Grizzled icy banks
Mournfully mind the trickle.
Drizzle. Ripple. Plop!
Grizzled icy banks
Mournfully mind the trickle.
Drizzle. Ripple. Plop!
There’s no easy way to put this, so I might as well come out and just say it: Mr. Donley appears to be very confused.1 Unfortunately this is only to be expected from the silver bullet crowd who invariably see all problems as susceptible to simple solutions, solution simple solutions that they, of course, have at the ready.
Social promotion has been a concern for years 2, but it is not the source of the problem. The reason for social promotion is that we have a system largely based on age based cohorts. And for most of a students school years, and removal from their age cohort is a kin to branding the child as “defective”.
Many educators have pointed out ways to address retention and social promotion 3 and underlying may of those recommendations is the fact that if schools moved to a skill based system as opposed to an age based system, artifacts like social promotion would disappear, especially as the granularity of the skill based modules is increased. In fact, some of the more successful programs on view in schools attempt to exploit just such options, like Walk to Read 4, where students are grouped across classrooms for reading instruction.
Certainly there are challenges to any educational system. A typical criticism of skill based cohort management is that this is simply “tracking”5 and that tracking breeds elitism. Gross tracking could clearly lead in that direction, but effective course management and the distribution of children make it pretty clear that such results might only be seen for 3 of a thousand children, all of whom would have been entitled to IEPs as exceptional children until the likes of Mr Donley “fixed” the Alaska Statutes.
But changing the cohort system is not just a different “silver bullet”; it is not a comprehensive solution. Not only do we need to change the cohort system to focus on instruction (instead of focusing on “management”) but we also need to implement early childhood and Pre-K surveillance, assessment, and service, as well as clinical intervention to address fundamental inadequacies in literacy and numeracy. It is not like we can hide our heads in the sand any more; we KNOW that early deficiencies in reading WILL result in likely trauma, incarceration, etc.6 Spend the money now, or spend the money later.
Lastly, let me note that this is not likely a sudden inspiration on Mr. Donley’s part. With the election of the current Governor, we will be seeing a bill along the same lines introduced in the legislature . 7 I don’t want to fault Republican legislators for being concerned about education; but endorsing a corporate package unsupported by actual research is a recipe for disaster.
This is an action-oriented group with Call to Actions. We understand the frustrations and anxiety in these times. However, if you wish to express your concerns and anxieties, there are other groups on facebook such as Alaskans Stronger Together and Indivisible in Alaska and Indivisible Rapid Response Team, that are forums for general disappointment.
This group is action-oriented as described by indivisibleguide.com. For that reason, the posts are moderated so we do not dilute our Call to Actions.
Before inviting other friends to this action-oriented group, please inform them that they will need to answer these question before they are approved for membership.
Our most recent Call to Action will be pinned at the top of the discussion. Please help us with our Calls to Action (phone calls, visits to local Congressional offices, etc.), at least once a week.
Ask him what he specifically was opposed to in SB 91 (here’s the engrossed bill http://www.akleg.gov/basis/Bill/Text/29?Hsid=SB0091Z and an ADN piece on misconceptions https://www.adn.com/…/how-sb-91-has-changed-alaskas-crimin…/ so you can score his responses) Ask him what he thinks of SB 54 (http://www.akleg.gov/basis/Bill/Text/30?Hsid=SB0054Z), why he thinks that SB 54 did not “fix” SB91. Ask him what he specifically thinks the incumbent should have but didn’t do with respect to SB54. Ask him where his proposed legislation can be found for your review.
Please ask Stanley on what occasions the incumbent voted to cut the PFD, and why the incumbent voted on each occasion to cut the PFD, as well as what he specifically would have done to avoid cutting the PFD (“cut the budget” is NOT an answer.)
And ask Stanley why he thinks the incumbent, who has been a vociferous advocate for educational funding, should be replaced by someone who will hopefully either be in the House minority, or will be forced to vote to cut educational spending (the mantra of the state GOP).
It is time to make Republican candidates realize that running on truthiness will no longer be tolerated.
I was a bit miffed because not only was my submission clearly within the pale of posts previously approved for the group, but because the Group allowed two threads to burgeon that spewed inaccurate vitriol attacking Judges Corey and Wolverton, who are presently the targets of another mob campaign by those who, clueless about how our system works, simply want to just hang the most convenient person.
When I asked one of the admins, Kathleen Smith Goodman, why my post was not approved, but the admins allowed the mob rants about the Judges, I received this message:
So much for “indivisible” Alaska.
Once again, an hysterical self-appointed purity patrol has rolled out the guillotine to lop off the head of anyone who is not as manic as they are. I invite all rational Alaskans to join this group (if you are not a member already) and post your disgust with such witch hunting.
We had seen her regularly in RJSP for a month or more. This past weekend she was down in the spring, and Tuesday she was up in the meadows below the moraine. But there was as yet no sign of any calf. This morning as we walked the proposed bike trail, Bernie suddenly went on point, and I scanned the copse of trees 40 yards ahead. Sure enough, there was mama with not one calf, but two, brightly minted new moose. Any tweener on that trail on a mountain bike (and I have raised a few myself) would have plowed into Mama Moose at about 8 mph, and the Mrs. would not have been pleased.
What we are seeing in the MOA’s brash attempt to push through single track trails in Russian Jack Springs Park is a past MOA Park official now running a private grant shop abusing Municipal systems intended to protect natural resources (and the public’s interests) to promote a recreational user group, entangling ADF&G habitat biologists in what is really a web of deceit. The proposed trail ran through wetlands in an area identified as critical natural habitat and the response, put crudely, from ADF&G biologist Cunya, was that a game path is much the same as a highway so it’s of no concern to anyone at ADF&G… Did I overstate the biologist’s position? Perhaps, but that was the impact of what he had to say on the grant process, because Ms. Nordland (not Anna Shaw, who spoke to the biologists) certified that there were no resident fish in RJSP (false), no anadromous fish in RJSP (very possibly false), no migratory fowl in RJSP (false), no raptors in RJSP (false), and no concerns regarding interactions between large land mammals and humans (really?). And virtually none of that is really defensible.
Is my disappointment primarily with ADF&G? No. Frankly, the MOA (and the buck here sits in Chris Schutte’s lap) has bobbed and weaved in an effort to duck every checkpoint that Planning has placed in the system, including, apparently, ignoring Title 21’s requirement for a UDC Trail review, ensuring that the WNRC could not review the project, and refusing to comply with the 2006 Municipal Plan or the 2009 directive from PRC requiring the development of a natural resource plan before any further development in the park. But as habitat biologists, ADF&G staff could have set flags, in no small part because they are very well aware that the MOA has no habitat staff.
Last year my neighbor and I put out garbage cans in the park (and regularly cleaned them) because P&R had decided that the danger of Black bear in RJSP was so great that all non-bear proof cans had to be removed. They took ours, as well the cans at the ball fields! We have seen one Black bear in the area (on the east side of Cheney Lake) in 20 years. We see half a dozen moose in RJSP almost year around, with 2-4 calves each spring, and the position of P&R is that if someone gets hurt by a moose “that’s up to the lawyers to work out, ha ha ha”. Perhaps we need to change the name of Parks and Rec. to the Municipal Hubris Department?
Pages 50-51 of the Anchorage Bowl Park, Natural Resource,and Recreation Facility Plan, adopted by Adopted by Ordinance AO 2005-122, April 18, 2006. Click on the images to obtain the pdf files.
I thought this had been tossed in the trash years ago… Imagine my amazement when I found out it had been circulating around the Courthouse for ages…
TO: JUDGE VAN HOOMISON
FROM: MARC GROBER
RE: DRESS CODES
Last week in Nenana you warned me not to wear “jean” slacks or shirts into a courtroom where you are presiding. At first blush your directive seemed simple enough, but upon further meditation
I have developed some real problems in ordering future vestments.
I present the following discussion to you in the spirit that it may prove profitable and hope that this sort of discussion may yield a formal order from each judge which may be posted on the courtroom door. This may prevent the confusion I felt, having appeared numerous times in your court in a jean shirt with jean slacks, tie and jacket. Perhaps because of the distance between bar and bench you never noticed it til now.
Specifically, what is nature of the beast you are discriminating against? The dictionary defines jean as durable twilled cotton. Denim is defined as twilled fabric which may or may not be cotton. Twill is a type of weave where weft is floated over two or more threads (both serge and gabardine are twills), as opposed for example to chambray, which is a plain weave. If I recall correctly I was at the time wearing a blue cotton chambray shirt.
I am sure you can see my dilemma. Surely you can’t be asking me to buy non-durable clothes? And I am just as sure that you can’t be proscribing twills, for most fine clothes are twill weaved (gabardine, serge, herringbone etc.) Or is it the cotton that offends? On top of it all, though my slacks were cotton twill my shirt was plain weaved • • • it would appear that the only common factors were their blueness (my favorite color) and the fact that they were cotton.
Now, is a polyester denim appropriate? I do so deplore synthetic. fabrics. I do have a Blue wool twill suit, but it is terribly stifling for spring and summer wear.
With respect to shirts, sir, I do have a cotton polyester blue denim shirt manufactured by Lee but because of the use of polyester as reinforcement I am not really sure if this is jean or not. This, however , is a shirt I have worn in your Courtroom before • • •
And while on the subject, I have worn my moose skin boots (my usual footwear) to court in the winter. Are there any guidelines as to summer footwear? I prefer my waders as that is usually what I wear, but I understand that another attorney was found in contempt for coming into Court that way.
I was recently reproached wearing a sweater instead of a sports jacket. One can only get suit coats with suits and I always thought that sports clothes were taboo in court. Are pullovers of fabric allowable? What about wrap-around sweaters and warm-up jackets? Please, what are appropriate criteria?
Some people wear hats, of course, for religious and personal reasons. For example, many chassids (a Jewish sect I have admired) wear large black broad brimmed felt hats everywhere. Indeed many feel it is virtually sacrilegious to bare your head to anybody or anything. My grandfather’s generation felt much the same about their Bogart-style hats. I know that there are many cases in this area, for
example can an attorney who is a priest wear his religious costume to court. Certainly there are First Amendment questions that need to be considered here.
Lastly, After reading the Friedman case I hope we don’t have to tangle with “conservative business-dress”. Nenana is as conservative as they come but business men here almost never wear jacket and tie and one successful business man wears well used work pants, suspenders, and T-shirt. Not to mention that I saw Governor Hammond on the TV the other night giving us the business and he didn’t even have a tie on • • •
Personally I’d get a kick out of wearing a black robe like yours (they do it that way in England you know)! That way you wouldn’t have to worry about what my clothes were made of and I might even get a tax deduction out of it • • •
High School student Matthew Park started a petition to ASD in July 2017 to push high school start times to 8:30. https://www.change.org/p/anchorage-school-district-push-start-times-in-asd-high-schools-to-8-30-am
In August of 2017 the Superintendent (Dr. Deena Bishop) and the Board President (Tam Agosti-Gisler) indicated that they wanted to look at changing school start times. https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/education/2017/08/09/should-the-anchorage-school-district-change-its-school-start-times/
By November the Superintendent had used her discretionary budget to hire Western Demographics to look at the issue in what some have called an “efficiency study”. http://www.ktva.com/story/36909860/local-teens-welcome-new-school-start-times
Since then the Superintendent has published a web page on school start times on the ASD website. The Page never identified who actually authored the content. https://www.asdk12.org/Page/10284 The web page originally contained names and dates of authors whose work purportedly supported the claims made in the document, but no bibliography was ever included. When complaints were made about ASD needing to provide a full bibliography, the material identifying dates and authors was deleted. https://www.facebook.com/groups/AkEducators/permalink/10156543167479267/ A bibliography that included all but one of the sources apparently mentioned by ASD (one did not appear to exist) as well as quite a bit of additional literature addressing questions raised by AEA members was prepared and shared with ASD (see https://www.zotero.org/groups/2153649/school_start_times. ASD has never shared that bibliography.
Shannon Bingham, President of Western Demographics, presented to AEA building representations on March 28th. Mr. Bingham apologized for not having published his presentation online, and for not having a bibliography available. AEA Representatives presented quite a few unanswered questions, including the impact on Elementary students, and interventions that ameliorate the sleep disorders relied upon by much of the research to suggest changes in start times (see Alaska Educators Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/AkEducators/permalink/10156543167479267/ ). ASD still has not published any additional material from Mr. Bingham.
The material presented by Mr. Bingham was somewhat inconsistent with the material presented on the ASD web page, apparently as a result of ongoing examination of the question by Western Demographics, but as noted, the most current material has not been published to the ASD website.
A short bulleted version of this is available at http://bit.ly/ASDBULLETS
I thought I would continue to try and have a substantive conversation with Dr. Bishop regarding her presentation to our legislative delegation, which as you can see from the note at the very bottom (chronology is bottom up – see below for some shortcuts) piqued my curiosity when I saw it referenced in a State Senator’s newsletter. I have appended the conversation save the last reply from her, which, because that reply removed the markup, made following the back and forth (more) difficult. Her last reply was,
Dear Mr. Grover, Thank you for your thorough feedback. I hope you have a nice holiday. Cheers, Deena Bishop
Apparently she now has me confused with a blue Sesame St character (OK, maybe that’s not all that unusual…) But will she respond to my questions or concerns? I think that is as likely as her setting up a meeting, don’t you?
There were a total of 6 notes. Click here for my initial e-mail. Click here for Dr. Bishop’s reply to that note (the second in the string). My comments on Dr. Bichop’s note (the third note) can be found here. I interlineated my comments to her reply, so her reply and my comments appear at the top in one message, here. My writing appears in Times New Roman, Dr. Bishop’s in Helvetica.
On 12/14/17 2:42 PM, Bishop_Deena wrote:
Hi Mr. Grober,
Hello Deena – answers interlineated below…
You and I must meet.
Actually, we need not meet, though if you wish to meet I can certainly accommodate that. However, I don’t see you as taking steps to that end, do I, so I will assume that is just polite puffing? which you can dispense with as many people find it confusing. On the off chance you are serious you know where to reach me.
I do not think that we are necessarily that distant on our desired outcomes for the education of students... the details in our respective areas have some differences.
I don’t know that we have shared our “desired outcomes for the education of students”, nor am I sure what our “respective areas” are, let alone what you think the differences in those areas might be. Perhaps you could explain?
I do agree with some of your thoughts on preschool and the universal access that Oklahoma has tackled.
Actually, I don’t think I shared any ideas on pre-school, though I inquired as to whether you promoted Oklahoma’s position on pre-school to the legislators, a question you seem not to have answered.
Many of their preschools are funded outside of the k-12 system, even to private entities.
I am unaware of the sources for your claims. Perhaps you could share them?
On the other hand, there is ample documentation of the success Oklahoma had with funding public pre-school (see, http://sde.ok.gov/sde/files/ok.gov.sde/sde/Legislative%20Briefing%20PreK%20Program.pdf for State fact sheet), both in the press:
and in the literature:
[shared as I was not sure whether this aspect of education had been broached as an area of Board interest and as we were including the Board in our conversation, they should have some familiarity with the topic – though I am not suggesting that they did not have a background in this already]
I think this is a good thing.
I see private education below the endowed post-secondary level (perhaps with certain very elite exceptions such as Phillips Andover, Exeter, etc) as suffering from poorer staffing than public schools because they pay less, provide no workplace guarantees, etc. and my experience with private schools in Alaska underscores my impressions. What data do you have that suggest that private entities manage education well?
ASD does not have to be solely responsible for all preschool education.
Perhaps not (though see my caveat above), however, by the time you impose the constraints necessary to ensure that the provision of services are comparable, you have rendered the private entity much more expensive (less affordable, I think you’d put it) and operating at a disadvantageous scale 😉
Partnerships, to me, is the key to solving this community concern.
Partnerships can be successful when the partners bring something to the table. You have yet to suggest what that might be.
If I can offer a lower overhead and the private owner agrees to pass this onto the customer, perhaps more folks can afford quality preschool?
Which essentially ignores the likelihood that the private operator is providing an unacceptably poor program, or the cost would be in excess of what ASD could provide.
Unused educational space is there, parents are looking for quality preschools they can afford, and empirical evidence supports early learning benefits.
Again, you seem to have ignored the fact that there might be lots of demands for space in ASD schools, but for the fact that ASD has been shedding anything that suggests it might be outside its mission statement. You also seem to have dismissed any possibility that class size could be reduced if ASD moved people out of positions carrying water for the administration, to actually teaching.
Additionally the closest reading of the literature to date suggests that the benefits of Pre-K dissipate if instruction in K-3 doesn’t maintain the pace the child experienced in Pre-K, which commends, of course, smaller elementary class sizes, AND an argument to legislators to fund Pre-K (which I will note, again, you appear NOT to have made).
On the NAEP front---2015 data is actually quite recent as NAEP is only given every other year to randomly selected students in randomly selected schools across the state and nation. We do not get individual student or school results for the NAEP. And, to be honest, PEAKS results mirror AYP results more than either of these assessments mirrored the SBA test of yesteryear. My argument with the delegation was that we get it...we get that the standards have changed and we are addressing this. It was not a self-congratulatory action. It was intended more for transparent accountability on my part. No excuses here.
I am not going to duel about the specifics of NAEP testing – that is all of record for anyone to see. Nor am I going to argue about the significance of AYP testing on its own or vis-a-vis the NAEP, as that is also a matter of broad discussion in the literature as I said before, and I am sure you have provided the Board with an extensive bibliography on same. My point was that the Education Next piece was of little value; a better demonstration would have been State longitudinal data, and even that is of attenuated value because it is really not comparable to Alaska Urban data as many have been at pains to point out to the likes of the ideologues at Alaska Policy Forum and their fellow travelers.
If your intent was to demonstrate that we are between a rock and a hard spot, you frankly failed as that was not the message that was passed on. If your intent was to differentiate between the urban performance and rural performance, again, you seem to have failed. And I would have thought it would have been a great opportunity for you to share your correspondence to NAEP decrying their failure to include Anchorage in their Urban assessments, and I take it that in this too, you failed. Of course, failing is the only way we really learn, though I don’t know too many employers who see it that way…
The SAT/ACT scores were presented in a Fast Facts sheet for ASD, available to all stakeholders. I did not present personally on this topic. I have included the data in the fast facts in this email.
So, this was simply more second hand hash. In as much as it was expected that scores on SAT and ACT would drop across Alaska takers as State requirements forced more who would otherwise NOT take the tests to take them, it would have seemed appropriate if talking about school performance to trot out such data as it is some of the on;y data that compares apples and apples we have. SInce I have not seen the presentation I can’t really comment on how it was targeted, of course, but I do have to wonder why real data on such a measure was not included on any discussion of legislative priorities for the District. Perhaps, should you make that presentation available, I could comment further?
I do have each school's national percentile score and will request these data also be available on the Data Dashboard as you have a good point in that they are not easily accessible.
Please advise when the data is available.
As long as we are talking about data, I should note that I had been trying to have a conversation with ASD about concussion, TBI, and sports, and had been told (2 years ago) that a committee would be formed (I even received an invite) to look into this matter (action supposedly delayed due to staffing). The staffing issue was resolved months ago, but apparently the new staff member chooses not to respond to correspondence.
In the meantime, conversations with a Board member about the data pertinent to the Middle College suggested that the member had asked for data, and yet months have passed and the member seems to be as unable to obtain data from ASD as I am, though I don’t want to put words in the members mouth…
And it seems when schools jumped on DIBELS, their successes with that tool were ignored when ASD moved to AIMSweb. Now I am hearing rumors that AIMSweb is no longer required, thereby foregoing critical data. Is there an ASD white paper on the history of probe adoption and implementation at the district which includes a section on the current tools, their relationship, if any, to prior tools, and the analysis behind any changes?
Thanks again for your thoughtful responses. They do make me step back and think.
I thought that was the entire purpose of conversation (and the reason I was black-balled from ever working at the District, lol).
Tell me, when a student complains that a teacher is spending so much time lecturing students on how to use technology the teacher wants to use to teach that he isn’t effectively teaching the underlying lesson, what does that tell you about what is (or is not) appropriate Ed Tech? Don’t be a tool; use the tool 😉
A Shifty Solstice, a Yumpin’ Yule, and a Scandolous Saturnalia to you and yours,
Dear Dr. Bishop,
Thank you for your interim response.
I fully understand the issues with most State AYP assessments as compared to the NAEP, as I clearly noted. I don’t understand why anyone would rely on an out of date Education Next article to address this point when it has been the subject of extensive academic discussion for some time, especially because of the nature of the NAEP as opposed to that of most AYP assessments vis-a-vis the scope of the assessment.
“Yikes!”, is not an argument in any company I know. It is an exclamation of horrified amazement, used here because the Senator apparently came away with the impression that confirmation by way of an out of date article in a political journal that an assessment abandoned by the State years ago found some agreement with long standing NAEP results, that Alaska students are far from proficiency, was a basis for self-congratulation.
More importantly, the message apparently received by the Senator seemed to be missing a longitudinal analysis with respect to the testing Alaska has done. In other words, to be blunt, had someone simply compared findings of proficiency from State AYP testing with that afforded by NAEP testing annually for the last decade that would have very simply evidenced the gap, and done that without confusing anyone. Let’s just say that I am intrigued by the fact that the Senator didn’t share the graphic your staff prepared with respect to such an analysis; can you tell us where we can find it? I certainly agree that it is high time to recognize that the State is a long way away from being able to demonstrate adequate long term proficiency on basal standards; the problem is demonstrating to legislators that increasing revenues will change that, and that NAEP testing pressnts an appropriate standard. Those bits seem to be missing, not to mention the fact that the NAEP mysteriously failed to include Anchorage in its urban testing results, and a discussion of why that might have been, and whether NAEP is going to correct that oversight.
In sum, I would have expected any such presentation to cover the challenges presented by the State’s approach to education, and the marginal successes the local District can show despite those State-wide issues. Perhaps the easiest way to get to the bottom of what you did present is to make your presentation public on the ASD web?
As to private pre-school use of ASD facilities: a) If you rent such facilities for less than the market value you are indeed wasting ASD assets, no matter your inventive approach to finance. b) Scalable is not synonymous with affordable, this does not present an viable argument that the private sector can provide appropriate instruction at a lower cost (which seems to be what your argument is intended to imply), and ASD could always actually reduce the size of Kindergarten classes if ASD chooses to spend money on teachers, instead of on activities, administrators, special projects, and unused curricular materials. c) The community has been busy hemorrhaging services to meet budget constraints for two decades. Did you suggest to the legislators that, as in places like ultra-conservative Oklahoma, it is high time that Alaska offered free universal pre-school, and that in light of the State budget restrictions on communities like Anchorage, it is grossly unfair to expect such communities to subsidize pre-school themselves? Apparently the Senator missed that bit too.
I am pleased, however, that this is just something your highly paid staff is investigating, and hope, like some of the bizarre schemes floated by your predecessor, this idea gets short shrift. I would suggest (AGAIN) that the District roll out the Budget Review Team system; I think that would go a long way to affording the District “community resources” as far as appropriate ways to spend educational revenues.
The ACT/SAT data should be easily accessibly via the portion of ASD’s web site addressing assessment, and for someone who has argued that decisions will be data driven, it is confusing at the least to have to ask to see what was provided to legislators. Unless, like the release of a new iphone, there is some benefit to keeping close wraps on such presentations, it would sem that the best policy is to develop and public the presentation, and then use that as a basis for discussion with legislators or whomever, as opposed to engaging in apologetics about what you believe actually happened. Thank you for your reply. It is unfortunate that so many of your staff are not as responsive.
On 12/13/17 7:45 PM, Bishop_Deena wrote:
Hi Mr. Grober, Thank you for your feedback. I want to clarify a few items you mentioned now and will get back with you on others, once I can locate the data. 1. Preschool---In this area, ASD is looking to broaden the opportunities for preschool in our community. We are presently using grant money to provide pre-schools in some of our schools. However, this does not meet all needs as presently there remain families who cannot afford quality preschools. At this same time, ASD understands that having preschools wrapped into our overall k-12 programs is not scalable (not affordable). In our effort to increase the readiness for kindergarten learning and not wanting to increase our costs, we are looking at innovative ways to increase the access to preschool. We partner with private preschools presently for training. Given some schools' space availability, we are investigating the idea of partnering with private preschools to offer programs in schools for students from low income families. We are essentially not looking to "give away assets," rather use the assets we have to bring value to our community. I realize nothing is free, nothing is being given away. We are in talks to see how we may rent space to offer a service that is needed by the community---this would support the private sector as well. These ideas are working in other cities, so the investigation was an effort to be innovative with the empty spaces in some schools. 2. The Education Next map URL you shared demonstrates the grade on STANDARDS, not assessments. The results of assessments are used to communicate the delta between the NAEP and individual state's assessment results in an effort to define rigor. While Alaska has much to improve, the idea shared with the Senator was that we have standards that are of higher rigor than before. While our coefficient is still negative, it is closer than many states' results for which their state assessments found more students proficient than NAEP found. Again, Alaska's score is much closer, meaning we are more accurately reporting and that our standards are coming closer to the overall national expectation for student success. I did not share this to communicate we are doing well on these new standards. That would be untrue. In fact, I shared the poor PEAKS results for ASD in this presentation to show we have significant improvement to make. I shared the map to demonstrate that the rigor of standards in Alaska changed, and we did step things up. Moreover, the ASD Board expects me, the superintendent, to foster our culture and actions to meet the higher standards. I am not sure about your "yikes" argument. Are you unhappy that we acknowledge the challenge? 3. I will get the ACT and SAT information for you. It is shared directly with the District. Thanks again for your feedback. Cheers, Deena Dr. Deena M. Bishop Superintendent, Anchorage School District 5530 E. Northern Lights Blvd. Anchorage, AK 99504 Office Phone (907) 742-4312 Educating All Students for Success in Life
From: Marc Grober
Sent: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 5:18 PM
To: School Board
Subject: Questions from the Trenches
Dear Anchorage School Board and Superintendent,
I was rather dismayed recently to receive a newsletter from Senator Gardner which featured the following statements:
Tuesday, the Anchorage School District (ASD) and School Board presented their 2018 legislative priorities to Anchorage legislators, highlighting advancements in education, cost-efficiency measures, and difficulties their organizations currently face. I sensed a lot of optimism from the district, conviction that they are moving in the right direction, and genuine pride from the new superintendent, Deena Bishop.
Over the last five years, Alaska has gone from 48th in academic rigor to 13th in the nation, SAT and ACT scores have risen city-wide (and are now well above average nationally), graduation rates have increased in nearly every demographic, and student attendance – a focus in every school – is up across the district. I’m also excited that ASD is beginning to offer space inside their schools at a below-market rate for private pre-K programs. This will provide increased access to pre-K at an affordable rate – a great incentive for parents to start their kids in their neighborhood school before Kindergarten, resulting in the need for fewer resources once they enter the public school system.
I wrote to the Senator inquiring as to the basis for these claims, and I am somewhat distressed at the results of my queries and hope that you can provide specifics as to what the Senator was actually referencing. First off, I had to ask myself about Education Next (the Senator said the claims were based on this link http://educationnext.org/state-standards-map-2016/).
Education Next “is a scholarly journal published by the Hoover Institution” [http://rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/hoover_institution/ Hoover has been a mainstay of the Republican Party for decades, serving as a virtual revolving door for high-level GOP figures and apparatchiks, including many who served in the George W. Bush administration] which does not spare its own elbows in describing itself like this: “In the stormy seas of school reform, this journal will steer a steady course, presenting the facts as best they can be determined, giving voice (without fear or favor) to worthy research, sound ideas, and responsible arguments. Bold change is needed in American K-12 education, but Education Next partakes of no program, campaign, or ideology. It goes where the evidence points.”
This publication did a story in the Summer of 2016 (yes, a year and a half ago) in which they presented an interactive map that compared State AYP test results with NAEP test results. Of course, everyone in education has understood for years that very few states had AYP results comparable to NAEP proficiency. That map, produced a year and a half ago, is the map that the Senator was apparently referred to by the District. Yikes!
“Rigor” is defined in the map’s fine print: “This number shows for a given state in 2015 the difference in the percentage of students who were labeled proficient on the state exam and NAEP (National Assessment for Educational Progress). A negative number indicates that more students were identified as proficient on the state exam than were identified as proficient on NAEP”
The piece that references the map can be found here: http://educationnext.org/after-common-core-states-set-rigorous-standards/
Is this something for ASD to crow about. Absolutely not. As I wrote to the Senator:
“Education Next’s use of “rigor” means that if Alaska lists only 30% of its students as proficient on its exam, and its performance on NAEP reflects the same thing, then the lack of gap is regarded as effective rigor.
* This is a very artificial measure and it would be more appropriate to suggest that the metric might reflect reliability or validity of the NAEP or local measure, as opposed to rigor,
* Our coefficient is a negative number, which still shows our measure as being more “lenient” than the NAEP.
* This is at best a measure of our curriculum and testing regime, which so many want to see abandoned.
* Perhaps most importantly, the data employed are data on assessments THAT HAVE BEEN ABANDONED. In other words, anything Alaska could do to claim that State assessments were now consistent with NAEP assessments were dumped with the adoption of PEAKS.
Nothing to crow about here… So please explain why this was even trotted out to the Senator?
What about the relative performance on SAT and ACT? The Senator said that the data was provided by the testing corporations, but of course the data was not provided to the Senator, it was provided in some form, subject to certain conditions and limitations to the district. I looked at the District’s assessment web pages and could find nothing specific offering a link to the data in question. Where can the public find the data that the District is supposedly relying upon?
Lastly, how can we afford to rent out space to the public at lower than market value to provide services that the District could arguably do better? I failed to notice the sign at the time. You know, the one that said, “ASD giving away assets – sign up here!” I am a vocal supporter of public education, but it seems that ASD simply wants to fuel the fires of the Alaska Policy Forum and their ilk. What exactly is the cash loss ASD is suffering from the reduced rentals of these resources, and where is the policy analysis that finds that this giveaway is more important, for example, than providing reduced cost rentals to adult literacy programs, critical to student success, or parenting classes for that matter? Are the discounts available to any enterprise, or just for for-profits? Since we killed community schools largely on the rental loss to ASD, why not bring community schools back if ASD has so much money? Oh, wait! What about ASD offering a District wide Pre-K?
I really look forward to your reply, though based on your prior track record, I understand that answering difficult questions from the community has not been a focus of this administration.
While celebrating Columbus (https://www.thenation.com/article/the-invention-of-christopher-columbus-american-hero/) is as ludicrous as basing jurisprudence on Story’s Commentaries (https://global.oup.com/academic/product/inventing-a-christian-america-9780190230975), jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire is perhaps just as silly. Pushing tribal politics until we all look like Nooksackis (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/18/magazine/who-decides-who-counts-as-native-american.html) is perhaps a quantum too far.
One has to ask, who exactly are Alaska’s second peoples? There is some discussion as to whether Inupiaq (and their cousins to the East) are Alaska’s second or third peoples coming as they did rather later – some 20000 years after the first descendants of the Altaians made it from Asia (see for a general discussion http://www.pnas.org./content/113/23/6380.full), and of course, as there was no Alaska at the time, a broadening of the target brings to mind that there is evidence that Europeans made it to North America at least by 1500 ya – why not before the Inupiaq? And, of course, the purported lack of archeological evidence of humans in the Americas prior to 30000 ya is NOT evidence that there were NOT peoples here at the time. Lions and tigers and bears – don’t tell me we may have to drop someone’s cap N!?!?!?!?!
Every attempt at argument over who was there first ends up in finger-pointing and blood-letting and is, at its core, a version of “me, mine, and more”. We came down out of the trees just several hundred thousand years ago, and have been torturing each other since. We appear to have all come from what we now call Africa. The time that has passed since then is just the blink of an eye.
Recently some folk have gotten their shorts in a twist because someone has the temerity to suggest that killing a 200 year old whale is not necessarily a good idea. Efforts to address those upset have been very unsuccessful because any word to suggest that Native harvest of whales should be challenged is labeled racism (which it, by definition, is not).
There is way too much emotive baggage, way too little reflection on issues underlying our cultural prejudices. Tribalism is inherent in Homo sapiens… we are virtually hard wired to be tribal as that provided some selective benefit as we evolved from under the shadows of the thunder lizards , but now it will kill us all. The harvest of marine mammals is still (and will likely become more of) a widely debated ethical decision (much as has happened with respect to pigs) as no human will die of lack of whale meat. The question is one of cultural relativism. If I eat children should I be allowed to continue eating children? Really. Why shouldn’t I eat your child? Or just mash it up as a blood sacrifice to my gods (which, after all, is not atypical for Homo sapiens)? While Dean Swift was being ironic when he penned “A Modest Proposal”, the point he makes is still very poignant, and the taking of marine mammals is as close to the dominionism now infecting our political culture.
If Critter A is hungry and he wants to eat another critter, he will run into some issues eventually, and he develops a credo that allows him to eat some (but not all) other critters. That credo, based largely on belief, is a matter of faith. You eat pig because you believe the pig is dumb, or you have some divine authority, or other excuse that applies to pig, but not dog, horse, or people. Many Neolithic and tribal cultures invent a mythology that results in their belief that their prey gives themselves freely to predator. This is, as suggested above, no far reach from dominionism.
Arguing that a specific cultural approach to life is inappropriate is not necessarily racist (and I think is rarely so, though humans are particularly inventive when it comes to being stupid). I think Female Genital Mutilation is horrific, yet I have no real qualms about Male Genital Mutilation… imagine that! Such cultural prejudices are endemic to Homo sapiens. At core it is now essentially a matter of faith. With the clash of cultures, questions will be asked, and I think that is appropriate – that is what Montesquieu was talking about when he discussed commerce, and the claims of “historical accident”, “cultural artifact”, or “religious tenet” can, and eventually will, wear thin.
Swift, Jonathan. A Modest Proposal. 1729. https://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Texts/modest.html
Paul Jenkins has now come forth and apparently unfurled the fact that he suffers from BobLynnefaction, an edema of the forebrain that inhibits rational thought. In his most recent malefactory diatribe he argues against Ballot Measure 1 (though he is apparently so ill he could not manage to offer a name or a pointer to the text of the proposition ).
Horrors of horrors, he argues, voter registration is a ploy of the Godless Left to undermine the Republic! For shame, he cries, that Alaskans won;t get off their lazy asses and register themselves!
Of course, Jenkins, despite his illness (this brings to mind the millions of monkeys typing out Shakespeare eventually) is correct (at least in part, and frankly we can’t expect much more than that from poor Paul, I mean look who he is named after…. the nuttiest fruitcake in the last two millennia). No, not that Alaska should seek to intentionally disenfranchise ANY voter, but that Alaska voters SHOULD BE expected to rise to their civic obligations.
Jenkins demurs on the ideal of civic obligation, arguing, like all well-behaved anti-statists (whatever those are) against their beloved Saint Locke (only second to Saint Reagan) that no one should be obliged to perform any civic duty. In doing so he essentially eviscerates the entire classical liberal scheme underlying his pseudo-philosophy, but that is a painful topic for another day. What is pertinent today is that as Locke suggests, one’s decision to become a member of a polity must trigger a set of reciprocal obligations among those so electing. In other words, under classical liberalism, if you chose to me a member of the polity, who are expected to pull your weight as far as civil obligations, including military service, providing subsistence for the poor, etc.
Bob Lynn the unethical legislative ideologue who has repeatedly sponsored Alaska Voter ID bills (HB 57 being the most recent version), and after whom Jenkins’ malady is named, was so badly taken with the condition that he suffered some blindness and paralysis. Your charming correspondent pointed out to Rep. Lynn that he has a really really good idea that should in fact be taken up by the federal government (more on that below), because, after all, we don;t want any second class citizens in Alaska and we DO want all Alaskans to be able to easily obtain a picture ID. The onty thing missing in Bob’s plan was the establishment in every village in Alaska a full time DMV office fully capable of issuing picture IDs. This was important because the likes of Rep. Lynn, in their wisdom, had to date made it lawful to drive without a license in rural Alaska because they were too cheap to provide access to essential State services.
Aha! But no more. Now, with one brilliant stroke Alaska could not only make sure there was a continuing dearth of Alaska voter fraud (yes, of course Jenkins supports Alaska VoterID proposals though there is no evidence of voter fraud in Alaska) but could do away with the second class citizen status to which those in the bush have been relegated. And we could actually get a handle of how many people we had in the state. WOW! Of course Lynn, asked if he had just overlooked this, did not respond. After a number of attempts to elicit a reply he was asked if he had intentionally meant to deny rural people access to essential State services, and at that point he “unfriended” me. Imagine that, to get unfriended on FACEBOOK by a legislator because you are trying to clearly understand just what the fellow is trying to accomplish with his proposed legislation?!
Of course, there is more to this conversation, such as the fact that Lynn et al ganged up to pass a legislative prohibition on the State of Alaska spending any money whatsoever on ensuring that a new Alaska ID would comply with the Federal REAL ID standards (which would allow Alaskans to use their State ID to get on military bases (a significant activity in Anchorage for example, as JBER – Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson – covers much of what is Anchorage) and get into airline terminals! Governor Walker (the Unity Governor) seeks to resolve this impasse by passing a bill that allows the State to issue TWO different photo IDs, which would in fact cost more than just doing RealID compliance, but here is the kicker: the AKGOP argues that RealID compliance would infringe on the individuals right not to be identified because the RealID Act requires that the ID data be built such as it could be accessed to enable law enforcement usage. Yes folk, the law and order, anti-terrorist, PictureID crowd wants to ensure that we have people in this State who are unidentified. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy, eh?
What ties this all up for me is that ancillary observation that all these VoterID supporters also tend to be persons who want to be able to read and interpret the U. S. Constitution as a seven year old. Well, OK!
Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten years, in such manner as they shall by law direct. The number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand, but each state shall have at least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the state of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three. Article I, Section 2, U.S. Constitution.
We can, therefore, resolve ALL our census issues by enabling a State by State program that requires all individuals in that State to be counted by way of identification. State ID cum VoterID cum federal entrance document cum key to social security number look-up, etc. etc. It would be like being able to get a driver’s endorsement on a passport that would be more convenient to carry, while ensuring that the census was accurate, that we knew where all aliens were living, and our gerrymandering at least accurate. Let’s all say it together, boys and girls, “LIONS, AND TIGERS, AND BEEAAARRRRRSSSSS!!!!”