line isn't likely to change much, Crawford said. That's because staff throughout Olympia schools spent less in the 2006-07 school year than previously estimated and because the drop in enrollment means the district won't need to spend as much as initially expected this year.

"It's encouraging to hear that we're in a little better shape despite the declining enrollment," Board President Rich Nafziger said.

However, school board member Bob Shirley said his perspective is tied to the cuts the board likely will need to make next year.
I wonder how much of the decline is simple demographics, and how much is related to the boom in online / homeschool technologies. (With several new housing developments soon to open on the west side, our days of declining enrollment may be coming to a close.)

The funding crunch will be the school board's greatest challenge next year--and they'll have at least one guaranteed new school board member aboard. That's why this year's race is so important.

(For the record, the OEA endorses Frank Wilson and Carolyn Barclift.)

Sep 10, 2007

treating teens like adults

Just over three years ago, I wrote, "Teach students to empower themselves... and they'll do it." I've always thought that teenagers are more capable and more mature than adults will grant. Now, research shows I'm right.
Epstein is careful to avoid the “correlation entails causation” fallacy, but he does cite his own research, which finds strong correlation between teenage infantilization and psychopathology. In other words, the less autonomy we give teenagers, the more problems they have. Give teenagers—even troubled teenagers—more responsibility for their own lives, and almost universally they respond.

The hypothesis is provocative and Epstein goes to great lengths to demonstrate not only that teenagers are troubled, but that they are capable of acting like adults. They are capable thinkers, capable of forming deep, loving connections (i.e. marrying), capable of enduring adversity, of being creative, of taking responsibility, etc. Anything adults can do, teenagers can do too.
(Conversely, adults are just as immature as teenagers--sit in any staff meeting and watch for twenty minutes for absolute proof.)

Sep 9, 2007

Seahawks back in the groove

Is it ever great to have Shaun Alexander, Matt Hasselbeck, and Walter Jones healthy. Though it took Seattle the better part of the first half to get rolling offensively, they solved a tough Tampa defense and put on some defensive hurt of their own to win, 20-6, in their season opener.

Reasons for jubilation:

1. Seattle didn't give up a single touchdown.
2. Even better, Tampa didn't score after the first quarter.
3. Seattle kept decent pressure on Garcia all day, even knocking him out for a time.
4. Our D stopped the run.
5. Alexander rushed over 100 with a try-it-again TD.
6. Flaming Mo Morris had his first TD since 2003--as a receiver.
7. Hasselbeck didn't make any boneheaded late throws for interceptions.

Reasons for good cheer:

1. Despite giving up one big pass to Joey Galloway, the secondary played tough.
2. They'd have looked even better if two crucial roughing-the-passer penalties hadn't given the Bucs second life.
3. Turnovers didn't kill us.
4. We were the only NFC conference champ to win our first game.
5. Josh Brown is automatic.
5. Nate Burleson figured out how to return a punt for positive yardage.

Reasons for concern:

1. D.J. Hackett is injured.
2. Deion Branch didn't catch a pass.
3. Not much else to worry about--yet.

Reason for cautious optimism:

The Sports Guy picks the Hawks to play in the Super Bowl. And lose.

David Copperfield meets David Hume

George Johnson visits the Magic of Consciousness conference in--where else?--Las Vegas.
Sounding more like a professor than a comedian and magician, Teller described how a good conjuror exploits the human compulsion to find patterns, and to impose them when they aren’t really there.

“In real life if you see something done again and again, you study it and you gradually pick up a pattern,” he said as he walked onstage holding a brass bucket in his left hand. “If you do that with a magician, it’s sometimes a big mistake.”

Pulling one coin after another from the air, he dropped them, thunk, thunk, thunk, into the bucket. Just as the audience was beginning to catch on — somehow he was concealing the coins between his fingers — he flashed his empty palm and, thunk, dropped another coin, and then grabbed another from a gentlemen’s white hair. For the climax of the act, Teller deftly removed a spectator’s glasses, tipped them over the bucket and, thunk, thunk, two more coins fell.

As he ran through the trick a second time, annotating each step, we saw how we had been led to mismatch cause and effect, to form one false hypothesis after another. Sometimes the coins were coming from his right hand, and sometimes from his left, hidden beneath the fingers holding the bucket.

He left us with his definition of magic: “The theatrical linking of a cause with an effect that has no basis in physical reality, but that — in our hearts — ought to.”
[via OPP]

Sep 8, 2007

California man walks 150 miles for lurve


nice place to read a book

My brother links to this photo gallery of gorgeous libraries. Marvels of wood and marble and massive stained glass windows and, of course, books upon books. (I found some of the more ornate entries a bit overwhelming.)

Here's one that will (hopefully) never make the list: Seattle's IKEA Public Library.

Ugly Building to get a facelift?

This is huge. The Ugly Building, long the bane of this blog, isn't going away. It's turning into condos and getting prettier.
The developers plan to convert the vacant Capitol Center office building across from Capitol Lake into eight floors of 36 condos, including a mix of two- and three-bedroom units with 1.75 and two bathrooms in each unit. Pending approval of building permits, remodeling could begin this fall and take a year to complete, said Falkenburg, an Olympia partner with Seattle developer Jim Potter.

The developers have dropped plans to add balconies to the building and have yet to work out details about parking, Falkenburg said.

The development, known as The Views on Fifth Avenue, would include 8,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor. The office, built as a bank in the mid-1960s, has been vacant since last year, when the state Department of Corrections moved out for offices in Tumwater.

Falkenburg said the developers have not decided how much the view condos would cost, but one of the development partners this year estimated the range from $600,000 to $1 million. The building offers views of the Capitol Building, Capitol Lake, the Olympic Mountains and Mount Rainier.
And, by consequence, obscures views of the same from many directions.

If it ain't ugly, though, I can probably live with that. Another means of boosting the downtown economy wouldn't be so bad, either. We need a permanent customer pool tax base. (Click to read the nay-saying comments, though. Will residents flock to fill million-dollar condos?)

Update 9/9: stevenl of Olyblog wants to preserve The Ugly Building as-is:
Like the twin WPPSS cooling towers on the Chehalis River Valley near Elma that were never used, this building stands as a monument to our failings, to an era of wrecked expectations, to something I can't quite define at this moment because I'm getting hungry now and want to stop typing. But you know what I mean. Save the Capitol Center Building!