From Almost a Year Ago…

I am clearing out some discussion threads I have saved and came across this one. It was the result of me reading an article on Colorado teachers being stripped of tenure  because of poor evaluations. The article is from Chalkbeat.

This particular person definitely came from a business, data, analytics approach towards how to make K-12 education better. Our back and forth was lively and informative and while we both had points of agreement our philosophies in the end were likely unchanged. I’m just posting my favorite excerpt to save the essentials before I dump some files visually cluttering my folders. The poster I.D. was “Newport”. I’m “Dan McConnell”.

NEWPORT: Mr. McConnell, not sure if you’ve ever taken a stats course, but it strikes me that you and I have a fundamental philosophical disagreement about which is worse — Type 1 or Type 2 errors. The former is an error of commission — wrongly forcing an ineffective teacher from the classroom. The latter is an error of omission — failing to remove an ineffective teacher from the classroom. And there is an inescapable tradeoff between the two types of errors — the more you try to avoid one, the higher the rate of the other you must accept.

Like teachers unions leaders, you prefer to focus our attention on the injustice of the Type 1 Error — while ignoring the enormous economic, social, and individual cost of the Type 2 Errors we make every year when we leave ineffective teachers in our children’s classrooms. And if you look at the research about Type 1 and Type 2 errors, you find that in retrospect most people have far more regrets about the errors of omission they have made, because their costs are far higher in the long-run than their errors of commission.

Let me be clear: I believe — based on the evidence — that the cost to our society of Type 2 errors in K12 — in this case, leaving ineffective teachers in our children’s classrooms, is far higher than the social cost of Type 1 errors. And in today’s globalized, knowledge-based economy, that gap is growing wider at a non-linear rate.

As I presume you either a teacher or teachers’ union flack, I don’t expect you to understand what I have just written, because it is so far out of the realm of your experience.

But trust me on this: the stakes on the table are far higher than you appreciate.

 MR. McCONNELL:  “As I presume you either a teacher or teachers’ union flack, I don’t expect you to understand what I have just written, because it is so far out of the realm of your experience.”

 I understand. Don’t feel like you have to dumb it down for me because I have been a political fan-boy since I was 13 and saw some greasy ex movie star demean a president with true character-one who continues to this day to give graciously and selflessly to the world. So type 1/type 2, yeah…I get what your saying. But I think you are getting the flavor of that concept of inescapable trade-offs wrong, and making a leap from public schools to the massive, systemic, endemic social and economic injustice that exists-not because it’s too difficult to fire experienced teachers, but because mythological “investors” and “job creators” have done so only for themselves and the continued deference to them is the looming Death Star of truly high stakes.

Inescapable trade-off:

A) “Yeah, we might arrest/jail/execute an innocent once in a while-but oh well, at least we get some criminals too!” (Make teachers easy to fire)

B) “Yes…a guilty person might go free occasionally, but by guaranteeing the rights due every citizen we minimize injustice” (Protect teacher tenure)

You seem to favor the former, I favor the latter.

Teacher, yes. “Flack”, not so much-although I served as president of my local the last couple years, will be VP this year (might go back to Prez after my kids are all off to college, it’s a busy life right now)…I don’t know.

Honestly, my union has disappointed me. Not because I don’t believe less in unions, but it has been too little baseball bats and flaming bags of poo…too much sucking up to crony capitalist hoping for a seat at the table. My union leaders have bent over and taken it for all of us, from policy makers driven by donors who sit around CEO tables having their “Aint we so much smarter than teachers” stroke fest under the table (political donations, not truth, buy validation).

But I don’t expect you to understand how people who have no understanding regarding a profession buy influence over that profession and/or assume the ability to judge it.

Sometimes a haphazardly crafted word salad, even when the chef is blindfolded, can have hints of some technical culinary skill. Unfortunately your bowl of bullshit doesn’t quite meet that mark.

Let’s be Honest, Trump Supporters

Dear Trump supporters,

So, what’s next?

Let’s be honest: I guess there could be a plan for the greatness to come raining down-but based on what I’ve seen I’m having an awful hard time imagining how and when that rain will come. And on who it will fall.

That stuff trickling down now?

I’m no Russian prostitute but it doesn’t feel like greatness or smell like rain. You must know it too-at least some of you, because Bernie Sanders is still showing up, speaking truth, drawing crowds and making sense. He has been described as the most popular politician in the country. He’s even going to some Trump-voting, Republican strongholds and winning the crowd over by simply telling them the truth. That’s something the Democrats failed to do in the primary season. Win over crowds, tell the truth, and so on.

You know Hillary Clinton was forced on you just like she was forced on all of us, right?

But I don’t blame anyone for picking Trump. I often go right when I’m told I have no choice but to go left (especially if it’s a pretend lesser-of-two-evils left). I didn’t vote for either bad choice but many states went to Trump because he was able to tap into the frustration of a large number of Americans tired of being lied to, tired of waiting, and frustrated with corporate bought Democrats who had no spine. Americans that are either in crisis-poverty, on their way to it, or are one catastrophic event away from it were desperate for someone to speak to them. Trump did that ,managed to distance himself from establishment Republicans, and it honestly has been both Democrats and Republicans that have cooperatively ushered the U.S.down a path to a hell of perpetual war and income inequality, with the only difference being how nicely they lead.

We the People, meanwhile, trudge along wondering why things continue to get worse.

Our news media, in the meantime, has abandoned journalism in exchange for a selective and biased narrative that protects the parasitic two-party, pro Wall Street, pro-war system.

That’s that’s why we get fake news. In a recent letter to the editor I described it this way:

“Fake news” includes news that won’t tell you that today’s Democrats are simply Republican-lite, and the Republicans are like…well, let’s just say the choice is between someone punching you in the face and telling you it will “make us great again”, and someone else who will smile and put on a boxing glove before they punch you in the face-then say you should be grateful for the glove.

So now? We’re getting the fist. A recent insight on Team Trump’s plan to either eliminate or sponge money out of programs for the many to bankroll the dreams of the few came from White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney. He shared the proposal to take food away from poor school children (this after the meals on wheels scare, which was only partially true). Mulvaney says that research just doesn’t show that feeding children is effective. Kids just ain’t responding to the support they’ve gotten with greatness, I guess.

“They’re supposed to be educational programs, right? That’s what they’re supposed to do, they’re supposed to help kids who can’t — who don’t get fed at home, get fed so that they do better at school. Guess what? There’s no demonstrable evidence they’re actually doing that.” (Mulvaney at a press conference, Thursday, March 16th, 2017)

I haven’t figured out what results he’s expecting. I don’t know what research he’s looking at, or if it’s data sourced through the same think tanks that hit Trump’s twitter feed in the “wee hours” of the morning (that’s when an old guy might have to get up out of bed to go wee, by the way). But from the perspective of a guy that has real human children and has been teaching in actual public schools for nearly a couple decades I can tell you feeding hungry kids at school, if you know they won’t get fed at home, is the right thing to do. To reassure those concerned, though, Mulvaney said that the plan to stop feeding kids is about “being compassionate” .

If I figure out the compassion angle I’ll share, but I am just not getting the compassion vibe from much of anything coming out of this administration.

I know, touchy-feely caring stuff is left and liberal, but if your concerned with how money might gush in one direction, consider how it already gushes. Up and away from the people who work the hardest and need it most. I see it every day in the children coming to school, my family, and people I’ve known nearly my whole life.

One example is my friend June, a woman I have known since we were both practically children. I think I was 14 and she was 13 when we met, but that was so many years ago I can’t remember exactly. It was a summer bible camp, way out in the country with one of those churches, in one of those places and on one of those roads from my past I’ve described before. We stay in touch online, and we get to watch each other’s daughters grow, clown around, achieve…She works hard and does right by her kids and as a teacher I can say this makes all the difference, in the end. Children raised right are children who come to school ready to learn and equipped to achieve.

June wrote this:

Someone recently said I expect everything handed to me. Obviously, they don’t know my life. I start every day by warming a heating pad while my coffee brews. Trying to decide where to put it first. Because, by the end of the day, I will barely be able to walk. I clean houses all day every day. If I ever sit down at night? I promptly pass out.

She has worked her whole life. Even harder now that she has children, which means that not only is she working harder in this economy that tends to reward most those who work the least-she also sacrifices to make sure she continues to do right by her children.

I haven’t had healthcare in more than three years. I simply cannot afford it. Not if I want to keep the lights on and feed my kids…

I have literally had one day off in four weeks. And I will have a grand total of one day off in the next four weeks. Once a month… I finally get to sit down and rest. 

Yes… I believe in universal healthcare. No human being should suffer because they don’t have money to pay. I sit hear thinking what the hell is wrong with anyone who believes differently. I don’t want billions spent on a stupid wall… just so we can “protect” our bigotry and greed.

Livvy recently had a project at school. They asked what she would do with $100. She didn’t answer with clothes, a phone, new gadgets. She said she would start a charity to help people in need because she doesn’t want anyone to live a bad life.

THAT is what I work myself to death for. To raise decent human beings. Who care more about others than they care about a dollar.

I don’t have a damn thing handed to me. And I don’t expect anything either. I work my ass off. I pay my bills. And I’m raising two awesome, kickass girls. I hope they go out into this world with kindness and compassion. I hope they never see someone suffering and think “too damn bad”.

Millions will lose healthcare. Apparently, it’s no longer effective to feed the elderly either. And we don’t give a crap about the environment we all need to survive.

America is categorically NOT looking great again. It’s going to hell. If you think differently and are my friend? Obviously, I love you for many other reasons. But that is not one of them.

In closing, Trumpsters (I know, it rhymes with “dumpsters” but that’s not my fault), I’m just looking for an honest guess from you at what comes next. I’m trying to connect how golf trips, militarism, thin-skinned tweeting, suggestions that the first amendment might be altered to save the president’s feelings, loading all sides of government and his inner circle with billionaires and family… I’m wondering how it connects with his repeated promises to “drain the swamp” and give government back to the people. You know, make us great.

Is this all what you hoped for, or is it what you deserve? It’s definitely not what I was hoping for or what hardworking parents like my friend deserve.

Sincerely,

A guy who will work to get your guy and others like him out of office.