US Schools Do Fine in International Rankings Except in Math

From US Schools Are Not Flunking Out:

“So the U.S. education system is actually doing fine in many areas and is not being outpaced by competitors. The one exception is math, where the U.S. really does underperform. Poor math education isn’t a problem for U.S. technological dominance;  the country can always take in more skilled immigrants to fill engineering and research jobs that native-born workers can’t do. But it’s not fair for native-born Americans to be shut out of high-paying STEM jobs because of the low quality of the nation’s math education. The U.S. needs to do better.”

Why do US students do badly in math?

“It might simply be because the US directs more resources toward reading and verbal education to the detriment of quantitative skills. It stands to reason that if American kids can learn to read better than kids from Taiwan or Germany, then they’re smart enough to make up some of the gap in math. Another problem might be a culture that believes too much in the importance of inborn ability rather than hard work and persistence. Students often tend to view math as an intelligence test rather than a skill to be learned, causing anxiety that worsens their performance. Additionally, evidence suggests that more active student participation and the cultivation of a mathematical mindset are effective approaches. It’s also possible that U.S. math education has never fully recovered from a failed experiment in teaching methods in the 1960s and 1970s.”

 

The Divide in Yakima is the Divide in America

Yakima’s 15 minutes of fame compliments of the New York Times. The sunny place just on the other side of the mountains where I’ve spent some summers teaching.

Except for this sentence, it’s a hopeful story.

“Planes now land almost weekly at the Yakima airport, loading Central American migrants wearing leg shackles and handcuffs to and from buses bound for a federal immigration facility on the other side of the state.”

Dulce Gutiérrez is a great human being whom everyone in the United States should celebrate.

Weekend Assorted Links

1. ICE Came to Take Their Neighbor. They Said No.

2. The best US soccer player does not have purple hair.

3. The Right Way to Understand White Nationalist Terrorism.

4. Twenty-five of the worst home designs ever. Caution, can’t unsee them.

5. Why is it so hard to take time off work?

6. The most deadly highways in the USofA.

7. Triathlons Fight Decline and Seek Ways to Attract the Young. Case in point, your lapsed triathlete blogger friend.

Decline and Fall of The U.S. Empire

Back when typewriters dotted the earth, I read Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, but I can’t remember, when did they realize the end was near? Probably between the bottom of the eighth and the top of the ninth. Can’t remember whether they played baseball either.

I’m not sure what inning we’re in, but if Dayton, Ohio is our frame of reference, a few pitchers and catchers are stirring in the bullpen.

Recently, in the deep recesses of my pea brain, I’ve been outlining a course that explores our nation’s decline. This intellectual exercise was prompted by an incredibly tight and excellent 55 minute long ProPublica/Frontline documentary that I highly recommend on Dayton, Ohio titled, “Left Behind America”.

Other likely resources include:

One question we will consider is how does our country improve the life prospects of young impoverished boys and girls in Dayton, Ohio; Janesville, Wisconsin; and Troy, New York, especially when addiction and mental illness are so common in their families?

We’ll also ask whether the challenges are best understood through the lens of psychology and concepts such as “internal locus of control” or sociology with its emphasis on systemic impediments to upward mobility like institutional racism, the loss of manufacturing jobs and the associated dismantling of labor unions, and educational inequities. Related to that, we’ll debate what roles local, state, and/or our federal government should play in providing Dayton’s youngest residents more equal opportunities in life.

We’ll also read two books that broaden our frame of reference to include rural America:

And given the President’s incessant demonizing of immigrants, I need your help finding materials, beyond the segment in Left Behind, that examine the important role immigrants are playing in reviving places like Dayton. Or any other materials that offer hope if not practical solutions.

Who is in? What other literary, artistic, non-fiction, and/or multimedia resources should we consider and what other ideas do you have for strengthening our course?

Friday Assorted Links

1. Did you like The Brady Bunch? Do you have $1.885 million?

2. Attention drivers. Highway 1 is now open.

“After 17 months and more than $100 million replacing a damaged bridge and rebuilding the highway in two locations, drivers can once again skirt the western edge of the continent, forever burnished by wind, rain, waves and tide.”

Props to the much maligned public sector.

3. No PressingPauser would ever stereotype professional basketball players just because of their outward appearance, but just in case, there’s this.

4. If I ever suffer temporary insanity and pay $250 for a pair of running shoes, they damn well better make me (a lot) faster.

“Compared with typical training shoes, the Vaporflys are believed to wear out quickly: Some runners have said they lose their effectiveness after 100 miles or so.”

$2.50 per mile? As Millennials like to say, hahahahaha.

5. Forget a Fast Car, Creativity is the New Midlife Cure. Right on. I hope that means superficial, materialistic lowlifes like me can score a pre-owned Porsche for less.

6. Could not have happened to a nicer guy.

What Evangelicals Want (For Now)

After attending my first Quaker meeting in North Carolina 25 years ago, someone approached me. “You know,” he said with a hushed voice, “we’re not going to invite you back.” It wasn’t rude, the message was simply, “Cool if you return, cool if you don’t.”

Evangelicals are the opposite, their whole raison d’être is to persuade others to believe and behave like them. So when it comes to immigration, what do they want non-believers, Quakers, more social justice minded Christians, and the huddled masses to believe?

In “Why Rank-And-File Evangelicals Aren’t Likely To Turn On Trump Over Family Separation”, fivethirtyeight.com explains that for now they want everyone to just “. . . obey the the law and defer to the president’s authority.”

“Robert Jeffress, the pastor of Dallas’s First Baptist Church and a strong Trump supporter, told FiveThirtyEight that the separation of children from their parents was ‘disturbing’ but quickly added that Trump has the “God-given responsibility” to secure the border in the way he deems appropriate and punish people breaking the law, even if it appears harsh.”

When the national political pendulum inevitably swings, and a newly elected liberal president promotes more progressive immigration policies possibly including amnesty, don’t expect Robert Jeffress to wax philosophic about deferring to the president’s “God-given responsibility”.

Jeffress isn’t saying Trump is advocating exactly what evangelicals think Jesus might if he were advising on immigration policy today. In fact, I don’t think he’s referencing Jesus’s interactions with the poor and dispossessed at all. He’s saying everyone should respect the authority of the president because us evangelicals share his views on immigrants.

What are those views?

“. . . polling on white evangelical Protestants has shown that they’re more likely than any other religious group to support hardline immigration policies and to have negative views of immigrants overall. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found that 70 percent of white evangelical Protestants are in favor of expanding the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.”

Does crossing the border illegally give evangelicals cart blanche for thinking of immigrants negatively? How does that justify their “hardline immigration policies” given Jesus’s preference for the poor, the downtrodden, the illegal? Evangelicals, what’s the biblical basis for your viewing immigrants so negatively?

“These findings line up with results from other surveys too, like a 2017 poll from the Public Religion Research Institute that found that white evangelical Protestants were the only religious group in which a majority (57 percent) said they’re bothered when they encounter immigrants who don’t speak English. They were also the likeliest to say that they have little or nothing in common with immigrants.”

I wonder if Jesus was bothered by people who spoke different languages? I wonder if he felt like he had little or nothing in common with those crossing borders. Also, I wonder how many evangelicals really know any immigrants on a personal level. My guess is, for the vast majority, immigrants are abstractions largely created by conservative news outlets that play on their default fear of the unfamiliar. Do evangelicals have more than sporadic, cursory, largely economic interactions with immigrants?

I’m lucky to be married to someone who teaches numerous immigrants English. A few have become family friends. The one distinguishing characteristic among all of them is their incredible work ethic. I find that, coupled with their desire to improve their families’ lives, tremendously inspiring.

“Daniel Cox, the research director at PRRI, said these findings help explain why evangelicals aren’t likely to abandon Trump over the child separation crisis, even if they’re troubled by it. ”More than other groups, white evangelical Protestants seem to perceive immigrants as a threat to American society,’ he said. ‘So even if they don’t like this particular policy, they’re on board with Trump’s approach to immigration in general, and that makes it likelier that they’ll see this as a tactical misstep rather than a breaking point.'”

How will evangelicals’ “hardline immigration policies” impact their efforts to fulfill their destiny by continuously adding to their fold? They must hope to convince potential converts that immigrants are a detriment to our nation’s well-being. And to ignore our nation’s history. And to fear cultural differences. And to defer to this President’s authority (but probably not the next).

Good luck with that. Thomson-DeVeaux concludes, “Hardline immigrant policies won’t necessarily work forever.”

“Past PRRI polling has shown that younger white evangelicals are much likelier than older white evangelicals to believe that immigrants strengthen the country or to agree that immigrants are the victims of discrimination, which may reduce their support for restrictionist immigration policies in the long term.”

When it comes to evangelicalism, the future can’t come quick enough.

Wednesday Assorted Links

1. How Much Snow It Typically Takes to Cancel School in the U.S. Or how soft are you and yours? Specific Northwest, middle of the road (pun intended).

2. Speaking of maps. A Road Map for Reviving the Midwest.

“So the states of the Great Lakes region appear to be faced with a stark choice. It can . . . harness the modernizing forces of universities and immigration, setting itself up for revival. Or it can give in to the seductive impulses of nativism and hostility to higher education, and settle in for more decades of bitter, grinding decline.”

3. MoviePass Adds a Million Subscribers. Including a 25-year old Chicagoan who is digging it. You go gerl’, stretch those dollars.

4. Solar’s Bright Future is Further Away Than it Seems. In related news, in the upper lefthand corner, we’ve had more sun this winter than in any time in recent memory. Almost feels like Denver. To quote Kurt Warner after his SupBowl victory, “Thank you Jesus!”

5. Millennials are screwed. Not the 13 seniors in my January seminar. They’re going to thrive, by which I mean change the world for the better. #skilled #hardworking #sociallyconscious

6. Special Education funding is a priority this session. Shout out to Jeanette Byrnes who is an ace committee assistant this session. Working her butt off wrestling very large copying machines and providing sundry support for two committees. And gaining new respect for working men and women everywhere. Tangent: Jamie Pedersen used to swim at the Olympia Y during session. Bizarre open turns that I’m not even sure I could demonstrate.