Monday, December 29, 2008

Alternet looks at the Bush legacy

Specifically, they count down "The Top 10 Most Awesomely Bad Moments of the Bush Presidency."  It's a pretty good list, except for the pithy, humorous comments.  The Bush legacy is one of death, destruction, and a loss of nation's integrity.  It is a sign of the WORST our country has to offer.  The problems this administration has left us will take many, many years to fix.  This isn't Best Week Ever on VH1.  Famous Bushisms aside, the legacy of the Bush administration is anything but funny.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Happy Holidays 2008

I hope everyone has had a good Christmas.  I have taken some time off from the blog to relax, as well as enjoy the company of friends and family.  I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know some things going on in my life.  First, I had a wonderful Christmas with my family.  The only thing that was missing from it was my fiance when she was visiting her family.  She is back now, and I can't wait for our wedding this summer.  Secondly, I am starting a new book The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging.  Huffington Post is one of my favorite websites, and I am hoping I can learn a thing or two to improve my work on this blog.  

Finally, I will begin my student teaching here in a couple weeks.  I am not sure if I will have time to maintain the blog the way I have been.  While I will still post, it will probably be less commenting on stories in the news, and more keeping some type of journal of my day-to-day encounters as a student teacher.  I will spend six weeks working with 9th grade students, and another 6 weeks working with students in grades 3-5.  I am both nervous and excited about the upcoming weeks.  I look forward to sharing all of my experiences with you.  

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Facebook, Teacher Bullying, and Lawsuits

A girl who attended a Miami High School is suing her old school for suspending her for cyberbullying. Katherine Evans (now a college freshman) wrote about a teacher she didn't like on Facebook, and opened a forum for other students to complain about that same teacher. She is suing because she is afraid that the charge of cyberbullying will not get her into a good graduate school or get her a job. The ACLU is even stepping in to support her cause (for the sake of disclosure, I am a card carrying member). Her exact words on Facebook here as follows:

''Ms. Sarah Phelps is the worst teacher I've ever met! To those select students who have had the displeasure of having Ms. Sarah Phelps, or simply knowing her and her insane antics: Here is the place to express your feelings of hatred.''

I understand there is freedom of speech, and there is really nothing wrong with students talking trash about teachers amongst other students (especially if it is, in fact, a bad teacher). But I also see the school board's point of view. It is one thing to trash talk a teacher, but to do it on something so public as Facebook is another thing. Maybe I am more sympathetic to the cause of the school because I worry that when I start teaching, some student who has a beef with me is going to write bad stuff about me all over the internet. But it is not like this is ever going to go away. Has anyone seen RateMyTeachers?

Perhaps Ms. Evans should not have been suspended, and she definitely shouldn't have been pulled out of her AP classes. But as to whether or not she won't get into a good grad school or not, let me just reassure her she will probably be ok. It was a relatively minor thing she did in high school, and she is now in college. All she needs to do is get good grades, and involve herself in some positive activities in college that will help out her resume (college clubs, internship, etc). A lawsuit isn't worth it.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Craig Cunningham on Arne Duncan

He gives a generally positive, and well written review of Obama's Pick for SOE. He even gives some implications about what this means (maybe) for education in this country. Cunningham even predicts the next Chicago School Chief:

"1. NCLB will be drastically restructured to focus on supports for improvement rather than negative consequences for failure.

2. Opponents of charter schools have lost a huge battle. Their expansion will continue dramatically.

3. Urban school districts will receive special attention from Washington.

4. Washington will now begin to push a longer school day and longer school year, and the public will be gently pressured to force the unions to accept this without getting higher pay.

5. Funding for educational research will no longer be tied to ideological criteria such as "evidence-based" practices. Rather, research will be judged in terms of its likely benefit to generalized issues of educational practice.

6. The bowling alley in the White House will be replaced with a Basketball Court.

7. Barbara Eason-Watkins, who has been the quiet but effective and resolute Chief Education Officer of the Chicago Public Schools for the past 6 years, will become Chicago Schools Chief. Barbara (who was also my boss for about 3 months before she took her current position) is smart, friendly, tireless, effective, and has deep experience at all levels of the system. Expect Eason-Watkins to make news within the next few years, most likely by saying things that no white man could say in that position. She may shake things up a bit in Chicago (which would be quite welcome)."

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

George W Bush and the Free Market

For such a supporter of free market capitalism, it was funny to see Bush say the following:

"I've abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system."

Response from Andrew Sullivan:

" . . . Just as he used torture to defend freedom. And occupied a country in order to liberate it."

Over the next few weeks up to the inauguration, I am going to do the best I can to look at the Bush legacy. I won't promise something everyday, but it is important to look at what our country has gone through, and what it looks like today after eight years of his presidency.

Time's Person of the Year: Barack Obama

As if it would be anybody else (click here for article).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Good Case for the Arne Duncan Pick

The Washington Post gives their support to Arne Duncan. The first two paragraphs essentially summarize my own ideas for why I am supportive of the Duncan pick, as of right now:

"IT WAS WIDELY expected that President-elect Barack Obama's choice of an education secretary would finally reveal which of the warring approaches to school reform he favors. Instead, his selection of Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan cheered both the disrupters and the incrementalists of education change. That could be a good sign for America's schools -- if Mr. Duncan is able to unite the two sides in support of meaningful improvements.

"In announcing his nomination of Mr. Duncan, Mr. Obama rejected the notion that there must be an either-or approach to making schools better. Both sides, he said, have good ideas and intentions, and he held out Mr. Duncan as someone not beholden to one ideology but capable of creating a new vision for the country's education system."

I have generally fallen on the Linda Darling-Hammond side of the Education Secretary debate (as opposed to the Michelle Rhee side). However, the more I think about it, the more I like the Arne Duncan pick because he really is a decent consensus candidate. He shows that people who aren't gung-ho reformistas in the school reform debate can still work to reform our public schools. Duncan has a lot to work on, so don't expect any miracles. But at the end of the day, Duncan is a high quality choice who seems very capable of handling the job.

Who Will Take Over at Chicago Public Schools?

Alexander Russo lists 4 potential names:

Scoping Out the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

I was surfing the web today, and I came across the some good stories and features on the Post-Dispatch website.

First, I found out there was an education blog at their website called The Grade. The following is a description of their blog:

"An blog on education in the St. Louis region, with a focus on efforts to improve student performance. Our team of reporters tackle a broad range of topics from school testing and charter schools, to discipline and bullying, while providing a forum discussion by parents, educators and readers."

Check out their most recent post on the Arne Duncan appointment.

Then it appears that the Missouri Supreme Court is letting the state keep control of the St. Louis Public School System.:

"The decision backs the appointment of a three-member governing board that has run Missouri’s largest school district since it lost accreditation in June 2007. Members of the elected school board have remained in office, but are mostly powerless."

Finally, the AP announced the 2008 All American Team in football. 1st Team picks consist of Jeremy Maclin (All Purpose Player) and Chase Cauffman (Tight End). We also have a third team player with Sean Witherspoon (Linebacker). GO TIGERS!!!

Substitute Teacher tells Kids that Santa isn't real

It happened to a class of 7 year olds in England. I know that being a substitute can be stressful, but what a dick.

Weingarten on Duncan

AFT's President likes Obama's Secretary of Education pick. I suppose that is a good sign.

Pros and Cons of Arne Duncan

A rundown of his record in Chicago from Alexander Russo:

"Strengths: ▪ Lasted seven years -- a lot longer than many predicted. ▪ State test scores have increased every year Duncan has been in office, according to the board of education. ▪ Duncan has by all accounts improved tremendously as a public speaker. ▪ Sends his daughter to a local public school. ▪ Strong supporter of community schools. ▪ Early critic of NCLB testing, tutoring, and transfer requirements ▪ Chicago participates in Roland Fryer "learn to earn" program. ▪ Tall, skinny, and with a funny name -- just like his soon-to-be-boss! ▪ Has more gray in his hair than it seems from this AP pic.

Weaknesses: ▪ Chicago has never been a finalist for the Broad education prize for urban school reform. ▪ Chicago ’s NAEP scores lag many other big city districts, according to TUDA. ▪ Failed to win substantial concessions from the Chicago Teachers Union in the last contract. ▪ Failed to expand the highly restrictive charter school cap for Chicago (30) . ▪ Renaissance 2010 disrupted the education of thousands of students in the early years esp. ▪ Duncan ’s reform efforts have failed to attract (or retain) white and middle-class families. ▪ Criticized by Blagojevich for only having offered free school bus rides in exchange for the Senate seat."

Arne Duncan: A Safe Choice

There couldn't be a better time to start writing on my blog after a week off from posting (sorry, I've been kind of busy). We now know who the next Secretary of Education is going to be: Chicago School Chief Arne Duncan.

And based on everything I have read about him so far, his choice seems to be about two things. First, he is a politically safe choice because he will most likely not upset either side of the current education reform debate. On the one hand, he is appealing to education "reformistas" because he is a big city school chancellor with a history of trying to reform schools, just like his old boss Paul Vallas (who is now in charge of New Orleans Public Schools) Also, his name isn't Linda Darling-Hammond.

On the other hand, he is at least partially appealing to the more traditional/teacher-friendly (for lack of a better term) side of the debate because he isn't as controversial as a Joel Klein or Michelle Rhee. In addition, Teacher Unions don't hate his guts. AFT head Randi Weingarten even says that Duncan "reaches out (to unions) to do things in a collaborative way."

The second thing his choice indicates is that, simply, Duncan is someone Obama can personally trust. He is from Hyde Park in Chicago, has worked with Obama over the years, and has even played basketball with him (in fact, Duncan apparently has a fairly nice basketball career). Just like other Presidents will pick people for their cabinets from back home (including our present Education Secretary), Obama has done the same thing.

I do have some concerns. While he is clearly a safe pick, is that all he is? Is the fact that he didn't pick either a Linda-Darling Hammond or a Michelle Rhee a sign that Obama wants to reach out to both sides of the education reform debate? Or is it just a sign that Obama wants a politically safe pick because education won't be that high of a priority? Plus, as good of a job as Duncan has done in Chicago, will that actually transfer over to a national level? Duncan was in charge of just one school district (even though it is a huge one), but will now be in charge of thousands of school districts in 50 states. Needles to say, it is harder to micromanage things.

Also, it would be nice to have an Education Secretary who has actually taught inside a class. Oh, well.

I personally would have preferred a Linda-Darling Hammond, but I am not opposed to Duncan as a choice. Maybe he is exactly what our education system needs. Let's give the guy a chance and see what he can do.
Picture comes from This Week in Education.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Call to Education Journalists

Alexander Russo calls out to education journalists to do their job regarding the potential new Education Secretary:

"Do your jobs, reporters and editors. Bug someone who was on the working committee into talking to you, or report that they won’t. Track down Wendy Kopp and ask her straight out what she thinks about Darling-Hammond or Duncan (or Rhee, for that matter). Look up campaign donation records and tell us what you find. FOIA some shit. Sending out a few emails and rehashing tired claims or old speeches just doesn’t cut it."

This is an interesting piece, and I am always in favor of journalists in any area "doing their jobs". And I love the "FOIA some shit" line. Just as interesting though is the comments section to this article which debates the necessity of Russo's suggestions.

For my own two cents in this debate, I feel that education journalists should be taken just as seriously as journalists in other fields, but they aren't. The reason it doesn't is that, sadly, education in general doesn't get taken as seriously as an issue as it should be. This is not to say that there aren't issues just as important, and even more important, than education (i.e. the economy, war) But if we valued education as much as we should, we would see just as much speculation about Education Secretary as we do about Secretary of State, Defense, and Treasury. Instead, the speculation is left to us who are wonks, experts, and education bloggers/journalists.

Speaking Tongues in Class

A girl spoke in tongues in a Mississippi High School, where she also spoke the names of several of her classmates and how they would die. Fundamentalist Christians do the darnedest things, don't they? Over at the Deadpan Ann blog, she lists the reasons why this story (and the reaction it caused) is stupid for so many reasons:

"1. The kids believed it.
2. They took Bibles to school to ward off the demon.
3. The student claimed God was speaking through her, and her mother says God is using her to speak to the kids at her school.
4. News reporters actually showed up, and this was aired on the nightly news.
5. The only point of controversy for the people of Pelahatchie was NOT which psych ward to send Lashundra Clanton too, or how long she should be suspended for disrupting class, no. The only thing people can think of to talk about? Whether it was God or the debble speaking."

By the way, I don't want to ridicule all religious people (there are very smart, rational individuals who worship and believe in God). However, we must point out the crazier, unhealthy examples, and expose them for what they are.

Monday, December 8, 2008

2008 Edublog Award Nominees

These awards are a good way to learn about new education blogs that exist. It is partially through looking at these awards that helped me get into education blogging.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Promoting NCLB

From Chocolate News on Comedy Central. This is very funny (and very inappropriate):

D.C. Reacts to Rhee's Time Cover

Some people are happy about Rhee's Time cover because it brings more support and attention to reforming the D.C. Public School (and reforming the nation's education system in general). Other's aren't fans. A quote from the by Cathy Reilly, head of the Senior High Alliance of Parents, Principals and Educators from the Washington Post:

"I don't know what she was thinking," Reilly said. "I don't think sweeping things out is the way to go, and that way of relating to people metaphorically sends a message right down to the children."

Overall, the Post article was filled with mixed on reactions to the Time cover.

President-Elect Obama on Meet The Press

Isn't it encouraging to have a President that will value science again? Another education quote from the interview:

“There is an incredible bully pulpit to be used when it comes to, for example, education: Yes, we're going to have an education policy; yes, we're going to be putting more money into school construction. But ultimately we want to talk about parents reading to their kids. We want to invite kids from local schools into the White House.”

2008 Big 12 Championship Game

Well, Crap. So much for a preseason ranking of number 4. I am surprised we are even ranked in the Top 25 still. Oh well, we have the Alamo Bowl to look forward to. And as disappointed as Mizzou fans are, we would have been ecstatic to even be this far a couple of years ago.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

"They Tried To Teach My Baby Science"

The Onion features this shocking story. What kind of sick bastards would do this to a child? This is America, damn it!

Proposition 8, the Musical

Via Funny or Die. It is funny, and it hits it right on the head.

Congresswoman hangs up on Obama and Rahm Emanuel

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) thought is was prank from a Miami Radio DJ, but no, it was really Obama and Emanuel. Apparently that sort of thing happens all the time, and some politicians actually fall for it:

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

More of the Same

In my earlier post on Michelle Rhee and her Time cover, I compared her to Crazy Joe Clark of Lean on Me fame. Then there is this cover from 1988 with the real Joe Clark on it. How funny is that?

The Ball Buster

I am referring to the woman in the picture above, D.C. School Chancellor Michelle Rhee. Some might gasp at such a description, but I can't think of a more appropriate description. Michelle Rhee is a ball buster. And yes, you do need a ball buster to do the job that Ms. Rhee is trying to do. For better or worse, she is now the de facto face of education reform in this country.

Certainly, she has a tough task at hand, and no one can doubt that she needs to get tough to do it. But there is also a lot of room to worry. This part of the Time article has already given a lot of people pause, including myself:

"In many private encounters with officials, bureaucrats and even fundraisers–who have committed millions of dollars to help her reform the schools–she doesn’t smile or nod or do any of the things most people do to put others at ease. She reads her BlackBerry when people talk to her. I have seen her walk out of small meetings held for her benefit without a word of explanation. She says things most superintendents would not. “The thing that kills me about education is that it’s so touchy-feely,” she tells me one afternoon in her office. Then she raises her chin and does what I come to recognize as her standard imitation of people she doesn’t respect. Sometimes she uses this voice to imitate teachers; other times, politicians or parents. Never students. “People say, ‘Well, you know, test scores don’t take into account creativity and the love of learning,’” she says with a drippy, grating voice, lowering her eyelids halfway. Then she snaps back to herself. “I’m like, ‘You know what? I don’t give a crap.’ Don’t get me wrong. Creativity is good and whatever. But if the children don’t know how to read, I don’t care how creative you are. You’re not doing your job.”

Fair enough, but standardized tests also don't take into account the seriousness with which most students take them given there is no link between the test scores and grades. Don't even get me started with the issue of human grading of more subjective test questions. And as far as education being too "touchy-feely", students are not robots. People, especially young people, are highly emotional, and complex beings that come from numerous different backgrounds. They respond to different methods of teaching, discipline, evaluation, etc. in different ways. Don't get me wrong, there should be strong discipline, tough standards, and accountability. But it isn't so black and white.

Another concern with Rhee that myself and others have is that she may go too far in trying to shake things up. Yes, things need to be shaken up, but how much is too much? Robert Pondiscio makes a better argument than I can on this point:

"Here’s what worries me: accurate or inaccurate, fair or unfair, the increasingly confrontational, impatient, blunt, even rude public persona that’s affixing itself to the Washington, DC schools chancellor runs the risk of getting in the way of what Michelle Rhee wants to accomplish. I’ll put it bluntly: piss off enough people whose help is essential to your success, and your failure becomes inevitable, a consummation devoutly to be wished. Then for years to come, the answer to the reforms anyone proposes becomes, “Oh yes, we tried that in Washington under Michelle Rhee and you remember how that worked out.” If she fails, Michelle Rhee’s failure will not be hers alone. At worst, she runs the risk of damaging the ed reform “brand” for a generation."

Rhee kind of reminds me of another famous education reformer:

Granted, this is an exaggerated comparison, and I'm not saying that this is the way to do things. But Crazy Joe and Ms. Rhee both have more in common than people think. And without question, both are ball busters when it comes to education reform. Let us all hope that Rhee does what she needs to do to get the job done without going overboard.


Some have doubted that we will be getting out of Iraq within 16 months, as Obama promised, since he has announced his national security team (particularly keeping on Robert Gates). But Matthew Yglesias lays out some convincing points to those critics:

"The reality, obviously, is that the SOFA and the security agreement have made 2007-vintage disagreements about timeframes for withdrawal essentially irrelevant. Between an American government that wants to set an end to our involvement in Iraq and an Iraqi government that wants to set an end to our involvement in Iraq, it really does become a question of hammering out the logistics and framing the politics. The strategic debate about the wisdom of things like John McCain’s plans for a hundred years of occupation is over."

It also helps that Gates supports a withdrawal:

Now putting troops from Iraq into Afghanistan is another matter. I haven't quite made up my mind on that one yet.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Problem with Curriculum Pacing

John Thompson lays it out in a well written post. This is one of the many problems that NCLB doesn't take into account:

"I earn my paycheck by "reading" teenagers. I probe the students' background knowledge to determine what information they have retained from previous years. More and more, it is clear that previous lessons have "gone in one ear, and out the other." As teachers feel increased pressure to "cover" the material, teaching for understanding has decreased.

The pace at which a class moves must be determined by the rate that students master skills and conceptual building blocks. Listen to the kids and they will teach you the rate at which the class must move. Assessment data can be invaluable, but there is no substitute for the professional judgement of an experienced teacher. And different children in different classes learn at varying rates. Each class always develops its own personality."

For those of you don't know what "curriculum pacing", here is a totally biased, but still appropriate description:

"Before NCLB, teachers had considerable control over the speed at which they presented the curriculum. After a new curriculum was adopted though, they had to move at a one-pace-fits-all because district tests had to be given at a certain time."

Bad Week for Mizzou Football

First, we loose to our rivals Kansas in one hell of a football game. By the way, I had the pleasure of watching the game with my future in-laws this weekend. They are Kansas fans.

Then, we loose our outstanding Offensive Coordinator to Wyoming. Oh well, we at least have the Big 12 Championship game against Oklahoma to look forward to (where we are undoubtedly the underdog).

Ohio School District requests $100 Million Dollar Bailout

I love this! Now granted, TARP is "meant to stabilize financial institutions", and $100 million is a little more than they should be asking for (especially for a school district of only 3,800 students). However, I think there is an excellent point here. If we can give all of this money to companies who are about to go bankrupt (completely their own fault, by the way), then why can't we give more money to public schools?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Why is the Nation Really at Risk?

Over at Education Policy Blog, Kenneth Bernstein just posted something that is very important. It sums up many of my own views regarding the problems of the education reform debate, and I feel anyone who cares about American education should read it.

The post starts off with a long expert from Carl Glickman's post, the Latest Nation at Risk Report, at the Forum for Education and Democracy blog. Glickman edits parts of the famous Nation at Risk report so that it reflects the realities of today's America, specifically, it's economic problems. The following comes from the epilogue:

"There will be some angry readers out there who will bristle as I have lifted some of the exact wording of the Nation at Risk Report of 1983 and changed the word “schools” and “public education” to "business and financial institutions." And yes, I have taken plenty of liberties to extend and add sentences to define all business and financial leaders and stock market manipulators as untrustworthy, immoral, dangerous people who have let our country down; crushing the day to day lives and long term hopes of the large majority of Americans who can not afford to lose their jobs, their homes, and their savings. And my business friends -- if there still are a few left -- will bristle at the idea that educators and lay people, with no experiences in business or finance, should be taking charge of what they need to do. If so, the point has been made and hopefully, sincerely taken before further policy making."

This leads into Bernstein's argument about the problem with modern American education reform: it is dominated by businessmen and politicians, as opposed to educators. He tells and interesting story about a conversation between him and Iowa's then Governor Tom Vilsack about this problem:

"In that context, let me repeat part of the first face to face conversation I had with then Governor Tom Vilsack. I noted that the Governors had just had a conference on education and each governor had brought a business leader. Tom acknowledged that was true. I asked why each governor had not instead brought a teacher, a principal or even a student? He was genuinely surprised at the idea."

This leads right into a passage from Jamie Vollmer's famous "Blueberry Story":

"I have learned that a school is not a business. Schools are unable to control the quality of their raw material, they are dependent upon the vagaries of politics for a reliable revenue stream, and they are constantly mauled by a howling horde of disparate, competing customer groups that would send the best CEO screaming into the night.

"None of this negates the need for change. We must change what, when, and how we teach to give all children maximum opportunity to thrive in a post-industrial society. But educators cannot do this alone; these changes can occur only with the understanding, trust, permission and active support of the surrounding community. For the most important thing I have learned is that schools reflect the attitudes, beliefs and health of the communities they serve, and therefore, to improve public education means more than changing our schools, it means changing America."

This is in many ways what the modern education reform debate comes down to. It is not just about students who can pass tests, go to college, and become leaders in the field of (insert your profession of choice here). It is about the overall well being of our society, and thus, the students as well. Do we need to do better in math and science? Yes. Do we need to get rid of "bad teachers"? Yes. And no, we shouldn't rule out charter schools or alternative teacher training programs as part of the solution. But they aren't the only solution. And putting the opinions of businessmen and politicians ahead of educators (as opposed to "in cooperation with") isn't a solution of any real use.

I am reminded of a blog post from Jill, a wedding photographer and a parent of a child with special needs, who raised some important points during the campaign in response to Sarah Palin's proposal on behalf of the McCain campaign regarding special education reform:

"As [Palin] rightly said 'For many parents of children with disabilities, the most valuable thing of all is information.' What she totally glossed over, though, is that the information comes through sources her ticket is NOT endorsing: guaranteed medical coverage for all children. Where does most of our early information about our children and their ‘condition’ come from? Our doctors. Doctors our children won’t see without insurance. Therapists that our children won’t see without coverage. Visiting nurses that will no longer ‘visit’ us because our child isn’t able to get insurance (’pre-existing’ and ‘congenital’ often are treated the same by insurance companies). "

I raised similar points in response to her post.

Bernstein's post does critique the Nation At Risk report, and I must admit that I cannot agree of disagree with said critique. I have not read the report, let alone studied it's results to the extent that others have. I do agree that our society is "being eroded eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people". But this is America. We can do something about this if we really want to.

For Uber Cardinals Fans

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has created a Mount Rushmore of Cardinals Players. After a vote of who should be on it, they have narrowed it down to a 4 very good players: Stan Musial, Albert Pujols, Ozzie Smith, and Bob Gibson.

Some people think Pujols's selection is premature. I say nonsense. He has won 2 MVPs (so far), and has been arguably the baseball's best hitter for the past 8 years in the league (how long he has been playing). Oh yes, he can also field and run well for a 1st Basemen. You could substitute Lou Brock, Dizzy Dean, or even broadcaster Jack Buck for Pujols, and I would be ok with the list. But Pujols is still the better pick.
The Picture was created by Tom Borgman of the Post-Dispatch.