Monday, January 25, 2010
Garrett and Jaime came out to support me. We were excited to see Yao Ming play, but apparently he has been out all season with a foot injury! I guess we don't keep up with the NBA like we should. Here's how Jaime's wingspan and my shoe size compare with Yao's.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Like the members of 'N Sync, Perry enjoys no strings attached to funding. "Our states and our communities must reserve the right to decide how we educate our children and not surrender that control to a federal bureaucracy," he said, sounding like he was hunkered down at the Alamo. Last year, to prove this point, Perry and Sarah Palin were the only governors to refuse to participate in efforts to move toward national curriculum standards.
What are the feds asking of grant recipients? The Race to the Top website says that states should:
- Adopt standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace and to compete in the global economy;
- Build data systems that measure student growth and success, and inform teachers and principals about how they can improve instruction;
- Recruit, develop, reward, and retain effective teachers and principals, especially where they are needed most; and
- Turn around our lowest-achieving schools.
I guess we're already doing that in Texas, Gov. Perry? The new superintendent of HISD is quoted as saying, “If our standards are that much better, why don't we get in there and convince everyone else in the nation to rise to our level?” The School Board was set to vote last night on "the consideration of value-added data in personnel decisions" (i.e., TAKS scores tied to teacher evaluations). Many Texas teachers groups seemed to be against Race to the Top for fear of this kind of evaluation. However, it seems to be the wave of the future -- like it or not.
Education Week just released their Quality Counts study on education in America. In 19th place, Texas received a C+ as its overall grade. Within that grade, the study awards grades in the areas of Chance-for-Success; Standards, Assessment, and Accountability; K-12 Achievement; Transitions and Alignment; The Teaching Profession; and School Finance. Texas received a D+ in that last category. Perhaps we should be quoting another 'N Sync song from 2000, "It Makes Me Ill."
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Friday, January 8, 2010
Monday, January 4, 2010
Garrett was surprised when I told him that everyone who applies to Harvard is granted an interview (except for, perhaps, the lone homeschooler in the Alaskan wilderness). He said he had been very excited when, lo, those many years ago, he found out he had landed an Ivy interview. That's one of the great things about Harvard: every applicant is special and worth at least an hour of an interviewer's time.
The alumni associations across the country are facing a big challenge this year, since the university did away with the Early Decision process. All applications were due by January 1st, and all of our interviews need to be completed by January 31st. With nearly 30,000 applicants, that's a lot of schmoozing to fit in!
Here are some of the things that go through my mind during the typical interview:
- Was I this energetic and optimistic when I was 17? These kids are intensely interested in so many academic areas and passionately committed to righting all of society's ills.
- Have I met the expectations I set for myself when I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed? What would the 17-year-old Kristin say to me today?
- Does the overachieving teenager manage to find more than 24 hours in the day? I am vicariously exhausted reading long resumes and hearing about packed schedules.
- If the tables were turned, and this student asked me to expound on MY interests and outline MY goals for the future, would I be able to do so, enthusiastically and articulately? It's a lot to ask of anyone, let alone a senior in high school.
- I'd like to think I have a good sense of who would make a good Harvard student, but do I really? Are there unknown biases affecting my judgment? What is the value of an impression after one hour of talking to someone? With great power comes great responsibility, as someone once said.
- And what every Harvard graduate thinks at some point: Would I be accepted if I applied today? For the class of 1983, the admit rate was 17%. For the class of 2013, it was 7%. Yikes!
I'm looking forward to meeting more youngsters, so that I can be dazzled and inspired... and so that I can continue to use the phrase, "Back in MY day..."
Saturday, January 2, 2010
Garrett and I celebrated New Year's Eve first at the movie theater ("Sherlock Holmes" -- excellent!), and then at the apartment of our friend, Jaime. The crowd was international, hailing from South Korea, Mexico, Colombia, and Venezuela. We Americans brought our appetites for the tasty South American cuisine, while the others brought their Latin traditions. After toasting with champagne at midnight (and strangely viewing a delayed showing of the celebrations in Times Square), we were each given a bunch of 12 grapes and told to make a wish for each month of the year as we ate them. Then a few brave souls went out into the cold with assorted pieces of luggage (containing a shoe from each of the guests) and circled the block -- making it known to the gods that they would like to travel in 2010. Finally, Jaime produced a stack of 12 quarters. He explained that we were to bend our arm, balance the stack on our elbow, and then quickly throw and catch the quarters with the hand of the same arm. I managed to catch 4 of my 12, which I think means that I will come in to some money in 2010.
I started off New Year's Day with a Jazzercise class. Trying out Jazzercise was one of my 2009 Resolutions, and I'm proud to say that I've stuck with it (and thoroughly enjoyed it) since last January. I knew today's class would be special, with two instructors -- one of whom is the franchise owner and a truly inspiring teacher. So I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised when I showed up right as class was starting to find about SEVENTY people in attendance! Participants included veteran Jazzercisers, newcomers with 2010 resolutions, a girl of about age 10, and a man who was wearing what can only be described as exercise suspenders. It was a great workout to start the new year -- part aerobics class, part music video, and part church revival! The women love to hoot and holler during their favorite songs, and the instructor's encouragements make everyone feel good about themselves and their bodies. Tomorrow I am embarking on a new Jazzercise adventure: a Houston Rockets halftime show! Practice begins on Saturday, and the performance is three weeks later.
This afternoon I reflected on last year's resolutions and drew up some new ones. I'm pleased to say that I met many of my objectives for 2009. Last year I expanded my exercise regimen -- I tried spinning and yoga and continue with Jazzercise. I spent quality time with Garrett, in and out of Houston -- as confirmed by the entries and photos on this blog, I hope! I explored my career options and became an educational diagnostician. I encouraged others to recycle in our apartment building, sent letters and cards to friends throughout the year, and decorated our apartment to make it vibrant yet inviting.
Here are my new goals for the upcoming year:
- Return to daily meditation.
- Be positive about Houston -- investigate activities and pursue friendships here.
- Blog more frequently to exercise my writing muscles.
- Continue the quest for a good pilates mat class.
- Explore ESL certification (English as a Second Language) to add to my professional profile.
- Continue to spend quality time with Garrett in and out of Houston!
Wish us luck! Happy New Year!