Has Romney Offended You Yet? Don’t Worry, There’s Still Time.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are counting on one of two things: either you don’t know or you don’t care. If you fall into any other category they have already written you off. Think for just a moment about the kinds of things you have heard from Gov. Romney and Congressman Ryan. They have told you that the President cut $700 million  from Medicare benefits. Not only is that false, Ryan’s own budget plan makes real cuts to Medicare. They have told you that Romney planned to save the auto industry exactly like Obama did. False, and anyone who has read or listened to Romney’s statement at the time knows this to be false. They have recently made wild and exaggerated claims that they are for the middle class worker. Do I really need to comment on that one? And now Romney is running an ad that accuses President Obama of “selling Chrysler to the Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China. Mitt Romney will fight for every American Job.” What a load of horse-crap. Romney knows that no Jeep jobs are moving to China. But he expects that the voter does not know it. And the only job he ever fought for was his own. But my favorite line in the add was this one: “Fact-Checkers confirm Obama’s claims are false.” We all know candidates stretch the truth when campaigning, but Romney invoking the Fact-Checkers in his own defense is right out of George Orwell or more to the point, right out of Karl Rove’s playbook. So, if Romney hasn’t done anything to offend you yet today, stay tuned. I’m sure he is working on it. And if you are offended you are probably informed, intelligent and have a memory longer than yesterday. If you aren’t offended, perhaps you need to pay a bit more attention.

The Romney Action Figure: He Can Change His Position in Hundreds of Ways

Earlier I posted the comment below on a popular web site that gets a bit more traffic than mine.

“Republicans have one overriding strategy: say it first and get it out there. Let it run for a period of time and see how it polls. When negative response hits certain threshholds, certain specific responses are fed to the media. Different responses for different outlets. The usual comments are what we hear everyday: some version of apologizing for our misunderstanding of their remarks. Why anyone would vote for the representatives of this party escapes me. I try, I really do try to understand but can only conclude that they will say anything and with no shame whatsoever take it back the next day. Why would I believe anything they say? Any position they claim? Really, someone tell me why I should believe them.”

Anyway, I got a number of responses and many were from presumed Republicans It is possible that I am wrong on that. You decide.

wobrien861: “You have just described liberal Democrats with one exception; they SHOUT it out.”

Rusty Spitfire: “Wow. exactly the same thing I would say about democrats.”
mikenc is a slightly different response: “and they are no different than the democrats. everyone who is an incumbent should be sent packing no matter what party. its the only way to get our country back.”
And then there were the lectures like this one from grgfld1: “When cheering for someone turns into adulation, something is wrong. Excessive adulation is indicative of a personality cult. The cult of personality is often created when the general population is discontent. A charismatic leader can seize the opportunity and project himself as an agent of change and a revolutionary leader. Often, people, tired of the status quo, do not have the patience to examine the nature of the proposed change. All they want is change. During 1979, when the Iranians were tired of the dictatorial regime of the late Shah, they embraced Khomeini, not because they wanted Islam, but because he promised them change. The word in the street was, “anything is better than the Shah.” They found their error when it was too late. Just as we are with Obama”

Nobody gave one argument FOR Romney. Is that because they can’t? Because they just won’t?  Is their reading comprehension level so low that they can’t understand the basic question I am asking? The consistent response is always some variation of: I know I am but what are you? Open question to all Romney voters: Is that really good enough for you?

We could talk policy forever but really, really–does policy matter if there is absolutely no reason to believe anything that the candidate says? All three debates were fact-checked extensively. It seems that the only time when Romney wasn’t lieing or just making up stuff was when he was copying Obama’s ideas nearly word for word. But if he wants to conduct foreign policy exactly the way Obama is conducting foreign policy, how can he criticize Obama’s foreign policy? Seems awfully simple to me. And so, if Romney were to be elected, why should anyone expect Romney to do anything other than exactly what his donors and handlers tell him to do. His own personal beliefs seem to have such shallow roots.

Why should I believe anything Mitt Romney has to say? Everything he stands for changes with his audience. If he were a Hasbro Romney Action Hero he would be marketed as “having more positions than the Kama Sutra.” No we’d better not use that one. How about “more positions than the yoga chart on Jane Fonda’s wall.” With the story-telling (greatgrandmother’s term for lieing) so prevalent, if he was my own child I wouldn’t believe him. If he was my student I wouldn’t believe him. If he was my teacher I wouldn’t believe him. If he was my neighbor I’d be making a lot more money than I do right now. So, here’s your chance Republicans: Can you give me one reason why I should believe him as a candidate for President of the United States of America?



Conservatism by Osmosis

Driving south from Spokane on 395, across the part of the country shaped by a whole lot of oozing lava scoured by repeated floods into a tough land of hill and coulee, the dominant features for my next two hundred miles will be irrigation, power lines and four lanes of divided pavement–tangible testimony to a tamed land. Woody Guthrie immortalized this  home of The Columbia, Grand Coulee and Bonneville Power.

I still have a hundred miles, a hard right at the Tri-Cities, and hundred more. Tonight, blasting down the lonely black hiway at 75, I feel the Conservatism leaching out of the fields and silos and rusting machinery, catching up to the car and seeping into my skin. And I try to understand. Then I start to worry. Can I catch Conservatism by osmosis? Is it contagious? Is it airborne?

Right then for some unkonwn reason I feel compelled to switch the radio dial to AM. Static, static, Spanish, static, Canadian football, static, talk radio. The pattern repeats a few times. I don’t really expect to hear Thom Hartmann or Rachel Maddow, but I am an optimist so I keep hitting the search button. What else am I going to do? I get Mike Savage for about 10 minutes (Conservatism is strong in the Palouse is my only excuse.) and then a guy/gal team cracking themselves up over how the world will end if Barack HUSSEIN Obama is reelected. They were pretty cheesy and I don’t know if they were a local station or out of somewhere in Utah. I did pick up some really interesting ranting from Idaho, I think. Static, static, farm report, weather, static, talk radio really clear. A strong signal. It’s a commercial for gold: the only insurance against a Socialist-Communist-Obamaist future. Buy now, or don’t come whining and crying to us when the economy collapses. And of course, if you’re going to buy a bunch of gold you’d better buy a bunch of guns to protect it. And some camoflage clothing and some tear gas and night goggles and a whole lot of ammo–just in case. Matching jump boots and assault rifle is a must. Don’t forget to home-school your kids. And a panic room is no longer just a luxury! I flash back to my army days and remember them more fondly than they ever were. Donald Trump appears in the glare of my own windshield smiling at me like some acid-induced stigmata. I find myself wondering if the guy in the White House might just be from Kenya after all.  Somehow I just know I can trust The Don. Theories swirl and my eyes glaze. If the president is a Kenyan undercover, deep cover mole, I need to know. I need to tell my friends. Who can I trust? There are Muslims everywhere. I roll up the windows and turn off the outside air but the pervasive and penetraing Palouse Conservatism convinces me that Obama looks and sounds like Liev Schreiber or maybe even Raymond Shaw. The right code words might trigger a post hypnotic suggestion to do something really crazy like push hard for real health care reform or even to stop the exploratory drilling in the arctic. Aaargh! I’m not feeling well. I’m sweating. I realize I’ve covered 30 or 40 miles in a daze. Don’t know exactly where I am. Did I miss my exit? I have cramps in my fingers from gripping the wheel. I shake my head and roll down the window to shiver at the night chill of late October. As I regain my senses a little I hear some last words about Fair and Balanced and manage with a trembling touch to switch the radio to FM. Ahhhhhh…No static. Clear and strong. Elvis Costello. I must be getting close to home.

My Top Three Moments of the Debate (that nobody else picked).

#3 When Romney went into his explanation of the Pakistani leadership. Did you see him play that three part shell game thing with his hands?

#2 When Romney sarcastically accused the president of “attacking” him. Twice. Did that all seem a bit contrived and over rehearsed to you, too?

#1 When Romney said he wanted to provide economic, social and human rights aid to nations in the Middle East. Isn’t that what Republicans call war?

The International Student Testing Myth

From: Japan and its standardized test-based education system By Kevin Burns

[At age 12] exam hell starts and from which students never really recover. The standardized test-based education system of Japan that starts in the junior high school years kills any kind of initiative, creativity and especially thinking outside of the box. Unfortunately, these last three are what Japan especially needs in the 21st century; perhaps Japan`s most challenging 100 years yet. http://www.japantoday.com/…

Let’s just say that America decides to test its 17 year-olds in the areas of math, science and technology and decides to compare its results against other nation’s students taking the same test. It’s fair. It’s objective and it’s a good method for comparisons regarding educational rigor in the classroom and relative student abilities. Right? Well, it might be if the other schools were assessing their 17 year-olds too. But because of the wide range of student ages in other countries, they may very well be using the test scores of students up to age 21. I don’t know about you, but I was a much better thinker and overall student when I was 20-21 than I was at 17-18. And I mean a lot better.

Now let’s just say that a major testing company wants to compare the test scores of random American high school students and compare those scores to the random students in other nations using the same or similar test. It’s fair. It’s objective and it’s a good method for comparisons regarding educational rigor in the classroom and relative student abilities. Right? Well, it might be if the populations of the samples are similarly random. But they aren’t. A random sample from an American high school may include anyone of any ability and interest and motivation level. Not so in other nations in the world.

This international comparison doesn’t work because most nations in the world select students out of the test sample before they ever reach the level that Americans would consider high school–much, much sooner in most countries. In many, if not most asian nations, a test is given typically at 7th-8th grade. Do well, continue on with your schooling. Don’t, and your life options are few. In Germany, decisions are made for children at age 10, where they are divided into one of four tracks. Compulsory education ends at age 14. Japan and Germany are representative of the method most nations have for getting their best and brightest separated from the rest of the students. As a result, by the time international testing companies make their assessments, the top students in those countries are the only students available. Test only the top 10-20% of American students and then see how we stand.

I have given you two examples of why international comparisons of student testing is a false measurement and I haven’t even mentioned poverty yet. Consider the following regarding the Program for International Student Assessment:

From: PISA: It’s Poverty Not Stupid http://nasspblogs.org/…

NEAToday published remarks from National Association of Secondary School Principals Executive Director, Dr. Gerald N. Tirozzi, that have taken “a closer look at how the U.S. reading scores on PISA compared with the rest of the world’s, overlaying it with the statistics on how many of the tested students are in the government’s free and reduced lunch program for students below the poverty line.” Tirozzi pointed out, “Once again, we’re reminded that students in poverty require intensive supports to break past a condition that formal schooling alone cannot overcome.” Tirozzi demonstrates the correlation between socio-economic status and reading by presenting the PISA scores in terms of individual American schools and poverty.  While the overall PISA rankings ignore such differences in the tested schools, when groupings based on the rate of free and reduced lunch are created, a direct relationship is established.

Tirozzi and others have reviewed the PISA data and rightly concluded that if we only tested kids from schools with less than 10% poverty rate we would score above every other nation in the world. And that is significant because the nations that score above us have already selected out for ability, interest and motivation, as I mentioned above, and they also all have much lower poverty rates. Of all the nations tested by PISA, the United States has the highest student poverty rate. We are testing all students regardless of ability and we are testing more students in poverty than any other nation. (I wonder how many of us know that America has more students in poverty than any other nation in the world. That just doesn’t seem to fit our idea of America, does it?)

So the next time you see an international test report where the U.S. scores 17th in math behind the Czech Republic, Norway and Finland, remember that if we were to test similar populations against other nations, we would rank number one in the world. This matters. It really does because if these are not our problems we shouldn’t be wasting our energy and resources trying to fix them. We should be focused on the real issues not the false ones.

If We Really Want to Fix Our Schools Let’s Be Certain to Get the Correct Picture

I agree that America needs to address some serious deficiencies in the nations schools. But let’s be certain that we are addressing the real issues. If we keep making decisions based on bad information and fallacies that go unchallenged we will find ourselves eliminating the good that our schools do while “fixing” the wrong ills. Consider what you hear about America not producing enough math and science trained graduates and see how that jives with some real information below.

From: Shortage of Math and Science Graduates Is a Myth By Walt Gardner


Critics assert that schools are not producing enough qualified math and science graduates to meet the needs of companies as they attempt to compete in the new global economy.  But the latest data released by the National Science Foundation’s Survey of Earned Doctorates call that view into question.

A record 49,562 doctorate degrees were awarded in the 2008-09 academic year, representing a 1.6 percent increase over the 2007-08 year.  According to the foundation, the growth was largely due to increases in the number of degrees in science and engineering.  In 2009, 67.5 percent of all doctorates were in these two fields, a 1.9 percent increase over the previous academic year.

Yet despite this growth, companies continue to insist that they need to recruit abroad because of a shortage domestically.  The more likely explanation is that they prefer looking overseas because H1-B visa holders are willing to work for below-market wages.

In light of the available evidence, it’s time to wonder if criticism of America’s education system in this crucial area is justified.  The usual attack is based on tests of international competition, specifically on the Trends in International Math and Science Study. But TIMSS is given to students in their final year of school. [This means that most American students who take this assessment are 17 years of age but are upwards to 21 in many other ntions.]  Clearly, the differences in ages are significant, but curiously not noted in reportage.


From: Bureau of Labor Statistics 


High school math courses and college attendance in two generations

Students who graduated from high school in the late 1990s and early 2000s took more rigorous mathematics courses than those who graduated in the mid to late 1970s and early 1980s. Among the more recent graduates (who were born in the years 1980–1984), 11 percent completed high school calculus and 24 percent completed precalculus, trigonometry, or other advanced math. Among the earlier graduates (who were born in the years 1957–1964), just 2 percent completed high school calculus and 8 percent completed precalculus, trigonometry, or other advanced math.

A more rigorous high school math curriculum is associated with a higher probability of attending college. This positive association grew stronger between the 1970s and 2000s. College attendance increased markedly during this period. (College attendance is defined here as having been enrolled in college by age 21.) The college enrollment rate increased from 53 percent among those born in 1957–1964 to 67 percent among those born in 1980–1984.

The bottom line is that someone is feeding us all the wrong line. No matter what you have been hearing, American high schools and universities are producing more and more math and science trained graduates. The problem has more to do with the  economics at the hiring end that it does with education.



A Very Graphic Look at Employment from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

I cannot help but believe that Romney and Obama must be living in two alternate universes that converge like some steroidal Venn diagram that barely touches, much less has any overlapping space. Even where they once agreed on issues like health care and abortion rights, they now have no common ground. At least they won’t admit to it. What I find the most fascinating is the absolute total disagreement in what they have to say about employment and unemployment in America. And the reason I find their disagreements fascinating is that so much of what they say is verifiable or refutable with a visit to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. I came across a couple of very interesting and, I thought revealing, charts. Sometimes seeing things in a graphic representation helps us all get the picture, if you can please forgive the pun.

The charts show growth and loss of jobs (in thousands) over the course of the last four years. I found the visual representation to be pretty revealing.

Source: http://www.bls.gov/…


Joe Hits Clean-up

Drove doubles into the gaps all night long.

Drained 3′s from way downtown.

Kick off return untouched coast to coast.

Slam dunked with the defense flatfooted in the paint.

Slammed one deep into the left field bleachers, rounded third, and tipped his hat to the crowd.

Education Fraud Part III, Yong Zhao Interview: Will the Common Core Create World-Class Learners?


Below are some selected quotes from Yong Zhao’s article on Common Core.

The Common Core Standards Initiative is having a great time, much like NCLB in its early days, with lots of money and lots of political power behind it. And of course there are many who would stand to make some money off and perhaps earn some political points from it as well and for these organizations and individuals the Common Core must continue.

…judging from the accomplishment of NCLB and Race-to-the Top, I would say that five years from now, American education will still be said to be broken and obsolete. We will find out that the Common Core Standards, after billions of dollars, millions of hours of teacher time, and numerous PD sessions, alignment task forces, is not the cure to American’s education ill. Worse yet, we will likely have most of nation’s schools teaching to the common tests aligned with the Common Core. As a result, we will see a further narrowing of the curriculum and educational experiences. Whatever innovative teaching that has not been completely lost in the schools may finally be gone. And then we will have a nation of students, teachers, and schools who are compliant with the Common Core Standards, but we may not have much else left.

In fact, I would argue a single bar in itself is discriminatory because it favors one type of ability over others, while other abilities may be as valuable.

Albert Einstein once said: “if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

A true high expectation comes from the students themselves when are allowed autonomy and rewarded for genuine contribution to the society using their talents, passion, time, and efforts.

Yong Zhao is Presidential Chair and Associate Dean for Global Education, College of Education at the University of Oregon, where he is a full professor in the Department of Educational Measurement, Policy and Leadership. You can read his blog here.





You know and I know and everyone else knows that Mitt will say anything at any time for a vote or a buck

The first debate is over and Americans are discussing how Governor Romney looked presidential. We are debating his newfound policies that make him more palatable to the working class. We are wondering who’s plans will help make the economic recovery faster. Comparisons are discussed regarding which health care plan will benefit most people. Numbers are getting crunched, economists are weighing in on which is the better phiolosphy:Trickle Down or Demand Driven? Yet all of these conversations, debates and deliberations only have value if the candidate is to be believed. He is not. Why are Americans even debating Mitt Romney’s ideas when the only debate we should be having is about Mitt Romney himself?

Just suppose that my neighbor has a dog that comes into my yard and bites my daughter. Nothing too serious, but I did witness it and my daughter is crying and I don’t want it to happen again. I go over to the neighbor’s house and knock on the door and he comes out and we talk about his dog biting my daughter. Immediately he says, “What dog. I don’t have a dog.” I point out to him that I have seen him walking this particular dog, the one that bit my daughter, every evening before dinner for the past two years. I tell him that I’m not looking to sue him or anything but would appreciate it if he kept the dog on a leash. Again he looks me right in the eye and declares, “I don’t own a dog.” I walk away a bit baffled but decide that this was the best I could get from him.

Two days later I see the same dog in my yard leaving a large pile of dog crap. I walk over to the neighbor’s house and mention this to my neighbor and he says, “My dog doesn’t poop in the neighbor’s yards.” I tell him that this was the same dog that bit my daughter, the same dog that just walked in his house and is, as we speak, licking his hand, and that I saw this dog leave his droppings in my yard. “Yes,” he says, “this is my dog. He has never bitten anyone and he doesn’t poop in your yard.” Avoiding any further confrontation I go home.

Later in the week the dog gets a hold of my boots I left on my back porch and takes them back to his house where he chews both boots into small pieces of leather that end up scattered around the yard. I make my way back over to the neighbor’s house and point out the shredded boots in the yard. My neighbor gets very upset with me and says, “I don’t even own a dog. Why are you telling me about this?” I remind him that this week alone he has told me he doesn’t own a dog, he does own a dog, and he doesn’t own a dog. He nods. I start to really get steamed.

Finally, the neighbors, who have been having similar issues, hold a neighborhood meeting to discuss what to do about the dog and the neighbor. As it turns out these problems have been going on for well over a year with various claims and denials of dog ownership by the neighbor. But the most interesting turn happens when the neighbor himself shows up. “Yes,” he fesses up, “I do own this wonderful dog. But I just got him yesterday. He was a shelter dog and I rescued him. Can’t we give him a break?”

Chuck, from down the street, chimes in, “I saw you beating that dog with a hose just yesterday.”

What dog?”

This is what President Obama faced off against in the debate.  Does it seem a bit surreal to you? Me too. How do you debate with a guy who would lie about owning a dog? My point is this: Why are we discussing the merits of Mitt Romney’s words on any given day? You know and I know and everyone esle knows that he will say anything at any time for a vote or a buck–and not necessarily in that order. Shouldn’t we all be putting the candidate through the honesty filter? I don’t mean his words. I mean the candidate himself.