Gradycarter's Blog

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Category: Education

Tired of That “I Want To Go To Church And Not Be Called Dumb Or Bigoted” Feeling? You’re Not Alone.






In 2008 I moved to China to live with a group of Americans in China (including my sister) who had pledged to live amongst the Chinese, and teach English in their schools as a form of ministry. We of course couldn’t be overt,  that would have been illegal, but we would live our lives and set examples so that they might find themselves curious why we loved so freely, and shared what we had with such ease – well that was the goal at least. While I was living in China someone introduced me to the teachings of Tim Keller, and at first my pride prevented me from giving it a shot and listening to my friend’s advice (and I think this same know-it-all mentality is a one of the biggest plagues of the human condition).  Ever since I began listening to Mr. Keller I have found great comfort in people having differing opinions, and in the idea that God made me curious and surely wants me to ask as many questions as I genuinely am able!!!

I just ran across this clip recently, while I recommend watching longer talks of his, I know about this “know-it-all” human condition from which all people seem susceptible of falling victim, so I figured I’d post a short and sweet video as an introduction for anyone willing to listen for a hand full of minutes on this beautiful Sunday. If you are interested in hearing more from Tim I recommend watching his talks at Google, which were reported at the time to have been the most crowded lectures by an author at Google (which surprised me). I will post one of them below from when he went to Google to discuss his book “A Reason For God”. I hope you enjoy.


Tim Keller at Google

Harvard Political Philosopher Michael Sandel discussing his book “What Money Can’t Buy”


I’m a slow reader because I get caught watching author’s lectures in the middle of their books… This was a short interview somewhat about the book “What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets”, which I highly recommend. Mr. Sandel is a fascinating thinker and conversationalist.

Where In The World You Can Find The Best Schools — And The Happiest Kids

Where In The World You Can Find The Best Schools — And The Happiest Kids

This is a great little “picturized” article about education that was posted by the ever stimulating Buzzfeed. It compares happiness and test scores, and considering the idea that these 2 factors seem to be the main measures of a successful community it seems that we might want to consider what it means for our nation that we are neither competitively high performing, or relatively the happiest. What do these charts make you think we should do about reforming our education? Maybe think about it and tell somebody. As someone who isn’t simply the biggest advocate of standardized testing, and there seeming not to be a strong indicator/measure or alternative measures or learning/creativity, I don’t fully know what to think. So, feel free to tell me what you think.



The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s triennial international survey compared test scores from 65 countries. Happiness was ranked based on the percentage of students who agreed or disagreed with the statement “I feel happy at school.” Test scores were ranked based on the combined individual rankings of the students’ math, reading, and science scores.



“Justice: The Moral Side of Murder” with Michael Sandel, Harvard University


Over the last few years of come in and out of playing around with iTunes U, the Apple based free classroom space, but I never seem to finish the classes. Well, recently I started a free class on iTunes U that I will absolutely be finishing. The course is called “Justice” and it’s taught by renouned philosopher, author, and professor Michael Sandel. Below I am including a link to this fascinating free course, and the first lecture, which I am watching for the 3rd time. I hope you enjoy it as much as I am enjoying it.

Justice by Harvard University

“Drive” What Motivates Us – RSA


I have watched several of this groups videos that are made like this one, and I love them all. This might be my favorite one so far though. It discusses several things in regard to what motivates people, but probably the most interesting to me is the research on at what point money no longer is a motivating factor. I think this is one of those things where I can’t actually add all that much with my own words, I just encourage you to watch this and share it with others.

David Christian: the history of the world in 18 minutes – Ted Talks


I always enjoy hearing very smart people simplify things. Mr. Christian in this talk does an exemplary job of just that. I truly appreciate people who consider themselves more so individualistic than most, however I tend to appreciate more the collectivist. I don’t know if it’s my empathy bone, or that I paid attention to what Jesus said when I was in Bible class on Sunday mornings, but I love the idea of people collaborating to make things better. This talk is about history, but of course we talk about history so that we can plan for the future.

Infographic: Is Your State’s Highest-Paid Employee A Coach? (Probably)

This post is not intended be a downer to all of my Oklahoma friends and family who live and die by sports, traditionally football alone, but thanks to the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball is a part of the conversation. Now, even though I don’t want to be a downer I think that it’s time we look at this and ask ourselves if this is how we think it should be…

I wouldn’t be surprised if this picture and article is upsetting so some of my friends, but it is what it is, and I thought it was worth reading. One love my friends.




Infographic: Is Your State’s Highest-Paid Employee A Coach? (Probably)

You may have heard that the highest-paid employee in each state is usually the football coach at the largest state school. This is actually a gross mischaracterization: Sometimes it is the basketball coach.

Based on data drawn from media reports and state salary databases, the ranks of the highest-paid active public employees include 27 football coaches, 13 basketball coaches, one hockey coach, and 10 dorks who aren’t even in charge of a team.

So are my hard-earned tax dollars paying these coaches?

Probably not. The bulk of this coaching money—especially at the big football schools—is paid out of the revenue that the teams generate.

So what’s the problem then? These guys make tons of money for their schools; shouldn’t they be paid accordingly?

There are at least three problems.

  1. Coaches don’t generate revenue on their own; you could make the exact same case for the student-athletes who actually play the game and score the points and fracture their legs.
  2. It can be tough to attribute this revenue directly to the performance of the head coach. In 2011-2012, Mack Brown was paid $5 million to lead a mediocre 8-5 Texas team to the Holiday Bowl. The team still generated $103.8 million in revenue, the most in college football. You don’t have to pay someone $5 million to make college football profitable in Texas.
  3. This revenue rarely makes its way back to the general funds of these universities. Looking at data from 2011-2012, athletic departments at 99 major schools lost an average of $5 million once you take out revenue generated from “student fees” and “university subsidies.” If you take out “contributions and donations”—some of which might have gone to the universities had they not been lavished on the athletic departments—this drops to an average loss of $17 million, with just one school (Army) in the black. All this football/basketball revenue is sucked up by coach and AD salaries, by administrative and facility costs, and by the athletic department’s non-revenue generating sports; it’s not like it’s going to microscopes and Bunsen burners.

But wait. I looked up my coach’s pay in a state salary database and he wasn’t on top. What gives?

Most of these databases include only the coaches’ base salaries, which are drawn directly from the state fund. This is how you could be led to believe that Virginia’s offensive coordinator earns more than its head coach.

Far exceeding these base salaries is the “additional compensation” that almost all of these coaches receive, which is tied to media appearances, apparel contracts, and fundraising. While this compensation does not come directly from the state fund it is guaranteed in the coaches’ contracts; if revenue falls short, the school—and thus the state—is on the hook to cover the difference. Plus, even it doesn’t come directly from taxpayers, this compensation is still problematic for all the reasons listed above.

Beyond salary and additional compensation, coaches earn money from bonus incentives tied primarily to the team’s performance. This analysis ignored those bonuses and focused on guaranteed money, as it’s impossible to guess at whether a coach will hit his benchmarks. And we’re not even touching the ridiculous amounts of money coaches can get if they’re fired before their contract ends.

[Update, June 18: We’ve fixed one mistake in the map, which was pointed out to us by our friends at Harper’s Magazine. The highest-paid state employee in New Hampshire is now the UNH president. It’s no longer the hockey coach, as we’d originally indicated (using data that turned out to be from 2008). The map has been updated.]

Regarding the asterisks on the map:

* Penn State is technically “state-related” and not truly public, and as a result the school does not receive as much state funding as a typical public school (leading to higher tuition) and does not have to disclose as much information about its employees. You can read the details here.

** It’s difficult to track down salary information for employees at Ole Miss and Mississippi State, but the highest non-coach salaries we could find top out at around $500,000. While we can’t prove that nobody at these schools earns more than Dan Mullen’s $2.65 million per year, we think it’s very unlikely.

An A+ Commencement – Jon Lovett l 2013 Pitzer College Commencement Keynote (May 18, 2013)

Jon Lovett l 2013 Pitzer College Commencement Keynote — May 18, 2013.


I always wonder what I would say at a commencement, just being a few years out of school, and I think that this speech pretty well hits some of my known high points:

-Don’t be a know it all
-But when you know that you know be bold “see something, say something”
“BS” is our biggest problem, so please don’t contribute to it

Noam Chomskey on Education

While I sincerely believe in educating all people I can understand the sentiment behind this. It’s discouraging when you witness some of the more intelligent people you know go so underutilized by society, and not always because they are lazy bums.


“Retaking the Initiative” – Bill Maher on State’s Rights / Special Interest Groups

I thought this was pretty well put, especially considering that idea that he is arguing for a preservation of the 10th Amendment (state autonomy), and a large number of his harshest critiques have to respect that, as it is one of their great causes. What do you think?



Retaking the Initiative

March 14, 2013

By Bill Maher

Recently on Real Time we talked about Prop 37, a California ballot measure that would have required labeling of genetically modified foods. Monsanto, Coke, Pepsi, Kraft, General Mills and others formed a nutritional axis of evil and spent 45 million dollars to successfully defeat the initiative. And this is not the first time large outside interests have butted their noses — and wallets — into the state of California’s affairs. The same thing happened with Proposition 8, the initiative to ban gay marriage, which was on the ballot in California in 2008. Backers and opponents of the bill donated 83 million dollars in total. Donations rolled in from all 50 states and, ironically, the US Virgin Islands.

Those supporting the bill to ban gave 39 million dollars. Those against the bill gave 44.1 million dollars. Of the 39 million spent to pass the measure, 27.7 came from California; 11.3 million came from out of state. Of the 44.1 million spent to defeat the bill, 30.9 came from California; 13.2 million came from out of state. Prop 8 passed and gay marriage — which had been legal in the state for the previous five months, thanks to a California Supreme Court equal protection ruling — was no longer legal.

It’s time someone put an initiative on the ballot banning donations to state ballot initiatives from people who don’t live in that state.

Obama is hoping for a Democratically-controlled House in 2014, but it doesn’t really matter; special interest groups have figured out how to bypass the federal system and enact their agendas into law through state ballot initiatives. It’s also why Congress can get away with not working anymore.

Why should powerful wealthy groups and individuals be allowed to interfere with the way of life in an area where they don’t live? Isn’t that how America got started in the first place — to put an end to that sort of thing?

When are we going to stop allowing corporate interests or the Mormons or the Koch Brothers or Sheldon Adelson to get all “King George” on us every election year?

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