Your Virtual Front Page, Thursday, May 1, 2014

Do y’all like these better, or the Open Threads? In any case, here’s your news for May Day! May Day! May Day!

  1. Sheheen accuses Haley of interfering with child-death panel ( — He said in a letter to John Courson, “It has become increasingly clear that Gov. Haley and her administration have stonewalled the investigation into children’s endangerment from within DSS, and even used the power of the Governor’s office to try to cover-up the problem through pressure and intimidation.”
  2. Putin Tells Ukraine to Withdraw Troops in East (WSJ) — Ukraine continues to have a lot of trouble defending its territory.
  3. Defying U.S., tech firms alert users to data demands (WashPost) — And so our ability to defend ourselves gets a little weaker.
  4. U.S. Urges Privacy Protections for Data Held by Companies (NYT) — It’s good to see the administration focus for a change on the folks who actually do intrude on private citizens’ privacy — the private sector.
  5. Hearing Friday in Harrell’s effort to dump Wilson from probe ( — Normally I don’t play up advance stories, but given the way this originally was being kept secret…
  6. ‘Spider-Man 2’ isn’t amazing enough (WashPost) — Maybe that’s why my spidey sense isn’t tingling.

29 thoughts on “Your Virtual Front Page, Thursday, May 1, 2014

  1. bud

    1. Republicans only give a damn about children while their in the womb. Once they are born they no longer matter. Haley’s DSS chief is an utter disgrace to her administration. Then again that pretty much describes her entire tenure.

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      Bud, the DSS mess is very complex. Neither party has the guts or votes to spend what it might take to get enough competent social workers to make a dent in the problem. Then it all gets politicized, to boot.

      1. Bart

        I second your comment Bryan. Damn Republicans. Responsible for every child in America who doesn’t receive a first class education, medical care, food, shelter, clothing, and any basic need a child should have. The parents of the children who are lacking are not responsible in any way for their well being. It is some unknown white male Republican who is to blame. Mitt Romney probably keeps track of all the children he has harmed, sorry SOB.

        Thank you so much bud for pointing out this obvious fact to us.

        1. Doug Ross

          If we could only elect a Democrat President who could bring about hope and change… surely he would be able to accomplish SOMETHING on that front in six years.

          1. Bryan Caskey

            Yeah, that guy would need a super-majority in both houses of congress for at least two years or so to get anything actually done.

            LIke that would ever happen.

          2. Silence

            SOMETHING like bankrupting the nation? Covering up Benghazi? Losing the Ukraine to Russia? Allowing Iran to go nuclear? Driving millions out of the workforce? Embarrasing our nation by spying on our allies? Weakening our military? Carrying out extrajudicial killings of American citizens?

            I’d say President Hopey McChangey has accomplished quite a lot.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      I thought for a second (the first couple of sentences there) that Bud was going for the record on greatest number of Democratic Party canards he could say in a single breath. But then he switched to talking about Haley…

  2. Doug Ross

    Tell me again that there are no bad teachers… Here’s a case where the teacher was caught with pornography on his laptop when he mistakenly showed it on an overhead projector. And what happened? Two students who took a photo of the screen were suspended.

    The unintended consequence of technology in schools is that it now allows teachers to surf the web during classtime while students are doing work.

    1. scout

      I don’t think anybody has said there are no bad teachers.

      The challenge is making a fair assessment of such when dealing with issues like the fact that all children and all home environments are not created equal and the teacher’s sphere of influence over said child is only one of many factors.

      Teacher’s of varying skill levels will appear comparable when that is not at all the case if but one single measure – standardized test scores – is used to determine said skill level without taking into account the above mentioned factors – which is what has been proposed.

      To accurately assess such, especially if punitive measures or merit pay is at stake, it would be necessary to have multiple sources of data and to invest considerable time analyzing said data to disaggregate various influences. Nothing of the sort has been proposed and I don’t see the people wanting to institute these measures being willing to allocate the resources to do it right.

      However, the case you reference is something else entirely. I would find it hard to believe that that teacher is not currently on administrative leave and will not lose his job, even if the school district is not commenting on those details at this point. The story’s focus on the kids’ suspension as if they are being punished instead of the teacher is a distraction to the real issues here in my opinion. Their suspension is supportable under the school’s rules governing phones in school (which are pretty standard) based on their documented actions which were in clear violation of the school’s stated policies, even if there were extenuating circumstances. I suspect that if the first student had gone straight to administration with her photo (violation 1) instead of texting it (violation 2) which resulted in it’s being uploaded to social media (violation 3), the outcome would have been different for the student, given the circumstances. Schools are somewhat bound by what they put in writing in the code of conduct as to consequences. My guess is the kid had to have had her phone on (a violation) in order to get the picture in time. If it had stopped there, she probably would have been alright. She made choices.

      But yes, there are bad teachers, and that guy should totally be fired.

      1. Doug Ross

        The test will be to see a) if he is fired and b) how long it takes for him to be fired. When there are teacher unions involved, it isn’t a simple process.

        1. Doug Ross

          As for the cellphone rules, we lived through that with our three kids. The rules were rarely enforced or else enforced selectively depending on the teacher. We’d hear stories from our kids about some teachers using their cellphones during class for personal calls, arranging wedding plans, etc. Now the new message from the brain trust at the district level is that cellphones are magical computers that should be integrated into the classroom because they are just like little computers!!!! I make my living in software and think computers have done more harm than good in the classroom.

            1. Doug Ross

              When you do, Norm, I hope you will cover these three areas: 1) The use of Powerpoint presentations by students as a replacement for writing 2) the rampant plagiarism that now occurs where “cut and paste” has replaced “read and research” and 3) the easy access students now have to websites that allow them to read summarized versions of literature without having to read the actual books.

              As for teachers, I found more than one occasion where a teacher “borrowed” content from the web to use as his/her own assignments for classes. If they do it without attribution, that’s wrong in my opinion.

            2. Doug Ross

              And sorry to harp on this but there is also the ongoing cat-and-mouse game that goes on to try and prevent students from accessing blocked content. How much time and resources are used to monitor and control that access?

            3. Doug Ross

              One student gets around the firewall and then shares it with the rest. I guess that’s a metaphor for the real world.

            4. Norm Ivey

              I’ll try to keep this short, but seeing as how I am a teacher, I probably can’t.

              1. There’s not nearly enough writing being done in schools. There never has been. I taught middle school ELA for 14 years before moving over to Science, a move I made almost entirely because I couldn’t stomach the idea of spending another weekend reading 100 essays and trying to give each student personalized feedback. One way to get more writing done is to reduce class sizes by 40%.
              2. My biggest complaint about PowerPoint is that so few (teachers/administrators/students) have ever realized its potential. It doesn’t have to be passive or linear. There are so many tools for presentation purposes out there now that PowerPoint is quickly becoming passe.
              3. Teachers always caution against cut and paste, and most have consequences for such behavior. Copying isn’t a new phenomenon. Prior to technology in the classroom students copied directly from reference materials. It may have taken them longer, but the learning outcomes were the same–zilch.
              4. Students have access to websites with literary summaries outside of school. A teacher’s realm of influence in most cases ends at the classroom door.
              5. Teachers receive instruction concerning copyright infringement. That’s part of my job. I addressed this with a teacher a week or so ago. There is a person in my position in every school in RSD2. We know, teach and enforce the rules as much as we can.
              6. The idea that schools can somehow prevent the use of cellphones is quixotic. The rules for cellphone use are evolving. Smartphones can be and are being used in some classes, especially at the high school level. Technology is powerful–the idea that one can learn anything, anytime, anywhere using a mobile device is forcing us to rethink what school is. There’s some amazing stuff going on in the district using technology. We’re still feeling our way with a lot of it.
              7. The filters are pretty amazing, but the best filter is a teacher who manages by wandering around. The filters also come under my job description, but I more often am requesting a site be made available rather than getting one blocked. I’ve spent maybe an hour this school year addressing these types of issues. Getting a site blocked or opened is a fully automated process. Each instance takes moments.
              8. The teacher with the porn in the article you linked to should be fired, and I am sure will be. I’ve known of people who were fired for less. I don’t know about Kansas, but it’s just not that hard to fire a teacher in South Carolina.
              9. The students, as I read it, were suspended for sending the image to other students. Had the first student reported it to administration, I wonder if she would have had any consequences at all.
              10. That said, that teacher made a terrible choice, but does that choice have anything to do with his ability to teach? I am not condoning or defending his actions. I’m just saying his personal shortcomings don’t necessarily make him a bad teacher.
              11. I concede there are bad teachers, just not that many, and none at my current school. Every bad teacher I have ever known has either left or been dismissed.
              12. What Scout said.

            5. Doug Ross

              If you allow cellphones in class, you are implicitly allowing texting, Facebooking, twittering, etc. in class. There’s no way a teacher can monitor it all. I’ve heard all the stories from my kids about the way students use them.

              My basic question is whether there is any way to show a return on investment from the MILLIONS of dollars spent in R2 alone on technlogy? Where are the increases in SAT scores? Where is there evidence that students are better prepared for college? I hear more and more about students not being ready for college… why is that? We’ve had two decades of computers in or near the classroom… for what?

              The balance of time spent in English classes is tilted way too much toward literature than literacy. Sure, little Johnny can go to Wikipedia, cut-and-paste a few paragraphs into Powerpoint, apply some Comic Sans font and paste in a couple photos and think he’s done something.

              I’d rather see him write a paragraph by hand on any topic.

  3. scout

    I like open threads with suggestions. That way it feels alright to talk about other things too if you feel so moved.

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      Like how the Vatican is arguing that its agreement not to use torture only applies in Vatican City?

  4. Doug Ross

    It is good to see some teachers finally fighting back against standardized testing. These were the same things I would hear from teachers when I was a PTO President and running for school board back in 2000-2002 when PACT testing was implemented in South Carolina. Unfortunately, the huge buzz behind No Child Left Behind prevented them from speaking out. What a waste of time that whole process of PACT and then PASS testing has been. Teachers know how to teach. Standardized tests don’t improve the process.


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