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Comment: Re:mixed bag (Score 1) 519

by Rutulian (#47229887) Attached to: Teacher Tenure Laws Ruled Unconstitutional In California

Are you telling me that no tenured teachers are actually bad, and should be fired? Because I can tell you the number is somewhere between 0% and 15%.

No, where did I ever say that? I'm only disputing the claim that you have to get rid of tenure because it doesn't do anything but protect bad teachers. And the subclaim (not yours) that the only way to deal with bad teachers is to fire them.

I agree with everything else you said. I still despise standardized tests, though. Mostly because they fail to distinguish between students who have actually learned something and students who just studied for the test. I do also insist, especially at the high school level, that the home environment and support from the parents is critical for effective learning. In AP classes, you don't see this because students, for the most part, don't take AP classes unless they are motivated to learn. In other classes, not so much. If a teacher doesn't know how to or can't succesfully engage these students, do they still deserve to be fired?

But I'm more talking about the state teachers' union, the CTA, which is the #1 donor to political campaigns in California.

I would suggest avoiding legal remedies, as it is a blunt instrument that people understandably resist when they perceive it as against their interests. Instead, work with the local districts and teachers unions. Come up with effective solutions that both support. When this happens at a sufficient scale, more will follow.

Comment: Re:mixed bag (Score 1) 519

by Rutulian (#47222175) Attached to: Teacher Tenure Laws Ruled Unconstitutional In California

Tenure means you can sit in the back of the classroom and read travel magazines all day, like my AP Physics teacher did, while the class does nothing but take problem sets. That the class then passes around and then grade.

And yet, a tenured teacher can also be like my AP Calculus teacher who put together the best curriculum I have ever been through. So maybe tenure isn't really the problem. I don't know anything about your AP Physics teacher. Was he a passionate physics teacher ever? Was he an english teacher that got promoted to physics? How much of this can be avoided by looking at hiring/evaluation practices and creating an environment where teachers are encouraged and supported to put effort into their classes? My AP Calculus teacher retired early. She loved to teach, but after some 30 yrs, the district bullshit was just too much, and at the time the administration was putting a lot of pressure on senior teachers to retire (because they wanted to save money).

Teachers themselves are - and with good reason - paranoid about whatever evaluation system is implemented, but the CTA opposes everything in practice.

I agree the teacher unions could be a lot more cooperative. But then teacher unions and administrators have had a long history of animosity towards each other. They don't trust each other. Has anybody asked teacher unions to develop an evaluation method that they would support? That would be a good place to start. If the feeling is that somebody is coming in from the outside with a lot of demands, no actual teaching experience, and no consideration for complexities arising from learning disabilities, language barriers, or socioeconomic status, I think they are right to be skeptical.

Which is, again, why we need a comprehensive and fair evaluation system. If teachers could lose tenure by scoring abysmally on a standardized content knowledge test, but keep it otherwise, then only the incompetent teachers could be fired. And only then if their principals thought they weren't salvageable. Teacher training programs can be effective at fixing these issues.

I agree. This is a good example. Teachers can't teach something they don't know.

But I will tell you that if Johnny comes in to your English class knowing 5000 words in the English language, and walks out of your class knowing only 3000, then you're failing at your job as an English teacher. Fair assessments can track this sort of thing.

I agree. But honestly, my first reaction to seeing a result like that is that there must be something wrong with the test, not the teacher. I don't know how someone just forgets half of their knowledge or how a teacher can induce someone to forget half of their knowledge. More likely, they intensively studied in an ineffective way for the first test. They knew enough to pass the test and then immediately forgot everything. They could have done the same thing for the second test, but then is that a useful evaluation? How much does that student actually know? Another thing to consider, is regurgitating vocabulary an effective way of measuring a student's mastery of the English language? How about prose, composition, grammar? Can they actually use all those words that they know, or just recite definitions?

You might also be interested in the firing rate comparison between public and private schools here: http://teachersunionexposed.co... [teachersunionexposed.com]

I note the difference in firing rate. And yet there is little to no evidence that private schools offer a better education or have better outcomes than public schools.

Comment: Re:mixed bag (Score 1) 519

by Rutulian (#47212405) Attached to: Teacher Tenure Laws Ruled Unconstitutional In California

And yet the way the system actually works in practice? Young teachers with interesting new ideas get forced out of the system. The system is very hostile to people trying to do something different or interesting. It grinds you down and makes you quit.

Uh, sure, but is that because of tenure? I doubt it. Are experienced teachers blocking good ideas and protecting themselves from younger teachers with tenure? No, not likely. Experienced teachers are protecting themselves from administrators. The younger teachers don't have this protection, unfortunately.

Well, this is true. But it protects good and bad teachers equally.

That is what I said above, but what would make this discussion more interesting would be some numbers. Exactly how many bad teachers are there? As a percentage of total teachers? And how many of those bad teachers have been identified as needing to be removed, but are being blocked by tenure? In my experience, "bad teacher" is often "teacher I don't like" which is another reason tenure exists.

Protects teachers that push against the administration. Not teaching to the test, enriching the curriculum, doing what might be considered risky things by some ( lab experiments, field trips, etc). Administration often doesn't want this, because it creates headaches for them, but teachers want it because it enhances the education of their students.

Hah.

Hahahaahahaha.

Why is that funny? NCLB didn't come from teachers. This has been a battle between teachers and administrators for a long time as well, since before NCLB. I'll grant that there are plenty of teachers that just do what they are told, but the exceptional ones are the ones that want to do more.

Again, doesn't happen in practice.

Source: I've been an evaluator for school districts for over a decade.

Political influence happens in a lot of different ways. Curriculum decisions, text books, required coursework, etc. I agree that it is rare for specific teachers to be targeted, but any teacher that wants to work against political influence will be vulnerable.

There's a lot of fairly easy ways to test the performance of teachers, such as taking the delta of students' standardized test scores from the previous year and from the current year. Classroom observations and the like (which I'm sure you were referring to) are universally subjective and pointless.

All evaluations are subjective. Just because you can put a number on something doesn't mean it is helpful or meaningful. I don't give a rats ass about standardized test scores. It is fairly trivial to teach people how to take tests. And sure enough, all of the 1600 SAT score people took test prep courses. It says absolutely nothing about actual knowledge or critical thinking skills.

The reason we don't have a systematic method of evaluating teacher performance boils down entirely to the issue of teachers unions blocking them. Without data, it's hard to say who the bad teachers are, and the process of firing them is so convoluted and lengthy that most districts don't even bother.

Teachers unions have supported and called for effective evaluations for a long time. Test scores are easy to get and process, but are not very effective. Tell me about efforts to do something beyond the bare minimum for evaluations and we will have something to talk about. It doesn't have to be classroom evaluations. It could be periodic interviews and continuing ed courses, for example. I don't know. Test scores can even be a part of it, but they can't be the only metric.

Comment: Re:mixed bag (Score 1) 519

by Rutulian (#47211831) Attached to: Teacher Tenure Laws Ruled Unconstitutional In California

That is a pretty dire picture of the classroom that you painted. It makes me wonder where you went to school, because that was not my experience at all. Tenure abuses at the primary/secondary school level (Uni tenure is a different beast entirely) might have been there, but I didn't see them. Bad teachers were there for sure, but that is why I propose looking at the evaluation system for teachers, rather than tenure, which is a bit of a red herring.

Comment: Re:mixed bag (Score 1) 519

by Rutulian (#47211747) Attached to: Teacher Tenure Laws Ruled Unconstitutional In California

Just my personal pet theory, but I think it is because school administration is often a stepping stone to higher political careers on the school board, city council, etc. Education is really the least of their concerns. They are more interested in putting on a good face for the political elite, newspapers, activist groups, etc. And they often have only token teaching experience. Their training and their aspirations are to be administrators, not teachers, so they don't easily empathize with the task and problems of teachers.

Comment: mixed bag (Score 5, Insightful) 519

by Rutulian (#47209033) Attached to: Teacher Tenure Laws Ruled Unconstitutional In California

Tenure is a mixed bag. Yes, it can protect bad teachers, but it also...
      1) Protects experienced senior teachers. You might not think this is important, but guess what? Older, experienced teachers are generally more expensive and have more political influence. Hip new administrator comes in, wants to to change things up, slim down the budget. Get rid of the older teachers first beacuse the younger are cheaper and easier to control.
      2) Protects good teachers. You know the ones that actually teach and care about education, and don't just give A's to everyone for showing up and sitting at their desk. Actual teaching and enforcing academic standards tends to upset certain kinds of parents. Administrators don't like vocal and upset parents.
      3) Protects teachers that push against the administration. Not teaching to the test, enriching the curriculum, doing what might be considered risky things by some ( lab experiments, field trips, etc). Administration often doesn't want this, because it creates headaches for them, but teachers want it because it enhances the education of their students.
      4) In areas with strong influence by outside political groups, protects teachers that teach controversial subjects. Science vs. creationism is one example, but certainly not the only one. History, economics, literature, art...all of these can have controversial topics. Of course, we don't really teach these anymore, but that is a different topic.

Whether or not tenure exists and how it is granted is really missing the point. If you want to improve the quality of teachers, we need to be looking at the evaluation systems that are in place, whether they exist, and why they may or may not be working. Most teachers simply are never evaluated ever, or they are evaluated in completely useless ways. Address that, and then maybe we can deal more easily with underperforming teachers, adjusting the tenure rules as necessary but keeping its major benefits.

Comment: Re:"we provide network access as part of rent" (Score 1) 185

by Rutulian (#47141455) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Taking a New Tack On Net Neutrality?

Water is not billed to you by consumption because in many places that is illegal. It is billed to your apartment complex ( ie property owner) by consumption, though. The Internet connection is almost certainly not. It is a flat rate to them and should be a flat rate to you as well.

Comment: Re:Extortion laws!! (Score 2) 185

by Rutulian (#47141249) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Taking a New Tack On Net Neutrality?

Net neutrality concerns aside, unless this is a very unusual apartment complex, they are not an ISP!!! They contract to an ISP to provide Internet access to their tenants. Sure, they control the routers and and do some basic filtering, but they aren't really in a position to dictate peering terms and such.

35,000 across multiple college towns is very large? Maybe relative to other apartment complex owners, but relative to the total student population they are nothing.

Comment: Re: what's wrong with systemd (Score 1) 533

by Rutulian (#46964449) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Practical Alternatives To Systemd?

We've really entered bizarro-land in this discussion now that communicating over dbus has been declared wrong because it is the "Windows-way", whatever that means. Dbus is just IPC, that is all.

How about instead of misinterpreting what somebody said on a discussion forum on an unrelated matter, you read what the actual architect of systemd says.

Myth: systemd is monolithic.

If you build systemd with all configuration options enabled you will build 69 individual binaries. These binaries all serve different tasks, and are neatly separated for a number of reasons. For example, we designed systemd with security in mind, hence most daemons run at minimal privileges (using kernel capabilities, for example) and are responsible for very specific tasks only, to minimize their security surface and impact. Also, systemd parallelizes the boot more than any prior solution. This parallization happens by running more processes in parallel. Thus it is essential that systemd is nicely split up into many binaries and thus processes. In fact, many of these binaries[1] are separated out so nicely, that they are very useful outside of systemd, too.

A package involving 69 individual binaries can hardly be called monolithic. What is different from prior solutions however, is that we ship more components in a single tarball, and maintain them upstream in a single repository with a unified release cycle.

Myth: systemd is not modular.

Not true at all. At compile time you have a number of configure switches to select what you want to build, and what not. And we document how you can select in even more detail what you need, going beyond our configure switches.

This modularity is not totally unlike the one of the Linux kernel, where you can select many features individually at compile time. If the kernel is modular enough for you then systemd should be pretty close, too.

There are more of those here,
http://0pointer.de/blog/projec...

Comment: Re: Accept, don't fight, systemd (Score 1) 533

by Rutulian (#46961881) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Practical Alternatives To Systemd?

It should be able to identify an iscsi mount in fstab

How would it do that? Have you ever used iscsi? How about multipathing? It is not as simple as you seem to think it is. Autofs is another hack to make mount + /etc/fstab do something that should be pretty simple, but never works properly. Systemd makes network automounting very clean and easy.

If systemd were being engineered in a manner appropriate for UNIX-like systems

The only thing about /etc/fstab that makes it "proper" is that it has always been there as a configuration file for the mount command! That is all. There is nothing more unix-y about it than having a different configuration file in a different place to do the same basic thing.

The fact that it obfuscates these things is very much a design flaw.

Systemd doesn't obfuscate anything. Everything is very clearly documented, logical, and modular.

Comment: Re:what's wrong with systemd (Score 1) 533

by Rutulian (#46961269) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Practical Alternatives To Systemd?

I *want* my scripts to be code.

Fine, until you want some basic security in your init process.

The UNIX way is to do one thing, and do it well.

If the scripts didn't need to cooperate to accomplish a task, you might have a point. But they do, which is why sysV init is broken.

Which is perfectly fine, as the parameters (if any are needed) are gathered at the top,

Uh, I don't know how you can think that rewriting the same 100 lines of code to do the same basic thing (but a little differently because everybody writes it differently) in 100 different scripts is a good engineering practice.

It's a monolithic lump

It is not, which you would know if you had bothered to gain even the most basic understanding of what systemd is and how it works.

Comment: Re:what's wrong with systemd (Score 1) 533

by Rutulian (#46960633) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Practical Alternatives To Systemd?

Being difficult to understand is a definition of complicated.

Before you can claim that something is difficult to understand you first have to make an effort to understand it.

Systemd is openly trying to do pretty much 'everything' at startup instead of having multiple things that do one thing well working together.

It isn't really. Saying that "Systemd is mounting my filesystem, and bringing up the network, and setting my timezone" is functionally no different than saying "My collection of sysV init scripts are mounting my filesystem, bringing up the network, and setting my timezone."

Yes, trading bash scripts for a large blob of binary code that interprets another layer of text scripts is much less complicated, If you're just comparing the bash scripts to the large binary blob's scripts.

Some excellent sophistry there.

Comment: Re:what's wrong with systemd (Score 1) 533

by Rutulian (#46960523) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Practical Alternatives To Systemd?

Look mate, anything new is going to require some effort to learn how it works. The only point I am trying to make is that it isn't really that hard, and for an app developer it should be trivial. Read the docs, learn how it works. That is all.

just because they're complaints YOU won't ever make (because you're the equivalent to a plumber with years of experience) does not invalidate their legitimacy.

It's funny you say that because I'm not. I'm just a guy who has read the docs and done some googling. To me, systemd is a heck of a lot easier to understand than GNU make.

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