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John Denker
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1) If the students say it works and the teachers say it works, and they keep coming back for more ... then I say something is working. And they do keep coming back, taking millions of lessons per month. By any objective standard, some of the lessons are terrible. OTOH the students say that even so, it's better than what they are accustomed to ... which tells you something right there. Something scary. 2) The Khan guys give quizzes and keep records ... millions of records. They do statistical analyses. If one approach is working better than another, they know. As always, a quiz tends to measure low-level stuff rather than high-level stuff, but it's better than nothing. It's better than guessing. It's more data and better data than any classroom teacher has ever had. It is more focused and more detailed than any NCLB-type test data.
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Hello Liberals -- This Wednesday (26 Feb 2014) we will have a discussion of "educational innovations that actually work". We will start by showing a video of Sal Khan's TED talk. He's done some revolutionary things ... and he has... Continue reading
Posted Feb 24, 2014 at Blog For Arizona
In preparation for the State of the Union Address, they have been soliticing input from the public, via You are encouraged to go there and contribute. FYI, here's what I submitted: We need LAW ABIDING GOVERNMENT. The stuff that... Continue reading
Posted Jan 24, 2014 at Blog For Arizona
Republicans have been demanding negotiations over the government shutdown. A few minutes ago, President Obama gave in to their demand. In a private meeting with House leaders, he said: Let's negotiate. I understand that you want to repeal Obamacare, or... Continue reading
Posted Oct 4, 2013 at Blog For Arizona
Let us thank David Safier for his excellent satire --- 871 words in praise of low standards and low expectations. This is definitely the best explanation of why Dr. Sánchez is being considered for the job.
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As of 11 June 2013, H.T. Sánchez is the sole finalist in the search for a new Superintendent of TUSD. The Governing Board is soliciting comments. Executive Summary: Dr. Sánchez is nowhere near qualified to be superintendent. He would make... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2013 at Blog For Arizona
Once upon a time, a man was arrested for a string of brutal bank robberies. He said "You know that bank on Elm Street? I never robbed that. I swear! I've never been anywhere near that place!! What's your problem???"... Continue reading
Posted May 21, 2013 at Blog For Arizona
Yesterday I called the Tucson office of Senator Jeff Flake. I told the staffer, I wanted to let y’all know that even though it’s been almost four weeks, people still remember that Senator Flake filibustered the most basic gun reform... Continue reading
Posted May 14, 2013 at Blog For Arizona
Republicans seem to think Jesus was strongly in favor of the death penalty. This strikes me as a bit odd somehow. Continue reading
Posted Mar 7, 2013 at Blog For Arizona
Quoting from Sarah Jaffe: On Jan. 10 the staff of Garfield High School voted unanimously to refuse to administer the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test to their ninth-grade students. .... As the boycott has become national news, it has... Continue reading
Posted Mar 4, 2013 at Blog For Arizona
Paul Ryan and his posse think they’re all gonna go to heaven some day. Evidently they have not read the instructions. There are a lot of voters who take Christian values very very seriously. Values voters ought to stick with... Continue reading
Posted Feb 6, 2013 at Blog For Arizona
Corruption is the #1 key issue. A great many of our other problems can be seen as consequences of the fundamental corruption issue. For details, see section 1. There is a proverb that says: Pay attention to the thing you... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2013 at Blog For Arizona
Let’s consider recent bill to fund Superstorm Sandy relief. Let’s look at the process that led to its passage. The vote in the House was: yea nay total Republicans 49 179 228 Democrats 192 1 193 total 241 180 421... Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2013 at Blog For Arizona
That's an interesting point. A lot of people have been talking about the following scenarios as if they were equivalent, even though they are not. Really, really not: A) Talking filibuster with 60 votes required for cloture, versus B) Talking filibuster with 41 votes required to continue debate. In scenario (A), the majority needs to keep 50 senators on or near the floor, so they can muster a quorum at any time. Otherwise the filibusterer would just force an adjournment (due to absence of quorum), get some rest, and get recognized sooner or later the next day. The minority needs only one person to do the filibustering. That's a 50:1 ratio in favor of the minority. In scenario (B), the majority still needs to keep 50 senators on or near the floor, but now the minority needs to keep 41 senators on or near the floor for the duration of the filibuster. That's a 50:41 ratio. The burden on the filibustering /person/ is roughly the same as in the previous scenario. You might think the burden on the filibustering /party/ has gone up by a factor of 41, but that would be an overestimate, because only one of the 41 would is required to stand and speak. The other 40 can nap, go to the restroom, et cetera. Still, they are (mostly) not free to go home, and this will make them pretty cranky pretty fast. It is hard to know what's really going on, but I have not seen any credible evidence that anybody on Capital Hill is currently giving option (B) any serious consideration. It would be fine with me, but I don't have much say in the matter. ========== Note that scenarios (A) and (B), along with all other reasonable versions of the talking filibuster, are *finite* ... limited by human endurance. A talking filibuster can delay a bill, but cannot kill it. This is categorically different from the way things have been done in recent years, where a single senator could effectively kill any bill by "pseudo-filibustering" i.e. objecting forever without needing to stand and talk. Also note that there are lots of obstructionist tactics that do not fall within the category of filibustering, strictly speaking. That is to say, the topic of "fixing the senate" is distinctly broader than "reforming the filibuster". You could do away with the filibuster altogether and still have a dysfunctional senate.
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According to Jonathan Bernstein: "It’s hard to tell right now what’s up with Senate reform..... The Senate is still out this week; they’ll return to Washington next week. If Democratic senators come back and tell Harry Reid that they’ve been hearing an earful from key constituencies about filibuster reform, Reid will probably move forward with the toughest possible package. If, however, they haven’t been hearing about filibuster reform — maybe they’re hearing guns, or debt limit, or nothing in particular — then Reid is going to be very reluctant to push hard on this one." Rest of Bernstein article: Background information: Sign online petition Another online petition Contact Carl Levin Contact Harry Reid Contact Jeff Merkley
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posted by John Denker There is currently an effort to produce Next Generation Science Standards. This directly affects K-12 teachers and students, and indirectly affects everybody else. The 2nd draft standard is open for public comment until Jan. 29th. The... Continue reading
Posted Jan 10, 2013 at Blog For Arizona
posted by John Denker In terms of what should matter, in the interest of good governance, you don’t want identity politics to be a significant factor. You want policy issues to dominate. In terms of what does matter, recent presidential... Continue reading
Posted Dec 29, 2012 at Blog For Arizona
posted by John Denker On Thursday Dec. 20th, House Speaker John Boehner was humiliated by his own party when they refused to vote for his proposal, the so-called Plan B, otherwise known as the Morning-After Bill. He should have known... Continue reading
Posted Dec 25, 2012 at Blog For Arizona
book review posted by John Denker The New New Deal is a recent book by Michael Grunwald. It is very interesting, important, informative, readable, thorough, and persuasive. It revolves around the so-called Stimulus Act of 2009. There are three parts... Continue reading
Posted Dec 20, 2012 at Blog For Arizona
Posted by John Denker Recently there was a meeting involving a Wall Street CEO, a public school teacher, and a tea party activist. When they walked into the meeting room, they discovered that their host had provided a dozen chocolate-chip... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2012 at Blog For Arizona
Both of the following domains exist: Right now, web accesses simply redirect to If anybody can come up with any more detailed content, please let us know. You can send email to <>. Yours truly -- Willard... Continue reading
Posted Aug 12, 2012 at Blog For Arizona
Posted by John Denker On August 2nd, the Arizona Dept. of Education released the 2012 AIMS results and other data. I plotted up some of the data in the form of maps, so that you can easily see the location... Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2012 at Blog For Arizona
The Voter-ID requirements may seem pointless, but they are not. The point is to discourage young people, poor people, and disabled people from voting. Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2012 at Blog For Arizona
Book review, posted by John Denker The Republican Brain The Science of Why They Deny Science ... and Reality by Chris Mooney This is an awesome book. While reading it, I was repeatedly tempted to say to myself: "I knew... Continue reading
Posted May 6, 2012 at Blog For Arizona
As for the claim that "bribery is still far too narrow a statute" ... I'm not convinced. As the law stands now: *) it already speaks of giving "directly or indirectly" ... what could be broader than that? *) it already speaks of giving "anything of value" ... what could be broader than that? *) it already speaks of "intent to influence any official act" ... what could be broader than that? Lobbyists are violating the existing law with impunity, on a vast scale. Now suppose you made the law broader; why would they not simply proceed with business as usual, violating the broader law with impunity? As I see it, if the laws are not going to be enforced (because of political pressure on the prosecutors or whatever), re-wording the laws is pointless. By way of analogy: If somebody can openly boast of committing war crimes including torture, and not be prosecuted (for political reasons), re-wording the anti-torture statute is not going to help. Corrupt lobbying is a well-organized crime. All organized crime prosecutions are difficult ... but that does not mean we should give up and let organized criminals do whatever they want. There are tried-and-true ways of penetrating the layers of concealment that such criminals have set up: wiretaps, stings, moles, et cetera. None of this is easy, but it can be done. None of this requires changing the law, let alone changing the constitution. The magnitude of the crime makes it *more* worth prosecuting, not less. If anybody can think of a specific way to re-word the laws to make corruption easier to prosecute, please explain. However... I'm not sure that we should be framing this as a legal question. Maybe it is primarily a political question. If prosecutors are under political pressure to ignore large-scale corruption, then the solution is to apply political pressure in the other direction. If this takes people marching in the streets, so be it. Given the choice, I would prefer to have people in the streets demanding that the laws be faithfully executed ... rather than have them demanding the overthrow of the entire government, which seems to be the leading alternative.
Toggle Commented Jan 17, 2012 on None Dare Call It Bribery at Blog For Arizona
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