Saturday, November 8, 2014

Voting and the ID Requirement

All citizens have the right to vote.  You do not need an ID to be a citizen.
You need a license to drive because driving is not a right, not essential to being a citizen, and the citizenry have said that safety requires a license to drive ... but it doesn't have to be a photo ID. If I don't drive, then why would I pay for a license?
  • Does my choice to not drive mean that I am not a citizen and cannot vote?
You need an ID to purchase alcohol because the law said so, but you do not have to have an ID to drink it (you only have to be of legal age) and again, you do not have to be a drinker to be a citizen. If I am in my 50s, why should I need an ID to purchase? If I don't drink, why do I need an ID?
  • Does my choice to not drink mean that I cannot vote?
You do not need an ID to serve on a jury. If that were true, anyone could get out of jury duty by taking the bus and showing up without it. Why is jury duty a prerequisite for voting, anyway?
  •  If I never get called for jury duty or never get empaneled because I don't fit the lawyer's criteria, do I lose the right to vote?

If I am old and no longer need an ID, why should I be required to purchase one just because you have this fantasy that I am someone who might commit voter fraud? If I have no other reason to have an ID other than voting, then we are talking about a poll tax.
  • Is getting old a reason to lose the right to vote?
If I am too poor to own a car, or have a disease or a disability that prevents me from driving, why should I buy a driver's license?
  • Is being blind or poor a reason to lose the right to vote?
If I get married and change my name, or simply decide that my real father isn't part of my life and my adopted parents' name is the one I will use, do I need to schedule things far enough in advance so that legal paperwork can be filed and processed to change my name, social security and IRS information, which then can be taken to the appropriate DMV for a new license, which then can be taken to the appropriate town clerk to change my name on the rolls? Because if I don't and the new name doesn't exactly match the old one, I can't vote.
  • Is a legal name change a reason to lose the right to vote?
And think about the mechanics of voter fraud ... I show up to vote and give my name, and get checked off the list. I vote and then come back in a attempt to vote again under another name - how is that supposed to work out? Do I just pick one at random? Someone who I know is dead but somehow that information isn't known? This scenario makes it a very difficult crime to get away with and easy to get a significant fine.

If I show up and my name is already checked off, then I have to prove who I am and vote provisionally ... if there was voter fraud happening, this would be prevalent. It isn't.

Real voter fraud is more than 1 extra vote.
  • It's denying the vote to huge lists of people based on criteria that have nothing to do with a citizen's right to vote.
  • It's denying the vote for lack of ID which many people have no use for.
  • It's denying the vote to citizens in certain categories that you wish to disenfranchise.
  • It's denying the vote to classes of people who would vote for your opponent.

Why should I have to prove my identity, anyway? Are you saying that I am not a citizen if I do not have an ID?

What you should be demanding is that no one votes twice, like the "dip the finger in ink" trick. What you are actually demanding is that a large number of people not be allowed to vote at all.

That is wrong.

Testing Paradigm Needs to Change

Testing in the United States is a sick, diseased system. It is a malignant tumor that must be excised if we are to ever use testing results to improve students, teachers, schools,

Testing in the USA is NOT intended to help teachers or their students. It is only done to give a number that can be used or not, at the whim of the reader. Since most testing is for evaluative purposes, testing provides numbers to punish people with.

As a teacher, I get absolutely no useful information from standardized testing.


On our "Local Common Assessment", I get to know a RIT range and a corresponding percentile, and breakdowns in "Algebraic Thinking, Real&Complex Number Systems, Geometry, Statistics and Probability."

Then, consider that we have our kids taking a test and one of the categories is Real & Complex Number systems - Really? These are 9th graders in algebra 1 ... is the score range of 233-245 based on their less-than-complete knowledge of real numbers combined with no questions on complex numbers or is that 75%-ile based on questions that they would have no reasonable knowledge of?

Okay ... I'm ready to adjust my teaching for Algebra 1 ... What changes should I make?

I see none of the questions, none of the individual responses. I have no idea what kinds of things the test-makers considered to be "Algebraic Thinking" nor do I have any sense of what my students might have replied or understood or didn't, except for the kids who told me they just clicked at random just to be finished more quickly.

Okay ... I'm ready to adjust my teaching for Algebra 1 ... What changes are appropriate? Does the kid who scored "LO" really not understand or is she just lazy?

Yeah, that's the breakdown measurement: LO, AV, HI. Useful? No.

And this is a Pre-Algebra class with some 9th and some 10th graders. I would hardly expect them to get anything other than LO. If they could, they wouldn't be in the class.

Okay ... I'm ready to adjust my teaching ... What changes to my pre-algebra curriculum are appropriate here?

But at least I got those few bits of data within a week, because it was a local assessment.

When it comes to SBAC and PARCC, the problems seem to be the same as for NECAP, and before that, the NSRE.  Too few questions, coupled with long wait times for the scores (test in October, scores in April) and very dodgy scoring of the results for the constructed response questions ...

and we're still not allowed to see the questions, see the scoring, see the individual results ... 
And there was no way you could trust those scores because of the manipulation of the raw score conversion tables for "continuity reasons."

Can't have a big improvement year to year because reasons. The first year of every test has to have similar results as the final year of the test we threw away, so yr1 NSRE was first 58% passing, but was re-scored so we only had 30% passing.

If we're getting rid of a test because it isn't working appropriately, why do we insist that the new test's scores match up with the old test's scores?

And about those scores ... I have never understood how the entire public school populations of five New England states can show results in the way they did:

Highly Proficient: 3%
Proficient: 30%
Below Proficient: 40%
No Evidence of Proficiency: 27%

Really? 33% "passed" a test and you're looking at the teachers, not the test? Of all the kids in all the classrooms with all of the teachers (in VT, NH, ME, RI, and somewhere else that's escaping me right now), how is it possible that only 33% of the students passed a test?

At least the SAT is open ... maybe we should use it instead of paying Pearson far more for less information.

If you can so blithely manipulate scores so as to get a result that your statisticians declare appropriate, maybe the problem isn't in your teachers or your students ... your system needs to change.

If you can so blithely assume that the teachers are the only ones who are responsible for scores but shouldn't be allowed to see any of the test papers or any of the questions ... your system needs to change.

If you can so blithely assume that the students are always "participating fully" and that the results on this worthless and pointless (to them) test, then your system definitely needs to change.