The 2012 Crazycrawfish blog in review – For the stat conscious or curious among us

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 7,200 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 12 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Why am I the CrazyCrawfish do you ask?

I often get quizzical looks when I have serious conversations about political, education, and child welfare related issues and then refer them to my “CrazyCrawfish” blog. I can tell that in some cases people discount my statements at that point, or lower their evaluations of my viewpoints. I’ve considered changing the name before to something more serious and profound. . . but I have trouble getting excited about some of the more pretentious blogs and bloggers out there and can’t imagine running something called the Grave Portents blog, or the Serious Issues Plaguing Louisiana and Society blog.

Those names are also harder to remember and lord knows how many similar sounding folks would be out there with such similar sounding names and pretentious drumbeats of foreboding predications? I honestly haven’t looked, but when I look up Crazycrawfish or Crazy Crawfish, it’s mostly just me! There is alliteration in the name, it rolls of the tongue, it’s a little silly, like me, and keeps me grounded; that no matter how depressed and overwhelmed a topic is, or may seem, I just need to find a bright spot to tease out to stay true to my purpose. I appreciate the satire, comedy but pointed commentary of shows like John Stewart and Stephen Colbert and realize that part of keeping people informed is keeping people entertained enough in your material. I don’t have a production stage, or writing staff, and my special effects are my crude chop job Paint renderings of photos and cartoons. Yet still, for some reason, some of you continue to tune in and pass along my material, and for that I’m grateful.

But when I decided to use such a word as “crazy” to describe myself, that decision was not random. It actually came out of a conversation I had with a friend who had fled the state for less swampy and more liberal pastures.

I told my friend, that while I was a transplant from the north, I felt like this was my home now, and I needed to do something to make things better, to change it for the better. I was tired of just standing on the sidelines and letting our politicians and hate groups like the Louisiana Family Forum do things to us. I said, maybe if I start doing something, I can mobilize others to do something. Maybe I can make a difference? He laughed and told me I was crazy of course. Having lived here his whole life he knew Louisiana could never change. That it was destined to be the armpit, or perhaps a lower orifice, of the nation, where all the industrial sewage of the nation leaks out, leaving us cancerous alleys in the wake.

Living in Louisiana as a liberal is not easy. We elected a serial philanderer with a penchant for visiting madams in multiple states for our Senator because he had an “R” after his name on a ballot instead of a decent man with a “D”. (Most folks here think the “D” stands for demon.) We embrace all the crazy crackpot ideas any conservative think-tank or hate group puts forth such as laws for bringing guns to bars and church, private takeover of public schools and facilities for public for profit use and abuse, abandoning the poor and mental unwell to their own devices while allowing 3 cent tax decrease on cigarettes to expire. We believe in handing publicly funded prisons over to private providers for a few dollars up front, in return for acquiescing to put on the shackles, of a virtually permanent rental agreement, ourselves. With these private prison companies free to charge us whatever they want for keeping our, largest in the nation and world, incarcerated class behind bars at our ever increasing expense, we thank them and our politicians embrace their political contributions and no one seems to notice or care. People here believe gays are bad, racism is ok if done privately, and our future is plucking chickens and permanently polluting our coastline and ruining our Cajun culture and fishery resources for the sake of a few quick barrels of oil.

He might be right about me of course. Albert Einstein has been quoted as said doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. But I’ve always hated that ignorant BS line. Even smart people say stupid things from time to time. What Einstein calls insanity, I call practice.

From Wikipedia:

“Insanity, craziness or madness is a spectrum of behaviors characterized by certain abnormal mental or behavioral patterns. Insanity may manifest as violations of societal norms [or beliefs]”

I will keep posting and keep publishing the things that are wrong with Louisiana and our political class. I will keep trying to open a few eyes, here and there, to bring people over to my craziness, my self-imposed exile of insanity as defined by my society’s social norms.

Based on slow but steady increase in web traffic and followers I might be succeeding . . . just a little. Eventually my repetition, my practice, my insanity, will pay off and I will get it right. When the majority of my state finally thinks I’m the sane one, well then, I will be then won’t I?

Until that day, I will be the “Crazy” Crawfish.

VAM Explanation Forwarded to Louisiana Legislators and Local Superintendents

Welcome to 2013, gentle readers.  I’d planned on starting off the new year with a post on my name choice, but this document seemed a little more important.

VAM explanation for legislators REVISED 01-02

A friend of the blog recently produced this paper and a number of other very enlightening publications and pieces of work I’d like to share with you over the coming weeks.  Dr. Mercedes Schneider, a proud product of the St. Bernard Parish Public Schools (1972-85) system, holds three traditionally earned college degrees, all in the field of education: B.S.,secondary education, English and German (LSU, 1985-91); M.Ed., guidance and counseling (West Georgia, 1996-98), and Ph.D., applied statistics and research methods (Northern Colorado, 1998-2002).   She also has 18 full-time years in the classroom teaching a wide variety of subjects including English, German, teacher prep, and statistics in regular ed classes, alternative school, and special ed settings.  She has taught both inside Louisiana and outside in Georgia, Colorado, and Indiana.  For the past six years she has taught sophomore English and a teacher prep course in St. Tammany Parish, at Slidell High School.

As for her research experience, what is especially pertinent is that Dr Schneider was a manuscript reviewer for the Journal of Mental Health Counseling, the official professional, blind-review research journal of the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA).  She later became the associate editor of research for the same journal.  For four years (reviewer, 2006-08; associate editor, 2008-10), she reviewed statistical research studies for their quality, clarity, pertinence, and completeness for a nationally recognized professional organization.

Dr. Schneider covers a wide range of issues with Louisiana’s VAM teacher evaluation system.  Some of the key points I’d like you to pay attention to are s follows:

  • The VAM study was not done impartially.  It was designed to produce a specific outcome and does not even try to address the data from an impartial standpoint.
  • The researchers of this study failed to impartially point out the limitations of its application to all teachers, and to emphasize that poor data quality was impacting their results.
  • The researchers did not verify any of the data, but recognized there were large sections missing and manually “fixed” data on their own in ways that would lend support to their conclusions..
  • The researchers vastly understated the correlation of their results, which in most cases are only about as accurate as flipping a coin twice and getting the same result.
  •  Proper controls and rigor for a basic scientific study were not met, let alone one with such dramatic implications for teachers and Louisiana.
  • The study actually indicates that a large part of student performance was not quantifiable (revealed by the moderate instability), but this point was not pointed out by the researchers.

I’ve been notified this report has been sent to local school district superintendents, legislators, and many relevant folks at the Louisiana Department of Education, including John White.  If you have a stake in the outcome of VAM (if you are a teacher or parent of a public school student for instance) you might consider reading this article and dropping a line to your local legislator or super and see what they think of VAM and this analysis.

Happy New Year!

(Let’s hope we can all make a commitment to achieving an out with “old” and in with the “new” in terms of Education leadership.)