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jsmirman's Journal
jsmirman's Journal
September 16, 2012

Would we get anywhere with basic competency tests and

in person evals, that only lead to consequences with then further evaluation if it is deemed necessary?

I don't begin to know the answer to this question, and I'm not looking to tick anyone off.

I know that I hate teaching to the test, and do not approve of what either Bush or Obama has done in an attempt to "raise standards."

I'm from New York City, where this is such a hotly debated issue and has been for as long as I've been alive.

From what I can tell in New York City, there is a problem of some of the teachers failing to reach basic competency levels. We have some truly terrible teachers sprinkled throughout the system from what I can tell (this is second hand, but in this case, second hand by having worked outside of the classroom with students attending New York's public schools).

I saw a great documentary when I was down in Tuscaloosa four years ago that focused on successful reforms - their focus was on improving teacher motivation, identifying teachers with a passion for teaching, for actually being there, and phasing out teachers who just didn't want to be in that classroom anymore (or never did).

I think if you get to a basic level of competency, it's not crazy to think that teacher motivation can be the most important determining factor once that hurdle has been cleared. Motivated teachers motivate students, create classrooms that are not drawn out exercises in mental torture, respond to the brightest students, who need to be encouraged to go forward, forward, forward, and even pick up some of the stragglers, who I think respond differently to a teacher that is engaged as opposed to a teacher who has as little interest in being there as they do. I may get some hostile responses claiming there are no teachers like this - but I truly believe that there are teachers like that grinding learning to a halt in classrooms across the country.

Call me crazy, but if you get a teacher who displays both basic competency in subject mastery along with basic competency in classroom communication, and also displays motivation to do the actual job - fuck any test, fuck teaching to some ridiculous set of inflexible guidelines, none of that matters. I damn well believe that actual learning will happen in those classrooms. Positive learning. Teaching that makes kids view the school as something other than the enemy. And I think that teachers will feel freed to do their actual jobs which, again, radical idea, I say involves: teaching above a basic competency level and then actively making an effort to inspire young minds. If every teacher met that goal, I think our education system would be damn well fixed. Oh, and invest in school supplies for the kids and enough textbooks or computer access for the students. Do whatever you can to improve physical plant infrastructure.

If you have to have metal detectors at a school, btw, my instinct is to say, so what. I don't think metal detectors alone make a school into a jail. I believe what happens past those metal detectors is what makes some schools seem like jails.

I may just be talking out of my ass, but these are my thoughts.

September 15, 2012

Every time I see Ryan speak

he looks like Mitt's eager rent boy.

look at the photos at these links:



I know the weird Ryan smile is overcompensation for his reputation as a Granny Killer, but still...

September 15, 2012


I hope then that either you are following these connections, or are in touch with people properly positioned to follow up on these connective threads.

It's nauseating to see how casually the people we know were involved handle sending this kind of chaos out into the world - and it's even more disturbing to think that people treated as something other than crackpots could be involved in this sort of thing.

September 15, 2012

I agree that the Romney

response also has me very suspicious.

If Mitt had an actual scruple, I think it would lead a very lonely, singular existence, but I'm not even saying this goes all the way up to him.

But I'd like to follow every thread of where this thing leads.

It is hard to believe the timing is purely accidental.

September 15, 2012

The actors and crew involved should sue the "filmmakers"

I'd like to know what was in their contracts - at a minimum, this has to violate numerous SAG guidelines.

The unfortunate thing, though, is that these suits aren't likely to get to a discovery phase (and if these are SAG violations, I fear that might be referred to closed arbitrations) in time for the world to know who was behind this.

But if the impetus behind this movie extends well beyond Klein and Nakoula, which I suspect that it does, the world deserves to know.

September 12, 2012

Romney is even more dangerous as a potential "leader" right now

without question.

The reality is that electing the most foreign policy unfit President/Vice-Presidential pair in recent memory to hold office at this complicated and perilous moment would be disastrous.

But we've seen that one thing a pair like that will specialize in is "bold," reckless, drum-beating inflammatory rhetoric that can play all too well to a populace rocked by the incidents of the last 24 hours.

My fear is that a nuanced, clearly thought out response to these attacks may not be what carries the day among our public.

September 11, 2012

Florida's Endless Ballot

I assume other people caught this story on Rachel's show last night?

Any news stories out there on this? Any local color?

The sum of it is that Florida's ballots are going to be absurdly long - apparently ten pages worth of printed out gobbledegook that you have to laboriously fill out and then feed into the scanners, page by page.

I'll give them this - the Republicans have no good ideas about how to reduce our deficit or how to actually create jobs or how to deal with immigration issues, or really, much of anything, but damn, they are some creative ******** when it comes to ways to suppress the vote.

Ten page ballot = everyone takes forever to fill the ballot out = endless lines to vote and less people pushed through the early voting turnstiles during available early voting hours = the Republicans' hope that as many people as possible will give up.

Any clever thoughts for how to prepare voters?

Anyone with knowledge of the ballot Florida voters are going to have to deal with? Yes, really cool of them - in a place where a legendarily unclear ballot led to an electoral disaster, let's see if we can push something worse. Come on, Republicans are just the most Un-American ******** one can imagine.

Are the candidate selections at the top? Is there an easy pattern to suggest for the ballot initiatives? Is there anyway to court challenge something that is punitively expensive to mail back (if you have an absentee ballot)?

Doesn't this amount to a poll tax (the mail-backs) and a secret, illegal literacy test? With Florida being one of the places that is suppression central, aren't these violations of the Voting Rights Act?

What can be done?

And Dan Rather has his head so far up his rear last night as to talk about, "oh, campaigns should be above board, elevate the discourse, blah blah" get bent. How are you going to have a campaign of decency against ratfuckers like this who are so transparently willing to assault the most American of rights - the right to VOTE?

There is no low that party will not plumb. I'm not disgusted in a politically expedient way. I'm just disgusted with them. Once again.

That should be a platform plank for them: "if all the votes are counted, we lose."

September 10, 2012

He scares the **** out of me, too

I fear what he'd do to the people of this country, to our country, and to the world.

I think he intends to treat America like a sick company, load it up with more debt, and loot it in the Bain way. I think his intentions point to that finish line. Horrifying.

September 10, 2012

Naming loopholes means creating tax losers

this is the point I made to the Bloomberg reporter in explaining why no loopholes named and a vague promise to close some of them (but not others) deserves no credit in assessing the finances of their "plan."

When you close one loophole, but not another, you create tax losers (lost your loophole that fits your business) and tax winners (still have your loophole).

First off, they're full of shit, so that's why they have a non-plan "plan," but second off, they lack the courage to take a position that goes against any of their big dollar donors.

It's pathetic.

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Member since: Thu Jan 11, 2007, 09:47 AM
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