Hurray, Dog!

She behaved today! Hurray.

And our front yard is covered in mushrooms, which I want to take pictures of and put in a post called “Mushrumination,” but I’m not really ruminating about the mushrooms.

And I think I’m going to talk about the 9th amendment on Thursday.

And I’m working on a baby blanket for my cousin.

And I like to start sentences with “and.”

It’s the Academic Equivalent of the Participation Trophy

So Haslam’s running around the State talking about the two biggest issues we face–not having any money and our school systems.

Folks, I could not even make this shit up.

The federal “No Child Left Behind” bill, passed in 2001, requires students to reach academic proficiency, but the law also “lets every state set its own bar” for the score that determined when academic proficiency has been reached, he explained.

“Unfortunately, Tennessee set ours really low. We have one of the lowest proficiency settings of any state,” Haslam said.

As a result, he said, last year 90 percent of the state’s children tested as “proficient” or higher at their grade level.

Next year, the state will align with the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress, Haslam said. On the NAEP-aligned test, he predicted that “only 25 percent will test proficient.”

We set our standards so low that everyone looked proficient at their grade levels.

Let me repeat that: we set our standards so low that everyone looked proficient at their grade levels.

And yet, 30% of our kids drop out of school and only 17% of them go on to college. But, hey, the lie looked good and made everyone feel good.

Here’s the thing that kills me. What the hell was the point of that?  Did we think the rest of the country was going to be fooled into thinking we were North Carolina Jr.? Like, “Oh, well, none of them go to college, but you know, maybe they don’t need to because they’re all super geniuses?”

These proficiency results were basically falsified in order to make the state look better, which means that parents and children did not have an accurate assessment of where they were.

Could they bring a class-action lawsuit, do you think? “The State was failing to teach me, but they rigged the requirements so I wouldn’t be able to tell?”

Back to the Future–The Illinois Edition

La Lubu has a post up at Feministe that made me cry.  Granted, I’m on shaky emotional ground as it is, but when she started listing all those towns… Those are the places I grew up. The Butcher’s tattooed friend lost his job in one of those towns this week.

It’s funny to consider the jackass Saturday who was saying that the Teapartiers just want to take America back to where it was 100 years ago.  In 1909 my grandfather’s parents were so poor, working as farmhands that he was born in a building also being used as a chicken coop (or so the family story goes).  Almost everyone in my family owes the success they had in the 20th century to the railroad.  My grandpa’s dad was able to get a job on the railroad that allowed them out of bone-crushing poverty and let them move into town.

My other grandpa got a job with the Rock Island Railroad that his father-in-law hooked him up with, also a railroad man.

The Rock Island Line was, as you know, a mighty good line. You used to ride it like you’re flying.  Now you can’t ride it at all.

It’s funny because when the railroads started to suffer, the Midwest kind of knew it was in trouble.  But we ignored it.

And then farming started to suffer.  It was almost 25 years ago that John Mellencamp released “Scarecrow” and it’s not like things improved in that time for farmers.

But you know, if you lost your farm, you sucked it up and went to work for Cat or John Deere or some other place where you made the parts for the machines you didn’t use any more.  And now those jobs are gone.

When we lived in Aledo, just south of us was this tiny town, Seaton, with a bank (though it wasn’t open any more) and some businesses (also closed) and some houses.  It was almost like a movie set when you drove through it sometimes, because there was just no one left there.

It’s creepy, sometimes, when you see the combines, like big metal ghosts of bison in the tall corn, like we’re headed back to a place that looks very similar to where we began–large monsters slowly crawling through tall grass, what people are left huddled together near rivers (of water or of asphalt), wondering how to make a go of it here.

I guess what I’m saying is that, if you want to see what it was like 100 years ago, you better head to Illinois right now, because if this can’t be turned around, when you head to the Midwest, it’s going to seem further in the past than that.