Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mr. Cerf's Christmas List

An old-fashioned gum eraser ($0.45)

New Jersey, like several other states, has an eraser problem--children in some districts have a bad habit of changing just about all their wrong answers into right ones. We're just clumsy that way.

Mr. Cerf understands this--in fact, has already stated that these erasures do not in any way implicate a school district in wrong-doing whatsoever. He tried to block the names of the districts from the reports of 2008, 2009, and 2010, claiming his department planned to investigate this, um, someday.

The Asbury Park Press reminded Mr. Cerf of the law, with the help of a lawsuit, and the names were released. The state had to pay the legal fees incurred by the press.

$40,290.80 buys a lot of erasers.

You can see the original document for free right here.

A nice book summarizing research on how to teach science to children: How Students Learn: Science in the Classroom ($34.95, free online)

While Bill Gates has a lot of money, and Michelle Rhee has a lot of sass, and Chris Cerf has a lot of connections, they all show about as much respect for research as does Emperor Arne.

There's a lot of good stuff out there on how to improve learning in our schools; turns out encouraging school officials to erase wrong answers on expensive "standardized" tests does not improve a child's grasp of the world.

Mr. Cerf, here's a piece of anecdotal evidence, the kind you seem to love--I have yet to meet a teacher who would not stand on his head wearing an "I Love Ed Reform " tee shirt while yodeling the theme to Romper Room if he believed it would help his children learn.

New Jersey map (~$4)

Global Education Advisers, now led by Rajeev Bajaj, listed Mr. Cerf's home address as its own address. The company received a half million dollars from the Facebook money given to Newark.

Mr. Cerf says he left the company before the money was received, and that he got none of it and I have no reason to doubt him. A good map, though, might show him why a few folks get a little upset when he says he left a company that was founded at his home address. (Maybe he has a line painted in his home separating the company from his living quarters--but I'll leave that the Montclair Zoning Board .)

World globe, education model (~$45)

At least Global Education Advisers is based in New Jersey--if we're going to toss Zuckerberg's monies around to friends, at least some of it will be spent locally. The ol' trickle down theory of economics holds a special place in North Jersey.

Cerf's crony Larrie Reynolds, a superintendent, serves as a consultant for GEMS Education, a private company owned by a Dubai businessman. Here's the idea:
GEMS Education... would recruit outside students for the program, hire teachers privately for lower-than-contract salaries and provide supplies for a "pathways" program run independently of, but under contract to the district. The private company would split the additional state aid coming into the district as a result of its status as a choice district.

The plan ultimately requires approval from Cerf.

Before Mr. Cerf approves it, though, he could look at his brand-new globe and find Dubai--unless a dollar can hitchhike across Saudi Arabia, part the Red Sea, stagger across North Africa, swim across the Atlantic, then get through customs at Port Newark, we're never going to see the money here in Jersey.

And Dubai sounds all Middle Easterny, not a problem for me, but could well be a problem for Governor Christie when he runs as second banana during Romney's bid to unseat Obama. Just sayin'....

A real title [I retracted this--the more I read about Rice's reasons, the more I appreciate his Quixotic battle--see below.]

Please, Mr. Rice, stop the silliness of the senatorial courtesy, drop the "Acting" from his title.We get back our judges (the Governor has reciprocated with his own snit fit, blocking our new judge appointments), and he gets back some dignity.

And I get to finish my Christmas list for Mr. Cerf.

Bob Braun keeps following the money. I owe him a Guinness or two for his perseverance.
I've met Mr. Cerf three times, and he's always been polite and pleasant. He's quite affable.
This is not about Mr. Cerf--this is about our children. He may just be confused, who knows, it does not matter.
Stay focused on the kids.

To be fair to Mr. Rice, he's onto something-there is a concerted effort to dismantle public education, and Cerf is part of that effort.
Rice is not blocking the judges, Chris Christie is.


CB said...

Hold on to your tinfoil hat: As I read this post, my laptop rested on a copy of -- wait for it -- How Students Learn: History, Math, and Science in the Classroom. I'm 80 pages in since yesterday.

Lionni's fish is worth writing about.

Anyway, a coinkidink for the holidays.

doyle said...

Dear CB,

Lionni is a genius--my children watched and read his work thousands of times.

I've got a copy of How Students Learn: History, Math, and Science in the Classroom--every teacher needs to read it. The math section alone should be in the hands of every elementary school teacher.

And it's free to download, underwritten by our very own gummint, with all kinds of input from bright folks who know which end of a ruler is which.

With all the noise about ed reform, it just amazes me that the good research available gts so little press.

Thanks for feeding my conspiracy theories. =)

CB said...

Conspiracies...Before reading our common book, I watched Scorcese's Shutter Island today.


Unknown said...

Genius! One of the rare moments when I actually laughed aloud at a post.

doyle said...

Dear Clay,

A word from the other side of Earth--great to hear from you. (I did not know that CB was the CB.)

I was talking about you last week--I have a new student who was schooled in Singapore, at the International School or something like that.

Your China posts have twisted ancient (and wrong) thoughts in my ol' biased head. A good thing, as uncomfortable as that can be in my later decades.

Always great to see your words here.

Dear John,

Laughter is all we've got some days. And I see you've gone done written a post about that:
Education Rethink: 10 Reasons Your Students Should Laugh