Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Michelle Rhee-Test Results Scandal

Apparently the DC school that had a dramatic rise in test scores and was Michelle Rhee's prime example of how well her reform methods work? Apparently there may have been some funny stuff going on with the tests at that school. Lots of erasure marks. An unusually high number of erasure marks changing answers from the wrong one to the right ones. Not Good. Diane Ravitch calls Rhee to task here.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

On My Wish List

I'm SO reading this book.

Pound Cake

Two weeks ago, I made a coconut oil pound cake. I think I mentioned it. It was very good! Today, I'd like to stay home and make a kamut flour pound cake. I write that like me and kamut flour go way back. We don't. I hardly know what it is but who cares? I'll try to get some over the weekend and postpone my pound cake baking until then, or then some. Because, really, who knows when the baking time meets baked good craving meets ingredients moment will appear?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Bus Does Not Run Express

On the bus today, an older woman was very upset that the bus was not moving along at a nice enough clip for her. "What is this?" she wanted to know when the bus stopped, for a red light, "if they're going to stop for the schedule they should post a sign that says 'slow bus'!"

Um, really? You think a bus driving down Broadway without a dedicated bus lane needs a sign?

I just had to share. Forgive my indulgence.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Make Schools Not Prisons

Why is that hard, Mr. Republican Governor of Pennsylvania?

Smells Like 1990

According to a recent college grad with what's got to count as a very good first job at the Council of Foreign Relations, the current crop of recent grads were disappointed when they graduated from college only to find they couldn't get a job.

"The cost of youth unemployment is not only financial, but also emotional. Having a job is supposed to be the reward for hours of SAT prep, evenings spent on homework instead of with friends and countless all-nighters writing papers. The millions of young people who cannot get jobs or who take work that does not require a college education are in danger of losing their faith in the future. They are indefinitely postponing the life they wanted and prepared for; all that matters is finding rent money."

It's emotionally taxing to be unemployed at any stage of life, and getting a nice high score on your SATs can't protect you from life's difficulties. All that SAT prep maybe taught you persistence, work through it. It's not easy to leave college in the face a really bad job market, but recent college grads aren't the only ones who've ever had to do it.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Teachers Are So Greedy and Wall Street CEOs Work Really Hard 12 Months of the Year

John Steward, once again, tells it like it is. Watch it here. There's also an interview with Diane Ravitch who wrote The Death and Life of the Great American School System, a terrific book in which an historian of education rethinks her formerly held positions on testing and charter schools as the solutions to the problems of the American education system.

Teacher Assessments: It's not all in the numbers

Here's a(nother) sobering and dispiriting story on the limits of algorithms when it comes to teacher assessment. Turns out, those fancy formulas don't always get it right and a great teacher may be lost to New York.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunday Night

Two notes from this evening: First, I made Melissa's pound cake from Wednesday's New York Times, the one with the coconut oil. It is maybe the third or fourth pound cake I've made in my life and it maybe is my favorite so far. The cake itself has a very lovely consistency -- moist and dense without being overwhelming in any way. Plus, it was fun to melt the coconut oil. If you're feeling like a little je ne sais quoi in your cake, give it a try.

Second, I read the big David Reminck article about the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz in The New Yorker. It is also very good for many reasons, none of which I can dig into right now because I have a terrible, hacking cough which is very distracting, more distracting when I try to write than when I bake or read, and so I'll go cough and maybe you could go get a start on the article.

Here's to a week of easy breathing.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What Falls Away

Before I started school, I figured that something in my life would fall away. Would it be the novels? The Knitting? I wasn't sure. My guess was that for a while I'd read less at night and knit more. I figured my brain would be somewhat addled from reading for class and I'd want to unwind in a word-free way. So far, that hasn't happened. In fact, all I want to do is read. It's like my books are about to go on a long vacation and I want to take them all in before they go away. In fact, while I'm still knitting, and, more to the point, fantasizing about knitting, when push comes to shove, it's the books that I want. But my passionate embrace of the written word isn't the point of this post, such as it were. No, what I wanted to point out is that for me, what's fallen away, is food. Not eating it, cooking it. In the last month, I've made it to the market once. I've prepared some meals, I'm sure, but I've taken less joy from the making. Even reading cookbooks feels a little bit like a chore when I have Cosmic and Coraline on my nightstand, not to mention Middlemarch, which I think I should re-read. (I read it for the first time two years ago when I turned 40, which, according to Rebecca Mead, was a very good time to read it.) Luckily, though, I get hungry. And when a girl gets hungry enough, eventually, a girl like me will cook.