Saturday, August 4, 2012

Via We survived Bush. You will survive Obama / FB

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Via It Isn't Class Warfare Unless We Fight Back / FB:

Via Jerry Becker: Give the Standards Back to Teachers

From Education Week [American Education's Newspaper of Record], Thursday, August 2, 2012, Volume 31, Issue 37. See

Give the Standards Back to Teachers

By John Ewing

A standard is a statement that can be used to judge the quality of a mathematics curriculum or methods of evaluation. Thus, standards are statements about what is valued. - From 1989 standards released by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics

When the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers commissioned a small body of scholars to create national standards for mathematics in spring 2009, it seemed astounding that anyone paid attention. [ ] We have been inundated with standards for more than 20 years. A Google search for the phrase "mathematics standards" produces about 300,000 results, many referring to the various NCTM standards; to multiple guides created by individual states, often in conflicting versions; to publishers and software companies; and so forth. Here was one more set of standards, and it was likely irrelevant, people could be forgiven for thinking. But when nearly all the states (at last count, 45 of them, plus the District of Columbia) agreed to adopt both the math and English/language arts standards, people paid attention. This gave those states, if not a common K-12 curriculum, a common foundation for a national curriculum. It was an unexpected opportunity.

Or was it? After two decades of standards, we still wring our hands about student declines, unfocused curricula, and dreadful textbooks. There is little evidence that previous standards substantially improved education, and the fact that we continually replace old standards with new does not suggest success.

Why have previous standards failed? I think the answer is simple and evident: Standards failed because everybody owns them-politicians, administrators, teacher-educators (not to mention policy experts, publishers, and others)-everybody except the people who actually have to implement them, who have to use them as guides for the real work of instruction, and who have to determine whether the standards really are "statements about what is valued." Teachers have never owned standards.

Politicians take ownership of standards before any other group. They play on the confusion of language. They use the phrase "high standards" in speeches and boast about "raising standards in every classroom." Political reporters, mainly through ignorance, equate standards with the notion of quality. Politicians have an agenda: They want to show they are improving education, and touting higher standards is an inexpensive way to give the illusion of change.

Like politicians, administrators (principals, superintendents, state schools chiefs) embrace standards, but tie them to accountability. Rather than a framework of educational values on which teachers can construct a curriculum, standards become a way to shift accountability. Teachers need to "measure up" to the new standards. Standards are used to commodify instruction, to make it more efficient, to create a checklist by which not only students but teachers, too, can be judged.

And university faculty members-mathematicians and teacher-educators-are also fond of standards. With the best of intentions, they promote standards as a crutch to help teachers who do not know enough content to navigate the curriculum themselves. Simply put, standards fix broken teachers. As evidence, since the release of the common-core math standards, university mathematicians and educators have been everywhere, creating tools, running workshops, and looking for ways to aid teachers who are "challenged" (the most frequent modifier of "teacher" in articles about the standards).

The fact that standards are owned by politicians, administrators, and university faculty, but not by teachers, guarantees that standards are viewed as top-down reform. It redefines their purpose, not as a tool used by teachers to improve education, but as a tool used by everyone else to improve "the system"-to give the illusion of progress, to enforce accountability, and to fix broken teachers. So, is it surprising, then, that standards haven't worked to improve education itself?
SIDEBAR: "Teachers must shape both the standards and their assessments as educational tools rather than data-gathering instruments."
The ownership of the new standards is currently being established, as the common-core standards are overtaken by the common-core assessments. The assessments will be accountability on steroids. They will produce vast amounts of data generated from a nationwide system, used to compare students, teachers, schools, districts, states, ethnic groups ... every imaginable aspect of K-12 education. Before long, everyone's focus will move from standards to assessments, and for those who believe in data-driven education, the shift in focus will be a bonanza. Every governor, every superintendent, every principal, and every teacher will concentrate on "student achievement"-that is, performance on the assessments. The assessments, not the standards, will be the measure of success; the standards themselves will become unimportant.

This fits perfectly with the goals of politicians, administrators, and teacher-educators (not to mention education researchers). It does not fit well with the goal of teachers-to know what ought to be valued in education.

Unless teachers are the owners, these new standards will fail like all those before. But to make them owners, we must do more than invite a few token teachers to the next standards workshop. Teachers themselves must become the leaders when implementing the standards. Those who have mastered the ideas and content must mentor their peers. Those who are challenged must work with their colleagues; those who are indifferent must become engaged; those who are cynical must be won over. Teachers must shape both the standards and their assessments as educational tools rather than data-gathering instruments.
Communities of teachers, spanning grades and locales, can study, discuss, and create materials for standards implementation. A consortium of mathematics and education organizations, the Ad Hoc Committee on Teachers as Professionals [] has fostered this idea by bringing together outstanding teachers from across the country to create toolkits for daylong workshops. These will be workshops run by teachers for teachers, and they give a sense of what standards can accomplish when teachers have a genuine stake in their success, that is, when teachers own them.

A change in ownership will not only make successful implementation more likely, but also demonstrate teaching at its best-as a thoughtful, forward-looking profession that leads reform rather than resists it.

Will we succeed in transferring ownership? Most likely not. All those other groups would have to relinquish their claims, and the people who view standards as a way to assemble vast new sources of data have strong motivation to protect their position. Also, turning over leadership to the teachers requires trust, and politicians, administrators, and even university faculty have spent decades convincing themselves (and the public) that teachers can't be trusted. Teachers themselves have become unused to leading.

But if the core of the standards morphs into assessments alone-if they are administered from above, seen mainly as a way to compare things (students, teachers, and schools), and used largely to identify and weed out "failure"-then the new standards will become one more reform that arrives with great fanfare and gradually dissipates with little lasting effect.

If we really want the Common Core State Standards to succeed, give them back to the people who will use them as a measure of what is valued in education. Give them back to the teachers.
John Ewing is the president of Math for America, a New York City-based organization focused on training outstanding secondary school math teachers. He was the executive director of the American Mathematical Society from 1995 to 2008.

Via Climate Progress: Arctic Death Spiral Continues: Record Low Sea Ice Volume Appears Likely

Posted: 04 Aug 2012 07:13 AM PDT

by Neven, via the Arctic Sea Ice Blog

The PIOMAS people are early this month with updating the numbers (probably so that the SEARCH people have some extra info for their SIO).

Here is the updated Arctic sea ice volume graph as calculated by the Pan-Arctic Ice Ocean Modeling and Assimilation System (PIOMAS) at the Polar Science Center:

I think it’s pretty safe to say that we’re going to have a new record volume low, although the difference with 2010 and 2011 has become smaller. Right now it’s 1249 and 730 km3 respectively.

Here is Wipneus‘ version with the calculated “expected” 2012 values (dotted lines), based on the same date values of 1979-2011 and an exponential trend.

A caveat from Wipneus: “Note that the statistical error bars are quite large.”

The trend is following the dotted line quite nicely, I would say.

The anomaly has come up a bit compared to last month, it’s no longer 4 standard deviations below the linear trend:

I have used my crude method of dividing PIOMAS volume numbers by Cryosphere Today area numbers to calculate the ice pack’s average thickness. Again, this is just an indication that allows us to compare with previous years:

That small uptick at the end makes the graph look slightly less alarming.
Thank you, PIOMAS.
Average thickness for July 31st (in m):
  • 2005: 2.38
  • 2006: 2.41
  • 2007: 2.15
  • 2008: 2.43
  • 2009: 2.06
  • 2010: 1.57
  • 2011: 1.55
  • 2012: 1.48
If the model is correctly assessing sea ice volume in the Arctic, chances of new extent and area records are still very much present. Despite the weather.

As a bonus, Jim Pettit‘s PIOMAS volume death spiral chart [see top figure].

Neven writes for the Arctic Sea Ice Blog. This  piece was originally published at the Arctic Sea Ice Blog and was reprinted with permission.

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Friday, August 3, 2012

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Via Climate Progress: Why Transportation And Walking Are Central To Discussions About ‘The Fattest People In The World’

Posted: 03 Aug 2012 06:15 AM PDT
by Paulina Essunger
Scott W. Atlas, a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, wants Americans to take responsibility for being “the fattest people in the world.”

Seems like a good idea: personal responsibility and accountability are important.

And Atlas is right about a lot of things: “the burden of obesity on the US health care system is at crisis levels (and it’s only expected to increase in coming decades); there is no silver bullet to solve [the obesity problem]; government policy can play a crucial role.”

Atlas points out:
Obesity, one of the most serious public health problems in America, has yet to be honestly discussed.
But in order to have that honest discussion about the obesity crisis, we’re going to have to stop ignoring the heavy animal in the middle of the room: the crisis in American walking.

It seems odd for someone who takes responsibility so seriously to say that increasing rates of obesity are “primarily due to overeating and insufficient exercise” without acknowledging a major factor leading to insufficient exercise: the changes in our transportation infrastructure that deprive us of opportunities for active transportation. Yet Atlas’ commentary ignores the elephant in the room.

We know that the less we use active transportation, the more obese we are. And we know that the more we use active transportation, the less obese we are.

However, factors that are outside the direct control of most individuals have dramatically changed how active we are in our daily lives, have led to the death of walking as a transportation option.

Back in 1951, Ray Bradbury had a foreboding of a society in which being a pedestrian would seem criminal.

Compared to other wealthy nations, with obesity figures much lower than ours, we’re well on our way to making walking seem like a dangerous, radical-fringe idea.

Atlas says: “the most effective message government and society can send is to hold individuals accountable for their decisions.” He means hold individuals accountable for their—our—decisions about what they—we—eat and how active we are. But in the context of working to reverse obesity trends and their immense human and monetary costs, here’s another top level decision we are accountable for: our decision whether to let our elected officials—government—know that we are holding them accountable for their decisions.

Yes, let’s have an honest discussion about being the “fattest people in the world.” Every day, “decision makers” make transportation infrastructure and planning decisions that favor cars over people, decisions that make walking and biking—walking or biking to real public transit options, to work, to school, to the store—come to seem more and more…radical. It is indeed time we took responsibility for these and for the full range of consequences they entail. Let’s take some personal responsibility and make sure we as a society make the decisions that instead favor people over cars, favor transportation infrastructure built around the human scale.

Paulina Essunger is a science editor/writer who specializes in climate change. This piece was originally published at Vermont and was reprinted with permission.

Via JMG: Nate Silver's Electoral Update


Reposted from Joe

Via JMG: Obama Nears Break-Even On Jobs

As the GOP continues to scream about unemployment, today's mildly positive jobs report shows that the economy has gained back almost all of the jobs lost since Obama took office. It's possible we'll see a small net gain by election day.
The president only needs job growth of just over 105,000 jobs created in each of the next three months to be able to say — undisputedly — that he created more jobs than were lost since the start of his administration. Hitting 316,001 jobs would be an important rhetorical victory for Obama — and missing the mark would provide Romney and Republicans with another attack to use against the president in the final days before the election.

Reposted from Joe

Via Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche FB:.

‎"As you age, you must aim to rejoice more and more. Rejoice in the blessings you have in your life, in the goodness you see in the world around you, free of envy, competitiveness, aggression, or jealousy; this makes the whole world your personal delight. There is much more satisfaction in rejoicing in the goodness and plenty of the world, than possessing it all yourself. If we open our eyes, we can rejoice and make all that we encounter, all goodness and plenty of others, our own, and in that, if we dedicate the merit of that goodness, there is no difference between it bring ours or another’s. The bonus of it not being ours, is there is no danger of developing attachment. Think about that." DKR

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Janela da Alma - Documentário

Via FB:

New Hampshire IWW's photo.
In the United States more and more people are evicted from their homes everyday and wind up on the streets. Housing is a human right. Educate.

Via Moyers & CompanyThe Hollow Defense of Voter ID Laws

UFO Sightings Are More Common Than Voter Fraud

We’re proud to collaborate with Mother Jones in sharing graphs and charts that reveal truth about voting obstacles. Scroll down for stats and facts related to efforts to restrict voting, the prevalence of voter ID laws, what discourages new voters and the the pervasive fiction of voter fraud.

Via Being Liberal / FB:

View from the ISS at Night

View from the ISS at Night from Knate Myers on Vimeo.

Via Liberals Are Cool FB:

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Full Show - 11/4/11. Conversations with Great Minds and Weekly Rumble

Via JMG: Gore Vidal Quote Farm

Pithy, withering, astute, bold narcissist. Nobody tossed out bon mots like Gore Vidal. Here are just a few.
"It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail."

"The United States was founded by the brightest people in the country — and we haven't seen them since."

"Fifty percent of people won't vote, and fifty percent don't read newspapers. I hope it's the same fifty percent."

"The four most beautiful words in our common language: I told you so."

"There is no human problem which could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise."

"Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn."

Reposted from Joe

Via FB:

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Via FB:

Via JMG: The Winningest Olympian In History

Michael Phelps just broke the all-time record held by Russian gymnast Larisa Latynina since 1966. Fifteen gold, 19 total medals. Sorry about the spoiler, but screw you NBC.

Reposted from Joe

Via JMG: Sen. Harry Reid: Bain Investor Told Me Mitt Romney Paid No Tax For Ten Years

If this is true, the Huffington Post may have the biggest scoop of the election.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has what he says is an informed explanation for why Mitt Romney refuses to release additional tax returns. According a Bain investor, Reid charged, Romney didn't pay any taxes for 10 years. In a wide-ranging interview with The Huffington Post from his office on Capitol Hill, Reid saved some of his toughest words for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Romney couldn't make it through a Senate confirmation process as a mere Cabinet nominee, the majority leader insisted, owing to the opaqueness of his personal finances.

"His poor father must be so embarrassed about his son," Reid said, in reference to George Romney's standard-setting decision to turn over 12 years of tax returns when he ran for president in the late 1960s. Saying he had "no problem with somebody being really, really wealthy," Reid sat up in his chair a bit before stirring the pot further. A month or so ago, he said, a person who had invested with Bain Capital called his office. "Harry, he didn't pay any taxes for 10 years," Reid recounted the person as saying. "He didn't pay taxes for 10 years! Now, do I know that that's true? Well, I'm not certain," said Reid. "But obviously he can't release those tax returns. How would it look?"
Let's see how the Romney camp spins this one. Even if Reid is talking out of his ass, the already incessant calls for Romney to release his returns is going to become deafening.

Reposted from Joe

Som Sabadell flashmob

Via Obama for America:

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Monday, July 30, 2012

The Hubble Ultra Deep Field in 3D

Via FB:

Via JMG: Claim: President Obama Has Slave Ancestry On His White Mother's Side

The Mormon Church-affiliated genealogy site today made the claim that they have traced President Obama's ancestry back to the very first documented slave in what would become the United States. That's fascinating on its face, but the more interesting wrinkle here is that the connection is made through Obama's white mother.
Research derived by from early Virginia records and DNA analysis shows Obama is the 11th great-grandson of John Punch, an indentured servant in Colonial Virginia who became enslaved for life after trying to escape in 1640, according to the website. [snip] genealogists researched Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, and discovered her land-owner ancestors descended from Punch. According to the site, Punch had children with a white woman who passed her free status to her children, who went on to become successful land owners in Colonial Virginia.

"Two of the most historically significant African Americans in the history of our country are amazingly directly related," said genealogist Joseph Shumway in a statement. "John Punch was more than likely the genesis of legalized slavery in America. But after centuries of suffering, the Civil War, and decades of civil rights efforts, his 11th great-grandson became the leader of the free world and the ultimate realization of the American Dream."
The website has posted an illustrated family tree (PDF).

Reposted from Joe


Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Hubble Deep Field: The Most Important Image Ever Taken

Via Joe Moreno FB:

Via Climate Progress: Bombshell: Koch-Funded Study Finds ‘Global Warming Is Real’, ‘On The High End’ And ‘Essentially All’ Due To Carbon Pollution

Posted: 28 Jul 2012 02:31 PM PDT
ten year data analysis comparison graph

The decadal land-surface average temperature using a 10-year moving average of surface temperatures over land. Anomalies are relative to the Jan 1950 – December 1979 mean. The grey band indicates 95% statistical and spatial uncertainty interval.A Koch-funded reanalysis of 1.6 billion temperature reports finds that “essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases.”
The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Study (BEST) is poised to release its findings next week on the cause of recent global warming.
UPDATE (9 pm, 7/28): A NY Times op-ed by Richard Muller, BEST’s Founder and Scientific Director, has been published, “The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic.”
Here is the money graf:
CALL me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.
Yes, yes, I know, the finding itself is “dog bites man.” What makes this “man bites dog” is that Muller has been a skeptic of climate science, and the single biggest funder of this study is the “Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation ($150,000).” The Kochs are the leading funder of climate disinformation in the world!
It gets better:
Our results show that the average temperature of the earth’s land has risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of one and a half degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases.
These findings are stronger than those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations group that defines the scientific and diplomatic consensus on global warming.
In short, a Koch-funded study has found that the IPCC “consensus” underestimated both the rate of surface warming and how much could be attributed to human emissions!
UPDATE (9 AM, 7/29): The UK Guardian has a good story up, “Climate change study forces sceptical scientists to change minds: Earth’s land shown to have warmed by 1.5C over past 250 years, with humans being almost entirely responsible.”
And here’s an amusing tweet from a top U.S. climatologist, Michael Mann:

Below is some background on BEST followed by a longer excerpt of the op-ed.

A group of scientists led by one well-known skeptic, Muller — and whose only climatologist listed is Judith Curry, a well-known confusionist [see Schmidt and Annan and Steig andVerheggen, and CP] — decided to reexamine all of the temperature data they could get their hands on. I broke the story of their initial findings in March 2011 (with the help of climatologist Ken Caldeira) – see Exclusive: Berkeley temperature study results “confirm the reality of global warming and support in all essential respects the historical temperature analyses of the NOAA, NASA, and HadCRU.”

The top figure is an updated chart of their findings from March of this year. They found a lot of warming.
Indeed, their key paper from 2011 found:
… our analysis suggests a degree of global land-surface warming during the anthropogenic era that is consistent with prior work (e.g. NOAA) but on the high end of the existing range of reconstructions.
So the only remaining question for BEST was: What is the cause of that warming? Of course, those who read ClimateProgress or the scientific literature already knew the answer to that question (see the 12/11 post, It’s “Extremely Likely That at Least 74% of Observed Warming Since 1950″ Was Manmade; It’s Highly Likely All of It Was).
BEST is set to release those findings this week. The excellent UK Guardian reporter, Leo Hickman, tweeted earlier today that “Significant climate-related news will be breaking on Guardian website in next 24-36 hours” and then he tweeted an hour ago the link to the excerpt of Muller’s op-ed.
Here is more of the op-ed:
How definite is the attribution to humans? The carbon dioxide curve gives a better match than anything else we’ve tried. Its magnitude is consistent with the calculated greenhouse effect — extra warming from trapped heat radiation. These facts don’t prove causality and they shouldn’t end skepticism, but they raise the bar: to be considered seriously, an alternative explanation must match the data at least as well as carbon dioxide does.
Well, in fact, to be seriously considered, an alternative explanation must match the data at least as well as does CO2 — and it must offer some mechanism that counteracts the well-known warming effect of CO2. Not bloody likely.
The careful analysis by our team is laid out in five scientific papers now online at That site also shows our chart of temperature from 1753 to the present, with its clear fingerprint of volcanoes and carbon dioxide, but containing no component that matches solar activity. Four of our papers have undergone extensive scrutiny by the scientific community, and the newest, a paper with the analysis of the human component, is now posted, along with the data and computer programs used. Such transparency is the heart of the scientific method; if you find our conclusions implausible, tell us of any errors of data or analysis.
What about the future? As carbon dioxide emissions increase, the temperature should continue to rise. I expect the rate of warming to proceed at a steady pace, about one and a half degrees over land in the next 50 years, less if the oceans are included. But if China continues its rapid economic growth (it has averaged 10 percent per year over the last 20 years) and its vast use of coal (it typically adds one new gigawatt per month), then that same warming could take place in less than 20 years.
Science is that narrow realm of knowledge that, in principle, is universally accepted. I embarked on this analysis to answer questions that, to my mind, had not been answered. I hope that the Berkeley Earth analysis will help settle the scientific debate regarding global warming and its human causes.
Hope springs eternal. Unless, you’re a denier. Then the expression is “nope springs eternal.”
I asked Caldeira for a comment on Muller’s op-ed. He writes:
I am glad that Muller et al have taken a look at the data and have come to essentially the same conclusion that nearly  everyone else had come to more than a decade ago.
The basic scientific results have been established for a long time now, so I do not see the results of Muller et al as being scientifically important.  However, their result may be politically important.  It shows that even people who suspect climate scientists of being charlatans, when they take a hard look at the data, see that the climate scientists have been right all along.
Who’d have thunk it? Not the Kochs….

Via Joe Moreno FB:

Copyright 2011 by Daniel C. Orey All rights reserved. No part of this website may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.