Tag Archives: testing

Why Wealthy Folks don’t need tax Breaks!

2 Apr

Image result for Why wealthy folks don't need tax breaks!

Actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were among dozens of people recently charged by the FBI in an elite college admission scheme…Surprise! Surprise! Rich people use their excess wealth to bribe and influence people to get what they want! Who would have thunk it?

 

The Hollywood stars joined CEOs of private and public companies, real estate professionals and a fashion designer in paying up to 6 million dollars in bribes to ensure that their children were accepted to schools such as Yale and Georgetown. Most of the parents paid $250,000 to $400,000 per student.

Imagine being able to spend all of that money sending your kids to schools that they are really not going to attend anyway! Couldn’t you think of a much better way to spend that kind of money on your children…or yourself…or your family? And do you remember how hard it was to put yourself or your children or to have your family pay to put you through school? You might even still be paying for it…and at 8% interest! (Thank you Congress!)

 

The scheme, which the FBI called a “nationwide conspiracy,” allowed parents to pay for their children to cheat on exams and apply to elite schools as student athletes, regardless of their actual skills. Top college coaches at the schools are also among those charged, but authorities said they are not investigating the schools themselves.

Of course not! Why investigate the schools? We wouldn’t want to put schools out of the “rich family schooling business” would we? Even if they qualify and sanction ne’re-do-well rich kids as bonafide scholars, it’s still great business…and an education for us all. Money Talks! It really, really does. It talks so much that even our U.S. Supreme Court, a fine collection of 9 “scholars” themselves, has declared money to be free speech…just like the kind of speech that we humans invented and which sets us apart from the lower animals.

But I digress because The bribery ring got its start several years ago when William Rick Singer founded a for-profit college admissions company in Newport Beach, California, that masqueraded as a not-for-profit group. This “sham charity” allowed him to conceal the nature of the payments made by parents, who could then take a tax write-off at the end of the year!

So the rich parents not only paid millions of dollars to get their children into colleges in which they didn’t belong and had no qualifications to attend but they were then able to write off the expense as a charitable one for a charity that didn’t exist! (unless of course you consider yourself to be a charity case) Holy Catholic sex offender restitution program, Batman!!! …This is what the wealthy do with their money!

And we thought they used it to help the poor! Instead they use it to trickle down on the likes of : Yale, Stanford, the University of Texas, USC, UCLA, the University of San Diego and Wake Forest University…to name a few of the struggling institutions that these wealthy parents sought to help…  and Some parents even paid for someone to pose as their child during entrance exams ― and even during classes ― with those scores submitted as part of the college application…and Other cases involved exam administrators allegedly providing students with answers during the tests or correcting wrong answers afterward. 

 

And it gets even worse because some parents also falsely claimed that their children had learning disabilities, requiring extra time on the exams, and that those claims were bolstered by notes from therapists! Holy Tax Reform, Bat Girl! Is there no end to what rich people will do to get even richer?

According to one witness in the scam, the one rationale that most parents accepted as they prepared to cheat their children’s way into a “good school” was

“Everybody’s doing it” …and… “The whole world is scamming the system!” Oops! That’s 2 rationales!…but whoever paid attention in school anyway?

Which brings us full circle and back to our own current United States Secretary of Education, Betsy Devos, who believes that our public schools are “a dead end” and who has said that her education advocacy would “advance God’s kingdom.” And that “my generation hasn’t done a great job when it comes to dealing with one another in grace.”

What she wants to gracefully do is cut overall federal funding to public education for the third year in a row (7 billion dollars)…and she wants to cut the entire budget for the Special Olympics, which is about 18 million dollars. Ms. Devos and her family have a net worth of 5.4 billion dollars of which 18 million dollars would constitute less than 1% or .0033 to be exact. To put that in perspective, if you earned a minimum wage of $15 per hour (a wage that rich folks think is far too much for poor folks to earn by the way) then you could save the Special Olympics by donating $102.96 of your salary.

Would you spend that kind of money to save the Special Olympics? I bet you would. But an incredibly wealthy (and devoutly Christian) person like Betsy Devos wouldn’t because she has 10 yachts and 2 helicopters to feed. (besides her mortal soul)

And that is why we should never give tax breaks to wealthy people! That and because they will never show you their tax returns… nor their college grades neither!… And yet we still wonder why? (Hint: It’s not because they are being audited…by anyone)

 

Do Earthlings Know Science?

15 Feb

Well, at least American Earthlings…Do they know science? Duh, Is the globe warming? And of course your answer to that probably depends upon how you answer these questions on the National Science Foundation Exam. I first posted this blog in 2014 under the title Galileo Gali…fianakis? and even though the NSF re-issues this survey to Americans every 2 years, and it is now 4 years later…the results haven’t changed! So here it is again. If you’d like you can take the survey at the end and see how you do.

Galileo Gali…fianakis?

1.Does the Earth go around the Sun, or the Sun go around the Earth; and how long does this journey take?

2.Did Zack Galifianakis appear in the movie The Hangover; and did he appear in a sequel to that movie?

Odds are that if these questions were asked as part of a national survey, question #2 would receive more correct responses than question #1, because in a recent survey conducted by the National Science Foundation only 73% of those surveyed knew that the Earth revolves around the sun…and of those only 71% also knew that it takes 1 year for the Earth to complete said journey.

Wow! And why do we suppose that is?

Is it because only 74% of America’s science teachers in America’s public schools have ever mentioned or illustrated this amazing fact to America’s students?

Is it because only 74% of America’s parents have ever had “that talk” with their children about where the sun goes at night?

Is it because we are a Christian country and as such only 74 of us will ever believe in both god and science?

There must be an answer because the National Science Foundation has been conducting this survey with these exact same questions every two years over the past 20 years as part of a report that the National Science Board presents to the President and Congress and guess what?…According to their own report, “Generally speaking, the percentages have had little variation over the past twenty years.”

So 20 years ago one quarter of those surveyed did not know that the Earth revolves around the sun…and 20 years later one quarter of the U.S. population still doesn’t know this simple and basic fact…nor have any of the other questions received any significant increase in the number of correct responses.

What gives? 25% of Americans just can’t learn? Ever? Or is there something uniquely American when it comes to taking tests? I taught high school students for 33 years and every year I would meet children who could recite countless hip-hop songs from memory yet couldn’t remember 2 words on a vocabulary test. I had students who could surf their way through the internet on the newest computers with the greatest of ease but could not master the basics of Algebra I, even after 4 years in Freshman level Algebra! There were classes filled with young adults who could program and operate through their complicated cell phone menus and send and receive text messages using just their thumbs on a keypad smaller than Thumbelina’s purse and yet they could not write a coherent introductory paragraph for an essay question while using a pen and notebook, no matter how hard they tried…

And no matter how many standardized tests we gave them…and no matter how important we told them these tests were…and no matter how many times we revised the curriculum…and no matter how many times we developed new and improved learning strategies…and no matter how many times we replaced the Superintendent and Principal or revamped the teaching staff or asked the parents to please get involved or threatened the students with failure and the withholding of diplomas…or declared nationally that we would “Leave No Child Behind”…their test scores little improved.

I’m willing to bet that just about every American knows that the Earth goes around the sun. It’s just that a certain percentage of us just don’t see the importance of remembering that fact or in paying attention to someone who wants to ask us such a stupid question to see if we know it. Does the Earth or Sun care? They’re still going to be doing their thing whether I answer that question correctly or not, right? And don’t you have something better to do than ask me that?

We’re Americans after all…and we’re busy! We’re a nation of seriously professional consumers who have been trained literally from birth to buy and sell and entertain and be entertained and consume and waste and innovate and reinvent and get bored if all of that takes too long.

The question and answer test, especially in pencil. paper and booklet form, is just no longer relevant to the 21st century world and I believe that we 20th century minded educators are the ones who have to get out of the way and stop worrying about numbers on tests as the only way to discern and/or prove whether or not learning is taking place.

Here’s the National Science Foundation’s test. Take it and see how well you score. Then ask yourself how many times these answers were given to you over the course of your lifetime by your teachers and parents and how many times these topics were probably covered during your schooling or lifetime… And then ask yourself if how well you did or did not just score on this test has any bearing or relevance to your present life or living conditions, even if it once did. When you’re playing on your X-Box do you really need to still be tested on your Atari skills? If you score better than a 7 on the following test then…you’re not average…and maybe even not American?

Physical Science

  1. True or False: The center of the Earth is very hot.
  2. True or False: The continents on which we live have been moving their locations for millions of years and will continue to move in the future.
  3. Does the Earth go around the Sun, or the Sun go around the Earth; and how long does this journey take?
  4. True or False: All radioactivity is man-made.
  5. True or False: Electrons are smaller than atoms.
  6. True or False: Lasers work by focusing sound waves.
  7. True or False: The universe began with a huge explosion.

Biological Science

  1. True or False: It is the father’s gene that decides whether the baby is a boy or a girl.
  2. True or False: Antibiotics kill viruses as well as bacteria.
  3. True or False: Human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals.

Bugs Too!

18 Jan

Image result for superbugs and asian pharmaceuticals

While Scientists around the world have been studying the decline of flying bugs and insects in our environment, Medical doctors say that they are encountering an increasing number of patients who bring home drug-resistant bugs or rather bacteria from abroad and that many of those new bacteria can potentially lead to harmful infections that are increasingly harder to cure…

Because these highly resistant bacteria are becoming more and more resistant to the point where antibiotics are no longer effective against them! The World Health Organization has identified these drug-resistant bugs as one of the most acute threats facing global health and about 700,000 people around the world die each year from infections against which medicines have no effect.

One of the bigger problems is  that about 80 to 90 percent of all antibiotics are now produced in China and India by giant pharmaceutical companies who not only make these drugs but also illegally dump significant quantities of antibiotics through their wastewater and into surrounding streams, rivers and lakes. Scientists who have been studying this practice have found concentrations of antibiotics in some of the bodies of water that were at times several thousand times, higher than the levels predicted to select for resistance!

And when exposed to a high concentration of antibiotics these microscopic bugs, like most living things, begin to develop defense mechanisms to protect themselves from those substances which are harmful to them…and so new “super bugs” begin to develop and grow and spread.

As a result Antibiotics are losing their effectiveness at an increasing rate and this loss of effectiveness is being accelerated by their misuse in humans, animals, crops and by Pharmaceutical company practices. So much so that the problem is now seen by many leaders at the highest political levels as a most dire and urgent one.

So while the world is losing insects…bugs, worldwide at a rate so accelerated that we are now just beginning to notice their absence…at the same time the world is gaining bugs…bacteria, at an accelerated rate that we don’t notice… until we can feel their presence.

I know this is rather chilling and macabre to say or think about but… remember when the other kind of bugs were eating us alive? And that wasn’t so bad?! We humans need to start thinking about how we can undo what we’ve already done before we’re done in!

It’s a problem that is going to take 21st Century technology and medicine and our most advanced thinkers and scientists and political institutions to solve if the human race has any intentions of continuing to advance and thrive! And this is just another reason why fighting over a wall is such nonsense. For one, a wall won’t work at all… and B: It certainly won’t stop… BUGS!

 

The Future Is Still…

30 Mar

Image result for plastic in the ocean

PLASTICS! PLASTICS! PLASTICS!

A new report published by researchers based in the Netherlands using a fleet of boats and aircraft to scan the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” found an astonishing build-up of plastic waste even more massive than previously reported. They found a total of 80,000 tonnes of buoyant plastic that is now bigger than France, Germany and Spain combined… and it’s growing rapidly!
In addition they found that this “plastic dump” located between Hawaii and California, now contains around 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic, including Microplastics, which are tiny fragments of plastic smaller than 50mm in size which can enter the food chain when swallowed by fish. The pollutants they contain become more concentrated as they work their way up through the food web, all the way to top level predators such as sharks, seals and polar bears.

The Ocean Cleanup project, which carried out the study, says eight million tonnes of plastics enter the oceans every year, much of which has accumulated in five giant garbage patches around the planet.

And in another recent study 259 water bottles from 11 brands sold across nine countries, including the United States, were tested and found that 93% contained micro-plastic contamination. The research, found an average of 10.4 plastic particles per liter of water, which is twice the amount of contamination found in tap water. So…if you are drinking water that you are buying in plastic bottles because you believe it is safer or purer than your tap water from the faucet in your home…you’re wrong!

Unless of course, you are trying to get more vitamin-P into your diet!

But it gets worse! (How is that possible?) because researchers who tested tap water from around the world found that more than 80% of the samples contained microscopic-sized plastic fibers and the contamination is particularly high in the United States, where 94% of faucet water is affected, including in samples from the U.S. Capitol and the headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency…of all places!

So now you can go back to your plastic bottles (that didn’t take long) I guess because in the USA it’s 94 tap-93 bottle and this is one score where more is not better…unless you live in India and/or Lebanon where the highest rates of tap water contamination were found.

And how did we get into this plastic mess in the first place? It was cheaper of course than glass which was so passe anyway and heavier to carry and didn’t make that fun crinkly sound when you were all finished and glass had to always be saved and recycled…which by the way we do now with plastics.

Ah well, on the bright side (?) in the not so distant future we won’t have to use up more of the Earth’s space by burying one another after we have passed. We can just dump our dearly departed and mostly plastic loved ones into the trash bin…and have them recycled too!

And Perhaps in a thousands or two more years aliens will fly by our lonely orb and wonder how a plastic planet with a non-plastic moon found its way into the middle of our solar system…a cheap trinket in an otherwise priceless universe?

 

The Unbearable Lightness of Knowing

1 Mar

Isn’t it ironic that for the past two decades, the trend in local, state and federal education policies has been to require more and more standardized tests as a way to establish common benchmarks of achievement and to hold public schools accountable for their student’s progress, while at the same time our nation’s politicians have become more and more ill informed and moronic when it comes to matters of common sense and common knowledge?

All of this testing ad nauseam to try and create a more informed and well educated populace and yet we now have a veritable gaggle of political leaders and representatives…Congressmen and state officials… who quite literally don’t know their asses from their elbows.

In Idaho a lawmaker thinks that if a woman swallows a pill it might end up in her vagina!

In Nevada an Assemblywoman believes that cancer is a fungus that can be flushed away with salt water and baking soda and wants to change federal law so this procedure can finally be made available to Americans!

There was a former Congressman who believes in “legitimate rape” and a woman’s natural ability to stop pregnancy while being “legitimately raped”!

How about the US Representative from Illinois who said that reducing our nation’s carbon dioxide output would be a bad thing because it would take plant food from the air!

We have Governors and Senators who believe that vaccinations may not be such a good thing when it comes to the future of the public’s health and well being!

Or there was the Texas Representative who thinks that wind is God’s way of balancing heat and that wind farms would only serve to “use up” all of that wind and make the Earth hotter!

Or our current Speaker of the House, who said that carbon dioxide can’t be a bad thing because every time we exhale we make more, just like cows do!

Or a Vice Presidential candidate who came very close to being elected, who proudly asserted that she could see Russia from her house in Alaska!

Or the Senate committee member who wanted to know what all the fuss was about the polar ice cap melting, because when the ice in his glass of water melts it never overflows!

And no longer can basic scientific principles that were taught in the public schools when I was a youngster 50 years ago be taken for granted in today’s hallowed halls of government. They must now be open for debate with these morons mentioned above and other political mental midgets, as though their resurgent medieval beliefs that were once and for all, finally and forever discredited as superstitions, myths and old wives’ tales, are now possible legitimate alternatives to actual learning!

So why bother testing America’s public school students on everything when we don’t test America’s leaders on anything? The only qualifications for public office in this country are citizenship and age!

Idiocy, ignorance and inanity disqualify no one from holding public office! They won’t even get you removed from public office. Try threatening to shut down your place of business every few months while accomplishing absolutely nothing in between and see how long you stay employed…but in our government that is absolutely no problem.

Why study and pass tests in school when all you have to do after graduation is suck up to one of our corporate overlords, take their money and promise to do their bidding? You can be as foolish, inept and irresponsible as you please!

So children of America: stop studying and stop taking those ridiculous tests! Rather you should emulate your country’s esteemed leaders and take a bribe from whoever is offering one then go shoot hoops or cheer-lead…

for knowledge no longer seems to represent power in America…All knowledge seems to represent today is an alternative way of thinking.

If we are not going to hold our politicians and potential leaders up to higher standards, and if they also believe that as American leaders and role models they need not exude intelligence, nor radiate knowledge about that which they have been elected to oversee in front of an electorate, before whom they are constantly expected to speak, then why should they be allowed to demand higher standards of our children?

Testing, Testing, 1-2-3

20 Feb

Here is another example of how creating and administering more difficult and diligent testing does not increase performance nor create better test results in those who are tested.

The United States Air Force is responsible for training and overseeing the “missileers”  who man the underground bunkers across the country and who operate our strategic defenses in case of nuclear attack. The missileers are the military airmen who are responsible for reading the launch codes and standing at the ready of our ICBM force around the clock should they ever be needed to…you know…push the buttons.

For about a decade now the United States ICBM force has been performing at less than optimum proficiency… and that’s according to the Unites States Air force. Apparently many of the missileers have been showing signs of greater stress and boredom and have been performing at less than their usual proficiency, dexterity and alertness.

So, in an effort to get the soldiers to work harder and improve their skills, the The Air Force has toughened their already highly technical launch code tests and made promotion within the force more difficult unless the airmen score higher and learn and memorize increasingly more difficult launch code sequences etc. Today, 90% is considered a passing grade and a score of 100% is needed in order to be promoted to a higher rank within this strategic force…remember No Child Left Behind and President Bush’s benchmark of reaching 100% proficiency in the basic skills test for America’s children by 2014? (or else schools would be left behind)

So how is the air force doing with its upgraded testing program?

This past January, 92 of the 200 airmen who operate ICBMs at a Montana base were caught cheating or were involved in the cheating on their monthly proficiency tests, by using their cell phones to share answers. And supposedly this is nothing new but rather a practice that has been going on for years. It seems that the tougher the tests got, the more cheating became necessary.

But why didn’t the airmen just study and work harder to do better on the tests?

Because the missileers, mostly young officers who did not volunteer for the program, apparently know something that their older commanders still fail to acknowledge…The Cold War if over! Their job is obsolete! No matter how many missile codes they memorize and no matter how hard they study, no one is ever going to ask them to blow up the world with ICBMs anymore!

So spending countless hours underground, for days on end, being diligent and proficient in a skill that they are not going to use nor be asked to use, seems a bit silly to them… and studying to be promoted in this useless proficiency, seems even sillier. In fact, guess what happens to the airmen if they fail the test or get caught cheating at it?

They get decertified and can’t go down into the underground silos!… And those who pass?… They get to work double shifts!

So how do we fix this dilemma?…More difficult tests of course.

But wait, you say! Don’t we need these warriors with their arcane skills and outdated missile system to stay sharp… just in case we need to blow Russia or China or somewhere else off the map…you know… just in case?

Well, maybe you and I and the joint chiefs think so but it’s getting harder and harder to convince the younger generations of that…and besides we still have 14 Ohio-class submarines loaded with nuclear missiles and patrolling the oceans day and night, pretty much unopposed by any other navy…not to mention the 60 B-2 and B-52 bombers on constant alert around the globe, loaded with world ending nuclear weapons too of course…and unopposed by any other air force.

I wonder if those young, well trained, sailors, soldiers and airmen are getting bored too?

So what do you think? More testing? Or is it time for all of us to put down the old tests and start learning something new?

 

 

 

Galileo Gali…fianakis?

18 Feb

1.Does the Earth go around the Sun, or the Sun go around the Earth; and how long does this journey take?

2.Did Zack Galifianakis appear in the movie The Hangover; and did he appear in a sequel to that movie?

Odds are that if these questions were asked as part of a national survey, question #2 would receive more correct responses than question #1, because in a recent survey conducted by the National Science Foundation only 73% of those surveyed knew that the Earth revolves around the sun…and of those only 71% also knew that it takes 1 year for the Earth to complete said journey.

Wow! And why do we suppose that is?

Is it because only 74% of America’s science teachers in America’s public schools have ever mentioned or illustrated this amazing fact to America’s students?

Is it because only 74% of America’s parents have ever had “that talk” with their children about where the sun goes at night?

Is it because we are a Christian country and as such only 74 of us will ever believe in both god and science?

There must be an answer because the National Science Foundation has been conducting this survey with these exact same questions every two years over the past 20 years as part of a report that the National Science Board presents to the President and Congress and guess what?…According to their own report, “Generally speaking, the percentages have had little variation over the past twenty years.”

So 20 years ago one quarter of those surveyed did not know that the Earth revolves around the sun…and 20 years later one quarter of the U.S. population still doesn’t know this simple and basic fact…nor have any of the other questions received any significant increase in the number of correct responses.

What gives? 25% of Americans just can’t learn? Ever? Or is there something uniquely American when it comes to taking tests? I taught high school students for 33 years and every year I would meet children who could recite countless hip-hop songs from memory yet couldn’t remember 2 words on a vocabulary test. I had students who could surf their way through the internet on the newest computers with the greatest of ease but could not master the basics of Algebra I, even after 4 years in Freshman level Algebra! There were classes filled with young adults who could program and operate through their complicated cell phone menus and send and receive text messages using just their thumbs on a keypad smaller than Thumbelina’s purse and yet they could not write a coherent introductory paragraph for an essay question while using a pen and notebook, no matter how hard they tried…

And no matter how many standardized tests we gave them…and no matter how important we told them these tests were…and no matter how many times we revised the curriculum…and no matter how many times we developed new and improved learning strategies…and no matter how many times we replaced the Superintendent and Principal or revamped the teaching staff or asked the parents to please get involved or threatened the students with failure and the withholding of diplomas…or declared nationally that we would “Leave No Child Behind”…their test scores little improved.

I’m willing to bet that just about every American knows that the Earth goes around the sun. It’s just that a certain percentage of us just don’t see the importance of remembering that fact or in paying attention to someone who wants to ask us such a stupid question to see if we know it. Does the Earth or Sun care? They’re still going to be doing their thing whether I answer that question correctly or not, right? And don’t you have something better to do than ask me that?

We’re Americans after all…and we’re busy! We’re a nation of seriously professional consumers who have been trained literally from birth to buy and sell and entertain and be entertained and consume and waste and innovate and reinvent and get bored if all of that takes too long.

The question and answer test, especially in pencil. paper and booklet form, is just no longer relevant to the 21st century world and I believe that we 20th century minded educators are the ones who have to get out of the way and stop worrying about numbers on tests as the only way to discern and/or prove whether or not learning is taking place.

Here’s the National Science Foundation’s test. Take it and see how well you score. Then ask yourself how many times these answers were given to you over the course of your lifetime by your teachers and parents and how many times these topics were probably covered during your schooling or lifetime… And then ask yourself if how well you did or did not just score on this test has any bearing or relevance to your present life or living conditions, even if it once did. When you’re playing on your X-Box do you really need to still be tested on your Atari skills? If you score better than a 7 on the following test then…you’re not average…and maybe even not American?

Physical Science

  1. True or False: The center of the Earth is very hot.
  2. True or False: The continents on which we live have been moving their locations for millions of years and will continue to move in the future.
  3. Does the Earth go around the Sun, or the Sun go around the Earth; and how long does this journey take?
  4. True or False: All radioactivity is man-made.
  5. True or False: Electrons are smaller than atoms.
  6. True or False: Lasers work by focusing sound waves.
  7. True or False: The universe began with a huge explosion.

Biological Science

  1. True or False: It is the father’s gene that decides whether the baby is a boy or a girl.
  2. True or False: Antibiotics kill viruses as well as bacteria.
  3. True or False: Human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals.
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