Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
Feelings First, Education Second II
On October 31, the Sacramento Bee printed a story called “Young Futures on the Line,” subtitled “First in an occasional series on the California High School Exit Exam and its impact on the class of 2006″ (link requires registration). The Bee began following around a handful of high school seniors with lukewarm gradepoint averages, and started to monitor how their school careers would be affected by the California State Exit Exam.
Page A1 above the fold, of course. What could be more important than the future of our children.
By January 25, the students, eagerly looking forward to the graduation ceremony, got back the results of the Exit Exam. Some passed, and some failed (link also requires registration). The Bee followed up with a special installment to the series, probing the emotional impact involved when young people are told their best isn’t good enough. An interesting leitmotif bubbling to the surface of this particular installment, several times, was that the conundrum was a consequence of California having an Exit Exam. It was not a consequence of kids screwing around, or a local education system failing to deliver the goods, or parents creating a home environments encouraging bad study habits. The test was the problem. Kill the messenger.
I note the following:
1. The January 25 installment really doesn’t have a lot to do with the young “futures.” It has to do with the present. As in, the feelings of disappointment involved when you fail to pass the Exit Exam. The implication is that the students have experienced, for the very first time, an episode in which they have failed to perform, and this has an impact on their prospects of getting something they want. This concept appears to pack a lot of novelty for students who are in their final year within the K-12 system. That is really, really disturbing.
2. The real concern that was addressed in the story, was the prospect of graduating with the class. That is not a “future” concern, except to say the actual commencement ceremonies are technical a few months into the “future”. Most of us, when we use the word “future” with regard to young people and their educational careers, refer to something quite different, and quite a bit more important.
3. Retaking the Exit Exam can be done in February and again in May. Should the students pass in February, they have a good shot at graduating with the rest of the class, which means nothing will have been changed by the Exit Exam except for the arrival of a momentary, perhaps well-needed little scare — permanently relegated to the past.
4. Should the February scores fail, the failing students will have yet another chance to take the Exam in May, at which time, should they then pass, they will receive an actual high school diploma — not a GED. They will suffer only to the extent that they will not receive this diploma with the rest of the class.
5. Should they take the Exam in May and fail at that time, then they’ll have to pursue diploma equivalents such as the General Educational Development (GED), or the California High School Proficiency Exam. The California State Exit Exam is needed only for the actual diploma, not for the diploma-equivalent alternatives.
6. As I recall, the way this story was actually printed on the paper, you became aware of #1, above, by reading the first page. You would not have been aware of #2, #3, #4 or #5 unless you took the time to complete the first page and break the newspaper open to pursue the story somewhere inside. I do not know if that was deliberate, nor does it very much matter.
7. The very first paragraph of this installment documents an incident of a named minor deliberately damaging public property. It appears the public is expected to take note of that only for purposes of identifying how frustrated the student is with the notice that he has failed the math portion of the Exam.
8. Further down in the story (and floating over the story in large, bold type, as I recall) is the quote “That ain’t my goal, to go to no night school and not walk the stage.” Someone working at the paper thought it was important for readers to become aware of this quote. The impression that this particular quote conveys to some of us, I suspect, is different from what was intended by whoever chose to include it.
9. As is always the case in the Sacramento Bee, I’m being summoned to feel sorry for poor people who wear much, much, much nicer clothes than I usually wear, especially the shoes which are top-of-the-line, brand-spanking new, and in this case even get a mention at the top of the story.
Now, I don’t mean to imply that people who work in the print media are stupid. Some of them are a lot smarter than I am. Probably, a whole lot of them. But their thinking is flat. It is insect-like; what one of them thinks, it appears that all of them think. That is a great pity, because one of the basic tenets long cherished by the “hive” is that diversity is a positive attribute and, heck, our hive is as diverse as anybody else’s, if not moreso.
But how diverse are they in the field of ideas? Nobody stopped to think that the quote, cited in #8, made the poor high school senior look like a dumbass.
Once you read between the lines, you see this is nothing more than a hit piece on the Exit Exam. We gotta get rid of it, it hurts the kids’ feelings. What this piece does to actually support the Exit Exam, potent as it may be, is unintentional. I’m going to go waaaay out on a limb, and just guess at that.
Such experienced, intelligent, and talented people can collaborate together and put so much effort into putting out Message A, and contrary to their intentions, end up broadcasting Message B. Message B, quite the opposite of A, specifically pointed out that we have these kids whose diplomas would have meant nothing, had the Exit Exam not rescued them by throwing a tiny little bit of personal accountability their way, probably for the first time in twelve years and maybe for the last time in decades. How is it that the experienced, intelligent, and talented people seem to be so oblivious to this? Our print media enjoys First Amendment protections well above-and-beyond what is enjoyed by people in the electronic media…certainly, above-and-beyond what is enjoyed by professionals in talk radio! They’re supposed to have this protection, and the reason for it is that we, their readers, should be introduced to ideas to which we otherwise would not have been exposed.
But we have this fire-ant thinking going on. In the print media, worse than what one hears on talk radio. Nobody in the newspapers, particularly in the large metropolitan areas like Sacramento, seems to be searcing for the salient point that nobody has made quite yet. Nobody’s going after the better-mousetrap. And based on what’s appeared in print in front of me, here, it doesn’t look like “diverse” mindsets are being herded into conference rooms to get into intellectual conflicts and emerge with products that offer robust, multi-directional viewpoints on the news that can offer the reader some perspective.
They just covered their front page with a bunch of doom-and-gloom about kids who feel bad because they might not be able to graduate with the rest of their class…kids who use “ain’t” when asked how they feel about failing the Exit Exam, and sprinkle so many multi-negatives into one sentence that you can’t interpret from the actual word structure what they’re trying to say.
If you read the whole story, you’re left thinking “Hooray for the California State Exit Exam.”
And the people who wrote the story, remain clueless. They think they just scored a big hit on it.
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