I’ve been a Dylanologist since even before the day me and my fellow 12 year-old friend asked his mom:  “What does ‘juiced in it’ mean?”  The Mom waited, appropriately, before not exactly answering that question.  I applaud her now, forty years removed, for that pause.

Anyway, as one ages and Dylan ages and we go through periods, development as it were, of Dylan fandom, it has come to me that the whole “Rolling Thunder” period and the album “Desire” are the absolute apex of a singer/songwriter whose nadir and toenail is far superior to the work and toenail of just about everyone else walking Planet Earth now or previously.  I realize that means “Blonde on Blonde” is not an apex work…and that is silly even to contemplate.  Still, for me, now, it’s Rolling Thunder.  So, a video and whimper about another one gone away.

First, here’s Bob and the wondrous Scarlet Rivera with “Oh Sister” and “Simple Twist of Fate”

Second, there was a truly captivating full concert captured in Fort Collins, CO that now seems lost to YouTube.  It’s got Joan Baez and Scarlet in headdresses and you can find the single tune from it here and there. If you can, find the whole set(s).  Here’s Joan cussing and drinking coffee from  a Styrofoam cup.  It’s far from the best part of this show, but it’s pretty damn good stuff.

Have a good weekend, Friday included, everybody…


P.S.:  The more astute of Dylanologists might note that Emmylou Harris is AWOL on the “Oh Sister” above.  True.  If anyone can find a live YT performance of Ms. Harris playing with Bob on that tune, I’d paid money, but I’m fairly sure it didn’t happen.  She was only on the record.  Or am I wrong?  I’d love to be wrong.

Hell, while I’m editing my many mistakes, here’s Emmylou in full 80s regalia with my single-favorite Emmylou tune “Beneath Still Waters.”  She sang with Gram and Bob and did this.  Wow.  What did I say about toenails above?



We live in very interesting news-gathering times.  The Internet has made us a deal:  each of us gets to be a reporter/publisher, but the established sources of information (newspaper, TV/Radio) don’t do nearly as much reporting as they used to.  For instance, there just aren’t as many newspaper as there used to be.  Most folks seem perfectly happy with this arrangement, with the vast majority focusing on football games and the ongoing slew of “viral” stories about shootings, diseases and whatnot, while a tiny minority of geeks about the individual issue dig through the Internet and “talk” with very few other issue geeks via their isolated computer caves.  Personally, I wonder if we’ve made a very good deal here.

Case in point:  How does one find out what the New Mexico Public Education Department is doing?  I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a big fan of its work, but any objective observer would most likely agree the agency isn’t the most forthcoming when it comes to news, policy decisions and such.  News/information flows almost exclusively from its Press office to the Albuquerque Journal, which publishes what the Press office puts out.  There’s typically a few “other” views and reactions sprinkled in from teacher’s unions and other players, but, by and large, the Journal just issues the press release.  There are exceptions (mining the SBA scores to determine that they haven’t really done well at all in the last five years comes to mind), but even in those cases PED and its spokesperson Larry Behrens gets the “last word” and chance to deflect the bad and take credit for the perceived “good.”

So what’s a K-12 education public policy geek to do?  Thanks for asking.  Here’s a completely unpatented and sure-fire non-moneymaking way to find out what the PED is doing:

  1. Go to the PED’s absolutely lousy website;
  2. Find the strangely placed “Search PED” graphic at the bottom right of the never-changing front page;
  3. Put something in the search box (e.g., EOC)
  4. PED uses Google for its search feature, go to “Search Tools” and make your search only for most recent stuff (the past week, as shown below works well if you’re the typical issue geek and search quite a bit)
  5. Read the resulting PowerPoints (boy does the PED love PowerPoint!), obscure memo edicts and such
  6. Ponder why only you and three other people in the state know about this stuff;  also ponder whether that makes you “informed” or merely “incurably insane.”

Thanks for taking time to read this primer and enjoy your Internet day, whether it’s now spent blissfully catching up on rising sales of Haz Mat suits in response to Ebola or becoming incurably insane via the PED website.

ped search

Addendum:  Did any of you fellow cave-dwelling K-12 education public policy geeks see this slide from the October 22nd Superintendents’ Meeting with PED?  Is it worth getting out of our caves, adjusting to the natural light and talking to a real human about getting one of these-there “waivers”?  Nah….probably not.

CBT Waiver Screenprint


Blogger’s Note:  The New Mexico Public Education Department has added a new rule to the annual nondisclosure agreement signed by public school teachers in the state.  This rule demands those signing not “disparage or diminish the significance, importance or use of standardized tests.”

When last we “paraged” the upcoming standardized testing cycles known as “PARCC,”  we looked at the middle school testing schedule from early March to Spring Break at month’s end.  This March period covers the PARCC “Performance Based Assessments (PBA),” an exciting opportunity for kids to show what they’ve learned in Math and English Language Arts via computer-based tests including cool text boxes, embedded movies and the other aspects of modern computer living that make PARCC more “hip” and “coolio” than any standardized test that has come before.  Today, let’s go over the schedule post-Spring Break 2015, as “PBA” becomes “End of Year (EOY)” and a grand culminating celebration of testing “wows and wonders.”

Week Six:  April 6-10.  This might just be the most exciting and important week of all.  It’s the week of test-free curriculum that gives teachers a chance to show student growth between the PBAs and EOY!  Teachers and students, working together, have five class days to go from mid-year PBAs to end of year finals, just like the big kids do!  Yep, we’re cramming for the Final, together, forming wacky study groups, pulling all-nighters and metaphorically hanging out at the Frontier together madly studying beneath the hotel painting of John Wayne.  All that’s missing is the coffee and cigarettes!

Week Seven:  April 13-17.  Fueled with rapidly crammed knowledge, it’s time to get back into the impromptu computer test labs that led a teacher to two to move their classroom out into the barracks, as 8th Graders tackle EOY tests.   They’ve missed these labs in the interim and the “old kids” will have a blast getting back into the testing mindset.  6th and 7th Graders will longingly stare at the impromptu testing labs, library and other test centers like kids enviously looking at a long line of fellow young people waiting to talk with Santa Claus.   Their teachers will, after telling the envious kid to “shhh…testing,” playfully tousle the young kids hair and whisper reminders that they, too, will soon have their chance to get back to testing.  The week gives these younger kids more time to prepare for the EOY tests, with daily drills in drag-n-drop, highlighting and finding in page sure to bring oohs and aahs from the little ones.  Teaching to the test has never been more fun!

Week Eight:  April 20-24.  7th Graders get back in the testing saddle, while 8th Graders look back fondly at their two weeks of testing, so far.  But there’s no time for misty water-colored memories of testing, it’s time to get ready for a dazzling array of New Mexico End of Course exams!  You name it, there’s a NM EOY test for it, including tests in Music, P.E. and Art.  Speaking of Art, did you take that “Culinary Arts” elective thinking it would make for a good “study hall” blow-off class?  Well, think again, because there’s an EOY test for that, too.   For “extra credit,” see if you can spot the misspelled word on this wonderfully long list of NM EOCs from your friends at the Public Education Department!

Week Nine:  April 27- May 1:  6th Graders, step on up, you’re the lucky winners this week!  Some out there might be asking:  what happens to multiple grade classes, with, say, both 7th and 8th graders in them?  Well, they will be slightly disrupted by testing.  What about Special Education classes?  Yes, they too tend to have kids of all grades, but they’re small anyway and, besides, the online testing is enough challenge for them to make any new curriculum only another headache.  These are small matters compared to the fun of a sparkling, brand-new standardized tests.  In fact, everyone by next May will surely be asking:  why didn’t we have this sort of schedule in Fall Semester!  Why can’t we just have testing all year long!

Week Ten:  May 4-8:   Like all great things, PARCC, too, must come to an end.  Like the circus or a carnival with really cool prizes for filling up plastic’s clown mouth with water shot from a very realistic-looking handgun, the show must move on.  Make-ups are finished here for those kids who didn’t get to have the fun when originally scheduled.  Computer labs are boxed-up, so to speak, ready to return for PARCC next year.  The Library reopens and kids have the chance to blow the dust off the books that have sat untouched since late February.  It would all be terribly sad and poignant, if not for…

Week Eleven:  May 11-15:  END OF COURSE EXAMS!!!  We were just faking!  It’s not over kids!  The testing fun continues with the aforementioned dazzling array of exams in subjects like Art and Music.  Those saying “I don’t know much about Art, but I know what I like”…well, tough!  Can’t read a E-flat Major scale, music people, we’ll find out about it!  But seriously, we don’t know exactly what will be on the Music test, or several other ones because the tests are still being developed.  Maybe the Music test will really be on the Rolling Stones v. The Beatles, or a huge essay test on whether “Anaconda” is an appropriate song to combat body issues in women, especially when combined with the tongue-in-cheek self-deprecation implicit in the sampled Sir Mix-a-lot tune from which it sprang, so to speak.  Whatever it is, it will be “music to our testing ears”!

Week Twelve:  May 18-22:  MORE END OF COURSE EXAMS!!!  There will be some annual events like the 8th Grade Dance and passing out the Yearbook stuff thrown in there, too, but only if it doesn’t interfere with the Culinary Arts test.  More than anything, this week offers everyone the chance to bask in the afterglow that has been a wondrous season of testing.  It’s been more memorable than any Yearbook, more inspiring that any teacher.  We simply can’t wait for it all to happen again and hope fervently that Governor Susana Martinez wins next week and keeps Hanna Skandera from running off, that Arne Duncan is appointed federal Education Secretary for Life, and that Pearson and other wholesome multinational corporations continue to help us help kids in the way only they can.  We’re gonna feel like crying when this year’s testing is over, but there’s always the promise of more and more testing next year.  Yay!




Blogger’s Note:  The New Mexico Public Education Department has added a new rule to the annual nondisclosure agreement signed by public school teachers in the state.  This rule demands those signing not “disparage or diminish the significance, importance or use of standardized tests.”

New Mexico Middle School Teachers, this morning I’m really talking to you.  I’d like to take just a minute or two of your valuable time to “parage” a bit about how Standardized Testing 2015 is really about the best thing that’s ever happened to testing.  You see, I think we need to turn that testing frown upside-down.  March through May of 2015 might very well be the greatest ten weeks or so you’ve experienced as a public school teacher.  Let’s look at it week-by-week.  I know, after taking a minute to look through the weekly calendar of sorts below, that you’ll be thanking and applauding the non-educators, politicians and multinational corporations that synergistically came together to institute the norms, core competencies and best practices that rolled together we can very simply call:  PARCC/Spring Break/PARCC/EOC Days (that’s PSPE…or “PissPee” if you’d prefer…try it, it’s even more fun when said that way!)

  • Week One:  March 2-6:  After weeks of buzzing excitement, three days of school earlier in the year getting to pre-pre-test for it all, and countless meetings, Professional Development opportunities and Test Security forms to gleefully sign, PissPee finally starts like opening presents under the tree and tinsel on Christmas Morning.  The 8th Graders get first crack at the new online test, while the 6th and 7th Grader longingly wait for their chance.  The school, as it will be for pretty much the entire next three months, is COMPLETELY QUIET.  Those noisy kids are a thing of the past, and you, desperately overworked middle school teacher, can relax in that quiet, either getting to proctor the online test by walking and drinking your morning and afternoon coffee, or teaching the old-school way, before computers, because they are all being used for the test.  Think about it:  here’s you chance to dust off those old lesson plans, the ones were you get to lecture and show movies.  You know, like teaching used to be “back in the good ‘ol days”!
  • Week Two:  March 9-13:  Now it’s the 7th Graders turn to explore new worlds of testing challenge.  8th Grade teachers, don’t worry about having discussions about the testing you just took, as the rules clearly state you and your students can’t talk about it.  Whew!  There’s one less thing to worry about, right?  Instead, before the next round of testing, you can do a unit you’ve always to do.  As long as the unit isn’t noisy and involves no moving about the school, anything goes, as long as it also doesn’t involve a computer.  Keeping this in mind, this 8th Grade teacher is already dreaming about that paranormal unit we’ve always wanted to do, the one with the week-long seance.  It’s perfect for these conditions!
  • Week Three:  March 16-20:  Time for the little ones!  Sixth graders get to learn to type through testing!  As resources and other factors, such as body development, have made it impossible to require typed papers before, the little guys now get a chance to act all big and wrap their tiny hands around mice and keyboards.  It’s almost as exciting as sitting on Santa Claus’ lap!  Meanwhile, it’s probably time to get those opting-out students out of that little room next to the Counseling Office, the one with the mop and cleaning products.  They had the chance to be in that nice, quiet room for quite some time, as they’ve chosen to “opt-out.”  A few blinks of the eye as they adjust to the light and they’re officially back in school in no time!
  • Week Four:  March 23-27:  Time for make-ups for those rapscallions and sleepyheads who missed a test or two.  Also, this is important time for testing on the odd-chance that the computer system couldn’t quite handle the load of wonderfully, interestingly A/V-rich testing videos and simultaneous users.  If things “blowed up,” we’ve got it under control!  And if not, that means a solid week of non-testing curriculum right before Spring Break.  Or not, we’ll let you know around March 20th!  Oh wait, I almost forgot, Week Four also includes the good ‘ol 7th Grade Science “SBA.”  Yeah, just like previous years!  Here’s a chance to revisit testing days of yore lovingly looking at the old-timey answer booklets in which students will make their circles “heavy, dark and completely fill the circle”!  6th and 8th Grade teachers, you’re completely unaffected, except for those rapscallions noted above.  This is as good time as any to point out that you teachers haven’t had as much to grade these days.  Heck, you’ve most likely HAD NOTHING TO GRADE for weeks now, between the testing, old school lectures, movie-watching and quiet seances.  3:05 in the afternoon comes and you head home, teachers, empty-handed…day after testing day.  What could be better than that!
  • Week Five:  March 30- April 3:  Spring Break!

(To Be Continued Tomorrow, or Monday if the blogger doesn’t feel like working on the Weekend)

Blogger’s Notes:  The New Mexico Public Education Department has added a new rule to the annual nondisclosure agreement signed by public school teachers in the state.  This rule demands those signing not “disparage or diminish the significance, importance or use of standardized tests.”  Also, use of a “Korean style” name here in no way is meant to stereotype or demean Korean people, only its Northern leadership. 

Glorious Leader Su-San-PARCC of the Democratic People’s Republic of New Mexico has announced a 57% reduction in standardized testing this year, asking all public workers to firmly unite behind Leader to stamp out poverty and lack of education through streamlined, more productive testing protocols.  A large demonstration was held by thankful public workers surrounding the Roundhouse demanding that recalcitrant political infidels stop fighting Glorious Leader’s educational initiatives and provide needed support to guide the Revolution toward purer testing of our children who are the beautiful future of our shining Democratic Republic.

Chanting “All Hail Leader PARCC and the Beautiful Lotus Flower of Multiple Choice,” Su-San waved to the throng as her motorcade impressively made its way down Canyon Road in our Republic’s capital.  Teachers wearing bright buttons noting “PARCC Makes All Workers Feel Good” covered the motorcade route with millions of origami swans  created by newly licensed and properly re-licensed teachers at their Professional Development Reeducation Centers (PRDC).  These centers provide necessary electro-shock reinforcement therapy to elevate love for Su-San and better understand relationship between standardized testing and improved milk and wheat yields.

Glorious Leader stopped before her thousands of public worker supporters to announce that she and her brilliant leadership team had ingeniously devised a way to double or triple the number of tests, test questions and time spent testing while nevertheless achieving a “57% reduction in overall testing.”  Teachers attending the rally hearing this news were seen swooning in delight, ecstatic that all New Economic Policy goals could be achieved with “less testing than ever before.”

A few raggedly dressed ruffians, thought to be teacher scofflaws bent on undermining the Revolution, were seen leaving the demonstration in vans to attend needed reeducation.  Public workers rightly threw cabbages and vibrantly chanted “PARCC…PARCC…PARCC…PARCC!!!” at the ill-dressed scaliwags as they entered the waiting vehicles.

In an effort to dedicate pretty much the entire academic year to getting ready for a test that everyone is either scared about or pretending to be scared about, schools are setting aside “PARCC Test Prep” days this Semester.  One might be only slightly irritated by this development until one realizes that it’s really not the questions or “Common Core” or “literary analysis using close reading” we’re prepping for, it’s the use of computers in taking the tests.

So, in addition to wholesale changes at schools just to take PARCC (creating “labs” for testing, moving teacher classrooms to make room for such “labs,” closing libraries for weeks at a time, forcing tech teachers to work with kids in gymnasiums, etc.), the 19th PARCC Nervous Breakdown includes paranoid disruptions of some of the few days not already spent rotating kids through computers to get this damn thing over with.

Because all of this isn’t really based on taking the damn test.  Or the impact the scores will supposedly have on teacher evaluations, student performance, future careers, the weather and price of tea in China.  No, it’s really all about the logistical dance of rotating 830 kids through 150 computers.  How do we do that?  What are the ramifications of doing this?

Hence the three days of “PARCC Test Prep” this Fall are kinda like a three-day fire drill.  Or that rather silly “Earthquake Duck & Cover” thingamabob we had a few days back.  “In the case of an actual PARCC Testing Emergency, students need to know where to safely read online passages and drag-n-drop answers despite conflagration, police chasing meth heads through your school building, seismic activity or even nuclear annihilation.”

Actual matriculation through classes and teacher lesson planning really is of secondary importance, except for that day or two when teachers are “observed” by their evaluating administrator.

Meanwhile, soon-to-be-second term Governor Susana Martinez tells us that we have less testing now and other frankly incredible tales that have no relation whatsoever to life in a New Mexico K-12 public school in 2014-2015 (Warning:  Viewing the clip below may cause intense loathing and involuntary placement of an ice pick through the viewer’s vitreous humor).

In a further effort to “lessen” testing in New Mexico, the State’s Public Education Department recently released a new swath of “End of Course Blueprints” for many, many new tests, including several at the middle school level instituted solely to evaluation teachers.  These include tests in Culinary Arts, Driver’s Education and Ceramics.   No, I am not making this up.   The upshot of this is that schools will have another week or so of intense logistical plate-spinning trying to figure out how to administer all these tests to kids who just got through two three-week cycles of testing surrounding a one-week respite in Spring Break.

You know, it’s all about, as Governor Martinez says “to the parents out there,” finding out if children are learning.  It has absolutely nothing to do with preventing teachers from actually teaching as many days as possible, while also providing the illusion of “doing something” about education as we engorge test companies and computer salespeople with money and political power.  Absolutely nothing.

So let’s enjoy “PARCC Test Prep” this Fall as a tasty three-day appetizer to a Spring Semester smorgasbord of computer-based testing goodness.   It makes me hungry just thinking about it.

Governor Martinez continues to “fix” behavioral health services here in New Mexico.  Unfortunately, Attorney General Gary King should be finishing up that audit sometime in the 2020s or so, a wee bit after the election next month.

Nice work by Patrick Malone and the New Mexican, by the way.  I think it’s time for me to stop being such a cheapskate and just pay for the damn thing (instead of just seeing the five articles a month for free).   There’s an analogy between me and Governor Susana Martinez in there somewhere, but I don’t want to think about it.