Friday, March 25, 2005

Congressional Hearings to answer question: Is Big-Time Wrestling Real?

The Washington D.C. press corps were jostling for position. The rumor was making the rounds that they had been called together to hear announcements about upcoming congressional hearings on big-time wrestling.

"What prompted this?" probed the veteran D.C. beat reporter from the second row of the crowded press conference. The Washington press corps were squeezed into a small, crowded room for a hastily called press conference after word had leaked out that Congress was intending to call for a second round of formal Congressional Hearings. Congress had just concluded formal hearings on steroid use in baseball.

The congressman behind the microphone, patted his damp forehead with a white handkerchief and took a deep breath. "Well," he paused for effect, making sure everyone was looking at him, "This proves that America truly is the greatest country on earth. It must be the greatest country ever, when the biggest problem we can find to debate, is whether or not a handful of the world's richest and largest men, stuck themselves in the 'hiney' with a needle. 'Butt', it really was a very successful hearing," he added.

"Why was it successful?" someone shouted from the back row. "Did you curb steroid use in baseball?"

"No," he responded forthrightly, "But I did get my picture on every TV in America for 72 straight hours. It was fun to pompously lecture grown men, who make 500 times my salary."

"Yes, but what PROMPTED this NEW set of congressional hearings, the ones on big-time wrestling, of all things?" repeated the hard-nosed reporter from The Post.

"What prompted it, was the recent press release from the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) that they intended to mix politics and athletics with their Monday night pay-per-view series featuring the Nation's Governors.

The first WWF "Smackdown" is next Monday featuring Governor of California, Arnold "The Terminator" Schwartzenegger versus Governor of Indiana, Mitch "The Blade" Daniels.

"Our governors must be clean too. Our worries started with Governor of Minnesota, Jesse "The Body" Ventura and then spread when Governor Schwartzenegger announced that he had used steroids in between grope therapy sessions. We think Mitch is clean, just from looking at him, but you never know," the congressman added.

"Now another governor with a bold nickname has entered the national ring, so we figure it is time to see if our governor's are clean. They must all be good role models, or at least as good as Barney Frank."

"Who dreamed up this crazy idea anyway?" asked the New York Times reporter standing in the crowded doorway.

"Well," the congressman replied, "The idea for the Governor's matches was hatched up by the Indiana Governor's Education Policy advisor David Shame, who realized that the National Governor's Conference wasn't getting any upticks in the polls for their announcement that they were raising standards for high school students. Raising standards is old news, so they wanted something really fresh. Something that would grab America's attention. Their travels around the state in their Oregon-made Indiana RV, have helped them take a fresh look at America. Jeff Faxworthy will be their emcee and ring announcer, and former New Jersey Governor, Pristine Whitman will be the ring girl."

A grizzled reporter from the middle of the pack shouted out, "I can see why the governors would want to attract more attention to their educational agendas with a market-oriented publicity strategy, but why would Congress want to get involved with more formal Congressional hearings?"

The congressman patted his sweating forehead with his hanky once again and replied,"Once and for all we want to answer America's greatest unsolved mystery, Is big-time wrestling real? It's the least we can do for America."

The Business Roundtable is Right on Some Things

Disclaimer: This is NOT satire. I've decided this site may need to come with warning labels.

Public education should come clean with a few things. Our expectations HAVE been too low, for too long, for too many of our students. Don't take this wrong teachers, if you are taking the time to read this, you probably aren't the ones we are talking about.

I was in a meeting this week with an elementary teacher I have a great deal of respect for. Not just because he has the courage as a veteran teacher to drop down a few grades and take on a new grade level to stay challenged, but because he tells it like it is. When I want to know as a superintendent, what a current classroom teacher thinks, he tells me.

He let me know a year ago, that a certain "program" the school chose to implement, was not in his mind, appropriate for his grade level. Six months later he has decided that he underestimated the abilities of some of his students, Now granted, the program isn't appropriate for all of his students at this point, but he indicated that he may have underestimated the ability of his top students. He now has students reading three and four grade levels above their current grade, and showing tremendous interest in reading. He isn't totally sold yet, but as a professional he didn't complain, he implemented it under the promise that if it didn't produce results we would change. As a true professional, he can face the facts with an open mind.

Can the rest of our colleagues face the facts with an open mind?

My point is not to discuss any particular program, curriculum or methodology, it is only to bring out a discussion about expectations.

One thing many public schools are finding out, much to their chagrin, is that many students are capable of much more than we expected. While not actually meeting Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) with special education students, we are finding these students are still capable of much more than expected previously. Unfortunately, under the punitive rules of NCLB, their tremendous progress will be labeled "FAILING."

The pressure from the Business Roundtable has been primarily about expectations. I do NOT agree with total dependence on standardized testing, nor do I agree with many of the NCLB requirements, but I have seen so many students rise above what might have been expected of them, that I have to say that raising the expectations for students has been, overall, a good thing. The Business Roundtable isn't all wrong.

I must point out that excellent teachers have always had high expectations. However, in recent years I have seen more and more teachers take on this challenge of raising their expectations. I am proud to say that many of our students (and teachers!) are rising to the occasion.

Our future success will depend on whether or not society will allow us to continue our progress, and it depends on how we handle with care the students who aren't able to meet rising expectations. Will we treat them with dignity and provide them an opportunity to make a living wage in the new economy?

One businessman who posts here from time-to-time said it takes 15-20 years for a business to truly establish it's vision and mission. Will the Business Roundtable and the State Chamber of Commerce groups provide the same time for public schools to rise to our new mission?

Or is the mission of the Roundtable just to break up the public school system no matter what progress is made?

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

President Bush Names Blue Ribbon Business Panel

President Bush this week has named a blue ribbon panel of teachers and other educators to a National Poundtable Committee. The purpose of the committee is to establish higher ethical standards and to raise the profit margins of American businesses.

President Bush said, under condition of anonymity, "We think this will be a very successful format. It worked so well having the business CEO's develop educational agendas for this nation, that we thought we would try it on the economic front. We have been very disappointed in the economic efforts of our businessmen and feel that our economy will never improve without rigorous accountability measures. We lead the world in many ways, but our economic growth rates are flat. Our educational leaders will show us the way."

The committee will consist of superintendents, principals and teachers who will meet in Orlando, Florida for three weeks, vigorously hammering out the standards and agendas on which business will be evaluated.

The cornerstone initiative is reported to be legislation titled NBLS (No Business Left Standing). "The idea," said, NBLS spokesperson, Margaret Smellings, "is that by 2013-2014 we will require 100% of all employees in all divisions of every business in America to meet Adequate Yearly Profit (AYP). Each employee must demonstrate that they are personally responsible to bring in more money than they cost the company. We will separate the employees into various subgroups and evaluate the entire business on the basis of that subgroup in that division of that business. If the employee fails, the division fails. If the division fails, the business fails to meet AYP. Everyone must be proficient to meet the challenge and maintain our standing in the world."

"The cry from CEO's around the nation sounds suspiciously like those of educators when NCLB was authorized," said Dr. Sup R. Blogger, president of AASA. He added, "I know they think educators don't know much about business, but I know as much about bankruptcy law as they know about dyslexia and special education case law."

A spokesperson for the Business Roundtable said, "The problem is inadequate funding. If we had more money we would have more profit." To which a politician standing nearby replied, "The answer to every stinkin' problem isn't more money."

Monday, March 21, 2005

Business Roundtable Issues National Apology

PRESS RELEASE: March 21, 2035

In a shocking departure from past practice, The Business Roundtable has released a national apology to all American's for it's role in toppling America from it's century long position as the world's leading creator of technologies, products and services that made Americans the envy of the world.

In the 1980's a group of CEO's, calling themselves the Roundtable, created an agenda based on increasing academic standards in America. In later years they supported NCLB legislation at the national level and determined that NCLB would be the vehicle for driving up academic standards. At that time they reported, "There still is a long way to go before we see U.S. education performance that meets or exceeds the best in the world."

However, 30 plus years later, The Business Roundtable has finally admitted that while America is now ranked number one in the world on standardized tests, they may have been playing the wrong game.

In a press conference on March 21, 2035, a Business Roundtable member, said, "It was so deceptive to think that all we needed to do was to hold students and schools accountable with high stakes testing. We had no idea at the time there was a downside to excessive testing. We just wanted to be the best in the world. Who would have known that one reason America led the world in the creation of new ideas, was that schools taught an eclectic combination of content with surprising creativity and hands-on-instruction. It evidently developed students into creative, yet productive citizens that developed products and services that the entire world sought after. Or a least it used to."

"Compared to other countries, we had one of the most comprehensive curriculums in the world. We had no idea that the Art, Music, PE, Health, Social Studies and Athletics all contributed to the rich, comprehensive broad-based backgrounds that actually promoted creativity and independent thought. The simple, but deceptive idea that most of what is important in school can be measured by a one-shot standardized test was too much for us to pass up."

"We now regret the fact that educators took us seriously and actually limited their curriculum and instruction to help students pass these tests we held them accountable to. In the meantime, at our insistence, they quit teaching all the creative things that developed such entrepreneurs in the past."

"Now, that we are number one in the world on these tests, we find ourselves well below number one in the most important category, creating new ideas and technologies."

A CEO from Florida, Al A. Gator, stated, "We thought we were on firm ground with NCLB but it turned out to be swamp." A CEO from Arizona, stated, "NCLB led America into a box canyon." The CEO from Bath and Body Works stated, "We threw the baby out with the bathwater!"

A chief spokesperson for the Business Roundtable noted wryly, "While we were preoccupied with being number one, no one questioned if we were playing the right game. We used to just outsource manufacturing to get cheap labor. We knew we didn't lead the world in manufacturing, but now we no longer lead the world in creation of new ideas either. Thirty-five straight years of trying to bubble in little circles have left American students a little short on the things that really matter. We got our wish. We are number one, but now we are lagging behind."