No School Left Behind

The dirty dark secret of NCLB is that we may know how to identify the worst performing schools, but no one (yet) knows how to turn them around in any consistent and reliable way. And I mean no one. Not the Gates Foundation to date. Not most charter programs. No one.

That’s from a review of Diane Ravitch’s new book renouncing No Child Left Behind and most of the data-driven approaches that created it. It’s that “consistent and reliable way” that gets me. After all the money flung at the problem where are we? And if all we got from NCLB was a way to identify the worst-performing schools – I’ll bet that a candid interview with the central staff of each school district in America could have done that in a year for a lot less – we’ve always known which were the worst schools in any system. I taught high school Latin part-time in two radically different districts in Georgia – Atlanta City and Cobb County – and there was certainly a clear idea of which middle schools that fed us were the worst.
Joanne Jacobs round up some reactions to the proposed national standards.

Yet another cultural property story

Some Scottish MP (as opposed to some member of the Scottish Parliament?) is demanding the return of the Lewis Chessmen. To the Hebrides. *BIG SIGH*
The MP is also annoyed because the British Museum (and all other medievalists) think they were made in Norway, not in the Hebrides.
Yeah, if there’s a bigger museum on that island some more people will visit. I say send them an assortment – maybe a dozen. There are something like 80 of them, all told, in the British Museum and in Edinburgh.

Not that I watch a lot of Rochester TV news, but I’d love to know who ducked the Massa story

Massa’s 2006 campaign alarmed Clarke. “This guy’s running for congress and he’s molesting people!” He called a TV reporter in Rochester, NY, and told the stories of Massa’s gropey tendencies. The reporter got Tom Maxfield to confirm the allegations, but then he told Maxfield he was going to fly him out and get him on camera. That spooked Maxfield, and he backed out. The reporter abandoned the story, despite having confirmation of serious misconduct by a man running for congress. Clarke emailed the reporter this week–“you should stick to weather and traffic,” he told him.

Tuesday the Baltic, Today the Indian Ocean…

Tuesday I linked to a story about a dozen shipwrecks found in the Baltic. Today I came across a story about one of those fun reconstruct-it-and-sail-the-old-route efforts – this time a 9th Century dhow sailing from Oman to Singapore! Interesting story and nice pictures at Medieval News, but better than that is the project’s own blog: Jewel of Muscat.
The project is cosponsored by Oman and Singapore – and they’re retracing medieval trading routes. Fun!
I WILL be showing this to Islamic Art & Architecture!

For your Bible-quoting needs

For the medievalist in your life who has Bible-quoting needs – my favorite Douay-Rheims online!
I’m not a slave to the idea, but lots of medievalists prefer to quote the Douay-Rheims version because it is a translation of the Vulgate, close enough to the Vulgate version of Jerome that it is occasionally more representative of the versions medieval people would have known; however, there are all kinds of qualifiers, like which version of Psalms you use – and in my period there are still lots of copies of the Old Latin (the Vetus Latina – speaking of which here’s a great site for that!) knocking around.
Really, the idea that there was one, standard version of scripture before the invention of printing is problematic. Printing standardized things a lot – though it opened other cans of worms.

Jan Crawford explains it to you…

…using the Alabama setting to her advantage.

“What is troubling is that this decision opened the floodgates for corporations and special interests to pour money into elections – drowning out the voices of average Americans,” Gibbs said. “The president has long been committed to reducing the undue influence of special interests and their lobbyists over government. That is why he spoke out to condemn the decision and is working with Congress on a legislative response.”
Maybe it’s because he’s an Auburn guy and the Chief Justice was talking to law students at the University of Alabama (or, as we like to say, “the University”), but Gibbs should have let this go.

Beautiful day for a field trip!

Johnson Museum, Cornell.

Originally uploaded by Michael Tinkler.

I went along to Cornell as an extra chaperon (the rule is one faculty or staff member per van) with my colleague Lara Blanchard and some student groups (class, club, etc). I dragged my visitor, grad school friend Julie Hofmann, along. We lunch at a good Japanese restaurant in College Town and then we spent all afternoon at the Johnson. Click and see other pictures.

The building is I.M. Pei – who is not only still alive but designed the Johnson’s new extension. That wing should open later in the year.

Art of the Steal

I want to see this movie – the story of the Barnes Collection move.

The saga of the Barnes over more than 80 years is laid out as a story of initial rejection of Dr. Albert C. Barnes’ peerless collection by a philistine establishment, to accumulating envy and subversion, and finally appropriation in a grand conspiracy orchestrated by civic boosters, public officials, and powerful foundations.
. . .
Whether you support or oppose the move, these are issues that need to be addressed. Philadelphians don’t need another fiscal liability, with the original and authentic Barnes less than five miles away, and sustainable for a fraction of the cost of moving it.
This last point is of particular significance, since the legal basis for moving the Barnes rests entirely on its alleged financial untenability in Merion. But Montgomery County has offered a bond-leaseback arrangement that would make $50 million available to the Barnes at once, at no cost to taxpayers. Lower Merion Township has rezoned the museum so that it can admit up to 150,000 visitors a year, an action not only supported by its neighbors but lobbied for by them. The Barnes itself has salable assets, not covered by its indenture, that could regenerate its endowment. And, were local philanthropists so inclined, the Barnes could be put on easy street for far less than the $68 million raised to save The Gross Clinic, a single painting inferior to scores if not hundreds of works in the Barnes.
Any or all of these options would make the Barnes viable in Merion. But the movers prefer to spend your money instead. In a back-door deal, the Pennsylvania legislature authorized $100 million for move-related construction eight years ago – long before court permission was actually granted.

That next to last paragraph is particularly interesting – the huge fundraising effort to “save” The Gross Clinic – that is, raise a pile of money to buy a painting from one public collection to put into another public collection but prevent it from being sold to a public collection out of town (the Walmart heiress’s museum in Arkansas) overshadowed any effort to raise money for the Barnes. Oh, well.
And for a negative review of the film (one that sees the Barnes enterprise as flawed from the beginning), go here. Negative? Really negative:

“We never positioned ourselves as people who were hostile and had any agenda,” he says. But his film is hostile and has an agenda. It uses a well-developed set of polemical techniques — ominous music, imputations of dark motives, ad hominem interviews — to connect only the dots that make its case.