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Reading comprehension

By Tom Toles


Friday rant

"I know you are just a cardboard box full of leaves, and you can't fully understand what I'm saying to you, but the excellent news is you qualify for a $400,000 mortgage on a new home! And don't worry about payments. Housing prices only go up and in two years your home will be worth more than all of Denmark!"

No, nobody could have foreseen that this was a bubble.

And boxes of leaves aside, when you had the financial sector mushrooming to vastly greater proportions of the economy and investment systems structured so that huge returns are expected by ever growing numbers of investors, AFTER the gigantic fees have been raked off, and this is all made possible only by breathtaking levels of leverage, NOBODY suspected that there was systemic danger here? The proprietors of this system said that complicated math took the risk out of the system. Well, that turned out to be, um, wrong. About as exactly wrong as physics allow.

Now we're back to arguing about how big the BONUSES should be. The brilliant part of the bonus argument is that it shifts the conversation safely away from the question of ACCOUNTABILITY. Ah, our precious accountability society. Who built and ran this system? Who ended up rich from it? I don't understand how we're talking about bonuses when I think we should be talking about jail. --Tom Toles



By Tom Toles  | March 26, 2010; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  DC, Education  
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I'm wondering if those changes in scores are "statistically significant??" Maybe someone with the right formula will write in to say something useful about that issue. Also, these scores show results for different groups of children. Any teacher with any experience can verify the fact that each "class" (as in the phrase "the Class of 2009") has its own strengths and weaknesses -- even in a huge district like DC's.

Posted by: dudeupnorth | March 29, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Here's a link to the Examiner cartoon:

Posted by: edlharris | March 27, 2010 12:42 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if the anti-Rhee HQ includes the Washington Examiner cartoonist who showed Miss Rhee standing by her fiance Mr. Kevin Johnson in the face of the IG Walpin report?

Posted by: edlharris | March 27, 2010 12:40 AM | Report abuse

Dear Mr. Toles –

If a picture is worth a 1,000 words and reading comprehension is so important, then I wish you would have read the NAEP report* before drawing your cartoon. This is what you would have learned:

DC 4th grade reading scores:

2003-2005 increase of 3 points, from 188 to 191

2005-2007 increase of 6 points, from 191 to197

2007-2009: increase of 5 points, from 197 to 202

So here are some facts I think you should have considered in order to truly capture the meaning of the reading scores:

The 4th grade reading scores, (like the math scores), have been rising for years before Rhee arrived. Thus, she can not credit her reforms for the rising scores that started under a different superintendent and under the very teachers she has been trying to fire (so far with limited success), in large numbers.

Your cartoon just mentioned “reading scores” going up – omitting lackluster 8th grade reading results, thus seriously misleading your readers.

While the rate of increase in 4th grade reading scores doubled (3% to 6% from ’05 to’07), it decreased 16.6% (from 6% to 5%) since Rhee been here, from ‘07 to’09. Granted, this is something the “Anti-Rhee Headquarters” might say, but it is factual – and facts count, even in cartoons.

Which leads me to wonder if you are working for the “Pro-Rhee HQ” or the Washington Post or if they one and the same.

If not, perhaps in your next Rhee cartoon, you could use this actual Rhee quote* for your caption:

"I don't feel that in good conscience I can say anything and have credibility."

She said it in reference to the union contract negotiations, but I bet you could find other appropriate applications for it.

*references in the order mentioned above:

Posted by: efavorite | March 26, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Anti-RHEE "H.Q.", huh? Got the GPS coordinates for that? I thought not. Or maybe it exists in Second World. Would it be OK to throw a virtual brick through its virtual window?

Since we're speaking of reading comprehension here, Tom, can you say "C-O ... O-P-T-E-D"? Very good, I knew you could!

Posted by: laboo | March 26, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

When the facts don't support your position cartoon propaganda is worth a try. The WaPo just wants a piece of the districts big pr buys.

Posted by: mamoore1 | March 26, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Yes, it's always the fault of those darned teachers, who actually stand up in front of our children and try to educate them, while their unions try to protect them from the excesses of their "leaders" [read: Rhee] whose half-baked policies are always "doomed to success".

Posted by: Fred34 | March 26, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

If I read the report correctly, the improvement in reading began well before Rhee came to the system. Yes, it has continued, but I would hesitate to give her credit for it.

Posted by: williamspaulr | March 26, 2010 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Very funny - just as it is. Good work!

Posted by: GaryEMasters | March 26, 2010 5:21 AM | Report abuse

Believe Tom is trying to say Rhee's actions are responsible for the higher reading scores and the teachers union in the anti Rhee HQ are getting in the way of more improvements

Posted by: carbonhog | March 26, 2010 5:13 AM | Report abuse

Cartonhog, A good point about the teacher's union, seems that they are successful in DC, but teachers in other states are getting hammered. Doesn't pass the smell test.

Posted by: fromthecheapseats | March 26, 2010 12:10 AM | Report abuse

Guess libertarian was the Washington Post word of the day yesterday because Dionne Jr. used the same word libertarian in his column yesterday. Very odd since I can't recall ever reading the word libertarian in the Washington Post?

Posted by: carbonhog | March 25, 2010 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Your lib viewers may have understood this one better if you wrote "teachers union" on the forehead of the dude who needs help reading

Posted by: carbonhog | March 25, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Stats and and polls are only acknowledged when the results are favorable. Or when all else fails manipulate the data. DC reading scores are up or did they lower the standards?

Anti-Rhee HQ, hmmm, if you play the song backwards real slowly it says "aloha, bye, bye, off to a (deserted) island.

Posted by: fromthecheapseats | March 25, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

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