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I am a former middle and high school science teacher pursuing a doctorate in Science Ed. at George Mason University, with a concentration in cognitive science and the evolution of cognition and learning. Postings on this blog represent my own views, not those of my employer or school. All writing displayed on this page is original work unless otherwise noted, and thus copyrighted.

20 February 2010

Ideological nonsense...

is ideological nonsense, regardless of the source, and it crosses lines of religious belief, political affiliation, and education level.

Self-identified Republicans are significantly more likely than Democrats to have 4-year college degrees.

Low-income voters tend to favor the Democratic Party while high-income voters tend to support the Republican Party. President George W. Bush won 41% of the poorest 20% of voters in 2004, 55% of the richest twenty percent, and 53% of those in between. In the 2006 House races, the voters with incomes over $50,000 were 49% Republican, while those under were 38%.[55]

from Wikipedia, so we can take it with a grain of salt (the figure is from a Pew survey).

The point of sharing this is to debunk the notion that the feelings of anti-intellectualism, exemplified by Palin, have roots in a class/educational divide. The teabagger, Glen Beck bullshit spewed forth by Repubs is certainly a function of something, but the data suggests that Repubs are also more likely to be educated and have a greater income than those who are not subscribing to an anti-intellectual agenda. They may hate what they perceive as liberal and educated, but they themselves are also educated, and make the same or better money than those they disparage. Irrationality is irrational, however you choose to frame it. Some people need to adjust their bullshit detectors to home in on liberal bullshit, rather than just that put forth by the right.
To relate this directly to a previous post and it's comments: It's nice to be able to say that the reasons behind the attempted segregation in Wake Co. and the backlash against Ms. Hussain are for reasons of class, but both are coming from the same source: middle to upper class, college-educated whites. Race issues anyone? Perhaps not, as that requires examination as well, but let's not project our beliefs onto the situation without examining the data.

16 February 2010

Sayonara, Del Burns

Superintendent Del Burns, of WCPSS, has resigned, stating that he cannot in good conscience work for the new school board. Whilst I am not a fan of Dr. Burns, I do feel badly for the citizens that did not elect the new majority of right-wing, anti-education bigots to the school board; everyone's children are going to suffer the consequences of a knee-jerk election.
Dr. Burns is largely, although not solely, responsible for the well-intentioned but poorly considered attempts at school reform centred around the PLT/PLC system of Rick DuFour. Like many education reforms before it, it was adopted long before the verdict was in on the efficacy of the approach, and based on the data available at All Things PLC, namely anecdotes and the most ad hoc of regression trends, the verdict is that DuFour has concocted a lovely scheme to make money that does little for learning. In that regard, I'm not sorry to see the man leave.
On the other hand, he is/was a voice of reason on the topic of diversity, choosing to continue WCPSS policy of shipping students a fair way from their homes to balance schools ethnically and economically. This, while not something that has an effect on student academic performance as evidenced in Greensboro and Charlotte, does prevent the creation of low-income sewers of schools that can't attract quality teachers (read: nearly every inner-city school you can imagine) and promote an understanding of the rest of the world in all types of students. Neighbourhood schools, especially if you read the comments on the above and every other N&O article on education, are code for "I don't want my kid goin' to school with no darkies." It's unfortunate that de facto segregation was the most attractive option to voters this past fall, since those of us who didn't think it was that great an idea didn't storm the polls like those who did.
From the comments on the site
Burns has been just like all the other life long "educators", out of touch with the needs of the kids, parents, and communities in Wake Co.

Really?! Why do ignorant fucktards feel that because they happened to go through school, they know more than people whose profession and life's work are in education? This is perhaps the most frustrating thing about working in education.
More "Joe the Plumber" right-wing, blue collar bullshit
One of the things I've been noticing lately is that some people seem to feel that college degrees trump intelligence, experience and integrity.
That's right buddy, your personal experiences as a car salesman or construction worker trump the combined learning of academia and the actual classroom experience of former teachers. Well done.
Wake County, you're going to end up getting what you asked for... unfortunately it isn't what your children deserve. Good-bye, Del Burns, and hello to the South before Brown v. Board. Luckily, I won't be sticking around to welcome in the return to a bygone era of fascist family values with you. Perhaps you can pray about what to do when most of your qualified staff follows suit over the next few years. After all, you've done nothing so far, why not continue?

15 February 2010

Why I Shouldn't Post This...

As I was about to write this post, which I fully intend to write, I noted this lovely article in the N&O
: A Middle school teacher in my district was suspended for comments posted to her Facebook page. This isn't unusual in and of itself, it's been done elsewhere before this. The difference is that she posted comments related to students leaving a Bible on her desk (from her surname she is certainly of Middle Eastern descent and ostensibly Muslim?) and that the parents of her students were "bigoted, stupid, and uncaring." She also mentioned that she was "able to shame her students". Now, investigation of that final comment is the only thing that seems to be a legal reason for suspension, since the others amount to her right to free speech and/or her being persecuted, not the other way around. I don't doubt that Wake Co. has a legitimate excuse for her suspension, but I seriously doubt their motives.

Now to the meat of the post: I attended a January graduation ceremony because a number of my former students were graduating. For the most part, they were graduating early, not a semester late. The part of this that stuck in my head, however, was that there was a graduation speech delivered, not by a member of the faculty or graduating class, but by a pastor at a local church of which our principal is a member. Yes, that's right, a member of the clergy was asked to give a "message", for which he chose the life of David, complete with passages and Biblical references. While I'm not sure where else he would have found information on him, since most of what we know of him is from that fictional source. The speech included some decent worldly advice, but also some outright Christian messages, as well as direct reading of a Psalm. From what I remember, that pretty well matches what a sermon is.... how is this legal? Our public schools should not be a recruiting ground for local churches.

UPDATE PZ Myers of Pharyngula has picked up the first part of my post... although not due in any way to me: here

Change of plan...

I'm not going to continue posting the Evo Ed series at this point, as I've submitted it to JRST for publication... Once copyright issues are ironed out, I'll continue in that vein.