Monday, August 21, 2006

“2 + 2 = 5”: Nussle’s World Class Education Just Doesn’t Add Up

If I had a dollar for every time I said to Jim, “We’re not in Washington, D.C. anymore,” I would have a million dollars in my pocket – or roughly half that if we were to use Jim’s “fuzzy math.” It’s no secret among House Budget Committee members that Jim’s no big fan of mathematics. Jim spent many a weekend, he lost count after 10, attending remedial check book management classes for over-drafting our nation’s check book. Jim also hates long division and doesn’t believe in the practice of carrying over remainders (but has no problem borrowing, go figure). I’ve tried home schooling, but the resistance is strong with the Jimster.

I warned Jim that it was only a matter of time before the voting populace caught on to the Bush Administration’s Orwellian Strategy, “Two Plus Two Equals Five”. The Bush Administration borrowed the concept from George Orwell’s book, 1984, thinking nobody would remember anything that happened during the Reagan Administration. The basic premise underlying the strategy relies on the repetition of a false or illogical premise until people believe it. It’s worked well thus far, but as I’ve told Jim over and over and over, that the pendulum is shifting (apparently the same concept doesn’t work for me, eh?). I even played a continuous thread of Radiohead’s song “2 + 2 = 5” (from their 6th album, Hail to the Thief (above right)) for Jim, but he refused to believe the song was a critique of his adoptive father. Like I said earlier, the resistance is strong with the Jimster.

While attending an elementary school as a guess speaker, Jim's quite pleased to see the teacher and students raise five fingers when asked, "What's 2 + 2?" (And who said teaching to the test wasn't effective?)

So it came as no surprise when a number of Iowa’s teachers, math teachers I presume, contacted Jim and called him out on his statement regarding the latest state-by-state ACT scores. Iowa ranked third in the nation with an average of 22.1 points out of a possible 36. Iowa finished behind its Midwestern peeps, Minnesota (22.3) and Wisconsin (22.2). Jim said that a third place finish by Iowa students was unacceptable, claiming Iowa's education system isn't world class: "It was trumpeted by our leaders in Iowa that Iowa's number three in ACT test scores…I don't think that's setting the standard." The part that got teachers all riled up is Nussle’s plan to raise Iowa teachers’ salaries up to the national average. So Jim’s not satisfied with students finishing in the 96th percentile, but promises to raise teachers’ salaries to the 75th percentile? That alone is a 21 percent discrepancy, Jim. Did you seriously think Iowa teachers were going to fall for this hustle?

This isn’t the first time Jim’s numbers didn’t add up:

No Child Left Behind Act: the intended purpose of this legislative “reform” was to bridge the gap between low-end-and high-end students. This made sense to Jim and that’s why he voted for it. Since the accountability component relies on standardized norm-based testing, a certain percentage of students will always be on the bottom end/percentile. Regardless of how much every student improves in Iowa, 40% will always be labeled ‘non-proficient.” This said I think we need to rename the act: “Forty Percent of Our Children Will Always Be Left Behind. (FPOCWABLB).”

Minimum Wage + Invisible Hand = Increased Buying Power: Jim still believes in Adam Smith’s outdated invisible hand theory that suggests if the market is left alone, the invisible hand will guide it accordingly. Thanks to the reverse invisibility serum dropped in to D.C. water coolers, we now know whose pockets the invisible hand has visited, leaving behind contribution gifts in its wake. Since September 1997, the purchasing power of the minimum wage has deteriorated by 20 percent. After adjusting for inflation, the value of the minimum wage is at its lowest level since 1955. Jim has had some doubts about the theory, so just in case the invisible hand doesn’t make its rounds in D.C., Jim voted himself in congressional raises.

One Man + One Woman = Marriage: Jim has already modified this formula to help account for his adulterous past and dip into the infidelity pool. The new formula in Iowa will be One Man + Two Wives* = Sanctity of Marriage.

*One cannot be married simultaneously to the wives, nor can the two wives be married to one another.

Jim’s not too worried about his math skills and knows that he’ll win the election by putting all 30 of his gold pieces in one war chest and focus on the gubernatorial debates. “Borrowing” from the ever-loquacious Mel Gibson’s 1985 film, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Jim’s already adopted his Thunderdome bloodlust debate strategy:

“Two Men Enter, One Man Leave…”

"Two Men Enter, One Man Leave..."

"Two Men Enter, One Man Leave..."

Jim's proposed site of second gubernatorial debate


Blogger IowaEdSpectator said...

Have you seen how math is taught these days? It is quite scary. Teachers are more concerned about the process, than getting the right answer.

8:38 PM  

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