Republican Idiots

Net Neutrality

So, I’m having the usual “Pizza and Mind Rot” get together. We’ve been doing this for about 30+ years now. My old “College Roomie” and I get together. It started as just us, eating pizza and watching Magnum PI and Simon and Simon on TV. Eventually he found out he was “Gluten Intolerant” so we swapped over to Chile, but the name stuck.

Later, I got married and we had the wife and kids join, now her twin and her kid too. Sometimes we tried “Noodles and Numb Noggins” (as I could make Rice Noodles…). Eventually it’s “moved on” to a mix of foods as other folks have accumulated various dietary needs. But it does continue on. Almost every week, for one night, we gather, share food, and semi-mindless TV. (Lately it has been more of Eureka and Fairly Legal or Burn Notice, sometimes other things.) And the Old Roomie has adopted the habit of bringing newspaper clippings “of interest” as conversation starters. (So now you know why I’m talking about Pizza and SciFy in something titled “Republican Idiots”…)

One of these clippings is titled “Panel votes to kill ‘net neutrality’ regulations”. A version of it (AP stories are often emitted in various lengths or different editors snip different bits) is here:

http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/03/09/2106441/house-panel-votes-to-repeal-new.html

WASHINGTON — A Republican-controlled Congressional panel has voted to repeal new Federal Communications Commission rules that prohibit phone and cable companies from interfering with Internet traffic on their broadband networks.

The House Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology voted 15-to-8 along party lines Wednesday to overturn the FCC’s new “network neutrality” regulations. The FCC’s three Democrats voted to adopt the regulations in December over the opposition of the agency’s two Republicans.

The rules are intended to prevent phone and cable companies from using their control over broadband connections to dictate where their subscribers go and what they do online. They prohibit broadband providers from favoring or discriminating against Internet content and services, including online calling services like Skype and Web video services like Netflix that could compete with their core phone and cable operations.

Basically, these Republican Idiots have voted to hand monopoly power over what kind of internet access I get and what kind of sites I can contact to those folks with a vested interest in capturing my traffic for their gain on their system.

I’m sure someone will try to argue that the “competitive market” will result in some carrier providing a net-neutral option, so what’s my beef? But the fact is that there is ONE provider of the wires into my home. ONE. AT&T owns the wire. ALL the other providers can only provide service over that wire. Other PUC rules say that if I have my telephone service from a non-AT&T provider (also over those wires) that I must buy my DSL from AT&T.

(No, that is not an error on my part. Yes, I’ve tried repeatedly to find a way around it. “Cable Modem” is the only alternative, and I don’t have cable TV. So I will be forced – and in fact was forced – to buy my service from the monopoly. ONLY if I buy my phone service from the monopoly can I then buy DSL from some other carrier; who uses the monopoly AT&T wires and gives them a cut. THEY MUST, by PUC tariff, get one of the two lines of business. As my phone is long term contract to someone else, I have a choice of ONE DSL provider. AT&T. Please do not suggest I can get DSL from someone else. Re-read this text.)

But at least “Net Neutrality” assured that they could not “bugger packets” headed to companies with which they were in competition. This can be as simple as setting a “quality of service” (or QoS) value in the router. So anytime I’d go to THEIR search engine, for example, I’d get fast response. Use a different one, it takes forever. Buy E-mail service from them? Fast. Anyone else? Slow. You get the picture.

It’s the lever that lets them exert monopoly power over what I do on the service I’ve already paid for.

There is no reason to compromise my right to use the product I’m buying as I see fit rather than to let some weasel “manage my experience” other than to let them control me, for a kickback, er, bribe, um, “campaign contribution”. There is no valid reason what so ever to grant them that monopoly power over me.

(There is a valid general case for having some sites blackholed. You can make the case for authority to mark some sites as “spammers” or “used for illegal acts” and block them. IMHO, that is an orthogonal, though related, question to “Net Neutrality”. For example, if “online kiddy porn” is a felony, to block sites that distribute it is not granting monopoly power to my ISP, it is preventing a crime. The agent deciding that the Porn is a criminal act is not the Marketing & Sales Department of AT&T…)

So, if this stands, you can start by “Kissing off” things like Skype, Netflix, Vonage, and rapidly after that start finding that various other sites “don’t work very well” as soon as YOUR ISP rolls out their movies for a fee, Internet TV, search engine, email, etc, etc, etc…

It also means, for example, that if Fox TV or MSNBC is “out of favor” with your ISP (do you REALLY know who’s on the board of your ISP and what their political leanings are?) their web sites might just not work very well for you. Don’t like Iran this month? Well, just crank that feed down way low on the service queue. Got a new Director from China? Well, better give “Top Rank QoS” to THEIR sites in China and cut back on their competitor from Taiwan.

This is just evil, and the folks promoting it are idiots. They have no idea what they are doing, and are, IMHO, just having “friends with money ask for a favor” and don’t see a reason not to “go along to get”…

Republicans argue that the rules will discourage phone and cable companies from investing in costly network upgrades by barring them from offering premium services over their lines or prioritizing traffic from business partners in order to earn a return on those investments. They also maintain that the FCC overstepped its authority in adopting the rules.

Got that? MY MONEY that I’m paying for service is not enough “encouragement” for them to make their product work. They need to be able to get kickbacks a return from “business partners”. In other words, selling access to YOUR EYEBALLS to the highest bidder. No, thankyou, I decide what I look at and don’t need your sleaze “helping me”, nor selling me as “cattle that have paid for my own pen”. Cable TV is bad enough at that already.

Verizon Communications Inc. and Metro PCS Communications Inc. are also challenging the rules in federal appeals court in the District of Columbia.

Last year, that same court ruled that the FCC had exceeded its legal authority in rebuking cable giant Comcast Corp. for blocking its subscribers from accessing an Internet file-sharing service used to trade online video and other big files. Comcast maintained that traffic from the service was clogging its network.

Oh, Comcast is my only “other choice” here, if I were to let them put a cable on my home. They want to be able to block “file-sharing services”. Gee, want to watch that Youtube? Well, only if it’s got a Comcast Price Tag on it… And what about those Climategate Email archive downloads? Think that website would stay “accessible” for long? Or would it be found to be “clogging up the network”?

They can already throttle my total bytes, and even bytes per minute. They have no need to change my service level based on the percentage of “cut of the action” they get. I’m the customer. I’m buying the access. I get to choose what I do with it.

Ask yourself this: How long would your phone stay as usable as it is today if when you called Verizon from AT&T or Sprint from MetroPCS you had crappier calls than to folks on the same system? What if only 1 in 10 “went through” to other providers? What if 20% of text messages from a friend not on your system “Family and Friends Plan” got “lost”? That is the equivalent of killing “net neutrality” on the phone system. As ever more “stuff” is going over the internet side (i.e. those message you type on your broadband tablet) and not over the phone side (think “voice, live”) there are ever more opportunities for just those kinds of “games”.

Just Say No.

NCLB or “Nickle-Bee”

This one is not JUST Republican Idiots (in particular, Baby Bush) but includes the interaction with Dimocrats (the most Dim of the Democrats).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Child_Left_Behind_Act

NCLB was originally proposed by the administration of George W. Bush immediately after taking office. The bill, shepherded through the Senate by Senator Ted Kennedy, one of the bill’s co-authors, received overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress. The House of Representatives passed the bill on May 23, 2001 (voting 384–45), and United States Senate passed it on June 14, 2001 (voting 91–8). President Bush signed it into law on January 8, 2002.

NCLB supports standards-based education reform, which is based on the belief that setting high standards and establishing measurable goals can improve individual outcomes in education. The Act requires states to develop assessments in basic skills to be given to all students in certain grades, if those states are to receive federal funding for schools. The Act does not assert a national achievement standard; standards are set by each individual state.

Two law interact to make an idiotic outcome… seasoned with local bureaucratic idiocy for effect.

My wife is a teacher in a local school district. She teaches a variety of “Special Ed” kids. Sometimes “Severely Emotionally Disabled” (only 1.5 years… it’s hard to describe how bad / hard that type is. One teacher and 3 “aides” for at most 12 kids. One of the aides was a woman about 240 lbs and built like a football player. She would tackle the 12 year old that would go nuts and start throwing the desks at other kids… Any 3 out of the 4 staff could hold the kid down until he “recovered”. Fewer was a ‘challenge’…) Sometimes it’s special “pull out” sessions. Often it’s kids in 4th or 5th grade that are still learning how to tie shoes and write their name.

I used to think this was a stupid waste of money. Why waste money on kids that will never make any progress and never be able to ‘pay off the cost’ at a social cost level. Then “one of her kids” made it to finalist on Jeopardy… and a couple of others were mainstreamed back in at 8th grade and have gone on to college. I was wrong, and what she does is recover lives from a black hole and give them the entire world. No, not all of them, maybe only 10%? 20%? Some, the majority, will never even be able to flip burgers or sell ice cream for a living. (That whole “counting” and being oriented to place and time thing…) But “enough” are saved to be worth it, to have a significant result.

OK, so what’s that got to do with Republican Idiots?

No Child Left Behind.

It has a mandate that ALL children MUST perform at grade level by a specific point in time. I’ve not looked up exactly when it is. 2012 or 2015 or some such. Further, every child every year MUST take the grade level exam. There is no exception for “special ed”.

(I don’t know at what level that particular idiocy is introduced. Feds? Just California? It doesn’t really matter. It is just a ‘fact on the ground’ here, and is the case in this place and time.)

So she had kids that, with great encouragement, have finally learned what the numbers from 1 to 10 are, and how to write their name. LOADS of effort going into getting them to not be discouraged by being “slow”. And once a year they have it forcibly shoved in their faces that they are abject failures. They must sit, staring at a booklet where they can’t even read most of the problems, working to just get their name written in the right spot, trying to feel a bit of ‘pride’ in that accomplishment (that for them IS an accomplishment) and then they get to have that “motivational experience” of sitting feeling terribly stupid for the entire alloted time to expire while they stare at how badly they do compared to all the other students.

But that’s not the worst of it. The law MANDATES that everyone WILL perform at grade level. After all “No Child Left Behind”. None, not a one…

Step Two

Then, we have “Race To The Top”. This is a Dimocrat program, near as I can tell. Per the wiki:

Race to the Top, abbreviated R2T, RTTT or RTT, is a $4.35 billion United States Department of Education program designed to spur reforms in state and local district K-12 education. It is funded by the ED Recovery Act as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and was announced by President Barack Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on July 24, 2009.

Sounds really great, too. You can sign up for their “requirements” and when you ‘win the race’ they give you free money. Except that California has all the requirements, but has never made it to the “get some money” step…

http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/index.html

Has great sounding goals, too. Things like:

Through Race to the Top, we are asking States to advance reforms around four specific areas:
Adopting standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace and to compete in the global economy;
Building data systems that measure student growth and success, and inform teachers and principals about how they can improve instruction;
Recruiting, developing, rewarding, and retaining effective teachers and principals, especially where they are needed most; and
Turning around our lowest-achieving schools.

Awards in Race to the Top will go to States that are leading the way with ambitious yet achievable plans for implementing coherent, compelling, and comprehensive education reform. Race to the Top winners will help trail-blaze effective reforms and provide examples for States and local school districts throughout the country to follow as they too are hard at work on reforms that can transform our schools for decades to come

Sounds great, no?

One Small Problem… At least in California our “Lowest-achieving schools” are measured “on a curve”.

So my wife’s school MET every one of the “success criteria” given. The did EVERYTHING WELL and were recognized as a very good school. Parents love it. I’ve met the staff and they are all good and dedicated folks. The record of success, especially in the Special Ed area, is quite good.

But they were in the lowest “quartile” in their district so were a “Low Performing School”.

There was a school in Palo Alto (a very rich place, for folks who don’t know. Think multimillion dollar homes and Stanford University) that scored over 800 on the API test. The “goal” is to get all schools over 800. They met the goal. But, they were in the low scoring quartile of schools in their “area”.

The result for these areas that achieve excellence? The “low performing schools” get a Bureaucratic Proctoscope Review. Top to bottom, end to end. Folks can find their school summarily closed if the Powers That Be feel like it. Race To The Top requires that to apply, your state must pass certain laws, which California did, so even if we left the program, we’re stuck with the laws. And that means that schools doing a very good job, but in a stellar district, get the BOHICA moment. (Bend Over Here It Comes Again).

In the case of my spouses school, they found some cardboard boxes were placed on top of a cabinet along the side wall of the classrooms. This was deemed “distracting clutter”. Now I’ve never noticed a kid to be distracted by a box on top of a cabinet, but that was the sum total of what they found to “fix”. A few hundred staff hours, endless meetings, professional reviews, staff reviews, warnings to parents about potential school closures. 4 empty cardboard boxes being stored on top of the cabinet.

(Why did they have the boxes? Because each year, for reasons known only to the district, the teachers must pack up their entire classroom into boxes. They don’t go anywhere, well, not most years, one year they played “Musical Classrooms”… but most years they go nowhere for the summer. Then we get to unpack it all again. That’s WHY the boxes are there..)

But Wait, There’s More!

Ok, now: Put it all together.

Do you see the problem?

BY LAW: 100% of the children MUST succeed and the bottom quartile of schools must have failures.

No exceptions. No allowance for Special Ed or handicapped kids. Have an exceptional district where “every school is above average”? Well, not good enough, some school has to fail.

Why do we have this? Because we swing back and forth between Republican Idiots and Dimocrats, without a whole brain between them. And the intersection of the two is worse than either one alone.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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24 Responses to Republican Idiots

  1. Level_Head says:

    On NCLB, the issue seems to be a need for tweaks to the concept, not a scrap-and-start-over approach. Exceptions for Special Ed make all sorts of sense, and it’s surprising that these are not already there.

    But NCLB is having an extraordinary effect on low-performing black and Hispanic students: It is turning them white.

    At least some California schools have reclassified students that have some arguably mixed parentage as “white” — because of their low performance. Since the performance goals are stratified by race, this tinkers with the numbers in the only areas the authorities seem to care about (minorities) and moves the average there up. I wrote about this a bit at the time I first encountered it.

    Net Neutrality is a tricky area; government asserting content control here is not a welcome thing, even if the result happens to be ostensibly favorable for the moment. I’ve not dug into this exhaustively.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  2. Pingback: Republican Idiots killing net neutrality | Sullivan's Travelers

  3. George says:

    You repeat a very common misconception that NCLB makes no allowance for special needs children, that isn’t so.

    Accommodations for Standardized Testing

    Students with disabilities are included in the standardized testing of NCLB, but with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA) working in partnership, requirements have been revised. Students with disabilities will be allowed accommodations during test-taking, and alternate kinds of assessments are available.

    Also, the standards themselves for academic achievement have been revised for special-needs children, along with the measurement of their functional performance. The annual yearly progress (AYP) of special-needs children is assessed as an accepted subgroup.

    http://special-needs.families.com/blog/the-no-child-left-behind-act-and-special-education

    Also, “net neutrality” isn’t what people think it is. This is my “core competency” area. What the act would do is prevent the prioritization of traffic by a privately owned network. First of all, such prioritization only occurs during congestion. In other words, if there is enough bandwidth in the pipeline, prioritization doesn’t matter because each packet can be sent as it is received. When the path becomes congestion and a packet must be dropped, it is possible to give certain traffic a priority over other traffic. This whole issue started with Comcast dropping *occasional* packets of popular peer to peer file transfer programs to force them to “back off” their bandwidth consumption. Comcast believed that excessive peer to peer (things like kids sharing porn using things like BitTorrent) was causing their circuits to become congested so that other traffic such as web browsing and email would not work.

    The notion of packet prioritization (Quality of Service — QoS) is important for many private networks. You might not want a kid downloading music videos from interfering with your VOIP phone. Or some massive internet virus or worm from taking out *all* services because it saturates the backbone circuits.

    Well, it turns out that that Comcast might have been wrong about peer to peer and the problem might be excessive “buffer bloat” in the various network gear in the path. What happens is that each piece of network gear has a packet buffer. In our quest to see no packet dropped, they make these buffers pretty big. The problem comes in when you have congestion someplace, a buffer fills, and a packet must be dropped. There can be up to 10 seconds of traffic buffered in that path. So the circuit becomes congested, a buffer fills, a packet is dropped … and your TCP/IP stack finds out about it 10 seconds later … far too late for TCP/IP to use its own mechanisms for congestion management. By the time you find out that the first packet was dropped, dozens, maybe hundreds of packets have been dropped and instead of backing off a little, it backs off WAY too much. So now all these applications are like an accordion where the buffers fill up, the applications overcompensate, then they empty.

    A fellow named Jim Getty has a blog on the issue. You will probably have to go back in time a couple of months to get to the start of the bufferbloat story:

    https://gettys.wordpress.com/

    But in any case, traffic prioritization ONLY has any impact once a link is congested and a packet drop decision needs to be made. If Jim’s work bears fruit, that will happen a LOT less often than it does today.

    In other words, TCP/IP *relies* on packet loss for congestion avoidance. In our quest to provide networks where “every packet is precious” we have broken TCP/IP and have not allowed it to manage its own bandwidth utilization and that is what has lead to this whole issue coming about in the first place.

  4. George says:

    There is one more reason why “net neutrality” is a farce and that is that 90% of all US network traffic is from five sources. Once a network signs those five up for “premium” treatment, they are right back in the same boat they were in to begin with if they were congested. The current problems with Comcast revolve around Netflix but I am too sleepy to go into it right now. Suffice it to say that Comcast is *intentionally* routing all Netflix traffic to one specific peer in order to intentionally congest that path. That also impacts other traffic that is taking that path (Level(3) communications to Netflix).

    One you sign up Netflix and YouTube, you already account for >50% of your network traffic. Add Facebook and you are up to 75%.

  5. E.M.Smith says:

    @George:

    My wife’s kids must be tested. It is mandated by her school with the assertion that it’s due to NCLB. That’s the “facts on the ground”.

    Now, do they do that since THEY are idiots and don’t know about some exemption? I don’t think so. The law is what it is, the schools react as they react, and the result is the result. And that result here, is ALL KIDS GET THE SAME LEVEL OF TEST.

    To “quote your quote”:

    Students with disabilities are included in the standardized testing of NCLB,

    So they are included. In the standardized test. Which they must take even though they can’t even read the damn thing.

    but with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA) working in partnership, requirements have been revised. Students with disabilities will be allowed accommodations during test-taking, and alternate kinds of assessments are available.

    Which basically means if you are blind, someone will read the test to you or provide you with a braille copy. If you are blind and can’t count past 10, you will have an algebra problem read to you and be asked to solve it.

    An “accomodation during test-taking” is not an exception or exemption.

    “Alternative kinds of assessments” does not mean “you get the easy test”. It means if you can’t see colors, you will be given a test with an algebra problem that does not have a colored diagram in it. That fact that you can’t read due to a visual problem means you will have the test read to you. The fact that you can’t even do addition due to no math capacity means you now get to sit there having the thing read to you with black and white pictures while you feel degraded and still have no hope of ever doing the problems.

    Yes, I didn’t go into that (though my spouse and I have talked about it) as it is a level of detail beyond what most folks find of interest.

    Also, the standards themselves for academic achievement have been revised for special-needs children, along with the measurement of their functional performance. The annual yearly progress (AYP) of special-needs children is assessed as an accepted subgroup.

    The “standards for academic achievement” are not the NCLB test. They are an orthogonal function. My spouse spends most of her days desiging and writing the “IEPs” (Individualized Education Plans) mandated by the law. Nothing to do with the standardized testing issue. Yes, to calculate their performance for the AYP school report, they are an “accepted subgroup”, again, orthogonal to the “standardized testing” required. And it’s “Adequate Yearly Progress”

    So first, the special ed kids get to fail the standardized tests. Then they get an IEP written, so the SCHOOL can pass it’s AYP level report.

    So the kids get to take the standardized tests, at grade level. THEN they get their IEPs done, and they are ‘accounted’ as to their individual progress in their own subgroup of AYP reports. Next year, again, the kids get to take the standardized tests, at grade level … repeat…

    At the end of it all, “All the kids must pass” and then “some of the schools must fail” due to the other idiocy.

    OK, for more detail (and if you need some extra sleep) read the “alternative methods of AYP” page here:

    http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/ac/ay/altmethod10.asp

    Yeah, I’m sure that’s clear… /sarcoff>.

    And for 1/10 th the money wasted on this “IRS Goes To Grammar School” process, they could actually put some paper and pencils in the classrooms…

    Net Neutrality

    I don’t think the Republicans are promoting this so that a buffer fill / float problem can be solved… I think it far more likely that it is exactly for the reasons stated. That the providers want to give priority service to THEIR products and their partners products, and throttle back the competition.

    Yeah, I’ve done router configs too (up to Cisco 6513 with multi fiber backbone cross connects to a MAN; 3 per building and about 4 buildings) and while everything you have said is accurate, I think it is incomplete. It ignores what happens once the Marketing Department starts calling the shots. And at least at my home, the family manages to saturate our link pretty reliably and at peak times (i.e. for about 3 hours at a shot at least) I see indications of congestion in the behaviour of traffic outside my location. So impacts will not be just “10 seconds at noon”…

    Basically, they may make the argument that it’s for the buffer problem, but once they have the hammer, a lot more of the world will start looking like a nail…

    So Comcast has “Movies on demand” and Netflix has “Movies on demand” and between 6 pm and 10 pm the network is kind of busy with folks watching movies. Do you REALLY think they will keep a level playing field between THEIR pocket book and Netfix revenue once the law says “Go ahead and dump their packets on the floor”? Or will they bandwidth limit Netflix to ‘crappy’ and themselves to ‘stellar’ then advertize their ‘superior performance’?

    I’ve done a Qos router config / video testing. It’s not that hard to bugger one set of source IPs when you decide to do it, and onset is well before “wires full”…

  6. Jason Calley says:

    Pharaoh says make bricks without straw so we make bricks without straw.

    Just like autism, sociopathy is a spectrum disorder. For someone without empathy, the most logical reason for your failure to meet their request is that you must misunderstand what they want.

    Have you ever had a manager like this?

    Manager: I want that system back up by 14:00.
    Worker: The motherboard is fried. I can order one flown in and have the sytem up by noon tomorrow.
    Manager: I want that system up today! I need it back up!
    Worker: You would not authorize a spare board here on site. We need a new board. The quickest we can get one is tomorrow.
    Manager: You don’t understand. I NEED THAT SYSTEM UP TODAY!

    That is the mindset of people who have grown used to having all their requests filled. Call it the moral hazard of command. They make the commands and someone else pays the cost. From the point of view of the people who pushed through No Child Left Behind, the program is a success. They stated what they want to have done (and managed to satisfy various campaign donors at the same time.) Same for so-called Obama care. Having a problem with health care access? Just mandate that people buy health care access. Problem solved. Once they have mandated what they want to have happen, the solution is found; all that remains is for the fly-over people to do it.

    Pharaoh says make bricks without straw so we make bricks without straw. Problem solved!

  7. George says:

    They may still need to be tested but not the same test as the other kids OR with different score requirements than the other kids. But it is also possible the school is idiots and don’t know the law, it wouldn’t be the first time such a thing has happened.

  8. George says:

    It is feared that “net neutrality” will be used in the way on the Internet that it has been used in broadcasting with the “fairness doctrine” where it goes from how packets are classified on the network to what content will be allowed or not allowed on the network.

  9. George says:

    Actually, my problem with NCLB is more fundamental:

    It is unconstitutional. The schools belong to the states, not the federal government. I would favor abolishing the US Dept. of Education altogether as it has no constitutional purpose. The trouble is that at the state level, we have teachers unions that absolutely refuse to allow any sort of consequences for bad schools and teachers. They act as if there is no such thing as an incompetent teacher. If people can have varied levels of competence in any other occupation, why do they so steadfastly refuse to allow schools or teachers to be rated according to actual performance of the kids?

    Oakland was an example. We poured more dollars per student into that district than any in the country. Scores kept falling. In that case I completely favor giving parents a voucher and allowing them to send their children where they want.

    It turned out that the administrators had ghost employees on the payroll, work was being billed for facilities that was never being done, teachers were allowing the kids to rule the classroom.

    Our education system is broken. The first thing we need to do is get rid of the concept of “tenure” for public school k-12 teachers. These are not professors that might be working in an unpopular area of research. We NEED a system of testing to we can judge the schools and teachers on how they perform, mandate improvements, and if necessary, impose consequences for chronically poor performers to include firing the teachers and/or administrators and even closing the school if necessary.

    Public education is the only industry where the providers have an incentive to perform worse rather than better. We have had this notion of pouring more money into an underperforming school. The worse they do, the more money they get. It’s insane. Detroit is an example of a failed system where more and more government money was poured into a system that got worse and worse. Now they are having to close half their schools simply because they are out of money and have promised such huge pay and pension amounts that they can’t keep them open.

    Teachers unions will always vehemently oppose anything that requires them to take responsibility for their own product.

  10. Jason Calley says:

    @ George “Actually, my problem with NCLB is more fundamental: It is unconstitutional. The schools belong to the states, not the federal government. I would favor abolishing the US Dept. of Education altogether as it has no constitutional purpose”

    You are very much correct — I think Reagan was the last President to include a “I will shut down the unauthorized Department of Education if I am elected” plank in his campaign. Hmmm… how did that work out? Ah, now I remember. He was shot and almost killed a couple of months into his first term and then stopped trying to implement all that “smaller government” theory. He still talked about it, but never pressed the issue.

  11. George says:

    http://www.complicity.co.uk/blog/2010/12/backdoor-santa/

    Basically the “net neutrality” issue is highly technical and for many, very emotional. They don’t really understand it. They like the idea of “all packets are created equal” but it isn’t that simple. A provider can intentionally “load up” certain paths to create congestion. Government can’t tell a provider which circuit to use for which content, can they?

    Comcast owns NBC-Universal. They would rather you access that content than Netflix content. So they make the path to Netflix congested so it “sucks” in performance for Comcast users but Comcast streaming media “works great”.

    What’s next? Verizon buying CBS-Viacom and AT&T buying ABC-Disney? That works fine as long as a home user has access to all three like they do with their TV set. It sucks when their internet cable is owned by the content provider.

    What we need is a neutral “last mile” provider that simply operates a pipe and allow users to access content as they wish without that transport provider having any vested interest in the content. The problem these days is that you really can’t legislate net neutrality because the ISPs have a vested interest in what content to access.

  12. George says:

    Actually, that Congress critter that called the Internet “a series of tubes” was actually correct. That is exactly what it is, if you change the word “tube” to the word “pipe”.

    Traditionally we had “content” networks (the portals like Yahoo!, Netflix, YouTube, and the various colocation facilities where content providers place their servers), “eyeball” networks that had the end users (the ISPs), and the “transit” networks that connected them together.

    Now we have the major “eyeball” networks trying to become “content” networks themselves and cutting out the cost they used to pay for transit. They used to have to pay a transit provider a charge “per megabit” to get traffic to their users. Now in the case of Comcast, we have an unusual situation. Their primary transit provider (Level (3) communications) bought Netflicks at about the same time Comcast bought NBC-Universal. Now Comcast is in direct competition with their “upstream” transit provider.

    Comcast users want access to Netflicks, Level(3) charges Comcast for that data transit, now Comcast wants to charge Level (3) for access to their eyeballs. Level 3 balks, so Comcast just loads up the circuits creating congestion and causing poor performance and tells Level 3 that if they want good performance to Comcast users, they can place servers in Comcast facilities … and pay Comcast rent and power. If you want access to Comcast users, you can place your servers in Comcast’s facility and pay them for the privilege, even though you might already have your own facilities.

    This is why I won’t touch Comcast with two 10-foot poles tied end-to-end. I used to have Comcast, but as soon as AT&T Uverse was available, I switched.

  13. John F. Hultquist says:

    Reminds me of this:

    “Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself. ” Mark Twain

  14. E.M.Smith says:

    George

    They may still need to be tested but not the same test as the other kids OR with different score requirements than the other kids. But it is also possible the school is idiots and don’t know the law, it wouldn’t be the first time such a thing has happened.

    Well, I do know what happens. It’s above, but kind of hidden in the details:

    1) Kid is assessed. Do they need “accomodation”? (i.e. a reader if they are blind or a Spanish version of the test if not an English speaker. This is PHYSICAL accomodation, not MENTAL ability.)

    2) PHYSICAL Accomodation is provided if needed.

    3) ALL kids take the same standardized grade level test.

    Now the fun begins as at this point they have 2 collateral damage problems from their political decision that everyone needs the same level of test.

    a) Kids with no capacity for thinking (i.e. special ed, but as distinguished from the ‘bright blind kid’) will fail utterly.

    b) Schools doing will dump “Special Ed” like crazy to meet their “numbers” as otherwise they will face institutional extermination. Yes, schools are to shut down if Every Child does not “perform”.

    so we get the IEP patch. Note that this comes AFTER the yearly “standardized testing”…

    Each “special needs” child (i.e. where physical accomodation was not enough. Those with inteligence, emotional, and psycological issues…) will be pulled out for ADDITIONAL separate testing. This is what my wife does for days on end thoughout the school year (and I hear all about it when she gets home and wants to ‘share’…)

    Those test results are used to do “The Intelligent Thing”; wich is to make a set of goals the kid can reach. This is called an IEP or Individualized Education Plan. This is what the kid is “taught to plan” with for the year. (With updates as the child changes). This is the other thing my spouse does for days on end throughout the school year.

    (Is is OK if I skip over all the tedium of all the mandated parent / teacher / school / special ed / …. meetings and signoffs mandated and then the re-meetings and re-signoffs for when the parents don’t make it and then the re-re-meetings and re-re-signoffs when the parent finaly DOES make it, but with a social worker to complain that you failed to hold the mandated meeting with them?… Yes, it IS that bad. That’s a simplified example…. My spouse does THIS for weeks on end after normal work hours, to accomodate the parents who miss over 50% of the time. Special Needs kids most often have Special Needs parents…)

    OK, at some point the IEP is agreed and signed off by the parents (or the school runs it through the ‘no show’ process, unless they get sued, then it goes to the legal departement and my spouse gets to testify as to what was done and who didn’t make the meeting where she sat there all alone taking these nice notes for the judge to look at…) and it goes with the kid back to their “home room” to tell the “mainstream teacher” what they are to do and it goes to the regular Special Ed teacher and to the Principal and to the District Office and to the Pullout Special Ed teacher and… And now you know where all that money is going that COULD be used for paper, pencils, nice workbooks…

    At that point they “Teach to the IEP”.

    Periodically, they test each child to the IEP goals.

    Those are two parts my spouse enjoys doing… I rarely get to hear about them ;-)

    The results of the “teaching to the IEP” and “testing to the IEP” go into the “special group” scores for the school in thier AYP report (that way the School can be shown to be succeeding, even if the “level based testing” shows it is failing)

    So far, so good. Kid is getting what they need. School is not being punished for having special ed kids.

    THEN:

    Go To Step 1 to repeat Standardized Testing Every Year AT GRADE LEVEL as mandated. Have kid fail utterly and feel terrible while destroying about 4 months worth of work on their “attitude and esteem” issues.

    Now you would think that there would be a process where you could flag a kid as “never going to be at grade level” or where they were out of the Level Testing until thier IEP said they were done and could be mainstreamed. But you would be wrong. There isn’t.

    NO Child ought to be “left behind” and all must be tested with Standardized Tests. That’s the law…

    OK, bad, wastes TONS of money for “feel good” political statements. But the kid is only traumatized once a year.

    The “Step Two” is what makes it particularly stupid (and it is not NCLB). That is where the Race To The Top comes in and we have a law that in every disctrict some schools MUST be REAMED.

    It wouldn’t be “fair” to only rake over the coals those schools in the bad districts that were underfunded as you would have a disperate impact on the poor, black, and hispanic school districts. (That is might actualy improve the education in the places that most NEED the education improvement doesn’t matter. The “political risk” of having all the school “reviews” and “closures” be found to lay largely in “areas of color” or landing on “poor people” would just not do…)

    So they mandate that for each district, some percentage or number of the schools in the “lowest quartile” must have a stem to stern evaluation. (The exact details are a bit murkey to me and I don’t want to ask my spouse as I’d likely be “occupied” for a couple of days as she “shared” ;-) What I do know is that her school was at the top edge of the quartile (one school away from not being in it) but was “selected’ for the honor. There was some indication that it’s a round-robin and once you were ‘examined’ and tossed back in the pool, would only get minor attention for a year or two (one presumes they just re-check the “issues”… which they did for my spouses school. Yes, those nasty 4 cardboard boxes were gone. Folded in the back of my stationwagon… for next year when they box up the room again…)

    And again, realize that this can happen to a school where there are no issues identified if the whole district is meeting goal. Like that Palo Alto school where money flows like water and most kids have parents with degrees and they scored well over the ultimate goal schools in lesser districts are still hoping to achieve ‘someday’.

    So we’re reaming and traumatizing the staff (if you don’t think being told “Your school is on the review list for closure and we may fire all the staff summarily” causes stress, well, think again. And stress becomes trauma when the “bullying is without cause”. If you ‘did nothing wrong’ being ‘spanked for it’ leaves “issues”… ) at schools that are doing well and where the objective testing and all those buckets of mandated reports and meetings show it. Because it would be “wrong” for those processes to only be applied to the places that are actually failing to teach the kids as the result would be politically an embarrasment.

    OK, so BY LAW a percentage of the schools in each district MUST FAIL. And BY LAW every child must succeed.

    These two go together how?

  15. E.M.Smith says:

    Per: “Teachers were allowing kids to rule the classroom”:

    If you touch a child you can be on suspension.

    If you grab a child’s arm stopping them from hitting another, you can be on suspension.

    If you spank a child, you will be on suspension and probably on review.

    In the SED class only the Aides are allowed to do the physical contact needed to restrain the child (though this is sometimes ignored if there is threat to the life of other children; but you get a warning for it…)

    If you speak too harshly to the class, you may be called on report and / or have mandated meetings with the family. A couple of those and you may be sent to mandatory re-education camp…

    It’s not the teachers, it’s the system. It is, substantially, illegal to have physical “disipline” in the classroom and the non-physical sorts are strongly limited by the administration.

    Now, on the one hand I’m in favor of this kind of thing as it helps weed out the “Ivan The Terrible” sorts. On the other hand, it makes it structurally impossible to both “follow the rules” and “enforce discipline”. All most teachers can do is send trouble makers to the principals office. If your principal doesn’t like that, you are “toast”…

    Per “pay for teacher performance”: It has one horrible consequence. NOONE will teach the “dummies”.

    If my pay is tied to my students scoring on tests, I’m going straight for that GATE class / credential. Dump “Special Ed” on someone who can afford to be broke and fired…

    (Yes, you can start getting into that whole “best improved” thing, then I’m just going to NEVER teach GATE as they are already doing top work… I’m not saying there is no way to evaluate teachers, there is and I’ve done it and had it done to me; but it’s a personal observation by managment who have a clue about how to teach, it is not “pay for performance of the students”.)

    Oh, and I have railed against AT&T here, but note that I went out and physically removed the Comcast wire from the side of my house and cut it off. I’ll take the Evil AT&T over the “Evil and Stupid” Comcast…

    @John F. Hultquist:

    Yeah, one of my favorites.

    I’m sure there is some worse way to decide how to run education, but for the life of me, I can’t think of it. “Have congress make a political football of it from 2500 miles away, and have them mandate Stupid Rules at the minutest level, while having conflicting rules based on what party kicked the football last” seems to be just about perfect chaos…

  16. Jeff Alberts says:

    George

    Actually, that Congress critter that called the Internet “a series of tubes” was actually correct. That is exactly what it is, if you change the word “tube” to the word “pipe”.

    Well, that’s part of it. The pipes don’t host any content, they merely allow it to be transported. Without the servers and routers, the pipes are pointless. And without the pipes, the servers and routers are slightly less pointless. But, the more wireless that exists, the less need for the pipes.

  17. Jeff Alberts says:

    The only ISP choices I have where I am are dial-up (NFW), Satellite (been there, hated that), and Comcast. My neighbor and I paid about $900 between us to bring Comcast down our street.

    At the time, I was an IT consultant and doing a lot of work from home. Trying to upload a 20 mb set of files over satellite was worse than root canal without anesthesia. Not to mention they capped downloads at 100mb over a certain time frame. If I hit that, my connection would do nothing for about another 20 minutes. Overall the speed was only marginally better than dial-up.

    So far wireless broadband is still out of range for me, but even if it were, it wouldn’t be as fast as Comcast.

    I don’t do Netflix, so I don’t know that I’ve encountered any non-neutral activity from Comcast.

  18. Art says:

    Sorry to sound like a jerk, but can you list the actual problems you really had prior to the “net neutrality” regulations?

    Then, can you list the actual solutions, for your own problems, that the net neutrality act will really deliver to you?

    No, I’m not kidding about this…I’m truly interested in your facts. List the four (five?) network problems you’ve had due to lack of government regulation and then simply list the four (five?) network solutions government regulations you think will honestly provide you.

    If you can’t think of five, try 4, 3, 2 or 1. Regardless of the number, can you list your actual problems and how the “net neutrality” regulatory agency will actually solve them.

    P.S. I’m a long time consumer of Comcast TV & internet services. I don’t like Comcast, and I like AT&T even less, which is the only other provider in our area. With that said, other than being excessively overcharged by Comcast, I have not witnessed these internet service problems/concerns speculated by the “net neutrality” alarmists and big government regulation advocates.

  19. E.M.Smith says:

    @Art:

    No, I can’t. Why? Because you have the order backwards.

    We already HAVE “net neutrality”. It’s been the standing method for the life of the internet.

    What is being suggested to be done is to eliminate net neutrality. (Hmmm, may need to come up with a new name for that state… )

    That will likely result in the “problems” described above as your ISP is now devided in motive between being a “neutral” Internet Service Provided giving “just access” and being a “partisan” wanting to indulge in various sorts of “self dealing” and “monopoly practices”.

    That is, cut “deals” with various services, such as Skype and Netflicks, such they they must make a payment if they want their product / packets to be reliably delivered. Or simply discriminate against those folks who have server based services that are in competition with their own server bases services.

    To some extent you can see a non-net-neutral environment in China and any of the other countries with strict “control” policies; where various servers are outright banned if not approved by the government. It’s not an exact analogy (Country vs ISP Monopoly Service Provider; and “banned” vs degraded access) but very similar.

  20. PaulID says:

    E.M. it is not very often I dissagree with you but on net neutrality we have had this for years on the net with no regulation the regulations that have recently been put in place are very watered down from what people like Freepress want but also are very poorly worded in that they will give government control over what is said on the internet as was mentioned higher up ala fairness doctrine you give groups like Freepress the kind of power that the net neutrality people want to and you end up with things like http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/02/18/stop_offering_me_stuff_i_must_pay_for_metropcs/ If the governtment get any control over how the net is run we will lose our voice because if you have a powerful voice on the web and don’t agree with the current administration right now nothing will happen but with those regs in place and given a few years for courts then what happens if you disagree with a future administration that is able to really make use of those regs?

  21. E.M.Smith says:

    @PaulID:

    I’m going to have to re-read what I wrote and look for somewhere I was unclear. You make the second time someone seems to think that I’ve said I’m “FOR a ‘fairness doctrine’ and against ‘net neutrality'”. What I thought I was saying was:

    1) We now have Net Neutrality.
    2) It is good.
    3) Some folks want to change that.
    4) That would put power in the hands of the ISP to use monopoly power against me. That’s bad.
    5) Sidebar: Govenments use non-neutral nets for evil ala China today. That’s bad.
    6) Leave it alone (be net neutral) and let ME choose what I want to see, not the government, not the ISP.

  22. E.M.Smith says:

    Ah, I think I’ve figured it out. It’s this “Sidebar”:

    (There is a valid general case for having some sites blackholed. You can make the case for authority to mark some sites as “spammers” or “used for illegal acts” and block them. IMHO, that is an orthogonal, though related, question to “Net Neutrality”. For example, if “online kiddy porn” is a felony, to block sites that distribute it is not granting monopoly power to my ISP, it is preventing a crime. The agent deciding that the Porn is a criminal act is not the Marketing & Sales Department of AT&T…)

    I’m just pointing out that being “net neutral” does not override “Illegal act”. So if someone is using the internet to make death threats against the president, or publishing “kiddie porn” (that I think is illegal just about everwhere in the world) they can still be busted. And part of that “busting” might be a warrent served on their ISP saying to “take down the service” (and likely ‘hand over the bits too’). The “net neutral” issue applies to the ISP (on both ends) but not to the government enforcing laws.

    That set of issues gets punted to the political process as folks decide “what is illegal”, what is a “criminal act”, and it is not part of the “net neutrality debate”, IMHO. That is: it is an important but orthogonal issue to “net neutrality”.

    Last I looked, SPAMing was in some way illegal in many places:

    http://spam.abuse.net/faq/

    There’s a good chance that spam is illegal under various U.S. state laws. For example, a case has been brought against a spammer based on the Washington state junk fax law. The Washington law defines a telefacsimile message as “the transmittal of electronic signals over telephone lines for conversion into written text.” Check your state law if you would like to sue a spammer.

    Thus my willingness to use them in an example.

    The point behind this sidebar is NOT to say “I want the government shutting down sites for breaking the law” but to say “I can see a case for ‘illegal acts’ being problematic; but that is a political issue, not a net neutrality issue as it is the Government making that call, not the ISP.”

    In short:

    Net Neutrality is an ISP issue.
    Net Censorship is a Government / Political issue (and not addressed here other than recognizing it does exist.)

  23. PaulID says:

    E.M. thank you for clearing that up. I am in favor of removing these regulations as I think that while they have the laudable goal of preventing ISP abuse they start bad things in other areas that negate what good could be done.

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