Sunday, February 17, 2013

Upcoming Special Events

Monday night, the 18th, I'll be moderating a tele-townhall about standardized testing.  It's being sponsored by Fair Test ,"the National Center for Fair and Open Testing that works to end the misuses and flaws of standardized testing AND to ensure that the evaluation of our students, teachers and schools is done in a fair, open, valid and educationally beneficial manner."

It starts at 7p.m.  and the call-in number is
1-(866) 476-7782

Speakers include Garfield student body president, Obadiah Perry; Mallory Clarke, Garfield High teacher, and the executive director of Fair Test, Dr. Monty Neill.  

Tuesday night, the 19th, the smartest girl in the room, ed reformer Michelle Rhee, will be in town to push her book at Town Hall.  There is a protest starting at 6 p.m. that I hope to attend because Rhee should know that there are real people who do not believe what she is saying (or selling).   A good overview of Rhee is here at the Seattle Education blog.  Town Hall is at 1119 8th Avenue. 

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

thought you were about no name calling - 'smartest girl in the room'. Does she call herself that or is given to her by you?

-Just wondering

Melissa Westbrook said...

Fair enough but she's a public figure in a way I could never be (nor would want to). Yes, it is the name I gave her.

We try for no name-calling among each here at the blog.

Anonymous said...

I bet she'd like that name.
-Not wondering

Jan said...

I had to smile at "Not wonderings" comment -- because I had the same thought. I may have been meant as a barb -- but I suspect it would be taken as a compliment, as everything I have read about Michelle indicates that (1) she IS smart -- she is actually really smart, though unfortunately it is possible to be both smart and wrong, and (2) she would have no problem being described as, or believing she is, the smartest girl in the room.

But it was an interesting comment by "just wondering."

Dan Dempsey said...

Jan,

Ms. Rhee is certainly opportunistic. Not usefully smart given the wreckage.

Melissa Westbrook said...

One other bit of explanation.

Over the last couple of years, I've noticed this uptick in the number of people - both powerful and everyday - who believe they "know" the answer. It's like Enron - we're the smartest guys in the room and either "don't mess with us" or "we know better."

But, of course, you ask yourself, HOW do I know they know better? Are they experts? Are they that better informed than me? Have they laid out a case, complete with a pro and con to why I should consider/buy-into their argument?

I kind of saw this mentality in The Social Network. It's one thing to be smart but what if you went to Harvard, Yale or Princeton where EVERYONE is the smartest person in the room?

I don't think Zukerberg was thinking about being really wealthy - he wanted to be the smartest guy in the room. (Well, that and get girls.)

So whenever I hear someone like Rodney Tom or Michelle Rhee or Bill Gates trying to tell the rest of us thinking adults that yes, they know best, I always think of "the smartest guy in the room."

One quick story. Bill Gates came, with some aides, to my husband's department at UW which is computer science and engineering. Some faculty, including my husband, were showing Mr. Gates their work and some of it involved areas Mr. Gates is working on in public health.

Mr. Gates was told one thing about being able to stabilize breastmilk and he disagreed. My husband politely pushed back and said, no, they were able to do this certain thing and it had been definitively proven. Gates again said no, his people had said it was not possible.

Now my husband is a bit like me - he won't let go. So even as a more senior person was wringing his hands - don't disagree with Bill! - my husband said no, their research had proven they could stabilize the breastmilk in a certain manner.

Gates asked his aide to check and they moved on. Two days later the aide called and said, yeah, it turns out you're right.

Oh.

Now, because of his money and power, the right thing to do would have been to try to walk Gates through the research, hope he liked it and would help fund it. But disagreeing? Well, that's dangerous, blah, blah.

Not if you know your stuff and you are right. You can't just take everything these people say at their word.

Even the smartest guy or woman in the room.

Jan said...

Dan: I was watching a video of Senator Ted Cruz the other day -- and had a revelation of sorts. This man, whom I profoundly disagree with on virtually everything (at least everything I know of -- he is a Texas senator, so I don't know all his positions), went to Princeton, and then to Harvard Law School. Now, he did not go to these schools "back in the day" when being a 3rd or 4th generation legacy might have gotten him in even if he had a block of wood for a head. So I had to concede. He is probably really smart. I have decoupled the link between "smart" and "right." It is nice when that link is there. But in my book, it is no longer assumed to be there. People no longer get a pass in my book for being right just because they are smart. People can be both smart and wrong. Indeed, people can be both smart and evil (though I don't usually go down that road). Where a person's intelligence takes him (or her) depends upon something else -- something other than intelligence itself.

But I agree, Ms. Rhee is certainly not "usefully smart."

mirmac1 said...

YOU GO! Melissa's husband!!