Linky Friday #102: Protest Edition

Avatar

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

Related Post Roulette

274 Responses

  1. Avatar Kazzy says:

    E4:

    This doesn’t surprise me. The relationship between teacher pay and quality of teaching is not that teachers — collectively — aren’t working as hard as they can because they feel undervalued. The issue is that most people are going to take their bachelors degree and (eventual, as is required in most states) masters degree and say, “I’m going to get a better paying job in another field.” We simply don’t encourage most of our best and brightest to work in the field because we give them a starting salary in the $30,000 range. Reading the abstract, they compared the same cohort of teachers with and without the raise.

    Which is useful information no doubt. It means we don’t simply have to pay our current crop of teachers more. We need to A) invest in them actually being better and their job and/or B) find better quality teachers.Report

    • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to Kazzy says:

      Exactly. I have no reason to believe that teachers would do a significantly better job with a major pay increase–because that would mean there are currently a bunch of teachers who could be good teachers but instead are just doing a half-assed job.

      What increased pay does is to improve recruitment and retention–something that wouldn’t show up in the described study.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Alan Scott says:

        The study is worthwhile in showing that teacher output given the current cohort and training/support available (at least among measurable output, which is another huge issue — I don’t think you can measure what I accomplish in my 10-months) is pretty close to maximum. Which means we need a different cohort and more/better/different support.Report

    • Avatar j r in reply to Kazzy says:

      @kazzy

      What you are saying sounds a lot like the very thing that Virgina Postrel is pointing out in L1. What is the justification for the idea that the teaching profession needs to attract the “best and the brightest?” I would guess that anyone with the requisite level of intellectual ability to earn a bachelors from an accredited college or university has the brain power to be a successful teacher. Above a certain level, it’s probably much more about some combination of temperament, willingness, and the possession of a certain level of patience and tenacity.

      This is all anecdotal, but when I left undergrad I knew quite a few people who went into teaching; this is in NYC. Almost all of the people who taught in public schools left the profession within a year or two. And almost all of the people who taught in private schools kept at it; many of them are still educators. The reasons that the public school teachers left, or the reasons that they articulated, were all about dealing with difficult students and administrators who were ambivalent or worse.

      I guess if you had doubled the wages of those public school teachers, many of them would have stayed at it, but that wouldn’t have addressed the reasons why they left. And likewise, the private school teachers, who were paid less, found the job rewarding enough to keep doing it. If you just think that teachers ought to be paid more for reasons having to do with the demands of the job, that is fair. It is, however, unclear how paying more solves the problems of under-performing schools.Report

      • Avatar Mo in reply to j r says:

        @j-r I wonder how much is due to the fact that public schools have to take all comers and private schools can tell disruptive students to leave and never return.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to j r says:

        Having to take all comers is one cause of burnout.

        There’s also the old saw — the reward for good work is more work? I’m aware of one teacher who, having had excellent results with a collection of kids who were highly at risk for failing the (required) state exams for graduation, was then given two classes filled SOLELY with seniors who had not passed one or both of the required state exams in her field.

        Again with, IIRC, excellent results — 80% or so passed (these are all kids who had failed this test at least once, some had failed two or three times). It is a rather stressful ‘reward’ for hard work.

        There is no extra pay that comes with it, just a lot of extra visibility. No chance of promotion, and she’s going to be the face of ‘why haven’t these kids passed’ year after year for kids denied their diploma. it doesn’t matter if she works miracles and passes 80% of previously ‘hopeless’ kids — the’ll be the one with the class of 20% failing to graduate, year after year.

        Those kids wouldn’t even be enrolled in a private school, and the teachers in a private school don’t answer to a locally elected board.

        She is obviously a ‘good’ teacher. She teaches the best and brightest half the time, and the ones who are barely (or aren’t) succeeding in that topic the rest of the time. That’s a lot of stress for a job that I suspect pays less than half of what I make per hour, and she’s got the same number and level of degrees I do. (And I’m not extravagantly paid, by any means).

        The ridiculous numbers of state-mandated tests are, of course, an issue for another thread I’m sure.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to j r says:

        @j-r

        Did they do the NYC Teaching Fellows program? That is a rather unfair characteristic. The NYC Teaching Fellows program is a monstrosity. For those who don’t know, NYC has a Teaching Fellows program. They advertise it very heavily on the subway and the ads are all about appealing to a high sense of calling. They said stuff like “Do you remember your third grade teachers name?” or “Take your next business trip on a bright yellow bus!”

        The reality is that the program takes undertrained but idealistic 22 year olds and places them in the poorest school districts in NYC and the middle class kids who fall for the ads are woefully unprepared for dealing with these school districts and their issues. The Teaching Fellows go to grad school at night for a Masters in Education as part of the program.

        Programs like the NYC Teaching Fellows and Teach for America take bright and idealistic but untrained young people and throw them into situations that they do not know how to adequately handle. This is why the turnover is so high. I bet if you had a 23 year old teaching in the suburbs or less poverty stricken areas of a major city, the results would be different.

        http://dianeravitch.net/2013/01/26/inside-story-of-the-nyc-teaching-fellows-program/Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to j r says:

        @saul-degraw

        I’ve read your comment a couple of times and I am still not sure to what you are responding.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to j r says:

        JR,
        To simplify it: There are a lot of programs (the one Saul mentioned is one) that takes college age kids and throws them into the worst, most stressful teaching positions possible with basically no preparation, experience, or ability to handle it. Those people burnout like crazy — as anyone would, tossed into the hardest type of their job with inadequate training and no experience.

        Not by design — it’s just the districts desperate enough to take inadequately trained teachers are the districts filled with the hardest to manage kids. (IE: districts serving the most poverty stricken areas).Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to j r says:

        @j-r

        You mentioned that a lot of your friends who taught public school in NYC suffered from burn out and left the profession after one or two years. I was giving reasons.

        When I was looking at apartments in Brooklyn, the real estate agent was sure to tell me which apartments were located in the good school districts despite the fact that I was 26, single, and looking at the apartments with my parents and not a girlfriend. The good school district was filled with upper-middle class parents and I would often see parents (usually but not always moms) waiting by the school door to bring home their kids at the end of the day. In other words, these parents were involved and affluent. These kids did not come from disruptive home situations and they did not know poverty. At least most of them did not.

        New teachers are not sent to these schools because they are plum assignments. New teachers are sent to areas where they are ill-trained to handle all the issues like serious poverty, food scarcity, negligent and possibly absent parents, etc.Report

      • Avatar Notme in reply to j r says:

        Saul

        You mean to say that the teachers union doesn’t send the most experienced teachers to help the children of the poor? That is unpossible.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to j r says:

        You mean to say that the teachers union doesn’t send the most experienced teachers to help the children of the poor?
        How do you think “the teacher’s union” works?

        Does A (note: not “the”) police officer’s union dictate what cops work where? Does a nurse’s union dictate which hospitals and jobs an individual nurse works? Do the teamster’s assign trucks and routes?

        If you’re gonna troll, at least put some effort in. That’s just pathetic.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Kazzy says:

      We simply don’t encourage most of our best and brightest to work in the field because we give them a starting salary in the $30,000 range.

      The other question that needs to be asked is, “To what extent do we want the best and brightest to work as teachers?” Money aside, when someone’s working full-time as a teacher, that means he’s not doing whatever else he would have been doing otherwise. Which is to say, at which point is paying teachers more a bad thing because it starts pulling teachers away from other jobs where they would have a higher marginal productivity?

      Personally, I have no idea.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        @brandon-berg @j-r

        Allow me to clarify. IF we think the quality of teaching (by which we mean the quality of the student output we choose to measure (minus the inefficiences in our measuring system)) is subpar, than simply paying the current cohort more will not address this issue. IFF we want better teachers (see above parentheticals), we need better people in the field and/or better training/support for the existing members.

        I tend to have an absurdly high set if expectations. In part because I’ve met some truly brain dead teachers and I’ve taken some teacher cert exams.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        From the research that I’ve seen, it appears that there is such a thing as teacher quality and it does have an impact on education outcomes. However, it doesn’t seem to correlate well to anything else. In other words, you don’t know who the good teachers are going to be until they start teaching. Perhaps this is one of the fatal flaws of the Teach for America model of recruiting kids from the most prestigious schools.

        Maybe there’s something to be said for structuring teacher pay in such a way that teachers have an incentive to perform well in anticipation of a significant salary bump later in their careers (let’s say a pay scale that caps out somewhere in the mid-six figures instead of the high fives). The best way to do that, however, would not necessarily involve increasing starting pay and it would have to somewhat ruthlessly cull the poor performers from the rest. I wonder if that sort of arrangement would ever fly.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        jr,
        of course it would fly. not in america though.

        There are courses of study out there that if you don’t pass, they kill you. This, naturally, encourages a level of commitment from students that you also don’t see in American classrooms.

        Give someone $20,000 and a bit of creativity, and they can start a school out in the outback.

        You’d be surprised at what people learn when they do this.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        Anecdotally, the worst teachers I remember having were either temperamentally unsuited to the job or just not especially bright (especially at the middle / high school level). The best ones had the right attitude and inclinations for teaching and were also very sharp people who probably would have done well elsewhere. It’s not the whole equation and we probably don’t need people who might otherwise contend for the Nobel Prize in physics to do it, but I’d be surprised if there wasn’t at least a moderate correlation between above average intelligence and being able to teach teenagers effectively. As for “best” versus “brightest,” the types of otherwise successful people who have high expectations for themselves may also set the bar higher for their students.

        I’ll also say that anecdotally, the worst teachers I remember having couldn’t really “ruin” kids and the most brilliant ones could likely only “save” one or two underperformers every year. There’s a lot more to educating a kid than hiring a brilliant education-ninja who can jam education into a kid whether he wants it or not.Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        @j-r , teaching experience corresponds pretty sharply to teacher quality–which is a problem in that the median teacher works five years before quitting.

        No solution that requires ruthless culling of poor performers is going to be successful in an environment close to what we have now. First, the tools we have to measure teacher quality aren’t very good, and very few stakeholders on either side of the education debate have much interest in improving them. More importantly, though, there just aren’t the density of teachers necessary for culling to be an effective strategy. There aren’t enough teachers entering the profession, especially in high-need areas, which means that a school that fires an underperforming teacher is likely to replace them with another underperforming teacher.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        “First, the tools we have to measure teacher quality aren’t very good…”

        To me, this is the biggest point. Teacher evaluation is beginning to get a lot of attention from some very bright minds, but it is a hard job. Not an impossible one, but a hard one. And an exceedingly hard one to scale up.

        What we know for sure — but often pretend we don’t — is that high stakes testing of students is a piss poor means of evaluating teacher quality.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        @alan-scott

        You’re missing the point of my comments. @kazzy implies (or at least that’s how I read his comment) that increasing average teacher starting pay would help to bring more and better candidates into the profession and keep them there. I responded that starting pay probably wouldn’t make a whole lot of difference, because that doesn’t seem to be what’s driving teachers out. It’s some combination of the fact that a lot of teachers don’t like the working conditions (unruly students and unresponsive administrators) and that teacher salary caps out relatively low compared to other careers that require similar credentials.

        If you want to try to address the problem from the pay angle, as opposed to the conditions angle, you would be better off trying to improve mid-and-later career earnings rather than starting salaries.

        The issue of how good we are at assessing teacher quality wouldn’t matter at all, because we’d only be assessing teacher performance (how well your students performed relative to how well we would expect them to perform). And that’s exactly what makes it ruthless.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        Just after his school had administered the Spring version of the state’s standardized test when my son was in 8th grade, I asked him what they were learning about in one of his classes (I don’t remember which). There were three or four weeks left in the semester, but he told me, “We’re not learning anything. We’re done. We already took the test.”

        Using standardized tests to measure teacher (and school) quality is, ironically, making teachers teach worse.Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        The education outcome also varies strongly with parental involvement and community level of support.

        There seems to be this concept of education as a knowledge factory, where empty students are fed by conveyor belt in one end, and out pop completed Knowledge workers at the other end, while the parents and broader community stand by passively.

        Public or private, unionized or non, schools do very well, when there is aggressive support and involvement by parents and community.
        When there is family dysfunction and community chaos, they don’t.

        These are normally arguments made in favor of conservative victim blaming. Part of this is because “dysfunction and chaos” are often used as euphemisms for “urban” or black culture.
        But of course this doesn’t explain poor outcomes among white communities.
        Further, it doesn’t lead to a solution other than neo-feudal apartheid style walled cities of terrified white people.

        Regardless of what cause or causes are driving the poor performance among poor schools, pretending that this isn’t something that calls for collective action is foolish.Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        @lwa Fedora solidarity, brother.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        @j-r

        Changing starting salary would help somewhat IFF salaries up the ladder also went up.

        I know a lot of people who said they’d have gone into teaching but not for $35K/year. Now, maybe they were lying or wouldn’t have lasted long at any salary, but I think you’d have a broader pool of candidates with more competitive salaries up-and-down the ladder and that would be a good thing. It wouldn’t solve all the problems. But it’d help.

        As for the public-vs-private thing, as someone who has worked exclusively in private schools (as a paid professional, at least) but has many public school teacher friends, I would say that the issue for me isn’t the student demographics but the rigid control. I was recruited by some public schools and charters who said, “We love your style! But here is how we’d want you to teach,” and then presented me with basically the opposite of my style. Really, they wanted a dude in ECE and hoped I’d conform. But I wasn’t going to teach their way so I said no dice.

        And I think a big part of the micromanagement is because teaching quality is so shitty. Instead of improving the quality of teaching (through any means), they simply try to idiot proof it. “Follow the manual, teach to the test, don’t deviate.” They want robots, not free thinkers.

        One NY Cert exam question said (paraphrased): What is the purpose of standardized testing?
        A) It serves no purpose
        B) It tells you exactly how well a student has mastered the tested skills
        C) It gives some information about how a student can perform the tested skills

        They wanted you to say B. I said C. They want you to think B. They don’t want C-thinkers.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        @kazzy

        We’ve had this conversation before, but starting teacher salaries aren’t all that low. Yes, someone can make 50-60k out of school in finance or 60-70k working in tech, but how many teachers are coming out of undergrad with degrees in Finance or Engineering?

        I was an English and Philosophy major and I made 30k out of school in a marketing job. At the time, NYC teachers started at 42k. If you correct for major, I am guessing that starting teacher salaries are pretty competitive. And they probably get even more competitive when you think in terms of hourly wage. That kid making 60k as an investment banking analyst is making about $15/hr and is miserable. The thing that keeps the kid showing up to the banking gig every day is that he knows if he sticks with it, he’s got a shot at a lot more.

        Also, you are reinforcing my point on the public vs. private school thing. You’re willing to take less pay to teach in an environment that you prefer, which suggests to me that starting pay isn’t really the constraint to getting more people into teaching and remaining in teaching.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        At the time, NYC teachers started at 42k.

        Teacher salary is highly variable, since it’s set by local school boards. It’s really, really hard to make sweeping generalizations about schools because schools are a huge bastion of local control. The ‘heavy hand of government’ in schools is the state school board. (In fact, the much derided Common Core is an attempt by states to make sorta-federal standards because the Feds won’t).

        One of the few generalizations you can make is that the poorer your average student, the poorer the school’s overall results.

        Teachers in Texas generally make much less than 42k as a starting salary, unless they work for one of the upper-middle class suburbs or a handful of magnet schools or the like. Teachers in places like Silicon Valley make a lot more (although IIRC, have to have subsidized housing because not nearly enough to live there).

        I know teachers in my district, with the same level of education and experience as me (BS and a MS) make roughly 2/3rds what I do per hour, and obviously only get paid for the 10 months they work. (Which lowers their salary even further, but you can’t really count that. Many do summer school, which takes up those two months, but pays even less).

        And I suppose you can say ‘That’s because it’s an easier degree to get, therefore they should get paid less’ but you’d also have to account for the fact that teachers seem to burn out a lot more than, say, software engineers. Even if their degree is ‘easier’ (whatever the heck that means, really) their job appears to be ‘harder’ since a lot more of them leave the field, and rather quickly after starting.Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        @j-r , most new teachers are leaving the profession within 5 years. I strongly doubt that fat tailed-pay scales are going to convince them to stay. Then again, I say that as someone from California, where the pay scales do have fat tails. In some districts, CA teachers with enough experience and education can make six figures.

        In Wisconsin, where the governor (IIRC) eliminated ongoing-education based raises, and capped experienced based raises at seven years, I don’t think I’d get into teaching for any starting salary.

        I think you’re largely right that addressing conditions is a better way of retaining existing teachers than increasing pay–though I doubt the pay will hurt.

        Rather, I think the real benefit of a higher starting salary is to attract those who are reluctant to enter the teaching profession at all–And in particular, expand the draw beyond graduates with the sort of impractical humanities degrees to whom a 40K starting salary is a godsend. Math is America’s worst subject, but teacher pay is too low to attract any major with math skills.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        @j-r

        My argument is that many young people don’t make that sort of analysis. They say, “I can be a poor teacher or a rich banker,” and they choose the latter.

        I have a lot of friends who look at the perks of my job and talk about how they’d love to do it. “You probably could! Want me to get you an interview?” “Nah, I could never do that.”
        What they really mean is they can’t imagine living off $50-80K for the rest of their lives. Which, yes, goes to your point about it being mid- and late-career salaries. Which I agree with. Pay in general is an issue.

        As for public-vs-private, I’d make about the same in the public schools as I make in the private schools. But, yes, the environment matters. It’s not JUST about the kids (which is often how people frame it… “You want to teach those kids.”).Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        The issue of how good we are at assessing teacher quality wouldn’t matter at all, because we’d only be assessing teacher performance (how well your students performed relative to how well we would expect them to perform). And that’s exactly what makes it ruthless.

        Your “ruthless” is my “useless”. That’s exactly the sort of measurement that I was referring to when I said we were terrible at measuring teacher quality.

        As a rule, we are not very good at assessing student performance on a grand scale–tools that can be used to test thousands or millions of students are often too imprecise to give data that is useful for assessing a single classroom, while tools that offer more precision are too expensive and time consuming to apply to thousands or millions of students.

        We are even worse at measuring that baseline of how students should be expected to perform that we then measure student performance against. That’s how we keep getting stories about people who win teacher of the year awards and then get labeled by a computer algorithm as the school’s worst teacher. Implementing these sorts of measurements doesn’t improve teacher performance as it relates to the vast majority of students–instead, it encourages teachers to game the numbers by focusing on “bubble” students, encourages teachers to avoid teaching specific classes or specific students.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        “There are courses of study out there that if you don’t pass, they kill you. This, naturally, encourages a level of commitment from students that you also don’t see in American classrooms.”

        What the fuck are you talking about?Report

      • Avatar Zac in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        @saul-degraw Forget it, Saul. It’s Kimmitown.Report

    • Avatar Notme in reply to Kazzy says:

      Dont let the NEA hear this. They dont want a teacher to rebutt their propaganda.Report

  2. Avatar Kazzy says:

    L4:

    How many people do you think are going to completely ignore this part of the article:
    “”Years of social science research suggests that women in authority positions deal with interpersonal tension, negative social interactions, negative stereotypes, prejudice, social isolation, as well as resistance from subordinates, colleagues, and superiors,” Pudrovska said. “Women in authority positions are viewed as lacking the assertiveness and confidence of strong leaders. But when these women display such characteristics, they are judged negatively for being unfeminine. This contributes to chronic stress.””

    And simply argue that women are not cut out — inherently — for those sorts of gigs?

    This isn’t a woman issue. It is a societal issue. We need to fix society.Report

  3. Avatar Damon says:

    S1: Methinks that perhaps if the things were reversed there would have been a different outcome..but that is to be expected.
    S2: Nice! I’ve always thought the best defense against PC is to aggressively attack via the same methods. Best line from the second link: “I don’t regret burning my bridges. I regret that some people weren’t on those bridges when I burnt them.”
    S4: Wa wa wa.
    S5: I stopped reading after the title, because, in fact, if someone can vote the topic IS up for discussion, even by folks who can’t have kids.
    S6: Yawn. Kids today can spot trolls. Hell, they’ve probably been one at some point. The response to bad speech is more speech. And I’ve found some troll comments hilarious and very pointed. It’s something to be kept around. People say nasty things when they are anonymous, but they also can make more honest comments than if they are identified.
    P4: You know if I’m dropping 1m on a robot mech I damn well want it to have one of the following or all: 50 cal armor piercing rounds, dual 7.62mm miniguns or a cannon firing depleted uranium rounds. And maybe a flame thrower.
    P5 Cool as hell. I wonder if I installed one outside my home (once the tech allows it to be smaller) if I’ll be able to get away from paying the “flush tax” in my state.
    C1: Total travesty. Don’t need to read it since I’ve heard it all before. This type of situation needs to get fixed. DNA results should always get you an out if you’ve been wrongly identified as the parent.
    C5: This is to be expected. The watchers don’t like being watched.Report

  4. Avatar Kimmi says:

    S6: Writer makes stupid mistake. Not all trolls are anonymous. Some are even big time guys who get TV Shows. Anonymous trolls simply mean fewer Charlies, and more of Australia’s resources going to cracking down on free speech on the internet.

    Seriously, writer fails to actually say anything more than “waaah!!”Report

  5. Avatar Kolohe says:

    S (all). The biggest irony is that Western & Global civilization has spent about a third of a millennium breaking paradigms about positional authority. Once upon a time there was the divine right of kings & the crime of Lèse-majesté and the infallibility of the Pope & solemnity of Magisterium, slowly broken apart by the Reformation & Counter-Reformation, the Enlightenment, and a series of revolutions with varied efficacies. Cumulating in the student movements of the late 20th century that advocated questioning all authority – and now we’re back to the premise that those in positions of authority shall not have their judgement or actions questioned.

    S1: I’m glad the linked posts compared and contrasted the situation with Salaita, I was going to ask about him before I read the post. (I think the situations are more alike than y’all do, though).

    S4: The clowns that made the threats were caught. With the help of the app company. Hurtado says to use twitter instead, but did he already forget the very similar twitter threats against airlines a few weeks ago that grounded, diverted, or otherwise disrupted several flights? Why by hating on the yakkers and not the twitters? To the extent that he wants to *ban* the app – it should be made clear he thinks the *app* is the weapon, not the words.

    S6: “Once upon a time, it seemed as if the Internet would be a place of civilized and open debate”

    When the flying fish was this occurrence? Applebaum sounds like someone who equates ‘the internet’ with ‘the World Wide Web’ – and at that, ‘the World Wide Web run by casual users on a Geocities host in 1998’ – and forgets about Usenet and all the BBSs and just about everything else that has come before or since (including Dre).

    And ffs, you know who really needs to be anonymous? The peeps criticizing the Russian and Iranian governments and their ilk. So yeah, make sure everyone involved in those debates, both pro-government and anti-government, are fully doxxed. What could possibly go wrong?

    (and is Applebaum irritated about the Founding Troll, Publius?)Report

  6. Avatar Kolohe says:

    E1: A&M has always had a decent reputation, it’s attracted decent talent at the professor ranks* and the administration for a long time (former Secretary of Defense had the job as A&M Pres before Bush hired him back into the government) and the separation between the Aggies and the Huskies is only 20 places in the US news ranking (68 vs 48). And like most schools with “Agricultural & Mechanical / Polytechnic / Tech” somewhere in the official name, its engineering department far outperforms the rest of the University (Texas A&M is ranked 11 in the country for an engineering school, compared with 26 for U Washington)

    *disclaimer, my girlfriend’s uncle is a professor thereReport

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Kolohe says:

      A&M is definitely a good school, and a good system. It’s marine science programs are top notch, if i remember correctly, and they’re mostly not at the flagship campus.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Chris says:

        The running joke at A&M when I was there (briefly. I had some issues as a naive 18 year old) was that A&M was where Baylor A students transferred to become shocked C students.

        I was in a hard sciences track, but even the soft stuff (history and English) was considerably in-depth. They also have a nuclear reactor. I think UT has the particle accelerator. Or maybe it’s vice versa….Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        UT was behind the Superconducting Super Collider plan, which never came to fruition, and they have a tiny collider that can perform some of the same experiments that giant ones do, but you’re probably thinking of this:

        http://cyclotron.tamu.edu/

        UT has the nuclear reactor at its J.J. Pickle Research Center (north part of town, actually just down the street from my place).Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        I’ll add that my son is a victim of whatever rumor it is that suggests that A&M is a bad school. Recently, A&M had a recruiting event at his high school, the first college recruiting event of the year, and when I asked him if he’d like to go, he looked at me like I was crazy and told me he didn’t want to go to… sneering voice.. A&M! So I had to explain to him that it’s a good school, and a fun campus (my best friend from high school went there).Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Chris says:

        @chris , your son’s views aren’t just a product of the “raised in Austin” thing?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Nah. I mean, he’s a UT fan, to be sure, but he thinks of OU as UT’s arch rival, not A&M. Plus many of his teachers went to A&M, and he generally respects his teachers.Report

  7. Avatar Mo says:

    V2: Has a false premise within it

    With respect to (2): Some anti-vaccination parents knowingly put the safety of their own children before that of other children. That seems wrong and probably is wrong. However, almost every parent puts their own children first in some circumstances. I’ve devoted a lot of my income to educating my kids, much more than I can easily justify given the far more acute needs of hundreds of millions of other children. The priority I gave my children is not easy to reconcile with my (ostensible?) commitment to altruism.

    He compared helping his children over other children to actively harming other children. A better analogy would be if he took money from other children’s education in order to benefit his own kids.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Mo says:

      …where the thing that’s suppose to “benefit” his own kids is actually harming them as well.

      Maybe like stealing money from other children’s science education in order to send his own kids to a creationist charter school?Report

  8. Avatar Kolohe says:

    L2: The Canadian dollar has dropped against the US dollar about the same amount from 2009 to today as the min wage has risen, so in a country where 1/6 of the economy is trade with the US, I’m not surprised there’s been no big effect either way.Report

    • Avatar James K in reply to Kolohe says:

      @kolohe

      Why would the exchange rate matter?Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to James K says:

        In a (mostly) common market but not common currency set up, like the one between Canada and the US, if the nominal price of one economic factor goes up but the currency that price is valued in goes down, the ‘real’ price is unchanged and thus the result is a wash, no?

        (though granted, it’s not entirely that simple as that because of the psychological effects of a nominal price going up)Report

  9. Avatar Kolohe says:

    E2: If we’ve settled on the fact that Ivy League institutions are merely credential mills, then yes, doubling the enrollment will double the graduates with no negatives whatsoever. But if the Ivy League is still providing value, or even daresay, an education, then merely doubling the enrollment and building a few new dorms and dining halls is insufficient. Are you going to find twice as many Ivy League level teachers?Report

  10. Avatar dhex says:

    [s4] yeeeaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh whup whup whup.

    yikyak can be a sewer. it can also be not a sewer. what it is useful, from an administrator’s pov, is a temperature check. the yik yak feed here is very tame, and often surprisingly supportive as a way for minority/marginalized groups to communicate. we check in now and then or if something is brought to our attention that needs it (expressions of depression/despair that seem troubling, etc).Report

  11. Avatar j r says:

    A few thoughts:

    S2: Dougherty has some very interesting thoughts. However, he says this, “Conservatives can get in on the identity-politics game, too.” And that really misses something quite large. Conservatives have been in on the identity-politics game for some time; they simple come in on the side of white, heterosexual, Christian, traditionalist identity.

    S3: There are things that try men to the point where even a proponent of the most radical forms of individual liberty and autonomy are brought to the point of exasperation, where we must say, “there ought to be a law..” So, maybe there ought to be a law that when anyone reports on these types of social psychology studies they must clearly make it known that what this study shows us is that a particular group of relatively wealthy, relatively white 18-22 year old college students was shown to possibly be more creative when prepped with a script prompting them to mind their PCness.

    S4: This sentence is the post in a microcosm, “Freedom of speech, a symbol of courage, is different from senseless babbling with a mask over your face while you clip your toenails in your room.” It is a bunch of words strung together in a non-arbitrary order, somewhat in accordance with the recognized rules of grammar, but it is not actually saying anything.

    S5: Old me would have had a lot more to say about this spectacular example of sohpism, but I will follow the example of @chris and simply say, “young people think that they have it all figure out, don’t they?”

    L1: Wise words from Postrel. Marketing and advertising catch a lot of flak. I’ve always said, though, if you want to find the biggest bullshitters in any corporate organization (after the C-suite perhaps) go to HR.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to j r says:

      Re S3:

      Undergraduates (N = 264) from two U.S. universities were paid $20 for participating in this experiment. We randomly assigned participants to mixed- or same-sex groups of three, resulting in a total of 86 groups (49 in the mixed-sex and 37 in the same-sex condition). Participants were, on average, 21 years old (s.d. = 2.61 years), and 53 percent were female. The racial composition of the sample was 54 percent white, 25 percent Asian, 8 percent undeclared, 6 percent African American, 5 percent Hispanic, and 2 percent Native American or East Indian.

      It’s not a bad study, as social psychology studies go (the interaction in the first study is so perfect that I definitely want to see it replicated, though). Of course, it’s one study, and the media doesn’t understand how science works (one study ~= established fact), but as studies and reporting go, this is nowhere near the worst case. I imagine age is a factor people will look at down the road.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to j r says:

      S5: Among our people it was simply understood that the one thing which must never be spoken of aloud was the great and terrible uterus of Niamh McIntyre.Report

    • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to j r says:

      S3: Well, no. Because the interesting thing wasn’t that the groups got more creative when exposed to the PC prompt. It’s that the mixed gender groups got more creative, in contrast to the same-gender groups whose creativity did not improve.Report

  12. Avatar Jaybird says:

    L3 What does Mike Rowe know about crappy jobs, anyway?Report

    • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to Jaybird says:

      Surprisingly little, I think.

      I mean, yeah, he spent a lot of time following around people who got paid $11 an hour to scrub the insides of sewer pipes, or whatever, but didn’t spend much time following aroud people who got paid $7 an hour working at McDonalds.

      I have very little patience for people who wax rhapsodic about the “soft skills” provided by minimum wage jobs. Working at Taco Bell doesn’t teach you important skills that will help you succeed in later careers. Instead it teaches you that if you don’t want to come into work, you can just call in sick. It teaches you that you can show up to work blazed of your ass and nobody gives a crap. It teaches you that it’s normal to clock out at midnight but keep working until 1am.

      If those jobs go away, it’s going to suck for the people working them. But it’s not going to suck because they’re being deprived of valuable learning opportunities, it’s going to suck because they’re being deprived of a job that pays money.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Alan Scott says:

        I’m one of the people who worked at crappy jobs on the way to working less crappy jobs. When we say “Working at Taco Bell doesn’t teach you important skills that will help you succeed in later careers”, I have to rejoin “it kinda did me, for different values of ‘Taco Bell’.”

        There are a lot of people who have the computer skills that I have. (Hell, there are a lot of people who have more.) There aren’t that many people who have the computer skills that I have and the waitstaff skills that I have. It’s that combination that got me conversations with managers where I would never have been noticed and jobs at companies where I never would have gotten interviewed in the first place.

        I suppose we could say “that’s just your experience” and, sure, maybe it is but I find it very difficult to believe that I’m a particularly special snowflake.Report

      • Working at Taco Bell doesn’t teach you important skills that will help you succeed in later careers. Instead it teaches you that if you don’t want to come into work, you can just call in sick. It teaches you that you can show up to work blazed of your ass and nobody gives a crap. It teaches you that it’s normal to clock out at midnight but keep working until 1am.

        I’m not particularly fond of the “what this job will teach ya” trope, not the least because it sounds overly preachy in a “lemme tell you what’s good for you” way. (And disclosure: I have never worked at Taco Bell.)

        In my opinion, the most important soft skill that can be (but is not necessarily) learned is what Rowe calls “[m]ost of all, I learned how to take shit from the public, and suck up to my boss.” That is a real skill that comes in handy, and I mean that non-ironically, especially when it comes to the first part of that sentence (about taking sh–). That is a valuable thing to learn indeed.Report

  13. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    S2: Interestingly Chait mentioned this as well recently in one more go in the fight.

    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2015/02/political-correctness-good-for-the-left.html

    “Conservatives fail to understand political correctness because they find the whole left half of the ideological spectrum too alien to dissect with any precision, and they have no interest in distinguishing the near left from the far left. Just the opposite, in fact. But since conservatives do have a real interest in talking about p.c., both when it is real and when it isn’t, they have lamentably influenced how liberals themselves understand the issue.”; and

    “So, for instance, Alyssa Rosenberg presents the p.c. debate as a question of whether the left wants to be effective or whether it wants to be nice. “The overall impression the piece left,” she writes, “was that Chait was more concerned with what’s nice than what’s right, and what works.?” Ross Douthat, arguing from the right, arrives at the similar conclusion. “The reality,” he writes, “is that there are contexts where making people afraid to disagree is actually a pretty successful ways of settling political and cultural arguments.”

    The mistake here is imagining that political correctness can be measured by the travails of a discrete class of victims. Yes, people who were fired from student newspapers or driven out of listservs or had their performance or speech canceled can be thought of as victims, but their direct suffering is minor. Even the most extreme cases of coercion have contained effects. Members of the p.c. left can vandalize a dorm room or confiscate a protest sign, but their coercive power here runs up against the limits of the American legal system, which remains organized along broadly liberal lines. The real power they exert lies within the internal boundaries of the left. Political correctness prevents the left from reasoning internally. It makes questions of identity central to all political debate, then deems those topics beyond dispute.”

    S4: We already do this and they are called true threats. There is a very thin line between speech and action and this line is going to be largely subjective.

    E2: So I am in a minority of a minority because I am a college graduate who attended a college whose acceptance rate is less than half! The 2012 Acceptance rate is 22 percent according to the net. It was probably around 25-28 percent when I attended. I would like examples of “lesser colleges”. Does she mean dear old Vassar or does she mean George Washington as schools that would kill for an Ivy League status. My other observation is that the college is many things for many people in the United States and our system has created colleges that fulfill these need. I’ve been into arguments about “Why couldn’t you just go to Ohio State?” but I would say that a small liberal arts college was the right place for me. Though maybe the multitude of choices is what makes American colleges so damn expensive?

    L1: This is absolutely true and there are plenty of firms that won’t hire graduates from schools that are considered elite. The famous article on this was called “Brown and Cornell are Second Tier”. Basically all the plum jobs (the ones that pay big bucks in your first year) go to graduates of Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Princeton, and Wharton. This is also why The Office could make so many jokes at the expense of Cornell (note: My dad and one of my uncles are Cornell graduates). The actual reputation is that Cornell is the easiet Ivy to get into but the hardest to stay in. I think this is another reason why Vassar was for me. They were willing to take a risk on an odd-duck of a student with all over the map grades from the excellent to the mediocre.Report

  14. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    A LinkedIn employee rides BART for three-days while contagious with measles:

    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2015/02/person-with-measles-rides-san-francisco-bart.htmlReport

  15. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    C4: And having sex with his severed head is a worse one, even if you’re a near-honor student.Report

  16. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/02/23/pain-gain

    The New Yorker issues a funny and devastating review of 50 shades the movie:

    “Many combinations were suggested, my own preference being Nick Nolte and Barbra Streisand, who made such a lovely couple in “The Prince of Tides,” but in the end the lucky winners were Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson. Good choices, I reckon, especially Johnson, who, as the granddaughter of Tippi Hedren, knows everything about predators who stare and swoop.”

    “And there you have the problem with this film. It is gray with good taste—shade upon shade of muted naughtiness, daubed within the limits of the R rating. Think of it as the “Downton Abbey” of bondage, designed neither to menace nor to offend but purely to cosset the fatigued imagination. You get dirtier talk in most action movies, and more genitalia in a TED talk on Renaissance sculpture.”Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Chris says:

        @chris

        A young person reviewing 50 shades and liking it but for reasons that Anthony Lane would probably approve of*:

        http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2015/02/12/fifty_shades_of_grey_is_a_great_bad_movie_it_s_perfect_for_hate_readers.html

        *I am not a hate reader and the “so bad its good” gene passed me over.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        That review makes me wonder if we’re talking about an American Sniper/Transformers/Passion of the Christ phenomenon here.

        A movie that everybody that we know hates and we have no idea why it made any money at all.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Chris says:

        @jaybird

        I don’t know if everyone hates American Sniper. A lot of people do call it right-wing jingnoism but I’ve also heard liberal critics dispute this notion and praise the movie.

        Transformers is going to be loved by people who like action movies and disliked by most people whose job it is to review movies. There are plenty of movies that are commercial successes and critical failures. This is a long standing debate in art about why should the taste of the cultural elite matter when they like what many people do not.

        Passion of the Christ was mainly seen by the religious right I believe. Another audience that would generally go for it.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Chris says:

        Saul and Jay,
        If Michael Moore can praise American Sniper, it can’t be THAT bad, and it’s definitely not the most jingoistic movie made in the last year (Jack Strong takes the cake on that one. Best movie Poland’s ever made, and it’s utterly unwatchable).Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Chris says:

        I should have had a Fifty Shades of Grey section! Here are a couple:

        From The Federalist: ‘Fifty Shades’ A Cry For Help From Women Betrayed By Feminism

        From Salon: “[It’s the] date movie our puritanical — and yet super rape-y! — culture deserves.”Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        I loved Transformers. It’s giant robots blowing stuff up; I do not care about anything else. Well, the racist nonsense in the second one got to me, but the fourth one had giant dinosaur robots blowing stuff up.

        It’s possible to enjoy a really bad move and not “hate watch” it. In fact, the “so bad it’s good” thing is not really hate watching at all. Hate watching is entirely different. I’ve hate read a few things, the second and third books of the Hunger Games trilogy and everything I’ve ever read by Ayn Rand, for example, and I a.) didn’t really enjoy it, and b.) definitely didn’t think they were so bad they were good. I just thought they were awful. That’s hate reading. “So bad it’s good” implies that it’s actually enjoyable to watch/read. Everything I’ve ever thought was so bad it was good I did not hate in any sense (e.g., ConAir!).Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Chris says:

        I was never as much into Transformers as a lot of people in my cohort were, so I never watched the movies. I was more of a GoBots guy, because my parents would buy those toys because they were cheaper. But even then, I was more GI Joe and Thundercats than either of those things.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Chris says:

        I loved Transformers. It’s giant robots blowing stuff up; I do not care about anything else.

        I won’t say that I loved the Transformers franchise, but I greatly enjoyed watching them for the CGI. Truly high quality physics package, and an insane number of components in full motion.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Chris says:

        Michael Cain,
        check out anachronox. All their movies were done with the engine itself.

        I’m not sure I grok “hate watching”.

        I must say I did find it funny as hell watching a show that was deliberately written to be awful actually manage to stick some landings (sidenote: it’s hard to get creative writers to write awful stuff. sure, they nix the first three good ideas, but then they get the twelfth, and that’s too good not to use…).Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        I heard Optimus Prime’s voice and was, immediately, 12 years old once again.

        THEN THE REST OF THE MOVIE STARTED.

        But that’s a conversation for another day.

        I’m more trying to make the point that this strikes me as a movie that we will be cursed to discuss for as long as it remains in the top five (maybe the top ten) and I fear that we might have to carry this curse with us for at least another three weeks (and then, again, when it comes out on DVD).

        This doesn’t bug me, really, because… hey. It’s a movie. It’s like arguing whether someone should enjoy a cupcake. What bugs me is the knowledge that, if this movie is massively successful, we’re not only going to see sequels but also copycats… and I suspect that this movie will be massively successful.

        And that will irritate me the same way that every third storefront was gourmet cupcakes a year or so back irritated me.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Chris says:

        @will-truman

        I am not sure of what to make about that Federalist essay. I think this is one of those broad claims that people love to make but are hard to prove. I largely disagree with it.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Chris says:

        Jay,
        Nope. nope. nope. not going to discuss this movie that long. going to flood everyone’s ears with reviews of Stand By Me or Beverly Hills Cop. (Those, unlike R100, I figure people will actually discuss, even if they haven’t seen ’em. Because everyone’s seen eddie murphy).

        And I do need to do a review of School Days, which I would far rather see everyone discussing than 50 shades of grey.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Jay, yeah, I got it, I just felt the need to express my love for robots blowing stuff up.

        Will, I was He-Man, GI Joe, and Transformers, all the way. My next door neighbor and I used to get into heated debates because he was a Voltron fan, and to me, Voltron was a direct affront to Transformers.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Chris says:

        I loved Voltron. I still think the concept is better than the one behind Transformers (or GoBots). I saw a couple episodes a while back, though, and… you should never go back and watch childhood shows you really loved.

        (A funny thing about going back and watching Voltron. When we used to play Voltron in the playground, somebody always had to be the Blue Lion. In the TV show, the blue cat was a girl, which created something of a problem. So we pretended that before the blue cat was a girl, there was a boy blue cat. At least I thought we were pretending, but it turns out that there was a boy blue cat!)Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Chris says:

        Puritanical is a meaningless insult aimed at people who have different ideas about the boundaries of sex and love than you do.

        I’m also begginning to think that American puritanicalism makes it easier to absorb immigrants from diverse parts of the world than European sexual libertineness. People from more conservative countries face less culture shock in adopting to American modes of behavior.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        I loved Voltron.

        Welp, you and I cannot be friends.

        I recently rewatched the old Transformers cartoons with my son’s little brother recently. He loves the recent Transformers cartoons (which are definitely for kids his age or a bit older), so I wanted to see if he’d like the old ones. He didn’t. In fact, he told me “I hate that Transformers movie” (he calls everything you watch on a screen a movie). I thought it was OK, but I won’t watch any more of it.

        We also watched the 80s GI Joe cartoons on Netflix, and they were so bad that I enjoyed them (which is not hate watching). I actually remember watching the first episode when I was 6 or 7, and I thought I remembered exactly how it went, but man was I wrong.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Puritanical is a meaningless insult aimed at people who have different ideas about the boundaries of sex and love than you do.

        Ya can’t really say that it’s meaningless and then say what it means.

        I don’t think it has to be an insult, but I and many others who use it tend to find prudishness unpleasant, so “puritanical” does tend to refer to a trait we dislike.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Chris says:

        Lee,
        Puritannical is not a meaningless insult. It combines the whole Puritan “people ought not to have sex, and women especially ought not to enjoy it” with the whole Baptist “dancing is sinful”. This is seen especially in our formulation of cleaning products.

        Purity and cleanliness are key issues at the heart of a lot of culture, and America is really, really culturally off from most of the world.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Chris says:

        ” I thought I remembered exactly how it went, ”

        Well, now you know.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Chris says:

        I’m actually curious what was different about how it went.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        The story was different, the action was different. I remembered some really specific stuff with some of the characters (e.g., Bazooka) which just wasn’t there. I suspect that in my mind I’d merged a bunch of episodes into one. I mean, I was in early elementary school at the time.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Chris says:

        What I found was that stories I remembered as five part epics turned out to be two episodes long and not epicky at all.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Chris says:

        I’ve read the wikipedia article that summarizes all the episodes of the 1967 Spiderman cartoon series, for this one specific episode that I absolutely clearly remember, and that is absolutely clearly not on the list. I don’t know what to make of that.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Chris says:

        df,
        you probably dreamt it.

        My husband is constantly confused about whether it was Grant or Sherman who got to be president and got on the currency. He’s got arguments for both in his head — like left and right, it’s hard to remember seemingly nonsensical things. (otoh, port and starboard are easy to remember, as they’re fixed quantities that don’t change when you turn around).Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Chris says:

        “Passion of the Christ was mainly seen by the religious right I believe. Another audience that would generally go for it.”

        The Passion of the Christ
        #1 All Time Top Grossing R rated movie
        #25 All Time Domestic Gross
        #59 All Time Domestic Gross Adjusted
        #93 All Time World WideReport

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

        @jaybird

        “That review makes me wonder if we’re talking about an American Sniper/Transformers/Passion of the Christ phenomenon here.
        A movie that everybody that we know hates and we have no idea why it made any money at all.”

        Maybe I’m atypical, but I don’t really experience this. I know some people who liked those movies and some people who hated them.

        The show that I once said, “How can that be so popular… I don’t know a single person who watches it?” was ‘Big Bang Theory’. When I posted that to Facebook, I got bombarded by people proclaiming their love. Turns out it’s a show that people watch but don’t really talk about. Having seen some episodes, I see both the appeal and why it doesn’t really lend itself to conversation: nothing topical, nothing particularly edgy, and not all that quotable.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Chris says:

        Regarding American Sniper and Passion: Everyone I know who has seen either movie raved about it.

        Regarding Transformers: I saw it right after it was released on DVD, and have not seen it (or any of the subsequent movies) since. After X number years here is everything I remember about Transformers: Megan Fox, working on a car.

        That’s not a joke. It really is all I can recall.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Chris says:

        Yes, Megan Fox working on the car was nice to see. But really, no memories at all of big robots or stuff getting blowed up?Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Chris says:

        @burt-likko Maybe? I mean, yeah, I have a few memories of those things — robot crashing into building, robot climbing a pyramid, robot on a moon, robot in the sand, etc. But to be honest, I don’t think if I could tell you if they were from the movie transformers or from other transformer movie commercials.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        ROBOTS PLAYING HIDE AND SEEKReport

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Chris says:

        @saul-degraw, the points of the Federalist review might be dubious but it was a good conservative snark review. Not as good as the New Yorker review but still providing a solid chuckle.

        Filming 50 Shades of Grey was both inevitable and troublesome. There was no way that Hollywood was going to give up a potential cash cow like 50 Shades. The rules regarding depicting sex in movies was always going to make adapting 50 Shades somewhat of a Herculean task. The rules are much more liberal know than they were at anytime in movie history but depicting even 50 Shades erroneous version of kinky sex would go beyond the standard R rating and would probably be more explicit than anything Hollywood ever produced.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        This (NSFW):

        Gilbert Gottfried Reads 50 Shades of Grey: http://youtu.be/XkLqAlIETkAReport

      • Avatar Zac in reply to Chris says:

        Regarding American Sniper: I enjoyed it, although I think it helps to watch it as though it’s about a composite character, rather than watching it as “The Chris Kyle Story” because the movie certainly does gloss over the more odious aspects of the man’s personality. I will say that it definitely doesn’t seem pro-war, to me. Clint Eastwood movies, at least the ones he directs, seem to have a fairly strong anti-war message, at least to me.

        Regarding the Transformers franchise: Bear in mind that these movies make over half their gross in foreign markets. They’re not really *for* us, they’re for a global audience; it’s why they seem so dumbed-down: because global audiences may not understand the nuances of American culture, but they will certainly understand giant robots and explosions.

        Regarding the Jesus Chainsaw Massacre: Easily one of the most disturbing films I’ve ever seen. I feel like it’s unintentionally revealing of the folks who love it, frankly.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

        I actually went to see “Passion” in the theaters, so I can’t for the life of me remember who I went with. That is because I fell asleep during the movie. Something I do at about 50-75% of movies I see. Not because of the movies. Because I am just really good at falling asleep in theaters. I watched it again on DVD with my then-girlfriend who really wanted to see it but who was turned off by the gore.

        Re: Transformers. Zazzy really likes them but she has a soft spot for a particular type of silly action movie. She likes the Transformers series and recent Bond movies (though in slightly different ways) but can’t stomach the Fast-and-Furious franchise, which is my cup of tea. However, when discussing her viewing of one of them, we spent 5 minutes trying to figure out A) if she had watched the third or the fourth one and B) if they had even made a fourth one. We’re still not sure.

        From what I remember of the Transformers movies I saw (which I *think* were the first two) is that there was a certain cuteness to the robots. Yes, they were giant smash-o-bots, but they seemed more like oversized labrador puppies than they did killing machines. I think this was part of the appeal for her. F&F lacks any such cuteness. Except Paul Walker…Report

  17. Avatar Pinky says:

    S5 – @damon – I had to read the article after the headline, because I know how poor headlines can sometimes make you misjudge the story. The article was exactly as billed, although somehow less thoughtful than I expected. I figured that if she’d framed the story that way, she’d at least have an interesting take on the issues of free speech and free society. Nothing.Report

  18. Avatar LWA says:

    S2-
    I ended up agreeing with Dougherty more than I wanted to. Particularly here-

    “For all its protestations about good allies, the demands of political correctness seem to act like an acid on solidarity. This may be why leftists who are concerned primarily with redistributing economic power get tired of the kind of infighting, back-biting, and jockeying that is inherent to this style of politics. Political correctness talks about solidarity, but performs itself as expressive individualism.

    “leftists who are concerned primarily with redistributing economic power” would of course describe me.

    His comments about how PC works as aspirational grasping are very well stated- what is missing from most conservative critiques of it is that PC exists almost entirely within the rarified confines of the university, and even then, is mostly limited to words and hurt feelings.
    Its noteworthy, for example, that Darren Brown didn’t unleash the awesome power of PC to defend himself from Officer Wilson.

    What’s missing from the liberal conversation is the notion of how limited and unproductive it is to center all political discussions on rights.
    Rights operate in our political discourse like fortresses, “No Go” enclosures which no one may violate. This ends up making it difficult to make any compromise or mediation.

    A better approach would be to find agreement on an end goal, such as a shared understanding of human dignity and flourishing, and negotiate ways to reach it.Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to LWA says:

      I like the Token Dissonance essay as well.

      I’ve come to think of PC as one of those 6-D Cell MagLites. It’s marketed as a very robust flashlight, but it makes a fine club to whack somebody with.

      I think it is a good idea, for everyone, to remember to practice the charitable read, and to pushback on people who use PC as a club instead of a light, especially when you agree with their point.Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to LWA says:

      @lwa
      His comments about how PC works as aspirational grasping are very well stated- what is missing from most conservative critiques of it is that PC exists almost entirely within the rarified confines of the university, and even then, is mostly limited to words and hurt feelings. Its noteworthy, for example, that Darren Brown didn’t unleash the awesome power of PC to defend himself from Officer Wilson.

      Yeah, this sometimes gets me when people start talking about PC stuff. I mean, it exists on various left blogs too, and so I can speak the language.

      But when people on the right talk about it…it would be like if random people liked to complain about how Godel’s incompleteness theorem is nonsense, and that’s why they don’t approve of math. How…what…huh? What the hell is the context here? In what universe are they normally interacting with that?

      The form of PC that exists in the general population is, uh, ‘Don’t say stupidly prejudice things’ and ‘Try to be a little respectful towards people with disabilities’. That’s…about it.

      So, it’s basically an agreement that people shouldn’t *say things* that society has generally agreed are bad ways to act. Which means ‘PC’ not some independent thing. Society *normally* frowns on that sort of stuff.

      People tend to get pretty upset if you wander around saying, for example, ‘Man, I’d really love to masturbate here in public’ or ‘I bet I could kill my spouse and make it look like an accident’. Society will often get upset if you voice all sorts of thoughts aloud. It doesn’t matter what particular ‘rule’ you’re breaking.

      The problem is, apparently, that a lot of the right are not *happy* society has decided that being openly racist or whatever is unacceptable. So have decided that when people look at other people funny for saying *those* things, that’s ‘PC’ and a horrible thing the left has invented, instead of just what happens when you say stuff like that.

      (And the same thing is true in the university environment, it’s just they have a different society, and it keeps bumping up against the outside world.)

      What’s missing from the liberal conversation is the notion of how limited and unproductive it is to center all political discussions on rights. Rights operate in our political discourse like fortresses, “No Go” enclosures which no one may violate. This ends up making it difficult to make any compromise or mediation.

      Ha, I’m glad to find at least one other person with my opinion in that.

      Rights also have the problem that they are ‘infinite rules’, which not only makes them impenetrable, but it also means, because they are infinite, you can use any of them to drown out any other.

      I.e., if people have an infinite right to live, then people have an infinite right to not be killed by terrorists, and thus we can do *anything* to stop terrorists from killing people. Like torture them.

      Or if people have an infinite right to religious freedom, we can use that to override people’s right to equal protection under the law. Or, vis versa.

      And it gets even worse because we just like to *invent* rights. Like the right to not pay taxes.Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to DavidTC says:

        @davidtc
        In addition to the triumphalist nature of only speaking of rights, it allows us to avoid having a conversation about why we believe in rights, or why they should be recognized.

        Its why I am cool to the notion that rights pre-exist government. I understand the logic, but it strips rights of their meaning and purpose, as if they are like physical artifacts that exist independent of our recognition.
        In a way, that view is very much a fundamentalist posture- the way that religious taboos have no larger purpose, but simply exist as cosmic rules.

        The more productive view is that rules- and rights- exist for our benefit, to make our lives meaningful, since we ourselves are their subject matter.

        Seen in this light, recognition of same sex marriage for example, is less about the individual right to marry, as it is about welcoming and celebrating the humanity of gay people. Instead of constructing another fortress we are building a wider more cohesive community.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DavidTC says:

        @lwa
        In addition to the triumphalist nature of only speaking of rights, it allows us to avoid having a conversation about why we believe in rights, or why they should be recognized.

        Exactly. Freedom of speech, and freedom of religion, for example, serve different purposes, or speech at least serves an additional one.

        Freedom of religion is a philosophical concept, the idea that the state should be be involved how people see the world, and how they tell others about that. Freedom of speech can also be under that, in a way. But society doesn’t break if that stops. Violating that, is, basically, an *equal protection* issue, because laws shouldn’t discriminate against certain things.

        What *does* break a democratic society is if political freedom of speech not there, because we cannot actually decide where we want to go, politically, if we cannot freely talk about. Or freely vote and change things. So, uh, freedom of speech generally beats freedom of religion.

        Likewise, more important than that are the rights that make sure we operate under rule of law, because without them we don’t have any sort of civil society at all, and it doesn’t actually matter what other rights we have in theory because they can just be ignored.

        Lumping everything into rights means we can’t recognize that there are at least three different levels of right I can see offhand. A ‘rule of law’ level, a ‘democracy’ level, and ‘equal protection’ level.(1) And there are levels within that. (For example, someone’s right to freely vote is more important than someone’s right to free speech, and hence you cannot freely speak, and possibly coerce people, while they are waiting in line to vote.)

        And people often get very confused about this. For example, the police repeatedly shooting innocent black people is, uh, not really an equal protection issue, despite the left sometimes seeming to make it one (Which I find an acceptable tactic if ‘racism’ makes people outraged, but it’s sad we have to go there, instead of just ‘don’t shoot people for no reason’.), and the right deciding to ignore it because they don’t think equal protection issues are important or automatically take the opposite side on them. (Which I find somewhat racist, and very telling.)

        In reality, the government randomly shooting people is literally the topmost rule of law issue there possibly can be, that the government isn’t allowed to kill you for no reason. It’s a valid point that it keeps happening to black people, for probably racist reasons, but the racism is a few magnitudes less important than the fact it happens at all, or at least should be.

        But even the ‘levels’ is just a rough concept, and not completely correct. Whenever we talk about rights, we should attempt to explain *why* we think such a right is important, and *what a right is intended to do*. (Second amendment promoters often run into weird issues with this, because the only real ‘things we need guns to do’ issue they can come up with is self-defense, which actually has a *horrific* record. It almost almost never happens and often resulting in innocent people dead. And ‘overthrow the government’, which, logically, would appear to be highest right conceivable…except that, uh, such a right doesn’t really exist, and pretty much everyone agrees on that, and it cannot possibly work.)

        1) equal protection is a confusing term there. It often is used to mean ‘The law should be applied equally to everyone, and the law should not discriminate’. I’m just meaning the second part…the first one is what I was calling ‘rule of law’.Report

  19. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    Related to the various Labor links is this:

    The American workforce skillset continues to lag behind the rest of the world.

    I imagine this knowledge is mixed with thoughts of paying higher minimum wages and moving work out of the US or hiring foreign workers. The article does go on to comment that we need to get better at primary education in the lower SES. If paying teachers more doesn’t give us too much return, then we need to focus on what does give us a return. More teacher aides? Tutors? Better Social support? All of the above?

    relatedReport

    • (shakes cane)

      When *I* was a kid, you were expected to get a job. Sure, when you were 8 or so, it was only for a few hours a week but by the time you were 16, you were expected to hold down a part-time job. This teaches the basic skills of showing up on time, showered! The ability to read a schedule and have a conversation about when you could and could not work next week! The ability to use a broom and a mop! By the time you graduated college, you should have had three or four jobs on your resume and enough knowledge to know that you should be embarrassed by the fact that your college portion includes stuff like the clubs you were in because, otherwise, you wouldn’t have filled 75% of the page! And that communicated to employers that they wouldn’t have to train you on entry-level stuff!

      Now, let me read the article and see if it talks about this…

      Oh. It’s talking about math and science.

      Hrm. It elides the difficulty of changing social mores when it talks about Japan but changing a handful of laws should allow for a handful of companies to actually attempt some changes and the ones that do, if they’re successful, will be giving the green light to everybody else.

      As for doing a better job of training Americans, it talks about averages rather than means and modes… I’m guessing that the people on this side of the tracks test as well as the heavy hitters on that list and the people on that side of them are so far near the bottom that they pull “the average” back into the middle (but I don’t have numbers or anything). If that’s the case, the handful of solutions will be significantly different than if, say, we do have a so-called “normal” distribution.Report

    • Avatar Notme in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

      Surely you can’t object to paying someone more money to help them live a comfortable life even though they have dont have much of an education or few if any marketable skills?Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Notme says:

        No, of course not. Hell, I’d even pay you, and as far as I’m concerned…
        But, I’m a nice cat. You are playing ball for the folks who think that “veterans benefits are the next welfare”.

        Have a fine day.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

      MRS,
      may not really matter. 47% of US jobs slated to go away in the next 20 years.
      I’m not sure if we get Jimmy from 20% to 40% of the global industrialized average, we do him a jack bit of good in the long run.Report

    • Avatar LWA in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

      @mad-rocket-scientist
      I would think that before discussing ways that we can improve the skills level of the American workforce, first we need to agree that there is such a thing as “we”, and second, that this is a problem that we should be addressing, versus letting some spontaneous order handle it.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to LWA says:

        I favor banning technology!
        (no, not really. I’m not That Guy — also, if you know who I’m referencing, i’m not referencing him.).Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to LWA says:

        If we can get away with using the word “we” to refer to two or three different distinct groups when we talk about us, we can probably come up with a lot of different solutions that we can apply to the problems that we face.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to LWA says:

        As noted last week, we have evidence of a way that works, and while it isn’t the application of spontaneous order, it is akin to working somewhat outside the established order:

        http://www.forbes.com/sites/modeledbehavior/2015/01/11/charter-success/Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to LWA says:

        MRS: Charter schools cherry pick. Even ones with student bodies drawn by lottery cherry pick, because the parents applying for the lottery are the ones engaged and heavily value their kids education lives.

        That’s pretty hard to control for, and should by default push charter schools into far better results. If your student population is heavily titled towards kids with involved parents who value education, you should do MUCH better than school with a population of ‘students who live roughly nearby’.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to LWA says:

        It’s quite easy to control for cases where there is a lottery, insofar as you can compare the applicants who won versus the ones who lost.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to LWA says:

        @morat20

        If a charter school student is selected by lottery, then by definition it is not cherry picking. There is a measure of sample selection bias on the part of the students in the lottery for the reasons you stated, but that is different from cherry picking. Cherry picking implies an effort by the charter schools to actively select for choice students.

        That said, my gut feeling with regard to kids who struggle & whose parents are not active in their education (or worse, are disruptive to), is that the probability that a school is going to be able to make a difference for them is very small. Before they’ll have a chance, the home situation has to improve somehow.Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to LWA says:

        If the definition of “What Works” is universal education regardless of ability to pay, then there exists a common ground whereby success can be measured.

        Mostly charters and private are arrangements that deliver success by eliminating the hard cases.

        And its the hard cases that we are talking about. As I mentioned, schools where the children are the focus of aggressive involvement and time investment from parents and community, don’t need any “solution”- they are already doing fine.Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to LWA says:

        And I agree with you, about the home situation.

        Which only leads to a larger question- what do we do about that?

        For the record, I believe that government action is not necessarily the tool that needs to be applied- but collective action can be brought to bear even without government.

        Which is where I channel my inner conservative; the idea that the fate of families, which is the outcome of personal life choices is somehow entirely within the private sphere, is nonsense.

        The intertwining of our individual fates to the larger fate of community and nation works both ways- it justifies compassion but also moral suasion.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to LWA says:

        Which only leads to a larger question- what do we do about that?

        Well, social stigma is probably off of the table.

        I know! Let’s spend more money on administrators!Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to LWA says:

        Mostly charters and private are arrangements that deliver success by eliminating the hard cases.

        Assumes facts not in evidence.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to LWA says:

        @will-truman

        The biggest difference between the student populations in public schools and those in private/charters has to do with the latter being a self-selecting population. Private/charters are opt-in. Publics are opt-out. That means, for a kid to end up in a private or charter school, his parents/guardians had to put forth some sort of affirmative effort to land them there. That alone puts them ahead of the curve, especially looking at students within the same socioeconomic and racial cohorts.

        If you care enough to get your kid on the lottery list for a charter, your kid is likely going to fare better than the kid whose parents don’t lift a finger to make a difference in their education. Yes, that is a bit of a false dilemma but I sense you understand what I’m getting at.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to LWA says:

        Kazzy, lottery evaluations at least partially control for that, by comparing only the children of parents who applied for the lottery. If Billy’s parents and Bob’s parents both applied for the charter schools, and Billy won and Bob didn’t, the difference cannot be accounted for by looking at the parents of the kids. The most you can say is that Billy is in a school surrounded by parents who applied. But that’s not really succeeding by cherry picking or eliminating the hard cases.

        I have some questions about how scalable the KIPP model is (for example), but I just don’t believe it can be dismissed on the basis of self-selection or weeding.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to LWA says:

        MRS,

        Correct me if I’m wrong but “lotteries” for school districts work by drawing names from an applicant pool. That applicant pool is heavily stacked in favor of ‘better results’ (anyone submitting their name to one is by default seeking a better education for themselves or their children), which means you’re picking at random from a superior pool.

        Will,
        Except the lost applicants — while more motivated and valuing education higher than their counterparts in the school, are still In a school consisting mostly of really, really poor students. (Poor as in ‘from poverty stricken areas’). No child (save for those with tutors) is educated alone — a classroom is taken as a whole, and a distraction/issue/discipline problem with a classroom will cut down on instruction time.

        Children who (or whose parents do) apply for these lotteries will do better than their peers if they fail, but not as good as those who won — because the losers are stuck in classrooms chock full of distractions, behavior problems, and other demands on instruction time besides ‘instruction’.

        So to boil it down: There’s a lot of moving parts there to track, and the mechanics of charter schools — like private schools — should, by default, have better results assuming equally skilled teachers and equal facilities. Because those schools are full of kids whose parents value education, and are willing to work to get it for their kids. (Which is, frankly, the biggest factor in a child’s learning — do the parents give a flying crap/have the energy/time/money to give a flying crap?).

        Now if a charter school up and replaced a public school wholesale, with roughly the same requirements (testing, the difficulty removing a child from school, etc) — that’d be easier to compare. But those are also rare to non-existent cases.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to LWA says:

        @will-truman

        But we’re not comparing Billy and Bob.

        We’re comparing Billy and his class mates (all opt-ins) with Bob and his classmates (some rejected opt-ins, but most not).Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to LWA says:

        If what we’re saying here is “classmates make a difference”, then I can’t argue with that. They certainly do. Which I put in favor of charter schools, insofar as I prefer the ability to strive for better classmates (and whatever benefit that provides) not be limited to those who can afford to move and/or afford private school. Also an argument in favor of district alternative schools.

        I also still don’t think “cherry picking” or “eliminating the hard cases” being at the root of the success is a particularly accurate characterization, even if we’re attributing the successes to “classmates make a difference.”Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to LWA says:

        @will-truman

        If we know that parent involvement is huge and we know that, by definition, charter/private school parents are collectively more involved than their public counterparts, than how can we conclude anything other than the parental piece being a huge component in the success of charter/privates?Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to LWA says:

        I think it’s a factor, but I don’t see that as being the defining characteristic. If it were, I’d expect to see more uniformly good results. Instead, we see better performance among some groups and worse among others (when doing lottery comparisons).

        And more broadly, it seems to me that different approaches to education are likely to yield different results. Which, maybe not. Maybe schools don’t matter and teachers don’t matter and all that matters is the collective responsiveness of parents and classmates.

        I actually think this may be the case sometimes. I will say that on the days where I do think this is the case, it does not lead me to places liberals would particularly care for. And it’s generally not something that goes over well when talking to education reform-skeptics… except when we’re talking about charter schools or other uncomfortable reforms.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to LWA says:

        @will-truman

        Oh, yes, it is A factor. But not THE ONLY factor.

        You are right that talking about charters (or privates or publics) as a singular entity is wrong. Some charters work. Some do not. Some privates work and some do not. Some publics work and some do not. Some approaches work and some do not. More importantly, some approaches work for some students (individually or collective populations) but not others. The one-size-fits-none approach is fatally flawed and the sooner we can move away from it the better.

        I have some misgivings about the charter school movement. However, offering greater diversity of educational environments and increased experimentation (with an understanding that children are not guinea pigs) is a positive development.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to LWA says:

        Will,

        My basic point is this: The very nature of charter and private schools gives them a sizable performance edge. We can talk about ‘how much’, but really they’ve got an edge. They should, by default, perform better than a public school with the same demographics and resources. How much better depends on all those fiddly bits, obviously, but “better” I think is a pretty solid assumption.

        My problems WITH charter schools are manifold. They often seem rather unaccountable (and thus prone to cons. Proper oversight and requiring them to adhere to similar or the same accountability standards as public schools fixes this). They are often touted as ‘THE solution’ when they are ‘A solution’ — a charter school might indeed fix a given problem, but as I’ve said before — the ‘public school system’ in America is thousands of individual, independent districts operating under 50 VERY independent overarching state systems.

        It is just as laughable to think one system can fix that as to think that those thousands of districts are all flawed — or that those that are flawed are flawed in the same way, amenable to some generic fix.

        Lastly, I’ve found the most vocal proponents of charter schools are people who also talk about a public school Armageddon — as if the public school system is collapsing. (Far from it. Again, thousands or tens of thousands of independent districts). They’re telling me something I know is untrue in order to sell me something — I distrust that by nature.

        But again, I don’t have anything against them in specific. A given charter school might indeed fix a given problem in a given place.

        There’s just a lot of flim-flam around the whole concept, and the amount of money is more than enough to have con men sniffing around. Skepticism, oversight, and proper targeting are key.Report

    • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

      @mad-rocket-scientist

      If paying teachers more doesn’t give us too much return, then we need to focus on what does give us a return. More teacher aides? Tutors? Better Social support? All of the above?

      Specialized math instruction at the lower grades is a good start, if we can find the teachers for it. A huge chunk of Elementary school teachers are math-phobic, and it shows in the poor quality of their math instruction–getting specialists who just teach math to the kids for an hour a day or whatever could have a huge positive effect.

      Family-focused relocation efforts are also something that could be explored. Elementary school teachers are often the secondary income earners for their families, which means that it’s hard for the labor supply to move to where the labor demand is. What about a program that partnered with local industries and encouraged them to recruit and relocate employees whose spouses were teachers?

      Better support for teachers in their first few years of teaching. An absurd number of new teachers leave the profession in the first few years–which isn’t surprising because they often get the worst teaching assignments and also very little in terms of mentoring. Efforts to prevent new teacher burnout (whether vast institutional changes, or just baking them cookies every Friday) are unlikely to hurt.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Alan Scott says:

        A huge chunk of Elementary school teachers are math-phobic

        This I believe, especially given my own early struggles with math. If I ever hear an adult say “S/he’s just not a math person”, I’m going to be tempted to (DEEP BREATH!) control my temper and politely explain why that is such a horribly damaging attitude to have.

        I like your other ideas as well. Especially with regard to crap assignments & burnout. I had that problem at The Lazy B, where junior engineers were given all the scut work & senior engineers took all the exciting work. They have a problem with engineers leaving at or before 5 years. Couple that with a retention system that favors seniority (thanks SPEEA), and junior engineers feel insecure and shut out. I know they are striving to correct that, but they get resistance from the union and the senior engineers who are too busy to be bothered mentoring and let the kids do something interesting*.

        Maybe junior teachers can’t get the plum assignments, but all effort should be made to find them something to keep them professionally interested & engaged.

        *Not all the senior engineers are like that, but enough are that retention is still a problem.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Alan Scott says:

        Math is weird… people are either really good at math or really poor at math. There are probably all sorts of reasons for this but math ability seems less a spectrum and more two buckets. And, at the risk of overgeneralizing, people in the former bucket (of which I include myself) probably have less collective interpersonal skills than those in the latter bucket. And interpersonal skills are hugely important for teachers of young children.Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to Alan Scott says:

        @kazzy

        Math is weird… people are either really good at math or really poor at math.

        Is that your experience with young children? Or just your experience with adults who spent their entire childhoods learning that people are either good at math or bad at math?

        And, at the risk of overgeneralizing, people in the former bucket (of which I include myself) probably have less collective interpersonal skills than those in the latter bucket.

        That, frankly, does not match my experiences. Now, I know a lot less about the math skills of my friends than I do about the interpersonal skills. But I do have a lot of friends who are engineers with whom I regularly play strategic boardgames. In my anecdotal experience, social skill has a rough positive correlation with the logical reasoning skills necessary to kick my butt at boardgames.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Alan Scott says:

        @alan-scott

        Re: Point #1 – Adults.

        Re: Point #2 – Entirely possible I was overgeneralizing from poorly formed stereotypes.

        More generally, teaching elementary school is really frickin’ hard. And this is *not* reflected in our general standards for teachers (based on teacher certification exams). These tests often just look to see if teachers have mastered the actual content they are expected to teach. Meaning, an elementary school teacher only needs to understand elementary-level math… maybe a bit higher. But I think this is flawed. In order to effectively teach it, you need to understand the content in depth as well as higher-level content. Now, stretch that across the disciplines (reading, writing, social studies, often science, sometimes art in younger grades) and add on top of that an understand of child psychology and development AND THEN add pedagogy, instruction, etc, etc, etc.

        And then you need the “it” factor.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Alan Scott says:

        Kazzy,

        Anyone with a college degree should understand ‘content mastery’ does not make you a good teacher. It’s bad enough for adults to deal with a crappy teacher unable to convey his or her expert knowledge. (If you don’t know this and got through college, I congratulate you. You’re a lucky duck indeed not to have a teacher who understands his subject as well as anyone else in the world, but totally unable to explain it to anyone who isn’t already an expert on it).

        Adults can work around an expert who can’t teach. Kids can’t.

        I’ve always been of the mind that the K-12 teachers need the firmest possible ground in teaching itself — everything from childhood development to classroom management — because they need the ability to explain to 20+ disparate kids with disparate learning styles, and be able to tell at a glance who is listening, who isn’t, who gets it and who doesn’t — and especially, who doesn’t get it but thinks he/she does…

        9-12 you don’t have to watch quite so closely on some things, but classroom management and other aspects become more important. Flipping hormones and insane teenage brains….Report

      • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Alan Scott says:

        @mad-rocket-scientist : If I ever hear an adult say “S/he’s just not a math person”, I’m going to be tempted to (DEEP BREATH!) control my temper and politely explain why that is such a horribly damaging attitude to have.

        Sometimes it’s just a conceptual block and a not-great teacher. My wife always claimed to be bad at math. It just became a fact about herself that she had deeply internalized since high school.

        It turned out that algebra was this deep dark mystery to her because she simply couldn’t grok seeing an expression like (2 + x). How the hell are you supposed to add a number to a letter?? What does something like that even mean?

        Thing is… she loves logic puzzles. She would buy these books full of puzzles like, “If Bob is wearing the red hat,and Sally is sitting next to the guy in the green coat…” and totally kill them. So it wasn’t a matter of logical ability.

        So fast forward and she’s in an AS program at a local C.C. and she has to take a class in college algebra. Totally dreading it. So I sit her down and explain how algebraic variables are just basically question marks with labels and how algebra was just really just a logic puzzle. Light bulb time. That and a bit of tutoring over the basics of algebraic manipulations and she was off! Man was she pissed at her old math teacher!

        I’m proud to say she worked her ass off and aced the class.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Alan Scott says:

        @road-scholar

        Exactly! To riff off @kazzy , there are not two buckets of people; those who are bad at math, and those who are good at math, rather there are people who can learn math with the current pedagogy, and those who need a different one.

        I had the same issue with algebra your wife did, until a C.C. teacher taught it to me not by focusing just on the rules of algebra, but by plotting every equation example. It pissed me off that the whole time I suffered through H.S. algebra & pre-calc, laboring to memorize rules to manipulate equations that made no sense to me, and all the teacher would have had to do is plot some of the equations on the board to make my brain understand the purpose of X.

        Once it clicked, well, I have a BS & MS in Engineering Physics & I spend my days during computational physics.

        One teacher, one slightly different approach to teaching math, & my whole future shifted from that of “can only be at best an Aircraft Mechanic”.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Alan Scott says:

        Alan,
        depends. I know a guy who can win card games based purely on reading your eyes (that’s an OLD trick known for hundreds of years…). I know someone else who counts cards. The second one requires less than zero social ability to win games.

        re: “not a math person”
        Yeah, just like the kid failing algebra and acing physics at the same time. (he had to teach himself algebra. symbols do not come easily to him in any form).Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Alan Scott says:

        @mad-rocket-scientist

        I should have been clearer. The language I chose indicated people inherently fall into one of those two buckets. Rather, I should say that people’s mastery of math skills tends to be either very high or fairly low. As you note, I think this largely has to do with how we teach math. People may be more or less inclined to acquire math skills/conceptual understandings but I think our system really does a disservice to those in the latter group.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Alan Scott says:

        @kazzy

        Good, glad we are on the same page.

        I think @alan-scott could offer more insight, but I firmly believe that math teachers, especially grade school & high school math teachers, should be required to have some kind of additional training regarding how to present math in a variety of ways to students. I see some student homework that I think is trying to do that, but I think it just annoys kids because it makes the student try a bunch of different approaches to solving a problem, rather than presenting in class the various paths to understanding, which leads to the Church of the Right Answer.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Alan Scott says:

        @mad-rocket-scientist

        I make a point to avoid using terms like “right” and “wrong” with my kids, especially around math precisely because I don’t want them to be preoccupied with getting the right answer and stopping there. In fact, if I ask a question of the group (e.g., “We usually have 11 children class. Two children are absent. How many do you think are here today?”) I call on several children regardless of whether the first child answered correctly or not. And I always, always, ALWAYS ask them, “Why?” Even if they can’t offer up an explanation, I want to emphasize that how they arrive at an answer (and their eventual ability to communicate this process) is just as important as the answer itself.

        But you are dead on that we need to make sure all math teachers have sufficient training in pedagogy and instruction. Really, ALL teachers should have this, but it seems particularly true of the ‘hard’ sciences. We hire people with education degrees to be lead classroom teachers but people with math and science degrees to teach math and science, even at young ages. This is a flawed approach.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Alan Scott says:

        It’s tough with math & science. You want a trained teacher, but you also need a teacher with a strong background in the subject field. A teacher with a degree in education who teaches math but doesn’t really understand it themselves will never be able to help the kids past their hurdles.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Alan Scott says:

        @mad-rocket-scientist

        And as I believed you and I discussed, asking someone to double-major in education and math and then offering them a starting salary in the mid $30s and a top-ended salary somewhere in the $80s (which they’ll need at least one masters to secure) is a bridge too far.

        You can do what my alma mater did and require education students to take an “interdisciplinary minor”, which was essentially a double-major but without the second degree. Mine was in math education which would probably suffice for teaching elementary education. Secondary school teachers pursued an IDM in their given content area through the Arts and Sciences school. This is probably better/more than what most schools did. And I think the practice was largely intended to help the college shed the “School of Easy” moniker. That is, to say I am not sure it was as intentional — and therefore as effective — as it could have been.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Alan Scott says:

        @kazzy

        I hear ya, brother, I do.

        One of my co-workers just left the company to go be a teacher. He worked hard for 20 years, has a substantial savings, and wanted to do something more meaningful, so he went back to school for education. I can see the value of having a Master’s program that is designed to take a STEM professional and train them to be a teacher. Most Master’s have a much reduced credit load compared to the Bachelor’s, so can be done on evenings & weekends, or as a short, full time program.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Alan Scott says:

        @mad-rocket-scientist

        Dude! Talk about a market inefficiency! You and I could probably design a pretty stellar STEM-to-classroom masters program. Let’s do it!!!Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Alan Scott says:

        Step one: see if someone else has done it already:

        http://www.spu.edu/academics/school-of-education/graduate-programs/masters-programs/master-in-teaching-mathematics-and-science

        So now the question is, is the problem a lack of training, or a lack of recognition that such persons, once trained, are valuable & should be sought after?Report

  20. Avatar Pinky says:

    E2 and L1 – Does anyone really think in these terms, that an Ivy Leaguer is a better hire, or is better-educated? I’ll admit that the thinking is so far from what I’ve experienced that I don’t understand it. It’s something I’ve never encountered, at least from anyone under 70. I really had assumed that the academic pecking order had been discredited a long time ago.

    In my experience, there are good and bad teachers within any program, and the quality of education received within the same department of a school varies considerably. Between departments, and between schools, there’s no way of knowing that. I’ve found that people tend to overvalue colleges/universities they’ve heard of, which for most people, is dependent on the quality of their football and basketball programs.

    As for the Ivy Leagues, I had thought that they (especially Harvard) had lost their mystique since the banking crisis.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Pinky says:

      @pinky

      There are obviously plenty of places that do think graduates from a certain list of schools do make better highers.

      Tech has it too even if they have a different set of prestige schools to hire from. I’ve worked on cases that involved hiring practices in the tech industry and seen the hiring documents. I can’t go into details because of privilege but they had their lists.

      BigLaw jobs generally go to the best graduates of the best schools. I went to a very good law school but only one person in my class got a big law job off the bat. Even during a good year that number will only be marginally higher.

      Now not everyone wants BigLaw or Wall Street jobs, I certainly did not but those jobs do seem to go to grads of the HYPS ring and very few other places. Maybe someone from MIT can be a quant.Report

      • Avatar Pinky in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I don’t know – are there “obviously plenty of places…”? I’ve never had to hire anyone, and I’m not a big fish. I honestly had assumed that that kind of thinking was gone. Additionally, I thought that the places where such thinking hadn’t fallen into disrepute had themselves fallen into disrepute (the all-star dinosaur type companies).Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Pinky,
        see the article will cited above.
        People are indeed idiots.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        @pinky

        I would hardly call Apple and Google to be dinosaur companies. Also how are we defining disrepute? A lot of those companies are the ones that can afford to pay six figures off the bat and there does seem to be a path of dinosaur company for few years to make connections and pay of student loans and then doing something riskier or more boutique.Report

    • Avatar j r in reply to Pinky says:

      As for the Ivy Leagues, I had thought that they (especially Harvard) had lost their mystique since the banking crisis.

      The poorly kept secret here is that there is no mystique. The reasons that Bulge Bracket Banks and BigLaw target certain schools are pretty banal. It’s because it’s the easiest way of churning through lots of suitable candidates. These firms need a bunch of young people with the requisite level of general intelligence, the conscientiousness to work long hours performing repetitive, tedious tasks, and the willingness to conform to the pedagogy of how the firm does business. In other words, these firms need a bunch of kids who can get into the very best schools. These companies simply outsource the first round of their recruiting to universities.

      Firms could probably expand their searches and find other suitable candidates, but the gains from expanding the search probably aren’t enough to justify the effort.Report

  21. Avatar Notme says:

    Another news story that was missed is that the Chicago little league team that won is being stripped of its title for cheating. Jeese Jackson is of the opinion is that it is really racism. I guess this is how they do things in chicago. Is there anything in Jesse’s world that isn’t racism?

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/feb/13/jesse-jackson-slams-strip-of-chicago-area-little-l/Report

  22. Avatar Kimmi says:

    Hey Alabama,
    Ya done did good!
    http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2015/02/madison_police_fire_and_arrest.html

    I am prepared to accept that there might be idiots/victims of PTSD on police forces. It is good to see the system making sure they get run out of town!Report

    • Avatar Notme in reply to Kimmi says:

      If Ferguson made chris ashamed, i wonder if this makes him proud?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Notme says:

        If you hear that an office fired an office worker for completely screwing up her duties and beating the crap out of someone and then lying about it, would you feel pride or merely some variant of “well, that’s what you do with someone who messes up that badly”?

        Might the thought “I wonder if they’re going to pursue charges” cross your mind if you thought the former?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Notme says:

        I’ll feel proud when this is the rule, rather than the exception.Report

      • Avatar Notme in reply to Notme says:

        Chris

        Ill take that as a no. It is not surprising that you would find a reason to deny any praise.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Notme says:

        Notme, remember the Chris Rock sketch when he made fun of the woman who bragged about how her child never went to jail?

        A person who is asking for praise for something like this was the *EXACT* situation that he was making fun of… and which you now seem to find yourself in.Report

      • Avatar Notme in reply to Notme says:

        Jaybird

        I cant say i remember it. I just wanted to see if chris would acknowledge the department’s actions given his overwrought thread on the Ferguson incident.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Notme says:

        Notme, if someone does something perfectly normal and then expects praise for it, the appropriate response, according to Chris Rock’s bit, “WHAT DO YOU WANT? A F*#%ING COOKIE?”

        So a police officer engaged in reprehensible acts that got him fired.

        What do you want Chris to give you? A f*#%ing cookie?Report

      • Avatar notme in reply to Notme says:

        Jaybird:

        No thank you, I don’t want any F*#%ING cookies. I think I’ve been clear in that I wanted to see if Chris would be as effusive in his praise as he was in his condemnation. Chris was so ready to wallow in white liberal guilt in his Ferguson thread before he even got all the facts I thought he would be happy at the PD’s actions. You can keep trying to be clever if you want but I think I’ve been perfectly clear.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Notme says:

        Well, I have heard that @chris makes stellar cookies.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Notme says:

        I don’t, but my mom does. Does he want one of those.

        I was just having a conversation earlier in which I was wondering why South Carolina and Alabama can indict cops who assault people of color, while New York so consistently fails to do so (though they did just indicted the cop who killed a man for being in a stair well). Then again, Atlanta cops just killed the guy who called them, and nothing will happen to them, so the South ain’t perfect.

        Oh, and cops in Pasco, Washington, murdered a man who was running away from them, in broad daylight, on camera, and they’ll get away with it.

        Rule. Exception. I’m glad there are exceptions. I wish they were the rule.

        Oh, and DNFTT. His mild obsession with me makes me wonder if he used to go by [“German philosopher” – edit by BL, because seriously it’s better not to tempt the fates].Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Notme says:

        “German Philosopher” had the robotrippin’ poet thing going on.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Notme says:

        One of the many tragic results of the loss of the Positive Liberty comments is that most of y’all never got to see “German Philosopher” in his full glory. He would write long comments on music and neuroscience and liberals and made up stuff about his life and me (I was always in there somewhere). They were something to behold.Report

  23. Re: Charters

    I’m sure that this doesn’t count for some reason or another, but I thought I would share an interesting study about “passive enrollment”, which is to say students who are attending a school that is closed, but the students are rolled over into the charter school that takes over for the closed school. Anyway, the results are encouraging.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

      @will-truman
      That certainly does count. Thanks for sharing.

      Again, I’m not anti-charter. I just look at people who reflexively insist charters are better as I do people who insist food trucks make better food than brick-and-morter joints: they’re focusing too much on the general and not enough on the specific.

      Some charters are outright busts. Which doesn’t torpedo the charter movement. It just means that, “CHARTER SCHOOLS,” isn’t the end-all, be-all answer to the question of ed reform. The answer is identifying best practices. Charters are one way to do that. And should be explored, vetted, and scaled when they prove effective.

      But turning every public school into a charter wouldn’t solve all — or even most — of the issues. Just like turning evert restaurant into a food truck wouldn’t make every bite better.

      Charters — like food trucks — are only as good as what they deliver. The inherent benefit charters have is the freedom to break free of the stranglehold of standardized education.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

        Kazzy,

        One of the (multiple) reasons I support the charter school model is that when there is accountability to the parents directly, we don’t need to worry so much about standardization. It’s when there isn’t that direct accountability that I start looking to other forms of accountability. On a very basic level, I don’t have the degree of trust required to accept a system in which parents have no choice but we need to give schools (and teachers and administrators) freedom and institutional protection. The more freedom we give parents in this regard, the more freedom I feel comfortable giving to teachers, administrators, and schools.

        Strip away everything else, that’s the most fundamental basis of my support for charter schools. I admit that it’s quite ideological. The downside is that it makes me somewhat immovable on the subject as a whole. There is the upside that, as long as I don’t see it as a poison pill to the whole project, it makes me supportive of compromise (means testing, lotteries, no for-profits, etc) if it can allay the fears of skeptics and move things forward, because I think it’s that important.

        (Also, I apologize for the tone of my previous comment.)Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Kazzy says:

        So, I assume all these parents that teachers and administrators have to be held accountable to are experts in education policy, right?

        Sorry, what you just posted makes me less supportive of charters, and I didn’t think that was possible. Parents haven a outlet for accountability – it’s called the school board.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Kazzy says:

        If parents are too dumb to choose a school, how can they be smart enough to choose a school board?Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

        Are school board members experts in policy? Should that be a requirement?Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

        @will-truman

        I work in independent schools, which are probably about as accountable to parents as any type of educational institution (save possible for co-ops). This accountability can be both good and bad. You wouldn’t believe how many decisions I have to accept — decisions I not only disagree with but which are demonstrably harmful to children — because they are desired by powerful (read: wealthy) parents.

        Education isn’t selling widgets where if someone wants an inferior — or even dangerous — widget we say, “Caveat emptor.” We are talking about educating children. We can’t leave it solely up to market-based solutions.

        That doesn’t mean we cut parents out of the process or don’t hold educators and administrators accountable. It just means we have to look at it differently than we look at consumer goods. PreK-12 education is not a consumer good.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

        I believe there are parameters that all publicly funded schools should have to work within. I think the parameters enlarge, though, when schools can be opted out of, and wider still when they have to be opted in to.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

        @will-truman

        Provided those parameters are rooted in evidence-based best practice, a standard all four groups (teachers, administrators, policy-makers, and parents) are way too happy to abandon when it suits their interests.

        Charters can often serve as the best place to gather said evidence and, provided proper controls are in place to ensure kids aren’t being guinea pigged to death (e.g., working off an existing, proven model and making reasonable tweaks as opposed to inventing something whole cloth), should be used to foster such research. But it is important to note that what works at one charter school in Harlem is not guaranteed to work anywhere else. Which is okay. Charters don’t need to be scalable. If they are providing their charges a quality education, that is well enough. Unfortunately, too many charter networks have essentially become businesses. And even if they are not-for-profit, they are still often paying high salaries to their leaders. I know of networks that have been in existence for less than a decade and than begin expanding with three new schools a year… every year. That is irresponsible. And, yes, we can point to the monopoly that public schools currently hold but two wrongs don’t make a right.Report

      • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to Kazzy says:

        @jesse-ewiak

        So, I assume all these parents that teachers and administrators have to be held accountable to are experts in education policy, right?

        I actually see Will’s point as accommodating your objection here. He’s willing to give more leeway to the presumed experts–teachers, administrators, etc.–if the parents also have a say in how things are going:

        The more freedom we give parents in this regard [choice of schools], the more freedom I feel comfortable giving to teachers, administrators, and schools.

        Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

        I agree about scalability. I’m skeptical by default of scalability of most innovations. Nor that nothing is scalable, but that we should never assume scalability and prefer slower roll out.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

        @will-truman

        Believe it or not, I’m actually much more in favor of local control over education than one might assume. I believe in a two-tier approach:

        – A fairly standardized national framework for content standards that leaves room for local deviation particularly in social studies history
        – A fairly local approach to instructional methods

        This — despite what the media would have you believe — is what the Common Core tried to do. “Here is what you should teach. Figure out how to do it.” Now, we can argue over how appropriate their standards are (grounding the standards in research is a MUST) and can certainly criticize certain states’ approaches to “how” to do it. But the idea was/is a good one. Let’s make sure that, no matter where you live, we are maintaining a certain universal standard for what you are being taught. But then let’s work on the micro level to make sure that is all being taught in the best way for the given population.

        So you probably have several quasi-tiers within that… some state control, some municipal control, and some school-based control. But err more and more towards the local level when making decisions about student-teacher and school-family interactions. This would leave room for charters to exist while making sure they don’t go off the rails. And I think appropriately balances the various forms of accountability. Yes, parents, you have a say in your children’s education. But, no, I’m sorry, you can’t take evolution out of the curriculum.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Kazzy says:

        A fairly standardized national framework for content standards that leaves room for local deviation particularly in social studies history…

        Could you expand on that a bit? I’m in favor of leaving room for local history. National or world history, at least in a college-prep track, ought to be taught to what the colleges want, not to what the local school board might think is more appropriate.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

        @michael-cain

        I was thinking moreso on the younger end. Social studies is about skills more than content and really should focus on the local area. For history, I would say that content should probably be 75% standardized (I’m kind of pulling that number out of my butt but you get the idea) and the remaining portion given over to local control. So New York schools can focus on the exploration of the Hudson while Mass schools can focus on the Plymouth plantation and California schools can focus on Caesar Chavez. Or something. Can you tell I don’t know history?

        The idea would be to give the kids some sort of grounding in their local community while not losing sight of the bigger picture.Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to Kazzy says:

        “the freedom to break free of the stranglehold of standardized education.”
        This is one of those phrases like “failed and failing school system” that assumes its own conclusion.

        The phase assumes there is an education system that is nonresponsive to the needs of the students and parents.
        It also assumes that there is a systemic structural problem which needs a systemic structural fix.

        Yet none of this explains the emprical data we have in front of us.

        LA Unified, for example, has schools that do very well, and schools that do very poorly. Yet they all have the same curriculum, same teacher’s union, same administration. So if it were systemic and structural, we would expect to see comparable outcomes among all the schools.

        Likewise, charters operate under a different system; if the system were superior, we would expect to see a comparable level of outcomes among charters; but they vary radically.

        As I mentioned elsewhere, none of this “market choice vs gummint coercion” sort of dialogue addresses the actual results, specifically the radically different outcomes which occur across different races and sociological groups.

        To be a bit more blunt- no one can explain why public teacher’s unions seem to fail poor black students, while affluent white students seem remarkably resistant to the corrosive power of statist coercion.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

        no one can explain why public teacher’s unions seem to fail poor black students, while affluent white students seem remarkably resistant to the corrosive power of statist coercion.

        Does removing “black” and “white” from the sentence allow for certain explanations that no one would have been able to give with your particular sentence?

        Because, it seems to me, the sentence “no one can explain why public teacher’s unions seem to fail poor students, while affluent students seem remarkably resistant to the corrosive power of statist coercion” would get a large number of people from the left, right, and center saying “actually, I *CAN* explain that.”Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Kazzy says:

        I can explain it too, but the explanation would not contain the word “unions”.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

        “LA Unified, for example, has schools that do very well, and schools that do very poorly. Yet they all have the same curriculum, same teacher’s union, same administration. So if it were systemic and structural, we would expect to see comparable outcomes among all the schools.”
        @lwa

        Imagine a store that only sold shirts sized Medium. For some people, the shirts would fit perfectly. For others, they’d be good enough. And for many, they wouldn’t even be close. When that company looked at their market share and said, “Hey, 60% of customers don’t even step foot in the door,” would we not call their problems systemic and structural?Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Kazzy says:

        So i guess this is where i note that there isn’t any good evidence i’ve ever seen that places with union teachers do worse then places without. In fact there doesn’t seem to be a difference. There may be one place that is better or worse but looking at the country as a whole, there are plenty of states with teachers unions that have great outcomes and plenty of places without unions that have poor outcomes.Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to Kazzy says:

        @kazzy
        And here is where we need to discuss why the Medium shirt that works in an affluent white school doesn’t work in a poor black school.
        And per Mike Schilling and greginak’s comments, I am not seeing why “public funding” and “unions” make the deciding difference.

        If the argument is that publicly run schools need more flexibility in dealing with disadvantaged students, I am all ears.
        But “more flexibility” should not be a synonym for “lets make it easier to fire teachers”.

        I will admit to a certain level of bias and bad faith, mostly because the loudest voices I hear are the grifters of the privatization movement and ideologues of the anti-gummint right. And I believe that some of the stubborn intransigence of the public teacher’s union is rooted in this lived experience.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

        @lwa

        Where did I argue the issue was funding or unions? You yourself quoted me in saying that the issue is primarily one of standardization.

        And while I have some issues with teachers unions writ large, they do tend to oppose the standardization (though not necessarily for pedagogical reasons).Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to Kazzy says:

        @kazzy
        Sorry, I didn’t mean to imply you did.
        I was aiming my fire mostly at the bad faith actors I mentioned.Report

  24. Avatar Neil Obstat says:

    [S2]
    “…Political correctness conflates normal slights, sincere disagreements, thoughtless cracks, and the verbal miscues of the uninitiated with actual oppression….”

    Don’t think I’ve ever seen it quite so well expressed before.Report

    • It takes a lot to get me to linky to a white male conservative writing critically of political correctness, but I thought this one was worthy.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

        @will-truman

        The problem is, very few liberals use the term “politically correct”. It is thrown around far more often by conservatives as a criticism than anything liberals actually advocate. So if conservatives get to define what they consider advocacy of PC, they then have free reign to decry ridiculous instances of it. That is why the term is essentially useless nowadays.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman says:

        There is the term and there is the phenomenon described by the term.Report

      • PC is like hipster in its usage. An outside critique of concepts not acknowledged by its (alleged) participants. Not a great term, but the best we have.Report

      • I like the analogy to “hipster.” I’ve said before that I think “PC-ness” is more a human or social thing than it is a “lefitst” or “liberal” (or “anti-sexist” or “anti-racist,” etc.) thing.

        When someone, say, a conservative, wants to argue against PC, I think they’re well-advised to look at the specific instances and critique those as they come instead of formulating broadish pronouncements about the PC “liberal” culture at large. If one follows my advice, then one cedes perhaps the ability to critique broader trends. But they gain a more grounded way to convince others.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

        @will-truman

        Who is “…conflat[ing] normal slights, sincere disagreements, thoughtless cracks, and the verbal miscues of the uninitiated with actual oppression”?

        If every time a liberal voices concern becomes labeled as PC, then, yes, PC becomes ridiculous. But conservatives are doing the labeling. Talk about putting your thumb on the scale…Report

      • That’s one of the reasons I typically don’t cite conservatives on pc. They expand the definition overly broad. MBD is identifying something more specific (and doesn’t have a history, as far as I’ve seen, of continually grumbling about the things he’s not supposed to say).

        As for the “who” it’s something you see on Twitter, and Freddie has talked about it happening at his college.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman says:

        (And just because nobody on the left uses the term now, it doesn’t mean that such a thing never happened. Check out the Mother Jones ad from 1985 here and, from the comments: The first time I heard the term in an American context (as opposed a Leninist context) was on the television show Thirtysomething in 1987 or 1988.

        One of the characters used “politically correct” to describe a single, male acquaintance of his to a single, female friend. It was clearly meant as a positive qualification for a prospective relationship.)Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Will Truman says:

        An outside critique of concepts not acknowledged by its (alleged) participants.

        I sort of fail to see how speaking considerately and respectfully of others is a ‘concept not acknowledged by participants.’

        As to Freddie’s examples of going overboard — that’s just another form of the offense, it’s not considerate speech, either. It’s just the same sin in a different jacket.

        Honestly, we might benefit from replacing ‘PC’ with ‘P&C’ meaning ‘polite and considerate.’Report

      • I meant that the outside critique (or more specifically the critics’ justification for the critique) is not acknowledged.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

        I think we have a real issue when things get labeled or interpreted as PC because how divisive the very idea has become.

        If someone says, “I prefer to be called Black, not African-American,” that should be received in the exact same manner as someone saying, “I prefer to be called Bill, not William.” But for some people, it doesn’t. It gets seen as another battle. Another instance of “conflating normal slights, sincere disagreements, thoughtless cracks, and the verbal miscues of the uninitiated with actual oppression.” When, odds are, it was a simple, friendly correction. For those people, they will REFUSE to call that person African-American or insist, “I just can’t keep up. Oh, and why do they call themselves Negro (UNCF) and Colored (NAACP)? And another thing: why do they get to say…” And we’re off to the races. And when they get called out for that decidedly offensive crap, they insist they are being persecuted by the PC police. When, in reality, an individual simply asked to be identified in a particular way.

        So rather than try to identify a catch-all term that lumps together a range of behaviors, ideas, and attitudes, let’s describe things as they are. Identifiers are identifiers and should be treated differently than request for public accommodation should be treated differently the advocacy for protected/privileged status.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman says:

        Someone who says “I prefer to be called Bill to being called William” and is then called “William” is the victim of someone being a jerk. Someone who explains to Bill that he should prefer William, doesn’t he know about all of the historical Williams, and doesn’t he know what “Bill” really means? That’s a rather specialized form of jerkdom there. If it becomes prevalent enough, that particular form of jerkdom might even pick up its own nickname.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Will Truman says:

        And we’re off to the races

        So to speak.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Will Truman says:

        That’s one of the reasons I typically don’t cite conservatives on pc. They expand the definition overly broad. MBD is identifying something more specific (and doesn’t have a history, as far as I’ve seen, of continually grumbling about the things he’s not supposed to say).

        MBD is pointing out some useful issues.

        The other article, OTOH, is nonsense.

        In other words, the very folks who would have you believe that all their political or social theory critics—let alone actual opponents—are agents of animus, intolerance, and self-serving power dynamics (whether by pushing grannies off cliffs or promoting Taliban-style theocracy) are probably the same folks you should most suspect are projecting their own ignoble biases or motivations for their own agendas

        Remember folks, *attack ads* are something only the left does, and are an example of political correctness. Right? That makes sense, right?

        And the left claiming, in a clearly hyperbolic manner of throwing them off cliffs, that the right is trying to kill old people, is completely unique, and the right would never do such a thing. It’s an absurd concept, the idea that the right would use *hyperbole*…the right made that claim *quite seriously*, repeatedly, inventing death panels, with the news media following them along and transcribing it.

        You do not shout down or vituperatively impugn people whose views, motives, or reasoning skills you fundamentally respect. But once political opponents, or even skeptics, are deemed evil and perpetrators or abettors of evil—be it racism, sexism, classism, or whatever other forms of conscientious bigotry or stupidity are often ascribed to conservatives or the insufficiently progressive—then the desperate, venomous tactics of total-war activism become as natural and justifiable as the merciless socioeconomic quarantine we righteously impose on the most blatant antagonists of societal pluralism, from David Duke to Donald Sterling.

        I have no idea who this guy normally interacts with, but:

        The left: Some idiotic twitter and tumblr users and some college students claiming to be on ‘the left’ on full attack, who are just as likely (as everyone spends half their article pointing out) to cannibalize their own size than attack the other side, making everyone out to be evil in some sort of moronic moral superiority pissing contest. They have, in recent history, proven to make a very efficient online mob. (As have other online mobs, which probably means we need to do something about online mobs in general rather than pretend this some problem of the left.)

        The right: A third of a political party and a news outlet shilling for them that that does the same thing, except, you know, people can actually *hear* them.

        Now, it’s possible that this guy ‘Rek’ only deals with the left hatred, somehow. (He’s gay and black, so I don’t quite know how he missed ever being targeted by the right, but whatever. Looking at the picture below, I’m actually wondering if he’s straight out of Yale or something.)

        But, uh, the left insane crowd calling the right (And, indeed, large parts of the left!) horrifically evil and refusing to interact with them…are fools who barely even have *blogs*. (Seriously, tumblr is an image posting site that people strangely use as a blog.) And on the right, it’s *actual elected officials and the media*.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Will Truman says:

        @kazzy
        Identifiers are identifiers and should be treated differently than request for public accommodation should be treated differently the advocacy for protected/privileged status.

        Yes, this. As I said way above…the form of PC that actually exists in the wild is basically ‘Let’s try to be a little respectful towards how we talk about people’.

        The interesting fact is that the *actual* racists who pushed back against PC because, uh, they wanted to continue to use racial slurs, are long gone, and no one thinks that is acceptable. But ‘PC is bad’ has been pounded into so many heads that the right still likes to pretend it’s an issue, but they have rather serious problems pointing to any *examples* of.

        The only real examples they can find are within very specific subcultures that, uh, people like them probably aren’t actually in. Yes, some colleges are apparently full of leftist crackpots. Yay? I guess that means…you win, and should be able to use racial slurs? What?

        Or, this example, a twitter mob. Yes, it would be nice to do something about, but that’s a *twitter* problem, not a *left* problem. I’m all for doing something about online mobs, if anyone has any sort of solution, but blaming the stated premise of a mob for that mob has always been somewhat idiotic. And Twitter has over a quarter of a billion users, and a mere 2500 people attacking feels like a mob. Can someone explain how to stop 0.00001% of people from forming a subgroup that believes stupid things and attacks people it doesn’t like? Clearly, we cannot solve the problem that way. (I’m not actually sure we can solve this problem at all. Luckily, twitter is not actually *important* anyway. It’s damn IRC, without any ability to actually have specific rooms with admins. #anyonecanuseahashtag. If twitter is an unusable method of communication, than, okay, it is, end of story, stop using it.)Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

        @jaybird

        I spoke of someone offering a friendly correction. “Oh, by the way, I prefer Black, not African-American.” If they say anything at all. Are some people obnoxious about identifiers? Sure. Just like some people are obnoxious about being wished Merry Christmas and not Happy Holidays.

        See… “PC”… which is really just language policing… comes in all forms. Are liberals demanding that places stop saying Merry Christmas? Or are some people — liberal or otherwise — simply opting not to say Merry Christmas? And are some other people — mostly conservative — then threatening to boycott said places or calling it a “War on Christmas” and *demanding* that they be wished a Merry Christmas. Who is policing language then?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman says:

        When norms change into other norms, it’s not unusual for people who had embraced the old norms to be ticked off at the new norms. Not that they’re *RIGHT* to be ticked off, of course. The new norms are usually much better than the old ones and only bad people would not want to change.Report

      • I think in the case of “Happy Holidays” it’s pretty clear who is speech-policing.

        (Not that speech-policing is always bad. In that case it’s pretty obnoxious. For whatever it’s worth, I put “political correctness” in the same category. Often (I’d even say usually) it’s pretty benign or even positive. The anti-PC argument tends to gain traction in the breach.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

        @jaybird

        How much of of their frustration when it comes to issues we might put under the PC umbrella has to do with the norms themselves and how much of it has to do with who is doing the changing?

        I often sense the word “uppity” on the tips of people’s tongues.

        I don’t think anyone is going to make a rational argument that calling someone ‘gay’ is some sort of norm worth preserving (then again, we have Dan Snyder and ‘Redskins’, so who knows). What they are railing against is the very idea of norms changing and at the behest of people we used to simply ignore. It’s not, “Saying gay is really important to me.” It’s, “Who the heck are they to tell me what I can and can’t say?”

        Boil it down further and we realize this is about power. And control. Labeling folks/ideas/movements as PC is a way of wresting control away from them by discrediting and delegitimizing them.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

        @will-truman

        But then why don’t we call that being PC?Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to Will Truman says:

        @will-truman

        “…“Happy Holidays”… This is why I always say Merry Christmas unless I know for sure that the receiver is Jewish etc.

        I’m notionally christian and I’m celebrating MY holiday and I’m wishing everyone a merry xmas. I don’t get offended when I’m told Happy Hanukkah by folks who are jewish and I send xmas cards to my notionally jewish friends, especially the non practicing/non religious ones. Never got any complaints.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman says:

        Kazzy, I’m old enough to remember debates on whether Homosexuality should have been removed from the DSM. Whether homosexuality was a manifestation of mental illness was seriously something that serious people argued about. (Compassionate people who wanted to heal the mentally ill, even!)

        It was a mere few years ago that we were seriously discussing whether we, as a society, should approve of gay marriage.

        The norms will shift and move and change again and you, or someone you like and respect very much, will soon be saying “this cannot be serious” about something that, seriously, is very serious and, again, serious people will be debating something that you know, in your heart, is not even up for debate because it’s obvious.

        And the behaviors described by the term “PC” will be used to attempt to punish people on the other side.

        Again.Report

      • @kazzy There’s no reason not to. Sometimes that sort of thing is. Back when I was living in the South and Bush reigned, “politically correct” was a left-to-right charge at least sometimes*. Bill Mahar called his show Politically Incorrect, after all. I haven’t heard it in that context for quite a while, but I think that’s mostly because one side chooses to use that terminology and the other side tends not to.

        * – Particularly, not not exclusively, in reference to criticizing Christians or religion in general but with Christians in mind. Also, criticizing patriotism or the country in general following 9/11. Those are examples that come to mind.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Will Truman says:

        Policing language, thought, and behavior is a human universal): it is at the heart of culture and civilization; it is in a sense what politics is. The reason “PC” is noticed is that it is occurs at an angle, we might say, to the status quo’s vector, and thereby puts pressure in the status quo. Like all such policing, some of it is productive and some of it counterproductive, but the term “PC” is meant to lump both the productive and the counterproductive together in the service of the status quo. That’s why conservatives are the main complainers, and why among liberals, the people who use that term tend to be of the sort who benefit from the status quo: not just white and male, but mainstream Democrats whose ideas are more well represented in policy and rhetoric.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Will Truman says:

        @will-truman

        More recently than that. It wasn’t until about 2006 that one could point out that Gulf War II was a clusterfish without being told that you were a traitor who didn’t support our troops.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

        @jaybird

        But problems arise when PC is thrown around to describe any and everything the thrower doesn’t agree with.

        So if I take someone aside and quietly and respectfully say, “Hey. Using ‘gay’ as a slur is pretty offensive. I know you, like I, probably grew up saying it without a second thought but it is denigrating and hurtful,” I risk being labeled PC and thus lumped in with people who want to do whatever it is the anti-PC folks really rail against.

        Basically, the use of PC as a derogatory term runs into the exact same problem that the use of PC as a weapon ever did: being overly broad to the point of being meaningless.

        Compare it to the term “race card”. Do some people throw accusations of racism around too easily? Yes. And those people should be taken to task. But using those people/instances as justification for declaring any and all accusations of racism as people “just playing the race card” doesn’t get us any closer to productive dialogue.

        So, if you take issue with the shifting of cultural norms or whathaveyou, by all means, speak up to that. But try to do it without using the term PC. The left has long since abandoned the phrase so the only people using it nowadays are the right.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman says:

        Kazzy, it’s not about the symbol. It’s about the referent.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Will Truman says:

        The referent exists. The issue is how common, powerful, and harmful it is.

        There are, for example, Americans who hate capitalism, Christianity, and the United States and want to destroy all of those. (They are a tiny, powerless minority, which is why we don’t hear much about them unless we watch Fox or read RedState or the National Review.) Should we spend a lot of time discussing why their beliefs are harmful?Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

        @jaybird

        Can you elaborate?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman says:

        The issue is how common, powerful, and harmful it is.

        One of the fun things is the debate over what actually constitutes “harm”.

        Are hurt feelings “harm”? (Depends on whose feelings are hurt, usually.)Report

      • Avatar Dand in reply to Will Truman says:

        When a hear PC a think about stuff like this, this, this, this, this, this, this and thisReport

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Will Truman says:

        I’m sure it’s unpleasant to be attacked by a Twitter mob, the worst part being that there’s no way to get away from it except to stop looking ta Twitter.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman says:

        Kazzy, the evolution of appropriate terms for people of African descent might be useful… We’ll start in the 40’s just because.

        In the 40’s, the term that was used was “colored”, but it was associated with systematic racism and was deemed offensive and we moved to “negro” in the 50’s but, for the same reason, that term was abandoned in the 60’s for “black”, by the end of the 70’s, (in an attempt for scientific precision) we were moving toward “African-American” (and there was a bit of a backlash against that one) and then “People of Color” (which there was a *HUGE* backlash against and I’m pretty sure that I haven’t seen an unironic usage of that term in years).

        The problem, of course, isn’t with the term in itself. “Colored”, on its face, seems mostly indistinguishable from “People of Color” if you’re willing to ignore such things as the pictures of drinking fountains with signs with the terms “white” and “colored” over the classy and cruddy fountains respectively… but the problem with “colored” *IS* the fact that we shouldn’t be ignoring (or, for that matter, forgetting) such things as the, for lack of a better term, “othering” of Black people that took place for centuries (and we’re still wrestling with, though with much nicer language).

        Occasionally, you’ll see a news reporter on location in Europe refer to someone with dark skin as “African-American” even though his ancestry doesn’t share anybody from either North or South America. The term that was intended to be precise is demonstrated to be just another way to say “black” or “negro” or “colored” (and uncharitable people might say that what the reporter was “really” saying would be words that were in much more common usage prior to the 40’s).

        To bring us around, the problem with PC isn’t that conservatives say that any third-party norm enforcement is PC.

        Where the conservatives have a point, it’s what the behaviors being referred to actually are. The fact that they’re more than happy enough to water the term down? That’s merely silly.Report

      • Avatar Dand in reply to Will Truman says:

        I’m sure it’s unpleasant to be attacked by a Twitter mob, the worst part being that there’s no way to get away from it except to stop looking ta Twitter.

        In two of my examples people were fired over innocuous statements that some interpreted as racist.Report

      • The most tragic thing for Twitter, @mike-schilling , is that you’re not on it. Because, seriously, you and that platform were made for one another.

        If you’re looking for a reason not to hate it, consider that it made the reliability and robustness of Linky Friday possible. Partially by providing links, but largely by helping me catalog and organize links I find everywhere. Before Twitter, I was using Diigo, which wasn’t as seemless.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Will Truman says:

        Because, seriously, you and that platform were made for one another.

        And here I thought we were friends.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Will Truman says:

        @chris
        Policing language, thought, and behavior is a human universal): it is at the heart of culture and civilization; it is in a sense what politics is.

        Yes. It’s what civilization itself. Civilization is not a system of laws. Civilization is a system of agree-upon language, thought and behavior that *occasionally* use law to fix things when that system gets ignored.

        The reason “PC” is noticed is that it is occurs at an angle, we might say, to the status quo’s vector, and thereby puts pressure in the status quo.

        Not even that. The term PC *used to* refer to something that occurs at an angle. It has at this point, been mostly mainstreamed. Hell, 90% of it was mostly mainstreamed by the mid-90s. (The sole exception probably being some of the gender identity stuff.)

        Which is why the examples just presented by Dand are, uh, of dumbasses that, at most, are involved in city government, often aren’t involved in government or politics at all, being upset by random things. Some of the examples going back more than a decade, and one in a different county. People who were born the day of that ‘niggardly’ story are now *old enough to drive*.

        You know, I could probably find exactly as many example of dumbness from ‘the right’ by literally reading 16 years of back issue from *my own* small town newspaper.

        Hilariously, making me glad I clicked on every link in that post, the examples include the horrific situation in my state of having to *rename a MARTA line*, because how dare MARTA’s free speech rights be infringed and they have to listen to local residents that don’t like the name! MARTA should be able to do whatever it wants! (‘Does this include MARTA being to ignore the blatantly racist fears of suburbs and thus able to expand out of the damn city so that people can actually use it?’ ‘No! Caving to Cobb’s racist concerns, blocking the expansion of the entire system, is perfectly reasonable! Renaming a line from yellow to gold because residents on the yellow line complained is not! Because shut up, that’s why!’)Report

  25. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    S2:

    Here’s a Hoover Institute libertarian suggesting that the general good conferred by a high rate of vaccinations makes it a legitimate government concern, particularly as it affect public schools. (I know someplace I read linked to this piece: perhaps it was here?)

    Now read the comments section, largely a discussion of how government is a far bigger problem than disease, and anyway there shouldn’t be public schools in the first place. Libertarian PC.Report

    • There are people/concepts you can’t criticize without giving a litany of hedges and qualifications and providing a short list of your bona fides in every group.

      What’s always interesting is to see who these people are and what these concepts are for which groups and how they evolve over time. This person might be exemplary today and persona non grata tomorrow.

      Well, interesting to me.Report

  26. Avatar Kazzy says:

    @jaybird (DOWN HERE)

    “Where the conservatives have a point, it’s what the behaviors being referred to actually are.”

    So do conservatives have a point with regards to the identifying conventions around people of African descent in America? Because I’m not seeing anything in the timeline you outlined that rises above, “This can be confusing,” in terms of criticism-worthiness unless you find the whole notion of Black folks exercising agency over themselves worthy of criticism. At which point we’ve moved on to an entirely different conversation.

    One reason “People of Color” (which is often used unironically) rings differently than “Colored” is because the former was arrived at by the people wearing the moniker themselves, whereas the latter was applied to them whether they liked it or not.

    It’s like calling you Jay. It is one thing if you say, “Hey, call me Jay.” It is another if someone who doesn’t know you says, “Ya know what, I’m going to call you Jay.” Even if you’re more or less okay with being termed Jay, you might bristle at having your agency and right to self-identification denied.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Kazzy says:

      And there are lots of inappropriate terms for people of African descent which go back far further than the 40s, have always been inappropriate, and are still in use. No longer in polite company so much, largely because of the attitudes referred to as “PC”. Should we regret that?Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

      Because I’m not seeing anything in the timeline you outlined that rises above, “This can be confusing,” in terms of criticism-worthiness unless you find the whole notion of Black folks exercising agency over themselves worthy of criticism.

      What about referring to European Black folks as “African-American”? Anything worth criticizing there?

      Because, it seems to me, that that is very much an example of “we don’t use that term to refer to Those People anymore, we use this one now.”

      The problem isn’t with the term. It’s with the fact that its referent is “Those People”.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

        You’ve lost me. What is the conservative beef with “People of Color” as the preferred term for some folks?Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

        We should call them something more logical, like “job creators”.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Jaybird says:

        I sorta see where you’re coming from, Jaybird, but I disagree. The bald empirical facts, without going into any causes, show that there are segments of modern US society that are socioeconomically unequal to other segments and whose median & mean member have lower socioeconomic status than the median & mean member of the US population as a whole.

        One of these segments are the collected descendants of the human objects of slave trade as occurred between Europe, Africa, and the Americas from the early 17th century to the mid 19th century. That segment has been augmented by more recent, voluntary immigrants from Africa, and other minority cases in the 2nd half the of 2nd millennium of common era, but the modal person belonging to that segment can be defined by the criteria in the first sentence. (and many of the more recent immigrants are in separate communities, both physical and sociological, than communities who have resided in the Western Hemisphere for several generations).

        So, when we are being descriptive of certain sociological, economic, and political phenomenon, it is useful to have a shorthand term, and not the logorrhea that has thus far composed this context. While always keeping in mind that the consolidated term does not diminish what is, like any collection of people from 2 to 200 to 20 million to 20 billion, the inherent heterogeneity of any group of humans nor the individuality of any particular person.

        TLDR: useful terms are useful shorthand, until they are not.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

        What is the conservative beef with “People of Color” as the preferred term for some folks?

        As far as I can tell, it wasn’t a “beef” as much as a “gigglesnort”.

        @kolohe I get that, the problem is that when we start switching terms around in order to avoid the baggage of the previous terms, it doesn’t take *THAT* long for the new term to get the same baggage associations as the previous term we abandoned.

        The solution is not found in digging around until we get a new term that, surely, won’t be offensive this time. (And while it may be emotionally satisfying to engage in shaming the people who are finally using the newly offensive term instead of the older offensive term, that’s not going to solve the problem either because the problem with separate water fountains wasn’t that we were calling black people “negroes” instead of “People of Color”.)Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

        Given my age and that I don’t pay much attention to cutting-edge, well, anything, I tend to still use “black” to refer to people of African descent. And I’ve been criticized for this … actually, never.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Jaybird says:

        My understanding is that “People of Color” is not congruent with “African-American”, but is meant to include people with significant (and phenotypically visible) ancestry not just from sub-Saharan Africa, but also east Asia, south Asia, south-west Asia, and the pre-1500 populations of the Americas. (so, this term also normally includes Hispanics, both ‘white’ and ‘non-white’, due to the general pattern of human reproduction as it occurred in Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean from 1500 to the 20th century, and how it was somewhat different than the portions of North America that comprise most of present day Canada & US)Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Jaybird says:

        Some object to black as a noun, though adjective is usually safe.

        I take PoC to mean anyone non-white (though not sure of Asian status).Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

        @jaybird

        Okay. So why do so many conservatives refuse to use it? I mean, why not giggle snort, adopt it, and move on?

        And I’ll tell you… I see a lot more than just giggle snorting. The number of people I know who say, “People of color? F it… colored people it is,” is non-zero. Don’t tell me that isn’t about power and control.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

        @kolohe

        You are right that there is tons of overlap with these terms. And some people who are phenotypically or even genotypically the same might opt for different terms.

        In my experience, the best approach is to A) respect how individuals choose to self-identify and use their preferred terms and B) when someone’s self-identification or preferences are unknown, default to the “best” or most common term. In my experience, if you need to take path B and do so with sincerity and a willingness to be corrected, few feathers are ruffled.

        Of course, it is important to think about what situations appropriately call for knowledge of and use for a term. If we’re picking sides for the company softball game and I don’t know all the players’ names, there are a lot of other ways to identify Jim from accounting than, “The black… errr… African American… errr… minority… errr… guy of color!” I could always go with, “The guy in the green shirt!”Report

      • Avatar Pinky in reply to Jaybird says:

        @kazzy

        “Don’t tell me that isn’t about power and control.”

        Maybe it is, for some people. But you should pay attention to Ockham on this one. If people give a reasonable explanation for objecting to “people of color”, there’s no need to theorize alternate explanations. I object to the term because it’s imprecise, unnecessary, and grammatically horrible.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

        @pinky

        Imprecise? Unnecessary? According to who? You? Why do you get to make that determination for others?

        If you met someone whose legal name was William Brian Smith and he said, “Call me E.J.,” what would you call him?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

        So why do so many conservatives refuse to use it? I mean, why not giggle snort, adopt it, and move on?

        For what it’s worth, the People of Color that I know fail to refer to themselves as People of Color but instead call themselves stuff like “Black”. (And who have snorted when I have used the term.)

        Now, I haven’t really gotten into it with them (“Why don’t you call yourself a Person of Color?”), but since I’ve failed to find anyone (well, in real life, anyway… I’m not sure how representative I ought to find the internet when it comes to norms) who refers to themselves as that, I’m probably going to stay with “Black” (as an adjective only) and “African-American” when I’m feeling like I’m wandering out to thin ice and saving “Person of Color” (and its sister term “Person of Pallor”) for when I wish to go over the top.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

        @jaybird

        So how would you respond if someone — in real life — politely requested that you refer to them as a person of color?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

        I’d shrug and say “sure”. What would you do if a Person of Pallor told you that you should refer to black people by “People of Color”?Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

        @jaybird

        I default to calling people that which they prefer to be called.

        I’m sure you’d like to paint this as me, a white dude, telling you, another white dude, what to call black dudes. But that ain’t what this is. This is me saying you (and me and everyone) should call other people that which they prefer to be called. I don’t see anything controversial about that. But some segment of conservatives do when it comes to certain types of people making certain types of requests.Report

      • Avatar Pinky in reply to Jaybird says:

        @kazzy “Imprecise? Unnecessary? According to who? You? Why do you get to make that determination for others?”

        The term is imprecise because (a) everyone has a color, so it excludes no one, and (b) it’s ambiguous as to who it covers, by shade or region of origin (see Kolohe and Truman). It’s unnecessary because there are clearer, shorter terms to refer to each group as well as to the group (if I understand it right) as a whole: non-white. You could say that “non-white” is degrading, because it elevates the white person to the standard, and says that the non-white doesn’t compare to them, and I’d say that’s a legitimate but kind of silly point – but if there’s a current phrase that’s shorter and more common, and doesn’t give overt offense, then I see no reason to drop it. I notice you didn’t question my point about “person of color” being grammatically horrible.

        You asked, “Why do you get to make that determination for others?” Any grouping terminology does that. I don’t own all white people, and I have only a shred of a claim via membership to determining what you call white people. I have less of a claim via membership to any other group. But naming rights aren’t determined by membership; they’re determined by common usage and etiquette. Etiquette tells me that if a collection of people of a certain group find offense to a term, it’s time to change it. I don’t see that happening. Nor do I see “people of color” achieving common usage.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

        @pinky

        You are still applying your expectations for the use identifying terms to all. Not everyone agrees on how individuals identify. The default response should be to honor how individuals and groups choose to identify. Do you disagree with that? Because that is all I’m saying. If you think I’m saying you have to call every Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, or Middle Eastern person a PoC, you are dead wrong an engaging a strawman. I’m saying if someone wants to be identified as a PoC, basic respect demands we do so.

        Also, how accurate is white? Last I checked, my skin wasn’t white.

        Also, also… http://pocc.nais.org/Pages/default.aspx

        Tl:dr: Some peole identify as PoC. Insisting they can’t or shouldn’t is denying them agency and the same right to self-identify we’ve always extended to traditionally empowered people/groups.Report

      • Avatar Pinky in reply to Jaybird says:

        If someone walked up to me and said, “call me a person of color”, I would use that term. I’ve never had that happen. I hardly ever refer to the race of the person I’m talking to, and if I’m talking to someone who keeps bringing it up, well, this is our last conversation anyway.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

        @pinky

        “If someone walked up to me and said, “call me a person of color”, I would use that term.”

        Which is all I’ve ever said in this exchange. Yet you and @jaybird wanted to engage with straw men wherein you think I’m trying to tell you what to call every person on planet Earth. I have no such interest.

        Curious that you’d stop talking to someone for whom their race was a key component of their identity, such that they regularly talked about it.Report

      • Avatar Pinky in reply to Jaybird says:

        I don’t know if Jay was engaging straw men. I don’t think I was. I understand that it can get complicated on a thread, with people replying from different angles.

        A person whose race is an important part of his identity is likely to be deathly dull. I wouldn’t storm away from him in protest, but I can’t imagine him being interesting.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Jaybird says:

        Pinky,
        I prefer to refer to myself as a Spotted American.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Jaybird says:

        “I default to calling people that which they prefer to be called.”

        What happens when someone near you speaks of people in a way you believe they would not prefer to be called?Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Jaybird says:

        Jim,
        sharp elbow to the side generally seems to do the trick, along with a “don’t call him that”Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

        @jim-heffman

        It totally depends. Do I know the person? If so, how well? Did they seem to use the term out of ignorance/naiveté or maliciousness?

        I think I’ve told this story but I was in a bar in an unfamiliar town when a guy who seemed like a local got loaded and droop the N-word, clear as day. The comment went unaddressed explicitly, though the atmosphere clearly changed to one of general discomfort. The bartender said nothing. His buddy did the, “Okay, Willy, you’ve probably had enough,” and gave us a quasi-apologetic look. My friends and I finished our drinks and left. We discussed afterward whether we should have said something or not and decided given that he was clearly drunk and that confronting him in any manner was likely to cause an escalation of the situation with little good to come of it. Was this a bar in my town — one I frequented — I’d have considered speaking with the manager/owner after the fact and discuss the situation and the atmosphere it created.

        Now, that is about as egregious a word as someone can use (and he used it in a clearly hateful way, indicating that a black athlete should be shot in the head) but also a situation that was probably the most difficult for responding in a direct or explicit manner.

        Generally speaking, I’m not one to lecture people or shame people.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Jaybird says:

        So I guess that “me, a white dude, telling you, another white dude, what to call black dudes” ain’t what this is except when it is what this is.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Jaybird says:

        Jim,
        Yeah, it is what it is. You don’t like it, you can go post on 4chan.
        Because there are places on the internet that let you say what you want, and mock everyone and everything.

        I cherish the internet because it produces those places, just as much as it produces places where even homicidal murderers can go for support and help.Report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *