Standardized Testing Wastes Much More Than Money

School Testing In U.S. Costs $1.7 Billion, But That May Not Be Enough: Report (

Should I be surprised that the Huffington Post has published an interview with David Coleman, president of the College Board, the company that administers the SATs, in which Mr. Coleman says America spends too little on testing? Gee. The president of a testing company says the US should spend more money on testing. And the president of GM thinks we should buy more cars. And the owners of coal mines think we should forget about green energy. And the Republican party thinks the rich need more tax cuts. How can a journalist write this kind of story without exposing it for what it is?

By the way, it isn’t just the money that is wasted through standardized testing. Standardized testing wastes some things that are far more valuable than money, things that are difficult to measure such as time, imagination, discovery, creativity and critical thought. Other bloggers, authors and educators have written on this issue ad nauseam…and the people who control the purse strings refuse to listen. In twenty-five years we will look back at this business-model-for-efficiency-in-education-fiasco and ask ourselves what was the craziness that got into us.

Yes, Socialized Canadian Health Care has waiting lists. In the U.S. capitalist system we have what we call appointments… and wait even longer.

and pay more…

and get less…

and die younger…

and our babies die more often…

When You Ask Yourself If Your Vote Matters Consider This…

What if George W. Bush had never been elected? What if in any one of those swing states enough people had voted so that the election never even got to the Supreme Court? Just how different might this country–the entire world–be?

If George W. Bush had not become President of the United States it is entirely believable that the whole 911 trajedy might have been avoided. Alito and Roberts would not be Supreme Court justices. If there had been no President Bush, government agencies would not have seen the “fox guarding the henhouse” type of regulatory appointments we saw for eight years. The government surplus would have been banked for a “rainy day” and we probably never would have heard of Sarah Palin.

So when you cast your vote, if you haven’t already, or if you are thinking about not voting, consider just how much it matters. Read on…


911 Trajedy: Warnings were there. High level people in government were notified and they ignored all the warnings. Even if the Bush negligence over 911 was not intentional, it was certainly ignorant arrogance. And if there was no 911 there would be no war in Afghanistan. And without GWB there would definitely not have been any war in Iraq.

So what has been the cost for electing a war-mongering, corporate-suck-up-Republican?

“The United States will have spent a total of $3.7 trillion on wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, costing 225,000 lives and creating 7.8 million refugees, by the time the conflicts end, according to a report released on Wednesday by Brown University.”…

But that barely touches on the actual costs. $3.7 trillion doesn’t tell the whole story? How does $20 trillion sound?

Columbia University Economics Professor Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes, a lecturer at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government:Whatever the cost, some experts say that it wasn’t what was financed in the Iraq War but how it was financed that is problematic…”It’s really the decision of how to pay for it that has had such a negative effect on the U.S. economy. Because unlike any previous war in U.S. history, this was paid for entirely by debt at the same time that we cut taxes,” says Bilmes. While entitlements and other mandatory spending make up a majority of annual federal budgets and contribute heavily to deficits and debt, the Iraq War also contributed significantly. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities has estimated that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, together with the Bush tax cuts, will account for almost half of the projected $20 trillion debt in 2019. (emphasis mine)…

Add to that another nearly trillion dollars for long term health care for veterans. That’s right. Another trillion directly attributable to Bush. The 2000 election should have never been so close that they could steal it. Yes, your vote matters! Did you see the pictures of the voting lines in Florida? Don’t let them steal it again. But I do digress…

Supreme Court Appointments: With no GWB there would have been no Roberts and no Alito. That means no Patriot Act, no Torture Rulings, no Guantanemo, no eroding of women’s rights or civil liberties, and no rulilng that Corporations are People, too, opening the flood gates to the obscene spending in this election cylce. I could go on and on…

Fox Guarding the Henhouse: Without GWB we would have had a sensible energy plan for the nation. We would be less reliable on fossil fuels. We would have safer coal mines and may very well have averted the BP oil spill in the gulf. We would have had stronger regulations on bank and investment houses. We would have stopped Enron–remember Enron–and thousands of retirees would still have some savings in the bank. We would probably be enjoying the second decade of universal health care. And we would be so much farther along in our need to save the planet. Yes, your vote matters.

Bush Tax Cuts: Do you mean that rebate that the citizens got for overpayment of taxes brought about by a thriving economy at a time when tax rates were higher which by the way said higher tax rates likely contributed to the thriving economy that allowed for the rebate–temporary as it was or isn’t.

Sarah Palin: ’nuff a that.

Consider how the world viewed America during the Bush years. Consider how the world views America currently. Then imagine how the world would view America under Romney. YES, your vote matters. It matters to everyone in the world. Really.

A Romney victory is unthinkable.


Do You Have Hateful Signs Like This in Your Town?

There is this wonderful, idyllic village in the mountains of Washington State. A dairy valley situated immediately beneath Mt. Adams, the second highest volcano in the Northwest. Like most tiny mountain towns where the summers are incredible and the winters are long we have a diverse population that depends to a large extent on the tourists that come for the various seasons: fishing, hunting, huckleberry picking, snowmobiling, camping, mountain climbing. And every single one of those visitors to our small berg sees this sign as they enter. They don’t always see the same message, though. Sometimes it’s much more offensive. I wish I had taken a picture of last week’s sign: “Obama supporters are all uninformed, on the dole or stupid.”

So I’m just wondering: Are there a lot of the smaller towns out there with whackos and hateful people who put these embarrassing signs up. I know a good portion of my town’s 1000 or so permanent residents, and many of them, representing all political persuasions, are truly bothered by this sign. The welcome sign to our community.

The message on the back side.





The Blackmail Caucus

Paul Krugman makes a great argument.

Q: Should we vote Romney because then the bullies will cooperate?

A: Of course not.  Bullies don’t stop being bullies just because they get their way. They get even worse.

Q: Should we vote for Romney because we “know” he would be more centrist that his campaign rhetoric?

A: So we should reward the liar for lieing?

Q: should we vote for romney because he would be able to work with the Republican Congress?

A: The last thing I want is a Romney presidency where the congress rubber stamps his wishes or where he rubber stamps theirs.

Q: Should we vote for Romney because his party says they will do everything than can to stop Obama’s policies if he is elected?

A: Are we the kind of nation who gives in to organized protection racketeering? That is is exactly what the Republican party is. They are saying a vote for them will save us from –them.

Gerrymander for 174

It’s late and I want to write. I am compelled to write. But all I have on my mind these days is the presidential election. And I do not want to write about that. It is depressing. The wasted money by the zillions. The dishonesty. The frustration. The acceptance from the American public for candidate behavior no reasonable parents would ever accept from their own kids. I simply cannot bring myself to write any more about this. I’m done. Really, I’m done. So I’m opening up Words With Friends to get a whole bunch of random opponents. I’ve been injecting the political stuff like heroin and Words will be my methadone treatment. I’m too weak to go cold turkey. So tonight I’ll overdose on disconnected and totally irrelevant vocabulary stuff. It’s fun. It’s mentally stimulating. It feeds my competitive urges. It will take my mind off the Romney/Obama fix I so desperately crave. Do you think playing 12 games at one time is too much? Do I need to get a life or what?

Billybobintexas57 is looking for a match. I find myself wondering if 56 clever fellows beat Billy Bob to the name of his dreams. Desperately craving campaign aversion therapy I sign up for matches with some folks named firstratefrog, spellingchamp1122, kitman, and jrjrjrjrjr. I never did figure that last one out. But now I am up to a dozen games and if the frog guy and the others are any kind of a challenge at all, I won’t have to shoot up on the election for a few hours at least. Get my head clear. Drink a cool adult beverage of my micro-brewing choice. Play the music a little too loud…but don’t you love Pandora?

Firstratefrog opens the game with VOTE for eight points. I hate him already for playing that damned word. I notice a faint trembling in my left arm.  I get lucky and play VESTIBULE using all my letters and get the 35 point bonus. Ha! Before I even look at my new letters I’m over to spellingchamp1122 for my turn. I gasp…out loud. She played.(I’m not positive she is a she but she is a spelling champ!) The only word on the board glares at me, mocks me, thumbs its alphabetic nose at me. There it is: LOBBYER! No, no, no, no! I came here to escape the political jargon and propaganda that pollutes my very veins. Even so, my first thought is who, really who but a spelling champ would spell that word with a ‘Y”? I pick up a little tic in my right cheek. It’s gone now, but I’m sure it was there off and on for a couple of minutes. At any rate, I can’t play on that word. I can’t.

I get a fresh beer, turn up the volume on Pandora and get Chris Smither singing Dylan’s Desolation Row, and I know the world is seriously against me. I go first against kitman and get a pretty good opening score with VACATE. We each play a few words while I totally ignore the guys who played the political words. Sheesh, those guys need help. Then, as if I was mainlining the good stuff, I see what I think is impossible. There, on the left hand side of the board, weaving in and out of words like GRAIN, ANYONE, SAND, DISTRICT and I-don’t-even-know what other words were in the abomination before me, was a word the likes of which has never graced a Words With Friends board before. I’m sure of it. Who in their right mind, just a few days before an election, would play GERRYMANDER for 174 points? Good God. The trembling left arm, the right cheek tic, and now an involuntary flinch in both shoulders…


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?