on carolina contextual transcript policy’s woes

Some background: since 2009 I’ve been working on grade transparency as one policy response to grade inflation, grade compression, and grade inequality at UNC. (See here, here, here, and here, among others.) After many, many meetings, conversations, presentations, and discussions, at last week’s Faculty Council meeting the Educational Policy Committee delivered a report on the policy that may well signal its demise. Below are the comments I made at the Faculty Council meeting in the discussion on that report. Continue reading “on carolina contextual transcript policy’s woes”

take the leave.

This coming week I will be two-thirds of the way through a medical leave – a paid medical leave that I almost didn’t take because I somehow felt it wasn’t warranted. My reluctance to take advantage of a benefit – offered by my university, supported by my colleagues, and recommended by a doctor who knows more about physiology and recovery than I do – is a problem.

Without a doubt, part of this hesitation is just me and my personality.* However, it was also the product of more widespread issues that I wanted to highlight here.  I also wanted to share the wisdom of others that finally gave me the courage to take the leave in hopes that someone else will do the same. Continue reading “take the leave.”

the stigma of the spousal hire

As a grad student, I never gave a moment of thought to being a spousal hire. Like so many grad students in top 20 departments, especially pre-recession, I thought that I had somehow earned a tenure-track position somewhere with a 2-2 because I had been a good student, graduate assistant, and department citizen. I had done everything that I was told to, checking off just about every box on a grad student’s to do list: collaborate with faculty – check, teach – check, present in an ASA session – check, publish a sole-authored, peer-reviewed piece – check, win a teaching and/or paper award – check and check, forge network connections – check. I realized at the time that I wasn’t going to be a superstar but, whether it stemmed from naivete or optimism, I was certain that I would get a job – and a good one – on my own merit.

Sure enough, I got a job – and a good one – but I’ll never know if it was on my own merit and I’m not sure it really matters. Regardless of how things really went down, I am still married to one of those superstars and, as long as we are in the same department, there are people who perceive me as a spousal hire, including me.

Continue reading “the stigma of the spousal hire”

gwen lister, courageous journalist, steps down

In 1985, in the midst of the Apartheid occupation, an incredibly courageous journalist, Gwen Lister, founded The Namibian, an independent, populist newspaper. It became one of very, very few independent papers to take up the cause of The People after independence. I worked for The Namibian in 1991-1992 as it was making the transition from fighting for national independence to being fiercely independent itself. Gwen stepped down as editor earlier this month, handing over the reins to protege Tangeni Amupadhi and fulfilling a long-term goal of letting the paper survive past her leadership. CNN did a great special on Gwen’s life work:




Congratulations, Gwen, on a brave and amazing career at The Namibian.

what a summer!

Gosh, it’s been quite a summer – five separate trips not including ASA, and major family transitions. We moved to a new house, my kids both started new schools, and I did a lot of policy-related work early in the summer alongside. With all that, I miss scatterplot and my scatterbrained colleagues! I’ve been trying to read when I can, but haven’t written in a long time.

Look for that to change soon. I’m planning a long post about the feedback on our study on the Tea Party Movement; another on plagiarism and UNC’s honor court; and some retrospective stuff on disappointment and anger at President Obama, among many others. See you soon!

montessori, revisited

Some years ago, Dan Myers wrote a series of posts on his awesome (now invitation-only) blog that inspired me to send my kid to Montessori school. Kid was 3, and school was just around the corner anyway, so I looked into the local options, and I found a great school. He went all though pre-school there and is still there, just about to finish Grade 1 (Canadians would want you to notice that they say Grade 1, not first grade).

One of the things about Montessori is that they don’t evaluate the kids’ learning in the usual way with tests and report cards and notes home. There is good research on this that shows that the love of the gold star or the A+ will undermine the love of learning itself as kids want to get praised rather than learn more. It’s a strikingly different approach than public school, which gives near-constant feedback to kids and parents about how they are doing and whether they are ahead or behind. Continue reading “montessori, revisited”

goodbye, dad

I am out at my parents’ house in California this week, working through some tough times again. My father’s battle with Alzheimer’s came to an end, and as usual, Alzheimer’s won. Memorial services for my dad will be tomorrow. I am so thankful that I arrived in time to see my dad one last time, and to tell him stories about his grandson and tell him how much I love him. He was only awake for about half an hour, and he couldn’t talk at all, even though he had so much to say. He clapped his hands to show me he was happy to see me and the rest of the family. Then, he fell asleep, and his embattled brain continued turning off the light switches and shutting the blinds until he passed away last Saturday night.

Continue reading “goodbye, dad”

vacation wrap-up: heading home

I’m sitting in the dark in our hotel room, as I have done every night this week. Kid’s bedtime is 8pm, and what is there to do besides sit quietly and read? I hadn’t even figured out that he can fall asleep with the computer glow on until last night. Before that, I was reading in the bathroom. My life is glamorous.

I come away from this trip with no complaints whatsoever, which is rather unusual for a visit home, even before my folks became ill. Now that I think about it, I haven’t kept the blog up to date on my folks; bad news is not my favorite to blog. Continue reading “vacation wrap-up: heading home”

kickass women

Back when blogs were young, we didn’t really know what they would do. I started blogging to keep in touch with my close friends from grad school, as we had all recently moved away from each other. I named my first blog Kickass Women, in their honor. I sent my friends invitataions to blog, and I started writing posts.

It turns out that there are bloggers, and then there is eveyone else. My friends, kickass as they are, are not bloggers, and they did not blog. Fail.

So I am extra excited to be sitting in the airport right now, waiting to fly out to meet up with two of these original kickass women. We have a great weekend ahead of us.

A lot has happened for the three of us since that first blog: three more blogs, two kids, two new jobs, several grants, a book, several articles, chapters and research reports, a major career change, and two marathons. It is hard to wrap my brain around it.

I think I am glad that my friends are not bloggers, so we have this reason to get together in person to catch up on everything.. With a glass of wine, in front of the fire. Like real people.

getting there

We put the tree up on Sunday, like a real family: holiday music, fireplace on, lights and ornaments everywhere, dog meandering through everything constantly. It was great. Kid put all his ornaments in one section of the tree, which is even merrier than the rest of the tree. Awesome cupcakes baked for the bakesale, for our dinner party, and some saved for Husband, who had just arrived home from a business trip. Lovely.

Yesterday was my shopping day. I hit the toy stores during the day, when they were crowded, but not insanely so. I had a list, but I was still overwhelmed by all the products. It’s weird how they can simultaneously have so many choices, but then still not have the things I am looking for, like a giant bucket of regular-old Legos, as opposed to a specific Star Wars Starfighter Jet ™ or a Lego City Helicopter(tm), each of which runs for over $50. Ebay was no help, so I ordered online. No big whoop. And I had an epiphany about teacher gifts: a charity donation in their name will be just the thing. Done. Husband and I are going to shop for a dining table together in lieu of gifts–that may sound lame, but from my perspective, it is perfect.

So, no holiday cards out (but maybe in the new year), classes in fairly good shape. Books ordered for next semester. Still to do: wrapping, one more bit of writing to get that paper out today, one letter of recommendation, finish the syllabus for next semester’s class, read grad student papers and provide feedback, and packing for my pre-holiday trip that starts tomorrow. I have a meeting this afternoon and a great party tonight with the frisbee team.

Hmmm, I was feeling ahead of the game until I wrote that down. Gotta run.

notes from montréal

The whole family is in Montréal, hanging out while Husband brings music to the people. The VIA One train ride from Toronto to Montréal is like its own little vacation. For $150 or so, you get six hours of beautiful people carrying your bags, serving you food and drink, and using silver tongs to hand you a lemon-scented hot towel. Continue reading “notes from montréal”

big boy bed

“Why isn’t anyone blogging?” seems to be the question of the month. My own response is that I have been soaking in the pleasant bubble bath of mundane life: writing, recruiting participants for a study, hanging out with family. It’s super boring, and I LOVE it.

Among the happenings here in the now sunny and warm north is the Kid’s completion of his first year of preschool. His school ended with a Spring Concert, in which his class sang the national anthem and My Dog Rags. The next day, the school had Games Day in the park, at which Husband took 647 photos.

Much effort was put into securing and assembling Kid’s new Big Boy Bed, which (surprisingly smoothly) replaced his toddler bed. Just when he was feeling a little like he might fall off the edge of this new bed, he dozed off. Any lingering worries have been surpassed by his pride in the new bed, which he has shown off to all visitors in the last few days.

i am who i say i am, really.

I have been going through hell for the last 24 hours trying to prove that I am the same person who registered baedyn.com nine years ago – even though my last name and address have changed.

Tell me, who else would register baedyn.com? Who on earth would want to steal it from it’s original owner? You google Baedyn and there are all of three people on the web named that. The majority of the links, though, are to MY Baedyn. I can only imagine how this would have turned out had I spelled my son’s name like my mom wanted (i.e. more conventionally if the name could be conventional) – Bayden. Then there would have been real issue with a business with that name and all. I understand that fraud is a serious issue and these people are just doing their job, but I just want to be able to work on the domain that *I* own. That’s all. Continue reading “i am who i say i am, really.”

husband gets the glory

Since there were no sociologists in attendance at the Kathleen Edwards show in Madison (I’m looking at you, OW), I’m going to have to bring the goods to you in the following video. This particular song may be a little too Canadian for everyone except Ken–if so, please click over to the Cheapest Key video–but I have to show you this one, because Husband is in the video, right down there! He’s the goalie on Kathleen’s team; isn’t he cute?

happy mother’s day

Shout out to the moms today. I got the most awesome hand-made gift from Kid and a couple of great books from Husband that were just what I wanted. Plus, an extra hour of sleep in the morning, plus pancakes with raspberries. What more could I ask for? It was the best Mother’s Day ever.

Yesterday was almost as good. Kid and I went to the tulip display at the Royal Botanical Gardens. Although the ratio of exploring to snacking was completely lopsided, we got to see most of the flowers and I got some great pictures of a beautiful boy.