The Spectacle Blog

Newest Test Scores Are More Bad News for Centralized Education, Common Core

By on 4.27.16 | 12:49PM

This morning I read an op-ed by Douglas Holtz-Eakin tackling the chasm between what it takes to enroll in college and how ready for college students actually are. It is a yawning gap, and Holtz-Eakin rightly laments it. But then he pulls the ol’, “Common Core is a high standard,” and suggests that it will bridge the college prep divide. He even writes that the Core has been “shown” to be “effective.”  

Not only has there been no meaningful evidence of the Core’s effectiveness, but right after I read Holtz-Eakins’ piece I saw that the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress scores had come out – indeed, for the very 12th grade students on the verge of college – and they had dropped in both reading and math between 2013 and 2015, and some dropped going back to 2009. This was, of course, as Common Core was being implemented nationwide. And not only did aggregate scores drop, but also scores for numerous racial and ethnic groups.

Trump’s Threats Against Manufacturers That Leave America Are An Opiate of False Hope

By on 4.26.16 | 10:49PM

I listened to Donald Trump's victory speech following GOP primary triumphs in five states and was struck by the threats he made against manufacturers who leave this country. Trump said that there will be consequences for manufacturers who shut their plants and move out of the U.S. He went on to say that if he is elected President that Carrier Air Conditioning will not leave Indiana.

It's an easy thing for him to say. Of course, I understand the appeal. People who work for Carrier or any other manufacturer don't want to lose their jobs and be thrown into a future wrought with uncertainty. Naturally, people who find themselves at risk of losing their jobs are going to be inclined to support a politician who vows to preserve them.

Canadian Businessman Beheaded By ISIS Affiliated Terrorist Group in The Philippines

By on 4.26.16 | 12:37PM

A Canadian businessman from Calgary named John Ridsdel has been beheaded by ISIS affiliated terrorist group known as Abu Sayyaf in The Phillipines. Abu Sayyaf had kidnapped Ridsdel last September and had demanded ransom for his release & beheaded him when they did receive funds by their deadline. Ridsdel was kidnapped with along with another Canadian, a Norwegian as well as a Filipino woman. Their fate remains unknown. At present, Abu Sayyaf is believed to be holding nearly two dozen hostages

Billy Paul, R.I.P.

By on 4.25.16 | 2:08PM

Philly soul singer Billy Paul passed away yesterday morning following a recent diagnosis of cancer. Paul was 81.

Although his career spanned more than half a century, Paul is remembered by most as a one-hit wonder. In December 1972, Paul had a number one hit with "Me & Mrs. Jones" which was written by the triumvirate of Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff & "Hippie" Cary Gilbert.

Paul would never replicate the success he had with "Me & Mrs. Jones". It did not help matters when Jesse Jackson saw to it that one of his songs "Let's Make a Baby" was banned from African-American radio stations because of its sexual content. At the same time, white audiences were not receptive to songs like "Am I Black Enough For You?"

Cruz & Kasich Make a Deal; So Why is Trump Mad?

By on 4.25.16 | 1:15PM

My first reaction to the detente between Ted Cruz and John Kasich is a question. What the hell took them so long?

Predictably, Donald Trump had a temper tantrum accusing Cruz and Kasich of engaging in collusion.

No, Cruz and Kasich did not engage in collusion much less do anything illegal. They made a deal. Hasn't Trump been telling us he's great at making deals? Apparently not so much.

Can Trump honestly tell us his people weren't trying to make a deal with Kasich? If they were, Trump isn't neither much of a negotiator nor does he hire great people.

Of course, the Cruz-Kasich detente will motivate Trump's supporters. But will it expand Trump's base? I doubt it.

If this deal sticks does this mean Kasich becomes Cruz's running mate?

We live in interesting times. Perhaps too interesting.


Here’s Something You Might Want to Read If Caring For a Loved One With Alzheimer’s Disease

By on 4.24.16 | 6:16PM

I want to share something with you that was written by Neil Goldstein, who is my uncle.

A couple of years ago, my Aunt Barbara (to whom he has been married for 48 years) was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. She needs round the clock care and the lion's share of that care is provided by Uncle Neil. Although he does have two home health care workers to assist, he can never be away for too long. In the times when he has visited my Dad (including his 75th birthday) and even during the time he waited with my Mom, brother and sister at Mount Sinai Hospital while Dad underwent emergency triple bypass, Aunt Barbara can be counted on to phone him to ask him when he is coming home.

I wonder if Nancy Reagan experienced any of this during The Gipper's last decade. 

The Best and the Brightest?

By on 4.23.16 | 7:42PM

Check this little vignette of college students stammering over the question of whether thinking you are a different sex than you were born makes you whatever you think you are. If this doesn’t depress you, it should. Could it be that an entire generation of young people has been separated from their cerebral cortexes?

If I were conducting this dreary little exercise, I might have been tempted to ask: “Should a man who thinks of himself as a woman be considered, psychiatrically, any different from a man who considers himself to be Napoleon?”

Shakespeare Has Been Dead 400 Years, But His Works Are Very Much Alive

By on 4.23.16 | 2:08PM

Four hundred years ago today, William Shakespeare died three days shy of his 52nd birthday. 

It is remarkable that four centuries after his passing, his works are being mounted all in theatres all over the world. 

Can anyone imagine any contemporary playwright's work having such an enduring legacy? Will The Vagina Monologues be consigned to the scrap heap of history? While there might be individual plays that will endure for centuries such as Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman or Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night, but none of them was as prolific as Shakespeare.

Blue Jays Slugger Colabello Suspended 80 Games For Positive PED Test

By on 4.23.16 | 2:52AM

Chris Colabello of the Toronto Blue Jays has been suspended for 80 games as a result of a positive test for PEDs.

The positive test actually took place more than a month ago. For his part, Colabello denies knowingly taking PEDs and evidently appealed his suspension to no avail.

Up until now. Colabello has been something of a baseball feel good story. Colabello, a native of Massachusetts who spent much of his childhood in Italy, played for seven seasons with the Worcester Tornadoes in the independent Can-Am League before the Minnesota Twins signed him in 2012. He would make his big league debut with the Twins in 2013 at the age of 29. In 2015, Colabello joined the Jays and had a career year with a .321 batting average, 15 HR & 54 RBI in 101 games with the AL East champions. 

Trump Thugs Warn GOP Delegates: It’s Trump or Death

By on 4.22.16 | 2:23PM

Here's an excerpt from an article in Politico co-written by Eli Stokols & Kyle Cheney concerning the intimidation leveled at delegates to the forthcoming Republican Convention who see fit not to support Donald Trump:

First it was an email warning Steve House, the Colorado GOP chairman, to hide his family members and “pray you make it to Cleveland.” Then there was the angry man who called his cell phone and told him to put a gun down his throat.

“He said, ‘I’ll call back in two minutes and if you’re still there, I’ll come over and help you’,” House recalled.

Since Donald Trump came up empty in his quest for delegates at the Republican state assembly in Colorado Springs nearly two weeks ago, his angry supporters have responded to Trump’s own claims of a “rigged” nomination process by lashing out at Republican National Committee delegates that they believe won’t support Trump at the party’s convention — including House.