New York Ends Literacy Tests For Teachers; Yes, You Read That Right

This article caught my eye this morning. It, of course, flies in the face of all reason. Certainly teachers must be literate. Maybe, teachers should be the most literate members of society as they will teach our children, among other things, literacy. However, teaching our children is less important than having a properly diverse group of teachers. This could certainly be done without jettisoning standards, but i guess it’s easier to do so. 

The attached article describes this fiasco. I still can’t believe it’s real. 




Test meant to raise teacher standards latest victim of diversity religion, minority students will suffer most.

New York State has been trying to raise teacher standards in order to solve the problem of low graduation and literacy rates in minority school populations.

That makes sense – how can an academically unqualified teacher be expected to help raise academic success among students. These increased standards were meant to help minority students by ensuring that qualified teachers were not limited to wealthier districts.

One of the key components of the push for higher teacher qualifications was a literacy test. The test is just one of several tests prospective teachers need to pass. That literacy test survived a court challenge in 2015.  A federal judge found that the test, unlike prior tests, was not discriminatory:

… Judge Wood ruled that the state and Pearson, the testing company that helped devise the exam, had done a proper job of making sure that the “content of the ALST is representative of the content of a New York State public-school teacher’s job.”

Yet that has not stopped claims that the test is racist based entirely on the tests results, which Black and Hispanic prospective teachers passed as lower rates than whites.

Education reformers believe that tests like New York’s Academic Literacy Skills Test can weed out potentially lousy teachers.

The tests, however, came under intense scrutiny for their alleged racial bias, after just 46 percent of Hispanic test-takers and 41 percent of black test-takers passed it on the first try, compared with 64 percent of white candidates.

Plus, critics said, the test’s $131 price tag is too steep.

The Test Design summary describes the components, with the key components reading and writing.

https://web.archive.org/web/20170314150509/https://www.nystce.nesinc.com/content/docs/NY202_OBJ_FINAL.pdf

So the NY State Regents, the government body that controls public education in NY State, has voted to scrap the test.

The NY Times misleadingly includes the claim of discrimination in the title, Regents Drop Teacher Literacy Test Seen as Discriminatory:

The Board of Regents on Monday eliminated a requirement that aspiring teachers in New York State pass a literacy test to become certified after the test proved controversial because black and Hispanic candidates passed it at significantly lower rates than white candidates.

The Regents also moved forward with a proposal that would allow some students who failed another test, aimed at evaluating practical skills like lesson planning and assessment, to be certified as teachers based on their grades and professors’ recommendations.

Together, the steps signal how much the Regents’ approach has changed under the current chancellor, Betty A. Rosa, after several years of efforts to raise the bar for entering the profession.

The webpage for the literacy test now has a Notice that it no longer applies:

https://www.nystce.nesinc.com/TestView.aspx?f=HTML_FRAG/NY202_TestPage.html

The victims of this move will be minority students. National Council for Teacher Quality (NCTQ) President Kate Walsh released this statement:

“Getting rid of this recent licensing test is a big step backwards, not just for New York but for the country. This test, first implemented in 2013-14, put the academic needs of students above the employment interests of teachers. Rather than lowering standards by removing the Academic Literacy Skills Test, we should work to educate future teachers to reach this level. Otherwise, it is our students, especially those from traditionally disadvantaged and minority backgrounds, who will suffer most in the long run.”

Scraping non-discriminatory, relevant testing is part of a trend that has been going on for a long time. Just recently, Harvard Law to Accept Applicant GRE Scores in Place of LSAT for Diversity.

Where does it stop when equal opportunity no longer is that standard, and “fairness” becomes racial quotas in the name of diversity?

 

Learned Comment on the Middlebury Mess

Sign the Statement: Truth Seeking, Democracy, and Freedom of Thought and Expression – A Statement by Robert P. George and Cornel West

March 14, 2017

The pursuit of knowledge and the maintenance of a free and democratic society require the cultivation and practice of the virtues of intellectual humility, openness of mind, and, above all, love of truth. These virtues will manifest themselves and be strengthened by one’s willingness to listen attentively and respectfully to intelligent people who challenge one’s beliefs and who represent causes one disagrees with and points of view one does not share.

That’s why all of us should seek respectfully to engage with people who challenge our views. And we should oppose efforts to silence those with whom we disagree—especially on college and university campuses. As John Stuart Mill taught, a recognition of the possibility that we may be in error is a good reason to listen to and honestly consider—and not merely to tolerate grudgingly—points of view that we do not share, and even perspectives that we find shocking or scandalous. What’s more, as Mill noted, even if one happens to be right about this or that disputed matter, seriously and respectfully engaging people who disagree will deepen one’s understanding of the truth and sharpen one’s ability to defend it.

None of us is infallible. Whether you are a person of the left, the right, or the center, there are reasonable people of goodwill who do not share your fundamental convictions. This does not mean that all opinions are equally valid or that all speakers are equally worth listening to. It certainly does not mean that there is no truth to be discovered. Nor does it mean that you are necessarily wrong. But they are not necessarily wrong either. So someone who has not fallen into the idolatry of worshiping his or her own opinions and loving them above truth itself will want to listen to people who see things differently in order to learn what considerations—evidence, reasons, arguments—led them to a place different from where one happens, at least for now, to find oneself.

All of us should be willing—even eager—to engage with anyone who is prepared to do business in the currency of truth-seeking discourse by offering reasons, marshaling evidence, and making arguments. The more important the subject under discussion, the more willing we should be to listen and engage—especially if the person with whom we are in conversation will challenge our deeply held—even our most cherished and identity-forming—beliefs.

It is all-too-common these days for people to try to immunize from criticism opinions that happen to be dominant in their particular communities. Sometimes this is done by questioning the motives and thus stigmatizing those who dissent from prevailing opinions; or by disrupting their presentations; or by demanding that they be excluded from campus or, if they have already been invited, disinvited. Sometimes students and faculty members turn their backs on speakers whose opinions they don’t like or simply walk out and refuse to listen to those whose convictions offend their values. Of course, the right to peacefully protest, including on campuses, is sacrosanct. But before exercising that right, each of us should ask: Might it not be better to listen respectfully and try to learn from a speaker with whom I disagree? Might it better serve the cause of truth-seeking to engage the speaker in frank civil discussion?

Our willingness to listen to and respectfully engage those with whom we disagree (especially about matters of profound importance) contributes vitally to the maintenance of a milieu in which people feel free to speak their minds, consider unpopular positions, and explore lines of argument that may undercut established ways of thinking. Such an ethos protects us against dogmatism and groupthink, both of which are toxic to the health of academic communities and to the functioning of democracies.

Robert P. George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University.

Cornel West is Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy in the Divinity School and the Department of African and African- American Studies at Harvard University.

If you would like to join Professors George and West as a public signatory to this statement, please submit your name and title and affiliation (for identification purposes only) via email to jmadison@Princeton.edu(link

A Learned Response to the Middlebury Mess

Sign the Statement: Truth Seeking, Democracy, and Freedom of Thought and Expression – A Statement by Robert P. George and Cornel West

March 14, 2017

The pursuit of knowledge and the maintenance of a free and democratic society require the cultivation and practice of the virtues of intellectual humility, openness of mind, and, above all, love of truth. These virtues will manifest themselves and be strengthened by one’s willingness to listen attentively and respectfully to intelligent people who challenge one’s beliefs and who represent causes one disagrees with and points of view one does not share.

That’s why all of us should seek respectfully to engage with people who challenge our views. And we should oppose efforts to silence those with whom we disagree—especially on college and university campuses. As John Stuart Mill taught, a recognition of the possibility that we may be in error is a good reason to listen to and honestly consider—and not merely to tolerate grudgingly—points of view that we do not share, and even perspectives that we find shocking or scandalous. What’s more, as Mill noted, even if one happens to be right about this or that disputed matter, seriously and respectfully engaging people who disagree will deepen one’s understanding of the truth and sharpen one’s ability to defend it.

None of us is infallible. Whether you are a person of the left, the right, or the center, there are reasonable people of goodwill who do not share your fundamental convictions. This does not mean that all opinions are equally valid or that all speakers are equally worth listening to. It certainly does not mean that there is no truth to be discovered. Nor does it mean that you are necessarily wrong. But they are not necessarily wrong either. So someone who has not fallen into the idolatry of worshiping his or her own opinions and loving them above truth itself will want to listen to people who see things differently in order to learn what considerations—evidence, reasons, arguments—led them to a place different from where one happens, at least for now, to find oneself.

All of us should be willing—even eager—to engage with anyone who is prepared to do business in the currency of truth-seeking discourse by offering reasons, marshaling evidence, and making arguments. The more important the subject under discussion, the more willing we should be to listen and engage—especially if the person with whom we are in conversation will challenge our deeply held—even our most cherished and identity-forming—beliefs.

It is all-too-common these days for people to try to immunize from criticism opinions that happen to be dominant in their particular communities. Sometimes this is done by questioning the motives and thus stigmatizing those who dissent from prevailing opinions; or by disrupting their presentations; or by demanding that they be excluded from campus or, if they have already been invited, disinvited. Sometimes students and faculty members turn their backs on speakers whose opinions they don’t like or simply walk out and refuse to listen to those whose convictions offend their values. Of course, the right to peacefully protest, including on campuses, is sacrosanct. But before exercising that right, each of us should ask: Might it not be better to listen respectfully and try to learn from a speaker with whom I disagree? Might it better serve the cause of truth-seeking to engage the speaker in frank civil discussion?

Our willingness to listen to and respectfully engage those with whom we disagree (especially about matters of profound importance) contributes vitally to the maintenance of a milieu in which people feel free to speak their minds, consider unpopular positions, and explore lines of argument that may undercut established ways of thinking. Such an ethos protects us against dogmatism and groupthink, both of which are toxic to the health of academic communities and to the functioning of democracies.

Robert P. George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University.

Cornel West is Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy in the Divinity School and the Department of African and African- American Studies at Harvard University.

If you would like to join Professors George and West as a public signatory to this statement, please submit your name and title and affiliation (for identification purposes only) via email to jmadison@Princeton.edu(link

The NFL’s Prescription Drug Problem

I encountered a friend and famous Viking defensive lineman one Sunday morning before a game. He was not walking well. He said, “When it hurts Sunday from last Sunday, it’s time to think about doing something else!!” 

Football is a violent game and pain is the constant.  Medication is required and its use is problematic, as the following article claims. 

National Football League teams violated federal laws governing prescription drugs, disregarded guidance from the Drug Enforcement Administration on how to store, track, transport and distribute controlled substances, and plied their players with powerful painkillers and anti-inflammatories each season, according to sealed court documents contained in a federal lawsuit filed by former players.

The sealed material, which was reviewed by The Washington Post, provides a rare look into the league’s relationship with drugs and how team doctors manage the pain inherent in a bruising sport to keep players on the field.

Federal law lays out strict guidelines for how teams can handle and dispense prescription drugs. The sealed court filing, which includes testimony and documents by team and league medical personnel, describes multiple instances in which team and league officials were made aware of abuses, record-keeping problems and even violations of federal law and were either slow in responding or failed to comply.

The filing, which was prepared by lawyers for the players suing the league, asserts that “every doctor deposed so far … has testified that they violated one or more” federal drug laws and regulations “while serving in their capacity as a team doctor.” Anthony Yates, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ team doctor and past president of the NFL Physicians Society, testified in a deposition that “a majority of clubs as of 2010 had trainers controlling and handling prescription medications and controlled substances when they should not have,” the filing states.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the allegations contained in the court filing “are meritless and the league and its clubs will continue to vigorously defend these claims.

“The NFL clubs and their medical staffs are all in compliance with the Controlled Substances Act,” McCarthy said in an email. “… The NFL clubs and their medical staffs continue to put the health and safety of our players first, providing all NFL players with the highest quality medical care. Any claim or suggestion to the contrary is simply wrong.”

The details and communications were unearthed by lawyers representing more than 1,800 former professional football players who are suing the league in U.S. District Court for Northern California, claiming they suffer long-term organ and joint damage, among other maladies, as a result of improper and deceptive drug distribution practices by NFL teams.

The material was collected by the players’ attorneys as part of the discovery process in the case. The attorneys redacted large portions of the 127-page complaint because both parties had agreed to do so under a court-approved protective order, sealing it from public view. The Post was able to review the redacted information because of an apparent technical error in the filing process but not some of the supporting exhibits and documents.

The filing solely reflects the ex-players’ claims against the NFL’s 32 teams, presenting their legal arguments and evidence to the court.

Democrats Asked Russia For Election Help.

The Theory that the Russians assisted Donald Trump in his election is the most absurd political theory I’ve heard recently. They clearly hoped for and expected a Clinton victory and were looking forward to dominating her.  They were simply trying to soften her up. the Russians are very nervous about Trump, who they expected to lose as they read the same polls the mainstream media was reading, are now trying to adjust to having a president they can’t push around. 

Interference in elections is nothing new. Obama actually sent a team to Isreal to try to defeat Netanyahu in his re-election campaign and Ted Kennedy tried to make a deal with Andropov in an effort to defeat Reagan. Read about that below.

From John Hinderaker at Poserlineblog.com

CONSPIRE WITH RUSSIA TO SWING PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION? IT’S BEEN DONE

The Democrats’ allegations against Jeff Sessions, one of the most upright men in Washington, are ludicrous. I don’t understand how anyone can think they amount to anything. But if the Democrats want to talk about collusion with the Russians, by all means let’s have that conversation.

Chris Adams takes us on a walk down memory lane. In 1983, Ted Kennedy–the “liberal lion of the Senate”–tried to enlist the Soviet Union, our most bitter enemy, in the Democrats’ effort to defeat President Ronald Reagan’s re-election.

Yes, a United States senator really did collude with the Russians to influence the outcome of a presidential election. His name was Ted Kennedy.

While Sen. Al Franken (D-Ringling Bros.) and other Democrats have the vapors over a truthful, complete, and correct answer Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave in his confirmation hearing, it’s worth remembering the reprehensible behavior of Senator Ted Kennedy in 198[3].
***
To recap, from Forbes:

Picking his way through the Soviet archives that Boris Yeltsin had just thrown open, in 1991 Tim Sebastian, a reporter for the London Times, came across an arresting memorandum. Composed in 1983 by Victor Chebrikov, the top man at the KGB, the memorandum was addressed to Yuri Andropov, the top man in the entire USSR. The subject: Sen. Edward Kennedy.

Kennedy’s message was simple. He proposed an unabashed quid pro quo. Kennedy would lend Andropov a hand in dealing with President Reagan. In return, the Soviet leader would lend the Democratic Party a hand in challenging Reagan in the 1984 presidential election. “The only real potential threats to Reagan are problems of war and peace and Soviet-American relations,” the memorandum stated. “These issues, according to the senator, will without a doubt become the most important of the election campaign.”

Kennedy made Andropov a couple of specific offers.

Among the promises Kennedy made the Soviets was he that would ensure that the television networks gave the Soviet leader primetime slots to speak directly to the American people, thus undermining Reagan’s framing of the sinister nature of the USSR. Even then, the Democrats had the power to collude with the legacy media. Kennedy also promised to help Andropov penetrate the American message with his Soviet agitprop.

That’s right, folks. Even 30 years ago, Democrat senators were colluding with America’s enemies to bring down Republicans.

The Gorsuch Comments; Checkers or Chess?

Neil Gorsuch made comments to Senator Blumenthal that were critical of Donald Trump.

For a Supreme Court nominee to do such a thing before his nomination hearing much less the Senate vote raises questions. Is Gorsuch playing checkers, whereby we can assume he just made a comment he shouldn’t have made or is he playing chess, whereby he made a comment that will give the impression that he is not under Trump’s thumb and lure Democrats into voting for him so that he gets the 60 votes to put him on the court? Read more about it below, but for me, it’s the opening gambit of a very smart man. Pawn to G5.

U.S. Supreme Court nomineeNeil Gorsuch told a Democratic senator he foundDonald Trump’s comments “disheartening” and “demoralizing” when the president criticized the judiciary over a federal court order that blocked his immigration ban.

SenatorRichard Blumenthal of Connecticut told reporters about Gorsuch’s comments after meeting privately Wednesday with Trump’s first U.S. high court nominee.Ron Bonjean, a spokesman aiding Gorsuch in the confirmation process, confirmed Blumenthal’s account of their conversation in an e-mail and said Gorsuch “used the words disheartening and demoralizing.”

More from Bloomberg.com: Trump on Immigration Power: I Can Do Whatever I Want

“He certainly expressed to me that he is disheartened by demoralizing, abhorrent comments made by President Trump about the judiciary,” Blumenthal said outside his Senate office. “But I will be asking for more specific and forthcoming comments to those kinds of questions before I determine how I will vote.”

Trump on Feb. 4 criticized a federal judge who blocked his travel ban as a “so-called judge.” On Wednesday, the president argued that his power to limit immigration shouldn’t be challenged in courts.

“The courts seem to be so political, and it would be so great for our justice system if they would be able to read a statement and do what’s right, and that has got to do with the security of our country, which is so important,” Trump told a conference of police chiefs and sheriffs in Washington.

More from Bloomberg.com: China Woos Ivanka, Jared Kushner to Smooth Ties With Trump

QuickTake on Trump’s refugee ban and the legal battle over it

Gorsuch’s strong criticism of Trump could help convince skeptical Democrats, angry over the president’s reaction to the travel-ban ruling, to give Gorsuch more serious consideration. The exchange between Gorsuch and Blumenthal, who serves on the Judiciary panel that will hold the judge’s confirmation hearing, comes after demands from Senate Democrats that Gorsuch demonstrate his willingness to be an independent jurist and a check on potential abuses of power from the executive branch.

Blumenthal had told reporters Tuesday that he planned to call on Gorsuch to repudiate Trump’s statements about the judiciary.

The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots

Mary of Scotland had been Queen of France for a year. She also had a valid claim tp the English Crown, now worn by her cousin Elizabeth I. She was accused of treason and beheaded by Elizabeth,  who then left the English crown to Mary’s son James, who was James VI of Scotland, but James I of England.  He was King James of Bible fame. It is a great story.  

A Death:

Shrewsbury: ” … Madam you must die, you must die!…”

The executioner held up the severed head of the Queen of Scots for all to see — but horror as the hair separated from the head, and the head dropped to the floor. There was a stunned silence from the spectators — the Queen, once considered the most beautiful woman of her time, had lost her hair and vanity dictated the wearing of a wig.

The Dean of Peterborough stood over the corpse of the dead Queen and uttered the words all longed to hear: “So perish all the Queen’s enemies”.

The body of the dead Queen was stripped, in readiness to be received by the embalmers — but the dead Queen’s corpse held yet another surprise. Concealed within her skirts was a small terrier, which positioned itself betwixt the severed head and the body, and nothing could move it. It alone remained loyal to the Queen.

But the indignity of the execution of the Queen of Scots was not over. The execution block, her clothing and any other object which could be considered a relic was burned at Fotheringhay, which was in lock down.

It was not until approximately four in the afternoon that the Queen of Scots’ body was prepared for burial — but not the burial one would associate with a monarch. No — the Queen’s lead coffin was walled up within the precincts of Fotheringhay Castle. It was not until her son succeeded as James I of England, that the Queen was accorded a suitable and more Christian burial at Westminster Abbey.

A Life:

Mary was born 8 December 1542 at Linlithgow, Scotland, the daughter of James V of Scotland (d. 1542) and Mary of Guise (d. 1560). From the day of her birth, Mary was betrothed to the future Edward VI of England — the vetoing of this marriage led to war with England.

In the ensuing conflict, the Scots were defeated at Pinkie (10 September 1547) by forces of the Duke of Somerset. A French alliance was decided upon. Mary was sent to the French court aged 5 (1548), where she received a Catholic upbringing under her Guise uncles. Mary married the Dauphin Francis at Paris, France (24 April 1558). Her husband succeeded to the French throne as King Francis II (1559).

Mary became Queen of France but shortly after, Francis died (1560/1561). Mary was returned to Scotland (1561), and upon her arrival promptly proclaimed herself rightful Queen of England as the granddaughter of Henry VIII’s sister, Margaret Tudor.

However, during her absence, things had changed in Scotland, and Mary had to adapt to the anti-monarchical, anti-Catholic, anti-French elements that now dominated Scotland. Then Mary embarked upon an ill-considered marriage to her cousin Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley (29 July 1565) at Edinburgh, Scotland. Mary soon gave birth to a son, James VI (of Scotland) & I (of England) (1566).

The following year Mary was caught up in the scandal surrounding the murders of her Secretary David Riccio and her husband, Darnley (1567). From then on, Mary made mistake upon mistake. Soon after both deaths, Mary made a scandalous third marriage to James Hepburn, 4th Earl Bothwell (1567), who just happened to have been recently acquitted of Darnley’s murder. Mary claimed that this marriage was made under duress — but none were convinced. There was an immediate uprising of Scottish lords which resulted in military defeat for Mary at Carberry Hill and Langside (1568).

Mary fled Scotland for England and threw herself on the mercy of Elizabeth I, who kept her imprisoned in various strongholds. Following numerous intrigues to rescue her and place her on the throne of England, Mary was placed on trial (Oct. 1586). She was found guilty of treason and sentenced to death (25 October 1586).

After delaying for as long as possible, Elizabeth reluctantly signed Mary’s death warrant (1 February 1587) and Mary was executed at Fotheringhay (8 February 1587).

A Question of Legality:

Was the execution of a monarch of one country by a monarch of another lawful?

Mary was initially brought to trial under the English Act of Association (1585) — which in the eyes of the English made Mary just as guilty as those who conspired against the Queen of England, either with or without her knowledge. Guilt by association — a phrase I am sure we have all heard of.

Mary herself said: ” … as Queen and Sovereign, I am aware of no fault or offence for which I have to render account to anyone …”

In fact, just how was it legal for a Queen of a foreign country to be tried for treason by a Queen whose subject she was not; in fact, how could one then execute this foreign sovereign?

The sovereignty of any monarch, at this period in time, was taken with all solemnity. Elizabeth I herself was fully aware of the implications — if Mary could be treated and punished like an ordinary subject, then what could Elizabeth herself expect should she venture beyond the English Channel? In fact, Mary could only be judged by her peers — and to this end, only Elizabeth filled this position — not the privy councilors or nobility.

The English jurists pondered over this question — if Mary committed treason, she should have been expelled from English soil. But in the end, the legal minds of England came up with a suitable solution. King Henry VIII claimed suzerainty over Scotland; thus, Mary was a subject of the English Queen and could be tried (and executed) for treason under English law.

As author Antonia Fraser wrote: “In the case of the trial of Mary Queen of Scots the traditional blindfold across the eyes of Justice was ruthlessly torn aside by English commissioners so that the desired verdict might be reached.”

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