The Guardian: Why Payment by Results Is “Dangerous Idiocy”

This is a great article from The Guardian explaining why payment for results in education is a bad idea and should be rejected. Thanks for posting this Diane!

Diane Ravitch's blog

The Guardian of London has an excellent article that explains why payment by results always fails. The article is based on a study that the article links to.

Two examples of payment by results in the current “education reform” strategy that is promoted by the Obama administration: basing teacher evaluation on test scores and merit pay.

The article calls payment by results in “dangerous idiocy” and explains why:

“Payment by results is a simple idea: people and organisations should only get paid for what they deliver. Who could argue with that? If your job is to get people back to work, then find them a job dammit.

“Plenty of people working in local government and public services are already starting to realise this is nonsense, and a pernicious, damaging nonsense at that. The evidence is very clear: if you pay (or otherwise manage performance) based on a set of pre-defined…

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A Historian Complains About a Cross on a Float Alongside Jefferson and Franklin

The History News Network (HNN) posted a letter sent to Newsday from a retired historian after he attended a local Parade Celebrating Independence Day. The parade included a float with a large cross with the words “In God We Trust” displayed alongside Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. The historian, Bill Bernstein, complained that “[t]he float implied that there is a state religion.” You can imagine the responses!

I love the way one of the responders (Leslie Dimmling) explains that the Declaration of Independence included the “word ‘God’ in the first sentence, and ‘Creator’ in the second” [these words are not actually found in the first and second sentence but the first and second paragraph] but she forgot to mention the word “Nature’s” that appears before “God.” As she probably knows (or on second thought she may not know) “Nature’s God” is not the god of Christianity. For more read the post at the HNN.

More on Climate Denial: The Historian Naomi Oreskes Discusses Her New Book The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View From the Future

Graham Readfearn of The Guardian interviews Naomi Oreskes about her new book. In the interview she explains why she believes that the denialists have been successful. There is also a really great clip of her trying to persuade Nick Minchin, a “climate skeptic” from Australia, that climate change is real. He seems reasonable in the clip but in a

short clip from the beginning of the ABC documentary “I Can Change Your Mind About Climate” that aired in Australia in 2012 he seems much less reasonable. (see the Skeptical Science blog for more on this documentary). There is no evidence that the documentary changing anyone’s minds. I’m not sure that anything will change the minds of the true believers. But I do believe that the efforts of Oreskes, Donald Prothero and others can make a difference.

The Bombing of Hiroshima: The Enola Gay Controversy Still Provoking Anger at Historians

I was shocked to read an article at the History News Network (HNN) reminiscing over the controversy of the Enola Gay Exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum in the 1990s. For the fiftieth anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima the museum had planned to do an exhibit of the recently restored Enola Gay. But when a draft of the proposed exhibit was leaked by the Air Force Association (AFA) a firestorm of controversy erupted pitting the museum and historians against veterans, the Air Force Association (AFA), and the right-wing media.

The Enola Gay and its Crew

The Enola Gay and its Crew

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In a New Pew Report Americans View Jews, Catholics, and Evangelicals Most Favorably and Atheists and Muslims Least Favorably

This is probably not too surprising, but in light of our history of anti-Catholicism and anti-Semitism this is amazing. It was not that long ago (1960) that

JFK had to explain that he believed in the complete separation of church and state because of fears that, as a Catholic, he would be under the control of the Pope if was elected as president. Too bad that some current Catholics don’t believe in the separation of church and state!

Unsurprisingly, Evangelicals and atheists mutually despise each other. On a scale from 0 to 100 with 0 the most unfavorable and 100 the most favorable, the Evangelicals rated atheists with a mean score of 25 and atheists rated Evangelicals with a mean score of 28. (Pew study)

Is Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century just a rehash of Marx’s Das Kapital?

When Thomas Piketty’s book Capital hit U.S. markets this year the response was both surprising and predictable. Surprising because a 700 page tome on economics became a bestseller! On the other hand the responses were predictable. The book received adulation from the Left and disgust from the Right. The polarizing effect of this book is immediately evident if one glances at the ratings of the book on Amazon.com. Out of 718 reviews 406 are 5 star reviews and 175 are 1 star reviews (viewed on June 26, 2014). Interestingly, the mean-spirted nature of the reviews was just as newsworthy as the book itself.

So I decided to take a look for myself. Like many comments on the internet, they were “nasty, brutish, and short,” to borrow Hobbes’ famous phrase. I only managed to make it about half way through the reviews, wishing that I had stopped sooner. The repetitive and spiteful nature of the reviews were making me nauseous. Here is just a sampling of some of the titles:

“Das Kapital Re-do”

“It’s Still Socialism/Communism/Facism[sic]”

“Don’t let this Marxist fool you.”

“Serious marx bull &&&&.”

“This book is nothing but re-hashed socialist BS”

“Das Kapital , by Karl Marx – has already been written , this is the same ideology !”

“Marxist propaganda”

“Piketty’s book would be better titled “The Communist Manifesto Lite”’

“Communist Propaganda at it finest”

“MARX Reincarnated”

“Karl Marx would love this book”

“Save your time and read Karl Marx’s Das Kapital instead”

“Communist Manifesto of the 20th century”

“Say Hello to the new Karl Marx”

“Karl Marx redux”

The content of these reviews didn’t add much to these titles (other than to flaunt the failures of socialism and demonize Piketty and liberals). The basic theme of these reviews was that Piketty’s book deserves a 1 star because it is pure Marxism.[1]

tea-party-rally socialism

Tea Party Rally

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Another Study Shows That Beliefs are More Powerful Than Facts

I used to think that people would change their minds if they only had the facts. I learned long ago that this assumption was naïve. Recent research has only confirmed this insight. In The New York Times, Brendan Nyhan wrote about a new study that shows that knowledge of the evidence was not the issue. As Nyhan notes, the science will lose if it “contradicts their political or religious views.” Now we need to figure out to break out of this ideological trap so that we can solve our most pressing problems.

Roxana Elden: The Myth of the Super Teacher

This is a great video on teaching. Most people don’t understand how difficult teaching is! Teachers deserve so much more respect than they receive. Thanks for posting Diane Ravitch!

Diane Ravitch's blog

Roxana Elden teaches high school English at Hialeah High School in Miami. In this very funny video, she explains to education writers how demanding teaching is and how prevalent are the misconceptions in Hollywood and the media about the “super teacher.” Elden is a National Board Certified teacher and the author of “See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers by Teachers.” She is a Teach for America alum who stayed in teaching. In the video, she says she is in her tenth year of teaching.

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