What’s With That: Women’s work, standardized tests, & a supersized ban

What’s with the news: Last week, “Good Morning America” picked up a piece on Treds Tire and Wheel, an all-female tire shop located in San Antonio, Texas.

The shop is run by Margaret Rodriguez and her 19-year-old daughter Andrea. It was Andrea’s idea to make the shop all-female, a business strategy resulting from the fact that several tire businesses had already failed at the same location.

Despite the occasional naysayer, the shop now employs six workers and one intern, and business is thriving. Given their work ethic, mix of male and female patrons, and a lack of low-cut tops, I think it’s safe to assume their success is about something more than their boobs.

NOT a Treds Tire and Wheel employee.

What’s with us: Kelly Rivas is the president of Fem Dems of the Sacramento Region, an organization that promotes “the feminist principles of equality, diversity and inclusiveness,” while fighting “disenfranchisement both within the Democratic Party and the community at large.” She’s agreed to shed some light on what feminism is, and Treds Tire and Wheel’s relevance to the modern feminist movement.

“Upon first read of the headline,” said Rivas, “I thought, ‘Well, of course it’s thriving. Changing tires isn’t about gender, it’s about safety — about trusting the person to ensure your wheel won’t come off your car.’ If that person is motivated and dedicated enough to have personalized tools, they’re going to pay attention to every detail to make sure the job is done well.

“Changing a tire isn’t a difficult task. The only thing that really matters is whether or not you trust the person doing the work. I’d trust a tire shop full of motivated women over the average shop because a motivated woman is a powerful asset. If she has something to prove, she’ll work 110 percent every time, making sure it’s done right — without taking shortcuts.

“(Men’s work) simply means work that has historically been done by a man, and so much so that over time when describing it, it is simply referred to as ‘men’s work’. I’m fine with it being used as a benign and outdated descriptor, but when it is used in a way that places judgment upon either gender or an individual, that’s when I have a problem. For instance, when a detractor says it’s a man’s job and a woman should stick to making sandwiches, well, that signals to me they don’t embrace the principles of inclusion, equality or diversity, and thus actively dismiss feminism.

“Feminism is simply those principles and pursuit of inclusion, equality and diversity,” Rivas said in closing. “The tire shop provides a space in a male-dominated trade for women to be included, considered equal, and therefore creates diversity in the tire shop trade and market. I don’t see the shop as working for or against the feminist movement, I see it as just another business, one that is diversifying the market and competition. What I do see, however, are the women of this tire shop. They’re empowering themselves and the community by challenging stereotypes, creating a discussion about feminism, but most importantly by learning a skilled trade and the sense of independence that comes from growing a successful business with that skill. One that’s thriving in the exact same spot where others failed."

When I first read the headline, I expected to see something akin to a wet T-shirt car wash, college coeds changing tires in bikini tops and coochie-cutter shorts. Not the case — these ladies are legit. I’m not a huge fan of the pink tire jack and polka-dot tools, but that rant is played out and I won’t reiterate it here. Instead I’ll say rock those tire gauges, ladies, and I totally dig your respectable V-necks.

What’s with the news: Who here can say they don’t genuinely love a good standardized test? Sweaty palms, a complete lack of fresh air and that jerk who won’t stop clicking his stupid electric pencil.

Aah, but last year the National Assessment of Educational Progress finally got on board, administering the annual writing exam via computer, instead of requiring pencil and paper.

The results? Computers make you dumb, and today’s children have forgotten how to write. A mere 27 percent were capable of creating well-developed essays. It’s a miracle these kids can compose their own names. Unless, of course, there’s a possibility that standardized exams are incapable of telling the whole story. Blasphemy!

Is Tiffany with a “ph” or an “f”?

What’s with us:  Paul Heckman is a professor and Associate Dean of the UC Davis School of Education. He and his two colleagues, Professor Jamal Abedi and Professor Emeritus Sandra Murphy, sat down together to complete an email interview with The Sacramento Press regarding the details and relevancy of the NAEP exam.

“At first glance, we were surprised to read that computer-based writing, as compared to pencil-and-paper writing, did not apparently advance student performance on this writing assessment. However, in further considering the point, the NAEP results, as they are reported in the article, do not lead to a conclusion that students performed more poorly. NAEP did not do a comparison study between comparable students who responded to the NAEP prompts using a computer and students who only used paper and pencil with similar prompts.

“In considering the nature of the assessments, your readers should also be reminded that, for each prompt, students only had 30 minutes to develop their written response. The evaluation that followed then focused on a first draft. Writing is often characterized as rewriting multiple drafts. The students had little time to do that in light of the 30 minute timeframe provided to complete the task — from considering the prompt, thinking about possible ways to go to discuss what they had in their minds, and then expressing those thoughts in written form.

“With regard to the gender disparities, it is difficult to tell how significant the differences are in the scores and if those differences make a substantial difference in light of the report. For example, if there is an 8-point score difference between girls and boys out of a total score of 300, that difference could or could not be meaningful. Determining that significance requires other statistical tests, which do not appear to be reported on in the article.

“Many (youth) participate in a digital world, and a world that is very different from that of their parents, other adults in the society and youth in the past. That fact does impact their classroom efforts. Nonetheless, not all youth have access or participate in the same ways with these technologies.

“With regard to the socioeconomic status (known as SES) disparities in test scores, these have remained for a long time. And, the gaps seem not to be decreasing. As a matter of fact, national economic data demonstrates that more and more children are becoming poorer, as is the case for many adults as well. The redistribution of income upward has left a large swath of families in poverty or what some call near-poverty for a family of four. Given the persistent relationship between economic poverty and test scores, as well as school success, it is not surprising that these disparities appear so strongly in the NAEP writing assessment.

“With regard to the SES effects on computer use on these scores, the reported digital divide that exists between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ in our society provides a plausible explanation for the differences reported. Some schools have more digital technology available; others, far less. Unfortunately, it is more likely for more technology to be available for more well-to-do students and less for economically poorer students. These experiences matter when it comes to how well or not the use of computers will positively or negatively influence students’ performance on assessments like NAEP.”

First drafts are crap. Mine are littered with cigarette ash, despair and the occasional complete sentence. There is nothing new to see here, folks. Computers are great, but being poor still sucks. Now go mail that old laptop to a high school in Detroit. Or better yet, keep it local and go through Sacramento’s Court Appointed Special Advocates, which donates school supplies to children in need.

What’s with the news: Last week New York City blazed yet another trail when the city health board slipped into their babysitting pants and passed a ban on oversized sugary drinks. Oh NYC, you’re so cutting-edge.

Unless you run a grocery or convenience store, you best throw out those supersize cups or face a $200 fine. All you Diet Coke-heads needn’t worry, because diet sodas are excluded.

So let me get this straight. Someone can walk into a McDonald’s and order a triple cheeseburger, a grocery bag full of fries, and a monster-sized diet soda. However, if you’ve been running twelve city blocks from a knife-wielding maniac and stop in for a giant Coca-Cola to quench your now debilitating thirst, because artificial sweetener gives you hives, you’re SOL. Sure, makes sense.

Don’t worry Mom, it’s just sugar-free Redbull.

What’s with us: Margaret Scheller, RD-CNSC, is a clinical dietician at Sutter Roseville Medical Center. She’s here with the skinny on health and weight management, and to offer her thoughts on whether or not Mayor Bloomberg’s ban will do anything to fight obesity.

“I do not believe outlawing sugary drinks of any size by the New York City mayoral-appointed health board will ‘curb’ or resolve obesity,” said Scheller. “I agree obesity is a big problem, but a ban like this is not the solution. Take responsibility for doing what it takes to lead the most healthy lifestyle you can lead. It may include eating healthy, exercise, stress management and disease management (example: diabetes). When I am thirsty I regularly consume water. Other alternatives to sugary drinks are water with lemon, nonfat or low-fat milk or milk alternatives, and moderate amounts of 100 percent juice.

“Portion control is one of the important keys to successful weight management. Check food labels for portion size and corresponding calories. Frequently, people eat more than they think. Measuring and weighing food once in awhile can help make sure portions are appropriate.

“Many times people make changes that last only a short period of time, then revert back to their old habits. Healthy lifestyle changes are realistic, manageable and able to be modified over time to last a lifetime.

“In my daily practice,” Scheller concluded, “I encourage people to make healthy food and beverage choices daily. I provide them with tools and education so they can make informed decisions. I find no matter how persuasive I try to be, sometimes people do not want to select healthier alternatives or limit portion sizes, and that is their individual freedom to do so.”

Seriously, has this “mayoral-appointed city health board” not heard of free refills? How many calories can getting up to walk over to the soda fountain three times over the course of an 8,000-calorie meal really burn? Here’s my advice, Mayor Bloomberg (you know he’s waiting with bated breath): First, find a real problem. Example: Public health is a real problem; paper-cup size is not. Second, find a real solution. Discount gym memberships for the poor or something, I don’t know. I’m not a mayor for a reason, but I don’t have to be a politician to know that this ban is wack. 

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September 25, 2012 | 10:40 AM

Wow, what an unprincipled feminist take on the all-female tire shop. Not once did she mention that feminism, at its core, should be about opposing sexism, and hiring employees of only one gender is a fundamental violation of that core principle.

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