U.S. measure of future math teachers = mediocre

America’s future math teachers, on average, earned a C on a new test comparing their skills with their counterparts in 15 other countries, significantly outscoring college students in the Philippines and Chile but placing far below those in educationally advanced nations like Singapore and Taiwan.

The researchers who led the math study in this country, to be released in Washington on Thursday, judged the results acceptable if not encouraging for America’s future elementary teachers. But they called them disturbing for American students heading to careers in middle schools, who were outscored by students in Germany, Poland, the Russian Federation, Singapore, Switzerland and Taiwan…

“The study reveals that America’s middle school mathematics teacher preparation is not up to the task,” said William H. Schmidt, the Michigan State University professor who was its lead author. To improve its competitiveness, Dr. Schmidt said, the nation should recruit stronger candidates into careers teaching math and require them to take more advanced courses…

“There are so many people who bash our teachers’ math knowledge that to be honest these results are better than what a lot of people might expect,” said Hank Kepner, professor of mathematics education at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, who is president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. “We show up pretty well here, right in the middle of the pack.”

Sorry, folks; but, I can’t get excited about “middle of the pack”.

Face the essential history of American education – which showed the way to the rest of the world at providing sound qualifying knowledge to high school students, preparing them well for university education.

In my admittedly extended lifetime, I went through typical urban elementary and secondary schools which turned out university-level students. Add the dynamic that rushed through this land – led by returning soldiers and the GI Bill – after World War 2, and the U.S. was an education dynamo.

We have lost too much to be happy with half-measures.

Why are allergies increasing? People are TOO CLEAN!

Allergies have become a widespread in developed countries: hay fever, eczema, hives and asthma are all increasingly prevalent. The reason? Excessive cleanliness is to blame according to Dr. Guy Delespesse, a professor at the Université de Montréal Faculty of Medicine…

“There is an inverse relationship between the level of hygiene and the incidence of allergies and autoimmune diseases,” says Dr. Delespesse. “The more sterile the environment a child lives in, the higher the risk he or she will develop allergies or an immune problem in their lifetime.”

In 1980, 10 percent of the Western population suffered from allergies. Today, it is 30 percent. In 2010, one out of 10 children is said to be asthmatic and the mortality rate resulting from this affliction increased 28 percent between 1980 and 1994.

“It’s not just the prevalence but the gravity of the cases,” says Dr. Delespesse. “Regions in which the sanitary conditions have remained stable have also maintained a constant level of allergies and inflammatory diseases…”

Why does this happen? “The bacteria in our digestive system are essential to digestion and also serve to educate our immune system. They teach it how to react to strange substances. This remains a key in the development of a child’s immune system.”

Although hygiene does reduce our exposure to harmful bacteria it also limits our exposure to beneficial microorganisms. As a result, the bacterial flora of our digestive system isn’t as rich and diversified as it used to be.

My grandma always said kids should eat a pound of dirt, every week. Or something like that.

Huckabee tries to deny student paper quotes

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

A college newspaper in New Jersey released audio of an interview with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who says the paper misquoted him on same-sex marriage.

The Perspective, the student newspaper of The College of New Jersey, interviewed Huckabee, now a Fox News Channel host, for an April 9 article titled “Huckabee Rips Steele, Romney, LGBT Activists.”

“You don’t go ahead and accommodate every behavioral pattern that is against the ideal. That would be like saying … there are some people who believe in incest, so we should accommodate them. There are people who believe in polygamy, so we should accommodate them,” Huckabee told The Perspective in the interview.

Huckabee Monday released a statement questioning the paper’s practices.

“The young college student hopefully will find a career other than journalism. I would ask that he release the unedited tape of our conversation. … Not only did he attempt to sensationalize my well known and hardly unusual views of same-sex marriage, he also inaccurately reported my views on Michael Steele as GOP chairman — I offered my support and didn’t “Rip into Steele” as his article asserted,” Huckabee said.

“The young journalism student, instead, chose to focus on the issue of same-sex marriage and grossly distort my views…”

“It is unfortunate that in the wake of his interview with The Perspective, Gov. Mike Huckabee has resorted to ad hominem attacks intended to cast doubt upon our credibility as a publication,” the newspaper said in a statement Tuesday. “This sort of desperate tactic is not surprising, however; politicians in damage-control mode often stoop to attacking the media so they might avoid being accountable for the substance of their remarks.”

The Perspective released the full audio of the Huckabee interview, saying the public could decide whether Huckabee’s views were “grossly distorted.”

Record everything, folks. One tool ordinary people now have in their arsenal against corrupt, miserable low-life politicians is the cheap and easy ability to get them on a hard drive – audio and/or video. I’ve simply pressed the Start button on my little camera in my pocket and recorded 20 minutes of lies from a political hack.

Geek photo of the day

Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg was in Washington DC this week attending the Nuclear Security Summit 2010, and is now in NYC.

He may have plenty of time to explore the iPad, since his flight home — along with hundreds of others bound for Europe — has been cancelled due to the Icelandic volcano explosion. He told the Dagbladet newspaper that he’s working remotely after an extended airport wait. The newspaper’s headline translates as “Jens manages the land with iPad from New York.”


Thanks, TUAW and Nils

Feds hit Texas factory over racist practices

African-American workers at a Texas pipe factory endured a string of racial slurs and harassment and were targeted by their managers when they complained, federal investigators have determined.

Black employees at the Turner Industries plant in Paris, Texas, regularly “were subjected to unwelcome racial slurs, comments and intimidation, racial graffiti, nooses in the workplace and other symbols of discrimination,” the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported.

Black workers also were denied promotions and disciplined more harshly than whites, the agency concluded in a three-page letter in late March. Managers at the plant not only were aware of a “hostile environment,” they also targeted workers who complained and disciplined white employees who opposed the harassment, the EEOC found…

Lawyers for the seven Turner employees who went to the EEOC displayed photographs of the slurs, of hanging nooses and threatening notes left for employees at the Paris plant during a news conference…

Paris is about 110 miles northeast of Dallas. The Rev. Peter Johnson, a state civil rights leader, said the problems reported at the Turner plant reflect a “culture of discrimination” that lingers in East Texas.

East Texas is Mississippi 50 years ago…”

It never seems to end, does it?

Grassroots fools will never relent and cease their bigotry until the companies and corporations, churches and politicians that own their lives, run their towns, are forced to respect law and order. I wouldn’t expect common decency to follow along until a few generations have passed through this backwater of ignorance.

Tale of the deepest ice core drilled from Antarctic Peninsula

Thousands of years of data recorded in ice

Researchers here are hopeful that the new core they drilled through an ice field on the Antarctic Peninsula will contain ice dating back into the last ice age. If so, that record should give new insight into past global climate changes.

The expedition in early winter to the Bruce Plateau, an ice field straddling a narrow ridge on the northernmost tongue of the southernmost continent, yielded a core that was 445.6 meters long, the longest yet recovered from that region of Antarctica. And while remarkably successful, the field work tested the researchers’ resilience more than most of their previous expeditions.

“It was the field season from hell,” explained Ellen Mosley-Thompson, professor of geography at Ohio State University and leader of the project. “Everything that could go wrong did, and almost everything that could break did.”

Bad weather delayed their transport to the remote drill site and snowstorms were a recurrent problem, preventing support flights in to the team. Twice, their drills became stuck deep in the ice, a drill motor broke and all three of the drill gearboxes failed, causing them to cannibalize those devices to construct a new one.

RTFA. It would make a fine documentary of the dedication and inventive spirit required of researchers working in the extremes our planet offers. The questions asked are as important as the ingenuity needed to get the samples.

Continue reading

Judge tosses bar-code scanner suit

A judge in Pennsylvania Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit brought on behalf of a girl claiming she was hurt by a bar-code scanner at a convenience store…

Dominica Juliano and her guardian, Ginnisue Juliano, claimed a clerk at a Country Fair store in Erie waved the hand-held scanner over the girl’s face during a June 2004 visit to try to get her to smile. The lawsuit claimed Dominica, who was 12 at the time, suffered facial burns that led to serious psychological problems, the newspaper said.

The scanner could not have caused the injuries because it is an LED light and not a laser.

Who was more of a crook? The lawyer who told these folks they could win this suit? But, then, they went looking for a lawyer, right?