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The [Friday] Papers

1. Tickets for TeaCon 2011, which will be held at the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel & Convention Center this weekend, are sold out. Just FYI.

2. United CEO Says Boeing 787 'A Game-Changer'.

Plane flies totally on instruments.

*

"The new jet is the first commercial airliner built using carbon fiber - a strong, lightweight, high-tech plastic - rather than the typical aluminum skin."

Or you can choose paper.

*

"It is quieter and uses about 20 percent less fuel than a comparably sized aluminum aircraft," AP reports."

Though it is also 20 percent less recyclable.

*

"The 787s have an extended range and its cabin have bigger windows and larger overhead compartments."

Additional fees may apply.

*

"For improved passenger comfort, the humidity can be controlled and the air pressure during flights will be equivalent to an altitude of 6,000 feet instead of the conventional 8,000 feet."

So the equivalent of being within earshot of Rahm Emanuel.

3. "A Central Illinois farmer and the manager of the former Towanda Grain Co. were indicted Thursday for their alleged roles in a $14 million fraud scheme against the elevator, a financial services firm and other businesses, federal prosecutors said Thursday," the Bloomington Pantagraph reports.

The elevator declined to comment but through a spokesman said it was filled with regret.

4. What is the true state of the Chicago Public Schools? Who knows. A new study has implications not only for the claims of school officials and political leaders but a media that lazily repeats those claims without rigorous examination.

*

"What's surprising is the results we came up with are the opposite of what publicly reported statistics show," Stuart Luppescu, the lead author of the study, told the Sun-Times. "Publicly reported statistics show the elementary schools improving, and the high schools have been flat."

*

"While high schools have long been considered the system's Achilles heel, the study indicates CPS high schools 'managed to accomplish a miracle,' said Barbara Radner, director of DePaul University's Center for Urban Education. Although each year of arriving freshmen showed up unprepared and not much more capable than the batch before them, high schools held on to an increasing number of them, and prodded them into improved ACT scores, Radner said.

"However, Radner said, after years of news conferences in which Daley trumpeted gains in elementary reading scores, 'in the end, the emperor doesn't have as many clothes as we thought.'"

Funny, in fact, how fast the emperor has been shedding clothes since he left office.

*

"Among the report's major messages is that 'publicly reported statistics used to hold schools and districts accountable for making academic progress are not accurate measures of progress.' Changes to the state tests, including changes in content and scoring , makes 'year over year comparisons nearly impossible without complex statistical analyses, such as those undertaken for this report,' Consortium researchers contended."

Duh. If only the Consortium would now go back and study how local news organizations have reported test scores and other commonly used statistics to make their readers and viewers dumber, not smarter.

*

"Luppescu blamed the publicly reported gains that vanished under further scrutiny on not only test changes but on state reporting methods that divide kids into those who passed or didn't pass state standards. The passing bar is too low and crude of a measuring stick, Luppescu said, and schools would be better served looking at their average score rather than the percent who passed."

If education were just about test scores, we could just turn the whole operation over to Stanley Kaplan. And if measuring success was just about crunching numbers, we could replace a lot of administrators with computers. Let's not lose sight of our educational goals - and while those include a certain level of job-training, schools are not solely career centers. They are also - even mostly - about citizenship, civility, and developing broad, inquisitive minds. That sort of thing doesn't always show up in a test score, but it sure impacts a large number of lives.

*

But that's not all.

"The report faults CPS leaders for a widening achievement gap between white and black elementary students, defying the national trend," the Tribune reports. "It partly blames that gap on the rapid opening and closing of schools in the last decade, especially in low-income neighborhoods."

Funny how those fringy critics never taken seriously by the media given their quick acceptance of official explanations almost always turn out to be right. What's next, another story about what a disaster the CHA "Plan for Transformation" has been?

*

"On Thursday, two of the men who ran CPS during this tumultuous period - current U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Paul Vallas - sharply criticized the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research's study, saying it selectively chose data to paint a skewed picture of their records.

"'It's really important to look at outcomes,' Duncan told the Tribune, touting his success raising some test scores as well as graduation rates, particularly for African-Americans."

I think looking at outcomes - instead of rhetoric and publicly massaged statistics - was the point of the study.

*

"Vallas was more pointed: 'I don't know what planet they're on.'"

I think it's called Planet Fact.

"[T]the report provides a clearer picture of the accomplishments of CPS since the late 1980s by going beyond simply how many students met or exceeded state standards, information that is provided to the public, and looking at the actual scores. The result is a far less flattering portrait than CPS' leaders had previously touted."

And the media retouted.

*

"Chicago's best elementary and middle schools made modest gains under Duncan . . . but schools from the city's poorest communities fell further behind."

That's Daley's Chicago. And Obama's education secretary.

*

"[Jean-Claude] Brizard, CPS' new chief, released a statement Thursday, saying the report underscores the urgency to invest in education by lengthening the school day and adopting the more rigorous Common Core curriculum standards in 2014."

A statement Brizard would have released if the study showed the opposite too; don't stop now, boys!

5. I did not know we had a two-tiered ambulance system.

"Then-Mayor Richard M. Daley launched the two-tiered system in June 2000 with a goal of freeing the 10 busiest ambulances for life-threatening calls," the Sun-Times reports. "Critics accused Daley of 'playing Russian roulette' with public safety."

The emperor just lost another sock.

6. The Glorious Return of Beavis & Butt-Head.

7. The Week in Chicago Rock: We have the video.

8. The Ghost of Jim Hendry Will Haunt The 2012 Cubs. In our season-ending Cub Factor.

9. The Week in WTF: Funny how God so often suggests his ministers diddle the congregants. Plus, Walter Payton and Bank of America.

10. Play me off, Johnny!

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Galloping.



Permalink

Posted on September 30, 2011


MUSIC - Blues Fest 2017.
TV - 'The Worst FCC I've Ever Seen.'
POLITICS - Minimum Wage Hikes Work.
SPORTS - On Joe Louis, Race And Sports Heroes.

BOOKS - The Blood Of Emmett Till.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Artist As Alchemist.


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