Sunday, October 31, 2004

Inappropriate Prom Dress

Inappropriate Prom Dress
Number 2 Pencilhas the story on a $495.00 prom dress that is more suited for a house of ill fame. The dress itself is sold in some of the more trendy shops around the country, and it is said to be a good seller.

As a classroom teacher that has chaperoned many school dances, I can say that such an outfit as this would not make it past the front door at any school-sponsored function in our mid-sized south-western California school district.

That's because we live in a relatively conservative enclave in a state noted for its liberalism.

Having said that, over on the more "cosmopolitan" (sorry!) coast it may be a completely different story. There are some school districts that would probably admit a female wearing such a "dress," especially if the parents insisted, (after spending nearly $500.00) or threatened the principal with a complaint to the district's superintendent and/or governing board.

Most California school administrators will do almost anything to avoid being the subject of a written parent complaint, as such complaints are likely to damage the administrator's prospects for promotion.

Allowing the wearer to enter the prom will raise a number of eyebrows and set tongues waging, but will not likely result in any formal complaints.

Update: TeenWonk just chimed in with a "No way would I wear that dress." (The WifeWonk and myself are relieved....)

Other Commentary: Michelle over at A Small Victory
is also relieved. Wizbang! has an outstanding post that raises the possibility that this is a hoax!

Main Page/Latest Posts

The Kid, The Costume, And School Administration

Kids' View
I teach in a junior high school. Our school has two grades, 7 and 8. Like most schools, (see exceptions in previous Announcements) many kids choose to wear their Halloween costumes to school.

This year, a child came dressed as Hitler. Somewhere, he had obtained a dark brown dress jacket, khaki pants, and even had a red swastika-emblazoned armband. Naturally, there was a little mustache.

He is in my last class of the day.

At the end of the day, after dismissal, I called him aside and asked him, "Did any of your other 6 teachers say anything to you about your costume?"

With a look of surprise, the kid remarked, "No."

Do you know what Hitler did?

The student answered, "He killed a lot of people."

After sending the child home, I had time to reflect upon the situation. Usually, during the days before Halloween, the school's bulletin will request that kids refrain from wearing costumes that involve "hate groups." The bulletin always mentioned Hitler and the Ku Klux Klan by name.

This year, the school's new principal (and his two new assistant principals) failed to provide any guidelines for the kids (and their parents) to follow. The school's administration has become very hierarchical, and is very conscious of its exalted "status." It doesn't ask for teachers' opinions.

To them, we are, "Just teachers."

So who's at fault when "Hitler" showed up? The parents, the kid, the teachers, the school's administration, or some combination of all four?

Poker Playing Kids

N.Y. Times Photo
Who says that what kids watch on TV doesn't matter? From The New York Times comes this story of kids that have learned to play poker from watching celebrity poker tournaments on television.

Many children, particularly groups of boys "sleeping-over," with their friends are having marathon poker sessions. As with TV, the favorite version is "Texas Hold 'Em."

We here at the 'Wonks think that is too bad, because, as every kid in our generation knew, the best kind of poker was "Dr. Pepper," where 2s, 4s, 8s, one-eyed jacks, and suicide kings were wild.

How times have changed... How times haven't changed!

Saturday, October 30, 2004

The Education Wonks' Linking Guidelines

Here at the Education Wonks, we always have, and always will, celebrate, "The Free Exchange Of Thoughts And Ideas."

In order to further the above goal, and after some deep thought and consideration, we have developed these guidelines regarding "links" to other Blogs or Websites.

Our Blogroll is divided into two groups:

Full-Time Teaching Faculty:

  • Are those Blogs that we carefully read several times each week, and rely upon to provide us with stimulating viewpoints. They represent a variety of political ideologies.
  • These Sites will include outlooks ranging from Ultra Conservative to Highly Liberal.
  • We actively comment upon, cite in our postings, correspond with, or otherwise engage in dialogue(s) with the author.(s)

Adjunct Teaching Faculty:

  • The Adjunct Faculty are those Blogs or resources that we read at least once per week, and comment upon, cite, or otherwise interact with the author (s) on an occasional or irregular basis. These sites may be about education, politics, business, the arts, religion, The Blogging World, philosophy, or just about anything else under the sun.
  • They are an invaluable resource to us (and our readers) in that they furnish the vital scope and depth needed to broaden and deepen our understanding of the issues of the day.
  • All (with Certain Exceptions) are invited to join The Faculty by following the procedures outlined below:

Joining The Faculty:

  • Because we wish to obtain a knowledge base that is as wide in scope as possible, we will exchange links with just about any author that is willing to reciprocate by linking to Our Campus. Educators, Liberals, Moderates, Conservatives, Philosophers, Pundits, Satirists, light-hearted and just plain fun sites are all cordially welcome.
  • We do reserve the right however, not to link to sites based upon their having content that would be counterproductive to fostering healthy dialogue, i.e. Neo Nazis, Other Hate Groups, and Pornographic Sites.

In order to become a Member of Our Faculty, simply add the Education Wonks to your Blogroll, (or manually link our campus to your site) then send a confirming email to:

We will respond to all requests, and if for some reason your Blog cannot be added, we will explain why.

Your site will be added to The Faculty soon after the receipt of your notification, with confirmation to you via return email. Most new faculty will initially be assigned to our Adjunct Teaching Faculty, as the amount of time available to the writers of the 'Wonks for the regular reading of other authors is limited.

Political Correctism Run Amok Files: Arizona Now Infested

Expelled From School!
Having read our recent post about a loony-toon Washington State school district suppressing Halloween out of fear of offending real witches, one of our TipWonks has alerted us to this article about how several Arizona schools are barring Halloween activities.

Here at the 'Wonks, we thought that states like Arizona were above this type of idiocy, but we can now see that we were in error. Political correctism is running amok all over the country.

It's too bad that kids can't be kids, even on Halloween.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Teresa Watch: Pittsburgh Stylings

Kerry's Chances?
Our Blogging Idol Matt Drudge has a little tale about how Teresa is criticizing 'Neanderthal' attacks on her husband's good character. The question that we are pondering here at the 'Wonks is this: If criticizing John Kerry is considered "Neanderthal," could we assume that the criticism of Teresa is thought of as "Divine?"

From The Leave Those Kids Alone Files: Another Possible Female Predator

Yet another female teacher has been accused of having sexual relations with her students. Middle school Susan Sharp (no photo available...yet) was arrested earlier this week for allegedly engaging in sexual relations and supplying illegal drugs to four male high school students.

If Ms. Sharp is innocent, it would not be the first time that a teacher has been falsely accused of this type of disgusting behavior. But if she is guilty, this would be but the latest example of a pattern of female teachers having illicit relations with their students.

What if this had been a man accused of giving drugs to four female students and then having sex with them? The national outcry would be stupendous.

Do we sense a double standard here?

New Solution To An Old Problem

Old Problem
The problem of bullying continues to increase in our schools. It seems like each and every day we hear some new account of a child being intimidated, sometimes to the point of suicide. Another extreme reaction to bullying is what occurred at Columbine High School.

It appears now that
some parents might have found a solution to this age-old problem. In a turnabout, the hunters have become the hunted. What parents of victimized children are doing is taking the bullies to court, suing for damages, and getting restraining orders against the abusers.

We here at the Education Wonks already think that there is too much litigation in our society, but our school systems can't (or won't) protect children from these junior mafiosos.

One thing about a law-suit, it sure gets the attention of the person that is being sued. For our schools to function properly, they must be safe havens for our kids. If a law suit is what it takes to keep your child safe from bullies, then so be it.

Having said that, the EdWonk doesn't think that those "Little Rascals" episodes involving Alfalfa vs. Butch would have been nearly so funny if Alfalfa had got a court order instead of knocking Butch out with that right-cross in the boxing ring.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

EdWonk Questions Senator Barbara Boxer

Sign Of The Times
United States Senator Barbara Boxer (Dem. California) came to town today, stumping for votes. After learning of her impending arrival from a TipWonk, I simply could not resist the temptation of rushing from my classroom over to the local Eagles' Lodge. Since we live only nine miles from the Mexican border, I had a couple of questions that I just had to try to ask the Senator. To not even make an attempt would have caused me great pain.

Boxer, noted for her liberal views, gave the type of speech that one would expect of an incumbent senator that is comfortably leading her opponent. Her speech was full of praise for local candidates and the county's Democratic organization. She then went on to state how the fate of our Democracy hinges on electing John Kerry in what she termed, "The election of our lifetimes."

Afterwards, she met with local media in the back of the room and answered a few questions.

While the local media-types were serving Ms. Boxer"softball" questions about the rainy weather and how exciting it is that young people are so interested in this election, I (with tape recorder in hand) bluffed my way through various camera crews to the front of the "pack" and sought an opportunity to ask the type of question that Ms. Boxer really needed to be asked.

When Boxer asked a reporter if he had any questions, he said "Oh I don't have any questions." It was at this moment that I said, "Senator.. I do!" Boxer then turned to me.

Transcript (from audio tape)
  • EdWonk: Senator, why doesn't the Democratic Party support using our military to help seal our borders against the waves of illegal immigrants that continue coming across?
  • Boxer: Well, actually, we have a much stronger border patrol than we ever had, and I have in the past said that we should use whatever assets that we have...
  • EdWonk: Would that include our military?
  • Boxer: Unfortunately, if you talk to George Bush, he doesn't have enough military now ah.. in Iraq.. and so we've got major problems.
  • EdWonk: So, are you saying that you support using our military?
  • Boxer: No, I didn't! That's what you said.. I said...I said that we need enough people to make sure that we secure the border and I have always had that position.
Having said that, the surprised Boxer abruptly turned away, and, returning to her "talking points," began making statements to the assembled media about why its in everyone's vital interest to support John Kerry.

Boxer's remarks were just another example of an elected politician from a border state refusing to seriously address the issue of our "broken borders." The fact that so many legislators (from both sides of aisle) refuse to even discuss viable solutions to this long-standing dilemma is what Michelle Malkin has termed, "The six ton elephant in the room."

Everyone knows its there, but nobody seems willing to talk about it.

Here on the Southern Frontier, the "wide-open border" is a frequent topic of discussion. The photo-ops, the "Operation This" or "Operation That" grab some headlines and are soon forgotten. Once in a while, a federal official or two appears and promises to "beef-up" border enforcement. At times a few of our under-staffed and overwhelmed Border Patrol are temporarily assigned to the area, only to be stripped away soon after the cameras have been turned off.

Local residents treat such make-believe "media events" with the contempt that they deserve. Everyone along the border knows that nothing ever changes, nothing is ever actually done to fix the dilemma.

The huge burden on our health care and education systems has been well-documented. Perhaps the most scandalous examples are those pregnant women that (legally and illegally) cross the border simply to give birth. Their children, of course, are born U.S. citizens. In almost every case, taxpayers pick-up the tab.

And the waves of illegal immigrants continue to flood unchecked across the border.

As you may or may not already be aware, members of the Watcher's Council hold a vote every week on what they consider to be the most link-worthy pieces of writing around... per the Watcher's instructions, I am submitting one of my own posts for consideration in the upcoming nominations process.

Here is the most recent
winning council post, here is the most recent winning non-council post, here is the list of results for the latest vote, and here is the initial posting of all the nominees that were voted on.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Teachers Forgotten Again?

While chasing down a much more scandalous story, (in the same county) I came across this little note in the Marshall County Kentucky Tribune Courier about a County School Board Meeting. In the meeting, the Governing Board expressed its delight that the local schools had achieved high test scores.

According to the paper, the Board recognized principals and students for their hard work. Noticeably missing (at least from the paper's account) was any recognition for the teachers that had also undoubtedly worked hard to help the students succeed.

This is a concern that both EdWonk and TeachWonk hear repeatedly from classroom teachers around the country.

Is it important to recognize students and school administrators for hard work? Of course it is important. But it is also absolutely vital to honor the contributions of the teachers that actually work with children in the classroom

School Psychologist Gets Jail Time

The New York Post has this item concerning a school Psychologist that has been sentenced to 90 days in the pokey for second degree child abuse.

Lloyd Slater, 56, was employed in Public School 146 in New York City. The jail term resulted from allegations that Slater had fondled three female students, ages 11 to 13.

The EdWonk thinks that this man deserved much more than he was given. On the other hand, disgraced ex-teacher Mary Kay LeTourneau (a female) was given no jail time when she was initially convicted (on a charge of Child Rape) for having sexual relations with her 12 year old student. (She consequently repeated the offense, and only then was sentenced to a term of 7.5 years.)

As a society, we need to send a message that our children our "off-limits" to these school house predators. Therefore, we strongly advocate the imposition of maximum prison term on those educators that molest children.

Some Reasons Why Bush Will Win

Four More Years
In six days, the people will finish casting their ballots for the next President of the United States. And as was stated earlier, there will be much litigation, charges of fraud, gnashing of teeth, tearing of hair, and maybe even a little garden variety brutality. But when the dust settles, we here at The Education Wonks are convinced that George Bush will be awarded another four-year term.

We think that some of the contributing factors behind George Bush's successful campaign are the following: (in no particular order of importance)

  • George Bush is excellent at appearing the part of everyman. When he stumbles (or mumbles) thorough an answer, (as at a debate) or makes a verbal mis-step,(as in a rare press-conference) the many people sympathize with Bush. They do this because in Bush, they see themselves up there on stage.
  • Bush's allies (the Swiftboat Vets) did an excellent job of impeaching Kerry's one strength, his record of combat service in Vietnam. By making Kerry's record the issue, it diverted any full-scale attack on George Bush's own Vietnam-era actions.
  • The "Rathergate" escapade tended to insulate Bush even further from "frontal attacks" by Kerry on Bush's Air National Guard service.
  • The First Lady has proven to be a definite asset to Bush's re-election effort. This is easily demonstrated when Laura Bush is compared with Teresa Heinz-Kerry, who many believe (including us) has been a serious liability to the Kerry campaign. Ms. Bush provides an element of refinement and "class" which is an effective complement to Bush's folksy "down home" style.
  • Kerry's supporters are concentrated in a few traditionally liberal strongholds. (the Pacific coast, New York, New England) Bush's support is both broad and relatively deep. In the Electoral College (which is the only vote that matters) Bush continues to enjoy a definite advantage going into the last week.
  • Bush's various operatives have very carefully kept to their "talking-points" and have stayed on message. Whatever one may think of Karl Rove, he has proven (once again) to be the superlative strategic planner.
  • The Republican Party continues to be very unified. There will be very few Republicans "breaking ranks" to vote for Kerry.
  • Ralph Nader will "bleed off" a sufficient number of votes (from Kerry) to make a difference in certain Battleground States.
  • People simply like George Bush, even if they disagree with some of his policies.

George Bush has run a very effective campaign. If he wins, (which we believe he will) Bush will be the first President ever re-elected that has lost the popular vote for his first term. Because of the Iraq War, the economy, and the deficit, Bush should be a supremely vulnerable incumbent.

It is Bush's good fortune that the Democrats nominated what (many believe) is the weakest candidate (and certainly the most liberal) since George McGovern in 1972. The Democratic High Command will "rue the day" that they continued to allow the liberal states of Iowa and New Hampshire to practically choose the party's standard bearer every four years.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Reasons Behind Kerry's Impending Defeat

Going To The Wire!
One week from today, Senator John Kerry will go down to electoral defeat. Oh, we here at the 'Wonks are fairly certain that there will be quite a bit of litigation, charges of fraud, tearing of hair, gnashing of teeth, and maybe even a little garden variety brutality.

But in the end, Kerry is gonna lose. The Big Question is: Why?

The Education Wonks believe that some of the reasons for Kerry's impending defeat are: (in no particular order)

  • Kerry did not develop an effective strategy for answering those devastating ads broadcast by "Swiftboat Veterans For Truth."
  • He took an entire month off from campaigning in order to vacation on swanky Nantucket Island. (Someone forgot to tell Kerry that is what one does after the election is won.) Karl Rove could not have staged more damaging images than those of Kerry windsurfing near his beach-front estate.
  • Teresa. She is probably the first candidate's spouse to actually cost a candidate votes. Her demeanor and utterances continue to be damaging to a Democratic Nominee that is attempting to foster an image as a "man of the people."
  • Wide publicity of the Kerry's five large homes.
  • Kerry allowed his opponent (Bush) to define the issues, and, against all conventional campaign strategy, allowed the incumbent President to make the challenger's record an issue.
  • Kerry did not fully exploit Bush's weaknesses regarding Osama Bin Ladin. (a fatal error)
  • Kerry's idiotic response to the question: "Knowing what you know now, would you have voted to support the war?" When Kerry answered in the affirmative, he effectively alienated whatever anti-war vote (or sentiment) that is out there.
  • Kerry has yet to annunciate in a convincing manner any alternatives to Bush's plan (or lack thereof) for escaping from the quagmire that the Iraq War has become.
  • The Democrats never could "stay on message" long enough to gain any traction with voters in the key "Battleground States."
  • Kerry was caught lying several times. For example, after stating that he owned no gas guzzling SUVs, it was then pointed out that there were several parked in various garages on different Heinz-Kerry estates. Kerry awkwardly responded, "Those belong to the family."
  • That incredibly ill-advised remark about Vice President Cheney's daughter during the debate.
  • Kerry has allowed Bush (and his operatives) to label him a "Tax And Spend Massachusetts Liberal."
  • People just do not like John Kerry.

Without a doubt, Mr. Kerry will get a large number of votes, especially in liberal strongholds like California and New York. Will it be a plurality of the popular vote? Probably not, but because it is the vote of the Electoral College that chooses the President, it will not matter.

And the world will continue to be Safe From Teresa, who can then happily use her Gulfstream 5 Jet, The Flying Squirrel (EdWonk still finds that name side-splittingly funny.) to return to the make-believe world of her and her limousine liberal buddies.

As you may or may not already be aware, members of the Watcher's Council hold a vote every week on what they consider to be the most link-worthy pieces of writing around... per the Watcher's instructions, I am submitting one of my own posts for consideration in the upcoming nominations process.

Here is the most recent
winning council post, here is the most recent winning non-council post, here is the list of results for the latest vote, and here is the initial posting of all the nominees that were voted on.

Monday, October 25, 2004

More California Insanity

Get A Rope!
There is much stupidity here in California. One of the things that we always seem to do is ruin a good thing. And ballot Proposition 66 is but the latest in a long line of instances where we will allow a good thing to be ruined.

Here in California, we have a highly effective "three strikes and your out" law. What that means is that when a person is convicted of three felonies, they are sentenced to life in prison.

The result of this strict law has been the lowest crime rate in
35 years.

So what is the California response? In typical liberal California fashion, we are about to soften the rules. If Proposition 66 passes, the result will be thousands of felons being turned loose. Even Governor Schwarzenegger is against this proposal.

More felons on our streets translates to greater risk for our children.

Those that are "pro 66" point-out that there are felons sitting in jail for such miniscule reasons as stealing slices of pizza and other minor felonies. Here at The Education Wonks, we believe that a felony is a felony. The typical criminal commits many criminal acts before getting caught and prosecuted.

For all you felons out there, here is the secret for staying out of prison: Don't break the law.

For those of you felons that insist on a more positive type of message: Obey the law.

There, we have now said it two different ways. Even though the average criminal tends to be mentally deficient, even they should be capable of understanding that.

And if we vote to "water-down" this highly effective law, perhaps it is us that need to have our collective "heads examined."

Orwell's "1984" In TeachWonk's School System

I teach children in a medium-sized California school system that consists of 11 campuses. In my school system, administrators have begun to do something that is very disturbing to most teachers. What they are doing is using little hand-held computers to keep track of what we are doing in the classroom.

All over town, administrators are disrupting classes by dropping in several times per week and watching us while they type into their 1984 style computers. Each time they "visit" they are recording where the teacher is in the room, what the children are doing, how many are talking, and whether or not the teacher is moving around the room. Then without a word, they get up and leave.

This great amount of data-entry and keeping tabs on us have begun to make us think that we are living in some sort of Orwellean setting where everyone and everything is being watched. And everything is being reported to Big Brother. (aka the Superintendent)

We teachers are curious to know if it would be alright if we bought some Palm Pilots, opened their office doors, dropped in, and watched them work for a while. Perhaps we could record how long they leave campus for their "nooners."

Our opinion is that it will not be long before we will have to sign documents professing our love for Big Brother.

Kerry's Sunday

If this is Sunday, then John Kerry must be attending an African American church. CNN is reporting that for the fourth consecutive week, the very Catholic John Kerry is attending a Protestant African American Church. Taking a page from Bill Clinton's campaign plan, Kerry has been spending quite a bit of time in African American churches lately.

The difference is that Kerry has only expressed an interest in predominately black churches during this campaign season, while Clinton attended sevices on a variety of occasions. John Kerry is no Bill Clinton.

This week we find Kerry trolling for votes in Fort Lauderdale's A.M.E. Church. From the church's pulpit, Kerry urged the congregation to "Vote their hearts," he also stated, "Faith without deeds is dead." Strangely missing was Kerry's usual fiery rhetoric about stolen votes and "One million disenfranchised African-American voters."

If his behavior the past four Sundays is an indicator, we can probably guess where Kerry will be next Sunday. What The Education Wonks would like to know is if Kerry's new found passion for Protestant worship will continue after November 2nd.

Being a politician, we think that going to any church will do John Kerry some good.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Mary Kay LeTourneau Again!

Wants Book Deal?
CNN has once again re-broadcast disgraced ex-teacher Mary Kay LeTourneau's interview with Larry King that was originally aired on Monday, October 11, 2004. This "interview" has been sent over the airways at least eight times since its original broadcast.

Not only does this woman not regret her crimes, she actually justifies them by saying her 12 year old victim was "aggressive."

Now the lovely couple are contemplating marriage, and of course they are going to need a nest egg. We here at Education Wonks believe that all this publicity is part of LeTourneau's "set-up" strategy for a book or movie deal.

Shame on Larry King for staging this interview in the first place, and shame on him for feeding LeTourneau those famous softball questions of his. We are especially disappointed with CNN.

Teachers Behaving Badly: Teacher Brawls With Parent Down In Macon

Issued To Teachers?
As a class of shocked students looked on, their teacher was arrested on a charge of battery after fighting with a parent. The parent had entered the teacher's classroom in order to retrieve her daughter's bookbag. When the teacher would not give up the bag, the fracas ensued.

Bruce-Weir Elementary School teacher Katrina Ann Rucker allegedly hit her victim with a chair, and then punched, kicked, and finally dragged the parent by the hair out of the classroom into the hallway. Teachers and an administrator had to pull the two women apart. The parent, Lurella Amica, was treated for a broken nose and possible concussion.

After spending a few hours in the county pokey,
she was then released on bond. Rucker told the press that she was defending herself after the parent supposedly struck the first blow. The first-year teacher has been placed on administrative leave by the Bibb County Public School District pending a complete investigation.

Here at The Education Wonks, we try not to preach, but we never condone the use of violence as a effective method for teachers to effectively deal with an irate or aggressive parent, no matter how tempting the circumstances.

The EdWonk does not believe that teachers get paid enough to engage in pugilistic exhibitions. If the facts are as reported, Ms. Rucker needs to be Educated by the penal system, and never be allowed near children again.

Ignorance Isn't Bliss

In titling our previous posting, The Education Wonks invoked the name of George Orwell's terrifying futuristic novel, 1984.

Our fellow faculty member, Ms. Beach, in her classroom
Coffee With Cranky Beach, also cites a line, "Ignorance Isn't Bliss" from Orwell's 1984 in her post's title.

Once again, we see the power of Orwell's masterwork. This power is amply demonstrated by the fact that two faculty members cite it to demonstrate two very different concepts.

Orwell's "1984" In Tokyo

Japanese Students
One of our TipWonks has alerted us that The San Diego Union-Tribune has a story about a Tokyo school that places radio ID tags with students for their protection. What they are doing is putting R.F.I.D. (Radio Frequency Identification) transmitters in the kids' backpacks. Each time the child enters or exits his or her school, an electronic record is generated, and an email notification is sent to the child's parents. The aim is to protect children from kidnapping.

With some exceptions, Japan has a tradition of little violent crime. Lately, however, the Japanese have been shocked by several child abductions, and this is part of a strategy that has been developed to combat the problem.

The cost per tag is a relatively low $31.80 each, and two schools are participating in the pilot project.

We here at the Education Wonks think that this idea has some merit, as long as enrollment in the program is voluntary. Even though the chances of a stranger abducting any child in particular is low, the extra measure of safety that would be offered by such a system is well-worth its cost.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

The Teacher Made Them Do It

School Restroom
In Tuscaloosa, Alabama a great Evil has been perpetrated upon several boys that can't hit the target. We here at The Education Wonks don't know whether to laugh, cry, or be outraged. That is only the first decision. Do we need to lay blame on the teacher, parents, kids, or all three? We ask that you, the reader decide for yourself.

Bad Aims, Worse Seeds

P. Smith, W. Wolff
When these two were arrested for hurling pies at Ann Coulter it did not conjure-up an image of the humorous "pie fight" found in a Buster Keeton silent movie, but an image of "Buffoons Gone Wild." It is the fact that this sorry episode happened in a University that is so sad. Universities are supposed to be havens for "the free exchange of thoughts and ideas."

The Smoking Gun gives these hooligan's names as Phillip Edgar Smith and William Zachary Wolff.

Luckily, for Ms. Coulter, the boys didn't have a very good aim, because between the two of them they only managed to get a little pie filling on her shoulder. As anyone that has seen the video can attest, Ann has some pretty fast reflexes.

Congratulations, boys. The two of you managed to frighten a lone woman that weighs all of 115 lbs. We are sure that must have taken lots of courage. And we are certain that your parents are bragging about your exploits to their neighbors.

The Education Wonks strongly believe that all viewpoints, be they conservative or liberal must be allowed to be freely exchanged, and then debated on their merits. The open debating of ideas is the best method of defeating lunacy.

To attempt the suppression of any political discourse is to display an unbelievable degree of arrogance. What it really means is that the would-be suppressor believes that he or she alone can determine what is fitting for the ears of others.

When one side or the other attempts to silence dissenting voices through such a stunt as this, it brings nothing but discredit to the cause that the perpetrators are trying to promote.

Friday, October 22, 2004

The Political Correctism Run Amok Files: School District Suppresses Halloween

Got Spells?
The State of Washington, notorious for its liberal tendencies, has set yet another paradigm for the Liberal Universe. ABC News is indicating that schools in a large district (20,000 students) are canceling Halloween this year. District spokeswoman Karen Hanson indicated that Superintendent Dr. Tony Apostle of the Puyallup School District made this decision for three reasons:
  1. Halloween Parties and Parades waste valuable classroom time.
  2. Some families cannot afford costumes, and the celebrations thus can create embarrassment for the children.
  3. Halloween celebrations and children dressed in Halloween costumes might be offensive to real witches.

The "spokeswoman" indicated that, "Witches with pointy noses and things like that are not respective symbols of the Wiccan [The modern name for a type of witchcraft.-EdWonk] religion and so we want to be respectful of that."

The EdWonk finds this to be asinine. Here at The Education Wonks, we have always tried to avoid using terms like "barking moonbats." But on this occasion, we just can't help ourselves. This really is too much, so we won't bother to address the first two "reasons," and only examine the third, which we suspect is the real purpose behind this suppression.

Aren't liberals the ones that are always saying that there isn't enough tolerance in the world? What about the rights of 99.99% of kids that are not believers in Wicca to make a political statement about witchcraft?

Reliable sources have informed us that 94.8% of real witches will be voting for George Bush, so of course anything that might influence young people into not declaring themselves to be Democrats when they register to vote must be suppressed in Washington State.

And what about the Goths? Aren't they too a belittled and downtrodden minority? Isn't the suppression of Goth-like clothing an infringement on a child's right to express him or her self and make a political statement about the Undead? Or are Goths prohibited from wearing their distinctive black apparel on Halloween in order to avoid insulting those that sleep in coffins and have allergies to garlic?

Canceling Halloween because it would be offensive to real witches would be like canceling Christmas because it offends elves and fat people.

This is the sort of nonsense that causes the public to collectively "roll their eyes." (Except in Washington State, where the moonbats will continue their barking.)

From The Class Act Files: Laura Bush

Once again, First Lady Laura Bush is displaying the class that is so notably lacking in Teresa Heinz Kerry. The New York Times is reporting that when asked about Heinz-Kerry's disparaging remarks about the first lady in an interview with USATODAY a couple of days ago, Ms. Bush said, "It doesn't matter to me, it was perfectly alright. She apologized and she didn't even need to apologize."

Continuing to display the tact for which she is well known, Ms. Bush went on to say, "I know how tough it is. Actually, I know those trick questions too."

We here at The Education Wonks have been speculating whether or not Heinz-Kerry will be the first candidate's spouse to actually cost a nominee votes.

The EdWonk definitely knows that First Lady Laura Bush will garner some votes for her husband.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

CNN Is At It Again!

With that patented CNN look of smugness on his face, Anderson Cooper is happily informing the audience that John Kerry has begun to close the lead President Bush opened following the last debate. The latest numbers:

Bush 48%
Kerry 46%

Many (including the EdWonk) believe that CNN not only tilts to the left, but has been sliding toward the abyss of liberalism for years. An argument can be made that large numbers of the viewing audience were displeased by CNNs perceived liberal bias and deserted the network in favor of Fox News, as borne out by recent Nielson ratings.

Those that ponder the possibilities of "vast left-wing media conspiracies" argue that CNN is continually "playing-up" Kerry's favorable poll numbers in hopes of persuading what few undecided voters remain "to jump on the bandwagon" and support John Kerry, thereby possibly making enough of a difference to "tilt" an election in one or more battleground states.

Is CNN firmly in the Liberal Camp? There is only one way to tell for sure. Watch, and decide for yourself.

Teresa Watch: Special Edition

She Did It Again!
I promised certain people that I would limit my notes concerning Teresa Heinz-Kerry to the Weekly Round-up. But as Teresa's latest utterances involve educators and education, they demand a response. To not do so would cause the EdWonk great pain. Her remarks concern First Lady Laura Bush and her career in public education.

For anyone that has been out of the "electronic loop," for the last 24 hours, a brief synopsis:

Teresa gave an interview to
USATODAY in which she made some comments that show the true nature of Ms. Heinz-Kerry. When asked by the reporter how she would be different (from Laura Bush) as first lady, Teresa responded, "Well, you know, I don't know Laura Bush. But she seems to be calm, and she has a sparkle in her eye, which is good. But I don't know that she's ever had a real job--I mean, since she's been grown up."

John Kerry's handlers were justifiably horrified, and an
an apology from Teresa was soon fabricated and released to the media. Allegedly, Teresa had "forgotten" that Laura Bush had worked as a teacher and librarian in the Texas public school system.

Attacking a person as nice as Ms. Bush would be like someone attacking a beloved little sister. It just is not done.

For this Wannabe Lady to say such a thing about the First Lady shows to all the world a sample of what Heinz-Kerry would be like as First Lady. (Oops, Teresa doesn't like the term "First Lady"--more about that this weekend.) Heinz-Kerry seems to know nothing about self-control and consideration for others, what us "ordinary people" call good manners.

She is what she appears to be: A wealthy woman that has her every whim indulged and has never had to answer to anyone for what she says or does.
She has probably never heard the word no applied to her, though we are sure that she has applied it countless times to others. Such individuals as Teresa consider "pushing around little people," as a form of entertainment to "liven up" a lazy Saturday afternoon.

What we have always found mystifying here at The Education Wonks, is the fact that many people justify her lack of self-control by saying, "She speaks her mind. She is so frank. She tells it like it is. Etc."

And what about Teresa's job history? According to her bio, she "worked" in New York at the United Nations as a translator for a couple of years before she met her first husband on a tennis court in Geneva, Switzerland.

Of course, she does "work" by traveling around the world in her private jet, The Flying Squirrel (Your EdWonk will always find that name hilarious.) and appearing at this or that social function on behalf of the various charitable trusts that she oversees. We are sure that Teresa herself would consider hob-nobbing with wealthy liberals in some of the world's swankiest locales as labor, as she must periodically leave one of her five large homes.

It appears to us here at The Education Wonks that Teresa is the one that has never held a real job.

Boy Scouts Returning To Public Schools

In a move sure to anger a variety of people, The Christian Science Monitor is reporting that The United States Department Of Education is poised to require that organizations such as The Boy Scouts Of America be given greater access to public school facilities, if those facilities are made available to other groups.

In recent years, many schools have limited or even eliminated access to facilities by the Scouts because of their controversial positions regarding homosexuality and atheism.

While the subject of access by the Scouts (or any organization) is open to much debate, here at The Education Wonks we feel that such questions are better addressed by local school boards.

School boards enjoy the mandate of the community that can only be provided through the ballot. Therefore (at least in theory) boards are accountable to the communities which they represent.

The problem with any federal regulatory agency such as The United States Department of Education is the fact that there is no accountability for the decisions which it imposes.

It is hypocritical that this particular agency places such emphasis on accountability for educators while exempting itself from any (and all) responsibility for changes in policy. We believe that is wrong.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

College Costs Rising Faster Than Inflation

Higher And Higher
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer is telling us that the cost of going to college is still going up. That is not news to parents that have been feeling the bite in the pocketbook for years.

The sad news is that tuition alone rose an average of 10.5% in public four-year schools, and 6% at private institutions.

Including room and board, the overall cost of going to a public school increased 8% to a total of $11,354. Attending a private school is now a staggering $27,516. (That is more than the starting salary of public school teachers in several states.)

In contrast, the official rate of inflation for the last 12 months (as determined by the Federal Government) was a relatively modest 2.7% overall. (To the EdWonk, there is no such thing as "modest inflation," as he has had no pay increase in three years.)

What about financial aid? Well grants have decreased, but loans have increased. The net-net is that a typical student's degree now has a very large I.O.U. attached to it. According to the study, that debt is now a whopping $20,000 on average.

What is a mystery to us here at The Education Wonks is this: With so many teachers getting pay increases that are less than inflation, (If they get any at all. See above.) where is all the money going?

True Tales From The Classroom: What Is Freedom? Part II

Several weeks ago, (the first week of school) I asked my seventh grade history students to respond to the following question written on the chalkboard:

What is Freedom?

Yesterday, (see post) I selected 10 answers from students that definitely needed to be re-taught some of the basic tenants of American patriotism.

Today, I present what I think are the 10 best responses: (verbatim)

  1. Freedom is not to be anybody's slave, and to do what you want.
  2. Freedom is when you have your own rights and can do almost anything you want.
  3. I think freedom is that you could do whichever you want. But not do things against the law.
  4. Freedom is when everyone has their own rights.
  5. Freedom is where you can go where you want and do what you want as long as it is right.
  6. When you have the right to vote and do what you want.
  7. Freedom can be earned and it can be taken away.
  8. The privilege of making our own decisions.
  9. It is the right to do what you want or be what you want without someone telling you.
  10. When you could do what you want as long as it is legal.

Out of the mouths of babes........

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Kids Threatened By Internet Bullies

Internet Bullies!
The San Diego Union-Tribune has profiled a new schoolyard threat to our children that comes in the form of Cyber Venom. The internet has now become just one of many tools that bullies are using to embarrass and intimidate other children. The harassment runs the full gamut from emails threatening to "beat-up" kids, to well-constructed and maintained web sites designed to continuously mock and humiliate a targeted child or group.

In what is just another example of what is being called "Cyber Bullying," one boy constructed a "hit list" of his classmates. According to the Union-Tribune, another some bullies even design web sites with names like, "top five biggest homosexuals" or "top 20 gayest guys and gayest girls."

Many schools say that nothing can be done because the harassment takes place off school property. They are aware of the problem however, and say that it is becoming pervasive.

The Education Wonks believe that if parents did a better job of supervising their children's computer use, this type of bullying would decrease substantially. Sadly, it is the parents that have become the enablers, and therefore the unwitting accomplices, of this new version of an old problem. The EdWonk was surprised to learn how pervasive the problem has become.

So the question is this: Do we know for sure what our kids are doing on-line? And if the answer is no, then why not?

True Tales From The Classroom: What Is Freedom?

Several weeks ago, I asked my seventh grade history students to respond in writing to the following, which was written upon the chalkboard:

What is Freedom?

(Ten answers are reproduced below verbatim.)
  1. freedom is life for people and be free and bote [vote] for your freedom.
  2. Freedom Is so paverful thanks to Martin luther King that free all the slaves.
  3. Freedom is when your out of school.
  4. It means to have no Problems.
  5. Freedom is when you go to college
  6. You get your rights. It,s an act
  7. Freedom is people that didn't have knowlede to do something.
  8. Freedom is liberty
  9. freedom is the world and also the people living right.
  10. To be out doors and to be able to go to places and when your not in reciving home or jeil.

Note: This class was not a beginning English class for recently arrived children from other countries.

Tomorrow: Some excellent answers from the same class.

Huge Scandal In Roslyn, New York School District

Our friend Tony over at "A Red Mind In A Blue State" has been following a story that just gets more and more fascinating as time goes on. It is all about intrigue, nepotism, and theft (at very high levels) in the Roslyn, New York school system.

Tony reports, "Another arrest today--this time the billing clerk."

Amount stolen: over $1,000,000

(The clerk's aunt was his supervisor; "Who is under arrest for stealing millions herself.")

Tony has been following this tale since the beginning, and he has lots of other juicy well-researched details, but since it's Tony's story, you will need to go here:
Roslyn School Scandal Update to learn more.

It is well worth your time.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Famous Harlem Ballet School Shuts Its Doors

Ballet School Closes...

The New York Times reported yesterday the closing of the Harlem Ballet School. The reasons cited were lack of funds to pay ever-increasing insurance premiums. Since 1969, this school has (chiefly) served the African American community in New York City. The institution has earned an international reputation for the high quality of its program.

As reported by the paper, the closing came as a shock. Students showed up Saturday for classes as usual, only to find the doors closed and locked. Many parents and children had not yet heard the news.

We here at the Education Wonks were saddened to learn of these events. We would like to know how is it possible that an institution of this caliber should be forced to close it's doors due to lack of insurance?

It would be difficult to overstate what the negative impact that the loss of this school will have to the pride and educational diversity of the area's African American Community. We hope that some philanthropic organization will step forward and help the school continue it's important work.

The EdWonk will continue to monitor this situation, and post updates as changing conditions warrant.

What Is Wrong With This Picture?

Classroom Principal?
The EdWonk clipped this photo from The San Diego Union Tribune. The article was about how San Diego County schools face sanctions under the Federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The photograph is of Principal Marti Urias-Islas helping an eighth grade student at National City Middle School.

There is something wrong about the picture. Can you figure it out?

Just about any practicing classroom teacher could tell you in the proverbial New York minute. Take a look at her perfectly coiffed hair, well-done nails, and lovely make up. She is quite photogenic, and who can resist the motif of the caring administrator helping a child?

That's right, it's just a photo-op.

Any classroom teacher can tell you that school principals almost never go into the classroom and actually teach children. A typical school administrator is horrified by the thought of actually going back into the classroom. In fact, it's thought of as a demotion. That's not to say that school administrators don't actually care for kids, many of them do. Most just don't care to teach. Many will profess to "miss the classroom" but very few actually will go back for even a few hours.

It's too bad that this newspaper chose to photograph a principal doing what principals very rarely do instead of honoring a classroom teacher by showing how he or she will serve children for an entire career.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Teresa Watch: Weekly Round-up 10/10-10/16

The Lovely Couple

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Teresa doesn't like the term "First Lady." According to the paper, Teresa gave an interview to Harper's Bazaar. When asked by that magazine what she thought of the title, Teresa disdainfully responded, "Ick." (The EdWonk would happily encourage Teresa to select another title, as First Lady is probably not appropriate for her. The label First Consort comes to mind.....)

In the evening, while speaking on his radio show, Matt Drudge brought forth additional details about the strange ceremonies and rituals over at the Heinz mansion near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Matt shared with us that when she married into the Heinz family, her father-in-law daubed catsup on her forehead as a way of welcoming Teresa into the "family." One of our Operatives has intimated to us that Teresa reciprocated by teaching Mr. Heinz a couple of spells.

In hopes of limiting the damage done by her legendary utterances, Democratic operatives continue to follow their strategy of keeping Teresa out of battleground states and limiting her appearances to small venues with friendly audiences. The
Associated Press reported that Teresa gave a speech to a small crowd in McAllen, Texas. It remains unknown at this time if the rumor is true that Teresa actually condescended to eat a salad in the town McDonald's.

Earlier in the day, the wife of the wannabe "man of the people" was the guest of honor at a $1000 per plate fundraiser. (Your EdWonk has not yet determined if those were free range chickens.)

A TipWonk alerted us that Teresa was taking the day off having additional hair, manicure, and Botox "work" done at a clinic in swank Newport Beach, California. This is the first non-fundraising trip that either Teresa or her husband has made to the most populous state in the nation since February. As California is considered the Holy See of liberalism, John Kerry's Democratic handlers understand that the only California liberals that John and Teresa actually like can easily afford to come and visit them at the beach house in Nantucket.

Teresa wore red to the final Presidential Debate. Doubtless, Democratic strategists had carefully schemed in order for Teresa to sit in the dark. Doubtless, this was to cover the strained looks on her face that the cameras could not quite hide, while the Debate was in progress.

During the course of the debate, John Kerry remarked that he had married "up." This caused laughter in the WonkGroup the was monitoring the event. The Group's consensus is that he married her for her money, and she married another Famous Name.

After her husband's remarks were finished, Teresa made a point of giving First Lady Laura Bush an enveloping hug. (It is not known if any exorcists were summoned as a result of the physical contact.)


The Candidate's wife made an appearance in Reno, Nevada. Speaking to a friendly crowd of about 6oo, Teresa told people how to treat arthritis. Her prescription: "You get some gin and get some white raisins--only white raisins--and soak them in the gin for two weeks, then eat nine of the raisins a day."

When asked if she had any research supporting her medical advice, Teresa retorted, "How would I know, I go to a doctor in Switzerland when my arthritis bothers me; I told one of the housekeepers about the raisins so she would stop pestering me about providing health insurance."

A Confidential Source has revealed to EdWonk that Teresa lost a bundle in Toby Harrah's Casino. She then ran amok in gaming area loudly accusing the casino of fraud. The Source said that Teresa displayed a definite predilection for $25.00 slot machines.

After the appearance, Teresa and her entourage traveled in Teresa's private jet, The Flying Squirrel (The EdWonk still finds that name absolutely hilarious.) to Des Moines, Iowa.

Teresa and her husband appeared in a campaign rally (again) in Des Moines, Iowa. EdWonk has been reliably informed that this is Kerry's 136th visit to the state of Iowa in the past 3 months, and that he has eaten dinner with each and every family in 43 of Iowa's 59 counties.

In yet another example of a Friday Document Dump, part of Teresa's long awaited Federal income tax returns were finally released. We learned that Teresa made over 2.5 million dollars last year, much of it tax free. The Education Wonks were disappointed that the returns did not include what must undoubtedly be a very interesting set of "charitable" deductions.

In a Saturday afternoon press-release (published on-line) the
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette gave an in-depth account as to what life would be like around Pittsburgh in the event that Kerry wins the Presidency. The citizenry of Pittsburgh would be subjected to a variety of life-routine modifications, including overbearing security and road closures around the couple's Fox Chapel Estate.

One of our Insiders has whispered to EdWonk that the local bike repair shop is looking forward to actually seeing and maintaining Kerry's $5000 mountain bike.

To Confidential In Des Moines: Her full name is: Maria Teresa Thierstein Simoes-Ferreira Heinz Kerry. (I hope that helps--EdWonk)

Is it real? Or is it satire? You decide...

Why There Will Be No Draft

Never Again!
In the last few weeks, there has been an incredibly large amount of angst regarding the possible return of the draft. People have visions of young men being fed into the quagmire that Iraq has become, and returning in coffins. Rest assured, all this worry is for naught. The Education Wonks are astonished at all the chatter that is being generated by this dead horse.

There will never again be a draft in America, and EdWonk knows why. It's simple, really, when one understands the history behind an all-volunteer army.

For hundreds of years, Great Britain had an all volunteer army. There were exceptions, of course. In times of war, criminals and vagrants were rounded up and "pressed" into service, especially the Royal Navy. The English never had any sort of conscription until 1915 when the trench warfare of World War I inflicted massive casualties on the volunteer force. As the number of volunteers declined, the British finally resorted to conscription to obtain large numbers of replacements.

It was an all-volunteer force that fought Washington's Continental Army in The War Of American Independence. After several years, this conflict grew to be very unpopular with the British people, not because of the loss of lives, but because of the large expenditures of cash needed to prosecute the war. It was about the money.

All Englishmen (and women) knew that every Redcoat had volunteered for the job. And there we have it.

With the exception of the Napoleonic Wars, the English tended to engage in "nasty little colonial wars" far from home. The War For American Independence is but one example of several. These enemies usually were, in the words of one English Prime Minister, "Far away people of whom we know nothing about." The military became, essentially, an extension of British Foreign Office. The English Government reasoned, correctly, that the public would not protest war loses too loudly. When casualties did mount, the response from the public was, "Well, they signed up, they knew the risks, didn't they?"

What made the Vietnam War so very unpopular was the draft. College students, (and their parents) from mostly middle-class backgrounds had a very real interest in avoiding the hazards of fighting a "nasty undeclared colonial-type war." Well-financed and coordinated anti-war movements sprang up all over the country. Politicians suddenly became very vulnerable at the ballot box, and began to be voted out of office i.e. the war became unpopular with them.

Concerning the Iraq War, there is quite a bit of anti-war feeling out there, but well-financed and coordinated anti-war movements are the key element that is missing at the present time. And both major political parties have declared support for the Conflict. Should those anti-war efforts grow in size and sophistication, political support for the Iraq War will vanish, as it did for the Vietnam War.

Conscription systems are designed to raise large armies, very quickly. It is what a country does that is committed to the concept of total war. And we did not do that in the Post 9/11 era. Seemingly by design, the Bush Administration chose not to involve the population in the war effort. As a people, we have not been asked to reduce oil consumption, buy war bonds, or donate to the U.S.O.

Most tellingly, the Administration is not requesting young people to "do their bit" by enlisting in the armed forces, starting with the Kerry Kids and The Bush Daughters, all of whom are of military age. Clearly, the children of the politically powerful have "opted out" of this war.

It seems as though America is not willing to fight those types of wars anymore. The kind of conflict that we do get embroiled in are those "nasty little colonial wars," which for the reasons given above are much more suitable for an all volunteer force.

Considering the attacks of 9/11, if the United States Congress did not declare war on terror and commit the American people to a national effort to eradicate terror, when will it? Therefore, its reasonable to assume that the Selective Service System is obsolete, since there are no viable circumstances in which it would be used.

Perhaps the smartest thing that the Bush Administration could do would be the elimination of the costly Selective Service System that requires young men to register when they turn 18 years of age. Those funds could be redirected to much better uses....

Sadly, as the casualties from the "limited" war in Iraq continue to mount, large numbers of Americans have reasoned, "Well, they signed up, they knew the risks, didn't they?"

John Kerry: "I Know How To Make Peace"

There He Goes Again!
On Friday, Democratic Nominee John Kerry gave an interview to CNNs Candy Crowley which was rebroadcast yesterday. Aside from the usual platitudes, John Kerry mentioned that he still did not think that his vote to authorize President Bush to go to war in Iraq was a mistake.

When asked if he had made any mistakes in the last three years, he surprisingly didn't mention forgetting several times to give Teresa her daily tranquilizers. Instead, he stated how he had promised (during the primary season, when he was in mortal danger from Howard Dean) too many Federal programs without knowing how they would be paid for.

Asked about the infamous statement Kerry made about the Vice President's daughter, Kerry said, "It was ment as a very constructive comment and a positive thing. I respect their love for their daughter, and I respect who she is, as they do."

The EdWonk does not believe that for a second, and could not disagree more. It was a cheap debating trick, the purpose of which was to goad Cheney (and EdWonk is no fan of the V.P.) to lose his temper. When Senator Edwards first broached the subject to the Vice President during their debate, many thought it was charming.

When Kerry brought up the same subject during the last debate, it was exposed as a strategy.

At no time did either Bush or Cheney stoop to such tactics. Even though they aggressively advocated their positions and attacked their Democratic opponents, they left their families out of it. And the Education Wonks salutes that.