commented on The GET Program Is Not an Investment; It Is Insurance
If the spectre of a GET failure prevents the legislature from exessive increases in the tution costs of our public universities then we are in real trouble. The principle of affordable and accessible higher education is what should be preventing the legislature from excessive increases in the tuition costs.
commented on The GET Program Is Not an Investment; It Is Insurance
People are terribly mistaken when they think about GET. They think it is an investment, insurance, a government benefit, or a scam. It is none of those things. It is a tuition pre-payment plan.
GET is not an investment. You don't buy it because you think/hope/expect it to rise in value as fast or faster than other investment choices. That's not what it is for.
GET is not insurance. It's not a pool of money collected from people that is used to pay when any of them incurs a covered cost. That's not how it works.
GET is not a government benefit. There is almost no government money used for the program except some very small administrative costs and it only provides education funding for the people who bought into it, not for everyone.
GET is certainly not, as the UW President said, a scam or a Ponzi scheme. The distributions from the program do not come from new participants. There are real assets in the GET trust account - about $2.5 billion I'm told. The fund is actuarially sound.
GET is a tuition pre-payment plan. That's all. You can pay for college costs at today's prices (plus a significant premium) and get the education in the future. If it is anything it is an inflation hedge.
At a time when college costs are shooting through the roof, GET offers people the opportunity to lock in the current price and have confidence that they can pay some portion of the costs in the future no matter how much the tuition rises.
Like Goldy wrote, it offers people peace of mind. If you stop thinking about it as if it were things that it isn't, and chose, instead, to think about it for what it really is, then you wouldn't confuse yourself or others.
As for the UW President, he should issue an immediate apology and a clarifying statement about GET. He has been an idiot and an ass. It's a shame that a person in charge of an institution of learning could say something so factually incorrect and stupid.
1:20 PM yesterday
commented on The Wednesday Morning News
I don't understand why anyone would put themselves in the position of a fake sign language interpreter. Where's the benefit in that? What good did it do him?
1:19 PM yesterday
commented on Was It Worth It, Seattle City Council?
Seattle isn't so much a city as it is a federation of neighborhoods clustered around a downtown. Each of the neighborhoods work like a small town (some of them used to be small towns) with a commercial district along an arterial, surrounded by multi-family housing and with single-family housing beyond.
But it is the downtown that pays a lot of the taxes and is home to the real power in Seattle. Anytime the neighborhoods need something, downtown has to get their cut - and it's a big cut. The neighborhoods needed libraries, so there was a library levy - but a large slice of the money went to pay for a fancy-schmancy downtown library. The neighborhoods needed community centers, so there was a community center levy - but a large slice of the money went to pay for downtown arts venues. The neighborhoods needed parks, so there was a parks levy - but a big slice of the money went to create downtown "parks". We got the crumbs we needed and they got the loaf they wanted.
The Seattle Establishment, organized as the Downtown Seattle Association or the Chamber of Commerce, used their money and influence to control the political process and to direct public policy to serve their interests (no impact fees, zoning for ever higher buildings) and to direct public spending to enrich them further (amenities for downtowners like the opera house, library, pointless toy streetcars, and the deep bore tunnel creating private views for view instead of public views for all from the viaduct).
I voted for the districts because it was a way for the neighborhoods to throw off the yoke of the downtown interests. Now, finally, there will be city councilmembers who will have to address the concerns of the people who live in Seattle instead of just the companies headquartered here.
11:33 AM yesterday
commented on Stop it, Tom Cruise. Just Stop It.
The best thing that Tom Cruise has done recently was Tropic Thunder. He stole that movie. And it was not him portraying any kind of "perfect man" unless it was a perfect asshole.
commented on In Defense of Africatown
Now, as to the claim that a chance to address this historic and continuing clusterfuck was botched: it was. But it wasn't only botched by the District, it was also botched by the Africatown activists.
The occupation of the building was an effective tactic for getting the District's attention. But then everyone made every bad move available.
The superintendent, for his part, botched every decision. First, he didn't play hardball, like he should have, and forced everyone out of the building on August 16. Or at least on August 31. Second, he agreed to negotiate, but refused to negotiate in good faith. NOVA's return to the Mann building was a non-negotiable - a position he didn't reveal until the third meeting after two meetings wasted exploring alternatives. He never did, and still hasn't, offered Africatown anything that isn't available to any group seeking to lease space in a District building. Finally, he is trying to stiff-arm the activists with an Advisory Committee. This is a well-used tactic by the District. There have been at least half a dozen of these Advisory Committees in the past twelve years or so. They all make the same recommendations, and then all of the recommendations are ignored.
The Africatown activists started well with the occupation, but then botched everything after. Their worst mistake was to take the empty promise of an Advisory Committee, but they also failed to win any concession at all from the District. They got played.
commented on In Defense of Africatown
Seattle Public Schools, like districts across the country, have mis-educated African-American students and continue to do so. This mis-education has taken a number of forms including, but not limited to:
* Inadequate rigor for individual students, classrooms of students, and entire schools of students
* Disproportionately high discipline
* Disproportionately high referrals to special education
* Disproportionately low referrals to advanced learning
* The absence of culturally relevant curricula
* Culturally incompetent staff who inadvertently give or take offense when none is meant
Our schools do a great job educating students who arrive at the classroom prepared, supported, and motivated. They always have.
Our schools do a crappy job educating students who arrive at the classroom unprepared, unsupported, or unmotivated. They always have.
Due to a combination of historical, economic, and cultural factors, African-American students are more likely to be missing one or more of these critical factors for success. While our society and our schools have made some progress to provide the support when it is missing (before- and after-school supported study, meals, healthcare, and more), and while our city is getting ready to step up with some of the needed preparation (early child education), there is little or no progress on the motivation, the most important of the three.
I doubt there is any school so bad that a motivated student cannot wrestle an education away from it. Nor is there any school so good that it can force an education onto an unmotivated student. Student motivation is the dominant determinant of student achievement. A lot of students get their motivation at home, but the schools do so little to nurture motivation that it is as if their mission is to crush it.
We know what motivates people to do cognitive work (like learning): autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Outside of the alternative schools (Yay, NOVA!), students are allowed almost no autonomy to direct their education or determine how they will demonstrate their knowledge and skills. While you might presume that the opportunity to achieve mastery is the school mission, the truth is that students are ushered from lesson to lesson without getting time to pursue mastery of any of them. The goal is proficiency, and often little more than familiarity is achieved. And, most of all, there is little effort made to tie schoolwork to a sense of purpose larger than the student.
These de-motivating factors are made worse by the disproportionate discipline and by the lack of any culturally relevant content in the curriculum.
Does that answer the question about how, exactly, Seattle Public Schools - and school districts across the country - mis-educates African-American students?
commented on It's Been a Bad Year for Television
I don't have "television" but I do have access to lots of streaming video services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. And there is more content that is available on a stream from a variety of sources.
The problem here is that there are production companies that produce the content and there are distribution companies, like cable and satellite, that provide access to the content. The distribution companies have a failing business model based on a broken monopoly and they are trying to take the production companies down with them.
In the old days, the production companies also did the distribution - and they still do with broadcast. The solution will be for the production companies to bypass the distribution companies and go straight to the web. Well-established brands like ESPN don't need the cable companies. They should just stream their content online. They don't need the cable companies for distribution, and they can sell their own commercials or set up a subscription service. They don't have to re-invent the wheel. They can team with a company like Hulu which will provide the platform and the infrastructure and even sell the ads for them.
No more power struggles with the cable companies. Fuck 'em. They don't produce anything.
commented on The Morning News: Irans, Trans, Silvermans
The definitions of immorality from Myrtle Grove Christian School are all related to sexual immorality. It's as if they don't recognize any other kind of immorality. How odd.
Shouldn't kids also get expelled if anyone in their family cheats on their taxes, cheats on their spouse (heterosexual immorality didn't make the list), commits an assault, steals, kills, or any of the myriad other sins possible?
commented on Morning News: Mars in Africa, Condoms Nouveaux, and One Disgruntled Neo-Nazi
The school assignment decisions should never have been subjected to a Board vote. Drawing attendance area boundaries is clearly an administrative or management decision - not a policy decision - and should have been delegated to the superintendent. Putting it before the Board for a vote made it a political decision. The more political the decision, the less it is based on data and reason, the more it is influenced by money and power, and the poorer the quality of the decision,
Also, the community engagement for the decisions was poorly conducted when it wasn't completely non-existent. The Board's charge to the superintendent should have put more emphasis on talking to the people who are directly impacted by the decisions.
This could have been done well. It could have started with a round of meetings held with one to three school communities at a time to inform them of the issues and to gather their input, followed by close communication with those groups as solutions were formed, and ending with a final round of meetings to present the decisions. Instead, there were mass meetings where no one felt heard, decisions that fell out of the sky without any explanation, and then sudden reversals of those decisions with no explanation.
An example of how the politicized process failed to deliver a good decision, consider the middle school assignment of students living in the Wedgwood attendance area.
The first version of the plan didn't include any change in the Wedgwood middle school assignment, and the families there didn't participate much in the process. They didn't feel any need to participate because they didn't feel that it impacted them. Same for the second version. Then, in a third version, presented very shortly before the Board vote, the middle school assignment for Wedgwood was changed. Then this affluent community exercised their political muscle.
A vocal group of Wedgwood families didn't want their children to be assigned to the new Jane Addams Middle School because it was too far away (just over two miles). Instead, they wanted the District to assign other children to that school, students who lived six to eight miles away. Someone should have talked to them like adults, but that never happened. Instead, they were handled like children throwing a tantrum, and handled badly. The District gave them the slice of cake they wanted and put 300 other children on a long bus ride.
And who did that for them? The Board. Two members of the Board wrote an amendment to the plan which usurped the superintendent's authority to place programs and services, and the rest of the Board adopted it. Had this decision not been politicized that could never have happened.
The District's process was designed around the knowledge that it was a political decision, first and foremost. As a result, it became a warped process to suit a warped set of criteria.