Monday, February 18, 2019

THIS Is The AJC

$13+/mo, added insult of ads to get THIS

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Guest Post: AWOL

Dunwoody For The Win!

Monday, February 11, 2019

Getting Jiggy In DaVille

Can you imagine walking up to a local establishment with child in tow then feeling a tug from your little nipper who just picked up something and wants you to explain what it is. Something like this:

Pre-Owned Available In The Village
After that uncomfortable chat, take a deep breath and ponder how this might have come to be. A standup encounter? Really? It was pretty cold outside. Maybe a toss-out from a steamy window? Getting warmer. So how do folks steam up the car windows in a local shopping center parking lot without being noticed? How did they know they'd not be caught? That is quite ponderific.

Could it be that no one was looking? Where are those we, as residents, as taxpayers, pay to watch over us? Well we know where one of them was:


That's right. AWOL. Totally left-coast trying to tweet into relevance.

Anyone who cares for this City should have been praying for a timely blizzard in the Pacific Northwest. In terms of our quality of life we'd not have seen much of a difference would we?

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Guest Post: Can Honor Be Learned?

From the Honor Code Exit Exam:

Professor Z has a unit on Mark Twain in his sophomore english class. For pedagogically sound reasons two papers, due on the same date, are required for this unit. The first is to discuss the life and times of Twain up to his writing of "Huckleberry Finn" and discuss how his life experiences affected the work. The second is to examine his life and times up to his writing of "Letters From the Earth" and again examine how his work was affected.

At the due date Student C, among a few others, turns in only the first of the papers. Upon notification by Prof Z that TWO papers are expected, Student C provides the second work in a manila envelope, properly labeled and slipped under the prof's locked door. The next day Prof Z finds Student C's envelope, and opens it to find the second paper with a Post-It note attached. The note clearly states "here is my second paper" and thanks the professor for the chance to submit the work past the deadline.

Upon examining Student C's paper, Prof Z finds it is actually SIGNED by Student A, contradicting the Post-It note. Further examination indicates it is line-for-line, word-for-word, character-for-character the same as Student A's paper which Student A turned in on time.

Professor Z concludes that Student C obtained Student A's paper, Xerox-ed it without even bothering to change the name and submitted it for evaluation as if it were indeed Student C's work. When confronted, Student C does not contest these facts.

The Honor Council weighs the facts of the matter arriving at one of the following outcomes. You pick which is most likely:

  1. The act was determined to be willful and done in full knowledge of the honor code thereby justifying stern action to maintain the University's integrity.  Student C was awarded an 'FV' (failure due to honor code violation) carrying -4 quality points and not allowed to register for any courses until this course was re-taken and successfully completed.
  2. The act was egregious and the unavoidable conclusion was that Student C felt entitled to an A and therefore considered cheating justified. This called into question all other work Student C had allegedly performed in this and other classes. In addition to an 'FV' in this course, Student C earned a 'WF' in all other courses, was suspended for a year to be re-admitted under a one-year probation only after the course was re-taken successfully.
  3. Student C suffers from learning disabilities and a certain mental condition requiring medication. These medications have side effects that impair reasoning, memory and judgment. Taking this into consideration, Student C gets an Incomplete for the course and is assigned to a counselor who coordinates activities with professors to prevent future occurrences and ensure that Student C stays on task.
  4. Student A's actions were also reviewed but before it was determined there was no transgression on that student's part, Student A speaks in anger to Professor Z.  Student C on the other hand, makes the case that the assignment was confusing, that much of the second paper was actually in the first, that submitting Student A's paper was a simple mistake, poor judgment, or an understandable accident, and if Professor Z hadn't actually asked for the second paper none of this would have happened. The Honor Council agrees and Student C gets an 'A' while Student A is chastised for his moments of anger and enrolled in anger management classes.
  5. The situation proves that Twain was more accurate in his assessment of humankind in "Letters From the Earth" than in "Huckleberry Finn." To honor Student C for this ground-breaking analysis a PhD is awarded, O-D-K membership is bestowed and a statue carved from an ancient tusk, then gilded in gold is erected in the quad. Twain is removed from all courses. Student C lands a job as an apprentice barista but is later found spiking watered-down espresso with No-Doze and is now a campaign manager for a senatorial candidate.

Remember, only one answer is correct!

Monday, February 4, 2019

Is The GLASS Empty?

If you visit the "GLASS Now" promotional site it does not present the dilemma of "glass half-empty" as it appears the glass has been drained. It could be a consequence of local Republican, likely to support "new city" schools, getting spanked at the polls in recent elections. But the apathy seems to have set in much earlier. Maybe someone realized that these schools would be public schools and would, by law, operate much like the ones run out of Tucker. Size, smaller in this case, is touted as a significant benefit. But is that enough? Then there is the notion only the best and brightest would head the classroom but there is only one way to guarantee no one will retire-on-the-job after tenure: eliminate tenure. Pretty much a non-starter under state law. Then there is the pay conundrum. Can the city set up schools that are more like private schools than public? That would mean lower pay, not higher as private schools are widely known to pay teachers less than public schools. Maybe someone realized that there isn't enough money to support the kind of friends-and-family hanger-on ecosystem the city supports. Or perhaps the reality of meaningful, outside oversight has chilled enthusiasm. No matter the cause the effect seems conclusive.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Guest Post: Why?

Why Is He STILL On The Payroll?

Why Is He Allowed To Waste OUR Money?

Monday, January 28, 2019

City Goes Au Naturel

Seeking to get back in touch with their true nature the city recently convened at the Dunwoody Nature Center:

Our Very Own Goat Rodeo
As you would expect we have our usual cast of characters...

Terry "Build It All" Nall

Lynn "Section 8" Deutsch

Tom "We're Walking" Lambert

Jim "Red Shirt" Riticher

Pam "Don't Tell" Tallmadge

John "Road Worrier" Heneghan

Denny "Head Butt" Shortal
Not to worry, we're finally safe because they're locked up behind this:

Of Course, YOU Can't Have An Electric Fence

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Mexican Standoff

Maureen Downey's recent opinion piece on "It's time to elevate teaching as a career" is in itself a case study on what is wrong with today's school system. There are so many problems with this failed ecosystem it is hard to figure out where to start. But start we must.

Perhaps it is best to recognized that "education" is an industry. An industry with lots of moving parts: colleges; graduate programs; online PhDs; consultants; politicians; bureaucrats; silver-bullet programs; wrap-around-services; and worst of all,  textbook publishers. The origins of this industry may well have been teaching and learning, the cultivation of knowledge and skill in the youth of America, but that is long gone having been reduced to little more than a marketing tool. If there is any learning going on in our schools it comes with minimal retention and at enormous monetary and societal costs.

Then there is the Goebbels-like drumbeat of the "teaching profession." But what is a "profession" and what are "professionals?" Since relativism is educators' lifeblood let's take that approach and define by comparison. Law is a profession and to practice lawyers must have a law degree and pass the bar exam. Admission to law school requires a bachelors degree and a decent score on the LSATs. Medical professionals spend four years in med school after their bachelor degree and passing the MCATs and then spend several years in residency at which point they can apply to the state for a license which requires a test. Professional Engineers* obtain their education, often considered quite rigorous, sit for a test, work under the supervision of licensed engineers for several years before they sit for the PE exam after which, should they pass, they will obtain their license. This is what "professional" looks like.

This is not what teaching looks like. Teaching requires a four year degree, weak on subject matter, like mathematics, to afford time for pedagogical training. So that sixth grade math teacher may know less math than the engineers' daughter** sitting in class. Is there a qualifying exam to teach? Well, sort of. It is called the GACE, and while teachers have to take the exam there are many with long standing in front of a "smart board" who've tried and failed, often multiple times. And teaching does not require an advanced degree or supervised, practical experience to get a license and in fact many classroom "teachers" are not licensed. How "professional" is that?

Sooner or later the conversation turns to money. It always does. And someone always trots out the old  "someone in industry with an equivalent degree and the same years of experience would be making over $100K and I only get $69K." Wow. And that gal in the real world would be working 47 weeks a year (15 days PTO, 10 holidays--maybe) and she wouldn't get annual raises for merely hanging on another 4 quarters. Multi-week, even monthlong breaks are de rigueur  in the edu-industry. Defined benefit retirement, AKA "pension?" You gotta be kidding. Then there are the Edu-industry STEP raises that are completely detached from performance with failing performers getting the same bump as those who struggle and improve. But industry-gal would actually have to produce. And industry-gal has no tenure, and in Georgia as in many other states she can be terminated without cause and without notice. The real kicker is that industry-gal may actually be a licensed Professional Engineer and while this may garner a higher salary it also makes her an easy target come layoff time.

But teachers and their representatives will argue that we should pay better so we get better teachers. OK. Let's run with that. When will these teachers show up? What do we do with the, kindly put, less capable teachers we now have on payroll and on the cheap? And this is the essence of the education Mexican Standoff. We'd prefer that you give us better teachers and then we'll pay more. You'd prefer we pay more, now and to all, and then we'll see about jacking up competence in the classroom.

Is there a way to break the impasse? Technically, yes but practically probably not. Several fairly straightforward, inexpensive steps could be taken.

Focus. If you claim the high ground, the devotion to our future thru the noble profession of "teaching," then teach. Stop with the all the other ancillary, smoke-screen activities often used to obscure that fact that learning was abandoned long ago.

Eliminate tenure. All the arguments in support of tenure are unfounded in reality but the harm, the fostering, the harboring of incompetence is real and destructive.

Reject relativism in all its manifestations. Doing "better" isn't the same as "doing well." It isn't even doing "good enough." Only in education will an organization get more money or an employee a raise simply because they suck less, or worse yet they managed to suck pretty much the same for another year.

Increase the rigor and preparedness of incoming teachers. Eliminate watered-down, hyphenated education degrees making education programs require graduate studies or at the very least a double-major. Improve the rigor of the GACE and make it an absolute minimal requirement. No exceptions.

And finally we must address the elephant in the room: corporate interests. No school in Georgia should buy another text book or any other teaching or training material from any textbook company or conglomerate. Hard stop. All these materials should come from programs in our public universities where tenure-track and tenured professors contribute their enormous knowledge and pedagogical talents to the greater good.

Give us a better system with better teachers. Put learning back into education. Then our public schools might be worth what we're already paying.

* Unlike law and medicine, Georgia's Secretary of State has long failed in enforcing laws around licensing of Professional Engineers allowing many companies and employees to use the title "Software Engineer" when in fact there is no such thing under Georgia law. 
** Engineers' kids are always forced to "do math."

Monday, January 21, 2019

Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind

A local police chief was quoted in the AJC saying: "One of the complaints (we get) is 'I never see a police officer in my neighborhood'" and we in daVille can relate. So what's a chief to do? Well in this case they're rolling out half a hundred new SUV's with POST-certified officers at the helm. And they're rolling out a system that tracks the location of patrol cars so when community questions arise the chief can pull a report showing specific dates and times when a location was patrolled. The public safety director provided color commentary: "the vehicles themselves are an element of overall crime reduction strategies."

Wow. Just...wow.

What is going on here? A police force that is actually serious about serving the community? How does that work and why would any modern day police chief allow this? These days Dunwoody is the gold standard with a top heavy force where majors tool around in their Aeron's costing payroll that other departments (see above) would spend on community patrols.

And where is this "serve and protect" police force? Happens to be the DeKalb County Police. That's right, the very same force that was rejected upon incorporation. Dunwoody is making DeKalb look good and at the same time our little "Smart City" is making Tucker look brilliant. 

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Free Shave

Not "free" as in "free beer" but "free" as in "liberated." Liberated from the outrageous hysteria that is the life blood of this political correctness epoch. How? Glad you asked. Just ditch that Gillette crap that comes with political agenda (is that really the way you want to start your day?) and get one of these:

The Best ANYONE Can Get!
A thing of beauty, standing proud. Whatever symbolism you prefer it is a statement; an honest statement.

What to do with all that obsolete Gillette crap cluttering the bath? Sounds like something to donate to those who appreciate something for nothing, the message that comes with it and the PC society that promotes it.