I must have been asleep the day they held the “How to Cuss” lesson in my school:
A British school was blasted Friday after kids as young as 11 were told to shout obscenities during a lesson in swearing.
Expletives like the f-word and c-word were written on a blackboard before a teacher explained their meaning to 30 seventh graders.
S.t Laurence School in Bradford on Avon, Wilts, claims it was part of a sex and relationship education program to “dispel” the myths of swear words.
The Sun reports that both parents and kids were “deeply upset.” (Can’t imagine why.) Of all of the things we can reliably say people will learn outside of the academic environment, I would have to say that cussing would be at the top of the list. There is absolutely no excuse of any kind for a teacher to do this. If the topic cannot be taught without purposely teaching behavior pretty well universally condemned in kids then it’s a topic that should wait until college.
According to Erica Garman at Living in LoCo Loudoun Schools Superintendent Hatrick has released the details of a new grading scale to be used at Loudoun’s schools. It’s the 10-point scale proposed by Fairgrade Loudoun and it will likely be adopted at the next LCPS meeting on 24 March. I’ve written on the topic a few times and I think adoption of this new scale is the right way to go for Loudoun’s kids.
While we’re on the subject of whether Loudoun should change their grading systems, how about a poll? Should we or shouldn’t we? Vote in the poll over there in the right margin.
Back in August I wrote about the issue of grades for Loudoun County Public School students being assessed by a different scale than students nationally. VA Blogger over at Too Conservative notes that the same issue is being raised over in Fairfax:
And yet [Superintendent] Dale, the School Board, and their enablers on the Board of Supervisors, politically tone-deaf as they are, commit to keeping the 6-point scale. This should be a no brainer. It’s the best possible policy to run on. You allow kids to get better grades and it costs you nothing. Why wouldn’t you do it?
You got me. It got me thinking about how serious this issue is and, although I covered it in my previous post, a fresh example might highlight the issue for those who still resist and think this is no big deal.
Let’s say we have 2 students, 1 in Howard County, MD and 1 in Loudoun County, VA. Both students have the exact same course curriculum, take the same tests and score exactly the same on all of them. Now, further stipulate that they both score 81% on their course scores. Their curriculum has 6 classes per semester, each worth 1 credit hour (just to make the calculations easy.) At the end of a 4-year high school career, the Howard County student has received a “B” on every class. The Loudoun student has gotten a “C”. For the same class and the same score. The Howard student gets to apply to colleges nationwide and for scholarships citing a solid 3.0 GPA while the Loudoun student shows a 2.0 GPA.
Oh, but it gets better. Let’s say on the last class of their senior year, senioritis shows up and both students drop from an 81% score to a 71% on that 1 class. Checking the scale, a 71% in Howard is a “C”. In Loudoun, that’s an “F” – as in Full Failure. Run that GPA calculation again and you find the Howard student – with 47 B’s and 1 C – scoring a 2.98 GPA. The Loudoun student – with 47 C’s and 1 F – now shows a GPA of 1.96.
Not a whole lot of scholarships out there for students with a sub-2.0 GPA.
For the same work in the same courses, the Loudoun student is put at a severe – and probably insurmountable – disadvantage in his college options and for scholarships, to say nothing about the other benefits of a good GPA such as those offered by auto insurers to good students. And all because Loudoun simply uses a different scale for grading. We’re hobbling our students for no good reason. The 10-point scale is more widely adopted and will remain so. Loudoun should remove the weights from our students’ shoulders and change the scale to match that used nationally by more schools. Fairfax should do likewise.
If you were doing the same work as a fellow employee and you found out that you had to do 20% more work than they did to avoid a “non-performing” rating on your annual review, would you think that was fair? I think it’s pretty obvious most of us wouldn’t. Yet that’s the situation faced by students in Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) and a local organization is working to get that fixed.
The issue is pretty basic. LCPS’s grading system is based on a 7-point scale, meaning that out of 100%, you need to score a 93% or higher to get an “A”. You drop a grade letter every 7 points below that. According to FairGrade Loudoun, a majority of school districts across the country use a 10-point scale, meaning that to get an “A”, you only need a 90% – a solid “B” in Loudoun. Their scale goes down every 10 points, leading to an increasing disparity between LCPS and the other school districts the lower the score goes. Here’s the detail:
As you can see, a student in LCPS must score 20% more points on a given assignment just to avoid failing. Two students taking the exact same class and scoring the exact same grades on all the tests, quizes, and assignments, will see different grades appear on their report cards depending on where they went to school. That wouldn’t be a big deal except that grade-point average is a critical discriminator for applying to college and being recognized for certain awards. An LCPS student with a class average of 91% would rate a “B” on her report card which would be counted as a “3″ in her grade-point average calculation. A student at a neighboring school district taking the same class and scoring the same 91% would be rated an “A” student, giving her a “4″ in her calculation. If all other classes in their high-school careers were to come in at the same grade letter, the LCPS student will then have a lower GPA which would absolutely affect the colleges she will qualify to enter.
To add insult to that injury, in order for her to achieve the same letter grades as her colleague in the other shcool, she’ll almost certainly have to work harder, as shown in the table above.
I don’t know if the 10-point system is, in fact, used by a majority of school districts in the US. It’s worth looking at, however, and if we find out that’s the case then we’re putting an unfair burden on our students. They have to compete with the students from other districts for college seats (and for jobs, for those who don’t go on to college). At my age, no one who looks at my resume could care less about where I went to school or what my GPA was. With no work experience to put on there, however, newly-graduated students don’t have much else with which to show their competence. We owe them a level playing field. It’s up to them to perform on it, but it shouldn’t be slanted against them.
The LCPS should certainly form that committee they’re discussing and look into the claim that more districts use the 10-point scale than the 7-point one. If they do, we should change ours to match.
(Whoops, forgot the FairGrade Loudoun link. Fixed!)
Last year I was making my normal rounds of the ‘sphere and ran into this post over at Power Line by Scott Johnson where he wrote about a college professor who had an interesting lecture to give. His last one. Professor Randy Pausch of Carnegie Mellon University was participating in the Last Lecture series in which professors are called upon to give a talk if they knew this was their last chance to impart any of their wisdom and insight. For Professor Pausch this held a particular meaning – he was dying of pancreatic cancer and the doctors were giving him about 3 months to live.
Watching the video I saw a man combing the qualities of being at peace with his fate along with a drive to meet life head on and hand-to-hand. It reminded me of another man I knew who faced the same enemy and the same fate. Fate has apparently caught up with Professor Pausch today. It is with a heavy heart that I read that he’d passed away this morning.
If you’ve got a few moments, head over to that Power Line story I told you about and watch the video there. It’s worth every minute, I assure you.
God grant you eternal life with him, Professor Pausch, and may he watch over your family now traveling their paths separate from you. I pray that he grant all of you peace.
Additional rememberances over at Michelle Malkin.
A Cleveland-area principal says he’s embarrassed his students got proof of their “educaiton” on their high school diplomas.
Westlake High School officials misspelled “education” on the diplomas distributed last weekend. It’s been the subject of mockery on local radio.
Principal Timothy Freeman says he sent back the diplomas once to correct another error. When the diplomas came back, no one bothered to check things they thought were right the first time
Spell-checks only work when you use ‘em.
Researchers at Northeastern University have released a study wherein they tracked the location of 100,000 people somewhere overseas by tracking their cell phones. Oh, and they didn’t bother to tell any of the trackees that they were doing so.
The first-of-its-kind study by Northeastern University raises privacy and ethical questions for its monitoring methods, which would be illegal in the United States.
It also yielded somewhat surprising results that reveal how little people move around in their daily lives.
Nearly three-quarters of those studied mainly stayed within a 20-mile-wide circle for half a year.
The scientists would not say where the study was done, only describing the location as an industrialized nation.
Yeah, I’ll bet they wouldn’t say where it was done because the country (or countries) that served as these researchers’ little petri dish might not appreciate their scientific endeavor. How much would you like to bet that these academics are staunch opponents of the Patriot Act and the NSA’s foreign contact interception program? Oh, but when it’s them wanting to track people by accessing their cell phone locations without permission, well that’s OK.
Hypocrites. And I’m not all that certain I believe them when they say they didn’t track people here in the States. Perhaps an investigation into their methods would prove useful in determining whether they were engaging in or advocating the commission of a crime.
The title of this post is a verbatim quote from Manatee County (FL) School Board Attorney John Bowen when asked for a comment on the school district’s permission granted to their teachers to summarily search the cell phone memories of any student they think is “up to no good.” This attorney feels that the US Constitution – the highest law of our land – somehow does not apply inside the walls of his district’s schools.
What arrogant presumption! What a wonderful lesson to teach the kids in that school – when he can be bothered to stop teaching them about vile white Americans have been these last 230 years. Demonstrate that the whim of someone who has allowed his position to go to his head trumps the Framers’ explicit instructions to the government of our land.
I think Mr. Bowen should expound on his premise. By all means, Attorney Bowen, do tell us what parts of the Constitution you’ve decided to revoke in school that would stand tall “out in the street.” Do tell, indeed.
The school has the absolute right to deny permission to any student to carry a phone into the school in the first place, but they do not have the right to demand the divestiture of private property not so prohibited and then to execute a search of that property without due process. Mr. Bowen is suggesting that school officials can and will grab cell phones at random (with an obvious nod and wink that it “looked like they were up to no good”) and dump their memories. There are ways to go about this but such a glib and arrogant statement as his sure isn’t it.
Global warming isn’t to blame for the recent jump in hurricanes in the Atlantic, concludes a study by a prominent federal scientist whose position has shifted on the subject.
Not only that, warmer temperatures will actually reduce the number of hurricanes in the Atlantic and those making landfall, research meteorologist Tom Knutson reported in a study released Sunday.
In the past, Knutson has raised concerns about the effects of climate change on storms. His new paper has the potential to heat up a simmering debate among meteorologists about current and future effects of global warming in the Atlantic.
Well, that’s not gonna make the AGW set happy, not at all. People like Al Gore and his acolytes have all frothed on about “scientific consensus” and how anyone not preaching the sermon of how it’s all Man’s fault is just a tool. Considering that Knutson has, in the past, been a proponent of AGW and has complained about the Bush Administration’s censoring of scientific reports, it’s going to be difficult to just dismiss him as a paid-off quack.
What makes this study different is Knutson, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fluid dynamics lab in Princeton, N.J.
He has warned about the harmful effects of climate change and has even complained in the past about being censored by the Bush administration on past studies on the dangers of global warming.
He said his new study, based on a computer model, argues “against the notion that we’ve already seen a really dramatic increase in Atlantic hurricane activity resulting from greenhouse warming.”
Keep your eyes open for the retaliation, folks. Should be coming right up.