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IMPORTANT ARTICLES RELATED TO THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK:

While the articles in this special section are off my usual topic of educational issues, I was a scientist previously and manager of two NIH-funded national projects for molecular biology computing in the early days of the Human Genome Project (BIONET and GenBank – see my bio below).  I felt that this was extremely important information to get out to the public.

I have also been working with several local medical professionals to evaluate recent news from The Lancet medical journal.

THE TOPIC OF THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE IS STILL A HYPOTHESIS, but it will take some time to confirm or refute it.  People on these medications should take prudent social distancing measures in the interim.  There is no current consensus to change your medications however, and stopping blood pressure medication can be dangerous.

And finally from early March 2020:


 

Welcome to EduIssues.com, a site to discuss education issues facing the area around San Mateo, CA.  Please read the Welcome message for more details about this site.  All discussions are moderated as explained in the Welcome message.

I would appreciate your support by signing up for email alerts for new posts. This can be done in the right sidebar (or scroll to the bottom in the mobile version).  Alerts will only be sent when new articles appear, not for comments unless you also request the latter.  Your email address will not be released or used for any purpose other than sending you article alerts.

 

Most Important Articles for new Visitors to this Blog

  1. Raising our Children – American Society Reflects our Values and Choices
  2. SMUHSD Class Sign-up Time – Please Read This First!
  3. It’s AP ex(sc)am time again!
  4. Never Believe Educational Experts (or Me)!
  5. “Mutual Assured Destruction”
  6. My SMUHSD Board Report on NGSS – A Lot of People of Good Will Trying to Deal with a Tough Problem
  7. Will “Online Learning” Work?
  8. Info from UC Berkeley confirms why students should not skip from Precalculus to Calculus BC
  9. Pros and Cons of the CPM Math Textbook Series
  10. Why Can’t We Teach Mathematics Properly?
  11. A Hole in the Aragon Math Curriculum
  12. How Students are “Accelerating” in Math at Aragon
  13. How to Interest Kids in Science, Engineering, and Math
  14. How to Get in to Harvard

 

Recent Topics

(Click on any topic title below for all articles in that category in reverse chronological order – only the most recent or important articles are listed below)

Education News

  1. UPDATE on AP Exam Uploading Issues
  2. AP Exam takers lost network connectivity in some cases !!!
  3. Will “Online Learning” Work?
  4. Parents Protest Against Credit/No Credit Grading in SMUHSD
  5. Nancy Bailey: There Can Be No “Science of Reading” When Libraries and Librarians Are Disappearing
  6. These are some of the Questions that I Want Answered about Coronavirus!
  7. SF Chronicle: Chaos at SF’s Aptos Middle School
  8. Prepared?
  9. Raising our Children – American Society Reflects our Values and Choices
  10. What Kind of Society do We Want to Have? (plus an important addendum on “Back to School Night” and textbooks)
  11. 6 Dutch parenting secrets to raising the happiest kids in the world
  12. California’s Charter School Morass
  13. Why a “Sage on the Stage” in a Classroom is not always a Bad Thing
  14. My SMUHSD Board Report on NGSS – A Lot of People of Good Will Trying to Deal with a Tough Problem
  15. How the College Admissions Scandal was Uncovered

 

Issues in Teaching Mathematics     

  1. A Result to Inspire Women in Mathematics!
  2. Guest Article: Why I Oppose the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics
  3. Why a “Sage on the Stage” in a Classroom is not always a Bad Thing
  4. Senior Dilemma: What to Take – AP Statistics or Calculus BC?
  5. Aragon Accelerated Math Class Drop Rate Controversy Has Been Resolved
  6. Alarmingly High Drop Rate for Aragon’s Accelerated Math Classes??
  7. How Students are “Accelerating” in Math at Aragon
  8. STEM Class Issues from the 2017-2018 Aragon School Year: Part 2 – AP Statistics
  9. STEM Class Issues from the 2017-2018 Aragon School Year: Part 1 – Precalculus (with an aside on Multivariable Calculus)
  10. Pros and Cons of the CPM Math Textbook Series
  11. Why is 10^0 = 1 ???
  12. Why Can’t We Teach Mathematics Properly?

 

AP Class Crisis

  1. UPDATE on AP Exam Uploading Issues
  2. AP Exam takers lost network connectivity in some cases !!!
  3. SMUHSD Class Sign-up Time – Please Read This First!
  4. Prepared?
  5. Raising our Children – American Society Reflects our Values and Choices
  6. 2019-2020 High School Class Sign-up Time – Please Read This Article First!
  7. Senior Dilemma: What to Take – AP Statistics or Calculus BC?
  8. Aragon Accelerated Math Class Drop Rate Controversy Has Been Resolved
  9. Alarmingly High Drop Rate for Aragon’s Accelerated Math Classes??
  10. NGSS Impact on the 2018 SMUHSD AP Physics 1 Scores?
  11. How Students are “Accelerating” in Math at Aragon
  12. The Fine Art of Delay – An Open Letter to the SMUHSD Board
  13. STEM Class Issues from the 2017-2018 Aragon School Year: Part 3 – Physics
  14. “Mutual Assured Destruction”
  15. Attention SMUHSD Parents! State Mandated Testing Negatively Impacts Aragon’s Physics Program
  16. Taking the Fight to Harvard
  17. It’s AP ex(sc)am time again!
  18. A Hole in the Aragon Math Curriculum
  19. very unfortunate local test practice that I think is hurting students.
  20. How to Interest Kids in Science, Engineering, and Math.
  21. Confirmation from UC Berkeley on problems with AP classes

 

Teacher Salaries

  1. Before You Vote on Upcoming School Ballot Measures, Please Read This!
  2. IMPORTANT – SMFCSD Seeks Community Input on School Finances
  3. “I’ve Ended Many School Days Crying in My Car”
  4. SMFCSD Settles Contract Dispute with Teachers, But What Comes Next???
  5. SM Daily Journal: Battle over teacher pay gets worse

 

College Admissions

  1. How to get in to Harvard
  2. How the College Admissions Scandal was Uncovered
  3. SAT Test Prep Recommendations

 

Top Ten Most Read Articles

  1. Pros and Cons of the CPM Math Textbook Series
  2. It’s AP ex(sc)am time again!
  3. Guest Article: Why I Oppose the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics
  4. Senior Dilemma: What to Take – AP Statistics or Calculus BC?
  5. Critical Warnings re AP Classes
  6. Info from UC Berkeley confirms why students should not skip from Precalculus to Calculus BC
  7. Hypothetical Link between some widely used Blood Pressure Medications and Increased Sensitivity to COVID-19 Infection.
  8. Why Can’t We Teach Mathematics Properly?
  9. How to Get in to Harvard
  10. How Students are “Accelerating” in Math at Aragon

 

Thank you for reading and participating on this site.  Together we can make a difference and improve education for our local students!

I also subscribe to and read a large number of publications about education and many other topics.  I use my Twitter feed to call attention to noteworthy items as well as new posts on this site.  If you are interested, please request to follow @kristutoring on Twitter.

AP Exam takers lost network connectivity in some cases !!!

I had three of my tutoring students take the Calculus BC exam yesterday. All of them felt well-prepared, but ONE out of THREE lost their network connection which made it impossible to finish.

(UPDATE: Instead of the reasons given in the Chronicle article below, the problem might be due to system overload near the end of the exam – uploading of results near the end of the test bogged down and the exam timer closed the test before the uploads could complete.  This is an unproven but plausible hypothesis given that the College Board may not have had enough students to load test the system before the real exam was given. More in the Comments section following this article.)

Apparently they were not alone according to the San Francisco Chronicle.  I found this article this afternoon while reading Diane Ravitch’s blog.

The College Board claims that this happened to only 1% of test takers.

Hmmmm???

From the Chronicle article:

“A Twitter post on Wednesday from the company’s official account said, “While more than 99% of students successfully submitted their AP exam responses today, some who didn’t told us they had trouble cutting and pasting their responses. We took a closer look and found that outdated browsers were a primary cause of these challenges.”

It advised that people who had issues submitting their exams update their browsers to the latest version of either Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Microsoft Edge.

The College Board also posted a link to a new troubleshooting page.

An earlier Tweet from the organization suggested that the problem had to do with the interface not accepting the default format of iPhone photos and that images would have to be converted to the widely-used digital format known as a jpeg.

The messaging did not sit well with the Twitter account’s followers who, in the replies thread, accused the College Board of “blaming the students” and said, “This is disappointing.”

The technical problems affected students across the country.”

My opinion on the AP system is well known…

Will “Online Learning” Work?

The COVID-19 pandemic required the abrupt closure of schools and an almost overnight shift to attempts at online education.

Implementation has been very uneven, and, combined with cries about “equity problems,” led to the cancellation of grades for spring semester 2020 locally and at many places across the nation.

How can we make school work going forward? This *in-depth* article examines the many behind the scenes challenges of which parents may not be aware and discusses possible ways forward.

Continue reading “Will “Online Learning” Work?”

Excellent article in “The Economist” on COVID-19 vaccines!

4/20/2020 – If you read only one thing today, this should be it:

Can the world find a good covid-19 vaccine quickly enough?

Note – The Economist requires a subscription for full access, but one can get a free account with access to five free articles per month. Personally, I find this magazine to be one of the most informative that I read regularly.

Despite the name, it covers news from all around the world, providing information most Americans will not encounter elsewhere, in addition to business/economics. Its coverage of science and technology is insightful (the above article is an excellent example), and it also reviews books and the arts.

 

Parents Protest Against Credit/No Credit Grading in SMUHSD

The following is from the April 9th San Mateo Daily Journal:

The proposal to temporarily postpone issuing letter grades in the San Mateo Union High School District alarmed some school community members who opposed adopting a credit system for the semester disrupted by COVID-19.

The district Board of Trustees initially scheduled a meeting to discuss the credit proposal Tuesday, April 7, but pushed the session back until Thursday, April 16, to further examine the issue.

Concerned parent Andrew Soss shared fears that students earning good grades would see their semester’s hard work wiped away with a broad stroke from officials adopting the credit system.

The full text of the article can be found here.

The SMUHSD Board will hold a public meeting on this topic via Zoom Thursday evening at 5 PM as detailed here.

I strongly encourage parents who have an opinion on this topic to email the Board of Trustees at board@smuhsd.org  before the meeting!!


Postscript – The article above shows just one example of the value that our local newspaper provides to the community.  I signed up for an online subscription for $99 per year to support their work, and I encourage all of you to do likewise.  I have no connection with or financial interest in the newspaper.

The Economy versus Health Care: Government as God

Two important news items came out yesterday (3/23/20) and today (3/24/20):

Time Magazine: President Trump Is Already Considering Defying Health Experts to Boost the Economy

New York Gov. Cuomo: ‘Troubling and astronomical’ coronavirus cases increase urgency for hospital beds

There are points to support both sides of this argument.

If we shut down the economy, the damage could be immense.  Note that China took drastic quarantine steps and is starting to emerge from the pandemic, but no one is sure if there will be a second wave of disease when people go back to work.  By March 6th, the Shanghai Stock Index had almost climbed back to its pre-crash high (but is currently testing new lows for the last year, undoubtedly in reaction to market panics around the world).

If we don’t shut down the economy, the health damage could be immense.  All one has to do is turn on the TV or listen to Governor Cuomo above to realize this.

As in any critical decision, we do not have all of the data we need to know the outcomes.

The government will try to make a cost-benefit decision, and to do this they will have to put a dollar value on human life.  Some lives will be judged more valuable than others.  In hospital triage situations, a person’s remaining life expectancy is a factor in the life-saving decision.

When the government is assuming the role of God, one hopes that we have the “best” people (however one defines that) in the country calling the shots…

But please don’t forget Abraham Lincoln’s words.  Our country is a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”  If there ever was a time to make your opinion known to your elected representatives, this is it!

My recommendation – If a decision is going to be made to allow an unknown, possibly large, number of people to die so that others can continue to work, this needs to be a collective decision involving top people across the government, including, at least, the leaders of Congress.  A significant fraction of the country does not trust the President, particularly his tendency to think he is the smartest person in the room and a “strong leader.”

It is in his personal interest not to make this decision without broad buy-in.  If he is wrong and the number of deaths is much higher than he expects, he will go down as the worst President in U.S. history.  Of course, if he decides single-handedly and is correct, he will confirm his genius status.  Does the country want to take this high-stakes gamble by a single individual??


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Last night Chris Cuomo gave the following “Closing Argument” on CNN. Cuomo argued in effect that the “Greatest Generation” made tremendous sacrifices during WWII to keep this country and the world free. Will we now ask them to sacrifice themselves yet again? No! He states we are all in this together.

You can also comment by calling the White House directly at 202-456-1111.