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Comment: Re:Welcome to the future (Score 1) 333

by Jason Levine (#49559477) Attached to: The Future Deconstruction of the K-12 Teacher

We looked into a private school for our kids. It would have cost $16,000 per child per year. They offered financial assistance, but we were warned that this requires the school to look into all of your finances and gives them the right to question all of your financial decisions. Took a vacation last year? Why did you do that when you could have given the school more money? Even with financial assistance, though, we would have stretched our budget to the breaking point with private school.

Comment: Re:Terrible Then Too (Score 2) 333

by Jason Levine (#49559445) Attached to: The Future Deconstruction of the K-12 Teacher

In NY we have charter schools to "compete" with public schools. They draw funds from public school coffers leaving public schools with less money. They also get to accept or reject any student so all low performing or special needs students get booted to the public schools. You wind up with low funded public schools struggling to deal with tons of low performing/special needs students while the charter schools seem to be doing really well. This leads the politicians to call for more charter schools and less public schools. Repeat as the kids who need the most help continuously get less and less.

Comment: Re:Terrible Then Too (Score 1) 333

by Jason Levine (#49559293) Attached to: The Future Deconstruction of the K-12 Teacher

And yet, a significant number of the 'reformers' aren't really looking to fix the system, so much as privatize large chunks and turn a profit.

We're going through this in NY right now. Our governor (and his state Senate buddies who tagged along for fear of political reprisal) passed a budget with "educational reform" that includes high stakes tests which count for 50% of a teacher's evaluation. If a teacher's students improve by the amount State Ed mandates two or three years in a row, they can be booted out - no taking into account that the teacher's kids might be special education students with severe challenges or honors students with little room to "improve" on the test or even that some people just don't test well. Add in that the tests are geared to MAKE students fail (leaked questions showed college level reading material on the 6th grade test) and statements from the governor blaming teachers left and right, and it's clear he's gunning for the teachers. (The teachers' union didn't support him in the last election. Political reprisal.)

If a school doesn't do well, they can also be put into receivership and have a charter school take over. Our governor has consistently knocked public schools and praised charters. It's no secret that he'd love to close all public schools and replace them all with charter schools. Now he has a plan in place to do just that.

My oldest son has refused the tests for the third year in a row and this year he was joined by about 200,000 (possibly more) other kids. The governor even admitted that these tests don't mean anything for the kids but they should take them "for practice." Until the tests are independently evaluated and actually return useful data, I'm not going to subject my son to them and stress him out just to help the governor target people who didn't support him politically.

Comment: Re:sage (Score 2) 333

by Jason Levine (#49559239) Attached to: The Future Deconstruction of the K-12 Teacher

And who answers questions about the lectures?

NY has "solved" this with EngageNY. This is a series of modules that the teachers are required to use to teach their subjects. The modules say just what they are supposed to teach, how they are to teach it (both method and emotion used), the exact wording they must use, the questions that students should ask, and the responses that the teachers should give. It's an exact script so actual teachers aren't really needed anymore, just glorified actors. Which means it should come as no surprise that our Governor is blaming all school problems on teachers and trying to get rid of them all.

What? How is that individualized in any way? Is this not the very inverse of individualized?

In NY, they get their individual score on the one-size-fits-all standardized test based on the one-size-fits-all state mandated curriculum that the teacher can't customize to suit each student. That's as individualized as our governor wants education. Arnie Duncan - the US Secretary of Education - even went so far as to claim that merely expecting special needs kids to clear a higher bar would mean they would do so. No matter what their challenges. So instead of setting up Individualized Education Plans with supports to help those kids with difficulties, we should just push them harder and that will make their difficulties magically disappear.

The problem is politicians acting as "education experts" often while listening to corporations who stand to make a profit in education (e.g. Pearson) and ignoring teachers who are actually trying to teach students. That would be like a PHB trying to figure out how to configure some computer systems, listening to a Microsoft sales pitch, and ignoring his company's technicians who deal with the systems every day.

Comment: Re:Protect the income of the creators or they can' (Score 1) 301

Or running the Disney Princess angle into the ground with Brave (at least other Princess films had a legend or fairy tale background, Brave was just a complete fabrication)?

Wait, so Disney is criticized when they take stories from the public domain and retell them but also criticized if they come up with new stories? I know that Disney's not the most popular company when it comes to copyright discussions, but you can't have it both ways. If you didn't like Brave, that's fine, but criticizing them for coming up with an original story is really reaching.

Comment: Re:Good (Score 1) 301

Not to mention the legal morass we would have if we had perpetual copyrights. Take some random video game from the 80s and try to find out who owns it. For many games, it's impossible. The original company was bought, split up, shuffled around, went bankrupt, had its assets sold, etc. This is for a work that is only 30 years old. Imagine if Shakespeare's works were still copyrighted. You would need to dig through 400 years of legal proceedings just to find the owner of Romeo and Juliet so you could base a work off of it. Want to mix in some Midsummer Night's Dream? Another 400 years of legal proceedings to sort through since they might not have arrived at the same owner-destination. Perpetual copyright would be a huge legal nightmare.

Comment: Re:You got it all backwards ... (Score 1) 301

But if the GPL lacked any enforcement mechanisms, a closed source vendor could take GPL software, incorporate it into their product (perhaps making improvements or linking to proprietary code) without giving back to the community. If IP laws went away tomorrow and Adobe incorporated the exact code that GIMP used for a feature without even crediting the authors, there would be nothing you could do to stop them. Without IP laws, big companies would just hide the IP they "used to own" behind systems to keep people from having anything but the most transitory of copies. They would buy up or simply steal outright whatever they wanted from the little guy.

The better solution isn't no IP laws at all, but a sane copyright length. It shouldn't be 50 years or 70 years. It should be 14 years plus an optional, one-time 14 year renewal (that you would need to opt into for a nominal fee). Alternatively, allow companies to renew their works indefinitely but put an increasingly higher price tag on the renewal. e.g. 10 year Registration is free. First 10 year renewal costs $10. Second 10 year renewal costs $100. Third 10 year renewal costs $1,000. Disney could renew the original Star Wars movie's copyright by paying $10,000 (fourth renewal) while other, less profitable, movies wouldn't be worth that renewal fee and would go into the Public Domain.

Comment: Re:Seems to be OK all around then (Score 1) 608

by Jason Levine (#49544341) Attached to: Bill To Require Vaccination of Children Advances In California

After getting a bunch of people sick, she was given an option: Be free but don't work in food service or at least take some basic precautions to prevent infecting others. She refused and was kept in custody. Finally, she agreed and was released at which point, she quickly moved, changed her name, went back into food service, and got more people sick. At least one person died. So she was taken back into custody again and this time held for the rest of her life.

You can claim that her rights were violated, but her right to work in the food service industry ends where the patrons' right to live without typhoid begins. She wasn't ignorant of the threat she posed and yet she knowingly exposed other people to a contagious disease, killing some and sickening others.

What would you have done to balance her rights and their rights when she clearly didn't care about the risks she posed to others and when she demonstrated clear willingness to move/change names/infect more people? Honestly, she should have been charged with murder at that point. (Or at least manslaughter.)

Comment: Re:The cat not in the hat (Score 1) 299

From WeirdAl's website:

Does Al get permission to do his parodies?

Al does get permission from the original writers of the songs that he parodies. While the law supports his ability to parody without permission, he feels it’s important to maintain the relationships that he’s built with artists and writers over the years. Plus, Al wants to make sure that he gets his songwriter credit (as writer of new lyrics) as well as his rightful share of the royalties.

Also, the WIkipedia Article on Parody which states that parody is "a work created to imitate, make fun of, or comment on an original work, its subject, author, style, or some other target, by means of satiric or ironic imitation." Note that the definition is more than just making a comment on a work or its author ("some other target").

Later in that article, Copyright is discussed. While the Seuss case is mentioned, so is Suntrust v. Houghton Mifflin which "upheld the right of Alice Randall to publish a parody of Gone with the Wind called The Wind Done Gone, which told the same story from the point of view of Scarlett O'Hara's slaves, who were glad to be rid of her."

Comment: Re:The cat not in the hat (Score 1) 299

Parody doesn't need to make a comment on the original work. If I made a "Wrecking Ball" parody song and altered the lyrics to target a politician I didn't agree with, Miley Cyrus couldn't come after me for copyright infringement because my song would clearly be a parody work. Weird Al asks for permission first because he's polite, not because he needs to.

Comment: Re:republicrats (Score 3, Insightful) 202

by Jason Levine (#49533419) Attached to: McConnell Introduces Bill To Extend NSA Surveillance

Before 9/11, terrorism was some nebulous thing that happened in some far off land. It was sad to watch on the evening news but then you changed the channel to a sitcom and everything was alright again.

Right after 9/11, the horrors of terrorism came up close and we couldn't ignore them. This, in itself, is fine. The problem was that these people saw that we were scared and jumped in promising to stop terrorism. All they needed in return was a little of this liberty - just a little bit - we wouldn't even notice it was gone. We quickly agreed in our panicked state - shouting down the minority who said it was a bad idea by yelling "Are you taking THE TERRORISTS side? Are you with THEM?!!! DO YOU HATE AMERICA?!!!!!"

Slowly, we began to come to our senses, but were still on edge enough to be scared into approving anything if the politician said "Terrorism" enough times.

Hopefully, by now, we've regained enough sanity that we can a) smack around any politician who tries to claim that removing liberty will prevent terrorism and b) start the long, hard process of getting back the liberty we were scared into giving up years ago.

"Consequences, Schmonsequences, as long as I'm rich." -- Looney Tunes, Ali Baba Bunny (1957, Chuck Jones)