AP Testing and Public Education

Now that I’m back in Philly, I’ve spent a part of this morning luxuriously catching up on my RSS feed over a cup of Stump Town coffee (thanks Kristen and Chad!). I see Stanley Fish has a second column up about DH (neither aggravating nor extraordinarily illuminating), and there was some kind of primary in New Hampshire.

But what caught my eye was a Chronicle op-ed by Michael Mendillo, astronomy prof. at BU, on why we should kill the AP testing program:

Offering credit beyond the accomplishment itself (simply because it was not easy to do) is a terrible lesson to give to students. I believe this notion of value-added has led to another version of getting more bang for the buck: the fantastic pressure put on students to get more than “just a bachelor’s degree” for their four years of tuition. Double-majors, multiple minors, and combined bachelor’s/master’s degree programs are becoming so mandatory for the best students that enrichment courses are simply not an option. Is that really the optimal way to achieve an educated citizenry?

Short answer: yes. After all, why should we offer separate degrees? Shouldn’t the quality of the effort be what matters? You could extend this line of thinking to get rid of the distinction between the B.A. & B.S., combine “magna” “suma” and plain-old “cum” laude honors, fold the M.D. into the D.O. — you can see where I’m going. The Ph.D. I was conferred for all that additional work beyond the M.A. didn’t feel like a terrible lesson. Continue reading

The Perils of Certain WordPress Servers

Right now I’m flying back from the Seattle MLA, where I gave two talks, including the one that I’ve been writing about below. I’ll share some of those materials shortly. But I noticed this morning that the server had crashed and it took me some time to sort it out. And I realized that, even though I back up the blog, I’d never backed up the server itself using Amazon’s image-making service. Pretty dumb. That’s fixed now, but I’m also going to figure out a way to set up a test for the website so that I get an email if it goes down again. Probably a good thing to work out as I head into this semester, when I’ll be hosting and supporting an OMEKA server for my Historical Fiction and Fantasy class. More soon.

(As a side note, it’s pretty remarkable that I can now get into my server and get it up and running at twenty thousand feet. Age of wonder, indeed.)