First, by way of Kevin Baker, we discover the story of representative Rick Roach of the Orange County Board of Education, who found himself stymied by a tenth-grade math test:
- Edumacation: We don’t haz it (The Smallest Minority)
Roach […] was a teacher, counselor and coach in Orange County for 14 years. He was first elected to the board in 1998 and has been reelected three times. A resident of Orange County for three decades, he has a bachelor of science degree in education and two masters degrees: in education and educational psychology. He has trained over 18,000 educators in classroom management and course delivery skills in six eastern states over the last 25 years.
“”I won’t beat around the bush,” he wrote in an email. “The math section had 60 questions. I knew the answers to none of them, but managed to guess ten out of the 60 correctly. On the reading test, I got 62% . In our system, that’s a “D”, and would get me a mandatory assignment to a double block of reading instruction.”
He continued, “It seems to me something is seriously wrong. I have a bachelor of science degree, two masters degrees, and 15 credit hours toward a doctorate.
Sounds like a pretty tough test! Well, I’m always up for a challenge, so with a helpful link in the comments I found the test itself. Here’s the first question:
Tonja and Edward are participating in a jog-a-thon to raise money for charity. Tonja will raise $20, plus $2 for each lap she jogs. Edward will raise $30, plus $1.50 for each lap he jogs. The total amount of money each will raise can be calculated using the following expressions where n represents the number of laps run:
Tonja: 20 + 2n
Edward: 30 + 1.50n
After how many laps will Tonja and Edward have raised the same amount of money?
You have got to be fucking kidding me.
(I find it amusing that when Roach name-dropped his degrees, he neglected to point out that they were education degrees. I’ll leave the interpretation of that fact to the interested reader.)
Next we have a report on the effects of ignorant participants on voting systems:
- A (literally) fishy study on political ignorance (The Volokh Conspiracy)
It turns out that — according to a study done using trained fish of all things — a motivated minority can sway an opposed (but less committed) majority to its point of view much of the time, but when ignorant participants are introduced to the equation they tend to reinforce the majority and disempower the minority.
Translating this result directly to modern politics would be somewhat premature, but it sure explains a lot.