Greg Prince's Blog

Musings and pontifications from a reality based progressive

Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

The Washington Monthly

Posted by Greg on June 2, 2010

The Washington Monthly.

So few people know the justices on the court?  Sigh.  I don’t want to ask how few have actually read the Constitution.

Posted in Education, Politics in General | Leave a Comment »

Cost saving measure?

Posted by Greg on February 17, 2010

Oh really?  I don’t think so…

Posted in Education, Utah | Leave a Comment »

Consequences

Posted by Greg on February 19, 2009

Sometimes there are consequences to anti science policies.  That is, consequences beyond poorly educated kids. Case in point:

A national biological society has diverted its annual meeting to Salt Lake
City, snubbing New Orleans because of Louisiana's recent embrace of a law
widely panned as anti-science. 

The Louisiana Science Education Act -- similar to a measure Utah lawmakers
rejected three years ago -- allows local school boards to introduce
creationist materials into the classroom under the guise of promoting
"critical thinking" toward the theory of evolution, critics say. 

"This law undermines the integrity of science and science education in
Louisiana," wrote Richard Satterlie, president of the Society for
Integrative and Comparative Biology, in Feb. 5 letter to Gov. Bobby Jindal,
who signed the controversial bill into law last June. 

"Utah, in contrast, passed a resolution that states that evolution is
central to any science curriculum," the letter continued. "As scientists it
is our responsibility to oppose anti-science initiatives."

Posted in Economics, Education, Science, Utah | Leave a Comment »

Best in the west

Posted by Greg on August 1, 2008

Kudos to SUU.  Go team!  Not that I’m biased or anything, I just did my undergrad here….

The Princeton Review has once again designated Southern Utah University as part of the “Best in the West” among colleges and universities throughout the western United States based on scores from student surveys.

Posted in Education, Utah | Leave a Comment »

Why I am proud of my state representative

Posted by Greg on May 9, 2008

Mindy Greiling is brilliant.  She is my representative to the state legislature and lives just down the block from me.  Minnesota Monitor highlights her recent correspondence with the Star Tribune over a hit piece their resident right wingnut, Katherine Kersten, did against a local charter school.

In response to questions prompted by Katherine Kersen’s recent columns on Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy (TIZA), I decided to visit the school myself.

What I learned during a tour late last month is that none of Kersten’s concerns that the charter school is promoting religion in violation of a state law that prohibits public schools from doing so is valid.

What I did see was excellent teachers hard at work in the classroom focused on improving student achievement. I saw engaged students of different religious and cultural backgrounds learning reading, math, government and science. I spoke with parents, teachers and administrators who all stressed their high standards for TIZA students.

While an outsider, or someone like Kersten who is trying to validate a predetermined conclusion, might be tempted to brand Tarek ibn Ziyad as an “Islamic School” because it leases space from the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, the school, like other charter schools in Minnesota that lease space from churches, is a separate entity. It does comply with federal law that requires all schools to accommodate a student’s right to practice his or her religion. And unlike other charter schools that have faced financial and other administrative challenges, the school was recognized with a 2008 School Finance Award from the Minnesota Department of Education for its “sound fiscal health and financial management policies.”

Kersten’s reckless journalistic standards have diminished this paper’s credibility. Worse, they have threatened the safety of the children and staff at the school, which has been forced to take extra security measures in the wake of recent death threats. While I value a broad range of opinions from a variety of perspectives, I value the facts even more. Kersten’s gross distortion of the facts in this case should compel Star Tribune management to ask for her resignation.

Posted in Education, Media, Minnesota | Leave a Comment »

Remedial science education for presidential candidates

Posted by Greg on April 22, 2008

Dumb, dumber, and dumberer.  Are they so desperate to offend nobody they pretend to not know what they don’t talking about?  Or is it worse – do they really NOT have a friggin’ clue?

I’ve been avoiding this because it pisses me off, so I’ll refer you to The Carpetbagger.

Posted in Education, Election 2008, Science | Leave a Comment »

Perceptions of merit

Posted by Greg on April 14, 2008

This explains a lot.

Posted in Culture War, Education | Leave a Comment »

Protection from reality

Posted by Greg on March 31, 2008

What are they afraid of?  Facts?  Reality?  Why is this so controversial?

Some version of the Comprehensive Family Life and Sexuality Education Act has been pushed at the Capitol over eight years, only to languish in committees or be stripped from omnibus bills under threat of a veto from Gov. Tim Pawlenty. The bill’s provisions are controversial among politicos but not the public at large, according to a University of Minnesota survey.

Posted in Education, Minnesota | Leave a Comment »

Selective respect for religious exception?

Posted by Greg on January 17, 2008

Interesting story comes out of DC:

A high school track star has been disqualified from a meet because officials said the custom-made outfit she wears to conform to her Muslim faith violated competition rules.

The disqualification has to be subject to question here.  She’s simply fashioned a covering to wear under her track clothes that adheres to conservative Muslim tradition.  It’s no big deal, and it hasn’t been an issue before this year – the year in which she stands to win trophies and be exposed to college recruiters.

She – and the DC schools – deserve better.

Posted in Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, Education | Leave a Comment »

Zero tolerance for ambiguity

Posted by Greg on December 10, 2007

We need more principals like her:

Sister Kathy Avery won’t put up with swearing on the playground at her school, and she’s not above repeating the offending language to make sure everyone understands which words she won’t tolerate.

The principal of St. Clare of Montefalco Catholic School had students stay after a Mass last month and informed the fifth- through eighth-graders that she has a zero-tolerance policy for cursing.

Just in case anyone wasn’t sure what she was talking about, Avery read off a list of the very words and phrases that she was banning.

Posted in Culture War, Education | 1 Comment »

Academic freedom or academic standards?

Posted by Greg on May 29, 2007

I, like many others I suspect, had a bit of a chuckle at the news that University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill’s job is in jeopardy.  Couldn’t happen to a nicer crackpot.

But reading a bit at Coyote Blog makes me rethink my schadenfreude – not enough to think Churchill deserves a university position, but still…

And it is hard for me to escape the sense that Mr. Churchill may lose his tenured position at a state-run institution over the content of his speech.  Yeah, I know, its nominally about his academic credentials.  But don’t you think everyone is winking at each other about this?  Yes, Mr. Churchill is an academic fraud, but he was a fraud when UC hired him and tenured him as well, and they should have known it.

I could go out tomorrow and find twenty tenured professors of ethnic/racial/gender studies in state universities whose academic credentials are at least as bad as Churchill’s and whom no one would dare fire.  This has nothing to do with Churchill’s academic work or its quality.  UC is getting exactly what it expected when it tenured him.  This is about an attempt to fire a tenured professor for the content of his speech, speech that has embarrassed and put pressure on the university, and I can’t support that.

OK, yeah, he’s right as far as it goes.  Most universities have their share of crackpots.  Heaven knows as a graduate student I suffered through more than my share of time spent evaluating work that was, to put it mildly, junk.  Churchill’s still an idiot, but it’s not his fault that there are so many villages in need of purging.

Posted in Education | Leave a Comment »

What an education is

Posted by Greg on May 17, 2007

What is the purpose of an education? On one hand it’s important to learn critical skills – reading, writing, math, etc. Memorization of facts and figures serves a purpose, but is there nothing more? To a large extent I’d argue a goal of education is to teach thinking – art and philosophy and process.

With that in mind, Ann Althouse recently came out with an atypically silly notion:

And why does reading even need to be a separate subject from history in school? Give them history texts and teach reading from them. Science books too. Leave the storybooks for pleasure reading outside of school. They will be easier reading, and with well-developed reading skills, kids should feel pleasure curling up with a novel at home. But even if they don’t, why should any kind of a premium be placed on an interest in reading novels? It’s not tied to economic success in life and needn’t be inculcated any more than an interest in watching movies or listening to popular music.

The problem she has is not recognizing reading as an end unto itself. Reading is indeed a tool used to help you get through science, math, history, and myriad other subjects. But it is also an end unto itself. Some reading is indeed for pleasure, but any literature student will tell you many of the classics are sufficiently painful…the real issue is that literature is what teaches thinking in a way nothing else can. I’ve taken advanced level classes on a variety of subjects across the spectrum and without a doubt the most difficult tests were music theory and literature. Any dummy can do rote memorization. Thinking and analyzing are hard to teach, and hard to do.  Literature is how you do this. Teach someone to think and the rest will fall into place.
Hat tip to Jeff Fecke who observes:

And this is something that is important for school to do, just as it’s important for school to teach art, and music. Because storytelling, and music, and pictures have been a part of humanity since we were human. I reject categorically Althouse’s insane argument that an appreciation for literature is “not tied to economic success in life” — I’m quite certain J.K. Rowling would find such a statement hilarious — but even accepting it arguendo, so what? We are more than our economic success in life. The greatest and most magical things I have experienced have had little to do with money. One of those has been reading A Wrinkle in Time to my daughter, an experience that cost me $2.00 at a used book store for a worn copy of the novel. I wouldn’t trade that experience for a million dollars. That Althouse finds such a notion trivial is evidence that she has no understanding or respect for what it is to be human.

Posted in Education | Leave a Comment »

Selective history

Posted by Greg on April 2, 2007

Interesting piece from the UK.

Schools are dropping the Holocaust from history lessons to avoid offending Muslim pupils, a Government backed study has revealed.

It found some teachers are reluctant to cover the atrocity for fear of upsetting students whose beliefs include Holocaust denial.

Read the full article, as it’s not only Muslims who want selective history, and part of the problem is the lack of knowledge on some teachers’ part too.

Posted in Education | Leave a Comment »

The price of cultural illiteracy

Posted by Greg on March 12, 2007

Great piece at The Carpetbagger Report on cultural illiteracy which reflects rather poorly on the state of education:

When a person is unable to say whether a passage comes from the Bible or Shakespeare, it means he does not know the Bible very well. This is shame — but it’s also a shame that he doesn’t know Shakespeare.

Furthermore, I would argue that scientific illiteracy presents a much more dangerous threat. Unable to grasp even the basics of the scientific method, many people remain gullible and unable to make informed decisions about nutrition, health care, global climate change and many other issues. A person’s inability to recognize a biblical allusion in a work of literature is unfortunate, but it rarely affects public policy.

Posted in Education | Leave a Comment »

Censorship on campus

Posted by Greg on February 7, 2007

Great piece by John Leo on censorship of conservatives on university campuses.  Worth reading.

Posted in Culture War, Education | Leave a Comment »