Applying politics to pedagogy and grading doesn’t work

Why are school board elections nonpartisan? Why don’t we apply political goals to schools as often as we can? Because… they don’t apply.

There is a popular example of why socialism doesn’t work in society where a professor will average out test scores and then hand that same score out to everybody. By the end, everybody gives up on trying because the high scorers are punished unjustly and the low scorers are rewarded overcompensatorily. This story is available across the Internet so I won’t bother posting it in full here.

Here’s an issue with this: civilization isn’t just test grades and wealth redistribution. School is a safe sandbox (not a garden) to learn and nurture oneself in. Therefore we give more chances in school, unlike our society of no chances. School is a place to perfect perfection, not to demonstrate perfection like society is.

If you still think this is defensive liberal propaganda, why don’t we try a free-market, laissez-faire school system?

Here are the rules that apply for the socialist and laissez-faire demonstration:

  • The teacher controls what happens to the grades (score distribution)
  • There will be tests with fair grading at the beginning
  • No cheating takes place during testing
  • The teacher sets the rules
  • If the students fail to perform well, the dean will fire the teacher. (In the case of the socialist example, pretend the teacher gave massive curves to everybody at the end, because that’s what happened with FDR’s New Deal: an interventionalist Keynesian policy.

Several students emerge at the top of the exams scores and the rest of the students don’t do so well. The elite students start to hoard all of the prime study materials to themselves and threatens to fail themselves in the professor’s class (getting him fired) unless he ditches the retest policy, doesn’t give curves, and lets the well-testers provide exclusive tutoring to the other students. Sure enough, the elite students don’t tutor anything and instead continue to hog study materials, get great test scores, and aren’t invalidated by the curves given by the professor. Also, most of the students will fail the class and cannot even retake the test, meaning they bomb the entire course. And by the way, all of those who fail automatically get their score dropped to a zero. At this point, the Dean honors the well-doing students because of their façade presented and doesn’t care anymore about the failing students.

This model sure is a counter for the stupid “socialism” experiment in school.

But why do neither of these models work?

  1. School policy is modified too drastically.
  2. Students have too much bargaining power. Nobody has this kind of power in real life unless they are the elite.
  3. Grades are way too subjective and don’t reflect money accurately due to its restrictions and issuance.
  4. It’s imperfect, yet a school system offers more opportunities to succeed as fairly as possible.

Now please stop applying politics to school.

@ShareNet, a Wi-Fi Co-Op

Wouldn’t it be great if one could travel somewhere and automatically be connected to a Wi-Fi network? It:

  • saves mobile data
  • better access to the internet
  • more efficient use of Wi-Fi network

Imagine Bob is jogging through his neighborhood. When Bob leaves his house, he loses access to his Wi-Fi network, BobNet. He jogs past Sherri’s house. Sherri’s Wi-Fi network is SherriNet. Neither match, so neither can use each other’s Wi-Fi network without sharing. But sometimes, they go over to each others’ houses. Also, Bob streams Spotify through his headphones when jogging past Sherri’s house, using a lot of data. The issue is, whenever Wi-Fi is needed the most, or outside one’s home, it never seems to be there.

But if Bob and Sherri and all of their neighbors added a guest network (with a password) called @ShareNet to their own home, they’ll also get access to every other @ShareNet Wi-Fi access point! So, whenever Bob is jogging, he will automatically be connected to the guest Wi-Fi network in each house that he jogs past. Now, when Sherri is at home, she uses SherriNet, but whenever she visits Bob, she doesn’t need the password to BobNet. She just uses @ShareNet.

All of the neighbors have ONE password for @ShareNet, so it’s important to keep this key integrous (the key must be of integrity). If Gordon the villain neighbor decides to leak the password of @ShareNet on 4chan, everybody’s screwed and Gordon will be attacked by an angry mob at the next HOA meeting. Most neighbors can set up a WPA2 Personal Wi-Fi guest network on their routers easily, but not a RADIUS server. The only way to keep @ShareNet integrous is to continually update the password (pre-shared key/PSK) and to maintain control over who is participating in @ShareNet. Also, it’s not okay to simply stop offering @ShareNet at your house while continuing to use @ShareNet in others’ houses.

So if you want to join @ShareNet in real life, we’ll try to keep it secure and centralized as much as possible. Just shoot me an email (j@mywikis.com). Thanks!

Improving McKinney ISD’s focus on academics?

Here’s some thoughts on what McKinney ISD can do:
  • Add more coaches for UIL Academics competitions, so that students can learn more, do well on the tests, and get scholarships. Plus, who doesn’t like a little school pride? (I think Lovejoy has mandatory club classes?)
  • Pay for our AP exams – We pay $30 for each AP exam right now and this might drive people away. Awesome teachers, great curriculum, but the payment might deter some non-lower-income parents from enrolling their kids in the classes.
  • Pay for dual credit – perhaps offer dual credit for free for all students that are eligible? It still costs money compared to regular classes.
  • Add a local-credit only class for SAT, ACT prep – we have some very well-performing students attending great schools, but what about everybody else? Offering a local-credit only class for SAT and ACT prep would boost everybody’s scores for colleges and add more National Merit Scholars.