Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Sierra Economic and Science Foundation, a Review

The test is straight math. There are typically four problems, and all are solved by math. There are no questions from the life sciences, no questions about chemistry, and minimal participation with physics. I think it should simply be , “The Math Test.” as that is all it appears to test. Advanced story problems, and that’s about it.

The Foundation and its Goals:

I also feel that the test, being only for those who have reached the very top of the high school mathematics curriculum ladder, may not be the most efficient way of funding technological education improvements in the schools.

It merely addresses the high achievers in math, who are most likely from high achieving families in the first place, who probably are well awash with cash. It is a very nice “attaboy” for the winners, who were winners to begin with. It is also a nice tax writeoff for all the participants at the dinner, except of course the county.
Africa did a similar thing way back when. They spent tons of foreign aid on building up their college and university systems. India, on the other hand, concentrated on the lower grades. Look where they both are now.

I think that the money for scholarships might be more broadly spent in rewards for students in the elementary grades for greatest year to year gains, and highest scoring yearly, on a 50:50 basis. 1/2 of the money direct to the kid, 1/2 to a trust fund that will dole it out for either well written learning projects that the kid wants to undertake, any time after 5th grade, or for college. This could be buying a chemistry, life sciences, or mechano like set, or simply a top notch telescope, or a microscope, or a compass, or a multimeter.

I think the Foundation should also add an area to their website, which would be both a listing of supposedly science oriented websites, split into major and then sub categories, and a two blogs, one for adults, and one for kids, where they could comment and rate said sites. The listing for each site could be directly connected to comments about the sites, for easy reference, and a star system with a pro con variable, low to high controversy, could also be implemented.

To a certain extent the Foundation has hijacked the word “tech” and made it synonymous with “math.” I think that this is disingenuous. They need to be much clearer about their mission, and they need to make it very clear, that the entire economic mission as expressed both there and at Rebane's blog includes “dog eat dog” hiring of programmers and engineers from abroad, at the lowest possible rates, as their prime focus for the future. I challenge them to prove otherwise.

There is also an undertone of technocracy and Scientology to their apparent disdain for anyone who has not mastered math at a level that they feel is acceptable. They will, of course, compartmentalize the whole shipwreck, as in “the blog has nothing to do with the foundation which has nothing to do emergency plans for the county which has nothing to do with closing off the government in emergencies except for those certified with a need to know, ” (read their plans for disaster preparedness, vintage 2006, Bird flu). Everything is “separate” from everything else, as befits those who think in terms of problem one and problem two, and never the twain shall meet. Tea Party claims of being non political for the longest time was the classic local example.

As for the economic side of things, economics is a social science, and they have a very one-sided outlook, which seems to be free market capitalism run amuck.

Technology is supposed to serve people, not enslave them, and discussions about which technology to use (say for example, solar) are very much social questions, and indeed, over the long term it may be much smarter to use something that doesn’t “pencil out,” (translation: taxes go up on the rich, PG&E gets nationalized) than to go with coal and oil and gas.

In addition the show is being recorded for NCTV, but will be merely broadcast, and not available for download, nor will it be streamed. I assume not streaming do to the amount of hassle involved in a full director controlled remote, but why no download available? Count it be that the speaker is doing a copyrighted speech, and wants no copies of it floating around? Oh the horror! I thought this was, “for the children.?” Could it also be that all expenses are paid, and maybe a handsome honorarium too, or at least a good writeoff for Cisco? Tell me it isn’t so!

I grant them that there is no “royal road” to math competence (but good well paid and trained teachers can help a lot), and I will grant that competent scientists can earn royalties from patents but it does not give them carte blanche to go around slagging others who have gone through life, and done much for the collective “Good,” without being able to figure out trains, and taxis, and appointments, and walking (see this math problem at Numeracy Nuggets #10 or so at SESF). resulting in “time walked.”

BTW, George, the solution(s) can be worked out on the basis that the appointment could not have been before 3:21, and going from there, for a range of answers, dependent of assumptions about walking speed and taxi speed.

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