This is quite a conundrum. A new math requirement for graduating Minnesota students may be too hard, and the timing isn't good.
The tests are used to determine whether schools are meeting federal standards, but they also are used to determine whether a student should graduate. The problem is, apparently, that a student wouldn't find out he/she isn't proficient enough to graduate until late in the junior year, leaving only the senior year to learn what he or she needs to learn. Last year, about a third of 11th graders were proficient enough to pass.
A new task force, announced at the Capitol committee meeting, will look at possible remedies for the math test. They include everything from moving the math GRAD to 10th grade, to changing the requirement that exams be given at the end of each math course instead of once in the 11th grade, to even tying GRAD scores to drivers' licenses as a way to entice kids to pay attention.
The possibility of not graduating doesn't get their attention?
There's another problem. The state's Department of Education is about six months behind schedule coming up with the test. (See comments section)
Legislators, who caution that they're not changing the standards, are considering moves that would prevent graduating rates from dropping dramatically, giving the state an educational black eye. But they don't appear to know yet what options to pursue, and the clock is ticking.
What would you do?(5 Comments)
Bill Drake is dead and the New York Times left off an important sentence to his lengthy obituary today. "He was preceded in death by the industry he revolutionized."
Drake, 71, teamed with Gene Chenault to form a radio consulting firm that programmed -- and rescued -- some of the biggest AM radio stations in America. Those of us who grew up in the business spinning 45s on a turntable had a connection to Drake every time the boss would open the studio door and shout, "just shut up and play the music."
The Times obit put that a little nicer:
In the 1960s, Mr. Drake, an up-and-coming disc jockey and programmer from south Georgia, revolutionized radio when he and his partner, Lester Eugene Chenault (pronounced Sha-NAULT), decided that radio stations could make a lot more money and reach more listeners if they cut back on D.J. chatter, accelerated the pace of their programs and gave audiences more of what they presumably tuned in to hear: hit songs.
He and Mr. Chenault introduced a formula, eventually sold as a syndicated package with prerecorded music, that would revamp -- and homogenize -- radio stations across the United States.
Under the Drake-Chenault formula, jocks on radio would stop conversing about things in their community -- be it a sock-hop or a high school game -- and provide more insight, like "more hits more often," more often.
Drake's movement led to the consultant-heavy influence on radio. Eventually it led to the end of disc jockeys altogether in many radio stations, replaced by automation and large reel-to-reel tapes instead, all bearing the Drake-Chenault logo. Machines couldn't rebel the way disc jockeys could.
Funeral services are incomplete. But a fitting tribute would be a words-free service. Just play the music.
Between the cyber sales and the Secretary of State putting pdf files of challenged ballots online in the the U.S. Senate race recount in Minnesota, how much work is actually getting done in Minnesota workplaces this week?
We can't resist, either. Our favorite challenged ballots:
Whoever challenged this couldn't do so on the basis of an unclear voter intent, so they went with the rule that said anything that identifies whose ballot it was is thrown out. But unless the person ended the note with "Love, Bridget," I'm not sure it'll hold up.
Here's some more.
More to come.
Courtesy of reader Matt Johnson (see link in comments), here's a few more:
Yes, a real head-scratcher.
It is no wonder at all that some of the most learned people in Minnesota will have to figure a ballot like this out.
I wish I'd gone to the training that the candidates had for people who would evaluate the ballots. Otherwise, I'm left with only sheer common sense to figure what the voter intended on this one.
Update 2:27 p.m. -
What makes this one creepy isn't so much he voted for two Senate candidates (although that's pretty creepy). It's that he/she/it voted for four presidential candidates. And in the race for school board, in which he/she/it could vote for four candidates, this person only voted for one. (H/T: Steve Mullis)(31 Comments)
I'm sure I mentioned this back in the day when I was writing for Bleacher Bums, but the best baseball player in my family of five kids was my sister. I'm guessing if we dragged our aged bodies out to the diamond behind the family estate again -- we're all in our '50s, except for my brother who turns 60 tomorrow -- she'd still be the best player.
I'm thinking about this today because the Collins clan wouldn't think twice of this item in the news: Japanese 16-year-old girl signs professional baseball contract.
The Cruise are more like a farm team and a far cry from Japan's mainstream pro teams such as the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants. But the 5-foot, 114-pound Yoshida has broken a barrier in baseball-crazy Japan, where women are normally relegated to amateur, company-sponsored teams or to softball.
Yoshida, who started playing baseball when she was in second grade, said she wants to emulate Boston Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield, who has built a successful major league career as a knuckleballer.
We'll ignore the obvious, cheap joke that one could make about Tim Wakefield here and step into the News Cut Wayback Machine. Set the machine for 1997. Destination? St. Paul, Minnesota.
Ila Borders was signed by the St. Paul Saints as a pitcher. She wasn't very good, but so what? She was the first woman pitcher on an integrated men's professional baseball team. Eventually, she was shipped off to Duluth. She was also the first woman to pitch for an NCAA men's team.
At last check --
1993 2003 -- she was training to be a firefighter.
Do planes crash because of the culture of the people flying them? Malcolm Gladwell, whose speech aired today on the first hour of Midday, certainly thinks so. We live, of course, in an area with a lot of airline pilots so I'll defer to them. But I have to think there's going to be a lot of reaction to Gladwell's assertion that airline tragedies have a certain ethnic basis.
During his speech, given at the New Yorker Festival in October , Gladwell referred to a section of his new book, "Outliers: The Story of Success," in which he analyzes airline crashes and determines that pilots from certain cultures tend to crash planes more than others. Some cultures are better at communicating than others.
And he acknowledges that his conclusion is uncomfortable. It's also very debatable.
"Look at where the countries with the safest rate of airline travel are," he says near the end of his address. "The United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom." He reasoned that people in those countries are culturally more inclined to communicate better as a matter of character and personality.
As he said in a CNN interview:
Korean Air had more plane crashes than almost any other airline in the world for a period at the end of the 1990s. When we think of airline crashes, we think, Oh, they must have had old planes. They must have had badly trained pilots. No. What they were struggling with was a cultural legacy, that Korean culture is hierarchical. You are obliged to be deferential toward your elders and superiors in a way that would be unimaginable in the U.S.
Let's ignore for now that one of those Korean Air jets got shot out of the sky. But what Gladwell didn't point out is that English is the official -- mandated -- language of aviation on international flights. When you remove the international flights from the accident database, the gap between the English-as-a-first language countries and those who aren't speaking their native tongue closes. Isn't it at least possible that the reason there's a communication problem isn't that there's a cultural problem, it's that there's a lack of mastery of the language being mandated?
Gladwell used an example of this without saying so: The Avianca Flight 52 crash on Long Island. Gladwell relayed the communications in the cockpit and with the controllers for Kennedy Airport, but he never mentioned they were speaking two different languages. The flight crashed because the jet ran out of fuel and the controllers never realized there was an emergency in the first place.
According to a 1990 article in the New York Times:
A captain for Avianca Airlines told Federal investigators today that the company did not train its flight crews to use specific words in asking air traffic controllers for priority treatment when a plane was running out of fuel.
Again, those are international standards that weren't followed, more of a sign of bad training and a bad airline than a bad culture. But it was more than even that, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. The plane crashed because the pilots (a) didn't manage their fuel (b) didn't communicate their situation soon enough (c) failed to follow airline "operational control dispatch system to assist them." And it crashed because the FAA didn't have a standardized understandable terminology for pilots and controllers in the given situation. Also cited was (a) windshear (b) crew fatigue and (c) stress.
In other words, a lot more than culture went into that tragedy.
But one assertion which I'm waiting for the local airline pilot community to confirm -- or deny -- is Gladwell's statement that, "in an emergency, the safest system is one in which the co-pilot does the flying." He suggested that it would be the more senior officer who would be able to decide the best course of action, and monitor the situation, if he wasn't burdened with actually flying.
And it's true that an old axiom in aviation is when there's an emergency, the first thing to do is wind your watch (I told you it was "old"), because that gives you time to think.
But the greatest pilot in the history of aviation may be Al Haynes. He was at the controls of a United DC-10 whe it lost all of its hydraulics. It cartwheeled at the Sioux City airport on landing.
By all accounts, Haynes, his crew, and all passengers should've died. But 185 survived. Why? Haynes talked to and listened to as many pieces of advice as was available to him. It's something Gladwell touched on too briefly. It's called "cockpit resource management," and it's when the pilot and co-pilot are operating on the same page and the junior officer isn't afraid to question the senior officer's decision. (Aside: There's a pilot in Minneapolis who writes a terrific blog, "Blogging at FL250," who touched on the relationship between flying pilots. It's well worth a read.)
Minnesota's two most recent high-profile plane crashes were both examples of CRM gone bad. In December 1993, 16 passengers and two pilots were killed when a Northwest Airlink plane crashed in Hibbing.
The co-pilot tried to alert the captain about the altitude of the plane while executing a banned maneuver. "The captain's record raised questions about the adequacy of his airmanship and behavior that suggested a lack of crew coordination during flight operations, including intimidation of first officers," the National Transportation Safety Board concluded in its investigation. (Also see a New York Times article on the crash.)
And in 2002, the airplane carrying Sen. Paul Wellstone and members of his family and campaign, crashed in Virginia-Eveleth because, the NTSB said, the pilots had violated several policies and, basically, didn't pay attention to basic airmanship to keep the plane from stalling and crashing.
More often than not, that, and not the culture of a pilot, is why airplane's crash. Pilots make mistakes
(Photo: Getty Images)(11 Comments)
The Pew Center is out with a survey this evening that says most people like the idea of living in a diverse neighborhood or area, even though most don't live in areas that are politically diverse.
Says the survey:
This preference for diverse communities is greater among Democrats, liberals, college graduates, blacks, and secular Americans than it is among the population as a whole. But virtually all major groups, at least to some degree, choose diversity over homogeneity when asked where they would like to live.
But almost half the votes cast in the presidential election last month were cast in counties that went for either Barack Obama or John McCain by huge margins.
Back in 1976, only 27% of all voters lived in such "landslide counties," according to figures compiled by Bill Bishop and Robert Cushing, authors of "The Big Sort," a book which argues that Americans are clustering into politically like-minded enc
What's unclear, they say, is whether that's happening by accident or whether people are intentionally living in or moving to areas where other people -- at least politically -- are just like them.(7 Comments)