Friday, October 17, 2003

More On Education

How much of an effect do bad teachers have on their students? From the Dallas Observer:

" But this story, about the numbers on the page before me, is urgent. Here, I will read you one row from the table: 57.2, 40.83, 33.26, 33.41. There. You have just witnessed the educational annihilation of a cohort of children.

These numbers are the mean math scores on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills for a certain set of elementary students in the Dallas public school system, measured annually from third to sixth grades. In that four-year period, this set of students dropped from the 63.19 percentile to the 21.89 percentile, a plummet of 41.3 points. Like all the kids in Garrison Keillor's fictional Lake Wobegon, these children started out above average. But these real-life kids wound up in the toilet.

Now ask me why. Were these poor kids? Minority children? Country youngsters? Kids from broken homes? Children of drug abusers? Children with learning disabilities?

The correct answer is none of the above. These numbers are the human scar tissue of bad teachers. The kids in the group described above were the ones unlucky enough to draw the worst teachers in their schools for four years in a row. "

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Hanging With The Young'uns

Yesterday I went to the Big Brother/Big Sister Kick-Off Party not knowing what to expect since I had never been a mentor before and never worked with high school kids. Unfortunately, my little bro stood me up for unknown reasons. The coordinator told me that he did attend school earlier in the day and told his coach he would go to the party, so there should have no reason for him to skip out. Sigh, this is my second unsuccessful volunteering experience with high school kids.

I ended up pairing with a little bro whose mentor was running late. He seemed a bit standoff-ish at first, but became more animated and talkative after a few minutes of chatting. I guess I have that effect on people :-) I found out that Jamel (took me a couple of tries to get his name right) was a junior going to a high school near City Hall. He planned to attend Florida Institute of Technology because he liked Miami and computers. His goal was to start his own video game company because he loved video games. The man currently has almost every video game system that came to market in the past decade: NES, Super NES, Genesis, GameCube, XBox, PS2.

Jamel was telling me about the new features in NBA Street 2 when we started the ice breaker games. While we were playing mad lib, my jaw almost dropped when he asked me what an adjective is. How can a high school junior not know what an adjective is? Quite a few students also seemed to have trouble reading the stories. I guess the public education system here really is as bad as it's been portrayed in the media.

Then we started some mingling activity and I ended up debating with a few students the respective merits of certain popular hip hop artists. I never thought I would be discussing how much I love that R. Kelly "Thoing Thoing" song with 14-year-old teenage girls. It was pretty funny. When it was time to reveal our dream jobs, the boys all wanted to be NBA players of course. I told them that I didn't know what my dream job would be, which is the all-too-painful truth.

After two hours of eating snacks, socializing and playing games, the party ended. I wish we meet once every week instead of semi-monthly because I did enjoy the experience as well as the multiple free T-shirts. Until next time I guess.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Profitting From Paranoia

From AP via Yahoo:

"The founder of China's rocketry program that on Wednesday launched its first astronaut into space began his career building ballistic missiles for the U.S. government during World War II.

Tsien Hsue-shen, 92, was a U.S. Army officer, a co-founder of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Colleagues called him one of the brightest minds in the new field of aeronautics.

Then, in 1955, Tsien was driven out of the United States at the height of anticommunist fervor. "

This Just In

The real estate market in Manhattan is crazy!! From the New York Times:

"The average price for studio apartments was $303,895, up by 17.4 percent from the $258,826 price in the same period last year. One-bedrooms sold for an average of $471,531, an increase of 12.6 percent above $418,607 in the third quarter last year.

In two-bedrooms, the average price was $1,073,966 (this doesn't make that $919,959 look so bad, right?). This was an increase of 6.2 percent over the average two-bedroom's price of $1,011,790 last year.

The only sellers who did not hit the jackpot were those peddling three-bedrooms. There, the average price was $2,468,286, down by 3.3 percent from $2,553,537 last year."

I went to Josh's new $400K 1-BR apartment last night for dinner. While it's a pretty new and spacious apartment in a fancy looking complex, it's still a one-bedroom apartment!

This city is crazy.

China 03 pics -- Shanghai

The Shanghai pictures are finally up!! Click on the image to start browsing!

Monday, October 13, 2003

Dumb People Are Funny

God, I wish I were sitting at home now reading this article so I can laugh until I fall over. Here's an excerpt from this MSNBC article about Jessica Simpson:

"If it were possible for a little girl to be isolated from society and raised in the wild, not by wolves but by a pack of French poodles, she might turn out something like Jessica [Simpson], who simply has no concept of what happens during the daily life of a normal person.


For the past few days, I have followed the Jan Stephenson-LPGA controversy with interest. How would the hordes of sports journalists respond to her comments that Asian players are "killing" the LPGA?

(original quote: "This is probably going to get me in trouble, but the Asians are killing our tour. Absolutely killing it," Stephenson told the magazine. "Their lack of emotion, their refusal to speak English when they can speak English. They rarely speak.")

The silence has been deafening. Almost two weeks after the original article appeared, which I have seen linked on EPSN, Sports Illustrated, CNN, Yahoo News, Excite News, to name just a few, I have yet to see a single columnist criticize Stephenson's statements or offer any kind of rebuttal. It is especially disheartening to see such apathy after the recent uproar over the Rush Limbaugh-Donnovan McNabb debacle. Granted, women's golf doesn't exactly attract the same level of attention as professional football, but it would have been nice to see someone speaking out, other than the players themselves. I guess I should not even be all that surprised.