Am I a geek or a nerd?

I fucking love Diane Ravitch
September 27, 2013, 9:02 am
Filed under: education law, Nerd | Tags: , , ,

You read that right. She’s the voice of reason. And not afraid to change her mind when evidence dictates that’s the right thing to do.

Just go listen to her: Diane Rocks!

In other news, my year long absence is over. I’m going to post more often. I’ve had some revealing experiences lately, in education, and I’m feeling compelling to get it out there. One of the points that I found compelling with Ravitch’s NPR interview above was the notion of Education as a social benefit not a consumer good. I recently left a job where I was duped by the CEO into believing he agreed with that sentiment. Then he misappropriated a grant and the teachers, pilot schools, and professional organizations we worked with got fucked.

So I’ve got some shit to get off my chest and most of it involves swearing like its my job. I am a nerd after all (see side bar for definition…)


Michigan Council for Social Studies Annual Conference
November 8, 2010, 9:57 am
Filed under: Nerd | Tags: , ,

Here in lovely downtown Kalamazoo (yes, there really is a Kalamazoo) for the MCSS annual conference. Yesterday we (the Michigan Citizenship Collaborative Curriculum partners) held a user group pre-conference session that was not well attended but considering its our first crack at it, a success in terms of discussion topics, questions answered and connections made.

I just left a workshop put on by Chippewa Valley teachers about integrating technology into Economics classes. Their webpage has links, lesson, examples–everything you need. I plan to steal it all…

How short is short?
April 12, 2010, 2:10 pm
Filed under: Geek | Tags: ,

Damn short. Schools in Michigan are looking at $165 per pupil cut already, but the budget plan (that isn’t in place yet) indicates addition cuts of $275-$350 per pupil. Without question, this will bring districts to their knees. Layoffs will begin before the school year is over. Many will look to privatize custodian services. I’ve heard talk of the ISDs taking over transportation (aside: imagine creating bus schedules for 21 independent school districts, plus charters, plus schools of choice, all with their own calendars, daily schedules, and definitions of half day. Its hard, no? Now imagine they want it done by July 1).  We have districts looking at sharing superintendents and other administrators. Many are closing buildings. Certainly they are laying off their youngest teachers (its all seniority).

I don’t have an answer, other than this is going to require way more than belt tightening to fix. Macomb County will need to pass a millage and even then it would only raise 50% of the revenue shortfall we expect. I wish I knew what to do. I see some things here that could change. For example,  I’m not sure why we don’t offer more, or even exclusively, evening programs so as not to pay for substitute teachers. That’s a ballpark figure of $100 for each teacher that attends a daytime workshop. Social Studies runs nearly all of its events at night or during the summer. I did this on purpose as I know that SS isn’t viewed in the same light at Math and ELA.  I’ve never cancelled a workshop for lack of enrollment, teachers seem pleased with the short but intense sessions (all of them multi-evening events, so there is follow up), and the ISD doesn’t have to pay sub costs. For my Fourth Grade Learning Community this saved $6300 (we meet 6 times after school, that would be 3 full school days otherwise, and 21 people attended all sessions). SS has evening sessions for 3rd grade as well, and next year will offer evenings to 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 8th grades. I’m also going to try to move my HS sessions to evenings. Typically, this gets more complaints from that group–the coaches in particular. To which I would like to say-you are a teacher first and a coach second and God made assistant coaches for a reason (and I was a coach too, so I know of where I speak!).

Is that the answer? No, its just more belt tightening.  I still don’t know the answer.

Texas, why must you toy with me?
March 18, 2010, 9:53 am
Filed under: Nerd | Tags: , , ,

Texas has been a constant lately. I’ve never been, I don’t know that I’ve ever really wanted to go. I’m sure its lovely, I’ve seen Austin City Limits on PBS.  I taught the Mexican-American War (false pretenses, anyone?). I once had a layover in Houston on my way to Costa Rica. That’s about it.  And then we get two evil forces converge to bring Texas front and center.

Evil Force #1: WTC/Ironman and My Coach.  WTC is evil. Everyone knows it. Where do they get off charging over $500 for Ironman races, denying prizes to pros due to crazy rules changes, and not enforcing the draft rules at Clearwater? And yet I register for their events. My coach is clearly in cahoots with them. I don’t even remember why I registered for Lonestar, I just know that I’m going to Galveston in 5 weeks and I’m practically living on my bike right now. Saddle sores anyone? However, I just want the Lonestar IM to know, I’m working hard to break you, my FTP is up, my miles are up, my running is the best its been in years and my swimming is putting you to shame. Bring it.

Evil Force #2: The Texas Board of Education. Are you kidding me with these people? The crazy changes I posted about last month have passed. Never mind expert historian advice. Never mind reality even.  For the love of God (or not) they’ve managed to cut Thomas Jefferson out of a list of figures whose writing inspired revolutions in the 18th and 19th century.  I’m all riled up becuase I know what their intent is. Look at the language changes they made:

See, you can see what they are trying to do, changing words like “role” to “leadership” trying to sway the direction of the content and remove any opportunity to debate whether the role really represents leadership. The Econ bit is an oversimplification and might leave the someone less knowledgable to think that free enterprise never ever existed before Americans demanded it. But at the same time, I’m not as panicked as I was when first read about TBofE. See, if I were a teacher in Texas I probably would change nothing based on this language change. I would still ask my students to examine the presidencies of Nixon and Reagan by discussing various view points, solutions, programs, and outcomes. Its unlikely that most US History teachers will change their tack, start talking up Nixon and Reagan as leaders without flaws, and spend a bunch of time on Schlafly. Seriously, if I had a nickel for every teacher who hauled ass at the end of the school year in order to fit in the 70s, 80s and 90s I’d have a shit ton of nickels.

So nice try Texas. But I’m winning.

Education needs more cynics–Rick Hess
February 17, 2010, 3:05 pm
Filed under: Nerd | Tags: , , , ,

I’m in love again…

Rick Hess is one mouthy son of a B! But, he speaks some truth that I totally agree with.

Property Taxes…
February 2, 2010, 12:37 pm
Filed under: Geek | Tags: , ,

Last week we all received a letter in our mail boxes from the big boss. He announced that we can expect a 33% reduction in property tax revenue in our county due to declining property values and foreclosures. That most of our work is funded by property taxes of course means budget cuts are heading our way. I have no idea where this leaves my position, our division, the whole entity, or our locals.  I don’t know what percent of our funding is Title I, Title II, Property Tax, or from other sources. I don’t know if consultant services is viewed as necessary or redundant. I don’t know if Social Studies is viewed as necessary either.

A few days later I had my own up close and personal moment with property tax. I’ve been looking at buying a condominium (don’t start with me about fees etc, I don’t want to mow my lawn, shovel my snow or fix my roof, I want to lock the door for two months and go to Italy…) and given the incredible drops in prices I’ve been able to consider a large number of options.  Many of these are shortsales, the last stop before foreclosure, and obviously are priced much lower than they were purchased for. How much lower? I was stunned to find out. The property I am considering is priced at 25% of its selling price 7 years ago. Someone paid four times more for this than they are now asking. And it’s not a short sale…How I don’t know. The property tax will certainly be lower for me than for the last owner, and less money will flow to my office.

Here’s what this says to me though: How did we get there? Not here, here is where we are supposed to be. I mean there. There, where someone paid four times more than the current value for this 800 square foot late 1980s condo? Common sense would tell you that the price was seriously inflated given its location in Macomb County, its age, and its amenities (or lack there of…).  Where was the common sense? And why did local and state governments (not just ours in MI) not consider the rainy day that was sure to come?

I think I’m in love…
January 26, 2010, 12:35 pm
Filed under: Nerd | Tags: ,

Not just one rapping economist, but two!! Be still my heart!

Seriously, check this rap/debate between Keynes and Hayek:


We’ve been going back and forth for a century
[Keynes] I want to steer markets,
[Hayek] I want them set free
There’s a boom and bust cycle and good reason to fear it
[Hayek] Blame low interest rates.
[Keynes] No… it’s the animal spirits

[Keynes Sings:]

John Maynard Keynes, wrote the book on modern macro
The man you need when the economy’s off track, [whoa]
Depression, recession now your question’s in session
Have a seat and I’ll school you in one simple lesson

BOOM, 1929 the big crash
We didn’t bounce back—economy’s in the trash
Persistent unemployment, the result of sticky wages
Waiting for recovery? Seriously? That’s outrageous!

I had a real plan any fool can understand
The advice, real simple—boost aggregate demand!
C, I, G, all together gets to Y
Make sure the total’s growing, watch the economy fly

We’ve been going back and forth for a century
[Keynes] I want to steer markets,
[Hayek] I want them set free
There’s a boom and bust cycle and good reason to fear it
[Hayek] Blame low interest rates.
[Keynes] No… it’s the animal spirits

You see it’s all about spending, hear the register cha-ching
Circular flow, the dough is everything
So if that flow is getting low, doesn’t matter the reason
We need more government spending, now it’s stimulus season

So forget about saving, get it straight out of your head
Like I said, in the long run—we’re all dead
Savings is destruction, that’s the paradox of thrift
Don’t keep money in your pocket, or that growth will never lift…


Business is driven by the animal spirits
The bull and the bear, and there’s reason to fear its
Effects on capital investment, income and growth
That’s why the state should fill the gap with stimulus both…

The monetary and the fiscal, they’re equally correct
Public works, digging ditches, war has the same effect
Even a broken window helps the glass man have some wealth
The multiplier driving higher the economy’s health

And if the Central Bank’s interest rate policy tanks
A liquidity trap, that new money’s stuck in the banks!
Deficits could be the cure, you been looking for
Let the spending soar, now that you know the score

My General Theory’s made quite an impression
[a revolution] I transformed the econ profession
You know me, modesty, still I’m taking a bow
Say it loud, say it proud, we’re all Keynesians now

We’ve been goin’ back n forth for a century
[Keynes] I want to steer markets,
[Hayek] I want them set free
There’s a boom and bust cycle and good reason to fear it
[Keynes] I made my case, Freddie H
Listen up , Can you hear it?

Hayek sings:

I’ll begin in broad strokes, just like my friend Keynes
His theory conceals the mechanics of change,
That simple equation, too much aggregation
Ignores human action and motivation

And yet it continues as a justification
For bailouts and payoffs by pols with machinations
You provide them with cover to sell us a free lunch
Then all that we’re left with is debt, and a bunch

If you’re living high on that cheap credit hog
Don’t look for cure from the hair of the dog
Real savings come first if you want to invest
The market coordinates time with interest

Your focus on spending is pushing on thread
In the long run, my friend, it’s your theory that’s dead
So sorry there, buddy, if that sounds like invective
Prepared to get schooled in my Austrian perspective

We’ve been going back and forth for a century
[Keynes] I want to steer markets,
[Hayek] I want them set free
There’s a boom and bust cycle and good reason to fear it
[Hayek] Blame low interest rates.
[Keynes] No… it’s the animal spirits

The place you should study isn’t the bust
It’s the boom that should make you feel leery, that’s the thrust
Of my theory, the capital structure is key.
Malinvestments wreck the economy

The boom gets started with an expansion of credit
The Fed sets rates low, are you starting to get it?
That new money is confused for real loanable funds
But it’s just inflation that’s driving the ones

Who invest in new projects like housing construction
The boom plants the seeds for its future destruction
The savings aren’t real, consumption’s up too
And the grasping for resources reveals there’s too few

So the boom turns to bust as the interest rates rise
With the costs of production, price signals were lies
The boom was a binge that’s a matter of fact
Now its devalued capital that makes up the slack.

Whether it’s the late twenties or two thousand and five
Booming bad investments, seems like they’d thrive
You must save to invest, don’t use the printing press
Or a bust will surely follow, an economy depressed

Your so-called “stimulus” will make things even worse
It’s just more of the same, more incentives perversed
And that credit crunch ain’t a liquidity trap
Just a broke banking system, I’m done, that’s a wrap.

We’ve been goin’ back n forth for a century
[Keynes] I want to steer markets,
[Hayek] I want them set free
There’s a boom and bust cycle and good reason to fear it
[Hayek] Blame low interest rates.
[Keynes] No it’s the animal spirits

“The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.”

John Maynard Keynes
The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money

“The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.”

F A Hayek
The Fatal Conceit

%d bloggers like this: