Sagetex: Definite Integrals

DefInt1b

I've added two definite integrals to the Sagetex: Integrals page. The first problem creates two random parabolas in different directions and the area between the two curves must be calculated. This requires them to find the intersection points as well to set up the integral properly. The second integral gives a random exponential in e along with (random) endpoints of integration.

DefInt2

Here are some issues that caught my eye this past week:

  • USA Today reports "Texas is decriminalizing students' truancy": "Gov. Greg Abbott has signed into law a measure to decriminalize unexcused absences and require school districts to implement preventive measures. It will take effect Sept. 1. Reform advocates say the threat of a heavy fine — up to $500 plus court costs — and a criminal record wasn't keeping children in school and was sending those who couldn't pay into a criminal justice system spiral. Under the old law, students as young as 12 could be ordered to court for three unexcused absences in four weeks. Schools were required to file a misdemeanor failure to attend school charge against students with more than 10 unexcused absences in six months. And unpaid fines landed some students behind bars when they turned 17."
  • There's a wrinkle in a story from my last post. A teacher who was reported to have been removed from his position because he read from Mark Twain was actually removed for making an inappropriate joke (relating to a Mark Twain passage). LA Times has the details: "In his first interview since he was pulled from his fifth-grade class, Esquith told The Times on Monday that controversy stemmed from a joke he made in the classroom. He said he quipped with students that if he could not raise enough money for the annual Shakespearean play, they would all have to perform their parts naked like the king in Mark Twain's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." After another teacher complained, he said he explained the context of the joke to his principal at Hobart Boulevard Elementary. The principal, he said, told him he had nothing to worry about. Nonetheless, Esquith was removed from the classroom in April."
  • EducationWeek reports on the L.A. Unified budget has reduced the spending on police. This was a victory for The Dignity in Schools Campaign which, "..demanded that the school district, which is the second largest in the country, redirect $13.1 million in funds it had planned to spend on policing practices during the 2015-16 school year into jobs and programs aimed at improving school climate. (The district is still budgeting about $54 million for school police from other parts of its budget.) Though the district school board adopted the revised budget, campaign organizers don't yet know how much of the redirected money will go toward their specific funding recommendations, which include using $8 million for restorative justice measures like technical assistance and staff training, as well as $5 million for hiring prevention and intervention staff in alternative schools to create counselor-student ratios of 1 to 50. Such investments have been proven to positively transform school climate, whereas school-based policing has not, said Ruth Cusick, an education rights attorney at Public Counsel."
  • Huffington Post's piece "Meet the 63rd Black Woman in American History with a Physics Ph.D." provides a glimpse into "the challenges faced by marginalized communities in science".
  • Put this on your radar: Reason.com has an update on a case making its way through the legal system: "A little over a year ago, a group of nine California students with the help of the activist group Students Matter won an amazing victory in California Superior Court in the case of Vergara v. California.As I reported at the time:

    Judge Rolf M. Treu reasoned that the challenged teacher rules—regarding permanent employment status, dismissal procedures, and a "last in first out" rule for layoffs—do indeed damage California children's constitutional right (on the state level) to an education. He wrote that the challenged statutes "cause the potential and/or unreasonable exposure of grossly ineffective teachers to all California students" and "to minority and/or low income students in particular, in violation of the equal protection clause of the California constitution."

    Naturally, the losers appealed, and Judge Treu stayed actual enforcement of his ruling pending appeal. Today, the Students Matter side filed their brief in the appeal process in the Court of Appeal for California, 2nd appellate district....In a press conference call this morning announcing the brief, lawyers on the Students Matter side say they still need to wait for the teachers side to file its response brief and then await an actual court date. Once the hearings are over, though, a decision must come within 90 days, but that could still be a very long time away--more's the pity for California public school students.". There's a decent video that's posted on the page.

  • The Norway Chess Tournament 2015 ended with victory for Topalov. The tournament was marred by some blunders and a short draw between Anand and Topalov in the final round. But most newsworthy is what Chessbase reports here,"...this is easily the worst tournament ever played by Carlsen after obtaining his GM strength."
  • The 43rd Sparkassen Chess Meeting Dortmund 2015 has begun; it features players such as Kramnik, So, Hou Yifan, Naiditsch.
  • American chess lost an icon recently. The NY Times has a piece on Walter Browne who passed away in Las Vegas at the age of 66.
  • Michael Krieger posts on "Salt “Black Markets” Emerge in Indiana School System as Students Seek to Avoid Bland Michelle Obama Lunches"

Resource: SymPy Gamma

SymPyInt

It's not considered important enough to be implemented in Sage but I think every teacher sees the educational value if Sage were able to show the steps of its calculations. SymPy Gamma shows how it could be implemented for (some) derivative and integration problems. I've typed in the command integrate(ln(x)) which results in the screenshot above (where it annoyingly writes ln(x) as log(x)). In addition to that information it plots the graph of the solution and even finds the root.

SymPyInt2

But the explanation for how it got the answer was most impressive:

SymPyIntSteps

The main problem is that there were plenty of times in my experimentation that the steps weren't given--as I said already, it shows the solution for some problems. Before you rush out and try it I need to mention I that while most of the output is provided quickly, some of the information (usually the plot) can take a lot more time to show up-maybe a minute or so. And sometimes it just "times out" without giving all the output. So if you're willing to put together problems that result in a solution you've got a great teaching tool for calculus. I've added SymPy Gamma to the links on sidebar.

Here are some issues that caught my eye this week:

  • There's growing opposition to the growing budget for police protection in Los Angeles schools. Southern California Radio has the story: "Superintendent Ramon Cortines proposed growing the school police budget by about $2 million, bringing the department's total funding to $59 million for the 2015-2016 school year. The district runs the largest school police department in the country with more than 350 officers. The armed staff supervise students who walk to and from school under a safe passage program and perform other duties related to campus security....Last fall, school police estimated they would need 80 new officers to protect students walking home from school with iPads. The department later retracted the statement....Students living in communities such as Watts are more likely to feel harassed than protected by police, according to Ruth Cusick, an attorney for Public Counsel, a legal advocacy group....The school police department drew scrutiny last fall after reports that it owned an armored tank, grenade launchers and more than 60 assault rifles from the military surplus program. The district later returned some of the weapons.". While police protection sounds great, the harassment mentioned above hearkens back to 2012 when police were issuing citations to kids as young as 6 for fighting and, for example, "...two boys who were stopped by officers near their school, minutes late, and were searched, handcuffed and allegedly intimidated inside a squad car before officers took them into school and wrote them curfew tickets.". As covered in more detail here, "Students at schools with some of the highest dropout rates have reported staying home if they were running late — rather than risk meeting up with police and getting tickets that can rise to $400 once court fees are tacked on.". The vote on the budget is set for Tuesday.
  • Connie St Louis, one of the women who led the campaign to oust Tim Hunt from his job explains her side of the story to Scientific American. Her agenda goes even deeper: "I didn’t just call out Hunt in that first tweet, however, but also the Royal Society, the U.K.’s national academy of science, where he is a fellow. Sexual inequality in the STEM fields continues in part because the Society continues to take very little action....I felt it would be a waste if the uproar ignored the forest for trees—rebuking only Hunt and not higher orders of power as well—so my next action was to present a framework for systemic change:...The Royal Society was founded in 1660 there has never been a female president, so I went to Change.org and set up a petition called, “Its time to elect a female president to lead the Royal Society.” So far there have been only 68 signatures .... Condemning one mans’ sexist remarks is not enough. It is important that this episode also affects change for women in science.". Racism and sexism will always exist--but is the playing field so unfair when the targeted group can bully the system to remove a former Nobel Prize winner and use that issue to push for a female president of the Royal Society? It seems like "the system" is on her side. Indeed, in her own article (link above) she recalls a "disturbing" dream where she's confronted by reporters: "They are all shouting the same question: “How did you think you would get a way with publically calling to account a prominent white male scientist?”". No such problem in the real world.
  • In an earlier post, Jerry Seinfeld expressed his displeasure with the extreme PC environment on college campuses. A college student wrote in to Huffington Post to explain comedy to Jerry Seinfeld. Comedian Bill Maher takes aim at these 'idiots' and dispenses his verbal beat down of the college student as only a comedian could. It can make you laugh or maybe it will offend you--view at your own discretion.
  • LA Times reports on a "nationally recognized" teacher who was removed from his post for reading a passage from Mark Twain's book "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn". The PC climate, again. Great literature forces can force you confront some uncomfortable questions whether it's "Lord of the Flies", "1984", "To Kill a Mockingbird" and other numerous books that are targeted for banning. The American Library Association's website notes "Each year, the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom records hundreds of attempts by individuals and groups to have books removed from libraries shelves and from classrooms.". How many of those classic books have you read?
  • The French government is warning it's citizens about the US attitudes/culture. From the article,"Along with warnings about slower speed limits, higher drinking ages and hurricanes in Texas, the French foreign ministry adds a note of warning against being too “Latin.”“It’s recommended to adopt a reserved attitude toward those of the opposite sex,” it says. “Comments, behavior, and jokes, which might be harmless in Latin countries, can lead to criminal cases,” the ministry’s website says....Reinforcing French views of American prudishness, the website notes that even minors can be accused of sexual harassment, and asks that children use toilets reserved for their sex in the U.S....Among other advice to the French in America: “keep calm in all circumstances” since some states authorize the carrying of weapons. It asks visitors to avoid raising their voice or making sudden or aggressive gestures at the police."
  • With 4 out of 9 rounds down, the Norway Chess Classic 2015 is drawing attention for Carlsen's poor showing. As Chessbase notes, "This disaster, however, is simply unprecedented.". Round 1 started with magnificent play by Magnus to achieve a winning position. But he lost on time because he didn't know the time control for the tournament(!!!). It's been downhill from there. He was outplayed by Caruana and Anand. You can follow the games at the tournament site here.
  • The Daily Caller reports on the "fiasco" while implementing Common Core in Nevada: "Under No Child Left Behind, states are supposed to test children in grades 3-8 each year in mathematics and reading. At least 95 percent of students must take the tests, or else a state can face federal sanctions such as a loss of millions of dollars in funds. Nevada, on the other hand, was only able to test 37 percent of the 213,000 students it was supposed to, thanks to a cascade of glitches and computer problems that left students unable to complete their exams. In Clark County, which contains the Las Vegas metro area and over half the state’s students, only 5 percent were successfully tested. Because so few were tested, Nevada’s department of education says it will be unable to issue grades for individual schools based on performance, like it is supposed to. The failure means Nevada is at risk of losing millions in federal funding, but such sanctions are unlikely in this case because the state made an honest effort that simply undone by technical shortfalls.". There is, of course, a scramble to assign blame.
  • WND has a piece on author Alex Newman calling for a debate with Huffington Post writer "...Rebecca Klein over her June 4 article, “5 of the Most Extreme Claims Made Against Common Core In The Last 5 Years.”One of her claims was Newman’s contention in March 2014 that Common Core was part of a global agenda to “transform American children, and students around the globe, into what globalists refer to as ‘global citizens’ ready for the coming ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’ world order.” He is asking for her to investigate the claim for herself. For example, in a 2010 speech at the Sustainability Summit, Duncan bragged that his Education Department was “taking a leadership role in the work of educating the next generation of green citizens and preparing them to contribute to the workforce through green jobs.” In a separate 2010 speech given to UNESCO, Duncan proclaimed the U.S. must partner with foreign countries to tackle global challenges. Newman also addressed another one of Klein’s five “extreme” claims: that Common Core will turn kids into communists and/or socialists. She accused Glenn Beck and Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Okla., of making those assertions. However, as Newman pointed out, that’s not exactly what Beck and Bridenstine said." . Two very different perspectives that should give a lively debate. Will she rise to the challenge or give the other side "bragging rights" by refusing. Stay tuned!

 

Sagetex: plotting templates

SagetexPlottingTemplateSPY

The plotting templates that are posted on the Handouts page should be good enough for most of your plotting needs--they're convenient because you don't need sagetex and Sage to use them. But lately I've found myself graphing functions that can't be done with those templates, such as the Cantor function, and decided to make sagetex driven versions of those 2 templates. The image above shows the version with the magnifying glass--the zeta function, Weierstrass function, and a Fourier series have been plotted simultaneously. I've made the main tick marks thicker but the important change is seen in the circular magnified portion. The templates incorporate comments by reader Lazza posted on the Plotting with Sagetex page to get around a problem of having enough points to make the graph look good but not too many that it won't compile. The complicated functions would look like this (step size .01):

SagetexSPYorigThe Fourier plot doesn't look smooth and the Weierstrass function looks too smooth. Lazza's comments apply to the regular template as well.

SagetexPlottingTemplate

Note that for the zeta function above, the red circle shows that the zeta function doesn't go to the bottom of the screen with step size .01. This issue, which was previously mentioned on the Plotting with Sagetex page, can sometimes be solved by increasing the number of points. But if there are too many points, the code doesn't run. Lazza's improvement allow for decreasing the step size in just the areas where more points are needed. For the zeta function, the problem area is before 1, so the x coordinates could be calculated as:

x2_coords = srange(LowerX,.8,.001)+ srange(1.2,UpperX,step)

Without step of .001 the function doesn't make it to the bottom but .01 is adequate for the right hand piece. Also, starting at 1.2 avoids all the non-plotted points in between the two pieces. And of course, you could break this into 3 intervals so that the step size of .001 is only used closer to .8, say .75 to .8, eliminating even more points. Once the x coordinates are determined the y coordinates follow easily with a simple statement:

y2_coords = [(zeta(t2)).n(digits=6) for t2 in x2_coords]

The two templates can be found on the Plotting with Sagetex page along with more information, such as how the graph paper feature can be turned off or having a frame instead of axes. With these templates you can have the same look and feel for whatever you're graphing plus the additional power of Sage.

So many stories that caught my eye over the past week!

  • The NY Post tells us that a Brooklyn high school was caught giving students science credits they needed to graduate by taking math classes. "The scheme was engineered following the February transfer of the only 12th-grade science teacher at Lafayette HS, where most of about 350 students are immigrants, the source said...Principal Jon Harriman didn’t return a call seeking comment — and on Friday sent out an e-mail instructing school faculty not to speak with reporters.". Seems likely this story will continue to evolve.
  • ProPublica has an audio interview with theJohannes Bohannon, Ph.D., mentioned in an earlier post, about how he was able to convince the world that chocolate can help you lose weight.
  • I used to have tissues and antibacterial lotion for students to use, if they wanted, when they came into class. IFLScience explains "Why You Should Never Use Hand Sanitizer".
  • Kotaku.com has the crazy story of a Thomas Jefferson high school student at the center of controversy: "The Korean media dubbed Sara Kim the “Genius Girl.” A young math whiz so brilliant that two elite universities, Harvard and Stanford, offered her dual admissions. Her father, an exec at Korean game company Nexon, must have been proud! Other people, however, were suspicious. ... Chosun.com, which ran the original story, received similar denials from both Harvard and Stanford in afollow-up report published today. In this latest update, Kim allegedly still says she is not lying and is sticking with her story that she has been accepted into both universities....While reporting this story, Chosun.com today writes it received an email on Monday signed by Harvard Public Affairs and Communications official Anna Cowenhoven, stating that Sara Kim had been accepted by the Ivy League university. The following day, Cowenhoven told the paper that the email was also a forgery.".
  • Do you let kids eat in class or give out food to them? The NY Post also reports, "A Harlem boy allergic to peanuts died after school staff inadvertently gave him a nut-based candy bar and then failed to immediately administer an antidote or call an ambulance, his devastated mother charges...The tragedy was compounded by the fact that Brandon, the eldest of three kids, was due to be a bone-marrow donor for his younger brother, Tyler, who suffers from sickle cell anemia, ...."
  • The Washington Post writes, "A Woodbridge teenager admitted in court Thursday that he was the secret voice behind a pro-Islamic State Twitter account, which once counted more than 4,000 followers, and that he helped another teen travel to join the Islamic State in Syria. Ali Shukri Amin, 17, a former student at Prince William County’s Osbourn Park High School who was arrested earlier this year, pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist organization. As part of a deal with prosecutors, he admitted that he helped arrange a successful trip to Syria for an 18-year-old Prince William County man who wanted to fight with the Islamic State."
  • The tragic story of high school student Kalief Browder, first mentioned here,  who spent 33 months in prison without a trial before charges were dropped has a tragic end: he committed suicide recently. The damage of torture and starvation haunted him after he was freed. "At Rikers, Browder spent two of his three years in solitary confinement. There, as he frequently recounted later, Browder was routinely brutalized and starved by guards and subjected to virtually unrestrained violence by other prisoners....After a visit with Browder in the psych ward at St. Barnabas Hospital in January, Gonnerman described him as “gaunt, restless and deeply paranoid.”She added: He had recently thrown out his brand-new television, he explained, “because it was watching me.” Condolences to his family on their unnecessary, tragic loss.
  • ZeroHedge posts on BioMed Central: "A major publisher of scholarly medical and science articles has retracted 43 papers because of “fabricated” peer reviews amid signs of a broader fake peer review racket affecting many more publications."
  • A school in Idaho is arming staff to protect students. According to the Guardian, "A tiny school district in Idaho far removed from law enforcement has purchased firearms and trained a handful of staff to use them should the same school shooting rampage that has occurred across the country take place. It takes at least 45 minutes for officers to reach the Garden Valley School district – a district made up of less than 300 students all taught in the same building – where limited funds have prevented the school from being able to afford hiring police officers to patrol the building during school hours."
  • The NY Times reports on the crippling education budget problems in Arizona: "In the rural Saddle Mountain Unified School District 50 miles west of Phoenix, three new libraries have been locked since last year. In a neighboring county, an elementary school closed last month because there was no money to keep it open, even after the district agreed to shift to a four-day week....In Peoria, a suburb northwest of Phoenix, Curtis J. Smith, the principal at Peoria Elementary, said he had about $42,000 to pay for toilet paper and printing paper; athletic equipment and arts materials; and light bulbs, small repairs and cleaning materials for the school year that ended May 22. It amounts to only $68 for each of his 620 students over the school year. Next year, Mr. Smith will have roughly $32,000, or about $52 per student."
  • There's plenty of buzz for this story which is continues the PC theme in schools mentioned in the last post--but this time it's in the UK. Several articles stand out from the rest: Huffington Post gives one woman's harsh, sarcastic perspective on the tone deaf statements by former Nobel Prize winner Tim Hunt which led to his resignationReason.com in "The Illiberal Persecution of Tim Hunt" provides my view: "In a normal world, a world which valued the freedom to make a doofus of oneself, that should have been the end of it. Seventy-two-year-old man of science makes outdated joke, tumbleweed rolls by, The End. But we don't live in a normal world. Certainly we don't live in a world where people are allowed to make off-color comments. And so with tedious, life-zapping predicability, Hunt fell victim to the offence-policers, to the machine of outrage being constantly cranked up by self-styled guardians of what we may think, say, and even joke about....What is truly alarming, what should really send a shiver down every liberal's spine, is not the words that came out of Hunt's mouth but the haranguing of him that followed, the shunning of him by the academy and possibly by the scientific elite itself...The response to Hunt is way more archaic than what Hunt said. Sure, his views might be a bit pre-women's lib, pre-1960s. But the tormenting and sacking of people for what they think and say is pre-modern. It's positively Inquisitorial...The Hunt incident is quite terrifying. For what we have here is a university, under pressure from an intolerant mob, judging a professor's fitness for office by his personal thoughts, his idea of humour. Profs should be judged by one thing alone: their depth of knowledge. It shouldn't matter one iota if they are sexist, stupid, unfunny, religious, uncouth, ugly, or whatever. All that should matter is whether they have the brainpower to do the job at hand. UCL and the mob's hounding of Hunt echoes the university of the pre-Enlightenment era, when only those who were 100 percent Good Catholics had a hope in hell of getting a job. Only now, academics must be unflinchingly in accordance with the commandments of PC rather than with Biblical thinking." Missing from most accounts is provided by one woman who, thankfully, has come to his defense. Sarah Vine of the Daily Mail writes, "His so-called sexist remarks were actually, it turns out, more a veiled mea culpa. His wife (an equally eminent scientist, immunology professor Mary Collins, who, ironically, has done much to further the standing of women in science) was once his student. She was already married when they met over the roaring flame of a Bunsen burner. They had an affair, she divorced her first husband — and she and Sir Tim have been together for the past 20 years. ‘I have fallen in love with people in the lab and people in the lab have fallen for me, and it’s very disruptive to the science,’ he said yesterday, trying in vain to calm the story and explain why he’d said what he’d said. ‘These emotional entanglements make life very difficult.". And after reminding the reader of other cases where men have been taken down for their not being sensitive enough (such as atrophysicist Matt Taylor reduced to tears for wearing "...a shirt emblazoned with scantily clad women of the comic-book variety...") continues, "Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t die in a ditch to defend any of these three men as being entirely innocent. You might say they were all a bit silly, or you might say they were just being men. But I would argue that the enraged response from women in all cases was wildly disproportionate...But the feminists aren’t prepared to cut them that slack. They spot a potential target, zone in on their off-the-cuff remark, or their lurid shirt, or their ill-advised joke, and harry away until they achieve their goal: emasculation, defenestration, prostration or gibbering apologies. But what does this tactic actually do for the feminist cause?". But there's an interesting side story from the Huffington Post piece (above): "In a recent article posted on the Science Magazine website, Alice Huang, herself a very successful scientist, dispensed advice to a young female researcher wondering how to cope with the perceived unwelcome advances of a senior male colleague. Dr. Huang's recommendation: put up with it. She went on to say that it was likely that the male colleague likely couldn't help himself and as such, should be forgiven. Following substantial (and in my view, highly warranted) backlash on social media, this article was quickly removed.". Bloomberg Business has that report under the prurient headlines "Academic Journal Deletes Article Telling Woman to Let Adviser Ogle Her Breasts". Like Nigel Short, notice the comments getting twisted in the headlines by a "journalist". Dr Huang, a woman, gets some heat for her advice which isn't PC enough. The original question and answer are posted; no information on whether she'll lose her job. But recognize that a man giving the same advice starts with an extra strike of being a many--so he can be freely labelled and abused (in a way a woman can't) by a reactionary mob. Unfortunately the younger generation has a much different set of acceptable standards than their parents. Check out "The Most Whiney, Thin-Skinned, Easily Offended Society In The History Of The World" posted on ZeroHedge which explains the thinking of today's younger crowd and the  "microaggressions" they are taught to see, such as opening the car door for a woman. Microaggressions and people's need to make the perceived offender pay the price, regardless of the intent behind the comments get taken very seriously by today's schools and, in the US, by more and more businesses and individuals. If you don't have the proper opinion then, man or woman, the situation can get spin out of control very quickly.
  • You can feel relieved now that the family which cheered too loudly at their daughter's graduation is no longer facing arrest warrants and jail time for cheering too loudly. WREG in Mississippi has the original coverage--with video for you to judge just how disruptive they were. Local channel KOAT has a more recent story telling us the school superintendent (Foster) dropped the charges: ""Our purpose in filing the complaints was not to place a hardship of any kind on the four individuals who disrupted the ceremony, but to protect the rights of the class of 2015," Foster said to WHBQ just minutes after dropping the charges.".
  • American Radio Works has some nice podcasts. Here's one: "What Can Japan Teach Us About Teaching?"
  • The NY Post again: "Reading? Math? Nah- let's teach kids to put on a condom". The article beginning sets the tone: "Can anyone spare a banana? New York City public schools are now offering demonstrations of how to put on a condom. Because, you know, they’ve already mastered teaching kids math and reading. So let’s move on to the important stuff. Well maybe not. Thirty six percent of students in the city were proficient in math and 31 percent were proficient in reading. With these teachers in charge of condom demonstrations, I think we’re headed for a lot of unintended pregnancies."

tkz-euclide: tangents to circles

AlterCL3

I've added some more material to the Circles page on Altermundus tkz-euclide package. As I've already mentioned the documentation is in French and having the important information posted in English is both a convenience and necessity when you don't use the package frequently. The material relates to drawing the tangent lines to a circle; there are 2 main cases: Case 1 is to plot the tangent to the circle at a specific point on the circle. The point can be given explicitly, e.g. (-1,1) or chosen at random with one of the macros from the package. Case 2 is to draw one or two tangents to a circle given a specific point outside the circle. That case is shown above; from point C in the picture both tangents have been drawn. You can find the details and the sample files with commentary to walk you through it.

Here are some things that caught my eye over the last week.

  • Chicago public school chief executive resigns from her position," ...amid a federal investigation into a $20.5 million no-bid contract.". Guilt/innocence has not been determined but it highlights yet another problem with a heavy top down educational system: layers of bureaucracy (which drain money from schools), lots of money (so it's easy for a bit to go missing), and the power for people in key positions to direct that money.
  • Caffeinated Thoughts blog has a decent post. From the blog, "Once again, the Common Core Standards are another federal policy which discourages students from memorizing multiplication facts and other basic math theories and formulas.These policies are in place to justify the emphasis on student-centered, discovery, and inquiry methods of instruction which fail because they are laborious, error-ridden, discouraging methods for introducing new concepts to young learners according to research.". My experiences have been similar. Too many people without math backgrounds have too much of a say. They question the need for learning multiplication tables, algebra, homework, and proofs and push for everything to be student centered. There's a time and place for discovery learning as well as drilling. It shouldn't be either/or but both. As classes get more challenging the problems are more complex and you need to be able to finish off the "pieces" of the problem in a reasonable amount of time.
  • Centralmaine.com reports, "The Farrington Elementary School principal, named a National Distinguished Principal of the year in 2013, resigned within two weeks of the disclosure that mathematics assessment results for 106 students there will be thrown out because of testing irregularities....The school superintendent wrote recently in a letter to parents that two rooms where the tests were administered “inappropriately” contained math “reference sheets and posters.”". Two testing rooms were compromised.
  • King5 news in Washington state reports, on school sexting and blackmail, "The investigation involves two junior high schools, Canyon Park and Skyview. Police say over the past several months, boys were pressuring girls to send nude photos of themselves. In some cases they even threatened to make the pictures public if the girls didn't send more, according to a letter sent home by the district....Sexting with minors can be considered trafficking in child pornography, and police say this case will be referred to prosecutors for possible charges."
  • In California, LAschoolreport informs us of a new educational report which found, "“While most new math textbooks are advertised to be ‘Common Core–aligned,’ few actually are, differing little from their previous editions,” the report stated. “In fact, of the 31 instructional programs formally adopted by the California State Board of Education in January 2014, 10 were reviewed by EdReports, and only one partially met the non-profit organization’s expectations for Common Core alignment.”". It makes me wonder 1. Who determines what material can legitimately be advertised as Common Core? and 2. How come the state didn't have a list of California approved textbooks?
  • Both Vox.com's piece on a self-described liberal professor who is afraid of his students and conservative commentator George Will's video commentary posted on ZeroHedge mention the power that students have to avoid dealing with speech they don't like. You can even find Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno talking about the chilling PC culture on videos here. It all seems to be an extension of a general problem at the high school level as well. Students in the U.S. have a tremendous amount of power and aren't afraid to use it as a weapon. This makes education in the US even more challenging in today's world. I have yet to find a teacher with 2+ years of experience who hasn't felt the unfair power/wrath of kids in the classroom. I've seen some of that overseas as well but the US takes it to a "higher level".  For example, more recently I discovered 2 students (quietly) quizzing each other for some test they were taking later that day. I stopped it and reduced their participation scores for the day. Upon seeing the lower  participation scores posted online, I was told by 1 student it was unfair and they'd tell their parents if the score wasn't changed. I said I'd be happy to talk with the parents. Perhaps the parents agreed with me (I hope so) but it didn't matter: the next day I had admin telling me to change the scores. The student "is a good kid" and admin "had better things to do". This sort of thing would never happen when I taught overseas. The admin would not cave into a student wanting to not pay attention; I doubt the students would even think to approach admin. But not in the US. The above articles and videos indicate this problem is more widescale than you might think.
  • Two California teens arrested for hacking into school computers to change grades. ABC news reports, "The grade-changing incident comes just a few weeks after a senior from Dixon High School in northern California was also arrested for gaining access to his school's computer network, according to police. The student, 18, was arrested on May 13 after school officials learned that over 200 grades of 32 students had been changed, a Dixon Police Department spokesperson told ABC News today. He was charged with unauthorized access of a computer network operated by the government, a felony."
  • nj.com reports that presidential hopeful Chris Christie no longer supports Common Core, "Navigating New Jersey interests and a likely presidential campaign, Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday proposed dropping national Common Core education standards he once supported but have since become a lightening rod issue for Republican voters."