Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Evils of AP

A lesson in Advanced mis-Placement - this is worth an entire read, but it's not new to me. I saw this over a decade ago where I used to work. We were told by admins (and it's always "told" and never actually put into writing --can't leave a nasty paper trail) to identify students for placement into AP classes. This was a terrible deal for me, because it meant that I lost my best and brightest students to a program that was generally taught by someone with less actual field knowledge than me. But worse than that, students didn't want to go to the AP class because --and here's the fun part --they knew that AP isn't always good prep for college! Yes, there are good AP instructors out there, but not nearly as many as AP instructors think. Some students deliberately avoided AP because it would ruin their GPAs. Even more twisted, the ones who were in the AP sections getting A's were scoring 2's and 3's on the actual AP when they bothered to take it --because their own AP instructors discouraged them from taking the exam on the grounds that "minorities never get a fair shake on the APs."

So why even bother? First, it's a boondoggle for AP instructors, who get to have comparatively well-behaved students for most of their sections. They get a stipend for their trouble. And they can lord it over their colleagues that they get to teach AP. Second, it's a boondoggle for admins that get to pad their campus stats sheet (except for that pesky pass/fail number). And did I forget to mention that campuses get stipends based on AP enrollment? That's the part that's going on in the article. Admins get the credit for spiking AP enrollment and increasing campus funds (which are almost never spent on AP students, natch), while AP instructors get the heat for not doing a good job with students who have no business being there in the first place.

Full disclosure: I was, at one time, certified to teach AP U.S. History. I also work for a college system that heavily emphasizes and benefits from dual-credit classes which compete with AP courses for enrollment. But many of the same complaints apply there as well. Commonality: you tell the admins that their campuses will get money for doing a certain thing, and everything else goes out the door. I've seen it too many times.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

IP Abolitionism; or, JSTOR Can Go Take A Flying Leap

The Four Historical Phases of IP Abolitionism: read all of it, but here's the gold:

"As Roderick Long notes in his 1995 article The Libertarian Case Against Intellectual Property Rights (one of the first sallies of Phase 4), 'Though never justified, copyright laws have probably not done too much damage to society so far. But in the Computer Age, they are now becoming increasingly costly shackles on human progress.'

"The digital information/Internet age made the problem of IP more obvious and serious, which led to our current modern resurgence of libertarian IP abolitionism, a position which seems to have grown and become dominant in the last 10 years, as [is argued] in The Death Throes of Pro-IP Libertarianism.

"The case against IP is today especially clear to Austrian-, anarchist-, and left-libertarians, and has intensified and grown significantly in recent years, and shows no sign of abating. The libertarian IP proponents are on the ropes and dwindling in numbers, or so it seems to me."

I have a beef with the JSTOR database administrators. My institution is a dues-paying participating member. Our students' IT feeds pay for their access to the system. I may research and download articles, as may my students. But Heaven forbid that I actually make one step easier for my students to (within a password-secure environment) access materials to which they already have paid access. So no HTML-converted PDFs for my students; they have to go through the permalinks and re-enter their passwords (again and again), which is a royal pain to my distance-ed students.

Oh well. The Internet is Carl Becker's revenge. Peer-reviewed journals are in ICU already. JSTOR can go take a flying leap.

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Monday, April 4, 2011

Facing the Inevitable

The Internet has changed, and myself along with it.

This blog will remain active but most of my updates will be via my Twitter feed and/or my Facebook feed (NB Facebook account is by invite; sorry, current students may not access my Facebook feed).

Longer updates will, by necessity, be posted here.

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