An Open Letter to Arne Duncan

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An Open Letter to Arne Duncan

Jerry Becker
An Open Letter to Arne Duncan
*****************************
From Education Week (Online) [American Education's Newspaper of Record], Monday, March 22, 2010. See http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/walt_gardners_reality_check/2010/03/an_open_letter_to_arne_duncan.html
*****************************
An Open Letter to Arne Duncan

By Walt Gardner

Dear Mr. Secretary,

You are at the helm of a ship that is entering uncharted waters. Whether the voyage is successful depends in large part on your judgment. The eyes of the nation are on you as you attempt to navigate.

I'd like to remind you that the morale of teachers plays an indispensable role. But unfortunately I don't think you appreciate the harm you've done by inordinately focusing on the failures of schools. Your remarks leave taxpayers with the distinct impression that teachers are not doing their jobs and that schools are shortchanging their students.

There are 3.2 million teachers who teach 50 million students in 98,000 public schools, according to Education Department data. Some are unquestionably guilty as you charge. But countless schools are world-class. Why don't the latter deserve as much praise as the amount of condemnation you heap on the former? By refusing to provide balance in your comments, you unwittingly undermine your agenda.

The countries that outperform the U.S. on tests of international competition take a totally different approach to school reform. They know that teachers are not miracle workers. No matter how dedicated, knowledgeable and trained, they cannot possibly provide a quality education for their students by themselves. That's why these countries view educating the young as a collaborative effort by teachers, parents and the community.

Business leaders certainly have the right to make their voices heard in the ongoing debate. But public schools do not exist exclusively to meet their needs. The crisis they have manufactured to justify their criticism is nothing new. To understand the basis for this assessment, I refer you to my op-ed that was published in the international edition of the New York Times on Jan. 14, 2008 ("The 'crisis' of U.S. education"  --  see http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/14/opinion/14iht-edgardner.1.9196672.html).

I hope you will seriously consider my views at this crossroads in educational history. Without the support of teachers, you will squander the unprecedented opportunity you have. That would be a tragedy for the nation.

Sincerely,

Walt Gardner
***********************************************
-- 
Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
625 Wham Drive
Mail Code 4610
Carbondale, IL  62901-4610
Phone:  (618) 453-4241  [O]
            (618) 457-8903  [H]
Fax:      (618) 453-4244
E-mail:   [hidden email]
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Re: An Open Letter to Arne Duncan

Robert Hansen
I don't understand why people are so shook up by Duncan. His stuff worked in Chicago, right?

> *****************************
> From Education Week (Online) [American Education's
> s Newspaper of
> Record], Monday, March 22, 2010. See
> http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/walt_gardners_reality_c
> heck/2010/03/an_open_letter_to_arne_duncan.html
> *****************************
> An Open Letter to Arne Duncan
>
> By Walt Gardner
>
> Dear Mr. Secretary,
>
> You are at the helm of a ship that is entering
> uncharted waters.
> Whether the voyage is successful depends in large
> part on your
> judgment. The eyes of the nation are on you as you
> attempt to
> navigate.
>
> I'd like to remind you that the morale of teachers
> plays an
> indispensable role. But unfortunately I don't think
> you appreciate
> the harm you've done by inordinately focusing on the
> failures of
> schools. Your remarks leave taxpayers with the
> distinct impression
> that teachers are not doing their jobs and that
> schools are
> shortchanging their students.
>
> There are 3.2 million teachers who teach 50 million
> students in
> 98,000 public schools, according to Education
> Department data. Some
> are unquestionably guilty as you charge. But
> countless schools are
> world-class. Why don't the latter deserve as much
> praise as the
> amount of condemnation you heap on the former? By
> refusing to provide
> balance in your comments, you unwittingly undermine
> your agenda.
>
> The countries that outperform the U.S. on tests of
> international
> competition take a totally different approach to
> school reform. They
> know that teachers are not miracle workers. No matter
> how dedicated,
> knowledgeable and trained, they cannot possibly
> provide a quality
> education for their students by themselves. That's
> why these
> countries view educating the young as a collaborative
> effort by
> teachers, parents and the community.
>
> Business leaders certainly have the right to make
> their voices heard
> in the ongoing debate. But public schools do not
> exist exclusively to
> meet their needs. The crisis they have manufactured
> to justify their
> criticism is nothing new. To understand the basis for
> this
> assessment, I refer you to my op-ed that was
> published in the
> international edition of the New York Times on Jan.
> 14, 2008 ("The
> 'crisis' of U.S. education"  --  see
> http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/14/opinion/14iht-edgard
> ner.1.9196672.html).
>
> I hope you will seriously consider my views at this
> crossroads in
> educational history. Without the support of teachers,
> you will
> squander the unprecedented opportunity you have. That
> would be a
> tragedy for the nation.
>
> Sincerely,
>
> Walt Gardner
> ***********************************************
> --
> Jerry P. Becker
> Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
> Southern Illinois University
> 625 Wham Drive
> Mail Code 4610
> Carbondale, IL  62901-4610
> Phone:  (618) 453-4241  [O]
>              (618) 457-8903  [H]
> Fax:      (618) 453-4244
> E-mail:   [hidden email]
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Re: An Open Letter to Arne Duncan

kirby urner-4
On Tue, Mar 23, 2010 at 1:35 PM, Robert Hansen <[hidden email]> wrote:

<< SNIP >>

>> Business leaders certainly have the right to make
>> their voices heard in the ongoing debate. But public
>> schools do not exist exclusively to meet their needs.
>> The crisis they have manufactured to justify their
>> criticism is nothing new. To understand the basis for
>> this assessment, I refer you to my op-ed that was
>> published in the international edition of the New York
>> Times on Jan. 14, 2008 ("The 'crisis' of U.S. education"
>> --  see http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/14/opinion/14iht-edgard
>> ner.1.9196672.html).
>>

This op-ed piece seemed somewhat full of non sequiturs.

Yes, these documentaries and reports showing the
relative quality drop are disturbing and stir up anxiety.

What doesn't follow is that these were phony, fake or
manufactured 'crises'.

Rather, these concerns gave rise to many responses,
including some challenges to authority and adventuresome
departures (e.g. Bill Gates from Harvard).

A lot of skeptics said the personal computer could never
take off.

We needed risk takers and we got some.  New Math
made a difference, even if the name and branding were
quickly buried.

In other words, if you go back over the same events and
say the crises were real, and people responded (at least
some of them did), then you might still get the same
outcome.

This outcome is nothing to wildly celebrate.  The USA
is still mired in poverty and is apparently unwisely
consoling itself that its curriculum must actually be
OK because other countries are even worse basket
cases.  Another non sequitur.

The author is quite correct that the support of teachers
is needed, and also the support of students.

Of each other.

It's not like threatening politicians with a loss of votes is
going to change the situation on the ground, vis-a-vis
whether much teaching and/or learning is really happening
or not.

I thought the analysis from Singapore was pretty good:
the USA system is less fixated on exams (although
ETS works in that direction), depends more on creative
risk taking.

OK, so where are the teachers willing to take risks
and challenge authority, and what does that look like?

Or are we thinking it's students who should take all
the risks?

Accusing businesses of manufacturing a crisis seems
like a cop out to me.  The economy is very clearly in a
bad state and probably one of the most galvanizing
things we might do to pull out of it is overhaul the
education system in a way that gets a lot of people
working in new roles i.e. institution building is in order.

No, I'm not just talking about "charter schools" (don't
all schools have a charter -- some more recent than
others?).

For the sake of debate and argument, I might also
take the position that approximately no schools in
the USA are "world class" right now.

That's just not what we've got, based on the curriculum
I'm seeing.

I'm not saying this as simplistic way of blaming
teachers though.

Perhaps it's those same business leaders who
just aren't being clear enough?

If all that's coming across is a sense of "fake crisis"
then maybe the business community needs to spell
it out in a lot more detail -- perhaps by sponsoring
some show case schools and showing directly and
immediately what it would like to see more of.

We'd hope for a lot of diversity, with attainable reforms
on display, not just pie-in-the-sky.  The newer curriculum
itself should start to come through, not just images of
students working with it.  Adult viewers could use some
updates as well.  Am I just talking about PBS then?
Is the BBC planning anything similar?

Like why not make it a TV series?  But maybe not fiction
this time, and less scripted?  We've got this "reality TV"
genre going, but just use it to play silly games.  Does
anyone want to risk something more real?  One school
might be inner city somewhere, another in the hinterlands,
another built from scratch in the course of the episodes.
Could we convert some spare aircraft carriers, even if
just moored in harbor, make them into boarding schools
perhaps.  Just an idea -- other ships?

I'm thinking of Disney's bold vision of an Experimental
Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT).  What
would the school be like, in said community?  Jet
packs?  Probably not.  More use of GIS / GPS,
better spatial geometry?  Probably.

The Japanese likely have ideas and talents to contribute.
This idea that we're all divided up into nation-states who
viciously compete, like in some Olympics, is itself a bit
dated (a lot dated).  The business community does a lot
of problem solving trans-nationally, out of necessity.

Maybe that's a next step for teachers too?  Again, some
creative use of our shared media (not just the Internet)
could start moving us in a more positive direction.

In the meantime, I remain thoroughly persuaded we're
in something of a crisis.  Lots of homeless, lots of tents,
lots of FEMA trailers... you don't need me to spell it out
for ya do ya?  Oh yeah, lots of wars, lots of preventable
deaths by starvation... I'd say *by definition* the curriculum
is broken, or we wouldn't be so messed up.

Perhaps it sounds "idealistic" or "utopian" to want to
address serious economic problems (which all fall under
the category of health care, broadly interpreted) but from
a business point of view there's pressure to find life
supportive investments, stuff to do with time/energy
that isn't just empty squandering.

An educated population is more likely to self-organize
around such projects, whereas an ignorant one will
just sit on its duff and blame the King, falling into
some prehistoric pattern, of treating presidents
like monarchs, then as scape goats -- not what the
USA's founders had in mind (too immature).

Basically, it's complacency which has no appropriate
role in this picture.  If you think the status quo is OK,
you're on the fringe, out to lunch.  Change is needed.
Risk taking is needed.

The only questions involve what, when, where and how,
not whether, and many of these questions may be
closer to answered than we'd like to admit sometimes
i.e. it's convenient to always postpone doing the right
thing, but at some point impractical.

So I'll end with an appeal to pragmatism, and a question:
what shall we do now?

Maybe you don't like my TV-related proposals.  So what
are your better ideas.  "More funding and smaller class
sizes" should go without saying.

Be more specific.  Talk about real changes to what's
being taught, and how.  Talk about how you might teach
American History for example, up to the present day.

What if you couldn't rely on that textbook you teach
from, what would you teach instead?  What full length
documentaries might you assign?  What YouTubes
might you project?  What, you don't have a clue?

Yes, I'm walking this talk, as are many teachers
I respect. I enjoy comparing notes with peers.

Remember, take risks.

Kirby
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Re: An Open Letter to Arne Duncan

GS Chandy
In reply to this post by Jerry Becker
I refer to Jerry Becker post of Mar 24, 2010 1:10 AM of Walt Garnder's "Open Letter to Arne Duncan" (pasted below my signature), and I've read the OpEd piece Mr Gardner points to.  I've also seen some of the Education Secretary's exhortations and have also read some of the reports from his Department that have appeared in the press.

It strikes me mainly that Mr Duncan's team has not adequately studied what the purpose of the public schools might and should be and that therefore the plans they have drawn up are bound to be deficient in many respects.

I may be mistaken, but I guess Haim and Co. find themselves in the peculiar position of enjoying every bit of the Education Secretary's excoriation without exception of the public school system but not knowing how to give approval to this aspect of the 'Obamination' they had so decried in the past.

GSC

> *****************************
> From Education Week (Online) [American Education's
> s Newspaper of Record], Monday, March 22, 2010. See
> http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/walt_gardners_reality_c
> heck/2010/03/an_open_letter_to_arne_duncan.html
> *****************************
> An Open Letter to Arne Duncan
> By Walt Gardner
>
> Dear Mr. Secretary,
>
> You are at the helm of a ship that is entering
> uncharted waters.
> Whether the voyage is successful depends in large
> part on your judgment. The eyes of the nation are on
> you as you attempt to navigate.
>
> I'd like to remind you that the morale of teachers
> plays an indispensable role. But unfortunately I don't
> think you appreciate the harm you've done by
> inordinately focusing on the failures of
> schools. Your remarks leave taxpayers with the
> distinct impression that teachers are not doing their
> jobs and that schools are shortchanging their students.
>
> There are 3.2 million teachers who teach 50 million
> students in 98,000 public schools, according to
> Education Department data. Some are unquestionably
> guilty as you charge. But countless schools are
> world-class. Why don't the latter deserve as much
> praise as the amount of condemnation you heap on the
> former? By refusing to provide
> balance in your comments, you unwittingly undermine
> your agenda.
>
> The countries that outperform the U.S. on tests of
> international competition take a totally different
> approach to school reform. They know that teachers are
> not miracle workers. No matter how dedicated,
> knowledgeable and trained, they cannot possibly
> provide a quality education for their students by
> themselves. That's why these countries view educating
> the young as a collaborative effort by
> teachers, parents and the community.
>
> Business leaders certainly have the right to make
> their voices heard in the ongoing debate. But public
> schools do not exist exclusively to
> meet their needs. The crisis they have manufactured
> to justify their criticism is nothing new. To
> understand the basis for this assessment, I refer you
> to my op-ed that was published in the
> international edition of the New York Times on Jan.
> 14, 2008 ("The 'crisis' of U.S. education"  --  see
> http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/14/opinion/14iht-edgard
> ner.1.9196672.html).
>
> I hope you will seriously consider my views at this
> crossroads in educational history. Without the support
> of teachers, you will squander the unprecedented
> opportunity you have. That would be a
> tragedy for the nation.
>
> Sincerely,
> Walt Gardner
> ***********************************************
> --
> Jerry P. Becker
> Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
> Southern Illinois University
> 625 Wham Drive
> Mail Code 4610
> Carbondale, IL  62901-4610
> Phone:  (618) 453-4241  [O]
>              (618) 457-8903  [H]
> Fax:      (618) 453-4244
> E-mail:   [hidden email]
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Re: An Open Letter to Arne Duncan

Jonathan Groves-3
In reply to this post by Jerry Becker
Jerry,

I thank you for posting this story about Walt Gardner's open letter to
Arne Duncan.  Gardner makes some valid points about businesses controlling
schools too much and Duncan killing teacher morale and not praising
good schools enough for their good work.  

Speaking of failing schools, I think the real problem is that the data
collected on the standardized tests mandated by NCLB lumps all failing
schools into the same category rather than trying to find the causes
of failure.  There is a vast difference between a school that fails
because most of the teachers are lazy, incompetent in pedagogy and/or
subject knowledge, etc. versus a school that fails because of limited
resources or lack of cooperation from parents and the community or
a vast student population from broken or poor homes but that the teachers
are dedicated to their students.  Schools within this first category
fail because they do not try; schools within the second category fail
because they try to do all the work themselves when it is impossible
for schools to do that.  Teachers are important factors in students'
successes, but they cannot do that alone.  They need the help of
parents and the community and administration as well.  They also need
corporation from their own students, too.  A student is who dead set against
genuine learning and the work required to learn will not succeed--no matter
how good the teacher is.  A class full of students who threaten to rebel
or to complain to the administration who is sympathetic to them
because they cannot get an easy A with minimal work or because the teacher
refuses to teach them from the textbook because the teacher knows the book
is crap (and we know that many math textbooks are crap) cannot be helped much
by a teacher because either the teacher will give in to the students to
save his or her job or the teacher will be fired for refusing to give in.
Ignoring these distinctions between such failing schools is causing
a lot of unnecessary harm to teachers and students.    

I know that the cooperation of the administration is a major factor
in teachers' successes because there are ideas I want to try in my teaching
but that I am not allowed to do so.  For example, I would like to chuck
their textbooks because they are the standard textbooks that gut nearly all
reasoning and motivation and beauty from mathematics.  And I would like
to give assignments and projects that encourage them to think about
mathematics and to enjoy exploring some ideas on their own.  But I'm
forced to use the textbook and their assignments and course materials
as they developed them.  That's not to say that I will or can make my
ideas work if I tried them.  Instead, this is to say that a mathematics
teacher who tries to teach students genuine mathematics and genuine
mathematical thinking will struggle greatly in succeeding at these
schools because he or she would find it extremely difficult--if not
impossible--to do so while obeying the schools' policies.

Another harm that Arne Duncan is causing is automatically labeling
schools with high standardized test scores as good schools.  Standardized
tests as mandated by NCLB completely or almost completely ignore
reasoning, critical and creative thinking, and other deep traits
that good learners must have and instead focus mainly on students'
abilities to regurgitate facts on exams.  Just because a student can
recite all these facts doesn't mean that the student can make sense of
them or use them to think critically.  And let's not forget all the
undetected cheating on these exams.  How many of these good schools
are really good schools after all?    



Jonathan Groves                




On 3/23/2010 at 3:40 pm, Jerry P. Becker wrote:

> *****************************
> From Education Week (Online) [American Education's
> s Newspaper of
> Record], Monday, March 22, 2010. See
> http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/walt_gardners_reality_c
> heck/2010/03/an_open_letter_to_arne_duncan.html
> *****************************
> An Open Letter to Arne Duncan
>
> By Walt Gardner
>
> Dear Mr. Secretary,
>
> You are at the helm of a ship that is entering
> uncharted waters.
> Whether the voyage is successful depends in large
> part on your
> judgment. The eyes of the nation are on you as you
> attempt to
> navigate.
>
> I'd like to remind you that the morale of teachers
> plays an
> indispensable role. But unfortunately I don't think
> you appreciate
> the harm you've done by inordinately focusing on the
> failures of
> schools. Your remarks leave taxpayers with the
> distinct impression
> that teachers are not doing their jobs and that
> schools are
> shortchanging their students.
>
> There are 3.2 million teachers who teach 50 million
> students in
> 98,000 public schools, according to Education
> Department data. Some
> are unquestionably guilty as you charge. But
> countless schools are
> world-class. Why don't the latter deserve as much
> praise as the
> amount of condemnation you heap on the former? By
> refusing to provide
> balance in your comments, you unwittingly undermine
> your agenda.
>
> The countries that outperform the U.S. on tests of
> international
> competition take a totally different approach to
> school reform. They
> know that teachers are not miracle workers. No matter
> how dedicated,
> knowledgeable and trained, they cannot possibly
> provide a quality
> education for their students by themselves. That's
> why these
> countries view educating the young as a collaborative
> effort by
> teachers, parents and the community.
>
> Business leaders certainly have the right to make
> their voices heard
> in the ongoing debate. But public schools do not
> exist exclusively to
> meet their needs. The crisis they have manufactured
> to justify their
> criticism is nothing new. To understand the basis for
> this
> assessment, I refer you to my op-ed that was
> published in the
> international edition of the New York Times on Jan.
> 14, 2008 ("The
> 'crisis' of U.S. education"  --  see
> http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/14/opinion/14iht-edgard
> ner.1.9196672.html).
>
> I hope you will seriously consider my views at this
> crossroads in
> educational history. Without the support of teachers,
> you will
> squander the unprecedented opportunity you have. That
> would be a
> tragedy for the nation.
>
> Sincerely,
>
> Walt Gardner
> ***********************************************
> --
> Jerry P. Becker
> Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
> Southern Illinois University
> 625 Wham Drive
> Mail Code 4610
> Carbondale, IL  62901-4610
> Phone:  (618) 453-4241  [O]
>              (618) 457-8903  [H]
> Fax:      (618) 453-4244
> E-mail:   [hidden email]

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Re: An Open Letter to Arne Duncan

kirby urner-4
On Wed, Mar 24, 2010 at 3:02 AM, Jonathan Groves <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Jerry,
>
> I thank you for posting this story about Walt Gardner's open letter to
> Arne Duncan.  Gardner makes some valid points about businesses controlling
> schools too much and Duncan killing teacher morale and not praising
> good schools enough for their good work.
>

I continue to take issue with the Op-Ed piece and transferred my
reply to my blog, so my cohorts could better see it.

The business community seeks partnerships with government
that would result in new curriculum options, including more options
to expand student exchange programs to the point of internationalizing
more domestic schools.  Not every zip code would be open to such
experimentation, however this is the kind of environment many
businesses experience internally, plus governments need future
diplomats.

Of course our schools are already experiencing a mix of ethnicities,
which is a resource to build on.  If a student already speaks
Spanish or Polish, then the weeks or months abroad in a public
school program is maybe not going to require much language
training (except one is always learning more of one's own
language and heritage, so in another sense there's still a lot
of language training going on).

Learning another language is not always the point, though it might
be.  Exchanges with other Anglophone cultures such as in Australia,
the Philippines, South Africa... India would be feasible for many of
the USA's mono-lingual, plus provide opportunities to start learning
one or more of the additional languages spoken in these areas, of
which there are a great many.

This program could be bigger than the Peace Corps in a heartbeat
(figuratively speaking) and would provide sustenance for host safe
houses, which would connect to various campuses.  Dormitories
would also be built, as well as entirely new campus facilities.  If
you're looking for ways to commit to capital expenditures, because
that's your line of work, then here's a way to create a boom sector
that's both politically popular (building schools) and anti-xenophobic
(sharing with aliens).

Having a steady flow of international students through the hallways
is one hallmark of being "world class".

At the curriculum level, I'd say the high technology sector does
not control the schools too much.  On the contrary, public schools
are not quickly implementing a more technologically informed math
track such as I write about in this archive.

I think Robert Hansen and I maybe still disagree as to the advisablity
of retaining the "barriers" (GS, note my use of that term) i.e.
the "electric fences" that have been erected between mathematics
and computer science, and the deleterious effects this division is
having across the board.

I'm going to be calling this a Berlin Wall and challenge the Russians
to tear it down (seemed to work before, so why not copy Reagan?).
The Russians need to tear down the Berlin Wall and give us spanking
new curricula that converge computer programming and mathematical
problem solving.  Here's a web page giving the kind of thing we're
looking for (a computer science page, but I know of math teachers
using it, check edu-sig archives if skeptical):

http://www.cse.msu.edu/~cse231/PracticeOfComputingUsingPython/index.php

Then we would like to exchange lots and lots of teachers so that
our faculty planning meetings might be more productive and world
class.  Yes, of course we might use Elluminate and Skype and
those tools as well (I was just in another Elluminate session
yesterday), but there's no substitute for high bandwidth inter-
personal interaction sometimes, as any diplomat well knows.

> Speaking of failing schools, I think the real problem is that the data
> collected on the standardized tests mandated by NCLB lumps all failing
> schools into the same category rather than trying to find the causes
> of failure.  There is a vast difference between a school that fails

A lot of the problem is with these standardized tests themselves.

Consider geometry for example.  Imagine a culture that simply turned
its back on the content of 'The Geometrical Foundation of Natural
Structure:  A Source Book of Design' by Robert Williams (Dover)
i.e. that purged spatial geometry from its curriculum in some quasi-
fascist manner, along with geography (spatial geometry and geography
go together, along with topology).

You wouldn't want to live in this culture would you?

Students would simply have no clue about the 1:3:4:6:20 volume ratios
twixt the concentrically arranged tetrahedron, cube, octahedron, rhombic
dodecahedron and cuboctahedron.  No knowledge of sphere packing,
great circle networks, cartographic projections, global infrastructure...

These students are piss ignorant in other words, and the standardized
tests would have nothing about this.  Almost unbelievable.  You'd need
to visit a museum to actually see the textbooks and realize this
nightmare science fiction was the actual reality on the ground, even
in 2010!  Even some of the gloomiest science fiction writers did not
anticipate this low of a cultural IQ.  Arne Duncan said "retarded"
didn't he, or was that out of context?

This status quo is so NOT "world class" it's not funny.

So that's a problem.

My perception is the business community might try to address this
deep ignorance through television.  I can't believe I'm the only one
suggesting this approach (meaning I don't believe I am the only
one so suggesting).

> because most of the teachers are lazy, incompetent in pedagogy and/or
> subject knowledge, etc. versus a school that fails because of limited
> resources or lack of cooperation from parents and the community or
> a vast student population from broken or poor homes but that the teachers
> are dedicated to their students.  Schools within this first category

The education system itself should provide a safety net.  I know schools
are groaning under the burden of trying to help families survive.  They
provide meals, but also sometimes translation services.  Many teachers
double as social workers.

Instead of fighting this trend, we need to see it as way better than
warehousing the dispossessed in prisons.  Incarceration is not the way
to go forward, and simply feeds the growing perception around the
world that the USA is little more than a police state with imperial
pretensions (see 'Beyond the Age of Innocence' by Kishore Mahbubani
for more analysis from Singapore).

This perception, that the USA is a piteous and pathetic beast, intent upon
eating its own children, is devastating to diplomacy and deprives our
leadership of credibility (another reason presidents have wanted to
close Gitmo, Bush Jr. included).  Having these world class international
schools grow up in many zip codes, along with a more genuine commitment
to the educational safety net across the board, would help a lot with
international relations.

Tearing down the Berlin Wall between mathematics and computer science
would be a first step in that direction, as this'd restore some hope
to this picture.  We'd get our spatial geometry and geography back,
precious American heritage that is currently being squandered as if
there's no tomorrow.

> fail because they do not try; schools within the second category fail
> because they try to do all the work themselves when it is impossible
> for schools to do that.  Teachers are important factors in students'
> successes, but they cannot do that alone.  They need the help of
> parents and the community and administration as well.  They also need

"The community" includes the business community.

> corporation from their own students, too.  A student is who dead set against
> genuine learning and the work required to learn will not succeed--no matter
> how good the teacher is.  A class full of students who threaten to rebel
> or to complain to the administration who is sympathetic to them
> because they cannot get an easy A with minimal work or because the teacher
> refuses to teach them from the textbook because the teacher knows the book
> is crap (and we know that many math textbooks are crap) cannot be helped much
> by a teacher because either the teacher will give in to the students to
> save his or her job or the teacher will be fired for refusing to give in.
> Ignoring these distinctions between such failing schools is causing
> a lot of unnecessary harm to teachers and students.

Having a steady flow of international students from many walks of
life will do wonders for a school, as the administration well knows
that this school, in this zip code, is developing an international
reputation.  Blogging goes on, students compare notes, as do
teachers.  Those schools with strong international reputations will
bolster the records of everyone associated with them.  Given many
teachers want overseas opportunities as well, they have an incentive,
as do the students, to keep things on track.

School spirit, school pride, is an important element in any school
that's working.  These days, that means you need a central server,
maybe a rack of servers, with an accumulating set of records, lots
of lore.  Games, plays, debates, year book pictures -- all of this goes
to the server and stays there for later access by alumni.  Every public
school has a right to such infrastructure, either on the premises or
in the cloud.  This is something the Obama administration might
legitimately help with, as well as the business community.  There's
a lot of free software out there, lots of liberal licensing.  We're not
talking a huge expense, and even if we are, lets remember this is an
investment that'll pay back with dividends, whereas squandering on
more prisons is just contributing to brain rot.

Students should realize that we have these options to improve
their infrastructure, as well as their curriculum.  I would encourage
them to organize, not in opposition to teachers, nor in opposition
to the administration, but in support of both.  We would all be so
much better off if the commitment to education were not just lip
service.

Opportunities to travel, to see the world, could be yours, without
having to surrender your civilian status.  America fields a surplus
of military personnel right now at a million dollars a troop (rough
estimate, Afghanistan reporting).  The Peace Corps has been
dwindling in this climate.  Citizen diplomacy has gone to low ebb.

Perhaps the only way to reverse this trend is through institution
building in the education sector, and not just at the university level.
The commitment to make our schools safe for USA kids equals
the commitment to make them safe for kids from other countries
as well.  That's what "world class" means, at a bare minimum.

> I know that the cooperation of the administration is a major factor
> in teachers' successes because there are ideas I want to try in my teaching
> but that I am not allowed to do so.  For example, I would like to chuck
> their textbooks because they are the standard textbooks that gut nearly all
> reasoning and motivation and beauty from mathematics.  And I would like
> to give assignments and projects that encourage them to think about
> mathematics and to enjoy exploring some ideas on their own.  But I'm
> forced to use the textbook and their assignments and course materials
> as they developed them.  That's not to say that I will or can make my
> ideas work if I tried them.  Instead, this is to say that a mathematics
> teacher who tries to teach students genuine mathematics and genuine
> mathematical thinking will struggle greatly in succeeding at these
> schools because he or she would find it extremely difficult--if not
> impossible--to do so while obeying the schools' policies.
>

Organizations such as corestandards.org are desperate to enshrine
some status quo that preserves the Berlin Wall and perpetuates this
fascist dictatorship of the ignorant majority, which has no clue about
geodesic anything, doesn't know the tetrahedron is self-dual, and has
no intention of explaining how anything works.

That so many wrong choices have been made is now a scandal and
cover-up is the order of the day.  Don't let people know that our
American heritage has been squandered, our textbooks purged and
"sanitized" by a gulag of know-nothing bureaucrats.

Don't let students realize they're being ripped off daily.  Don't talk
about the higher living standards we've sacrificed already.

I'm following Ronald Reagan in calling on the Russians because
they know what it's like to suffer under out-of-control bureaucracies.
If some of these world class schools get started in Russia and
show up on TV, then we'll know the Berlin Wall (the digital divide)
is coming down, as Americans will see what a real and relevant
math curriculum really looks like.  Like almost nothing they've
currently got going, thanks to oppression and malign neglect.

Or we could do some pilot schools here, as collaborative enterprises?
The ones we build from scratch will have ample room for gardening,
permaculture etc.  The J. Baldwin pillow dome idea needs more
time in the sun.  Remember that EPCOT is an inspiration (the
original idea, of an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow).
Interesting TV will emanate from these places, and will spark student
imaginations everywhere.  We should have started construction
already.  Maybe we already have.

> Another harm that Arne Duncan is causing is automatically labeling
> schools with high standardized test scores as good schools.  Standardized
> tests as mandated by NCLB completely or almost completely ignore
> reasoning, critical and creative thinking, and other deep traits
> that good learners must have and instead focus mainly on students'
> abilities to regurgitate facts on exams.  Just because a student can
> recite all these facts doesn't mean that the student can make sense of
> them or use them to think critically.  And let's not forget all the
> undetected cheating on these exams.  How many of these good schools
> are really good schools after all?

By my definitions, practically none of them, but not because the
students or teachers are untalented.  The problem is people do not
appreciate that radical improvements could occur.  These radical
improvements do not obviate the need for study or work, but they
do provide more opportunities to see more of the world and meet
more of its people.  Given the international mix in many a business,
learning to problem solve multi-culturally is a must.  Mathematics
includes team work, not just solo work.  This is a lesson the computer
science people have built many disciplines and tools around, so one
consequence of bridging these cultures will be more practice in
collaborative problem solving (doesn't have to mean at the expense
of solo skills).

In sum, I reiterate my remark that complacency is what's inappropriate
here, plus we need a willingness to experiment, because we have no
choice but to try stuff (this is otherwise known as "the human condition").

We don't wish to squander resources, but "keeping everything the same"
is not what "conservative" means either (as if the status quo were not
squanderous).  As Heraclitus noted awhile back, change is inevitable,
so a true conservative takes steps, active measures, to steer in a
promising direction.  Liberals, being liberal, believe in sharing the road.
Ronald Reagan took some risks, as did Bush Sr.  I'm thinking of a recent
Freeman Dyson lecture here in Portland (blogged about it, oft cited).
Bipartisanship is not out of the question (nor are we inevitably opposed
to smaller additional parties, with their curious slates of candidates).

Kirby

>
>
>
> Jonathan Groves
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Re: An Open Letter to Arne Duncan

GS Chandy
In reply to this post by Jerry Becker
Kirby Urner posted Mar 25, 2010 12:51 AM:
> On Wed, Mar 24, 2010 at 3:02 AM, Jonathan Groves
> <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > Jerry,
> >
> > I thank you for posting this story about Walt
> > Gardner's open letter to Arne Duncan.
<snip>
>  Here's a web page giving the kind
> of thing we're looking for (a computer science page, but
> I know of math teachers using it, check edu-sig archives
> if skeptical):
>
> http://www.cse.msu.edu/~cse231/PracticeOfComputingUsin
> gPython/index.php
>
I've just glanced at it - looks promising.  (I had in the past tried to learn Python - but had failed. In fact, I had some time ago made a list of the barriers preventing me from learning Python, which I'm not readily locating right now). In any case, I shall try Python once again from this source.

>
> Then we would like to exchange lots and lots of
> teachers so that our faculty planning meetings might be
> more productive and world class.  Yes, of course we
> might use Elluminate and Skype and those tools as well
> (I was just in another Elluminate session yesterday),
> but there's no substitute for high bandwidth inter-
> personal interaction sometimes, as any diplomat well
> knows.
>
Indeed.

> >
> > Speaking of failing schools, I think the real
> >problem is that the data collected on the standardized
> > tests mandated by NCLB lumps all failing
> > schools into the same category rather than trying
> >to find the causes of failure.  There is a vast
> > difference between a school that fails
>
> A lot of the problem is with these standardized tests
> themselves.
>
I couldn't agree more with you!

>
> Consider geometry for example.  Imagine a culture
> that simply turned its back on the content of 'The
> Geometrical Foundation of Natural Structure:  A Source
> Book of Design' by Robert Williams (Dover)
> i.e. that purged spatial geometry from its curriculum
> in some quasi-fascist manner, along with geography
> (spatial geometry and geography
> go together, along with topology).
>
> You wouldn't want to live in this culture would you?
>
> Students would simply have no clue about the
> 1:3:4:6:20 volume ratios
> twixt the concentrically arranged tetrahedron, cube,
> octahedron, rhombic dodecahedron and cuboctahedron.  No
> knowledge of sphere packing, great circle networks,
> cartographic projections, global infrastructure...
>
> These students are piss ignorant in other words, and
> the standardized tests would have nothing about this.
> Almost unbelievable.  You'd need
> to visit a museum to actually see the textbooks and
> realize this nightmare science fiction was the actual
> reality on the ground, even in 2010!  Even some of the
> gloomiest science fiction writers did not
> anticipate this low of a cultural IQ.  Arne Duncan
> said "retarded" didn't he, or was that out of context?
>
> This status quo is so NOT "world class" it's not
> funny.
>
> So that's a problem.
>
> My perception is the business community might try to
> address this deep ignorance through television.  I can't
> believe I'm the only one
> suggesting this approach (meaning I don't believe I
> am the only one so suggesting).
>
> > because most of the teachers are lazy, incompetent
> >in pedagogy and/or
> > subject knowledge, etc. versus a school that fails
> > because of limited
> > resources or lack of cooperation from parents and
> > the community or a vast student population from broken
> > or poor homes but that the teachers
> > are dedicated to their students.  Schools within
> > this first category The education system itself should
> > provide a safety net.  I know schools
> > are groaning under the burden of trying to help
> > families survive.  They provide meals, but also
> > sometimes translation services.  Many teachers
> > double as social workers.
>
> Instead of fighting this trend, we need to see it as
> way better than warehousing the dispossessed in prisons.
> Incarceration is not the way to go forward, and simply
> feeds the growing perception around the
> world that the USA is little more than a police state
> with imperial pretensions (see 'Beyond the Age of
> Innocence' by Kishore Mahbubani for more analysis from
> Singapore).
>
That is a book I've not read but it was already on my HUGE list!
>
> This perception, that the USA is a piteous and
> pathetic beast, intent upon eating its own children, is
> devastating to diplomacy and deprives our
> leadership of credibility (another reason presidents
> have wanted to close Gitmo, Bush Jr. included).  
>
Maybe I'm being unfair to him, but I don't think GW Bush ever expressed a desire to close Gitmo.

> Having these world class international
> schools grow up in many zip codes, along with a more
> genuine commitment to the educational safety net across
> the board, would help a lot with international
> relations.
>
Indeed it would!

>
> Tearing down the Berlin Wall between mathematics and
> computer science would be a first step in that
> direction, as this'd restore some hope
> to this picture.  We'd get our spatial geometry and
> geography back, precious American heritage that is
> currently being squandered as if there's no tomorrow.
>
> > fail because they do not try; schools within the
> >second category fail because they try to do all the
> > work themselves when it is impossible
> > for schools to do that.  Teachers are important
> >factors in students' successes, but they cannot do that
> >alone.  They need the help of
> > parents and the community and administration as
> >well.  They also need  
> "The community" includes the business community.
>
> > corporation from their own students, too.  A
> student is who dead set against
> > genuine learning and the work required to learn
> will not succeed--no matter
> > how good the teacher is.  A class full of students
> who threaten to rebel
> > or to complain to the administration who is
> sympathetic to them
> > because they cannot get an easy A with minimal work
> or because the teacher
> > refuses to teach them from the textbook because the
> teacher knows the book
> > is crap (and we know that many math textbooks are
> crap) cannot be helped much
> > by a teacher because either the teacher will give
> in to the students to
> > save his or her job or the teacher will be fired
> for refusing to give in.
> > Ignoring these distinctions between such failing
> schools is causing
> > a lot of unnecessary harm to teachers and students.
>
> Having a steady flow of international students from
> many walks of
> life will do wonders for a school, as the
> administration well knows
> that this school, in this zip code, is developing an
> international
> reputation.  Blogging goes on, students compare
> notes, as do
> teachers.  Those schools with strong international
> reputations will
> bolster the records of everyone associated with them.
>  Given many
> teachers want overseas opportunities as well, they
> have an incentive,
> as do the students, to keep things on track.
>
> School spirit, school pride, is an important element
> in any school
> that's working.  These days, that means you need a
> central server,
> maybe a rack of servers, with an accumulating set of
> records, lots
> of lore.  Games, plays, debates, year book pictures
> -- all of this goes
> to the server and stays there for later access by
> alumni.  Every public
> school has a right to such infrastructure, either on
> the premises or
> in the cloud.  This is something the Obama
> administration might
> legitimately help with, as well as the business
> community.  There's
> a lot of free software out there, lots of liberal
> licensing.  We're not
> talking a huge expense, and even if we are, lets
> remember this is an
> investment that'll pay back with dividends, whereas
> squandering on
> more prisons is just contributing to brain rot.
>
> Students should realize that we have these options to
> improve
> their infrastructure, as well as their curriculum.  I
> would encourage them to organize, not in opposition to
> teachers, nor in opposition to the administration, but
> in support of both.  We would all be so much better off
> if the commitment to education were not just lip
> service.
>
> Opportunities to travel, to see the world, could be
> yours, without having to surrender your civilian status.
> America fields a surplus of military personnel right now
> at a million dollars a troop (rough
> estimate, Afghanistan reporting).  The Peace Corps
> has been dwindling in this climate.  Citizen diplomacy
> has gone to low ebb.
>
> Perhaps the only way to reverse this trend is through
> institution
> building in the education sector, and not just at the
> university level.
>
Absolutely!!

> The commitment to make our schools safe for USA kids
> equals the commitment to make them safe for kids from
> other countries as well.  That's what "world class"
> means, at a bare minimum.
>
> > I know that the cooperation of the administration
> is a major factor
> > in teachers' successes because there are ideas I
> want to try in my teaching
> > but that I am not allowed to do so.  For example, I
> would like to chuck
> > their textbooks because they are the standard
> textbooks that gut nearly all
> > reasoning and motivation and beauty from
> mathematics.  And I would like
> > to give assignments and projects that encourage
> them to think about
> > mathematics and to enjoy exploring some ideas on
> their own.  But I'm
> > forced to use the textbook and their assignments
> and course materials
> > as they developed them.  That's not to say that I
> will or can make my
> > ideas work if I tried them.  Instead, this is to
> say that a mathematics
> > teacher who tries to teach students genuine
> mathematics and genuine
> > mathematical thinking will struggle greatly in
> succeeding at these
> > schools because he or she would find it extremely
> difficult--if not
> > impossible--to do so while obeying the schools'
> policies.
> >
>
> Organizations such as corestandards.org are desperate
> to enshrine
> some status quo that preserves the Berlin Wall and
> perpetuates this
> fascist dictatorship of the ignorant majority, which
> has no clue about
> geodesic anything, doesn't know the tetrahedron is
> self-dual, and has
> no intention of explaining how anything works.
>
> That so many wrong choices have been made is now a
> scandal and
> cover-up is the order of the day.  Don't let people
> know that our
> American heritage has been squandered, our textbooks
> purged and
> "sanitized" by a gulag of know-nothing bureaucrats.
>
> Don't let students realize they're being ripped off
> daily.  Don't talk
> about the higher living standards we've sacrificed
> already.
>
> I'm following Ronald Reagan in calling on the
> Russians because they know what it's like to suffer
> under out-of-control bureaucracies.
>
We in India know a good bit about these "out-of-control Bureaucracies"!!

>
> If some of these world class schools get started in
> Russia and show up on TV, then we'll know the Berlin
> Wall (the digital divide)
> is coming down, as Americans will see what a real and
> relevant math curriculum really looks like.  Like almost
> nothing they've currently got going, thanks to
> oppression and malign neglect.
>
> Or we could do some pilot schools here, as
> collaborative enterprises?
> The ones we build from scratch will have ample room
> for gardening,
> permaculture etc.  The J. Baldwin pillow dome idea
> needs more
> time in the sun.  Remember that EPCOT is an
> inspiration (the
> original idea, of an Experimental Prototype Community
> of Tomorrow).
> Interesting TV will emanate from these places, and
> will spark student
> imaginations everywhere.  We should have started
> construction
> already.  Maybe we already have.
>
Terrific!  I'm all for this kind of enterprise.

> >
> > Another harm that Arne Duncan is causing is
> automatically labeling
> > schools with high standardized test scores as good
> schools.  Standardized
> > tests as mandated by NCLB completely or almost
> completely ignore
> > reasoning, critical and creative thinking, and
> other deep traits
> > that good learners must have and instead focus
> mainly on students'
> > abilities to regurgitate facts on exams.  Just
> because a student can
> > recite all these facts doesn't mean that the
> student can make sense of
> > them or use them to think critically.  And let's
> not forget all the
> > undetected cheating on these exams.  How many of
> these good schools
> > are really good schools after all?
>
> By my definitions, practically none of them, but not
> because the
> students or teachers are untalented.  The problem is
> people do not
> appreciate that radical improvements could occur.
> These radical improvements do not obviate the need for
> study or work, but they
> do provide more opportunities to see more of the
> world and meet more of its people.  Given the
> international mix in many a business,
> learning to problem solve multi-culturally is a must.
>  Mathematics includes team work, not just solo work.
> This is a lesson the computer science people have built
> many disciplines and tools around, so one
> consequence of bridging these cultures will be more
> practice in collaborative problem solving (doesn't have
> to mean at the expense of solo skills).
>
> In sum, I reiterate my remark that complacency is
> what's inappropriate
> here, plus we need a willingness to experiment,
> because we have no
> choice but to try stuff (this is otherwise known as
> "the human condition").
>
> We don't wish to squander resources, but "keeping
> everything the same"
> is not what "conservative" means either (as if the
> status quo were not
> squanderous).  As Heraclitus noted awhile back,
> change is inevitable,
> so a true conservative takes steps, active measures,
> to steer in a promising direction.  Liberals, being
> liberal, believe in sharing the road.
> Ronald Reagan took some risks, as did Bush Sr.  I'm
> thinking of a recent Freeman Dyson lecture here in
> Portland (blogged about it, oft cited).
> Bipartisanship is not out of the question (nor are we
> inevitably opposed to smaller additional parties, with
> their curious slates of candidates).
>
"Effective problem-solving" is probably more needed in the  political arena then anywhere else!

GSC
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Re: An Open Letter to Arne Duncan

Kirby Urner-5
In reply to this post by Jerry Becker
> Kirby Urner posted Mar 25, 2010 12:51 AM:

> > This perception, that the USA is a piteous and
> > pathetic beast, intent upon eating its own
> > children, is devastating to diplomacy and
> > deprives our leadership of credibility (another
> > reason presidents have wanted to close Gitmo,
> > Bush Jr. included).  
> >

> Maybe I'm being unfair to him, but I don't think GW
> Bush ever expressed a desire to close Gitmo.

Yes, he did actually, several times.  Here's a NYT
citation to back my point:

http://mybizmo.blogspot.com/2008/10/bureaucratic-delays.html

The USA public self-indulges itself in imagining the
"leader of the free world" is this really powerful job,
forgetting all these DC people come out of the woodwork,
speaking anonymously yet officially (much of the time)
on behalf of the president, steering pretty much without
regard for any "commander in chief" rhetoric.  

So what GWB wanted it closed?  He was a media creation,
a figurehead, said so himself.  

On the brink of the invasion, he told the Iraqi people
not to destroy oil wells.  To me, that was a clear bone
to those saying it was about oil, who quoted it with
glee.  He was giving legitimacy to their point of view,
his job as the president.

Per 'Marching Towards Hell', the rest of the world, not
just Islamic segments, are eager to engage USAers in real
debate as to what they might be up to, what their plan
is, but that's hard to accomplish given the hunkered down
know-nothing attitude, leaving it to leaders to maybe
handle the problems, ready to whine and complain if
things don't come up roses.

What's called "being cynical" is this childish projection
of some Great Father image on the presidency, a
self-infantilization encouraged by the "imperial
president" pomp and circumstance, which really started
getting out of hand right after Eisenhower.  

An imperial presidency is what Eisenhower's military-
industrial complex needed, to project that "superpower"
image, which the American people bought into, hook, line
and sinker (still do, most of 'em).

Also to GWB's credit, he tried his best to stage a
'Mission Accomplished' event that might, in a parallel
universe, have signaled it was time to come home.  His
administration had promised a short war, a kind of blitz,
and this was getting towards the point where now was
the time to tie it off, were those promises to be kept.

But the "cynics" were all about how he looked like a
strutting dweeb with a cod piece, plus he'd been like a
draft dodger re the craziness of Vietnam etc., hiding out
in the Guard.  Strange to hear the political left getting
into celebrating Vietnam war heroes, making more of Kerry
in a swift boat than Kerry in a tent on the Mall,
protesting the same war.  How to have it both ways?

If you go back in the archive here, I've always defended
GWB's not rushing off to Vietnam.  Charlie Clemens,
combat pilot, reached the same decision (to not fly
combat missions, having seen what was really going down
under Nixon) only to end up in an Air Force mental
hospital, whereas George got to be prez.

Clemens eventually got an MD, became a doctor.

You maybe saw the movie 'Why We Fight'?  This one starts
with Eisenhower on national TV warning the people they
were in danger of entering a long dark tunnel under the
rule of this so-called military-industrial complex (a
psychological complex as much as anything, a pathology),
and sure enough, we now have a population that basically
has no clue why it fights, and yet it does so, draining
its resources, destroying its international credit
rating, squandering its children, obliterating its
future.  Lots of books already on the shelves, chronicling
this sad and tragic chapter.

The world is hoping the pathetic beast will wake up from
this nightmare, thought the election of Obama was a good
sign, but the blundering forward still continues, pretty
much without justification or rationale.  I don't blame
the White House though.

Lets go back to those math teachers, denying students
their American heritage.  Their geometry books are just
pathetic drivel at this point. Where's the geography?
Where's the latitude / longitude stuff?  Where's the
spatial geometry beyond a few silly volume formulas and
no mention of tetrahedral accounting?

How could anyone govern a people this willfully dumb,
this unwilling to reflect?  Obama gets my respect and
admiration for even trying.

Kirby
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Re: An Open Letter to Arne Duncan

Michael Paul Goldenberg
Quoting Kirby Urner <[hidden email]>:

> Also to GWB's credit, he tried his best to stage a
> 'Mission Accomplished' event that might, in a parallel
> universe, have signaled it was time to come home.  His
> administration had promised a short war, a kind of blitz,
> and this was getting towards the point where now was
> the time to tie it off, were those promises to be kept.
>
> But the "cynics" were all about how he looked like a
> strutting dweeb with a cod piece, plus he'd been like a
> draft dodger re the craziness of Vietnam etc., hiding out
> in the Guard.  Strange to hear the political left getting
> into celebrating Vietnam war heroes, making more of Kerry
> in a swift boat than Kerry in a tent on the Mall,
> protesting the same war.  How to have it both ways?
>
> If you go back in the archive here, I've always defended
> GWB's not rushing off to Vietnam.  Charlie Clemens,
> combat pilot, reached the same decision (to not fly
> combat missions, having seen what was really going down
> under Nixon) only to end up in an Air Force mental
> hospital, whereas George got to be prez.
>
> Clemens eventually got an MD, became a doctor.

All the rest aside, Kirby, a couple of points: GWB looked like an  
idiot most of all because the mission clearly was not accomplished.  
And it is very difficult to ignore the fact that his party and his  
father made a great deal of political hay from the ill-conceived  
posting in a tank by GHWB's opponent, Michael Dukakis. Turnabout does  
generally prove to be fair play. But in this case, there was a real  
war, one phonied up by GWB and his puppet-masters, and his posing on  
that ship really looked bad at the time but horrid in retrospect.

As for his dodging Vietnam by hook or crook: face it - if you're a  
Republican still fighting Vietnam, still gaining power through fear,  
and then sending kids to die for oil, imperialism, revenge, profit for  
your masters in the military-industrial complex, etc., and you were in  
the military but managed to avoid combat or even a tour in 'Nam (or  
had "other priorities" a la Cheney), you look like an enormous  
hypocrite, particularly given that strings were pulled by your rich  
Poppy to keep your ass out of the jungle.

No one can blame people who actually OPPOSED the war to begin with and  
never tried to ride the phony patriotism horse later for avoiding by  
any reasonable means getting sent to die in Vietnam (or Iraq, for that  
matter). But when you play GOP politics, replete with all the  
jingoism, I think you have earned the shite you get for having  
weaseled out of combat when it was your turn.

- --
**************************
Michael Paul Goldenberg
6655 Jackson Rd Lot #136
Ann Arbor, MI 48103
734 644-0975 (c)
734 786-8425 (h)
[hidden email]
rationalmathed.blogspot.com
It was when I found out I could make mistakes that I knew I was on to  
something. - Ornette Coleman

**************************
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Re: An Open Letter to Arne Duncan

GS Chandy
In reply to this post by Jerry Becker
Kirby Urner posted Mar 26, 2010 12:52 AM:

>
> > Maybe I'm being unfair to him, but I don't think GW
> > Bush ever expressed a desire to close Gitmo.
>
> Yes, he did actually, several times.  Here's a NYT
> citation to back my point:
>
> http://mybizmo.blogspot.com/2008/10/bureaucratic-delay
> s.html
>
Possibly you are correct.  Let me re-examine.  (Though it will be very difficult indeed to do without GWB as a figure who wanted to be Hitler but failed).
>
> The USA public self-indulges itself in imagining the
> "leader of the free world" is this really powerful
> job, forgetting all these DC people come out of the
> woodwork, speaking anonymously yet officially (much of
> the time) on behalf of the president, steering pretty
> much without regard for any "commander in chief"
> rhetoric.  
>
This we know - isn't that always the case?  That was indeed the case for the Germans under Hitler too.
>
> So what GWB wanted it closed?  He was a media
> creation, a figurehead, said so himself.  
>
He also said (doubtless at another time when he'd forgotten the figurehead admission):  "I am the President.  I am the decider..." (words to that effect).

>
> On the brink of the invasion, he told the Iraqi
> people not to destroy oil wells.  To me, that was a
> clear bone to those saying it was about oil, who quoted
> it with glee.  He was giving legitimacy to their point
> of view, his job as the president.
>
> Per 'Marching Towards Hell', the rest of the world,
> not just Islamic segments, are eager to engage USAers in
> real debate as to what they might be up to, what their
> plan is, but that's hard to accomplish given the
> hunkered down know-nothing attitude, leaving it to
> leaders to maybe handle the problems, ready to whine and
> complain if things don't come up roses.
>
> What's called "being cynical" is this childish
> projection of some Great Father image on the presidency,
> a self-infantilization encouraged by the "imperial
> president" pomp and circumstance, which really
> started getting out of hand right after Eisenhower.  
>
You're right here, i believe:  the Vietnam war, for instance, actually started (probably) when Jack Kennedy ordered 'advisors' into Vietnam (or  possibly even  earlier?)

>
> An imperial presidency is what Eisenhower's military-
> industrial complex needed, to project that
> "superpower" image, which the American people bought
> into, hook, line and sinker (still do, most of 'em).
>
> Also to GWB's credit, he tried his best to stage a
> 'Mission Accomplished' event that might, in a
> parallel universe, have signaled it was time to come
> home.
>
That foray of his (onto the USS "Abraham Lincoln", was  it?), all dressed up in his pilot fancy dress, with cod-piece and all, to me signals GWB's inner man just about most accurately.  As I say, I may be mistaken - but I do take your point that US citizens are simultaneously victim to and promoters of this image of  the 'imperial presidency'.

>
>  His administration had promised a short war, a kind of
> blitz, and this was getting towards the point where now
> was the time to tie it off, were those promises to be
> kept.
>
> But the "cynics" were all about how he looked like a
> strutting dweeb with a cod piece, plus he'd been like
> a draft dodger re the craziness of Vietnam etc., hiding
> out in the Guard.  Strange to hear the political left
> getting into celebrating Vietnam war heroes, making more
> of Kerry in a swift boat than Kerry in a tent on the
> Mall, protesting the same war.  How to have it both
> ways?
>
> If you go back in the archive here, I've always
> defended GWB's not rushing off to Vietnam.  Charlie
> Clemens, combat pilot, reached the same decision (to not
> fly combat missions, having seen what was really going
> down under Nixon) only to end up in an Air Force mental
> hospital, whereas George got to be prez.
>
I believe you're giving GW Bush too much credit here, likening him to Charlie Clemens (of whom I believe I had read some very good things).
>
> Clemens eventually got an MD, became a doctor.
>
> You maybe saw the movie 'Why We Fight'?  
>
Not yet, but I shall try to get hold of it.

>
> This one
> starts with Eisenhower on national TV warning the people
> they were in danger of entering a long dark tunnel under
> the rule of this so-called military-industrial complex
> (a psychological complex as much as anything, a
> pathology), and sure enough, we now have a population
> that basically has no clue why it fights, and yet it
> does so, draining its resources, destroying its
> international credit rating, squandering its children,
> obliterating its future.  
>
And obliterating the future - if any - of the rest of the world at the same time.  But I observe that we  in India too - and probably the people in most nations - have very similar notions.  An adequate education into reality is what's needed everywhere - and nowhere do we see that need being satisfied, alas!

> Lots of books already on the shelves, chronicling
> this sad and tragic chapter.
>
> The world is hoping the pathetic beast will wake up
> from this nightmare, thought the election of Obama was a
> good sign, but the blundering forward still continues,
> pretty much without justification or rationale.  I don't
> blame the White House though.
>
I have the nightmare vision that nothing can stop this nightmare rush towards the abyss - not for the US alone, but for humankind as a whole.

>
> Lets go back to those math teachers, denying students
> their American heritage.  Their geometry books are
> just pathetic drivel at this point. Where's the
> geography?
>
> Where's the latitude / longitude stuff?  Where's the
> spatial geometry beyond a few silly volume formulas
> and no mention of tetrahedral accounting?
>
> How could anyone govern a people this willfully dumb,
> this unwilling to reflect?  Obama gets my respect and
> admiration for even trying.
>
Except that, in my view, 'trying' is simply not good enough. (As is evident from his 1-year history as POTUS).

How to get to convincing people at large that it is they themselves - NOT their 'leaders', by any stretch of imagination!! - that have got to set things right.  This they possibly could do (if it's not too late already - some claim that 1960-70 was the last historical period when it was not too late, and sometimes I feel these doomsayers may well be right).  Anyway, whatever point of our time-line we on now, it has to be people themselves at large who have to set things right - by asking themselves appropriate questions, constructing an adequately real picture of the world.  I've got to the OPMS thus far, which, adequately developed, could help them do some part at least of that job (I feel).

GSC
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Re: An Open Letter to Arne Duncan

kirby urner-4
In reply to this post by Michael Paul Goldenberg
On Thu, Mar 25, 2010 at 3:23 PM, Michael Paul Goldenberg
<[hidden email]> wrote:

> All the rest aside, Kirby, a couple of points: GWB looked like an idiot most
> of all because the mission clearly was not accomplished. And it is very
> difficult to ignore the fact that his party and his father made a great deal
> of political hay from the ill-conceived posting in a tank by GHWB's
> opponent, Michael Dukakis. Turnabout does generally prove to be fair play.
> But in this case, there was a real war, one phonied up by GWB and his
> puppet-masters, and his posing on that ship really looked bad at the time
> but horrid in retrospect.
>

If this really were an opportunity to tie it off, then lets hope "getting back"
for that tank story (re Dukakis) was not the whole reason for continuing to
fight and spill blood.

You say "the mission clearly was not accomplished" but then what
was the mission again?  Roll the tape forward and GWB is on some comedy
hour, crawling around on hands and knees pretending to look for those
missing WMDs. Nothing here.  Nope, nothing here either.  Was there a
laugh track?  Probably.

Now anonymous officials wanna do the same trick again, even though
they've admitted in advance that Iran doesn't have those WMDs, just seems
too greedy for nuclear medicine (who could fight that much cancer?).
Seems a funny reason to rattle for war, yet here we are once again,
apparently not one iotum wiser (maybe dumber!).

http://www.4dsolutions.net/mycartoons/cartoon5.html

I'm with Freeman Dyson (Princeton Institute of Advanced Study emeritus)
in thinking our focus needs to be deeper cuts in the big arsenals, stop
making bit players the issue.  If IAEA needs to pay a surprise visit
to Hanford, OR or Rocky Flats, CO, that should happen.  An open door
policy is what you'll need when you criminalize those stockpiles.  This is
how many scientists and engineers see the problem, including in Israel
and Iran.

http://www.4dsolutions.net/mycartoons/cartoon2.html

Anyway, lets get back to those math teachers, not sharing American
heritage.  If I were a student, I might be getting really antsy about that,
as that's my future they're messing with.  All fine and good to talk
about the hypocrisy of elected officials, but what if the textbooks
themselves have some hoax-like aspects, are hollow, under-nourishing.
Shouldn't we holler about "fake food"?  Or is this all a manufactured
crisis, even the diabetes epidemic?

I'm not saying all math teachers are as willfully ignorant, plus the
NCTM conference is coming right up.  Lots of kite action.  Lots of
cool math circles out there.  The winds of change are blowing strong.

Steve Holden gave me a copy of that 'Out of the Labyrinth' we've been
talking about here.  I put some pictures of that in my Photostream.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/17157315@N00/3389566943/in/set-72157616066135225/

I'd say Python Nation is light years ahead of most math teachers, when
it comes to knowing what's what.  The business community isn't just
slacking, and it's not some Anglophone country club either, isn't
a bunch of Republicans riding golf carts.  Maybe too much Michael
Moore and not enough Michael Crichton, if that's how you think.

The business community has its math teachers as well, and might
contribute services gratis to those public schools ready to pilot a new
kind of math class.  I know I've been doing a lot of that.  Don't think
of me as personally rich.  I believe in institutional wealth, like the
military does.  "My" aircraft carriers and submarines don't show up
on the books as my private possessions, praise Allah.  Maybe some
have vegan kitchens?

A lot of my travel money came from Sweden and South Africa,
where concern about "dumb Americans" is off-the-charts high.
That's when I was being an international consultant on the new
math-computer hybrid.  We got a lot done, and many reforms
are underway.  This new text from the Litvins is one more cool
asset to flash around, amidst a lot of other content.  edu-sig
remains a busy list, frequented by many experts (including from
both UofM and MSU if I'm not mistaken (Dr. Chuck and Bill
Punch respectively)).

Pycon had the new poster session in 2010, with outreach to
younger students through Vern Ceder's kind offices.

> But when you play GOP politics, replete with all the jingoism, I think you
> have earned the shite you get for having weaseled out of combat when it was
> your turn.
>

I don't share your partisan predilections as many a Democrat has
money from armaments, yet takes artful dodges to save a kid from
the body snatchers.

Demonizing the opposition is just more crazy American talk, as
bad as Shia / Shiite (hey, the USA had a civil war too come to
think of it, maybe should look into that more deeply rather
than inflict all the "drain bamage").

Sometime we should both join a list where American History and
Literature are front and center, so we might compare notes in more
detail.  I am mindful this is a math list, so want to bring it back to
that.  How Mark Twain and E.J. Applewhite connect, through the
Cosmos Club, could be for another session.

In echoing president Reagan in calling on the Russians to rip aside
the Iron Curtain twixt math and computer topics, I'm obviously coming
off as a right winger.

I was also hawkish on Gitmo, in support of Bush Jr,, thought it
should be bombed to smithereens, after getting the people out,
maybe saving a few exhibits for the Visitors Center.  Just more
Pentagon Math I suppose, all in a day's work (right up there
with Supermarket, Casino, Neolithic and Martian Math -- fun
heuristics we've been developing over on WikiEducator of late).

I recall all those protesters shouting "not my president, not
my war" but now tables have turned, and it *is* their prez and
their war.  So why did the channel get changed to health care
all of a sudden, like the war was suddenly over already?  Are
people really that optimistic?  Or are they secretly colluding
amongst themselves to find a way to start a new one?  We
know they wanna keep those bases, hear them whispering
about that loudly (plus there's that "transit center" under
Russian supervision).

As long as the math-teaching bureaucracy keeps suppressing
American Heritage in math class, I'm thinking we'd better not
trust these people.  Too much "forked tongue" (hypocritical
language).

I'm going to be hawkish and conservative, pointing to the Medal
of Freedom that president Ronald Reagan awarded our tetrahedral
accountant, R. B. Fuller in 1983.  He also awarded the Presidential
Citizens Medal to Jaime Escalante in 1988.  We need to show
movies and Youtube clips about both of these great teachers,
talk about their contributions to the culture.

Per other posts in this thread, I'm lobbying for these domestic
international schools with counterparts overseas that give students
with no special economic advantages some real opportunities
to tour the world, even pre-college.  Fighting xeno-phobia around
the globe is a cause many sponsors find worthy, and this way
of doing it is time-tested.  The Linus Pauling Center for Peace
is all for it (there's actually a longer name over the entrance).

If I don't champion something positive and inventive that the USA
brings to the table, such as new housing solutions or global grid
ideas, better pedagogy and/or andragogy, then I just won't have
any clout or credibility with my community, will be "just one more
American," a loud bully against the world.  "How to be more fascist
by making tests harder" is not going to impress anyone in
Singapore or Japan.

This doesn't mean I'm betraying the Obama team however, if we
wanna look at the big picture.  Seems to me that his is a hard-
working crew really hoping to make a difference.  Rebooting with
the Russians was maybe actually worth doing and looks like
it's paying off.  The Iran thing should calm down accordingly.
Our spatial geometry, more 60-degree-informed, recognizably
different, is headed to HDTVs around the world.  So, in the
words of Alfred E. Neumann:  "What Me Worry?"

http://mybizmo.blogspot.com/2006/05/decoding-usa-culture.html

It's still not a "manufactured crisis" though.  Readers looking
back should understand this was all plenty real.  Or visit a museum.
Look at those geometry textbooks.

We went with the army we had.

Kirby