Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tuesday Open Thread

A fairly definitive list of every Christmas movie and tv show made.   It would be a hard choice to decide which is the "best" but I'd go with It's a Wonderful Life (for drama), A Christmas Story (comedy) and Die Hard (for action). 

According to the LA Times, Governor Jerry Brown of California, pushing back against standardized testing, says he is still "haunted" by a final exam he took in high school (and one particular question).

If you have not read this 5-part series on a homeless girl in the NY Times, it's very good (and sobering) reading.

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said...

Worried about Labor today. Boeing WILL pull its 777x production from Puget Sound over the pension issue. Its stock price is soaring and the opportunity to get rid of the pension system for Machinists is too good to pass up at the corporate level.

It doesn't matter whether one thinks the local union is right or wrong in pushing back and refusing another vote on the issue. The end result of that refusal for our area will be strongly negative. Which means may citizens will be angry at the Unionization with a capital U. All unions.

And that's where it comes back to teachers. Think the anti-union hostility toward teachers won't increase as a side effect of the Boeing issue? I'd place a large wager otherwise. The Boeing issue will become another destabilizing force for our state's unionized teachers.

It will also be another obstacle in getting voters and state legislature to fully fund education. Politically and pocketbook-wise.

Glum thoughts.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Ed Voter, I note that a number of union leaders refused to attend Inslee's holiday party including the WEA. I think this was in support of the machinists.

Patrick said...

By the time regions have raced each other to the bottom in granting tax breaks and labor concessions, these perceived high value industries are barely worth having anyway.

Anonymous said...

What about the Budget presentation? Can anybody explain the highs and lows?


Anonymous said...

My young teen read all five parts in one sitting and the strength of this girl, Dasani, made quite an impression on her. As she puts it, this isn't the modern, sparkling, high culture NYC she sees on TV and movies. "That world might just as well be Oz to Dasani." This is a world that is right out of "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" and should belong in books on the fiction or history shelves, not in today's paper.

It scares her. I tell her, me too.


Anonymous said...

Did you read Danny Westneat's column in the times about homeless children sleeping outside in tent city across from Washington Middle School getting school bus pick up there during the recent cold weather, burning pallets to keep warm?

Anonymous said...

I meant Danny Westneat in the Seattle Times

paul heckel said...

Saturday, in addressing the fact there are differences between ed reforms he seeks and what the corporate community seeks, Charlie skipped over a step. Namely, he didn't define the purposes of K-12 ed.

As the intended purposes of K-12 ed affect, if not effect, all else, starting by listing the current purposes, then reevaluating them, and finally proposing reforms in accordance with fulfilling chosen purposes seems appropriate.

It strikes me that arguments about reform are blather unless related to what the public defines (not assumes or guesses) are the purposes of K-12 ed. The corporate community, for example, emphasizes development of each student as part of the economy. Charlie's emphasis on motivation suggests personal satisfaction as a purpose. I might look to development of self-discipline as a purpose. Melissa might consider social awareness as an individual and multi-community member as a purpose.

Identifying the various purposes of K-12, choosing which we want to focus on now, reconciling their conflicting demands, and prioritizing them within the limited K-12 timeframe seems a starting point in considering education reform.

Gross People said...

A couple days ago, Lynne Varner wrote an editorial regarding charter schools. Varner was DEAD wrong and states that dollars follow students. Today, I see this on Washington State Charter Schools facebook page:

Washington State Charter Schools Association

"For now, state law and public money for operating costs remain firmly behind charter schools." Strong editorial from

Gross People said...


Washington State Charter Schools Association facebook page then links Varner's article.

How much misinformation are these folks willing to tout???

Melissa Westbrook said...

Paul, excellent points.

I feel that especially with Common Core, we are turning (not 180 degrees but turning) more towards training than educating.

My late great friend, Professor David Notkin used to say, "It's like asking parents this: do you want your child to get sex training or sex education at school?"

I'm with an educated citizen. In the end, that will serve our country best.

Mary Griffin said...

A good source has reported that Lynne Varner's last day at the Times is on Friday. That's all I know.

Christina said...

Mary Griffin:
Yay! If it's true, who's up for celebratory libations?

Patrick said...

Don't celebrate before we know what she's up to next and who's replacing her.

mirmac1 said...

I'll bet Varner is the next in line for those expert educational consultant contracts.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Honestly, I would welcome any change. Varner is not even a good writer.

Mirmac1, yes, that would be my guess as well.

Ack said...

NPR will receive $17M grant dollars and Gates is one of the contributors. NPR will focus on (drum roll) education.

Anonymous said...

Inslee's proposed budget has another year for no COLA (cost of living adjustment) for teachers. I think this will make 7 years with no COLA. Maybe that's another reason why WEA isn't going to Inslee's party. I thought he was going to support teachers. I know they supported him.

Perhaps we can start funding the people who work crazy hours with amazing attitudes to support and education our children.

- Rooting for teachers

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mary Griffin said...

Mayor Bloomberg responds to the Dasani article in the New York Times: http://bit.ly/19SyjeN.

“It’s fair to say that New York City has done more than any city to help the homeless and we should be very proud of that,” declared the mayor, who went on to express optimism that the city’s public schools system would help Dasani break the cycle of poverty.

“This kid was dealt a bad hand. I don’t know quite why. That’s just the way God works. Sometimes some of us are lucky and some of us are not,” he said.

The Times report was deeply critical of the city’s homeless policies, describing the shelter where Dasani’s family lived as a place “where mold creeps up walls and roaches swarm, where feces and vomit plug communal toilets, where sexual predators have roamed” that was unfit for children. But Mr. Bloomberg admitted no fault, and proceeded to praise both those who work on behalf of the homeless and the government programs already in place."

Homeless has gone up 60% under Bloomberg's leadership. It's a heavy burden to place on an already over burdened school system to ask them to act as society's safety net. For Bloomberg to imply that the school system will rescue students from every social ill instead of directly addressing issues of homelessness and unemployment belies the "let them eat cake" approach of a government official who is out of touch with the plight of his poorest constituents.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Reprinting for Anonymous (but next time, give yourself a moniker):

"Not sure if it's true but been told that the indecision about the Mann Building will cost students and taxpayers over $180k for penalties & overtime to get back on schedule... anybody know if this is true? Has a change order been approved?"

At the time, the contractor had not filed for late fees/delay of contract. That may have come by now, I'll have to ask. But I sincerely doubt that they won't - the delay is months and that cost the contractor time and money. I would not blame them for asking for it.

Mary, I cannot believe what Bloomberg said. Paraphasing Aasif Manvi, "Does he know we can hear him talking?"

That's how God works?

And good point (that I have often made) that the public education system cannot right all the ills of society.

Anonymous said...

Re: Bloomberg and Dasani---if you replace the word God with entrenched poverty, then you would have reality. Listening to Planet Money on NPR a couple of days ago, the interviewer was asking the guest whether students nowadays should choose junior college/AA degree followed by working their way up the career ladder and picking up training and additional education along the way, or a 4 yr. degree, she replied that it depends on what socioeconomic class you come from. If you come from the lower class, then she suggested the AA degree to avoid being saddled with debt, but if you come from the moneyed class and can go to Harvard without heavy debt, she suggested that. So, our class system is totally entrenched...

Charlie Mas said...

For a great discussion of the purpose of K-12 education I suggest Neil Postman's book "The End of Education".

In fact, I will always suggest anything by Neil Postman, particularly his brilliant "Amusing Ourselves to Death".