Book Cover: An African American holding books jogging in front of school lockers.

Rac(e)ing to Class ~ A Review

I have had the pleasure of reading Milner’s latest book on education, Rac(e)ing to Class, Confronting poverty and race in schools and classrooms. It is not an intimidating looking book but it is packed with content. I first heard of the book on NPR and was able to get a copy from our local University library.

The best part of how Milner writes is that he is honest. He doesn’t have all of the answers but he had done his research and presents what he thinks is a pretty good answer. As a young teacher it is refreshing to hear that it is not always about the teacher, but that leadership needs to lead on issues of poverty and race.

“Shifting the ethos of a district to one that centers its care around those who are most vulnerable requires leaders to embrace principles that reverberate throughout the entire district, not only through what they say but also what they do and expect of others.” p. 31

Now, working at a university and not as a teacher it is with pleasure that I try to assist in those transformational shifts. These discussions can be uncomfortable but the more you talk about it, I find allows for a deeper unpacking of the complexity. Just a few pages after the quote above Milner quotes W.G. Secada on what is meant by equity.

“The essence of equity lies in our ability to acknowledge that even though our actions are in accord with a set of rules, the results of those actions may still be unjust. Equity goes beyond following the rules…equity gauges the results of actions directly against the standards of justice.” p. 34 (I added the emphasis).

I love how that chosen quote frames the book. We all try our best to do the right thing, throughout those efforts, check back in to see how it stacks up against the standards of justice. A thread of optimism weaves through the writing, everything is a challenge, but a challenge with opportunity. Milner writes for the first seventy or so pages about the systemic deficiencies of  schools, districts, and instructional methods. I believe he does so accurately while recognizing the standards based testing drum decrescendo into a soft bass line. There are nice nuggets of insight in this first half, the second part is even better. The second part comprises the case studies and a dissection of teacher education programs.

The NPR story I link to above does a good job of hooking the listener on these case studies. I like the way Milner talks the reader through the situation and delivers an improved lesson for students and the school community in each one. It is masterful. Go borrow or buy the book. You won’t be disappointed.

Purchase directly from Harvard Education Press.

Milner IV, Richard. H. Rac(e)ing to Class: Confronting Poverty and Race in Schools and Classrooms. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

Sessions I find most intriguing

DrupalCon Los Angeles kicks off in a few days. I am lucky to have an opportunity to partake. I’ll be sprinting Sunday and Friday. The higher-ed summit should be great and I am humbly leading a few table discussions at that.

Here are sessions I find intriguing, the ones with an asterix are where I’ll most likely be.

Sunday

  • Sprints

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

2 Web Performance Books

I recently read two books focused on website performance.

Designing for performance (weighing aesthetics and speed) by Lara Callender Hogan.

Responsible Responsive Design by Scott Jehl.

The first book is interesting and a very good primer for new developers or for folks that have never considered web performance based on design trade-offs. The second book was a very handy manual of sorts and was my favorite.

I would reccomend reading both if you haven’t had a chance. They should be available from your local library through inter-library loans.

 

Data and Goliath – Book Review

Data and Goliath is the newest book by Bruce Schneier. I have been following Mr. Schneier ever since reading Neal Stepheson’s Cryptonomicon. I have subscribed to his newsletter and seen him speak. With that stated, his new book is very accessible to a wide audience, much more so than his last book Liars and Outliers. It is not a book on cryptography as Applied Cryptography: Protocols, Algorithms, and Source Code in C, is either. It is uniquely positioned to open societies eyes and a short list of actions society as a whole needs to take to reign in corporations and governments to allow us to take back control of our privacy.

The book is broken into three parts and ties a lot of what was revealed by Edward Snowden and the NSA PRISM project into a nice package of what is happening now and what will continue to happen if we don’t stand up and take action. Snowden revelations are sprinkled throughout the book. If the outrage most of the world expressed didn’t make sense to you after hearing about what the NSA, GHCQ, and other government organizations have been doing this book should make it clear. He also makes it clear that not just governments need the data, but the business model of the web is personalized data as well. The Lightbeam plugin is mentioned in the book, it makes browsing the web an adventure again, seeing just who is tracking you every time you go to a website.

Again and again Mr. Schneier presses the reader into thinking this is all doom and gloom but then pulls us back to show how good things can come of data and tracking, if we are allowed to be the ones who choose what to share. He points out early on that Angry Birds tracks our location, not because it is used in the game, but because they can then sell that data to a broker, who will then resell it to a buyer. I was not aware that Europe had stronger laws already on the books than the US that help citizens protect their privacy.

You will be hard pressed to find a more concise book on a defining issue of our internet generation. There are 121 pages of notes in the back of the hard copy as well allowing you to dig deeper into each topic. Many of the suggestions are high level policy changes that need to be made and citizens can have a big impact on that. The jacket reviews would lead on to think that if they read the book and follow some steps they can hide all of their data, that is not going to happen. It is a good book and well worth a few afternoons of reading.

Go buy it our get it at your local library.

Installing a new antennae on KK-Louise

Broken antennae
Broken antennae

Recently KK-Louise, my 1971 VW Bus met an automated car wash. The car wash ate the last of the original 44 year old antennae. The attendants at the car wash were able to grab the whip that broke off and it was full of rust. I was pretty happy with how this one worked so I ordered a replacement from the Bus Depot. They had a chrome replacement, just like on my bus for $20.00. The new antennae is a bit lighter than the old one but looks the same.

To do the job I needed a 3/4″ wrench for the big nut, an 11mm wrench for the old antennae base, an 8mm wrench for the new one and some pliers.

New antennae in package
New antennae in package

Removing the old antennae was straightforward. I’m lucky as my hand and arm were able to contort to reach the 3/4″ nut and the little 11mm bottom nut. I found I had to use pliers to loosen the wire that runs from the radio to the antennae.

Headlamp, pliers, 8mm and 11mm wrenches, and 3/4" crescent wrench.
Headlamp, pliers, 8mm and 11mm wrenches, and 3/4″ crescent wrench.
Back of antennae when installed.
Back of antennae when installed.

 

Watermark around the antennae mounting hole.
Watermark around the antennae mounting hole.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once I took the old antennae off there was some watermarks around the old location. I used some cleaner wax to remove the watermark and then put the new antennae in place. The new one went right in but I did find it helpful to start the top nut first or it wanted to tumble out of the hole.

The only snafu was the antennae wire from my original antennae used an older style connector so I had to replace the wire. The new antennae came with a compatible wire so it was just a matter of reaching around in the back of the radio and unplugging the old one and putting in the new one in. I was happy to have my radio manual which helped as there was both the antennae and a sub plug area.

Overall the installation was straightforward and is now rust free so the next time I think an automatic car wash is a good idea, it just may not get ripped off. The reception is great with the new antennae.

The new antennae installed.
The new antennae installed.