Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Teaching to the test

I have a love-hate relationship with teachers. My family is full of teachers and they're hard-working, passionate, intelligent educators who make me proud to say I'm related to them. I had teachers in school who inspired me and touched my life in ways that I will remember forever.

Then there are the other teachers. The ones who enter the education profession to enjoy the experience of crushing young people. The ones who are bitter, burned out, and stupid. I've had the experience of those teachers, too.

Now I have kids in school and I feel like I'm playing Russian Roulette every fall. Is this teacher an evil Orc who'll destroy my children or a priceless Galadriel who will give them the everlasting light and joy of learning. How do I know?

I know if we've got a bad teacher by the desperate and dying light in my child's eyes when they come home from school. Getting your child out of a bad teacher's class is as easy as overturning a decree by the Soviet Politburo, but I've done it four times now. I'm not popular at my children's school, as you might imagine. One poor teacher, young and cute and hopelessly incompetent, burst into tears in the conference where I demanded my son be removed from her class. If I had a shred of compassion, I would have helped her self esteem and left my son in her inept care. Compassion, I've got. But I reserve it for my kids. Her tears made me feel bad, but not that bad. Seeya, lady.

There's another way now for teachers to be assessed before I have to watch my kids suffer: No Child Left Behind, and the Colorado Student Assessment Program. (CSAP). The CSAPs are just commencing in my school and I enjoy them greatly. The teachers start sending home notes: Make sure your kids get lots of rest! Make sure they have a good breakfast! We need volunteers to pass out oranges and other snacks mid-test!

The teachers know who is being tested: They are.

Two years ago my son was furious because he failed a huge chunk of the CSAP, along with his whole geography class. All the students were angry and upset because they all wanted to get a good grade. I told my son, with a grin: "You didn't fail. The teacher failed. The CSAPS don't test you; they test what the teacher is teaching you."

This is called "Teaching to the Test" and teachers hate it. Oh, how most of them hate it. They want to teach what they want, and whether or not that prepares the students for the rest of their lives, well, that's not really their problem, is it?

My son went to school and shared this information with his classmates, who then turned en masse on their geography teacher and accused him of teaching them the wrong information. He was astonished, upset, enraged -- and started teaching the information he was supposed to teach, instead of what he wanted to teach.

The next time you hear a teacher tell you that they don't want to waste time "teaching to the test", remember who is being tested by these standards. Remember who has your children in their control, in their power, for an entire school year. And remember that if you have a teacher who doesn't teach the right information, your child will not have the foundation to build on for the next year of school. That's why the tests are important. That's what they're testing.

Keep your sword sharp for the Orcs, and don't be afraid. And if you get a Galadriel (as I have been blessed both with my children and myself) then give that teacher praise, and help, and write letters to the principal about him/her, and give them as big a gift as you can afford at Christmas and at the end of the school year.

The bad ones get paid too much, and the good ones can never get paid what they deserve. No Child Left Behind and the CSAPS will help you figure out which are which.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Barbarians at the Gates

There are some things that are so unbelievable that you have to read them a few times just to absorb the insane barbarity of it all:

Tehran, Iran, Jan. 07 – An Iranian court has sentenced a teenage rape victim to death by hanging after she weepingly confessed that she had unintentionally killed a man who had tried to rape both her and her niece.

The state-run daily Etemaad reported on Saturday that 18-year-old Nazanin confessed to stabbing one of three men who had attacked the pair along with their boyfriends while they were spending some time in a park west of the Iranian capital in March 2005.

Nazanin, who was 17 years old at the time of the incident, said that after the three men started to throw stones at them, the two girls’ boyfriends quickly escaped on their motorbikes leaving the pair helpless.

She described how the three men pushed her and her 16-year-old niece Somayeh onto the ground and tried to rape them, and said that she took out a knife from her pocket and stabbed one of the men in the hand.

As the girls tried to escape, the men once again attacked them, and at this point, Nazanin said, she stabbed one of the men in the chest. The teenage girl, however, broke down in tears in court as she explained that she had no intention of killing the man but was merely defending herself and her younger niece from rape, the report said.

The court, however, issued on Tuesday a sentence for Nazanin to be hanged to death.

Defending yourself against rape is punishable by death? Let us examine this more closely, after we finish gagging and retching. If women and girls are property, dogs or cattle without rights, then to attack a human being is punishable by death no matter what the reason.

We have pit bull attacks in our country and the owners of the pit bulls are fined and sometimes face jail. However, the pit bulls are always put to sleep, no matter what. If you attack a human being, you face the death penalty if you're a dog, and no provocation is acceptable.

Well, that makes me feel a bit better. I have now put myself in the Islamist's shoes, minds, and hearts, and understand their motivation and their logic and their culture.

Now, let's go kill all their men.

.... Oh, all right, that might be a little harsh. Forgive me, because I can't get the image of brave little Nazanin out of my head. This story, awful as it is, illuminates the real key to bringing the Islamic nations into the civilized world.

When women are given equal rights, when women are honored as human beings with the same rights and responsibilities as men, then and only then can a nation be considered anything but barbaric. Iran is run by barbarians. Saudi Arabia is run by barbarians. Vile, degraded barbarians. We must defeat these creatures or face them in our country, in our schools, and within touching distance of our precious daughters.

Friday, February 03, 2006

I blow my nose in your general direction

...Which is a joke from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Jokes will not be allowed if radical Islam takes over the world, and neither will cartoons:

Because of these cartoons, we get to see the following delightful images from Europe:

Is this like a South Park episode? Are these people joking?

Alas, they are not. The tipping point may be coming with radical Islam -- with Islam itself. The right to be insulted -- to have your most sacred institutions mocked, your most beloved public figures satirized, your culture scrutinized under the scalpel of wit -- is our most fundamental right of free speech.

So I display these offensive Muslim cartoons and I say to any who want to deny me the right: "Your Mohammed smells of elderberries!"

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Han Solo shot first

The U.S. military has developed a laser-beam weapon that can obliterate a target with no collateral damage. Currently the laser is mounted in a C-130 Air Transport plane.

However, we all know what comes next:

I have no idea why some people are afraid of technological advances, particularly in the area of weapons. Weapons are tools, and good tools are better than bad ones. Guns, in particular, should be the symbol of female emancipation. Before the gun, the weapon of choice was a sword or a bow. Both of them require upper body strength and size, which men have in greater abundance than women.

Then came Winchester, and if I might paraphrase: God saw that this was good.

The repeating rifle that Winchester created in 1860 gave women, for the first time, a weapon that negated men's greater size and strength. Within nine years, Wyoming had given women the right to vote and in 1920, the 19th Amendment gave women sufferage across the United States. Did guns give women the right to vote? You bet they did. They allowed women for the first time to show that their brains were the equal of men's, once you removed the inequality of size and strength.

The United States, one might argue, is founded on the principle that all men are created equal. This was not the case when brawn ruled the earth. Only after the advent of the gun did the philosophy follow the fact. In places on the earth where guns are taken out of the hands of ordinary citizens, people are soon reduced to helpless wretches. (Sorry, Britain, but facts are facts.)

So bring on the blaster! I want one with rosewood handles and Frank Frazetta girls engraved on the stock.

"Hokey Religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side."

That's right, Han. Now how do you aim this thing?