[IAEP] Fwd: Sugar Digest 2009-11-02

Walter Bender walter.bender at gmail.com
Tue Nov 3 08:51:17 EST 2009

I must not be getting enough sleep. I forgot to CC iaep and dev.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Walter Bender <walter.bender at gmail.com>
Date: Mon, Nov 2, 2009 at 6:53 PM
Subject: Sugar Digest 2009-11-02
To: community-news at lists.sugarlabs.org

=== Sugar Digest ===

1. Steve Levitt and Stephen Dubner are back in the news. Their new
book, ''SuperFreakonomics'' is getting panned by the critics—the
''Boston Globe'' referred to it as ''Sloppynomics'' (See
I haven't read it yet, so I won't pass judgment. However, I found the
first book in the series, ''Freakonmics'', provocative but misguided.
The chapter on nature vs. nurture was especially misleading. In it,
the authors compared the academic performance—as measured by
standardized tests—of children adopted into families with children
born into the same families. Nature prevailed over nurture. Alas,
there are any number of flaws and holes in their data analysis, but
what was most damning was a throw-away comment at the end of the
chapter: in life after school, there was no difference in performance
between the two subject pools. So all they really demonstrated is that
there is no correlation between standardized test scores and life
skills. Given the penchant that we have for valuing that which we can
measure instead of measuring that which we value, this would have been
a provocative result, but not one picked up on by Levitt and Drucker.

What brought this to mind was that on the opposite page from the book
review was  an article advocating for the use of standardized test
data (See http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2009/11/01/a_way_to_improve_schools_one_instructor_at_a_time)
to "measure the difference a teacher makes." Numerous studies "use a
statistical analysis of standardized test results to measure the
'value added' that each teacher contributes each year." I am not
opposed to trying to measure both student and teacher performance. If
nothing else, it provides a forum for reflection, an important part of
the learning process.

The ''Globe'' reports that the Obama administration is considering
using "value-added" studies as a component of metric for evaluating
teachers and ting teacher pay to "what is happening in each classroom"
as a central part of school reform. "Developing, rewarding, and
retaining effective teachers" is a great goal. Let's just take care to
measure the whole child and the whole teacher when we presume to
measure effectiveness.

2. We had a Sugar Labs oversight board meeting last Friday in which we
reached consensus on a more formal set of rules regarding quorum and
voting by the board: we require a minimum quorum of four members
present in order to initiate a vote and a majority of all members
(four) for a passing vote. We will accept votes by email. We also
established a mechanism for oversight-board members and community
members to raise discussion topics. Community members should email any
SLOBs member with a topic suggestion before the start of a board
meeting. The meeting chair will triage discussion-topic requests. To
increase the likelihood that your discussion topic "rises to the top"
of the queue, please include:

# a link to existing discussion thread(s) on public mailing list;
# a ''brief'' summary of each option or alternative being proposed; and
# a rationale for why this issue needs to escalate to the oversight board.

The meeting log and minutes are available in the wiki (See
and  http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Oversight_Board/Meeting_Minutes-2009-10-30).
The next meeting is scheduled for Friday, 6 November 2009 at 15:00 UTC
(10:00 EST).

=== In the community ===

3. Christoph Derndorfer will be speaking about Sugar and OLPC at the
26th Chaos Communication Congress (26C3) in Berlin on 27–20 December
(See http://events.ccc.de/congress/2009/wiki/index.php/Welcome). He
would like to organize a meetup of European Sugar Labs / OLPC
contributors and people who might be interested in working with us in
the future.

4. We will be holding a Sugar Camp beginning next weekend in Bolzano
at the TIS innovation center. We hope to make a lot of progress on
0.88 as well as build upon our various ties to the GNOME community,
which also meeting in Bolzano.

=== Tech Talk ===

5. Thanks to the efforts of Josh Williams, Aleksey Lim, and David
Farning, the new http://activities.sugarlabs.org site went on-line
over the weekend. The new look is clean and also in compliance with
Mozilla copy

=== Sugar Labs ===

6. Gary Martin has generated a SOM from the past week of discussion on
the IAEP mailing list (Please see


Walter Bender
Sugar Labs

Walter Bender
Sugar Labs

More information about the IAEP mailing list