Thoughts for Thursday: Literally.

I’m kind of taking a page out of Paul Turner’s playbook this week, though I’ve previously chided him on this blog for his vulgar remarks about coffee and the people (myself included) who love it. Mr. Turner writes a weekly column for the Spokesman-Review, the major newspaper in my beloved hometown. His column is called “The Slice” and it’s usually a whimsical collection of random thoughts – sometimes assembled around a theme, sometimes not.

So for this week, since I wanted to get away from the deep end of the pool and lay off of the Individualism vs. Collectivism rant of late, I thought we’d just do some sort of stream of consciousness style writing.

1. The Doors are Overrated, but They’re Still Awesome.

Just got into town about an hour ago…

Currently, Jefferson Airplane is playing on my “Freelancer” playlist, and while Grace Slick and Co. were awesome, “L.A. Woman” just finished up prior to this, and I have to say, I’ve gone through all kinds of phases with The Doors, but I always come back to loving them. They were a truly unique band who had one of the first “loose cannon” frontmen of all time. Sure, he was a “drunken buffoon” as Lester Bangs (the character) calls him in Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous, but he was intriguing, fearless, and a model for so many rock icons after him, that we can’t discount Jim Morrison’s impact on the world of rock and pop music.

2. The Beatles Are More Overrated, and Not as Awesome.

It took me three Google attempts to find an unaltered (I think) version of this photo. Beatles fans are worse than any Comic-Con subgroup out there when it comes to uber-fandom.

I know I’m going to catch all kinds of shit for this, and I’m sorry, but I just don’t think the Beatles deserve half of the jubilation and laud that they continue to enjoy to this day – over four decades after they did anything significant.

I’ll give you Sgt. Pepper, and Abbey Road. Both of those albums were great. I can even get behind Revolver, to a point. The White Album has its moments, but those accomplishments do not gods make. Sorry to say it, but the Beatles were just a short-lived, better-than-average band from England. Give me the Stones any day.

3. Educational Rant

Individualism vs. Collectivism?
(Sorry… I just couldn’t help myself)

It’s May, which means that across America students are being robbed of precious class time by what we in the business call “testing season.” Here in Washington state, it’s nearly impossible to get any actual instruction done from April through June. If you haven’t started prepping your kids for the Smarter Balanced English Language Assessment by the first of April, you’re way behind.

You have to spend the first two weeks of April reviewing test-taking strategies, reviewing sample questions from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) website, reviewing timed-write test-taking strategies, and all kinds of other things that have nothing to do with anything I consider truly important.

Look, the current public education system is rife with problems. Teachers aren’t paid what they’re worth; quality teachers are put under impossible demand and get burnt out after a few years. Outdated rules and some union policies make it hard to get rid of toxic teachers (and there are a lot of them out there, unfortunately). Our students are showing reduced progress by nearly every significant metric, and we underperform compared to most other civilized nations in the world in core subject areas such as literature, math, and science.

Until we get a complete overhaul of the education system that includes at least the cutting of ties between education funding and local property taxes, the establishment of reasonable national education standards that must be adopted by all 50 states, and a diverse range of assessment opportunities with which students can demonstrate their mastery of the standards, we’ll never have the education system that our children deserve.

That’s all, folks.

Like I said, it was a short one. Still I hope you had some fun with it, or learned a little. Shoot me a comment if you hate my guts now that I’ve blasphemed the Beatles – or don’t, because you’re not going to change my mind. Have a great day, y’all!

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