Press Release (RP)

Sochi, Krasnodar Krai (RP) - The now-disbanded "Voting Integrity Commission" launched by the Trump administration uncovered no evidence to support claims of major voter fraud, according to an analysis of administration documents released Friday. Once translated into English, the documents revealed that the highly-touted team, led by Russian mathematician Gregor Yukuvlevich Perlman, discussed the possibilities for over an hour at each of the bimonthly meetings that ran from January through March in the picturesque resort town overlooking the Black Sea.

The conclusion that no major fraud occurred seems to have left a void of information about whether minor voter fraud occurred, what the difference between major and minor voter fraud might be and how well major and minor translate into Russian. When questioned about this discrepancy the translator had to excuse herself for personal reasons, and Perlman - whose ability to speak English tends to fluctuate - was unable to effectively communicate well enough to finish the press conference.

Washington, DC (RP) - A "Federal Commission on School Safety" has been launched by the Trump administration in response to the increasing number of tragedies involving guns, students and teachers. Department of Education Chief Betsy DeVos announced that the newly-formed commission will not look at the role of guns in school violence, disregarding the fact that so far in 2018, at the rate of one incident per week, school shootings have caused the death of at least thirty-seven students and adults, as well as at least thirty-one serious injuries.

The Education Honcho also is seeking to eliminate 29 discretionary programs and declares that "our commitment to spending taxpayer dollars wisely and efficiently by consolidating and eliminating duplicative and ineffective federal programs that are better handled at the state or local level." In other words, 'Instead of working to make education more effective by consolidating and standardizing and regulating our nation's education at the national level, I choose to continue to cop out, put my head in the sand, be a traitor to the very concept of education and admit that dutifully doing the job I am being paid to do is way beyond me or anyone on my team.'

Menlo Park, CA (RP) - Mark Zuckerberg was admitted into Stanford Hospital today suffering from stress-induced heart palpitations after an historic and impassioned plea from President Obama has reduced traffic on facebook by more than half! In his twenty-minute address on national TV, President Obama masterfully explained how the Russians were able to affect our last election and how they might be planning to again interfere in what may be the most important election in our nation's history.

Our forty-fourth president also detailed how Zuckerberg and others have amassed fortunes by duping America and the world into being his product, for which he pays nothing, while selling them and selling to them. Obama's pleas to not log into facebook at least until after the election have hit home with a large percentage of the electorate, leaving facebook personnel reeling, as this company built on little more than air and an idea possesses nothing tangible upon which to stand.

NYC, NY (RP) - Roger Goodell delivered his "State of the League" address yesterday, emphasizing the strength and health of the NFL. The bewildered Commissioner focused on player safety, claiming "We can remove the violence from an inherently violent game without adversely affecting the product", comparing the negligibly noticeable difference between drinking a non-alcoholic beer and imbibing in your favorite draught. This, about a game in which one of the primary goals is to hurl a participant to the ground against their will.

Goodell also defended his continued attempts to place a team in London in hope of securing his legacy as the Commissioner that made football a global sport, despite the clear indications that Europe loves soccer, few NFL players want to live in England, the 'N' in 'NFL' stands for 'National' or that the sport -while still popular - is clearly in decline, making further expansion a fool's game.

Washington, DC (RP) - Protests unlike any we have seen since the days of Nixon hiding in his office and peering at America's youth through parted curtains continue in DC as thousands of demonstrators chanted "Real News. Fake President." The group repeated the mantra for close to twelve non-stop hours today before finally breaking for the evening.

An eerie feeling of a creepy Halloween tinted the day, as trump masks, memes, altered photos and a wave of orange wigs dotted and decorated the landscape. It was reported that upon viewing the uprising the president's initial response was to claim a win for himself, seeing it as a sign that America unmistakably loves him and his hair! Accordingly, plans to construct a one-panel White House Walk of Fame with a new bigger star commemorating trump's achievements during and before his time in the White House were quickly drawn and funded; construction has begun.



Some Go To College - All Go Through Life
Part One: Curves, Tests and Grades

Teachers, school administrators, school boards and government agencies across America work diligently to educate our youth, yet the U.S. consistently ranks squarely in the middle of worldwide achievement in Science, Math and Reading. How can this be in what we all like to think of as the greatest nation on Earth?

There are two underlying fundamental problems with the American education system in the 21st century. The first is that there is not now, nor has there ever been, an American Education System. From the time of the first New England schoolhouse to today, local education has been paid for by local tax dollars, with local government setting curriculum and standards for hiring teachers in accordance with the bidding of local voters.

Beginning at a time in our emerging nation when simply knowing how to read and write qualified one to be a teacher, grassroots teaching methods, policies and procedures were in place and in practice long before anyone thought about an education 'system'. Subsequent attempts to improve, define or standardize education have always approached the task as a molding of the status quo. This approach of building from the bottom up works great for pyramids, but less well when attempting to set standards, achieve specific goals and provide consistency; a defined vision at the top that can be disseminated downward is a better method.

The second underlying issue within education in America is that whatever systems we do have in place, e.g. testing methods and requirements for academic advancement, are haunted by values, decisions and conclusions that were arrived at long ago, based upon a mere spec of the information (not to mention technology) that we possess today. Two examples are the grading system and the use of the bell curve.

Grading
As one might expect, when there no systems in place where a need exists, any system that presents itself may quickly become the de facto system until or unless it is replaced by a more popular system. A case in point is the standard A through F grading system which was devised at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts in 1897. Originally the lowest grade at Mount Holyoke was an 'E', however after one year administrators purposely changed the failing grade to 'F', and so it has been since. That seemingly innocuous and logical decision has caused incalculable emotional damage to students over the ensuing years.

Where a grade of 'E' might elicit thoughts such as 'I did very poorly', or 'I don't get this subject', or 'I could have tried harder', a grade of 'F' is interpreted as, 'I failed'. And in that despondent moment, 'I failed' can easily turn the corner and become, 'I am a failure'.   No - you're not.

We must abandon the long-held concepts of passing and failing in education.


The Bell Curve
The Bell Curve, or Normal Distribution Curve, forms the basis for much curriculum design and social classification in education today.

A normal distribution is an arrangement of a data set in which most values cluster in the middle of the range and the rest taper off symmetrically toward either extreme. A graphical representations of a normal distribution is often called a bell curve because of its flared shape.

Height is an example of something that follows a normal distribution pattern. Most people are average height, the number of people that are taller and shorter than average are fairly equal and a very small (and still roughly equivalent) number of people are either extremely tall or extremely short.

Below is an example of a normal distribution curve:

When test scores are plotted, results within a class will also result in the bell pattern, with most students scoring in the mid-seventieth percentile, with fewer students scoring in the mid-eightieth and mid-sixtieth percentiles, and only a few scoring very high or very low.
Education in America is of course a descendant of education in England as it was in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Studies in divinity, law, and medicine were typical, along with Latin and often French accompanying studies in literature. When in pre-revolutionary America Harvard University (originally New College) opened its doors in 1636, it was only natural to install a similar curriculum. As Yale and Princeton and other bastions of higher learning subsequently welcomed students, they followed suit. Not much has changed.

OK - Latin class is no longer a hot ticket, but the focus of the curriculum hasn't been altered much - math, science, literature, language - basically readin', writin' and 'rithmatic - the Classidemics. We value having an aptitude for these topics because the brave British that settled this land valued those aptitudes. We call people with these aptitudes, intelligent. We call people who do not have these aptitudes, not intelligent, or much worse.

As our nation and education practices developed, standardized tests were created to measure student achievement. After plotting these test scores the resulting bell curve theoretically gave teachers and parents an idea of how intelligent each child is in relation to his/her classmates.

From one's place on the bell curve terms like 'D student' were born and frequently spoken within earshot of the student, often causing students to feel shame or guilt or stupid. Worse, some students come to believe that they are a 'D student' when in fact they suffer from a correctable learning disability or are truly gifted in an area other than classidemics.

On the other side of the coin, we note that only a very small percentage of the students - the 'A Students' - feel great about themselves, having been anointed one of 'the smart ones'. The majority of the students are led to believe that they are 'just average', and along with that can come the notion that trying hard to succeed probably won't get them very far because they're not exceptional. This is a shame.

These tests have always been problematic because they were usually written by mainstream white Christian adults for primarily mainstream white Christian students, and were/are thereby unavoidably biased to some degree. This is a commonly debated topic, worth solving (if possible), but it is a symptom - not the disease. The disease is that there's only one aptitude being tested, still prizing seventeenth century British values above all else in twenty-first century America.

In a different world - say after a devastating war, if there's anything left - the most valued personal aptitudes would necessarily be different. Tests might require test-takers to imagine, sketch and plan a system by which one person peddling a bike powers several machines at once using gears and pulleys or discuss ways to grow vegetables in very acidic soil or demonstrate the ability to ease others' pain by touch or song or thought. A different set of people would magically now be intelligent, and many of today's intellectuals would quickly become the new 'D Students' dismissingly sent off to do something useful.

We must abandon our long-held concepts of intelligent and not intelligent.

What's the goal?
Since the system we have is the only one we've ever known it is all but impossible to imagine education differently, but if starting from scratch, we might ask, "What is our primary responsibility to our children, and to society vis-à-vis our children?"
  1. First and foremost we need to ensure that each student has the skills and information necessary to successfully function as an adult in society.
  2. Life Prep Courses designed to foster the ability to use a personal computer, complete a job application, balance a bank account, create and balance a household budget, discuss alcoholism and other addictions, navigate one's city and cook basic meals must be instituted. Appendix A contains a more complete working list.
  3. Additionally, we have an obligation to provide our students and our teachers the resources that will enable our students to compete with the very best minds in the world in their chosen fields.
  4. Furthermore, we owe it to our young people to enable them to discover the things they are good at and help them nurture those gifts.
  5. The era of participation trophies and orange slices has taken a lot of heat in recent years, but those well-meaning soccer parents and coaches are on the right track - they're just using the wrong vehicle. The notion that every child should win is noble and sounds reasonable, except that competitive sports is an activity that is specifically designed for the sole purpose of creating an equal number of winners and losers!
    Unlike a soccer match, school is a place where all the children can win. We must start by assuming that everyone is good at something - or intelligent in some area - and work to assess each student's aptitude, inclination and inherent ability, and then provide them with the opportunity to explore, test, evaluate and move forward.
  6. Lastly we must come to the realization that we cannot improve the American education system until an American Education System exists.
  7. Many state's rights proponents see education as one of the last parts of their society that hasn't been usurped by the federal government, and are loathe to make concessions. However, in order to compete in the world market and give our children a chance at keeping up, we must as a nation establish and maintain a unified set of minimum requirements for high school graduation - one that truly reflects such a desire!

In Part Two: What About Jane? we explore taking the first steps of a long but worthwhile journey.



A graduate of Portland State University, Steve (Reeno) Kloser is the author of Beginning Band - A Guide to Success and Let's Make Music - Classroom Recorder Course. He is also an accomplished teacher, conductor and composer, having penned numerous pieces including La Vida and Fly With Me.

Teacher, cook, Packers fan and proud American, Reeno's usually slanted outlook often presents an unlikely perspective on issues old and new.

Reeno currently lives in Portland, OR.


Follow Reeno on Twitter

Some Will Go To College - All Will Go Through Life complete as a .pdf
School is for Winning
as a .pdf

Space Force One?
posted Aug 10, 18

Real News. Fake President.
posted Aug 06, 18

Mortgaging our Future
Time for an Education Revolution

posted Aug 02, 18

Booze - Yay!
posted Jul 29, 18

How About Some Age Limits?
posted Jul 24, 18

Too Much Forged in Fire?
posted Jul 17, 18

Tritler and the Party of Trump
posted Jul 11, 18

The Malicious Commish
posted Jul 02, 18

Gerry Mander and the Trumpettes
posted Jun 26, 18

The Tacet Underground
posted Jun 20, 18

All Hail the Chancellor
posted Jun 15, 18

Trump and the Big Leagues
posted Jun 11, 18

Bogus Commission on School Safety
posted Jun 08, 18

To Insure Promptness in the Age of Entitlement
posted May 31, 18

LBGTQ Housing
posted May 27, 18

Timeless Trump
posted May 24, 18

Being Mean to Kids!
posted May 22, 18

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. for Professors and Teachers
posted May 20, 18

School is for Winning
posted May 16, 18

The League You Need
posted May 12, 18

Just Login
posted May 09, 18

Seven Words
posted May 04, 18

Some Go To College - All Go Through Life pt2
posted Apr 19, 18

Some Go To College - All Go Through Life pt3
posted Apr 18, 18

Zombie Pedestrians
posted Apr 18, 18

Leaders in School
posted Apr 04, 18

Opiates - Hey Doc! A Little Help Please
posted Mar 19, 18

The Grass is NOT Always Greener
posted Mar 14, 18

Teachers and the Sun
posted Mar 13, 18

Can Social Media Contribute to Mental Health Issues?
posted Mar 08, 18

Hope - A Beautiful Sight
posted Feb 28, 18

All You Need is Love … and enough money
posted Feb 24, 18

Teachers and Guns
posted Feb 22, 18

NEA or NRA?
posted Feb 21, 18

I don't (k)NO(w)
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Dear ESPN
posted Feb 18, 18

Helmet to Helmet HIts Must Go
posted Feb 06, 18

Software Abuse
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