Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Accidental Weapon Discharges in Schools

Most of these are teacher or officer guns.  My point...arming more people in schools will also raise the incidence of accidental discharges, which will eventually kill someone, including a student. So don't forgot to add this prospect to the list of possible outcomes, along with those hopes that armed teachers will stop mass shootings.

Thursday, June 29, 2017


My curriculum vitae, for the post to Superintendent Reykdal.

Andrew K. Milton, Ph.D.

I. Education

Teacher Certification, 2007, Pacific Lutheran University

Ph.D., 1998, Political Science, University of Oregon

Dissertation:  “Institutional Change and Continuity in Post-communist East Central Europe:  Why are the media still dependent?”

M.A., 1995, International Affairs, California State University, Sacramento

Thesis:  “News Media Reform in Post-communist Eastern Europe”

A.B., 1989, Political Science; Economics, University of California, Davis

II. Academic Experience

Visiting Assistant Professor/Adjunct Instructor

Pierce College, Fall 2015-Present 
Troy University, International Relations (Masters program), 2003-2015
University of Washington, Tacoma, Various terms, 2003 & 2012
Tacoma Community College, Political Science, Various terms 2005 & 2006
University of Puget Sound, Politics and Government (Full Time), 1998-1999, 2002-2005 
Central Texas (Community) College, Ft. Lewis (WA) Branch Campus, various terms, 2002-2005 
Pacific Lutheran University (Full Time), Political Science, 2000-2002.
Northern Arizona University (Full Time), Political Science, 1999-2000.

Middle School Instructor:

Pioneer Middle School, Steilacoom/DuPont, WA (2006-Present)
   Language Arts Teacher, August 2006-Present
 Social Studies Teacher, August 2010-June 2011
Develop and teach 8th grade classes (125 students, daily), serve on district-wide teacher evaluation committee (2011-2013), serve on school leadership team (various times, 5 years), serve as English Department leader (3 years), coach sports (1 year).

III. Publications


The Normal Accident Theory of Education: Why reform and regulation won’t fix schools, Rowman & Littlefield, (Lanham, MD), 2014.

Uncivil Societies:  Human Rights and Democratic Transitions in Eastern Europe and Latin America, Rachel A. May and Andrew K. Milton (eds.), Lexington Books, (Lanham, MD), 2005.

The Rational Politician:  Exploiting the Media in New Democracies, Ashgate Publishing, (Aldershot, UK; Brookfield, VT), 2000.

Refereed Journal Articles

“The Conservative Peace:  An Institutional Explanation of Post-Cold War Stability,” International Politics vol. 39, no. 3 (September 2002), 293-310.  (Co-authored with Patrick H. O’Neil.)

“Bound, but not Gagged: Media dependence and institutional opportunities in post-communist East Central European transitions,” Comparative Political Studies vol. 34, no. 5 (June 2001), 493-526.

“International Peace:  Is it Liberal or Conservative?  An Institutional Explanation,” International Politics vol. 37, no. 2 (June 2000), 121-142.  (Co-authored with Patrick H. O’Neil)

“News Media Reform in Eastern Europe:  A Cross-National Comparison,” Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics, vol. 12, no. 4 (December 1996), 7-23.

Book Chapters

“Civil Society and Democratic Transitions” in Uncivil Societies:  Human Rights and Democratic Transitions in Eastern Europe and Latin America, Rachel A. May and Andrew K. Milton (eds.), Lexington Books (Lanham, MD), 2005.

“News Media Reform in Eastern Europe:  A Cross-National Comparison,” in Post-Communism and the Media in Eastern Europe, Patrick O’Neil (ed.), Frank Cass Publishers, London, 1997. 

Book Reviews

Review of The Romanian Mass Media and Cultural Development, by David Berry, in Slavic Review, vol. 64, no. 2 (Summer 2005) 423-424. 

Review of Baltic Media in Transition, Peeter Vihalemm (ed.), in Slavic Review, vol. 62, no. 2 (Fall 2003) 378-379.

Review of Framing Democracy: Civil society and civic movements in Eastern Europe, by John K. Glenn, III, in Canadian and American Slavic Studies, Vol. 37, no. 4, (Winter 2003), 465-467.

Review of Temptations of a Superpower, by Ronald Steel, at H-Teachpol, website sponsored by Michigan State University and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Review of Ride of the Second Horseman The Birth and Death of War, by Robert O’Connell, at H-Teachpol, web site sponsored by Michigan State University and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Non-Refereed Articles

“Baby Brain Cells Beat Education Bureaucracies,” The News Tribune, January 8, 2017, p. 7B

“Modern Education in Post-Modern Culture,” Christian Renewal, August 24, 2016, p. 20-21. 

“Testing Process may have Negative Side Effects,” The News Tribune, March 13, 2016.

“Politics needs to stop at the schoolroom door,” The News Tribune, May 18, 2015.

“Does the revamped SAT meet the standards?,” The News Tribune, March 21, 2014.

“High schools would benefit from later start times,” The News Tribune, April 10, 2013.

“At the heart of it, what we’re missing in education is trust,” The News Tribune, December 14, 2012.

“Competition isn’t the cure for schools,” Port Orchard Independent, March 10, 2011.

“The hope of Advent comforts in time of loss,” The News Tribune, December 19, 2007.

“Steilacoom teacher, students face the music about iPods,” The News Tribune, March 18, 2007, Insight 3.

“Costly homes, college degrees do not a ‘cool’ city make,” The News Tribune, October 1, 2006, Insight 3.

“Convention on Rights of Child holds no one’s feet to fire,” The News Tribune, July 6, 2006, p. B5.

“Love of Google, Amazon won’t produce something EPIC,” The News Tribune, February 6, 2006, p. Insight 1.

“‘Creative class’ theory runs out of gas for economic engine,” The News Tribune, October, 30, 2005, p. Insight 3.

“Durable democracies in Central Asia could be oil pipe dream,” The News Tribune, July 31, 2005, p. Insight 3. 

Free elections won’t stand firm unless anchored in rule of law,” The News Tribune, December 12, 2004, p. B7.

“Moral Clarity Hard to Come by in Sudan,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, September 28, 2004, p 7. 

“Australia’s Treatment of East Timor a lot like a US Power Play,” The News Tribune, March 30, 2003, p. B6.

“Three from New York leave their finest impressions on naive visitors to WTC,” The News Tribune, January 20, 2002, p. B7.

“Civility may be the best shield,” (co-authored with Patrick O'Neil), The News Tribune, August 5, 2001, p. B4

IV. Professional and Community Service

Pioneer Middle School/Steilacoom School District--
District Teacher Evaluation Committee, School Leadership Team, Department Head; various years
Faith Presbyterian Church, Tacoma, WA
Editor, Words of Faith newsletter, Fall 2011-Present
Coordinator, Safe Families, Fall 2015-Present
Teacher, ESL Sunday School, January 2016-Present
Invited Presentations for The Normal Accident Theory of Education
George Fox University, February 16, 2015
Pacific Lutheran University, October 7, 2014
University of Washington, Tacoma, July 9, 2014
RossTalk, Dave Ross Radio Program, KIRO Radio, June 6, 2014
Board Member, Life of Liberty (Tutoring/Mentoring Organization in Tacoma, WA), October 2012-September 2014.
Tutor, Life of Liberty Reading Program, June 2013-August 2014.
Tutor, Fern Hill Elementary School, Tacoma, 2011-2012. 
Teacher, Summer Language Institute, LCC International University, Klaipeda, Lithuania, Summers 2007 and 2008.
Member, Human Rights Commission, City of Tacoma, WA.  2005-2007.
Invited Presenter, World Affairs Council of Tacoma, Classroom of the World program, April 11, 2006.
Coordinator and Moderator, Panel on Initiatives 330 & 336, November 3, 2005.
Invited Panelist, City Club of Tacoma, “Youth Participation in Politics,” September 21, 2005.
Coordinator and Moderator, Panel on Proposition 1: Tacoma Dome Bonds, September 15, 2005.
Invited Presenter and Seminar Leader, International Development and Educational Associates conference “The Stories From Which We Learn,” (a conference for English Teachers), Almaty, Kazakhstan, June 21-25, 2005.
Invited Panelist, UPS Diversity Theme Year Panel on USA-Patriot Act, November 1, 2004.
Guest Speaker, UW, Tacoma, Public Policy courses, various years.
Student Advisor, University of Puget Sound, 2004-2005.
Invited Guest Talk, Sumner Rotary, February 2003.
Coordinator, Professor’s Brown Bag Discussion Series, Pacific Lutheran University, 2001-2002.
Invited Panelist, Key Center Library Forum on September 11, October 2001.
Invited Panelist, September 11 Panel, Pacific Lutheran University, September 20, 2001.
Volunteer, Aylen Junior High School, 2002-2003.
Volunteer, Keithley Middle School, 2001-2002.
Member, Faculty Senate, Northern Arizona University, 1999-2000.

V. Other Educational Experience

National Science Foundation, Chautauqua Program on Chinese Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs University, Beijing, China, June 2004.

Study Abroad
Karl Marx University of Political Economy, Budapest, Hungary, Fall 1987

The Arms Control Association, Washington, DC, Summer 1991
Board of Supervisors, Sacramento (CA) County, Spring 1988

Supt. Reykdal, please do something sensible

June 29, 2017

Chris Reykdal
Superintendent of Public Instruction 
Old Capitol Building
PO Box 47200
Olympia, WA  98504-7200 

Dear Mr. Reykdal,

I’m writing to explain a situation that I hope you can change.  I’m an 8th grade English teacher, and a part-time college professor of political science, in which I hold a PhD.  I recently applied for a high school social studies position in the district where I live, and the district office did not forward my file to the school for review, because my certificate did not have a social studies endorsement.  
As I understand it, the new policy is that everyone must take the West-E exam for Social Studies in order to get endorsed.  Under the old “highly qualified” procedure, I was thus designated, but now I must have an endorsement.
So I looked at some sample material from the West-E, and, frankly, I’m embarrassed, because we deem someone qualified after passing a multiple choice test, study guides for which make the whole thing into a mere memorization activity.  
At a time when we’re emphasizing “college readiness” in high school students, we’re endorsing their teachers by way of a process that would be wholly inadequate for even the most rudimentary college social science course—I know, because I teach those courses.  In other words, we are expecting more of our high school students than we are of their teachers.  To put it in the language of education, the test demands little more than Depth of Knowledge 1 or 2, while teachers are to push students to DoK 3 and 4.
Is it any wonder that anybody who pays the least bit of attention regards the education bureaucracy as practically farcical?
I say this not simply because I have a PhD, but because that PhD—like an endorsement—serves as a reasonable proxy for readiness, preparation, capacity, training, or whatever else one thinks necessary to serve as a high school teacher.  
Further, I think that even a cursory glance at my CV indicates that I have a wealth of social science experiences that transcend many of the narrow requirements of the West-E.  Moreover, my record—particularly publishing—reflects that I understand the idea of social science argument, how to make arguments, and how to undertake the learning necessary to do so effectively.  
No doubt, the bureaucrats who hold the keys to the kingdom are sure they’re serving all of us well by making certain everyone follows the rules, to the letter…there’s no basis for questioning their judgment that way.  They just followed the rules, after all.
Well, I’m calling somebody’s judgment into question.  Unfortunately, the nature of the “system” precludes discerning just who that should be.  
So I’m going right to the top.  
Will you make some sense of this ridiculous system?


Andrew K. Milton, PhD

P.S.  I’ll take the test, and I’ll do just fine.  (I got 10/10 on the sample test described below.)  But let me evaluate a few sample questions as a means to highlighting the silliness of the West-E.  I took this test at  They give away three sample tests, in an attempt to entice you into buying more.  

Which of the following were the primary commanders of the armies fighting at the Battle of Yorktown in 1781?

Benedict Arnold and Simon Fraser. 
Robert Howe and Archibald Campbell. 
George Washington and Charles Cornwallis. 
Nathanael Greene and Alexander Stewart. 

Correct Answer:
George Washington and Charles Cornwallis.

(What the test company called an) Explanation:
Correct Answer:
George Washington and Charles Cornwallis.

Washington commanded the American forces and Cornwallis, who eventually surrendered, commanded the British forces. The Battle of Yorktown was the last major battle of the American Revolution.

This isn’t really an explanation, of course.  It’s just a recapitulation, with greater detail.  And, frankly, correctly answering the question does not necessarily reflect understanding of what the war was about, why it was fought, how remarkable it was that the upstart beat the reigning world imperium, or the consequence of American victory.

The Great Lakes region is most accurately characterized as:

A humid continental, warm summer climate zone. 
A highland climate zone. 
A humid continental, cool summer climate zone. 
A semi-arid steppe climate zone. 

I got this one just by knowing the Midwest is hot and humid in summer.  Didn’t really take any special abilities, skills, knowledge or preparation.  Helped that I’d been there, but I wonder if someone hadn’t been, what does it really show that they understand about social science that they would have memorized this question and answer?

One factor that enabled the transition from feudalism to market economies in Europe was:

The code of chivalry. 
The three-field system of farming. 
The introduction of Arabic writings on algebra and geometry. 

I understand feudalism enough (I also have a degree in Economics) to know that chivalry and primogeniture stood in the way of markets, and three-field farming is irrelevant.  So I had a pretty good sense that Arabic math—and their use of zero—made accounting possible, which is fundamental to market operations.  Again, someone’s having memorized this off a study guide means little.

Also note that a good college social science class (that covered this topic) would require a student to explain how chivalry and primogeniture sustained feudalism, how nascent market actors overcame those legacies, and why feudalism gave way to markets in different patterns in different places throughout Europe.  Unfortunately, this question does not indicate that the tester could explain these things.

The Constitution of the United States provides which of the following instructions regarding the selection of the President?

The President shall be elected by obtaining the majority of the popular vote. 
The President shall be elected by the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate. 
The President shall be elected by an institution whose members are appointed by the states. 
The President shall be appointed by a joint committee of the House of Representatives and the Senate. 

Cheeky to describe the Electoral College without using the name.  Really functions as something of a trick, then.

The lowdown on baguettes in Philadelphia is this: There are not many bakeries that make them, they vary in price from $1.50 to $4.00, and the bakeries that do sell them, sell out pretty quickly. Paris, by contrast, is a baguette lover’s heaven. There is no end to baguettes in Paris. There are bakeries on every street corner, and they only cost from $1.00 to $1.50; and best of all, there is also no end to baguette lovers. Which of the following statements most accurately describes the economics of the baguette market in Philadelphia in comparison to Paris?

The baguette market in Philadelphia seems to be an oligopoly with collusion, while the market in Paris is a non-colluding oligopoly with price ceilings. 
The baguette market in Philadelphia seems to be in a state of immature perfect competition, while the market in Paris is a subsidized oligopoly. 
The baguette market in Philadelphia seems to be in a state of mature perfect competition, while the market in Paris is a natural monopoly subsidized by the government. 
The baguette market in Philadelphia seems to be in a state of monopolistic competition, while the market in Paris is in a state of mature perfect competition. 

It isn’t actually necessary that Philadelphia be monopolistic competition.  Could be lots of things.  Could be segmentation in the market, with constraints on factor mobility, or with significantly different characteristics in each segment (e.g., in wealthy neighborhoods, higher pricing generates a socially desirable luxury good aspect)  Could be oligopolistic.  Such a price variation doesn’t look like monopoly, after all.  Why aren’t the monopolists charging closer to $4 everywhere, or skipping those areas of the market where they can only get $1.50?  (That’s one of the critiques of monopoly—they won’t bother to serve markets where the monopolist’s profit isn’t available to them.)

Of course, the word seems does offer something of a qualification.  And explaining those qualifications would be a worthy endeavor.  But answering the question may or may not reflect one’s ability to do so.

In the United States House of Representatives, the tenacious task of overt partisan advocacy falls to:

The Speaker of the House. 
The Majority Leader. 
The Majority Whip. 
The Conference Chair. 

You either know this, or you memorized it from the study guide.  And, again, somewhat useless either way, at least in so far as it doesn’t necessarily show the tester has a capacity to make interesting analyses of important political processes because they got the question right.

Cotton grows best in areas with a high amount of rainfall, but not too much, because cotton also needs a lot of direct sunlight. Also, from the time the cottonseeds are planted to when the bolls are plucked, there should not be any periods of frost or freezing temperatures. Which of the following regions of the United States meets these requirements?


Trying to pass as a geography question?  But if you’ve spent 15 minutes studying the Civil War, you’d get this.

During the Heian Period, diaries such as the Pillow Book and novels such as the Tale of Genji were written by:

Japanese noblemen. 
Japanese noblewomen. 
Chinese noblemen. 
Chinese noblewomen. 

I had no idea, except that Genji is Japanese not Chinese.  And it would be just a little tricky to have it be the women (Pillow Book, helps too), not the men, so I took my chance on that…and I was right.

Now, the big question…what does this prove about someone’s capacity to teach social studies?  Really?

During the Middle Ages, feudalism was an economic and social system binding rulers, landowners, farmers, and warriors into codified relationships of vassalage, patronage, and labor in which of the following regions of the world?

New Spain and New Guinea. 
Polynesia and Mali. 
China and North America. 
Japan and Europe. 

One of the first things you learn about feudalism is its prevalence throughout Europe.  Must choose the only answer with that in the set.  And, again, doesn’t mean the tester could say anything about what feudalism was, what’s its legacy was, what it begat and how.

In short, answering such questions isn’t the kind of proof that demonstrates a relevant readiness or preparedness to teach high quality social studies courses in high school, so I’m disappointed to know that the West-E is the measure we use for endorsing teachers to do just that.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Beware of the gifts borne by Greek grammar

Every day, numerous students (which means anywhere from 4 to 15, depending on how many times I pursue it) will reflexively and self-righteously assert the integrity of and commitment to their work by thrusting a piece of paper—with some small amount of written material thereupon—toward me when I ask if they’re getting their work done.

Typically, I’m asking because, having given some class time to get work done, I see the student(s) in question doing something—chatting, daydreaming, fidgeting, playing, etc.—besides work, or the self-same student(s) rather consistently neglect(s) work.  Usually, it’s the combination of both those factors. 

This little game—a mime so frequent it could be a meme—occurs so regularly and so predictably that it’s beyond humorless.  It’s enervating.  Yes, I know, I ought to respond differently, find another way to get students to respond differently, by engaging them differently.  To that I’d say, you probably haven’t spent a hundred and eighty days with 8th graders.  For those who want not to do work, the powers of avoidance and creative reframing a situation are vastly superior to any teacher’s capacities to redirect, reconstruct or otherwise redesign material, pedagogy or curriculum.

Believe me, you can execute a delightfully creative and engaging 15-minute activity, then send the class off to do 10 minutes of work following the activity, and some number of students will simply decline to do that work.  Unless you make the work the playing of some sort of silly game on their smart phone, certain students will avoid anything that looks academic.  (I have had, for example, students declare that they’re not doing anything, because “8th grade don’t matter…I’ll start working in high school.”)

It seems to me that this process, these claims by students, are a repudiation of our very way of thinking, and--more importantly, of course!--the renunciation of the standardized testing process!

I say this because the test, and the standards behind it, are clearly Greek, by which I mean they engage in hypotaxis*.  That is to say, both grammar and thinking are constructed to make one point, with subordinate ideas and evidence supporting or elaborating that point.  If you've had--what?--five minutes of writing in an American public school, you know what I'm saying.  The five paragraph theme, the "kite" graphic organizer, Step Up To Writing (no doubt, with that little TM symbol appended), "tell me what you're going to tell me, tell me, tell me what you told me," or whatever other structure or mnemonic you know or use, are all creatures of hypotaxis.

So, a student who is clearly not working, can--when called out for the same--confidently show a piece of (bad) evidence to "prove" that they are working.  Or, they had, at one point worked, as in, they wrote--in the last 7 minutes-- one thing on a piece of paper.  And on the standardized test, following the expectations driven by our commitment to the forms of hypotaxis, if not serious content within that form, a detail supporting a key idea in service to a main point is, in fact, the point.  The quality of the details doesn't much matter on the test--the graders can't spend a ton of time on them, so if you have a quote and a statistic and an expert opinion, you're gold.  Get the right type of stuff, and we'll say that correlates reasonably well with actually having good stuff, so we'll call it good.

Or, if you want to talk with your neighbor during class, make sure you have a piece of paper with a few words scratched on it, so you can show evidence that you're working.  Then everything else--talking with your neighbor, spinning this year's ridiculous fidget toy, whatever--isn't relevant, because it is not confounding evidence refuting the "I'm working" thesis.

Has the slovenly evaluation of the standardized test wrought this intellectual laziness?  It's a circuitous claim...but it may not be a leap.

*  Yes, there are Greek texts that use parataxis (the use of coordinating rather subordinating grammatical relationships, and characterized by sharp juxtaposition of different--but equal--ideas or images), but as a rule, Greek has bequeathed us the very hierarchical logic embodied in hypotaxis.