Friday, June 29, 2007

Possible Future Head of TEA Violated Policy

An internal investigation at the Texas Education Agency has found the agency didn't follow policy, and that contracts were awarded to associates of top officials.

No big surprise here. Robert Scott, assistant TEA commissioner and possibly future head of TEA, has been described as a Perry loyalist (ass-kisser, sycophant). The article mentions two contracts he negotiated personally with a contractor.
In one case, a woman who received two $100,000 contracts for agency work told investigators that she negotiated the terms directly with TEA's deputy commissioner, Robert Scott, rather than the education service center administering the project.

The report also said that a consultant for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recommended hiring specific people, including his ex-wife, for grant contracts.

For years I considered myself a Republican, but in the last few I have changed that view. It's amazing how arrogant they are when they are in power, believing they are above the law, whether they are state or federal officials.

Different versions of this story can be found here and here, or the report itself can be found here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Carnival of Education, The RoadTrip Edition

In honor of The Education Wonks, who are on the road to their summer home, allow me to present The Road Trip Edition of the Carnival of Education.

My Daily Reads

Did you learn ANYTHING this year? Well, the Science Goddess did and she's reflecting on them as she transitions to summer vacation.

Where else would you find a post titled Diplomas and Gorditas except at Learn Me Good? How long will it be before one of us is working at Wal-Mart High or Chik-Fil-A Elementary? If you like the blog then you'll definitely like The Book.

And speaking of McDonalds, would any of us enjoy being referred to as a McTeacher? Could those 10 hour school days at KIPP schools really be about teaching kids to blindly accept authority and long hours? Next week's host NYC Educator takes on the KIPPers.

Talk about your meltdowns, how about a principal using his office to buy crack cocaine? The Ed Wonks have labeled him the wanker of the day.

It seems like every week there is a new study released about education. Over at 3σ Left they examine a study they believe will be ignored.

Higher Education

How would you like to go to college for free? Campus Grotto has the lowdown on affordable colleges, and if you search the list carefully you'll find the one that's free for state residents.

But what if there are gaps in your college admission application? Mathew K. Tabor is the man you want to talk to then.

Campus Crime is a big topic these days, but what about crimes that are not so spectacularly horrible as the Virginia Tech shootings? Why Homeschool looks at a university that tried to cover up a murder in order to protect its image.

Inside The Blogs

Have you heard of Isaac Asimov's 3 Laws of Robotics? At Scenes From The Battlefield they've finished work on The Second Law of Behaviour Management. NOW I'm all curious as to what the first law was.

Are you already dreading thinking about next year? Frumteacher is and he has a list of resolutions for the 2007-2008 school year.

If you're a Science teacher in the state of Georgia you might want to check out the EIC Conference. It has a great deal of ideas for teaching in the great outdoors, as well as the story of a group of children who managed to get their state legislature to pass their bill.

Ever wondered how to tie Chemistry and Literature together? The ChemJerk has a list of summer reading in chemistry.

Another group of words I never thought I'd see together in the same sentence are physics or social justice. Is the PC mindset infiltrating even the hard science fields of education?

Teachers fear standardized tests as simplistic assessments of performance, which are then used as indicators of school success. Sound familiar? Not only is it happening in the U.S. but in Denmark also, where The Tempered Radical weighs in with observations about a trip to observe education in Denmark. I also wrote about a school in Denmark where students strip for the best seats at lunchtime.

California Teacher Dude Guy is currently searching for a teaching position, and his submission is entitled Thirteen Random Reasons Why Your School Should Hire CaliforniaTeacherGuy, making him 30% better than anyone with a Top Ten list.

I'd never heard of the term digital native until I received this entry from Life Without School. Even more interesting is the term Digital Immigrant, which is probably the category I fall in. I meet some of the qualifications, but I'd never figured out the R2D2 could shove bad guys off the walkways in Star Wars Lego.

I love finding a good deal, and The Digerati Life has come up with a list of Cheap Ways To Learn And Feed Your Brain.

Did You Know is an awesome look at facts regarding education and employment. Be sure to follow their link to Did You Know 2.0 and view the presentation.

I've heard it said that kindergarten is the new first grade, and the Scholar's Notebook agrees. Their submission to the carnival is called The manufactured crisis in kindergarten readiness and, you won't believe this, a company that sells materials to school districts is helping to spread the alarm.

I was hoping someone would tackle the ETS survey results about NCLB and Horse Sense and Nonsense has done it in this post. If case you're wondering here is how the "question" was presented to the respondents:

“The No Child Left Behind Act provides federal funds for school districts with poor children in order to close achievement gaps. It also requires states to set standards for education and to test students each year to determine whether the standards are being met by all students. In addition, No Child Left Behind provides funding to help teachers become highly qualified. It also provides additional funding and prescribes consequences to schools that fail to achieve academic targets set by their state. Based on this statement and anything else you may have heard, would you say that you have a favorable or an unfavorable opinion of the NCLB Act?”

I was lucky enough to grow up with a football field sized neutral ground in front of my house and a neighborhood full of kids to play with. When was the last time you saw a large group of kids playing outside in your neighborhood?, wonders Mrs. Bluebird. The only kids who play outside in my neighborhood have a basketball goal up in the driveway, and wait till after sundown when it's cooler.

Some people seem to know a lotta big fancy words. Silvia has some thoughts on a large vocabulary.

Privatization Issues

Privatization is a big issue among the "reform" crowd, but what about the privatization of non-instructional services? wonders Mr. Pullen.

Going to the Mat weighs in with the story of a group of parents who want to start an all girl charter school.

Next Week's Carnival

Next week's carnival will be hosted at NYC Educator. Please submit all entries to nyceducator[at]gmail[dot]com no later than 6 P.M. EST, or you can use this handy form.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Please Send Your Carnival Entries

To me, Mike in Texas, via by Tuesday, 10 P.M. CST.

Friday, June 22, 2007

What Do Teachers Make?

I know most teachers have probably already read these words, but I thought it was interesting to hear and see the person say them. His name is Taylor Mall. The video comes courtesy of Youtube and Teach42.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

I'm The Redneck King of The Neighborhood

"We're" currently remodeling our bathroom, and when I say "we" I mean "me" of course. Oh it's not like my wife doesn't have important parts, from changing her mind about colors to criticizing my work, but painting and flooring are just not her thing.

Because I will be redoing the floor, the toilet has had to come out and currently resides on our back patio, making me the redneck king of the neighborhood.

Anytime I see a neighbor outside I'm tempted to go outside with a book and take a seat, maybe install a toilet paper holder.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Hit The Beach With The Science Goddess And The Carnival of Education

This week's edition of the Carnival of Education is a
Back To The Beach special with posts from some of my favorite bloggers, including Mr. Teachers, The Education Wonks and Ms. Corneilus, along with a host of other fine entries.

Next week's carnival will be hosted by yours truly. Please send submission to me,

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Sometimes I Just Don't Know What To Say About A Story

This is one of those times:
Students' stage strip for teachers

Teachers have refused to stop an annual striptease by pupils despite a video of an onstage lesbian love romp ending up on YouTube.

But officials at the school in Denmark are fighting to hold onto the annual event.

A spokesman said: 'The girls' teachers vote as the best get the best places on the tables in the canteen.'

Erik Olesen, head teacher at Silkeborg said everyone, including the school governors, had known about the contest and described it as 'harmless fun'.

But news of the striptease got out when some of the girls this year stripped naked and began to touch each other's breasts - then started rubbing baby oil over each other's bodies.

Two girls put on a lesbian show to cheering classmates and teachers

The whole incident was filmed by four other students on their mobile phones who then posted it on the internet. It has since been removed from YouTube.

The girls were only stopped from going further by teachers.

Headmaster Olesen said: 'I think they forgot what they were doing and where they were. But my concern now is not to punish anyone, but protect the girls who are now all over the internet.

'As for the students who recorded the contest, they didn't realize they had done anything illegal and I have had a long talk with them.'

But he added that he had no plans to scrap the striptease competition at the school. 'I am sure nothing like this will happen again,' he said.

'And anyway, the girls who did this didn't win the competition because their performance was over the top.'

Film of the girls stripping off in front of teachers and pupils sparked outrage among education chiefs who now want it banned.

I haven't checked any of the far-right anti-public school religious reform sites but isn't Denmark one of those countries they always mention as having better schools than us?

The whole story can be found here but be warned, some of the links from this site contain adult natured materials.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Somewhere There Are Baytown Teachers Being Held Accountable For This Kid's Test Scores

I've been closely following the story of the 4 kids killed in the Baytown crash and the story has become interesting, to say the least.

First of all, the driver survived and his actions are being dismissed by his mother. She has supposedly said her son, Bobby Davis, was just trying to get one of the girls home and that's why he was driving so fast. Incidentally, one of those killed was her son and Bobby's younger brother.

Apparently then, Mom knew little Bobby was driving without a license and driving a stolen vehicle at 3:30 in the morning. After seeing Mom's myspace page I think I can see why Bobby is the way he is, especially after reading this note he left for his MOTHER:
holy fucking shit i just tried one of those ringtone sites advertised on myspace and they really do work...i got some crystal clear ringtones for my phone instantly. i am talking about some cadillac shit here! you just gotta see for yourself, just copy and paste this site in your browser:

I would have rung my child's neck for leaving his mother a message like that, and his mother would have too.

Bobby wasn't exactly hanging around with a group of future brain surgeons if you examine some of the comments left on his myspace page:
bobby oh shit when i seen that shit on the news i could not believe what i was seein fool but dang hang in there yo im here for you if you need to talk playa but you shouldnt be sad cuz we all know hes in a better place so dont look foward or back look up stay cool

bobby omg this is so freakin crazy like i heard about the wreck and i was like damn like it was bad and that i felt bad for the people and their families in the wreck and then i found out that you were in it and that austin had died and so did loral and her cousin and your girlfriend and like i almost started cryin cuz like i actually knew people that were in the wreck and like i know that i don't know you that well but we did hang out a couple times and when we hung out we had a whole lot of fun like that day at dayton ole times day when it was me you melissa and elmo hangin out and we all rode rides and stuff and thank god you came so i had someone to ride with i'm so glad that i got to hang out with you that night and it sucks that this had to happen i'm so freakin sorry and i hope that you get threw this we don't need any more loses i hope so bad that you pull threw this and don't blame yourself for what happened i'm prayin for you and your family and everyone

Somewhere some teachers were probably raked over the coals, or in Bush's words, had their feet held to the fire, over this idiot's test scores.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Out of Baytown, near Houston , comes this tragic story of 4 teenagers killed at an unlit railroad crossing. A terrible tragedy for sure, but as I read into the story I found something highly disturbing.
The victims died instantly early Thursday when the stolen SUV they were in slammed into a parked train.

It happened at a crossing at Archer Road and Fleming around 3:30 a.m

The 4 teenagers killed in this horrible accident were 14, 14, 13 and 12. Three of them were females.

What in the world were two 14 year old girls and one 12 year old girl doing out at 3:30 in the morning riding around in a stolen SUV??? Where were the parents of these children? One of them had snuck out, but what about the other 3?

The community, and in particular some of the parents of those killed, are blaming the railroad company for having an unlit railroad crossing, but the fact of the matter is, these kids were out when they shouldn't have been, doing things they shouldn't have been doing.

What a stupid, senseless tragedy. I for one would favor the death penalty for the driver, if he survives.

Do We Rely Too Much On Technology?

Yesterday some friends traveled to Schlitterbahn to meet us. Early in the morning I called my friend to coordinate our arrival times, as we had already purchased discount tickets for them. My friend informed me they were in Hearne, Texas, which is about 20 miles NORTH of the route we usually take. When I asked him why he went that way his answer was it was the route Yahoo maps indicated.

Now my friend is no dummy. He has a college degree and was a Wal-Mart manager for 15 years. Somehow the idea of consulting a map or an atlas never occurred to him, and he went a long way out of his way. The same thing happened to a brother of mine, when he visited after evacuating for Hurricane Katrina.

Upon arriving home, and after following my instructions on a better route back, my friend informed me my way had cut 60 miles off the trip.

Who says computers always know better?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Blogging With An Empty Wallet

I'm currently blogging from Austin,Tx, where the Sheration Hotel apparently has designs on taking every last bit of money we have.

My wife is here for a conference, and my daughter and I have tagged along. So far I've been shocked to discover:

1. I have to pay an extra $10 a day for internet access.

2. We have to pay 12 bucks a day plus taxes to park in the hotel's parking garage.

3. The bottled water in my room costs $5 a dollar.

I know some of you will be quick to point out I'm just a rube from East Texas, but a couple of weeks ago when we were here for my son's graduation we had free parking, free breakfast and free internet, just at a different hotel.

My wife chose the Sheraton because it is where her conference is being held. I would have gladly dropped her off and stayed somewhere else.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Texas Charters Are The Biggest TAKS Cheats

From the "things you won't see posted on reform websites" comes this story and this story. Texas schools have taken a beating in the press, with many newspapers calling for investigations of TAKS cheating. However, an in-depth study found that most of the cheating goes on at Texas charter schools.

Advocates of charters often claim market forces will drive the bad ones out, but in one of the stories I found these tidbits:
TEA has spent much of the last decade pursuing sanctions or other actions against Gulf Shores and its parent organization, Gulf Shores Academy. The charter system has a history of financial and academic problems, including a roughly $8 million debt to the state for over-reporting student attendance. State officials have, for several years, been trying to shut down the school.

Alphonso Crutch's has also long been among the state's most troubled charter schools, with state officials having tried – and failed – to shut it down several years ago.

So much for state oversite and market forces. I look forward to sharing these newspapers stories at several of the "reform" websites.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Why Is It?

I often watch the"Commodities and Markets" section of CNN and monitor the price of gasoline futures. Given that I may a 50 mile round trip to work everyday it directly effects my wallet.

What I'm wondering is, how come if the price of futures goes up 10 cents a gallon the price of gas at the pump immediately goes up, but if the price goes down it takes days for there to be a decrease?

Just curious.

Sunday, June 03, 2007


Last night we traveled to the Theater Under the Stars and saw the Broadway production of Spamalot!. For those of you who are not familiar with the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail I would highly suggest watching the movie first. If you are a fan, you will find the play absolutely hilarious!