Podcast #81 MIJEC, National Standards & the IRS.

Microsoft runs the I.R.S.

If Microsoft Ran The IRS

“Government should be run like a business.” We’ve all heard that chestnut. Here is how the Internal Revenue Service (nobody’s favorite government agency) would be like, if only it were run like Microsoft Corp. (a successful private enterprise).

— The IRS, as always, announces new tax forms will be mailed the week before the new year. However it will follow Microsoft’s example and actually ship them the following May.

— Responding to pressure from some large corporations and a users’ group, some early copies of the tax forms will actually be released in March. The recipients must sign non-disclosure agreements.

— In June, the forms will be recalled because the IRS loses a suit for appropriating some other country’s intellectual property.

— When you move, the IRS will continue to send mail to your previous address forevermore, just like Microsoft sends its product upgrade notices.

— When you upgrade from form 1040 EZ to 1040 A, and then to 1040, you will pay an upgrade fee each time. Also you need to send in a new registration card and get a new Social Security Number. In order to upgrade, you have to submit the original first page of your previous year’s form.

— Like Microsoft, when you file a late or amended tax return the IRS will reject it on the grounds that the the prior year is no longer supported.

— The IRS telephone help will remain similar to Microsoft’s, staffed by ill-trained, high-turnover personnel who sometimes give a correct answer, but the IRS will have to discontinue using a toll-free phone number.

— After struggling with reams of dense documentation of complex options and rules, you discover that you will need publication 3297, with a ten-word-long title, in order to answer (you hope) a single obscure question. The IRS, like Microsoft, will charge a minimum of $40 for that publication.

— The IRS, like Microsoft, will continue to issue immense volumes of bug fixes, interpretations, and clarifications. However the tax-rule updates should be neither easily searchable nor well-indexed.

— Instead of three-ring binders containing complete sets of tax code bugs and interpretations, IRS rulings will be promulgated in a haphazard fashion by individual taxpayers via BBS, Usenet, and Compuserve. A for- profit publishing subsidiary would also be nice.

— The new all-powerful (and eccentric) Commissioner of Internal Revenue will jet around the country giving speeches and granting numerous interviews, but only to sycophantic reporters. Changes to the tax code will be at the whim of the Commissioner and largely kept secret until they are published.

Michigan Joint Education Conference

Traverse City Special Education Visual Guide

HyperStudio 5

For Michigan Educators:

Shout Outs:

Jeff LaRoux & Teresa Sutherland:  Thanks for the Interview!
Kevin Galbraith:  Thanks for the mention in your session on Podcasting at MI Champs!

From the Twitterverse:


Texas shuns common standards for schools


Texas has always been known for its independent streak.

Now the state is one of four that is sitting out an effort to create voluntary national standards for what students are expected to learn in school.

Forty-six states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are on board with the project, which is spearheaded by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is a backer. Sunday he sweetened his support with $350 million in federal stimulus money to be used for the creation of national tests.


House barely agrees, 58-57, to send the bill to Perdue


Students and administrators might as well be living on different planets when it comes to school bullying.
Students say it is common for bullies to taunt and hit them or their classmates, and for teachers to do little to stop it. Superintendents and principals say that bullying is a small problem and that policies to discourage it work well.
The bill requires that teachers, students and volunteers report any incidents of bullying, but it leaves the details of reporting procedures and punishments up to the school districts.


Executive Summary

The Opportunity Equation. Transforming Mathematics and Science Education for Citizenship and the Global Economy

The United States must mobilize for excellence in mathematics and science education so that all students— not just a select few, or those fortunate enough to attend certain schools—achieve much higher levels of math and science learning. Over the coming decades, today’s young people will depend on the skills and knowledge developed from learning math and science to analyze problems, imagine solutions, and bring productive new ideas into being.
Knowledge and skills from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—the so-called STEM fields—are crucial to virtually every endeavor of individual and community life.

Events & Happenings:

Calendar of Events:

  1. The National Middle School Association is looking for an editor for their Research in Middle Level Education Journal (RMLE).
  2. NMSA’s Annual Conference:  NMSA ‘08 Technology Focus VideoNMSA ‘09 Invitation Video:  Indianapolis, IN Conference  November 5-7, 2009.  Individual Registration is now open.
  3. ATTENTION Michigan Association of Middle School Educators & Friends: MAMSE is putting together a bus for the trip to the National Middle School Association’s Annual Conference in Indianapolis, IN this fall.  Ride down to the conference in a luxury bus.  With all the conversations with middle school teachers on the bus, I wonder if we could call this a mini-MAMSE conference?  There’s nothing like getting together with people who love the people we love:  our students.  Getting together with folks like that is energizing and priceless.  Email Teresa Sutherland for information and details.  Don’t forget to mention you heard about it on Middle School Matters.
  4. NMSA 09 Conference Connection:  Stay connected before, during, and after the conference!  Start your packing lists for the conference using packwhiz.com!
  5. Keynote speakers for NMSA ’09 have been announced:  Daniel Pink (political connections) opens and Rick Wormeli closes.
  6. NMSA has a new publication on the role of middle grades in drop-out prevention.  You can download it as a pdf file.
  7. Institute for Middle Level Leadership Santa Ana Pueblo, NM July 12-15, 2009; Ft. Lauderdale FL July 19-22, 2009
    Registration Still Open Deadline Extended
  8. ISTE Eduverse Talks are the recorded sessions held on ISTE Island every week.  Join ISTE in their Second Life conference location for their weekly talks on education.
  9. The Michigan Association of Middle School Educators Annual Conference is coming up March 4-5, 2010 in Dexter, MI.  MAMSE will be celebrating its 40th Anniversary!
  10. Classroom 2.0’s Live Calendar.
  11. Classroom 2.0’s Ning Blog:  This week’s discussion is on “The BUZZ about LearnCentral” for Teachers.  Archived content is available.
  12. Second Life:
    • No Events specified.  Regular Tuesday meetings are scheduled.  See the board on the ISTE Island for up to the minute details.
    • Video:  Educational Uses of Second Life