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26 August 2013



As timely as just this weekend.


Joe Koyote

“The higher education bamboozle continues. “Only one in four employers think that two- and four-year colleges are doing a good job preparing students for the global economy….”

Is there a breakdown in the bamboozle between publicly funded, privately funded, and for profit colleges and universities? For-profit universities like Phoenix get 78% of their income via government subsidized student loans (the maximum govt. loan shellout is capped at 80% of school revenues by law). They have the highest drop out rate and the lowest placement rate in the job market. When discussing bamboozle the best starting point is probably the for-profits because they get most of their money from government backed student loans many of which end up in default. If you want to talk about a rip off of taxpayer money this is it.


So you're okay being bamboozled as long as it's a state sponsored bamboozler Joe?

Good to know.

Bill Tozer

Fantastic link, Mr. Fish, if nothing else besides his humor. Feed Fred! He told it like it is...er...like it was. My freshman liberal arts education was quite an education. Starting with microbiology at 8 am and then...well, I can't remember. The dorm initiation has been outlawed and women are now allowed on the floor. The college is now called a university. My roommate was the state heavy weight wrestling champion and discuss thrower in high school and could sneak up two kegs of beer (one on each shoulder) up 3 flights of fire escape stairs. That allowed me to get away with many shenanigans as he was a loyal sort of fellow. That's about all I can remember from liberal arts, but then again, I was only 17. Oh yeah, think you needed a 2.6 grade average to get in. Not exactly Yale.

Did a Google on my old roommate about 4 years ago. The good doctor has 3 dental offices and is a community asset. High recommended according to the Dental Board. Bet he is ready for retirement.

Joe Koyote

Fish -- Wrong -- I was just pointing out to those who love to attack anything public that the private version of education leeches off the public tit as well and, perhaps, to a greater extent.

Bill Tozer

Ok, ok. Here we go around the mulberry bush. Yes, an institution for higher learning can have its fed funding pulled (student loans) if their student default rate is too high. Don't think this affects Pell Grants. Yes, private institutions of higher education can be cheaper than that public universities because of all the grants and endowments offered the bright eyed and bushy tailed youngins.

But, please, gentlemen, what do you think of Dr. Rebane's post: The test after the test?? The test that goes beyond book learning in sort of way. Things like critical thinking skills and cognitive reasoning, whatever the heck they are.

I hope this does not go down the usual path where Cal sucks, no!, Cal Poly sucks, no wait, St Marys is better, no wait, College of Pomona is best. Notice nobody picks on little Jamestown College in Fargo, ND which offered me a full ride (athletic, not scholastic) out of high school, but I declined its generous offer to freeze my little buttocks off. So did San Fernando State College (today's Northridge, and too much city), College of Idaho, UC Riverside (too smoggy)and Abilene Christian College (sounded un-fun).

It don't matter where you went and which place is better. What matters is what did you learn and if you can apply any of that knowledge to the current workplace? Don't matter if you go all C's in a class, just as long as you passed it and never have to take it again.

Rather than slay straw men and be true to your school, I kinda of like this test after the test on a job interview. Heck, even little Occidental College and Cornell and Harvard has produced some pretty good community organizers. Can't say the same for The University of Phoenix.

I was schooled at the University of Hard Knocks, just like my pappy. A family tradition. Got kicked out of Finishing School as a youngin, which still pains me to this day.

Bill Tozer

Test scores plunge so lets lower the standards again.


Ryan Mount

The real futility of standardized testing is that they *lower* standards. I have little patience for complaints about "teaching to the test" or "drill and kill" rhetoric. At worst, formal testing is an inconvenience to our schools. I said at worst.

Likewise, I have little patience for the overheated (boiling, really) rhetoric that our schools are more about teaching self-esteem and and softer subjects like same-sex marriage.

In a nutshell, we can't(won't?) develop tests strenuous *and* (the conjunction 'and' is key here) "fair" enough for a wide stretch of the electorate's children and young adults. So standards are lowered to meet the demands of a Democracy. It's as cynical as a thinking person might suspect: we won't elect people who will deservedly fail our children.

Witness Mr. Tozer's article.

And lastly, the fact that our local standardized scores are kinda crappy, and in light of my observation that the test standards are already low, should give us great pause. But instead we blame the test "culture" or we blame some fictitious (or non-consequential) "self esteem" movement. Low hanging fruit for the simple thinkers, I guess.

We get the government we deserve, that's for sure. I welcome private tests from hiring companies. Why not? Many are already doing that.


Got kicked out of Finishing School as a youngin, which still pains me to this day.

It shows Bill. ;-)

Bill Tozer

Mr. Fish: I've done my best to hide my bitterness about Finishing School. I almost made it thru Charm School, but my folks did not have enough money to afford the final weeks.

I even got kicked out of Dog Training School. Come to think of it, my dog got kicked out as well. Can't remember who started it, the dog or me, but we were shown the door. The instructor was yelling something about anger issues.

Then a judge sent me to Anger Management School which really pissed me off. In fact, everybody in the class was pissed off to the max for being there. That one I did not get kicked out of and even received a nice evaluation from the facilitator stating that I was the "group's leader". Maybe lowering standards is not a bad thing after all. ;-))


"The real futility of standardized testing is that they *lower* standards. I have little patience for complaints about "teaching to the test" or "drill and kill" rhetoric. At worst, formal testing is an inconvenience to our schools. I said at worst." -Ryan

No, they don't lower standards. When the STAR testing was first instituted (my son was in the 3rd grade) it was like turning on the lights to see the roaches scatter. It began immediately to weed out the worst curriculums in math and language and identified the good performing schools.

It's still doing that, and The Union is still doing its best to not identify the worst schools. "Common Core" is being touted as higher standards, but it's mostly a return to the crap that STAR helped weed out 15 years ago, but with brand new computerized testing that is to cost a bundle provided by parters to the private companies that rolled out Common Core in the first place.

Ryan Mount

Yes, in a Democratic culture, they do lower standards over time as parents (voters) don't enjoy seeing their kids fail. They'd rather buy them some kind of treat and blame the teachers or some other boogeyman like standardized tests. Erode is probably a better (more conservative) word, but I prefer lower because that is the net effect over time.

A test is just measurement like your gas gauge in the car. Nothing more. Well, maybe a little more, but not much. And for the record, I have no complaints about them other than the following: the testing programs are really small peanuts compared to the lack of reforms that don't happen following them. We don't have the political will to fix it. And that's my core point regardless of what one thinks about my correct and unorthodox assertion that standardized tests are both harmless and lower standards.

In fact, what I'm saying is far more frightening to those are are paying attention: Our standards are low AND we're not doing well.

So I suppose we need to keep testing away and complaining why the teenager isn't putting gas in the car. And we're dumb enough to keep giving her the car.

Did ya'll see this over the weekend?


Hint: my opinion should be obvious, but I'll cut to the chase: we elect these people and we assume that the tests are measuring something of value.

Joe Koyote

Most of the old guys in here seem to think that their own education was better than what is now currently being offered...we had no standardized testing.. yet now that seems to be the education fix de jour.


Fish -- Wrong -- I was just pointing out to those who love to attack anything public that the private version of education leeches off the public tit as well and, perhaps, to a greater extent.


This appears to be the first area in which we agree.


"Democratic culture, they do lower standards over time as parents (voters) don't enjoy seeing their kids fail. They'd rather buy them some kind of treat and blame the teachers or some other boogeyman like standardized tests." -Ryan

Are you describing yourself, or some other parents who you don't actually know? What happened here is that folks did their best to get their kids out of the worst districts (like the GVSD) and into higher performing schools like Chicago Park, Nevada City or Pleasant Ridge, and eventually, the GVSD got rid of the curriculums that put them deep in the dumpster, and eventually bought the books that one grumpy parent tried to get them to pilot for next to nothing... the next to nothing Saxon Publishers wanted for a free set of books for one class in each grade was (drum roll)... administer a standardized test of the school's choosing at the beginning of the year, a standardized test at the end of the year, and make the results known.


"we had no standardized testing" - JK

No, "Koyote", there was standardized testing in California K-12 public schools that I remember sitting for even in the '60's, and the SAT was the standardized test used for college entrance.

I recall my own East of LA high school senior class was pegged at the 15th percentile for English proficiency but decent SAT results meant I could get into a good college despite graduating from a high school with a less than stellar reputation.

Todd Juvinall

I was a student in the local system here first thru 12 and took many standardized tests. Life is a competition and it was no different in school back then. I think Joe Koyote is smoking the peyote. LOL!


"I’ll have more to say about the new upper class of over-educated elitist snobs later this week as we explore the real separation of classes." -GR

George, I hope you'll find time to comment on all the advanced degrees used by K-12 employees to automatically climb the compensation ladder, despite the lack of any evidence those advanced degrees actually result in better instruction or administration. Education PhD's are the bottom of the academic barrel and have been driving K-12 education towards the cliff for decades.

Bill Tozer

Note Mr. Mount's link. Strikes me as right on topic. If a man with experience and smarts cannot figure out what the test has to do with the real world or future/related employment in a related field of study, what does that mean? No wonder Dr. Rebane found interest in the test after the test.

Anecdotal story: Once I was at the Greenhorn River and a bunch of guys were trying to figure out how to get a stuck van out of the rocky floodplain. This crazy looking dude comes up and tells all how to do it. He had a rope put here tied around a boulder, a rope strung there tied around a stump and had 6 of us push on the horizontal rope from a point he instructed. We pushed on the rope rather gently and the van miraculously eased out if its stuck position.

The weirdo looking mid aged freakazoid exclaimed that he has a PHD in mathematics and this was the first time he ever had the chance to apply his knowledge.


"If a man with experience and smarts cannot figure out what the test has to do with the real world or future/related employment in a related field of study, what does that mean?"

It might mean he was out looking for a flashy PR move to support dumping a test he was working hard to get rid of in the first place.

The existing K-12 testing scheme is more of a measure of schools, not the individuals. It's the only measure we have of how well the schools are using the vast sums of property tax monies being poured into them, and organizations like FairTest (lampooned as NoTest by ed watchers) bristle at any external metrics, preferring the Lake Wobegone standards of the CTA-friendly internal assessments that prove all teachers are above average.

Any deficiency is the result of parents letting the kids watch too much TV and inadequate teacher salaries and benefits.

Bill Tozer

Mr. Gregory, I will defer to you on such matters. You appear to be in the trenches fighting against the status quo. A good thing. Plus you gave me that great bit of wisdom: "Correlation does not mean Causation."

I (for some unknown reason) followed with great interest the last Chicago teachers' strike/walkout. Did not have a dog in the fight. Figured the new Mayor Mr. Emmanuel would be able to sway his constituency to his pleasing. Not!

Anyways, the Chicago Teacher's Union demanded a 30% raise in salaries, which was just a bluff. They really wanted a 15% raise so the 30% figure was just to settle for 15% as part of the negotiations. So, Mr. Mayor offered them 15%, but the strike continued. The real sticking point in the negations and what put the Fear of God in the teacher's unions and teachers was not money. It was the clause to tie teacher evaluations with student performance. That was the strike in a nutshell.

The strike ended and all is well. There are to be no teacher evaluations by outsiders like some bureaucrats in the Mayor's office or parent groups. Nope, the union is the one who evaluates teachers and 98% of them are rated excellent.

Joe Koyote

Greg -10:21

The SATs were not mandatory unless you wanted to go to college, then you had to take them. STAR testing etc. is required.


JK 11:58, had you made the claim we had no mandatory standardized testing, I'd have limited my debunking of your claim to the mandatory testing of the day, which was in force when I was a kid and my dad was a teacher.

I will say there is one major problem with K-12 standardized testing; incompetent schools with marginal teachers and even more marginal administrators (someone had to hire and retain the lousy teachers) react to it by teaching to the test rather than teaching to the curriculums. Classic Peter Principle: if you have no clue how to judge competence, focus on the superficial. Forget about student competence in math, focus on a good test score. Practice taking tests, not learning math.

Locally, the Pleasant Ridge district was a top performer when the first STAR exams were administered; there was no test to teach to, they just taught what they knew the kids could and should learn and the test verified it.

They were also clever enough to rip out the Mathland program within a month of beginning to use it, sending it back to the publisher. It took the GVSD something like seven or eight years to come to the same conclusion and to use the same books Pleasant Ridge had been using, the same ones a grumpy parent had begged them to pilot, for free, two years before the first STAR sitting.

Bill Tozer

Funding for colleges tied to employment after graduation? I will tell ya what makes college affordable. Two words: A paycheck.

Obama should focus on the economy and the customer (the student) will decide on the best course of action.


DC Keachie

As I graduated in 1962 from H.S., I guess I remember a different set of tests going through the mill. I'll never forget the day though, when my curiousity led me to open a file cabinet in the counselors office while waiting for something. I quickly ascertained it was test results for every kid in the school, including myself, and so I took a look, at my IQ. That's what they tested for at least some of the time back then. I was busily looking up my friends as well, when I heard a blood curdling cry of, WHAT ARE YOU DOING???"

God knows why they'd have this stuff in a counseling waiting area, in an unlocked file cabinet, but there it was. Anyways, what's the matter with the good old GRE's, the law school and med school aptitude tests?

Well time's are changing:

PhD scholarships in the Exertion Games Lab at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia

The Exertion Games Lab (exertiongameslab.org) at RMIT University (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) in Melbourne, Australia, is seeking exceptional PhD candidates to research the future of digital play.

The Exertion Games Lab is looking for candidates who value an interdisciplinary design studio environment, are highly motivated, willing to learn a variety of skills, are extremely creative as well as technical, and also have highly developed analytical and communicative skills. Prior research experience (publications, etc.) is desirable and so are hardware prototyping abilities (Arduino, etc.) and programming skills (Processing, etc.). We are looking at potential for creativity, excellence and drive.

We are particularly looking for candidates interested in a) promoting more walking activity during the day or b) supporting extreme sports with digital play technology (see our skateboarding project http://exertiongameslab.org/projects/copy-paste-skate).

Entry requirements:

You will need to have a four-year degree (Honours if you have an Australian degree) or a
three-year Bachelor and a Master’s degree. Typical backgrounds are game design,
interaction design, human-computer interaction, computer science, industrial design,
electrical engineering and arts but we are curious to hear what you can contribute. All
nationalities are encouraged to apply. The PhDs in the Exertion Games Lab take 3 years. All applicants will need to apply for and be accepted to the PhD program in Media and
Communication at RMIT University, see www.rmit.edu.au/mediacommunication/researchdegrees. Start date is end of 2013 or early 2014. The scholarships are according to the Australian Postgraduate Award rate of AUD 24,653 per year and include a new Macbook Air with 27” display. We are also offering a great open-plan lab environment in the Design Hub, Australia's newest interdisciplinary design research centre at RMIT University.

The application deadline is 15 Sep 2013.

Douglas Keachie

Commented and posted yesterday, it's gone. Why bother?

George Rebane

DouglasK 140pm - control yourself Doug. Just tell me that the TypePad spam filter ate it, and I'll dig it out.

BTW, the Australian PhD program sounds hokey. Anybody with those skills going in isn't going to learn game design from professors who have neither the talents, energy, nor ideas to start their own enterprises. I imagine a bright student at that stage would learn a lot more working an equivalent time for a game company. And he most certainly would have a chance to make more money, especially if the outfit values and rewards the IP their creative talents produce.

Ole Bill Tozer


Ole Bill Tozer

"Overall, tradition campuses did not keep pace with the district's increase of 3 points"


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