Monthly Archives: March 2017

Utility (n.)

Last week I posted a context clues worksheet, the reason for whose existence escaped me, on the noun utility in the sense of a service (as light, power or water) provided by a public utility. Here is a context clues on the other meaning of utility, which is to say either fitness for some purpose or worth to some end or something useful or designed for use. Unless you work at a economics-and-finance-themed high school like the one in which I serve, this is probably the better worksheet for you.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Helen Keller on the Excitement of Teaching

“Life is an exciting business, and most exciting when it is lived for others.”

Helen Keller (1880-1968)

Excerpted from: Howe, Randy, ed. The Quotable Teacher. Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press, 2003.

The Weekly Text, March 24, 2017

It seems to me safe to assume that Elizabeth Cady Stanton is a staple in any Women’s Studies Program. For this fourth and penultimate week of Women’s History Month, Mark’s Text Terminal therefore offers this reading on Elizabeth Cady Stanton as well as a comprehension worksheet to accompany it. I hope you find them useful.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Betsy DeVos Raises Fees for Collectors of Student Debt, Including One of Her Former Advisors

(I’m not sure if anyone needs any more evidence of Betsy DeVos’s unscrupulousness, but if someone does, here it is. She sure knows how to help her friends, doesn’t she?)

Diane Ravitch's blog

Betsy DeVos just reversed an Obama administration rule that limited the fees that student debt collectors can charge, and one of the beneficiaries has a direct connection to her. As we are learning, making money is a sign of virtue in DeVos’s world, and the more money, the more virtue.

Americans who default on some of their federal student loans are likely to pay more after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos reversed an Obama administration directive limiting some fees. But it turns out the Trump administration decision has some beneficiaries—including the father of a key DeVos lieutenant who just quit.

DeVos’s decision, announced Thursday in a memorandum to the student loan industry, allows companies known as guaranty agencies to charge distressed student debtors fees equivalent to 16 percent of their total balance, even when borrowers agree within 60 days to make good on their bad debt.

The reversal is almost certain…

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Utility (n.)

I can’t remember now why I wrote this context clues worksheet on the noun utility. Over the years, I’ve come to dislike intensely the verb utilize as a piece of bureaucratic jargon, so perhaps I wanted students to understand that when they see or hear that verb in action, they will understand it means to use. One of the meanings of utility, after all, is “fitness for some purpose or worth to some end” and “something useful or designed for use.”

However, utility, in this context clues worksheet, refers to its use in describing “a PUBLIC UTILITY, a service (as light, power, or water) provided by a public utility.” This is one of those polysemous words that I’m still working on a way of teaching with the least amount of time and effort, but that still helps students understand both the meanings of the word as well as an understanding of the concept of polysemy–and why it is often a challenge to building an academic vocabulary.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Rotten Reviews: The Good Earth

“Since Mrs. Buck does not understand the meaning of the Confucian separation of man’s kingdom from that of woman, she is like someone trying to write a story of the European Middle Ages without understanding the rudiments of chivalric standards and the institution of Christianity.”

New Republic

Excerpted from: Bernard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.

Mercedes Schneider: Betsy DeVos Cherrypicks One Student Success in a Failing Virtual Charter School

(Betsy DeVos, as an apple grower for whom I once worked liked to say about dubious or unscrupulous people, bears watching. Diane Ravitch and her network of policy analysts have done an excellent job of scrutinizing this callow, self-serving heiress who is, very clearly, in way over her head as Secretary of Education.)

Diane Ravitch's blog

You will note that all of Betsy DeVos’s stories are about struggling students who were rescued from failing public schools by choosing to go to a charter school, a religious school, a home school, or a virtual charter school. Apparently she has never in her life seen a successful public school.

Her latest story is about a young man from India who attended the usual horrible public school. But his life was turned around because he had the good fortune to attend a virtual charter school in Washington State. DeVos was speaking to the National Association of State Boards of Education.

Mercedes Schneider decided it was time for fact-checking.

The young man to whom DeVos referred attended a virtual charter with a four-year graduation rate of 19.1%. After five years, the graduation rate was up to 23.6%.

Surely, someone on her staff knew this. Yet she chose to conceal that…

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