Wednesday, January 09, 2013

so good!

That Apatow-edited issue of Vanity Fair is incredible! Nichols and May! Freaks and Geeks! The revelation that Larry Davis thinks that Martin Short is the funniest guy in the world (?!) It's hard to pick a best thing but Apatow interviewing Albert Brooks is up there.  It got me watching old bits online, and sadly, there aren't many of his. This is a really good one.

Well, the Frontline episode "the education of Michelle Rhee", about KJ's wife, was interesting.  She is pretty psycho, clearly, but they did not really present convincing evidence about the cheating on her watch as chancellor of DC schools.  There was insinuation, but nothing beyond that.


undercover caterer said...

I really wanted to see her ripped to shreds. That was a little disappointing.

Anonymous said...

I thought the Frontlines piece was solid, excellent. And I particularly admired the investigation into the cheating for its restraint. E.g., it could have been sensational without smoking gun evidence (because that's what we all wanted, right? For Rhee to get smacked despite knowing 100 percent for sure that it was systematic cheating?), but it wasn't.

Yet it seemed pretty clear to me that there was likely some systematic cheating going on. That at some level it was being rubber-stamped by higher ups. And that Rhee maybe didnt' cover this up, but didn't really do much to uncover it, either. That's complicity in my book.

All the schools with skyrocketing test scores--Noyes and dozens of other schools, the ones Rhee was showering with money!--ended up getting busted and now are struggling again with academic achievement, what with stricter security and best practices for testing. That's persuasive.

What Frontlines did exceptionally well, too, was--in a very thoughtful and balanced way--illustrate the harm Rhee's draconian policy actually does to the students, the community. That, like the unions, she too is an extreme. And that the solution our schools need is, of course, somewhere in the middle (teacher accountability + quantitative evaluation AND compassion + community + good people skills in the classroom).


Anonymous said...

Yes, love the VF comedy issue!!

Anonymous said...

I wish more people could see through the crazy of Rhee-form besides the thoughtful ones that watch Frontline.


beckler said...

I agree Nick, just because assessing teacher competency is difficult doesn't mean that everyone has to throw up their hands and say "fuck it" and just transfer the teachers to poorer schools.
Teachers out there, and I know so many of them, is it true that it's really hard to fire a bad teacher? Do you know some terrible ones?

I can't say I had any terrible ones, just ones who didn't really have high standards, but those tended to be the fun ones and every kid needs a class or two that's fun. Man, thinking about it I had some wonderful teachers. I relied on them for a lot emotionally. I remember crying to my high school biology teacher in private one day because I was having a hard time in my personal life, and this same teacher had an anatomy class that was college level.

I had an English lit and comp teacher who supervised the school paper, which I wrote for, and who told me I was a good writer.

I had a tough Spanish teacher with a bubble hairdo who would bring slides of her dogs dressed up in outfits. Her signature saying was "chicle in la basura!"

And this was all in Stinkin' Lincoln. Now that I'm thinking about it, yay teachers!

P.S. I am writing about this to avoid writing the pieces for Edible and SNR that I am supposed to be writing right now.

beckler said...

I just looked at a slideshow of 35 pictures of Kim Kardashian's butt to avoid writing. Honky tonk ridonkudonk

Anonymous said...

I will have to try that procrastination method next time.


Anonymous said...

It's not impossible for a principal to fire a teacher, but it takes some work. It's easier to do in the first two years. Principals have certainly let a few stinkers slip through the cracks during the probationary period. In my experience of working at schools with different demographics, the majority of teachers range from good to great.

There are some interesting egos at work in the Rhee-form vs. unions battle. Rhee obviously takes pride in her Vader-like slay tracks, while there can be some hyper-defensiveness among the teacher ranks.


beckler said...

the part where she didn't even understand the concept of sympathy for the guy she fired on camera was chilling. however, I am trying to be sensitive to any tendency to judge her more harshly because she is a woman, which is a real thing and sometimes hard to not do. we expect woman to be more soft and caring, and they don't have to be! i'm am certainly hard and uncaring, and it benefits me greatly. jk.

Count Mockula said...

I agree with Jed. I think if anything, administration needs to be held accountable for not getting rid of bad teachers in their first two years. With that said, at my site, the admin does a pretty GOOD job of it. I remember one teacher in particular who was pretty inept. The principal didn't re-up her, and she came to me as the union rep to ask what could be done. I replied very sympathetically and gently with the truth: nothing. It is harder when they have permanent status (tenure is what university professors have), but all it means ultimately is that you have to go through due process. Which you can totally do.

And I think Frontline couldn't produce evidence of cheating in the D.C. schools because the investigation was so piss-poor. They investigated only a few schools, didn't conclusively say what happened, and dropped it. I get what you're saying about not wanting to judge her too harshly because she's a woman, but I also want to see her taken down.

Junior! said...

Albert Brooks is "Super Dave"s brother. True story.

-The Neighbor