Skip to content

The Sneakiness of HomeAdvisor

Over the last ten days, I have been confronting issues related to a power surge that shot through my home on January 26, 2019, and also discovering that rats built a nest in my water softener system. (They ate the wiring, including part of an electrical wire connected to my water pump.)

In addressing the plumbing issue on February 03, 2019, I found myself in need of a plumber. (Beware of disturbing water bypass valves that have not been called upon to actually bypass water for over a decade.)

I don’t like using the internet to try to locate local home repair businesses. I used to like it, but then came the likes of HomeAdvisor.

Now, what you should know is that I did not realize I had chosen to use HomeAdvisor. However, in November 2018 as I was searching for a local business to bush hog the back of my property, I learned that there are fake business websites, like “Bob’s Bush Hogging,” which advertises being local to Covington, Louisiana, but offers contact by internet only– no address or phone number– and which are fronts for HomeAdvisor.

So, okay. Bob wants only contact by internet, which I did– including providing a brief summary of the work I wanted done.

I entered my info, including address and phone number, and wrote that I was seeking a price quote on the cost of bush hogging the back of my property.

I never heard from Bob. (He was probably busy operating his local bush hog businesses in Madisonville, Tennessee, and Birmingham, Alabama, and Roanoke, Virginia, and probably just about any city that one might enter as a google search with the words, “bush hog.”)

But I did receive a phone call from a man with a lawn care business located about 15 -20 miles away. In his voice mail to me, the man asked for me to return his call and to tell him what kind of lawn care I needed.

He had no idea that I was looking for a quote about bush hogging.

So much for “Bob’s Bush Hogging.”

I also received an email from HomeAdvisor about “my request.” In fact, I received daily emails for a few days in a row pushing me to contact the lawn care business provided by  HomeAdvisor.

I did call the man, and in that call I discovered that HomeAdvisor sent my contact to him– and that HomeAdvisor charged him $25 for the lead.

Here’s the clincher:  He does not do bush hogging and never did.

“Bob” knew my request was specifically for a bush hogging quote, and Bob HomeAdvisor sent my request to a business that was neither local nor capable of satisfying the request, all while charging an unfortunate small business $25 for a false lead.

So, back to my issue of needing a local plumber.

I thought of using the internet.

Then I remembered Bob, and decided I’d rather go a tried and true route: the personal referral.

Which I received from a friend.

And now, plumbing is fixed, and the new water softener system has been rat-proofed to the best of my ability.

As for HomeAdvisor:

I did not appreciate being stealthily directed to HomeAdvisor.

What I have discovered is that HomeAdvisor chooses to identify itself only in fine print below the “send” button. That is sneaky:

By submitting your info on this form, you are agreeing to be contacted regarding your service request by means of telephone, email, or text including using pre-recorded or auto dialed phone calls or text messages to the phone number you have provided, including your wireless number, if provided. Consent to content doesn’t require you to purchase service. Please note you may be matched to one of our trusted partners HomeAdvisor. By using this service, you are bound to HomeAdvisor Terms of Service and Privacy Policy

What is also sneaky is that “one of our trusted partners HomeAdvisor” never clearly identifies the “our.” One has no idea who “our” really is– except that “our” is really only HomeAdvisor.

I also feel for the small businesses that are being charged $25 apiece for referrals that may have nothing to do with the services they offer.

Too many levels of self-serving scam, all leading back to HomeAdvisor.

bob's

______________________________________________________________________________

Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans: Still Too White.

Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans is a French immersion charter school located in New Orleans. According to Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) October 2018 enrollment data (see here and here), Lycée Français’s enrollment included 824 students in grades K-8.

Lycée Français has been criticized in the past for both its predominately white student body and higher socioeconomic draw. From 2012:

Allegations that Lycée Français de la Nouvelle Orléans is structured to favor well-off students and that it does not appropriately serve the city’s African-American population resurfaced on Tuesday afternoon when a series of complaints about the new French-immersion charter school were aired before the state education board in Baton Rouge.

Among the complaints were that the school has failed to follow through on an outreach program to a Central City daycare promised in its charter, that it is using state money to subsidize its private preschool, that students in the school’s new second grade are not being given adequate remedial instruction in French and that state education officials are intentionally ignoring those issues. No action was taken on the complaints, but the board asked its staff to investigate the claims and report its findings next month at a meeting in New Orleans. …

[Louisiana state superintendent John] White said that the state has already expressed its own concerns about the diversity of the school, and that Lycee Francais is making improvement. After an extensive outreach using radio ads and flyers to predominantly black neighborhoods last year during admissions, White said Lycee Francais now has a minority population of about 30 percent. (By comparison, Lycee had about 15 percent nonwhite students last year, Lusher had 48 percent, Audubon Charter had 62 percent and International School had 71 percent; the nonwhite population of New Orleans is about 67 percent.)

Six years later (October 2018), of the 824 students enrolled at Lycée Français, 477 (58%) were white; 135 (16%) were black, and 130 (16%) were Hispanic.

According to October 2018 enrollment data, New Orleans schools in general served a student body that was 7% white (3,316 / 46,178) 82% black (37,977 / 46,178), 7% Hispanic (3,338 / 46,178).

As of October 2018, only 42% of Lycée Français’s student body is economically disadvantaged, as compared with 83% of New Orleans students in general.

Thus, it is easy to see that the student body of New Orleans-based Lycée Français is not close to representing the general demographic of New Orleans students.

Lycée Français is a Type 2 charter, which means that the school was authorized by Louisiana’s state ed board (BESE); as such, stats for the school are not part of the demographic stats for New Orleans charter schools as a whole. This technicality aside, it is clear that Lycée Français is allowed to enroll students in a manner that biases its enrollment in favor of white and Hispanic students and against the city’s black students.

Why might this be so?

Well, as a Type 2 charter school, Lycée Français is allowed to draw students from across the state. Now, Lycee Francaise does note on its eligibility and priority page for prospective parents that as a Type 2 school, it has a “legal obligation to reflect the local community.” But there is more to the story.

According to Lycée Français’s FAQs, students in first grade and up must pass a French proficiency test to enroll.

That means that only pre-K and K students can enroll without knowledge of French.

Lycée Français does offer a “tuition-free” pre-K. However, LDOE’s October 2018 stats include no info on this option:

Tuition-free Pre-K4 (Cecil J. Picard LA4 Early Childhood Program)
Eligibility: Louisiana Residents.
Priority:

  1. Applicants who qualify as Economically Disadvantaged (up to 67% of available seats)
  2. Siblings of current students
  3. All other eligible applicants

There is also a tuition-based pre-K:

Tuition-based Pre-K4
Eligibility: Louisiana Residents. 2017-2018 annual tuition is $4,975.00.
Priority:

  1. Applicants with IEPs (not including for Gifted and Talented)
  2. Siblings of current students
  3. All other applicants

Note also that students who try to attend Lycée Français as kindergarteners who did not participate in the tuition-free pre-K are a lesser enrollment priority:

Kindergarten
Eligibility: Louisiana Residents. Tuition-free Pre-K4 students are granted automatic entry to Kindergarten.
Priority:

  1. Applicants who qualify as Economically Disadvantaged (up to 67% of available seats)
  2. Siblings of current students
  3. All other applicants

Beyond kindergarten, the French proficiency exam kicks in:

Grades 1-9
Eligibility: Louisiana residents who pass an assessment of French language proficiency.
Please see review document for details on testing-in eligibility | DOWNLOAD
Priority:

  1. Applicants who qualify as Economically Disadvantaged (up to 67% of available seats)
  2. Siblings of current students
  3. All other applicants

So, there are lost of hoops here, but there used to be more. Consider this archived eligibility/priority page from December 29, 2015:

Tuition-free Pre-K4 (Cecil J. Picard LA4 Early Childhood Program)
Eligibility: Louisiana Residents who meet these qualifications and attend an open house or tour, or participate in a discussion with Lycée staff (in person or via phone) regarding the mission and curriculum of the school.
Priority:

  1. Applicants with IEPs
  2. Siblings of current students
  3. All other eligible applicants.

Tuition-based Pre-K4
Eligibility: Louisiana Residents who attend an open house or tour, or participate in a discussion with Lycée staff (in person or via phone) regarding the mission and curriculum of the school. 2015-2016 annual tuition is $4,580.00.
Priority:

  1. Siblings of current students
  2. Applicants who meet these qualifications (up to 67% of available seats)
  3. All other applicants

Kindergarten
Eligibility: Louisiana Residents that attend an open house or tour, or participate in a discussion with Lycée staff (in person or via phone) regarding the mission and curriculum of the school. Students in LA4 program gain automatic entry to Kindergarten.
Priority:

  1. Siblings of current students
  2. Applicants who meet these qualifications (up to 67% of available seats)
  3. All other applicants

Grades 1-6
Eligibility: Louisiana residents that attend an open house or tour, or participate in a discussion with Lycée staff (in person or via phone) regarding the mission and curriculum of the school and pass an assessment of French language proficiency.
Priority:

  1. Siblings of current students
  2. Applicants who meet these qualifications (up to 67% of available seats)
  3. All other applicants

Open house attendance as an admission requirement was mentioned on page 45 of the school’s 2010 charter application. So was the expectation that parents attend a classroom observation beginning in year 2 of the school’s operation.

These requirements can intimidate parents and also put those who cannot miss work at a disadvantage. Even a mandatory phone call might be too much.

When school choice produces schools with demographics at odds with the communities in which they are located, one can know that those schools have far more qualifiers for entry that do local, board-run, neighborhood schools.

In such cases, the charter schools themselves have the advantage in the game of “choice.”

Still, Lycée Français is trying, n’est-ce pas?

Or maybe the greater community perceives the school itself as the outsider. It does not seem that those chartering Lycée Français polled the community to see if and how the school might complement community needs and desires.

So, when will the demographics of Lycee Francaise become truly representative of the general student body of the city in which it is located?

Pas de sitôt, mon amies. Pas de sitôt.

IMG_1423

____________________________________________________________________________________

Interested in scheduling Mercedes Schneider for a speaking engagement? Click here.

.

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

 

Here We Go: Another Billionaire Push to “Remake” K12 Ed from the Koch Network

Some more billionaire experimentation with K12 ed, as the January 29, 2019, Washington Post reports (sort of— guinea pig districts still not revealed)– this time by the American legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) money funnel, Charles Koch:

THE BIG IDEA:

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — The donor network led by billionaire industrialist Charles Koch will launch a new organization next month to focus on changing K-12 education as we know it.

The effort will begin as a pilot project focused on five states with a combined school-age population of 16 million kids, but officials said Monday that they aren’t ready to identify them yet because they’re still finalizing partnerships with some of the country’s leading educational organizations.

The still-unnamed entity purportedly plans to focus on three buckets: changing public policy to address “the root causes” of failing schools, developing new technologies to promote individualized learning, and investing in teachers and classrooms.

The announcement came Monday at the end of a three-day seminar where 634 donors who have each committed to contribute at least $100,000 annually to Koch-linked groups gathered under palm trees at a luxury resort in the Coachella Valley.

The article later has the phrase, “questions their motives” in the same paragraph as’ “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has been a longtime ally”– which does nothing to bolster confidence in this billionaire, the-world-is-our-laboratory, uh-oh:

[Koch chairman Brian] Hooks recognizes that many will question their motives, but he said the goal is to “really shake things up” by “coming alongside concerned teachers” to “find a better way.” Teachers union leaders, who are closely aligned with the Democratic Party, have accused the Koch groups of trying to undermine traditional public schools. Koch and his allies say the system is broken and requires wholesale changes. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has been a longtime ally of the network.

Then, there’s “major Koch donor, Stacy Hock,” who adds, “Education should be getting way, way better and way, way cheaper, but the opposite is happening.”

Better and cheaper.

I’m sure that’s what billionaires look for in seeking schools for their own children.

If that were the case, then Sidwell Friends and Exeter Academy would have installed drive-thrus years ago.

mcd-drive-thru.jpeg

But there’s more. Tell me this is not an awful analogy:

Hock said the new Koch initiative, as it ramps up, will identify what’s working at the local level and push for those things to be replicated elsewhere. “What we’re seeing all across the country are little flames,” she said. “What I don’t yet know is how to throw gasoline on all those flames.”

Throwing gas on flames. 

At school.

thinker facepalm

_______________________________________________________________________________

Interested in scheduling Mercedes Schneider for a speaking engagement? Click here.

.

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

 

My Firsthand Lesson on the Importance of Appropriately-Regulated Electricity

This has been quite the twenty-four hours.

On the evening of January 26, 2019, I was sitting in my recliner, watching, TV, polishing my nails, enjoying a movie, and considering some topics about which I might blog, when I heard this incredible *POP* behind me, and immediately, most of my electricity went off. Now, the weird part was that the night lights worked, and my microwave indicated needing the clock to be set even as the stove beneath it was dead.

I went outside to try to trip the breakers, and when I came in, same strangeness of only minor lights on. I walked down the hall and flipped the light switch, and the light came on after wavering a moment.

I tried the master bedroom light; it came on then *POP*, so I cut it off.

By this time, I could see a sort of smoky vapor in the hallway, so I cut that light off and placed an emergency call to the electric company.

Before the electrician arrived, electricity came on full force in my house, and with it, *POP* *POP* *POP*….

I rushed outside in short order to kill the main breaker. And I thought that I might have just lost my TV to an electrical overload.

When the electrician arrived, he put a spotlight on the transformer to my house.

A wire had come loose.

There is was, in the moonlight, dangling.

Apparently that was causing power surges throughout my home.

The pole and transformer had just been replaced the previous week. At that time, the workers cut my land line, so I had no internet. I do have a temporary phone cable running across my yard. I looks like I am pilfering phone service from an unsuspecting neighbor.

Thirty minutes later, the repair was complete, and electricity flowed at the stable and appropriate wattage.

But I had lost a few conveniences: My landline phone, answering machine, modem, alarm clock, over-the-range microwave, and home theater system all bit the power-surge dust.

Neither my cell nor either of my computers was plugged in, I am happy to say.

And my house did not catch fire, and I did not get electrocuted, which has me particularly grateful and incredibly relieved.

However, for this week, it seems, I will be unable to blog in the comfort of my own home, and I will be working to put my home back in order. (I will file a claim with the electric company for reimbursement.)

I could not help thinking about a learning curve for the electrician who wired my transformer and those who let that person do so:

“Well, Bob, you’ve got to learn sometime. This one’s on you. Give it a go.”

As I inventoried the working order of all things electrical in my home, I also learned that rats had made a nest in my water softener system in my shed and had eaten through the wiring, destroying it and creating another issue requiring my attention, including dealing with a rat’s nest. But that is another story.

There is something else about this electrical situation’s occurring on January 26, 2019:

Three years ago to the day, on January 26, 2016, I learned from the elderly tenants in my house in Indiana that it burned down whan a space heater fell on the bedroom carpet when no one was in the room. (I thank God that no one was hurt, and my tenants and I worked together with the insurance company to both pay off my two mortgages and provide my now-former tenants with a newly renovated house of their own in their twilight years.)

So, if it seems that I am less active online for a bit, know that I am not able to blog from home right now and that I am just doing a little cleanup on Aisle Schneider.

img_1418

__________________________________________________________________________

Interested in scheduling Mercedes Schneider for a speaking engagement? Click here.

.

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

 

Denver Teacher Strike Scabs Could Include Central Office Personnel

Denver Public Schools (DPS) is on the verge of a strike, which may be delayed for as long as several months, as it turns out, because DPS has called upon the state to intervene.

Still, the threat of a strike looms.

As such, DPS superintendent Susana Cordova and the DPS board have a plan in place to pressure central office staff to become scabs. From the January 25, 2019, Denver Post:

A memo from DPS Superintendent Susana Cordova this week alerted central office workers that all non-essential district operations at the central office will be suspended until a strike is resolved, and everyone will be expected to work in schools, whether that be in substitute teaching roles, working on lunch duty or being a hall monitor. …

A “minimal number” of central office employees who are needed to keep the district operating, such as those involved in payroll and security, would be notified by their supervisor to continue their roles in the event of a strike, Cordova wrote in her memo to staff.

Those with an active teaching or administrative license were told to support in classrooms. Central office employees have the option to obtain a guest teaching license paid for by the district or do non-instructional work like helping serve students lunch and patrolling the hallways.

“We ask that those with school-facing instructional roles, such as curriculum specialists or ELA partners, obtain their guest teaching license,” Cordova wrote. …

District officials already have begun a hunt for substitute teachers as the impending strike looms, targeting furloughed workers who are out of their jobs because of the government shutdown and letting job candidates know the district will be reimbursing associated paperwork and licensing fees and “expediting everything.”

Note how school choice becomes the irony (hypocrisy?) in this forced-scab situation:

Tay Anderson, a restorative practice coordinator at Denver’s North High School, said people from central administration are upset by the mandate.

“They are upset because they’re being forced to do something that’s against their will and that’s not their job,” Anderson said. “Some of those people have never been in a classroom. Some have been removed from the classroom for years. I don’t think it’s OK whatsoever to tell your employees you’re either going to go into a school or you’re going to be fired. We can’t be a district that proclaims school choice and then doesn’t give our employees a choice.”

Indeed, in 2017, Chalkbeat noted that “portfolio”-styled DPS is more a charter district than a traditional school district.

In the wake of the DPS strike, Denver’s charter schools have taken to “reassuring parents” that Denver’s charter schools will “tackle pay” and remain open– which could be particularly tricky given that some Denver charters share space with schools that will involved in the strike. From the January 23, 2019, Chalkbeat:

The day after news that Denver teachers union members had voted to strike, Denver’s largest charter school operators reassured families their schools will keep operating as usual and sought to highlight their own efforts to better compensate teachers.  …

Teachers at Denver’s 60 charter schools are not union members and won’t be going on strike.

But around the nation, unions have started to organize charter teachers, and the issue of teacher pay and how schools are funded has drawn more public attention.

While classes at charter schools wouldn’t be directly affected by a Denver strike, any labor action will still touch those students and their families. Many Denver charters share space with district-operated schools in district-owned buildings….

Leaders from both Denver charter school networks say their efforts on teacher compensation are in response to broader state funding challenges and not connected to the DPS negotiations or the potential for a Denver strike.

Denver charter operators’ reassurance reported above came one day after the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) voted to strike, as noted in the January 22, 2019, Denver Post:

Denver teachers have voted to strike in the name of fair wages, marking the first time educators in Colorado’s largest school district have agreed to walk out of their classrooms in 25 years.

The results of voting by the teachers union — the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, which represents about two-thirds of Denver Public Schools’ 5,600 educators — were announced Tuesday night following the culmination of balloting that began on Saturday.

“Tonight, Denver teachers overwhelmingly agreed to strike,” Rob Gould, the union’s lead negotiator, said at a press conference. “Ninety three percent voted to strike. They’re striking for better pay. They’re striking for our profession. And they’re striking for Denver students.”

Contentious negotiations over a new contract governing Denver teachers’ pay scale played out in marathon bargaining sessions over the last two weeks, and stretched back over 14 months. In the end, the district and union were about $8 million apart.

Even though DPS has appealed to the state to intervene in the Denver teachers’ strike, and even though Colorado governor Jared Polis agreed to informally meet with both DPS and the union, there is no word yet from Polis as to whether his office will proceed with formal interventions.

It also remains to be seen how the DPS central office staff will handle Cordova’s forced-scab mandate.

img_1417

___________________________________________________________________________

Interested in scheduling Mercedes Schneider for a speaking engagement? Click here.

.

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

 

Teacher Discounts in New Orleans and Online via “Teach New Orleans” Site

In my surfing the net, investigating varied developments in K12 education, I discovered that the pro-choice org, New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO), has created a centralized site for individuals interested in applying to teach in one of New Orleans’ charter schools: Teach New Orleans.

(Note that the Orleans Parish School Board–OPSB– does not directly run traditional public schools; OPSB now only monitors– and “emergency revokes”— all charter schools.)

Lots of jobs listed, both teaching and admin.

For the teaching positions, experience (at least two years, it seems) is preferred– a snub to the passionate-yet-inexperienced Teach for America (TFA) recruits.

Even for assistant principal and principal jobs, classroom teaching experience is required– in this ReNew asst principal/principal ad, that means five years in the classroom plus two years as an administrator.

Sounds like disruption is looking for some stability via hiring experienced personnel.

But what I really wanted to post is this Teach New Orleans page of “teacher perks,” a compilation of businesses, both in New Orleans and online, offering discounts to teachers. Businesses fall into the following categories:

  • attractions
  • clothing
  • food & drink
  • general
  • news & books
  • technology
  • travel
  • wellness

Teachers, check it out and get yourselves some discounts by way of school choice promoters.

apple with a bite out

_____________________________________________________________________________

Interested in scheduling Mercedes Schneider for a speaking engagement? Click here.

.

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

 

Research Tutorial on Locating Obscure, 2008, Common-Core-Related Paper

The purpose of this post is to offer a glimpse into how I located an obscure document once my originally-posted link was deemed dead. In this case, my efforts led to a solution that I thought I would share in case it might help other researchers, not only with the research process, but also with access to the actual document of interest.

magnifying glass

On May 05, 2014, I wrote a post about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in which I linked to a 2008 paper that CCSS creators David Coleman and Jason Zimba wrote on behalf of the Carnegie Commission. At some point, the link I originally posted to the 2008 Coleman-Zimba-Carnegie paper went dead. (One receives a privacy error message, but bypassing the safety warning only yields the site’s home page.)

The paper itself is an obscure one; I was first made aware of it from reading this 2013 interview that Zimba did with Frederick Hess:

Rick Hess: So how did you get involved with the Common Core?
Jason Zimba: I was named to the writing team for the Common Core State Standards after I’d participated in an earlier group which the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association (NGA) had convened to produce the “College and Career Readiness Standards” in 2009. At the time, I was a faculty member in physics and mathematics at Bennington College. But I’d had a lot of experience working with math standards prior to academia because I had co-founded an education technology company, and I’d never really stopped thinking about those issues. In 2008 I co-authored a paper with David Coleman about standards for the Carnegie Commission. But I didn’t just want to write a position paper-I wanted to help address some of the problems we had identified.

It is a paper worth archiving because it is a central document in demonstrating that CCSS was in large part a Coleman-Zimba brainchild. It also shows Coleman’s and Zimba’s uninformed arrogance and naiveté about classroom teaching.

Therefore, when a colleague contacted me on January 15, 2019, asking for a pdf of the paper because the link had gone dead, I was sorry to hear it because I knew when I found that link in 2014, I had not seen a pdf of the paper, nor had I seen an alternative site featuring a link to the paper.

In trying to retrieve the paper, I tried bypassing the security warning on the link I originally posted. No dice. Then, I tried using the Wayback Machine to find an archived copy of the link.  Again, no dice.

My third course of action was to search for a pdf of the link by googling such terms, as “2008 Coleman Zimba Carnegie pdf” (I googled numerous variations, all including “pdf” as part of the search term.  I did find this 2009 Carnegie Corporation report that referenced in a footnote (see page 32) what seems to be the same Coleman-Zimba paper, but from 2007:

We endorse the proposition, advanced by David Coleman and Jason Zimba in a 2007 memorandum to the Commission, that “standards must be made significantly fewer in number, significantly clearer in their meaning and relevance for college and work, and significantly higher in terms of the expectations for mastery of what is covered.” (footnote) 35

(footnote) 35 David Coleman and Jason Zimba (2007). ”Math and Science Standards That Are Fewer, Clearer and Higher to Raise Achievement at All Levels.” Prepared for the Carnegie-IAS Commission on Mathematics and Science Education. The Commission’s thinking in this area has also been informed by the work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, whose leadership and support have enabled extensive investigation of standards and how they could be reshaped to foster school improvement more effectively.

I think Carnegie got the 2007 date wrong and that the above is a reference to the 2008 paper I was searching for. However, the reference did not lead me to a copy of the paper itself.

One lead I kept getting was the reference to the Coleman-Zimba paper in my own book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?:

Coleman, David, & Zimba, Jason. (2008.) Math and science standards that are fewer, clearer, higher to raise student achievement at all levels. Opportunity Equation. Carnegie Corporation of New York Institute for Advanced Study [Report]. Retrieved from dev.opeq.blenderbox.com/standards-and-assessments/math-science-standards-are-fewer 

So, I decided to see what result I would get by googling the first part of the end note reference above, word for word, as such: “Coleman, David, and Zimba, Jason. (2008.) math and science standards that are fewer, clearer, higher.”

I hit on a 2016 book, In Common No More, and the same reference, but with a different link (and likely the original link):

http://opportunityequation.org/standards-and-assessments/math-science-standards-are-fewer

Now, it so happens that the above link is also dead (“404 Not Found”); however, unlike the link I referenced, this link is archived via Wayback Machine; I went for the oldest archived copy, dated June 17, 2013 (which appears to be the only actual archived copy of this paper yet in existence):

And, for the sake of posterity, and to help prevent this 2008 Coleman-Zimba-Carnegie work from slipping into obscurity ever again, I have posted the entire paper below (except for a couple of graphics, which seem to have bit the dust). Feel free to copy, paste, and create your own file:

David Coleman, Student Achievement Partners
Jason Zimba, Bennington College
2008

Prepared for the Carnegie-IAS Commission on Mathematics and Science Education

Introduction

In early 2000, we started an organization called The Grow Network. Our mission was to provide large school systems with better tools for using assessment to inform instruction. To design these tools, we worked closely with district superintendents and state school officers across the country. But we spent even more time working with hundreds of teachers, principals and professional developers, visiting schools in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and other cities. Our initial goal was humble: just get the existing score data out into the field more effectively. Achieving this proved far more difficult than we imagined. But when our first printed reports went out into the field, more than a few teachers told us that it was the first time they’d ever seen all of their students’ scores on one page.

We also wanted to help teachers use the test scores to inform their standards-based instruction. Now we encountered some truly thorny problems, and we made some sobering discoveries as well. Instructional leaders told us that their teachers didn’t always understand the standards well enough to teach them. Principals in our focus groups often proved incapable of drawing appropriate conclusions from hypothetical score numbers we showed them. And when we began to develop our own content keyed to the standards, we were floored by the magnitude of the task schools were facing. Teachers wanted all the information they could get, but the value was limited, because behind every number was a forest of detailed content areas. With so many standards in play, standardized tests would have to be prohibitively long in order to assess them well.

Now we believe that a consensus is emerging around the need to revise math standards, as evidenced by recent and current efforts…

What we saw convinced us that the math standards at the heart of the system were far too vast to effectively guide instruction and assessment across large school systems. Now we believe that a consensus is emerging around the need to revise math standards, as evidenced by recent and current efforts by NCTM, Florida, Pennsylvania and Washington to clarify and distill their standards. Science standards have a shorter history, but the National Academy’s recent work suggests that the time to get those right is also now. In what follows, we discuss these trends and attempt to sketch a vision for how to proceed. We offer these suggestions not as representatives of the organizations to which we belong, but rather in our private capacities as concerned citizens and observers of American education.

We invite the Commission to consider taking the following actions:

  1. Issue a call for more pragmatic analyses of what readiness for work actually requires, and what this implies for the teaching of math and science.
  2. Outline a program for dramatically raising the number and diversity of students performing at the highest levels.
  3. Evaluate deliberate pracice as a means of achieving a significant increase in the number and diversity of high performers and also as a guide for the reform of secondary math and science instruction altogether

to ensure standards that are fewer, clearer, and higher.

Although these actions are interrelated, they are not intended to form a comprehensive proposal for reform. Nor is any one of these actions being put forth as a magic bullet. The hope, rather, is that elements of any or all of these ideas may prove valuable as part of the Commission’s overall thinking.

In the following we offer some rationale and commentary on each of the four actions. In some cases, we attempt to stake out a position in a way that invites counterarguments; in other cases, we do not argue a position, but only attempt to raise issues for debate and consideration.

Action 1. Call for states to distill content standards in math and science so that they are fewer, clearer and higher.

The rationale for Action 1 begins with some fairly detailed remarks about math standards. For reasons of space, the remarks about science will not be as extensive. However, to the greatest extent possible, we intend for all of the suggestions described here to be understood as recommendations about both the math standards and the science standards.

A consensus seems to be emerging around the need to distill math standards. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics has recently published Curriculum Focal Points for Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 8 Mathematics: A Quest for Coherence (NCTM, 2006), which aims to distill math standards in grades K-8. At first glance, NCTM’s Focal Points appear to make math standards fewer and clearer. However, the Focal Points actually leave the existing NCTM Standards intact, and are meant to extend the existing standards documentation. Thus, while the Focal Points do represent “an important, initial step in advancing collaborative discussions about what mathematics students should know and be able to do” (NCTM, 2006, p. 11), the Focal Points do not admit that the best way to solve the problem of “long lists” (NCTM, 2006, p. 1) is to shorten them.

The selections made in the Focal Points are principled, thoughtful and helpful. But while the Focal Points may show the way, they will not automatically lead the way to shorter math standards for the states. A case in point is Florida and its “Big Ideas” initiative. Florida has aligned this distillation effort to the Focal Points (FL, 2007, p. 13). Yet Florida’s Big Ideas have not made the Florida math standards any fewer, any clearer or any higher. Indeed, in addition to the Big Ideas, the Florida standards still contain plenty of “Supporting Ideas.” These, we are told, are “not less important than the Big Ideas” (FL, 2007, p. 13). But if everything is still required, does introducing a hierarchy clarify the teacher’s task, or obscure it?

Revising the standards in ways like these will only make existing problems worse. The standards must be made significantly fewer in number, significantly clearer in their meaning and relevance for college and work, and significantly higher in terms of the expectations for mastery of what is covered.

As educators focus overwhelmingly on bringing students to proficiency, there is little incentive to increase the number of our students doing advanced math and science, especially in K-8. Of equal concern is the way the current system prevents most students from mastering anything at all. Even if they reach the proficient level in every standard, they will be a long way from mastery of any of them—with no realistic way to get there, because of the insistence on covering everything.

What’s more, our current approach is not positioning us to respond to international competitive pressure. As Schmidt et al. report (Schmidt et al., p. 2):

A fewer/clearer/higher approach should help our nation’s students compete better once they enter the workforce. Instead of a weak recall of a vaster terrain, perhaps it is more effective to have true mastery of the essential parts of math and scientific thinking, so that our citizens will readily apply them to jobs we cannot even yet envision today.

A Closer Look at Focal Points and Big Ideas: When Less is Still More

We believe an innovation is required in the development process for math and science standards. The process should attend to relevance in more pragmatic ways, and there should be procedural safeguards against the “pork barrel” effect that occurs when multiple stakeholders all advocate for pet topics.

Without a new way to think about the process, attempted revisions will fail to make a real break with the current standards. Evidence for this can be seen in the NCTM Focal Points and Florida’s “Big Ideas.”

Procedurally speaking, the Focal Points used a three-part “filter” to identify focal points in mathematics (NCTM, 2006, p. 5):

  1. Is it mathematically important, both for further study in mathematics and for use in applications in and outside of school?
  2. Does it “fit” with what is known about learning mathematics?
  3. Does it connect logically with the mathematics in earlier and later grade levels?

Identifying standards that pass through this filter is a good start, but taking the next step requires that we examine, and generally discard, those standards which fail to pass the test. Along these lines, one could envision adding even more filters, such as:

4. Can it wait until later grades? And should it?

For example, can much of formal geometry be put off until middle school? And should it? Figure 1 shows the Focal Points for Grade 1 math (NCTM, 2006, p. 13).

fn35_Coleman-ZimbaGraphic-1

Figure 1. NCTM Focal Points for Grade 1 math (from NCTM, 2006, p. 13).

The Florida math standards also list three “Big Ideas” in Grade 1. By design (FL, 2007, p. 13), they resemble the Focal Points a good deal (FL, 2007, pp. 21-23):

BIG IDEA 1: Develop understandings of addition and subtraction strategies for basic addition facts and related subtraction facts.

BIG IDEA 2: Develop an understanding of whole number relationships, including grouping by tens and ones.

BIG IDEA 3: Compose and decompose two-dimensional and three-dimensional geometric shapes.

A child who leaves first grade without mastering the first two ideas is in serious trouble. The stakes are much lower for the third idea. Addressing the geometry strand in a later grade would give first-graders more time to solidify the must-have concepts at the beginning of their trajectory in mathematics. Doing so would also significantly clarify the mission of first-grade teachers. And doing so would allow teachers to invest more in refining their key curriculum materials over time, and developing their craft in teaching the subtle concepts of numeration.

To be sure, engaging students in geometry early gives them a useful and powerful form for expressing mathematical ideas, and multiple forms of knowing are often the path to deeper understanding. But high-quality teaching of early numeracy will always involve multiple representations, including spatial ones, and this would not disappear if Big Idea 3 were to move.

Arguments about geometry aside, an observation made earlier bears repeating: the Big Ideas as a whole have not, in fact, shortened the Florida standards at all. Making fewer, clearer and higher standards a reality in the states will not happen without some new thinking about the standards development process itself.

The next filter is the converse of #4:

5. Can it be started earlier, and is there a benefit in starting earlier?

For example, if a significant amount of the formal geometry moves out of early grades, then can a few things profitably move in—such as the strategy of using boxes or other symbols to represent unknown numbers? Another scenario: If most of the formal polynomials move out of Grades 7 and 8, then can certain useful elements of “calculus” reasoning move in? For example, Florida secondary benchmark MA.912.C.3.3 (FL, 2007, p. 94) is to “Decide where functions are decreasing and increasing….” This broadly applicable idea could be introduced well before high school. And yet, it is not even a “sunburst” benchmark in Florida. (Sunbursts indicate benchmarks that are required for all students.)

Applying filter #4 would likely result in large quantities of material moving later in time, with some of the material moving all the way into the high school years, where it might no longer even be required for all. Meanwhile, a small number of powerful ideas would move earlier under filter #5.

The next filter asks us to take a hard look at claims that any particular piece of content is truly necessary for work and college.

6. Is it truly necessary for college and work and thus should be provided for all, or an element of advanced math for only some students to pursue?

The viewpoint of this filter is that for each separate item in the standards, it should be possible to articulate the reasons, and the evidence, for why that item specifically is important for all. (This theme is pursued further in the next section below.)

Filter #6 would put substantial pressure on standards like Florida Benchmark MA.912.A.4.4, “Divide polynomials by monomials and polynomials with various techniques, including synthetic division.” (See Figure 2.)

fn35_Coleman-ZimbaGraphic-2

Figure 2. Benchmark MA.912.A.4.4 from the Florida math standards (FL, 2007, p. 84). The sunburst symbols at left “denote benchmarks that include content that all students should know and be able to do. These benchmarks are considered to be appropriate for statewide assessment.” (p. 76)

One has to wonder how much time, money and effort will be spent to ensure that every student in Florida can divide polynomials by polynomials using synthetic division. And yet, the standards offer no specific justification for this benchmark. Our burden of proof needs to shift so that each piece of content earns its way in.

One final filter is

7. Is this content most effectively learned years in advance of its use, or closer to the actual moment of application in work or college?

Identifying what students need to know is one thing, but there is also the question of when they need to know it—and when it is most appropriately learned. Action 2 below invites the commission to explore this distinction in the context of some examples.

After the “filtering” process is carried out, there is still another crucial step to take. The standards that pass through the filters should be written in a way that makes transparent the depth of mastery envisioned. The idea is to write the standards so that proficiency essentially implies command. For example, instead of saying,

“Students use exponential notation” the standard could say “students use exponential notation, without prompting, when it is valuable to do so.

Tasks and assessments would have to be rich enough to allow students to display these capacities. Tasks such as “Write 0.0000352 in scientific notation” would not suffice, nor would cues such as “Express your answer in scientific notation.”

The Situation in Science

In common with mathematics, science standards and science curriculum suffer from a “kitchen sink” problem. The leading textbooks in introductory college physics courses run to 1,000 or even 1,200 pages. Physics educators and researchers in physics education now argue that fewer topics will lead to better outcomes; but just as in K-12, no process seems to exist for bringing the stakeholders to agreement on a new approach.

Just as the Focal Points may help show the way towards distilling math standards, the National Academy’s report Taking Science to School (Duschl et al., 2007) is a key starting point for scientific subjects. Here we draw attention to the report’s second recommendation:

Recommendation 2: The next generation of standards and curricula at both the national and state levels should be structured to identify a few core ideas in a discipline and elaborate how those ideas can be cumulatively developed over grades K-8. (Duschl et al., from the Executive Summary)

However, as the case of the Focal Points and the Big Ideas illustrate, the next generation of standards may end up resembling the previous generation, absent some hard-headed thinking about the standards development process.

Getting Advanced Content into the Math and Science Standards

Currently, the standards framework takes the form “All students must learn…”. We would like to suggest bringing some nuance to this dictum. Imagine, for example, a content framework with two categories:

Category 1. Everyone learns…

Category 2. Everyone can learn…

Category 1 asks us to identify those ideas, understandings, skills and powers from math and science that are so clearly crucial to an educated and productive life that everyone must know them. Here one thinks of ideas like proportional reasoning, drawing valid inferences from data, algorithmic thinking, and formulating and testing hypotheses.

Keeping Category 1 manageable allows Category 2 to come to life. Everyone can learn…complex numbers, matrix multiplication, organic chemistry.

What hope is there of inserting topics like these into the standards-based system we have today? And even if we did, what good would it do? Distilling the standards in Category 1 is what makes it possible to envision raising achievement for a large group of people.

The suggestion here is not that every student in the United States would actually learn advanced topics. Many, perhaps most, would prefer not to take on the sustained discipline that is required to succeed with this material. Rather, when we say that “Everyone can learn,” what we mean is that structures are in place to ensure that everyone who wants to, and who remains committed to doing what it takes, can.

The important questions for Category 2 now become questions about what those structures will have to be like. Howcan we ensure that everyone willing and able to do what it takes can learn highly sophisticated material in every grade? Who will teach it, and what structures or institutions must exist for this to happen? How should we think about accountability for these subjects?

The Category 1/Category 2 distinction is emphatically not intended to evoke a two-track system of mathematical haves and have-nots. For one thing, a hallmark of the distinction we are making is that while the material in Category 2 is technically advanced, the material in Category 1 is profound. There is no hierarchy of value in this distinction. Nor is there even a hierarchy of difficulty: Students who soak up advanced techniques will often not have an easy time with the infinitely rich material in Category 1.

Closing thoughts on benefits that could be derived from fewer, clearer and higher standards are:

  • Fewer topics will allow more time for in-depth treatments, more time for practice, and more time for students of different learning styles to grasp the material.
  • Fewer topics will also make standards-based tests more reliable. Currently there are so many standards that a reliable evaluation usually cannot be given for each one, due to the small number of test items in each standard. With fewer standards, tests would provide much more useful and reliable information on students’ strengths and weaknesses to support instruction.
  • As long as state standards in reading and math remain vast, aligning instruction is doomed from the start; textbooks become sprawling and assessments remain invalid.
  • Briefer standards will allow more energy to be devoted to refining shared lesson plans and assignments, refining content-specific approaches to professional development, and refining resources for evaluating student work in specific standards.
  • Briefer standards will likely bring different states’ standards closer together, leading to greater ease of transfer for best practices.
  • Life and work present unexpected, unpredictable challenges. Non-standards-based exams like the SAT reward a kind of flexibility and power that we should be seeking to instill in everyone. Raising standards should mean giving assessments that not only assure topic proficiency but also put students off-balance, asking them to demonstrate a forward stance towards unfamiliar problems. Emphasis on topic coverage has prevented us from focusing on teaching the expert mentality.

The Commission can call for states to revise standards so that they are fewer, clearer and higher. There is already movement in this direction across the country, but the Commission can accelerate it, make it practical, and give it shape. In our efforts to get the standards right—a crucial step, as they drive assessments, text and teacher training—we may continue to get them wrong unless we apply new criteria. We need our leading mathematicians, scientists and educators to do the really hard work of being ruthless about fewer and clearer, at the same time that we need them to be visionary about higher, unlocking the power of math and science to transform personal lives and national possibilities. The Commission can make a powerful case that we need a plan ensuring that everyone reaches much deeper comfort with math and science, even as we allow many more students to do advanced work than is currently the case.

Action 2. Issue a call for more pragmatic analyses of what readiness for work actually requires, and what this implies for the teaching of math and science.

This is a thread from section (1) that deserves further discussion. The American Diploma Project Network (ADP Network), a joint effort by Achieve, The Education Trust, and The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, recently undertook a groundbreaking effort to correlate math standards to readiness for college and work. ADP has found that existing standards and high school exit exams do not ensure readiness for college and work (ADP, 2004). We applaud ADP for taking up this work, but we believe that more pragmatic work still needs to be done to ascertain what math and science is really crucial for the world of work.

Consider the ADP Sample Tasks. The sample tasks were developed in partnership with businesses in order to show how ADP benchmarks figure in the workplace:

The workplace tasks vividly illustrate the practical application of the ‘must-have’ competencies described in the benchmarks themselves, helping states answer questions such as ‘Why do I have to learn this stuff?’ (http://www.achieve.org/node/197)

The task at http://www.achieve.org/node/610 is for a Machine Operator in a chemical company to “Determine the percent concentration by weight of 5g Peters fertilizer and 50g distilled water.” This task is offered as an example of algebra benchmark J1.5. Yet the content given under J1.5 is actually to express 1/x + 1/y in the form (x + y)/xy and to simplify ((a2 − b2)/2b)(6ab/(a + b)) in the form 3a(a − b). The content quoted to illustrate the benchmark significantly overshoots the Sample Task in question.

Is ADP’s Benchmark J1.5 really necessary for Machine Operators? Did the employer who asked for concentrations really mean to sign on for the simplification of rational expressions as well? There seems to be a mismatch here.

We agree with ADP that increasing the number of students who are proficient, without ensuring that they can also meet real-world demands, “will only mislead high school students about their chances for success as adults” (ADP 2004, pp. 5, 6). But we would like to see better evidence than we have now about how manipulating ((a2 − b2)/2b)(6ab/(a + b)) prepares students for real-world demands.

There is a methodological issue here as well. Inviting employers to present their wish lists to the schools will inevitably lead to a bloated set of expectations. It is convenient for employers to ask that their employees know X when they walk in the door; but people may only be ready to learn some Xs when they themselves perceive the need for them. Consider what college students are currently asked to do in order to become doctors. All premedical students have to take a year of physics in college. Medical schools would probably cite content-related reasons for this: “Students have to understand X in order to deal with Y, and they learn about X in physics class.” But as research shows, even students who get high grades in premedical physics classes don’t know the material very well soon after the term ends. This may be a source of alarm to physics instructors, but it hasn’t yet crippled the medical profession. The reason is that the doctor will later pick up whatever he or she needs to know about X as the need arises; and at that time the doctor will learn about X at the level of detail and depth appropriate for his or her particular needs. Having a generalized learning experience several years in advance of this encounter will almost always overshoot the actual content coverage required, and will also lack the intensity of self-motivated, “just in time” learning.

To judge from the full set of Sample Tasks in the ADP report, most high-growth, highly-skilled jobs involve only a small body of technical mathematics content. It appears that a few powerful topics of wide applicability are crucial, such as proportional reasoning, drawing inferences from data, thinking algorithmically, and estimating orders of magnitude as well as orders of importance. The most valuable capacities should be identified and their relevance made clear to everyone.

We recognize how counterintuitive it may sound for a Commission of this caliber to question frequent claims about where math and science are needed in life; to demand that the burden of proof be shifted. But we believe this will be necessary in order to achieve the promise of standards-based education. How many people today can sketch a graph of a relationship, not only when specifically asked to do so in school, but also unprompted and with confidence as a way of attacking a problem on the job? What we teach in math and science needs to become a tool in someone’s hand—one frequently used in times of need. We urge the Commission to chart a course towards a workforce and a society in which virtually everyone is vastly more comfortable using mathematics and thinking scientifically than they are now. We still need to achieve what John Dewey long ago characterized as a “widening spread and a deepening hold of the scientific habit of mind.”

The Commission can stimulate new research on readiness, with some or all of the following features:

  • Readiness should be defined in ways that are more pragmatic than prior efforts with respect to topic coverage, yet more ambitious than prior efforts with respect to depth of mastery of powerful ideas at the core of math and science.
  • Case studies can be made of the most successful individuals working in areas with high numeracy demands, such as finance, insurance, real estate, management consulting and entrepreneurship. Our hypothesis is that the most successful individuals use a few ideas powerfully over and over again to deal with problems of unpredictable variety that arise in their work.
  • Studies should specifically identify which of the existing standards are unimportant for most foreseeable jobs.

Action 3. Outline a program for dramatically raising the number and diversity of students performing at the highest levels.

Our country’s educational effort overwhelmingly focuses on bringing all students to proficiency. Much less systematic thinking, work and funding has been devoted to bringing more students to exceptional levels of performance. States and districts typically do not even report widely the statistics of how many students proceed beyond proficiency, and almost none disaggregate these data to reveal how many minority students achieve the highest levels of performance. When examined, this data reveals a persistent and stark racial, economic and often gender gap in the number of exceptional performers.

A recent research effort by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation (Wyner et al., 2007) has begun to document the way low-income students in the top quartile of academic performance in early grades gradually slip to mediocrity or failure (Wyner et al., pp. 5, 6). They are not on our radar; once proficiency is achieved they are off the charts. Bill Sanders (personal communication) has found that the most neglected subgroup in our schools is high-performing minority students in poor schools, based on a comparison of their later performance to the promise of their early performance. Reversing these currents will require moving beyond a strategy that focuses solely on failing students, and introducing a new emphasis on multiplying the number and composition of exceptional performers.

Taking action on this problem is both a smart thing to do and the right thing to do. The systematic frustration of human potential that is evidently now occurring on a national scale cries out for action on ethical grounds—especially when the dynamics are strongly biased racially and economically. The health of society as a whole suffers when poor and minority communities lose potential leaders. And when we look to the schools to address questions of national competitiveness, keeping our best students on a rising trajectory amounts to wisely conserving a precious natural resource. The United States may not be able to double its population to compete with India and China, but we believe it is possible to double the pool of exceptional performers who will lead and innovate in the decades to come.

Imagine me saving CCSS from its own crumbling history. Ironic. But I want the public to be able to remind CCSS creators of their own blunder, and there is no better way to do so than by referring to foundational documents.

search

_______________________________________________________________________________

Interested in scheduling Mercedes Schneider for a speaking engagement? Click here.

.

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.