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Education: Eighth grade standards for high school graduation - WHAT GIVES? Movies: What's Harvey Weinstein's story? Social Issues: A Family Values Question

Published June 7, 1999 4:00PM (EDT)

Eighth grade standards for high school graduation - WHAT GIVES?

Education | Jen - 12:30pm May 27, 1999 PDT (# 10 of 14)

I think the parents' role is to communicate with the school district about
the standards and the tests and to be informed about things like: How many
school days are my kids spending in test preparation & test taking? What do
the tests look like? What do you do with the scores?

I don't feel very good about standards. I work in the training field, and I
am new to it. I used to wonder why some of the technical classes I took
were so shallow. Now I understand that the instructors were "teaching to
tests," specifically Microsoft and other certification tests that are so
trendy. The tests (and I'm talking about user-level tests, not technical
MSCE or CNE tests) seem to test for a broad understanding of the software,
touching on many of the features but not requiring in-depth understanding
of them (in my opinion, anyway). Everyone benefits by the system: Microsoft
and other vendors who rake in licensing and certification fees, content
developers who sell "certified" books and software, "certified" trainers,
who hold the key to the tests, and employers, who have a measurement to use
when hiring.

I'm not sure that it is a bad measurement, either. You would have to have
decent knowledge of the software to pass the tests. The thing that saddens
me is that so much time is spent on the shallow accumulation of rote
knowledge that, in class anyway, there is little time left for exploration
or real learning.

I wonder if primary and secondary classes are finding the same effect when
standards tests become important. I recently read that in the Chicago
Public Schools, teachers and students are starting to rebel against the
number of tests they have to take (and the amount of time that is taken
away from their classes)

And I'd like to know more about how the test are developed. I'm not saying
that academic achievement can't be measured, but I wish I felt better about
the guidelines being used. In my experience, people will grasp at anything
in order to get quantifiable results. That's understandable, but it tends
to establish a standard that may be of questionable value but is very
difficult to replace with anything else.

What's Harvey Weinstein's story?

Movies | Patrick Hudson - 11:52am Jun 2, 1999 PDT (# 4 of 9)

Weinstein reminds me of Gap CEO Mickey Drexler, who has demonstrated
near-perfect merchandising touch and good taste where before there was no
clear strategic vision. Now America is 'blessed' with very nice movies and
very nice casual clothing, but we all feel a sense of having lost
something. We've lost the sense of uniqueness that used to come from liking
certain little movies; how can you feel unique when the film you like is
selling out at the shopping mall multiplex? These tastemakers are largely
responsible for our collective sense of fin-de-siecle ennui; it feels like
the 'end of history.' Something about all the pictures of all these
near-billionaires wearing sloppy casual clothes makes me long for a time
when the U.S. didn't feel so middle-aged and complacent. Maybe the new
generation of children born to the baby boomers (about 4MM births a year
for about a decade now) will liven things up.

A Family Values Question

Social Issues | John James - 08:46am Jun 4, 1999 PDT (# 28 of 37)

I have no answers but a case study or two.

My mother left my father soon after my younger brother was off to college.
She literally, consciously held it together for the kids. I don't know for
how long-10 years, maybe-she stayed after having decided that the marriage
was empty.

There was no blatant abuse or alcoholism or financial calamity. I have to
resort to psychobabble to describe their problems. They were
"dysfunctional." My father "has issues," with control and with anger. But
their staying together in itself didn't help him with those things. Was it
my mother's job to force him to confront his problems?

I suppose I feel guilty, as if my brother and I were to blame for Mom
enduring an unhappy marriage for so long. And I wonder what the benefit
was. I know one big cost: a 10-year delay before they could move on to try
and find better partners. Might it have been more honest, less
hypocritical, and better for everybody all around for the split to have
occurred sooner? I feel sure they would have worked hard at their parental
obligations, even if they had lived apart.

I've been married eight years now, with some bumps along the way. I'm
committed to making my marriage last, and I'm committed to being a good
father to my two kids, and the two sentiments are related, but they're not

A relative on my wife's side got his girlfriend pregnant, and they
hurriedly married. He's 21, she's 19. Clearly, they're too young or
immature or ill-matched or whatever, and I'm sure marriage would not have
been in the picture had the pregnancy not occurred. Anyway, the marriage
has been filled with strife from Day 1, and two days after delivering a
beautiful baby girl, the mother has moved out. My wife's family suspects
some scheming on the girl's part-that she stayed until the baby was born in
order to strengthen her claim to child support. But assuming that everyone
is acting in good faith: What do you make of their situation? A related
question: What is the value in legitimacy, in "giving the child a name,"
even if the odds of a long-term marriage seem poor?

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