In Which There Are A Number Of Small Topics

Educational Technology
I’ve been seeing so much talk and news stories and blogs about the difference educational technology is making with students.  I’ve really got to take exception with all the gushing, over-the-top people who say it does nothing but improve students learning.  One thing they aren’t understanding is that it depends on your environment that you introduce this technology to.  The school I work at introduced a 1-to-1 laptop program last year.  They’ve started with introducing it in the 8th grade.
There are two problems with introducing the program in 8th grade, especially in a Title 1 district.  On one hand, 8th grade is not the best year.  These kids are just entering teenager time.  They haven’t been trained in proper computer usage for something like school work.  To them, it’s just a big toy.  It falls under the same category of iPods, mobile phones, and Playstations.  Last year, I had three students that layed games so much on their computers that I ended up having to give up on getting them back on task.  Everything I tried wasn’t working, and the administrators didn’t know what the hell they were doing yet with these computers.  They’re moving this 1-to-1 program entirely to the high school next year.  Takes a headache away from me, but I still think that’s a mistake.  It’s going to take until at least the sophomore year or junior year until they start thinking responsibly.  Results?  No change, except the district is now spending more money that could be going to something better with the impending budget issues that we could be facing.
Texas 4×4
We’re only one year into this 4×4 plan.  However, I hate it.  I’m sure that my views right now are tempered by the fact that I’m teaching in a non-urban area where the “minorities” are by far the majority.  Most of these kids have no use of four years of science and four years of math.  For a lot of these kids it is four years of disappointment and four years of two classes being a pain in the ass.  Texas needs to have three options available.  They need to have the 4×4 track for the kids who might be things like engineers or accountants in the future.  It’s possible.  The next option needs to be a fine arts option.  Not only do you let them learn how to perform, but let them learn some of the basic theory behind it.  Then provide the career track.  There are certifications that will help you in many careers.  These kids could learn this material and take the certification tests, earning all these certifications by the time they graduate high school.  Some of these kids can do good for themselves with that knowledge.  Heck, they actually have a chance of doing better for themselves than the students that go on to college.
The way the U.S. can regain their foothold as some of the best educated people in the world is to offer them the proper tracks to get there.
Rodney King – 20 Years Later

I was 10 years old when this happened.  It doesn’t seem that long ago.  I remember seeing the footage from the helicopter after that happened when all the riots ended up going on.  I didn’t understand then why the riots happened, but I do now.  Gotta love racism.
I was listening to Howard Stern a number of days ago while he was off and they were doing a “best of…”.  I happened to hear a segment from while Stern was out in California.  He happened to have Chief Daryl Gates on who was chief of the LAPD during that time.  Chief Gates at that point was retired and doing local radio.
Vehicle Towing

So, a bill that’s being debated in Austin that has NOTHING to do with the upcoming budget for the next two years in this state is apparently causing a ruckus.  Legislators want to have police tow a car if the driver doesn’t have a valid license.  Why are people upset?  Civil rights bullshit again.  There are apparently civil rights groups that say the bill discriminates against minorities because they are more likely to drive without a license.  I’m wondering how this is impending on their civil rights?  Everyone else has to follow the law.  Why don’t they?  I say do it.  Make everyone follow the law in the same way.
Star Wars 3D

This is amazing.  George Lucas is milking this for all it is worth.  As a comment I read on Twitter says “Shit, even Star Wars: Galactic Bass Fishing could be profitable.”  So some might say that they can’t blame George Lucas.  The first one out will be episode 1, The Phantom Menace.  I guess the question is will they convert episodes 4, 5, and 6 to 3D?
The fun starts February 10, 2012!

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