Bieber, teachers, and scalpers, oh my!

By Dave Palmer

This past week was rife with so many juicy news stories that it was hard to pick just one to highlight. Therefore, I’ve decided to present three stories along with a brief analysis of them.

1. Two Northville High School special education teachers suspended over high-stakes testing:

A report on WDIV’s morning news broadcast caught my attention and my rankle as I was taking my first sips of coffee and wiping the sleep gunk from my eyes at 5:50 in morning as I prepared to go to work. The 30-second spot spun a brief tale about two special education teachers from Northville High School who were apparently placed on administrative leave for telling their students to do poorly on a beginning-of-the-year assessment so that they could show improvement on the same test later in the year. Further investigation led me to the Observer & , where I read a letter to the editor from an angry parent and a news article that confirmed this report. Based on my assessment of both, the teachers were run out of the school on a rail.

According to the news article, ” the teachers involved made the decision to transition from the district” pursuant the results of an investigation into their conduct in administering these tests. When Superintendent Mary Kay Gallagher was queried about what the investigation revealed, she carefully danced around the answer, only revealing that the investigation was started “to assure the academic integrity of our assessments, assessment procedures and the proper use of that data.” Gallagher also noted that the test is given in the fall and in the following spring so the district can tailor their instruction to students’ individual needs. She also noted that the test adapts itself based on how students answer, increasing or decreasing question difficulty depending on “correctness of an answer.”

However, the letter to the editor noted that based on chats with their child, the investigation was more of an inquisition, students were questioned and forced to sign statements without parental knowledge or consent, and that the teacher’s “voluntary” decision to resign was a choice between leaving quietly or risk losing their teaching certificate pending further district action.

Very few teachers committed to their job would advise a student to do poorly on a test that is simply designed to see where a student stands in their education so instruction can be tailored to meet that student’s needs. However, there is probably a better than average chance that the students in the special education class asked their teacher, “How am I supposed to take a test when I don’t know anything on it?” This is a natural question for any student who values doing well in school. The teacher probably responded with something to the effect of “Don’t worry about how well you do, this is just to see what you know.” That statement could easily be misinterpreted to mean “Do as poorly as possible” by a special education student.

More likely, teachers were told that this test is actually a “pre-test/post-test,” and if the student does not score higher on the post-test than they do on the pre-test, then that result is going to be interpreted to mean the teacher didn’t teach the student anything, even if the student got a 95% on both tests. (This is how pre-testing and post-testing was explained to me in professional development.) If that’s the case, isn’t the bigger issue that teachers fear reprisal for teaching advanced placement students who test especially well or special education students/alternative students who test poorly? That fact doesn’t excuse them if they did tell their students to do poorly, but chances are they still told their students to not worry so much about the grade they get on that particular test.

2. Justin Bieber’s house raided by cops after he eggs his neighbor’s house:

This story was just way too good to pass up. According to Voice of America, Justin Bieber’s home was raided at 8:00 a.m. January 15 pursuant to a neighbor’s accusation that Bieber had egged his house.

“He has not been arrested nor has been exonerated,” Sheriff’s Lt. David Thompson stated in the article. “We were looking at things that would put him or anything else at the scene.” Apparently, Bieber has a video surveillance system, and police were seeking evidence from recordings and other evidence in the house that might suggest he was the egging perpetrator. Bieber’s buddy, Lil Za, was arrested for narcotics possession when police found cocaine in plain view during the raid.

The article goes on to state that the rapper is being held on a $20,000 bond, and police are treating Bieber’s alleged vandalism of his neighbor’s house as a felony because “it caused $20,000 in damages according to the homeowner,” according to a statement in the article by the sheriff’s department.

My take? HAAAAAA ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Finally, Bieber bit off a little more than he can chew, and now he’s going to have to pay the piper. Considering that he is Canadian by birth, Bieber could even face deportation.

And it’s about darn time, too.  Considering he’s already caused several media stirs with his driving at ungodly speeds through subdivisions, writing in the Anne Frank house guest book that she might have been a “Belieber” and posting a photo of himself urinating in a mop bucket at a restaurant, Bieber has developed an unhealthy disrespect for society in general and needs to be brought down a peg or two. A swift kick in the pants back to Canada might be just the ticket. That is, if Canada will even have him back.

3. Michigan Legislature considers repealing scalping law:

According to the Detroit Free Press, Michigan Legislature is considering repealing Michigan’s 83-year-old anti-scalping law, which states that you can’t resell event tickets, even for face value or less. Rep. Tim Kelly said during a hearing Wednesday of the House Criminal Justice committee, “That’s your property. You should be able to do what you want with it.”

Opponents of this move, including Kid Rock and the Wharton Center, believe that they only people who are going to benefit from this change will be the scalpers who buy huge blocks of the best seats and sell them for a profit. Stuart Ross, of Red Light Productions, mentioned in the article that artists may skip Michigan altogether if the law passes.

“Artists don’t believe that the wealthiest should sit closest, but the fans who care most about the artist,” Ross said.

As a semi-professional musician and a consumer who was outraged at the price charged for tickets to the Nine Inch Nails concert (purchased directly from Ticketmaster as about $50 per seat in the 200 level of the Palace), I concur with Kid Rock, the Wharton Center, and Stuart Ross. It is only on a rare occasion that your average fan is able to afford, much less procure on their own, front row tickets to any concert. Allowing scalpers to drive up the cost of tickets is only going to price more average folks out of the market. Touring musicians didn’t go into music to be stared at by people with monocles and pressed tuxedos in the front row. They want to see dedicated fans screaming their heads off, reaching out to get a fleeting touch or a brief handshake with the performer.

Repealing the anti-scalping law is as much about consumer protection as repealing the helmet law was about bringing more tourism to the state, which is to say that neither has anything to do with lawmakers’ purported reasoning behind wasting time and taxpayer money on such frivolous laws. Why repealing the anti-scalping law is even among the top 100 legislative priorities this election year is beyond me, but it is becoming increasingly apparent that we elected the wrong people to revitalize Michigan in the wake of the 2008 economic crash. They would rather spend time passing meaningless legislation that does nothing to improve roads, the economy, or help Detroit out of is mess.