Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Friday, December 24, 2010
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Younger one wanted to see the ducks, actually they were around a hundred geese munching on the 1st and 10th tee boxes. We walked over until the geese started honking and walking away. We stood and watched them from a distance until grandson decided to growl at them and they flew off about a hundred yards. I walked them over to the pond by the clubhouse and they could see the actual ducks floating.
The sun was shining, but the wind was a little brisk. We didn't stay out long, but they had fun.
Monday, December 20, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
First snow of the season for us down in the valley. It's so nice now I'm retired not to have to worry about getting out in the mess. Wife was off today so she didn't have to brave the idiot drivers first thing in the morning. We spent the morning watching the last eight episodes of season 3 of Star Trek Voyager. It's nice to have stuff like that to cuddle under a blanket and relax.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
While I was busy adding 3,000 words to my story yesterday wife and daughter-in-law did some shopping. The tree is now fully complimented with presents.
I have wife's present hidden. Can't find time to wrap it and put it under the tree when she's not there. Maybe tomorrow.
Saw where Iran is upset because our Navy's official designation for the body of water separating them from Arabia is "The Arabian Sea" instead of the "Persian Gulf." The navy naturally apologized. Can anything get any stupider? Arabian Sea is used so the Saudi's don't get upset, and by the way, they are our allies while Iran is anything but friendly towards us. Even governments need to get a life.
Krugman had a great quote today. Concerning how AEI and the Cato Institute keep rewriting their history to change unpopular names: As Brad DeLong says: "I'll stop calling these people Orwellian when they stop using Nineteen Eighty Four as an operations manual."
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Remember Gomer Pyle USMC? His signature phrase: SURPRISE, SURPRISE, SURPRISE!
By SAM DILLON
How useful are the views of public school students about their teachers?
Quite useful, according to preliminary results released on Friday from a $45 million research project that is intended to find new ways of distinguishing good teachers from bad.
Teachers whose students described them as skillful at maintaining classroom order, at focusing their instruction and at helping their charges learn from their mistakes are often the same teachers whose students learn the most in the course of a year, as measured by gains on standardized test scores, according to a progress report on the research.
Financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the two-year project involves scores of social scientists and some 3,000 teachers and their students in Charlotte, N.C.; Dallas; Denver; Hillsborough County, Fla., which includes Tampa; Memphis; New York; and Pittsburgh.
The research is part of the $335 million Gates Foundation effort to overhaul the personnel systems in those districts.
Statisticians began the effort last year by ranking all the teachers using a statistical method known as value-added modeling, which calculates how much each teacher has helped students learn based on changes in test scores from year to year.
Now researchers are looking for correlations between the value-added rankings and other measures of teacher effectiveness.
Research centering on surveys of students’ perceptions has produced some clear early results.
Thousands of students have filled out confidential questionnaires about the learning environment that their teachers create. After comparing the students’ ratings with teachers’ value-added scores, researchers have concluded that there is quite a bit of agreement.
Classrooms where a majority of students said they agreed with the statement, “Our class stays busy and doesn’t waste time,” tended to be led by teachers with high value-added scores, the report said.
The same was true for teachers whose students agreed with the statements, “In this class, we learn to correct our mistakes,” and, “My teacher has several good ways to explain each topic that we cover in this class.”
The questionnaires were developed by Ronald Ferguson, a Harvard researcher who has been refining student surveys for more than a decade.
Few of the nation’s 15,000 public school districts systematically question students about their classroom experiences, in contrast to American colleges, many of which collect annual student evaluations to improve instruction, Dr. Ferguson said.
“Kids know effective teaching when they experience it,” he said.
“As a nation, we’ve wasted what students know about their own classroom experiences instead of using that knowledge to inform school reform efforts.”
Until recently, teacher evaluations were little more than a formality in most school systems, with the vast majority of instructors getting top ratings, often based on a principal’s superficial impressions.
But now some 20 states are overhauling their evaluation systems, and many policymakers involved in those efforts have been asking the Gates Foundation for suggestions on what measures of teacher effectiveness to use, said Vicki L. Phillips, a director of education at the foundation.
One notable early finding, Ms. Phillips said, is that teachers who incessantly drill their students to prepare for standardized tests tend to have lower value-added learning gains than those who simply work their way methodically through the key concepts of literacy and mathematics.
Teachers whose students agreed with the statement, “We spend a lot of time in this class practicing for the state test,” tended to make smaller gains on those exams than other teachers.
“Teaching to the test makes your students do worse on the tests,” Ms. Phillips said. “It turns out all that ‘drill and kill’ isn’t helpful.”
Friday, December 10, 2010
Took yesterday off to relax and recharge batteries.
Good thing I did. Today wife is off and she's been running me ragged. I need the weekend to recuperate.
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
- The story's gelling. Still a lot of research and writing to go. No word from the publisher on HS.
- I've said my piece about the tax deal over at the Captain.
- Looking forward to eldest grandson coming in for a visit. We have plans doing the river of lights and other things while he's here. Wish we had more time with him.
- Due respect to fellow New Mexican Don Meredith. He was QB of the Cowboys when I first started watching pro football. The Icebowl game is etched forever in my memory. He kept MNF lively for many years. I never met him, but have on occasion run into Don Perkins from those teams. He will be missed.
- Due respect for Elizabeth Edwards. Too bad she didn't have a husband that would stand by his woman.
Saturday, December 04, 2010
Decreasing the surplus population.
From NY Times today
By GAIL COLLINS
Let us revisit the matter of pulling the plug on grandma.
You may remember the historic day in 2009 when Senator Chuck Grassley brought the issue to the fore at a town meeting in Iowa. “We should not have a government plan that will pull the plug on grandma,” he said to loud cheers...
Then all hell broke loose and the Republicans kept ranting about how “Obamacare” would put the federal government between you and your doctor and try to save money by prohibiting said doctor from using the best treatments and procedures.
All this came to mind when I was talking to Flor Felix, whose husband, Francisco, a 32-year-old truck driver with four kids, was denied a liver transplant because the Arizona Legislature had yanked funds for it out of a state Medicaid program.
As Marc Lacey reported in The Times this week, Francisco had been prepped for surgery after a friend whose wife was dying asked that he be given her liver.
“It was good news when we heard the liver matched,” Flor said. “The doctor said: ‘Everything’s going well. We’re going to proceed with the surgery.’ ”
But Francisco, who has hepatitis C, had lost his health insurance when he had to stop working and had gotten coverage under the state Medicaid program. And Gov. Jan Brewer had signed a law eliminating Medicaid coverage of certain kinds of transplants as a cost-cutting measure. Flor said the next words she got from the doctor were: “You need to bring $200,000 as a deposit for the hospital.”
Francisco was summarily discharged. The Arizona state government, which is totally controlled by Republicans, got between him and his doctor.
“The state only has so much money and we can only provide so many optional kinds of care. Those were one of the options that we had taken liberty to discard,” said Governor Brewer,
Felix was one of 98 people in the transplant pipeline when the law went into effect. Arizona claims cutting them off will save $4.5 million this year. Advocates have called on Governor Brewer to use some of the state’s $185 million in federal stimulus funds to restart the procedures. Brewer, who opposed the stimulus, says all the money is gravely needed for other projects. Which she will not name.
The best possible spin to put on all this is that it was a terrible mistake. The chairman of the Arizona House Appropriations Committee, John Kavanagh, says that the lawmakers got bad information from the state Medicaid experts, who said that the transplants weren’t effective. “Based on the information I’ve received, it looks like most of them should be reinstated and we hope to do that in January,” he said.
Ironically, trying to answer questions like this is one of the great goals of the Obama health care law. “What it promises to do is attack the vast reservoirs of ignorance about relative benefits of different ways of treating different diseases to see which is most effective,” said Henry Aaron of the Brookings Institution. Although, as Aaron carefully pointed out, the law steers clear of any mention of cost effectiveness. This is because Republicans in the House and Senate kept howling about death panels and plug-pulling.
But try to imagine what the Republicans would have said if someone in the Obama administration proposed cutting off liver transplants for Medicare recipients. We heard a lot from John McCain during the health care debate about how reform would restrict Medicare services. We have not heard a word yet on how McCain feels about the Arizona transplant issue. His office did not respond to inquiries about whether he approves his state’s pulling the plug on a 32-year-old father.
Thursday, December 02, 2010
Our country is truly become the Tin Man. If we only had a heart.
Over 40,000 people have died this year (and it's not over yet) due to lack of health coverage. You've got yours Tea Party to hell with the little people.
Where's Jeb Bush? He spent millions in legal fees and medical costs professing the sanctity of life for a woman in a constant vegitative state. He held emergency legislative meetings to pass laws for keep her heart beating. Where's his sanctity of life for the others who had a chance at a meaningful life but were a dollar or two short?
Did all those seniors who lobbied against extending medicare for everyone (single payer system) not understand that when these 40,000 die, they stop working and don't pay anymore into the social security fund you're living on?
We are all connected here, no on is an island anymore. When people have their houses foreclosed on and lose their jobs it effects 99% of the population's standard of living. When this many people were dying from automobile accidents legislation was passed to make cars safer. Laws were passed to punish drunk drivers. Automobile accident victims had value. Why don't these 40,000? As the lady said in RZ's blog, they don't get mentioned on the news. Die in a car crash they have pictures of you car on the ten o'clock news. Die from an infected tooth because you couldn't afford to see a dentist, who cares.
Ebeneezer Scrooge is now in charge of all political parties. "Let them die and decrease the surplus population."
It's good to be out of the house and all its distrations. I'm getting thousands of words added every day. Still no word from the publisher I've sent the other novel to, so I might have to start looking for another one. I won't be using Publish America unless I absolutely have to.