if you privatize public education you’re stabbing democracy in the heart, project to create an autonomous flying robot with a honey bee brain

Diane Ravitch was famous for being an educational reformer on the far Right – privatize schools, hand out vouchers, test and test some more. Now she is becoming famous for switching sides. Diane Ravitch Talks School Reform, the Chicago Strike, and the “Testing Vampire”

Do you think there is a crisis in American education?

No. I think the crisis in American education is that there is a concerted effort to destroy it. That is a crisis—that’s a genuine crisis. Is there a crisis of academic achievement? No.

First of all, the test scores are the highest they’ve ever been in history on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which is a no-stakes test. The scores of white kids, black kids, Hispanic kids, and Asian kids are the highest ever in history.

The post I did a few days ago showing that low tests scores were directly related to poverty is still true. It is also true that the overall average of scores on standardized tests is up.

The fundamental thing to understand about testing is that all these tests are normed on a bell curve. And the bell curve by its very nature has a bottom half and a top half. You can never close the gap between the bottom half and the top half. It is impossible. The top half is populated overwhelmingly by children from affluent homes.

This also becomes the self-fulfilling cycle of the conservative myth about financial prosperity equaling virtue. Poor kids largely( exceptions do not prove the rule) stay in the bottom half academically, so they stay in the bottom half of the economy.

What are the alternatives? If you were running for office, what would your education platform look like? What would be the two or three things to build a campaign around?

It would be to recognize, first of all, that public education is an essential institution in our democracy and that if you privatize public education you’re stabbing democracy in the heart. That’s number one: Protect public education. And then if you’re concerned about closing the achievement gap, you do something serious about reducing poverty. Because poverty is the single biggest cause of the achievement gaps. If you’re looking to raise test scores, you would be focused on making health clinics available to children in poor neighborhoods. And you would have prenatal care for every woman who becomes pregnant. Those are the things that would increase test scores.

If you want to fix public education, then you have to do something about the lives that children lead. There are a lot of children coming from very desperate circumstances and if you don’t attend to what their needs are, you’re not going to fix their problems. I think the health of children is crucial. You can’t say, “I don’t want to talk about poverty, I don’t want to talk about families, I don’t want to talk about any of those community issues, I just want to talk about what can we do about the schools.”

She is pretty tough on the Obama administration as Democrats have adopted large parts of the far Right’s educational agenda – in terms of means. The substance is probably where you can find the most difference – just my view, not hers. If you fix poverty. Get everyone healthy, a good education and a decent job with a living wage and a solid retirement plan – than what would conservatives complain about, where would they shift blame. It is much easier to settle in to the idea long held by the Right – that people are where they are in life because nature has a way of sorting people out to where they belong. This is a form of nihilism. Some people are condemned from birth and using public funds to correct society’s inequalities is wasteful. So they can go back to listening to far Right pundits tell them that everything is going to hell in hand basket so you have to vote for the apostate agenda of the far Right to correct the things which they plan to keep exactly the same.

Finland is doing extremely well with an educational curriculum that is almost 180 degrees different from ‘no child left behind’. I posted about this story last year, What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland’s School Success. The Scandinavian country is an education superpower because it values equality more than excellence.

black and white ben’s park bench

Peanuts Comic Strip Issue

The Postal Service issued a 34-cent Peanuts commemorative stamp in Santa Rosa, California, on May 17, 2001. The stamp, designed by Carl Herrman of Carlsbad, California, went on sale nationwide May 18, 2001.

This 2001 stamp pane commemorates the comic strip “Peanuts” with the character Snoopy. Drawn by Charles M. Schulz (1922-2000), “Peanuts” began in syndication on October 2, 1950. The installment published on Sunday, February 13, 2000, was the last original comic strip by Schulz, who died the previous day. “Peanuts” appears in approximately 2,600 newspapers in seventy-five countries and is translated into twenty-one languages.

“Peanuts” focuses on the anxieties and joys of childhood as expressed by a cast of children who often seem wise beyond their years.

I would have posted a picture, but they be a little obsessed with copy rights over at the postal museum.

single leaf autumn wallpaper. another picture that is brighter and clearer on my monitor than the internet.

I find the possibility of this fascinating and eerie, ‘Green Brain’ project to create an autonomous flying robot with a honey bee brain

The team will build models of the systems in the brain that govern a honey bee’s vision and sense of smell. Using this information, the researchers aim to create the first flying robot able to sense and act as autonomously as a bee, rather than just carry out a pre-programmed set of instructions.

If successful, this project will meet one of the major challenges of modern science: building a robot brain that can perform complex tasks as well as the brain of an animal. Tasks the robot will be expected to perform, for example, will include finding the source of particular odours or gases in the same way that a bee can identify particular flowers.

It is anticipated that the robot could eventually be used in applications such as search and rescue missions, or even mechanical pollination of crops.

I’m not sure what territory we’re in here – P.K. Dick, J.G. Ballard or William Gibson. What happens when the artificial bee cross pollinates a Monsanto patented plant with an organic field of crops down the road. Does Monsanto create and patent some artificial combat wasps that kill the artificial bees. Will the makers of the artificial bees be able to sue Monsanto for every thousand dollar bee they kill. What if the artificial bees deposit some engineered nano-pollen into the Monsanto crops that makes them unable to pollinate. What if artificially intelligent bees fly into Bill O’Reilly’s ear, lay eggs in his brain and change him into a decent human being. Will he be eligible for Medicare disability. Will intelligent bees take over the world.

Because of the language, this is not safe for work. Some kind of lesson about how just because someone is smart does not mean they cannot makes mistakes or act like a wanker: Pythagasaurus — Aardman Animation