Sunday, July 31, 2005

The Spellings Report: She Does Talk To Real Teachers!

Yes Virginia... Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings does actually talk to real classroom teachers, at least once in a while. But it remains unknown if the Secretary has ever actually had a practicing classroom teacher over for dinner...

Speaking at the Teacher-to-Teacher Summer Workshop in Bethesda, Maryland, Washington's chief-educrat-in-charge crowed about the effectiveness of the No Child Left Behind Act and urged extending its provisions to America's public high schools as well. There were some remarks about the need to pay more to those teachers who accept teaching assignments in challenging schools (such as those in the inner city). And Spellings didn't forget to echo President Bush's sentiments that teaching is a "Calling."

Interestingly, the secretary is getting a lot of mileage out of this excerpt that she had recycled from an earlier speech:

Around the time I was confirmed by the Senate in January, my youngest daughter - typically an A or B student - brought home a D in science. What did I do? I went up to her school and met with her teachers to see what was going on.

Afterward, my daughter said, "I hated that you were in my school." I told her, "You get your grades up, and I'll get out of your school (at least temporarily)." And guess what? She got an A in science during the next grading period.
The Secretary told the same story, using nearly the exact same words, in a speech that she had given at a meeting of the provocatively-named Hispanic advocacy group, La Raza (The Race) a few weeks ago.

I applaud Spellings' personal example of how she intervened to help remedy her daughter's academic deficiency, but the Secretary doesn't quite seem to be willing to articulate one of the key components of meaningful academic reform: the need for increased parental and student accountability as well as that of educators.

In all of the secretary's speeches, she continuously urges educators to work harder while neglecting to mention anything at all about the need for students and parents to also work diligently toward achieving academic success.

Educators alone can't do all the heavy lifting when it comes to positive long-term educational reform. It takes teamwork involving educators, parents, students and the community in order to score academic touchdowns. It's high time that the Educrats who sit in their plush Washington offices and travel about to far-off exotic locations on the taxpayer's dime in order to
hobnob with royalty realized that.

View the latest edition of The Carnival Of Education, guest hosted by Jenny D, over there. See entry guidelines for the next edition, right here.

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When School Boards Meltdown: Who's Looking Out For The Kids?

This is what happens when bickering school board members decide to settle their differences in court rather than act like adults:
In the days after Judy Cates' election to the Belleville Township High School Board of Education, Superintendent Brent Clark's phone rang with calls from local lawyers predicting he'd have a lawsuit on his desk in 90 days.

"It only took us 60," Clark said last week.

Last month, Cates sued the district, accusing it of violating parts of
Illinois' freedom of information laws.

The board filed a countersuit last week. It claims Cates shouldn't have
attached bills and letters from the school district's attorneys because those
documents are protected by attorney-client privilege from public viewing.

Squabbling school boards are nothing new. But a feuding board with one of the Metro East area's most tenacious trial lawyers at its center can shift
differences of opinion from closed meetings to the courthouse.

Cates, a former prosecutor and now a prominent plaintiff's lawyer, doesn't
apologize for repeatedly calling out the district's officials. She ran for the
board, she said, because the board's business needs to be conducted more

A Belleville East graduate and mother of three, Cates started attending School Board meetings last year when the board was considering a dress code for high school students. But her decision to run stemmed from a larger concern, she said.

"I was very outspoken about the dress code, but I was more outspoken about how (the board) wouldn't respond to people," Cates said.

"I told everyone I believe strongly in the public's right to know, and it's
going to stop here."

She plans to challenge the board Monday night for suing her. She wants to know when the board met to authorize the suit.

The district's countersuit "is another example of the district wanting to keep people in the dark," Cates said.

Out of the seven candidates running for election last April, Cates received the most votes. Her suit already has created a "better environment," she said.

But that depends on whom you ask.

Clark said Cates' suit and requests for records have cost the district about
$20,000 in legal fees and employee time. There are tense moments in board meetings now, he said, and a "delicate threshold" during conversation. At a recent meeting, Cates repeatedly questioned items on the agenda - providing a refreshing air of debate to some, unnecessary controversy to others.

The district decided to sue "because we feel like we need to," Clark said. "We want to deal with the issues and then move on."

Fellow board member Al Scharf said he has nothing but respect for Cates. He's sparred with her during committee meetings, but it's professional, he said. He said he hopes collegiality can be restored.

"Any board member has the legal right to raise the issues she is raising," Scharf said, adding that it's unfortunate it's ended up in court.

According to Ben Schwarm, associate executive director of the Illinois School Boards Association, a splintered board isn't unusual. But swapping lawsuits is.

"I wouldn't say that was an optimal situation for a district," Schwarm said. "When you have a splintered board, it can be uncomfortable for the board, the superintendent and the community."

But personality conflicts are bound to arise when seven people - with district residence as their only commonality - meet monthly to make decisions, Schwarm said. Those different perspectives are valuable, he said, but they also can lead to contention.

Consider the St. Louis School Board, where personalities also have clashed and arguments occasionally have ended up in court.

Just months after their election in 2001, former board members Amy Hilgemann and Rochell Moore sued to force the St. Louis School Board president to tell them who ordered the district's law firm to investigate the two. The rest of the board was upset over a mailing Hilgemann and Moore sent to the city's Board of Aldermen and the Missouri School Boards Association that included an alternate budget the two had prepared.

Hilgemann said Friday that she has no regrets about suing for access to records because board members should have access to any that they request. When a district hesitates, the logical conclusion is that it has something to hide, she said.

In 2004, William Roberti, the acting superintendent, sued then-board member Bill Haas for slander, after Haas suggested several times that Roberti was closing an elementary school because of a back-door deal.

Schwarm said most board conflicts are resolved with time, training and experience. But those remedies are harder to apply once a quarrel reaches a courthouse.
Over at Dave Shearon's place, he has a quote by Mark Twain:
"First, God created idiots. That was for practice. Then he created school boards."
When I read about examples of interpersonal combat conflict on school boards such as those being waged among members of the Belleville and St. Louis boards, I have to think that Twain must have been on to something.
View the latest edition of The Carnival Of Education, guest hosted by Jenny D, over there. See entry guidelines for the next edition, right here.

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Where Are The Good Teacher Education Courses?

Mz. Smlph offers us yet more evidence why so many teacher education courses are a complete waste of valuable time and money.

What would constitute a good teacher education course?

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The Watcher's Council Has Spoken!

Each and every week, Watcher of Weasels sponsors a contest to find link-worthy posts from the conservative side of the 'Sphere. The winning entries are determined by a jury of 12 writers (and The Watcher) known as "The Watchers Council."

The Council has met and voted on this past week's submitted posts.

Council Entries: Rightwing Nuthouse took first place among the members of the Council with History and Fantasy.

Non-Council Entries: Hog on Ice got the most votes with their post about the spread of a new and virulent strain of AIDS.
View the latest edition of The Carnival Of Education, guest hosted by Jenny D, over there. See entry guidelines for the next edition, right here.

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Saturday, July 30, 2005

Highway Robbery Down In North Carolina?

Ouch. It looks like things are going to get a lot more expensive for students who drive their cars to public high schools in Vance County, North Carolina: (emphasis added)
Students may soon be paying at least $80 more to park at the county's two high schools if the Board of Education implements a new proposal.

Two members of the school board's Buildings and Grounds Committee approved raising the annual parking fee from $20 to at least $100 at a meeting Thursday morning. The proposal will be discussed by the Finance Committee Monday morning and could be voted on by the full school board Aug. 8.
The increased fees are expected to net the district some $40,000.

Now let me see if I can understand this: Residents who live in the community pay the taxes to build the school in the first place. The school imposes a moderate fee of $20.00 on students who want to drive to school, which covers the price of a permit and parking lot maintenance. The district has decided that it wants to pave the parking lots and needs additional income in order to make that happen.

Fair enough.

But take a look at school board member L. Nelson "Pete" Falkner's rationale for raising the fees by such a large amount: (Falkner introduced the motion to raise the fees.)
"If they're able to buy a car, they're able to pay $100," the school board member said. He noted that many students' vehicles sport rims, or stylized hubcaps. An automobile costs $20,000 to $50,000, he said, "and all of them got nice cars. I'm not against the children, but business is business."
I guess in "Pete" Falkner's World, all high school students drive expensive cars. I wonder how the kiddies obtained such costly rides? Could "they" have bought those "nice cars" costing between $20 and $50 grand with money earned by saying, "Would you like fries with that?"

Maybe "Pete" would be willing to share with all of us who drove old and rusted clunkers to school exactly what is the secret for "all of them" [kids] getting those "nice cars" that he is talking about.
View the latest edition of The Carnival Of Education, guest hosted by Jenny D, over there. See entry guidelines for the next edition, right here.

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Recommended Reading

You should consider reading this post From The T.F.A. Trenches if:
1. You are a teacher. It helps when you know that you are not alone and that your frustrations are felt by others.

2. You are thinking of becoming a teacher and you are curious to know exactly where you'll be in the educational pecking order, and what the management of many districts really think about their teachers.

3. You are a parent and are curious to know exactly what teachers are up to on those "staff development days" when teachers work but students stay home.

4. You are a school administrator who has sponsored (or is contemplating the sponsorship of) such a circus sideshow and you would really like to know what many teachers think about the so-called training program that has been foisted upon them.

5. You have participated in that Eternal Debate about whether or not teachers are actually "professionals" and you need to support your argument that they are not.

6. You are a taxpayer and would like to see yet another example of how your money is often wasted by school districts around the country.
When I return to my mid-sized California school district, I'll be forced through several days of bells, whistles, and other gimmicks as we "ramp-up" for the upcoming school year.

Not too long ago, the administrators of the junior high school where I work had about 30 of us classroom teachers playing a game whereby balloons were thrown into the air and we had to keep them from touching the ground. As balloons hit the floor, one of the admin staff would pop them with a pin.

The whole exercise was supposed to be a symbolic representation of our students.
View the latest edition of The Carnival Of Education, guest hosted by Jenny D, over there. See entry guidelines for the next edition, right here.

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Back To The Forest Primeval

After spending five wonderful days with grandmother in my childhood home of Winter Haven, Florida, the Wonk family has returned to our place in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Yesterday's six-hundred mile drive was fun, but it's good to be home again!

We must leave for Southern California in exactly three weeks; where does the time go?

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Friday, July 29, 2005

Publishing Parental Concerns

In a letter to a local newspaper, a parent named Wendy Martin expresses concern over a new grading policy that is being implemented by the schools of Palm Beach County, Florida:
This fall in Palm Beach County, letter grades will no longer be included on report cards for kindergarten through fifth grade. The report cards will read as follows for various subjects: Child is performing on or above grade level; child is less than one year below grade level; or child is struggling.

In essence, information is being withheld from parents and students that indicates a child is doing well. "On or above grade level" tells parents nothing. There is no distinction between average work and work that is better than average. What message are we sending our children when the best they can be is "on or above grade level"?

This change cuts to the root of our value system in America. Art Johnson, the Palm Beach County school superintendent, was quoted as saying that "our challenge has been, and is, the education of the masses." It is offensive that Mr. Johnson views our children as the "masses" and not the beautiful individuals that they are.

This change is being forced on the parents and students of Palm Beach County without us having much say in the matter. Most parents were not informed by our principals, but read about it in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in March.

It is interesting, however, that although we were not notified, the School Board provided principals with an information sheet to "provide assistance when dealing with questions." As if they wanted to control the principals' responses, or didn't trust they would answer the questions appropriately.

They anticipated parents having questions about incentives or awards the children could receive without letter grades. The School Board's canned response was that the new report cards could provide awards for attendance and conduct.

Are you kidding? Forget about the honor roll. Let's replace our bumper stickers "Proud Parent of an Honor Student" to "Proud Parent of a Student Who Showed Up."

A group of parents attended the School Board meeting in May and the issue of report cards was raised. There were board members who were opposed to, and surprised by, the change being made and stated that grades would be reviewed at their next retreat and revisited.

On June 29 we attended the meeting; three board members vocally opposed the change. It finally was discussed at the July 21 meeting and scheduled for a workshop meeting this Wednesday

The public can attend, but not speak.
If what Ms. Martin is saying is true about parents not being notified of the change in grading-policy by the schools, shame on them. Regular, informative, and well-planned communication with parents (and the larger community) is at the heart of effective educational reform.

If I were not a classroom teacher and was instead the superintendent of a public school system, I would treat such letters much like a wise business person would a letter of complaint from a customer, which, surprisingly, are often a "blessing in disguise."

Letters from parents that bring a problem or concern to the attention of the community should actually be welcomed, because if the writer makes a valid point, it's a pretty safe assumption that for each letter that is actually mailed, there are probably 100 or more people who feel the same way.

It would be time to re-examine what processes and procedures that we may need to improve upon.

Legitimate concerns that are expressed by parents in the form of letters to the paper (I'm aware that sometimes the writers of these letters have their own axes to grind.) are a type of parental input. And parental input is a key component of any successful reform of public education.

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Texas Two-Step Redux

Last Friday, we reported on the long-running soap opera that is the special legislative session convened by Governor Rick Perry to formulate an education budget for next year.

Exactly one week later, the Texas State Senate has decided to start all over.

Stay tuned.

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Thursday, July 28, 2005

What Are The Secret Lives Of Sponges?

It looks like there's yet another dust-up involving a certain video featuring SpongeBob SquarePants, (and lots of other cartoon characters) this time in, of all places, South Florida:
Gay rights activists and members of the Anti-Defamation League crammed into a Broward County School Board meeting Tuesday to confront the district about comments its Diversity Committee members made about a children's video.

"There were terrible, ugly, homophobic things said in that committee," said Stratton Pollitzer of Equality Florida, a civil rights group. "That can't be allowed to stand."

Pollitzer helped organize South Florida's lesbian and gay community when he heard some committee members worried the "We Are Family" video would lead to conversations about same-sex couples.

Superintendent Frank Till won't budge from his decision to keep it out of classrooms, in part because it duplicates existing diversity programs. But the ADL, which distributed the video to thousands of schools throughout the country this year, plans to work with the School Board to make it acceptable for viewing.

In the meantime, Pollitzer said the district needs to show that it doesn't approve of anti-gay comments.

"We must speak out," he told the board. "If we don't, then bigotry would go unchallenged in Broward County."

Outside, Margaret Hostetter of Davie said she wanted to make a speech at the meeting, but there were too many people. Hostetter, a former Diversity Committee member, said she was glad the video got rejected.

"It's inappropriate for a child in pre-K to be introduced to the idea that a family could be any group that loves each other," she said. "It isn't appropriate."

The video never mentions homosexuality.

Through most of it, Kermit the Frog, SpongeBob SquarePants, Barney and other children's characters sing We are Family.

During Tuesday's meeting, community leaders stepped forward one-by-one to stare down board members and ask why the video was rejected.

"Teaching people to value diversity and respect people ... only enforces democracy," said Dennis Kainen of the ADL. "There's no subliminal message, as was alleged."

"Please allow this wonderful tape to be allowed in our schools," said Sharon Saphier-Grad, a former teacher and parent. "We are all part of the human family."

More than 70 people came to Tuesday's meeting, some spilling into a room next door, where they debated whether children should be introduced to homosexuality in school.

Diversity Committee Chairman Bill Rettinger said members had concerns about the video before voting 10-7 not to recommend it. For instance, he said, they worried it might teach children to be friendly with strangers.

"We spoke about it for hours," Rettinger said. "It was a very divisive issue."

Comments about the video by Diversity Committee member and conservative radio host Steve Kane have drawn the biggest reaction. Kane said he thought the video was a "foot in the door" for gays to push their message in the school system.

"This is America. Whatever parents want to do in their home is fine," Kane said in a telephone interview. "I've done bizarre and perverse things in my life. But teaching it to kids K-through-sixth [grade] in school is a different matter."

Marty Rubenstein, the School Board member who appointed Kane, said he regretted any comments Kane and others made that gays and lesbians considered offensive.

Afterward, he told reporters that he might remove Kane from the committee.

"Kane has done more for kids in Broward County than a lot of people, but he still says stupid things sometimes," he said. "What do you do?"
If I were a parent or teacher who was residing in South Florida, I would be most interested in knowing exactly what sub-section of the No Child Left Behind Act is addressed by this video and its accompanying curriculum. I would want to know this, because South Florida's schools in general, and Broward County in particular, (here and here) have some very daunting challenges to overcome in order to meet their federally and state-mandated objectives under the law's prescribed time limits.

The controversy over this video and all the attention on the teaching of diversity is a distraction from the much more important business at hand, which is increasing the levels of student proficiency in the core academic areas in obedience to the law that all elected officials (including school board members) have sworn to uphold.

Maybe these districts should worry about compliance with state and federal law now, and worry about the teaching of diversity later. The folks down in Broward County Florida need to get their priorities in order.

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It Just Goes On And On...

School place violence continues unabated in Los Angeles' public schools. This time around, it was a seventh-grade girl who used a knife to stab a classmate in the face, abdomen, and arm. Apparently, the two students were involved in a cafeteria food fight earlier in the day. Arrested with the girl were the two boys who supplied the knife...

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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

A Sure Bet

One of America's growth industries has been those of casinos that are owned by Native American groups. CNN is now reporting that soon it will be possible to get a degree in Tribal Gaming from San Diego State University:

Last year, casinos run by Indian tribes generated around $21 billion in revenue, including hotels, restaurants and shows, compared with $19.6 billion for Nevada casinos, according to the National Indian Gaming Association.

The Sycuan tribe has donated $5.5 million to start the research institute and degree program focused on tribal gaming at San Diego State University.

The university's new program is expected to start in the fall of 2006 and enroll about 20 students. It will range from technical topics like slot machine operations to the policy complexities faced by the industry.

"Indian gaming is a relatively young industry, and so far it's been run mainly on intuition. I think it is time that we brought some rigor to the management of these facilities," said Steven Penhall, general manager of the Sycuan Resort & Casino, located about 22 miles (35 km) east of San Diego.

I earned my Master's at San Diego State University. I wonder if they would consider granting me a doctorate in Seven-Card Stud? I know that over the years I've certainly pushed enough tuition money into the center of the poker table.
View the latest edition of The Carnival of Education, this week guest-hosted by Jenny D, right here.

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The Latest From Down Under

Australia's been having some problems in their schools lately. In this latest incident, someone should have told the teacher or administrator who was supervising that the proper use of duct tape isn't for quieting an unruly class.

At least it wasn't a government-run school.

Update:(7/29) Heh. It seems like the government is going to overlook the incident!

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It's A Great Day To Visit A Carnival!

The midway of the 25th edition of The Carnival of Education is open over at Jenny D's, with many informative and entertaining exhibits. Jenny always does an excellent job of organizing this week's showcase of great writing from around the EduSphere.

The Carnival returns home to the 'Wonks next week. Please send your submissions to owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net by 10:00 PM (Eastern) Tuesday, August 2nd. The midway should open here next Wednesday morning.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Reforming Public High Schools: The Unmentioned "D" Word

Recently, Governor John Baldacci of Maine facilitated a "town hall" type meeting with dozens of high school students where the topic of discussion was the re-making of American high schools. This piece by The Christian Science Monitor gives a brief overview of some of the ideas that are being considered:
The dialogue was one in a series of student town hall meetings convened around the country by the National Governors Association over the past year, and part of a broader discussion that has come to include everyone from educators and business leaders to President Bush.

Students continue to drop out of high school at an alarming rate - in some groups, as few as half of students graduate. Those who do graduate too often are unprepared for college or work. Recent studies have found that many high-schoolers feel unchallenged and unengaged. This, and the shift from an industrial to a global, knowledge-based economy, has made rethinking high school a priority for many.

To some degree, high school has been thought unfixable, its institutional culture too entrenched. "The story of the American high school is extremely powerful," says Paul Schwarz, principal in residence at the US Department of Education under President Clinton. During his tenure, Mr. Schwarz pointed out that while money was being poured into elementary and middle schools, high schools were largely ignored. He was told that tackling high school was too big a task. But he's encouraged by the newfound willingness today.
These are the measures for reforming public high schools that were briefly discussed by The Monitor:
Challenging curricula.

In an attempt to undo tracking, many districts and states are implementing college-preparatory curricula for all their students. The Los Angeles Unified School District recently decided to make college-prep standard, and similar moves are afoot in Oklahoma, Indiana, Mississippi, and Delaware. But critics wonder if imposing a one-size-fits-all approach is the best solution.

Small schools.

The idea of splintering large high schools into smaller learning communities has been evolving since the 1970s. However, it remained a fringe effort until it was championed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; its grants have been awarded to more than 1,500 schools in 42 states.

Early college.

Some schools, like Bard High School Early College in New York, enable students to graduate with both a high school diploma and an associate of arts degree. In 2002, 57 percent of colleges and universities enrolled high school students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. College-level courses, like Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate, are also becoming more popular; 1.1 million students took AP exams last year.

Eliminating grade levels.

Rather than having students earn credits to advance to the next grade level, under this system there would be no 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th grades. Mastery of a subject would determine whether a student moved on to the next level. And students would retake only classes they failed, rather than repeat a grade. Boston Public Schools have explored this system.

Did you notice what was missing from all of these proposals? As a classroom teacher, "it" jumped right out at me: Each and every one of these ideas focus on some proposed change in the way the traditional American high school goes about accomplishing its task of preparing students for work or college. But none of these proposals say a thing about what the students or their parents should be doing differently in order to ensure that positive educational reform becomes a reality rather than a noble-sounding ideal.

Nothing is said about the duty (yes, that's the "d" word) that students and educators have to put forth their best efforts to teach and learn the more challenging curriculum that many states and districts have adopted in this age of content-area standards and increased accountability.

Sadly, the need for students, as well as educators, to fulfill their duty to help foster a clean, safe, orderly, and nurturing school climate conducive to learning is never spoken of in these MSM articles. To the contrary, some even believe the counterproductive notion that self-control and consideration for others, what used to be known as "good manners," is somehow unimportant and almost trivial.

There is no mention of the duty incumbent upon parents to ensure that their children arrive at school on time, rested, and prepared to learn. In these articles, there is almost universal silence when it comes to requesting that parents perform their duty of supporting the school's efforts by responding to the school's requests for information, attendance of parent-teacher conferences, and checking that their child's homework gets properly done in a timely manner.

In a quote that is well known to almost every graduate of The United States Military Academy, Robert E. Lee once said, “Duty is the most sublime word in our language. Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more. You should never wish to do less.”

He was right.
Entries for this week's Carnival Of Education (guest-hosted by Jenny D) are due tonight. They should be sent to: jdemonte [at] comcast [dot] net no later than 10:00 PM (EDST) 7:00 (PDST) The Carnival midway should open at Jenny's place tomorrow morning.

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Carnival Entries Are Due!

All submissions to this week's Carnival of Education are due tonight by 10:00 PM (Eastern) 7:00 PM (Pacific) at Jenny D's place. Submissions should be sent to: jdemonte [at] comcast [dot] net. The midway will open at Jenny's tomorrow morning.

The Carnival will return here to the 'Wonks next Wednesday. Get more details at last week's edition here.

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The Watcher's Council Has Spoken!

Each and every week, Watcher of Weasels sponsors a contest to see what are the most link-worthy posts from the conservative side of the 'Sphere. The winning entries are determined by a jury of 12 writers (and The Watcher) known as "The Watchers Council."

The Council has met and voted on this past week's submitted posts.

Council Entries: Gates of Vienna took first place among the members of the Council with Is Britain Too Decadent to Survive?.

Non-Council Entries: Top honors were won by Normblog with Apologists Among Us.
View the latest edition of the Carnival of Education (as well as entry instructions) right here.

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Monday, July 25, 2005

Home Again: The Persistence Of Memory

Filed from Winter Haven, Florida

Yes, you can go home again. And when we do, there's always something new to learn when you get there.

My maternal grandmother will turn 88 years old this year. All of us members of the Wonk family are spending a few days down here with my grandmother, learning more about the family history. This is the place where I grew up, grew to manhood, and eventually left in order to make my own way. But now I'm home again. Listening to grandma tell us the stories about the Old Days.

Today's history lesson was all about how my grandmother and grandfather met for the first time.

I've learned that my grandfather was something of an actor and a singer. One day in 1932, a group of young people came to my grandmother's church and performed a religious play. One of the young actors, an 19-year-old named Zack, was smitten with a girl that was sitting in the very first row. After asking the minister who she was, and being told that her name is Mildred, Zack informed the preacher that Mildred was the the one who he was going to marry someday. "That girl will be my wife," Zack said confidently to the preacher.

Not wasting any time after the play's performance, Zack asked the Mildred's father, Thomas Blackburn, if it would be permissible to call upon her at their home. Scandalized, the girl's father indicated that she was much too young to entertain a young gentleman. Disappointed, Zack went away. But he didn't forget.

The girl knew nothing of this other than a handsome young man had looked her way a couple of times during the play's performance.

Five years went by. Neither Mildred nor Zack saw anything of one another. Meanwhile, the 14-year-old girl had matured into an 19-year-old young lady. One day, out of the blue, Zack, who was now a strapping man of 24 years, showed up at church, and just like before, asked the young woman's father if it would be permissible for him to call on the young-lady.

This time around, Mildred's father told the young man yes.

My mother's parents, Zack and Mildred Outlaw, were married nearly 66 years before death broke them apart.

Who says there's no such thing as love at first site?

View the latest edition of the Carnival Of Education (as well as entry guidelines) right here.

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Sunday, July 24, 2005

Where Were You In '35?

In 1935, there were 40 Seniors in the first graduating class of Pennsylvania's Washington Township High School. Of those who collected their diplomas that long ago day, there are now just eight left. And of the eight, six were able to attend their 70th reunion:

Much has changed since the first class ever to graduate from Washington Township High School donned caps and gowns in 1935 to receive their diplomas.

Twelve presidents have sat in the White House. Two states have joined the Union. The United States' population has grown from 127 million to nearly 297 million.
And not only is there a chicken in every pot, there's at least one car in every garage.

"It was an entirely different time," said Elizabeth (Scott) Mose, 87, of Wayne Heights.

"We're from the old school," agreed Virginia (Geesaman) Sease, 87, of Harbaugh Church Road, Rouzerville.

During their 70-year reunion Thursday in Chestnut Logs in Rouzerville, six of the eight remaining members of the Class of 1935 talked about what it was like to grow up in that different world - years during which the nation was enduring the Great Depression.

In addition to Mose and Sease, the get-together drew Pauline (Weaver) Benshoff, 88, of Ashland, Ohio; Emma L. Bowser, 88, of Waynesboro; Amy (Smith) Royer, 88, of Waynesboro; and Elaine (Gardner) Miller, 88, of Lakeland, Fla.

Paul G. Humer of Warner-Robins, Ga., and Charles E. Hoffman of Waynesboro were unable to attend.

The first class

Members of the Class of 1935 were seniors when they found themselves at the brand-new Washington Township High School, which opened in 1934 at the site of the current Hooverville Elementary School on Route 16.

High school was a lot different in 1935 than it is now, the group said. They agreed that kids today get too many days off school and have too much free time.

"I sometimes wonder when they're ever in school," Mose said.

Nobody drove to school because they didn't have cars. Bowser said only one student in all of Washington Township High School had a car.

It was folks like this who survived the Great Depression, and went on to fight and win The Second World War. After the War, they helped establish an America that was firmly based upon the idea that upward mobility could be achieved by anyone through education and hard work. Later, when they entered politics, they combated injustice and inequality with the passage of civil rights legislation.

They have become known as The Greatest Generation of Americans.

How times have changed. In 1935, only one student who attended Washington Township High drove a car. At the public high school in my native Winter Haven, Florida, students often drive much nicer and much newer autos than their teachers.

The kids don't know how good they've got it.
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Lincolnville's Guardian Angels

When an elementary school in Lincolnville, Maine had to close last year, a regional headquarters for a large American bank stepped-up and did some heavy lifting:
David Tassoni, center, the director of MBNA’s Northern Region, presented Lincolnville school and town officials with a check for $806,157.92 to help cover the cost of construction of a new school. With Tassoni are Paul Sampson, left, chairman of the Lincolnville Central School Building Committee; Jim Christie, manager of the MBNA Foundation in Maine; Lincolnville school principal Paul Russo; MaryAnn Mercier, chairwoman of the school’s fundraising committee; Bob Plausse, chairman of the Lincolnville Select Board; and David Wiggins, superintendent of School Union 69.

The presentation took place on June 23 at the site of the new school, which is scheduled for completion this fall.

When the town’s K-8 school was ordered shut down in April 2000 because of air quality problems, MBNA built a new school at its Point Lookout campus in Northport for temporary use by the more than 200 students who were displaced by the closing. The building was complete in time for the start of the 2000-2001 school year.

MBNA also gave the school a three-year lease, later extended to five years, with the lease payments returned to the school.

Before the old school closed, MBNA had issued a $1,000,000 challenge grant for the renovation that was planned at the time. After the school closed, MBNA redirected the grant to construction of a new school and pledged an additional $500,000 at the start of construction.
I think that it's great when a local business gets meaningfully involved in supporting public education in their community. For this outstanding act of generosity, we give the Northern Region of MBNA (Headquartered in Belfast, Maine) our Red Apple Salute.
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The View From The Nest

Who'll win: Minnesota's Irondale High School or The Opsreys? Either way, the birds will have the best seats in the house.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

English Manners

British Prime Minister Tony Blair will be meeting with educators next Wednesday in order to see if something can be done to address the chronic problem of poor student discipline in government-operated schools: (emphasis added)
Ahead of a meeting with educationalists on Wednesday, the prime minister suggested that children who are suspended from school take part in community service.

In a letter to Sir Alan Steer, head of a taskforce on pupil behavior, Blair says that suspensions are "a crucial sanction for head teachers" but they should be made more of a punishment.

"Should we legally require suspended students to stay at home, accompanied by a parent, rather than allowing them freely to cause a nuisance on the streets or in shopping centres?" he wrote.

Ministers believe school discipline is essential if standards are to be raised and the wider problem of anti-social behavior is to be brought under control.

The government also wants to see parents taking more control and responsibility for the behavior of their children.

Commenting on the plans, Ruth Kelly said: "What we've now got to do is restore the link between parents and their children's behaviour in school."

The education secretary said the public would back the government's new drive.

"Everyone knows parents are responsible for their children's behaviour out of school," she told the BBC.

"I think most of your listeners and viewers would think it pretty common sense that, where a child is suspended from school, that they don't regard it as some sort of unofficial holiday where they can go down to the shopping centre and create havoc.

"That actually a parent should take responsibility for that and make sure it's at home and indeed to make sure that child is learning, if there's work set by the school."

However shadow education secretary David Cameron said the focus should be on giving schools more powers on exclusions and the ability to enforce home-school contracts. "The fact is that when it comes to schools, we have a shared responsibility," he said.

"We are all in it together - teachers, parents, pupils and politicians.

"The government's responsibility is to put their own house in order and give teachers the powers they need.
Once again, I find myself impressed with the willingness of Prime Minister Blair to personally take-on tough problems, and foster meaningful discussion. Even the opposition is talking about how to confront the problem of poorly behaving students!

As a classroom teacher who teaches kids every school day, I wish that President Bush would take a leading role in addressing the sorry state of student discipline that is to be found in schools all over the United States. But instead of the President discussing the issue, all we get is Secretary of Education
Margaret Spellings whose very first acts after taking office in late January involved confronting the "Evil Powers" who were behind cartoon rabbit Buster Baxter's journey to Vermont.

Secretary Spellings
doesn't hesitate to take the schools to task when they're "underperforming" but when it comes to student and parent accountability, the Secretary has nothing to say.

We've stated the obvious before, and we will keep on stating it: The establishment of a safe, secure, nurturing, and orderly learning environment for all children is an absolutely essential component of any meaningful educational reform.

Parents and students must also be held accountable for "doing their part" if the our nation's public schools are to have any chance of accomplishing President Bush's goal of "Leaving no child behind."
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Not Your Mother's Summer Camp

At two summer camps sponsored by The University of Cincinnati and Ohio State University, girls are the ones who're designing things and programming computers:
Emma Baker's good at math and science. Always has been. She's thinking about a career in engineering, maybe aerospace engineering, and right now, the Proctorville, Ohio, 16-year-old is in the midst of a weeklong computer science and engineering camp at the University of Cincinnati, where she's building planes and checking out race cars.

One more thing: Emma Baker is a girl.

Her gender is worth mentioning - emphasizing, even - because in this field, it's still unusual. Fact is, girls just aren't that into engineering: According to the National Academy of Engineering, only about 20 percent of engineering degrees in 2004 were earned by women; and among working American engineers, only 9 percent are women.

Fewer girls appear to be getting into the field, too. Despite nationwide efforts such as camps and scholarships that once helped boost the number of female college students studying engineering, the total has dropped in recent years.

To counter the drop, programs continue to pop up across the country: The National Academy of Engineering has created, a Web site that explains jobs in the field and offers biographies of some working women engineers (note: there is no In spring 2004, a coalition of national engineering associations formed the Extraordinary Women Engineers project to study the shortage and find ways to fight it. Four years ago, Ohio State University launched its Future Engineer's Summer Camp for middle-school girls, where participants build hovercraft and learn how to program a robot.

And at UC, which has seen undergraduate female students at its engineering college drop from 17.8 percent in 2001 to 15.3 percent in 2004, officials started a weeklong summer camp for high school girls two years ago.

It's too early to see whether OSU's camp is yielding results at the college level, but its popularity appears to be on the rise. Weaver had to turn away 60 girls who'd applied for the 30 spots at the camp, which runs Aug. 8 to 12. That's 90 applicants, up from 70 last year, all girls who wanted to be part of activities that include building hovercraft from plywood, making concrete and learning about the texture of ice cream.

At UC's camp, participants are enthusiastic about engineering, too, a development that heartens director Julie Burdick. At that camp, which ends today, there is 17-year-old Stacy Vansickle, from Dresden, Ohio, who wants to go into electrical or industrial engineering to find "new, creative ways to do things." And there is Emma Baker, in her pink T-shirt, blond ponytail and hoop earrings, who said she likes to "build stuff." Neither is worried that her future career isn't seen as girly.
When I was a kid, I used to go to summer camp. But my experiences were more like those immortalized here.
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Dropping The "F" Bomb On Summer Reading

In Wellesley, Massachusetts, a dad had a problem with one of the books that his daughter is required to read during summer vacation from high school:
When Rick Plouffe picked up a copy of a book on his daughter's school reading list, he came across something he didn't expect - pages littered with obscenities.

To his shock, the book on Wellesley High School's required summer reading list contains dozens of vulgarities.

"I got four pages into it and f-bombs started flying all over the place," said Plouffe, whose daughter is a sophomore. "You get a few more pages into it and the language gets even more colorful.''

Despite the book's goal of helping people understand autism, Plouffe said "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" is not appropriate for young teens and violates the school's student handbook, which bars students from using "abusive" or "hostile" speech.

The book tells the story of Christopher Boone, a 15-year-old autistic savant. WHS Principal Rena Mirkin defended the book's choice, saying its message overrides the vulgarities. She said the school considered other books, but none were as effective in conveying the realities of autism. "It's not about the language; it's about the issue," she said.

Ploufee said, "I'm sure they can find plenty of books that convey the same message without the use of vulgarity. This is a distraction to conveying the story about autism."
Wellesley is the home of exclusive all-female Wellesley College, the alma mater of Hillary Rodham Clinton. See a listing of reviews of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time right here.

Since when did summer reading become required?

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Sickening Allegations

Here's a bunch that's accused of molesting children and committing other lewd acts while playing "Truth or Dare" at a Jacksonville, Florida day care center. If true, these people should never see the light of day again.

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Friday, July 22, 2005

N.Y. Teacher Jillian Caruso: Anti-Bush Photoplay Redux

Last October, not long after we began writing on this site, we covered the story of teacher Shiba Pillai-Diaz, who alleged that she had lost her job because of her refusal to take down a photograph of President George W. Bush. Her employer, New Jersey's South Brunswick School District, stated that she had simply walked away from her classroom. In the end, after a great-deal of handwringing on both sides, Pillai-Diaz returned to a teaching assignment, but at different school and grade-level.

Now, another young teacher, this time in New York,
is saying the same thing: (Emphasis are added.)
A New York woman claims that she was forced from her teaching post by an elementary school principal who objected to her Republican activism and last year ordered the removal of a portrait of President George W. Bush from the educator's Long Island classroom. In a federal discrimination lawsuit, Jillian Caruso, 26, claims that she was improperly forced to resign her job by Birch Lane Elementary School principal Joyce Becker-Seddio, the wife of state Assemblyman Frank Seddio, a Brooklyn Democrat. In her U.S. District Court complaint, a copy of which you'll find below, Caruso contends that she was retaliated against by Becker-Seddio because of her political work, which has included volunteering at last year's GOP convention and membership in the Republican National Committee. Caruso, who taught first and third graders at Birch Lane, also claims that when the principal spotted the Bush portrait late last year--it was hanging among photos of other U.S. presidents--she "became outraged and insisted that the picture be removed." Caruso, who complied with that order, has named the Massapequa Union Free School District as the sole defendant in her action, which seeks unspecified monetary damages and a reappointment to her prior teaching post.
As stated on page 6 of the complaint, Ms. Caruso is seeking compensatory damages, punitive damages, payment of attorney's fees, and reinstatement to her teaching position. Of course she is exercising her right to a trial by jury.

The supporting documentation, especially,
page 2 of the complaint, is interesting in that it states that principal Joyce Becker-Seddio wrote the following statement about the job-performance of Ms. Caruso for what appears to be a letter of recommendation. (As an aside, many districts have directed that administrators no longer write letters of recommendation for teachers out of fear that such letters will be used in litigation.)
Jillian Caruso was a teacher at Birch Lane Elementary School for two years. During that time, she taught first and third grade classes. I have had many opportunities to observe her work as well as assess her potential for growth in her profession.

Ms. Caruso encourages children to strive to be the best that they can be. She has wonderful and strong rapport with the children, and believed that they were her "team." She showed a sincere interest in them as individuals, and was consistently fair in dealing with them.

Whenever there was an extra project to be tackled, Ms. Caruso volunteered to participate. Whether it was collecting supplies for soldiers in Iraq, or helping with tsunami victims, Jillian was always willing and eager to assist. She enjoys being part of the total school community.

Ms. Caruso has a great deal of untapped potential in the field of working with children. I feel confident that her professional abilities will enhance the fabric of an educational system that she chooses employment in.
The problem with using this particular note as supporting evidence for Ms. Caruso's case isn't what it says; it's what the excerpt doesn't say. There is no mention at all of Jillian Caruso's teaching abilities. The excerpt states that Caruso was "consistently fair" when dealing with children, but there is nothing about the overall learning environment to be found in her classroom.

I think that the district's defense will be that Jillian Caruso wasn't forced to resign due to her political activities but because she wasn't an effective classroom teacher.

Traditionally, school districts usually dismiss probationary teachers (like Jillian Caruso) without any explanation at all as to why they are being "non-reelected" for the following school year. Many times, such teachers are given a chance to resign so that they may avoid having to state that they were "terminated from employment" on future job applications.

If Jillian Caruso has a case, as she very well might, it will turn on the testimony of whatever credible witnesses that she is able to present to the jury. On
page 3, she states that the parents of her students "universally complemented the Plaintiff's teaching performance."

Certainly, if Ms. Caruso can actually get some of those parents to come to the courthouse and give supporting testimony it will help. The problem is that the district's attorney will attempt to get the parents' testimony "thrown out" because they are not "expert witnesses" with regards to anyone's teaching ability.

The civil complaint states that Principal Becker-Sedio was "outraged" because there was a photograph of the president on the wall of Ms. Caruso's classroom.

If there are any credible witnesses to that allegation, the district would be well-advised to get out their checkbook and reach a settlement before this affair goes to trial.

In a criminal trial, the standard for determining guilt is "beyond reasonable doubt." A civil trial is very different. The standard used is a "preponderance of evidence." It is a well-known fact that juries are notoriously unpredictable. They may simply reckon that as Caruso was a partisan Republican activist and Principal Becker-Sedio is the spouse of a Democratic State Assemblyman, that there is something to the allegations.

It's too bad that we don't have the district's side of the story. It isn't likely that we will get much out of them. My guess is that the district will cite the all-purpose excuses of "We can't comment on a personnel matter," or "We can't comment due to pending litigation," as reasons for not making any substantive statements to the media.
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Helping To Make The Message Stick

In Illinois, they're taking some positive steps to combat steroid use by high school students in general and high school athletes in particular:
The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), have taken a proactive educational role toward steroid awareness through a multi-media educational package that is being distributed to all IHSA member schools.

The array of DVDs, brochures, and posters is designed to help educate high school administrators, athletic directors, coaches, parents and students about steroid abuse.

Two 10-minute videos include interviews with Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Trent Green. Lori Lewis shares with parents how she courageously blew the whistle on her son and his teammates after finding anabolic steroids in her son's room. Don Hooton tells the story of his son, Taylor, who tragically took his own life after suffering from depression following steroid abuse. Ric Dye, a former high school and semi-pro football player, shares his story of side effects resulting from long-term steroid use.

Last year, the Illinois General Assembly approved Senate Bill 0064, which amends the Illinois School Code to require school districts to provide steroid education to students who participate in interscholastic programs.
These are some steps in the right direction, but it's a message that our young people can't hear enough. With recent scandals involving the use of performance enhancement drugs (especially in major-league baseball) kids have been seeing examples of athletes who do use these substances and are still earn millions in salary and endorsements.
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Texas Two-Step

Down in the heart of Texas, the legislature still can't get its act together and pass an effective school-funding plan. One member, Sen. John Whitmire, filibustered until the session ended Wednesday evening.

All this hemming and hawing isn't good for kids, parents, teachers, or taxpayers.

Ebonics Again!

Perhaps one of the most discredited controversial ideas in education today is whether or not Ebonics (Wikipedia entry here.) should influence, or be a part of, any public education program in The United States.

Joanne Jacobs and Number 2 Pencil both have the latest in what must be the most glaring example of self-esteem run amok.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Spellings Report: The Road To La Raza

Earlier this week, in Philadelphia, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings gave a speech to a Hispanic group called La Raza. Spellings was there to crow about certain gains made under the No Child Left Behind Act, as well as continue the Administration's on-going efforts to woo support in the Hispanic community: (Other speakers at the conference included Howard Dean. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton was in attendance while the Secretary made her remarks.)

Last Thursday, we learned the results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress long-term trend data. In other words, the grades from our Nation's Report Card are in, and they are encouraging. As we say in Texas, "Good on us. Good on America." Que magnifico!

The report card shows how students have fared in reading and math over the last three decades. And my younger daughter said the results settle a longtime argument between children and parents. They show students today know more than kids when we were growing up. And I couldn't be happier about that.

It's big news because we're not talking about just any old test. The Nation's Report Card is the gold standard of assessment. This long-term data, along with the state data, is the yardstick that the experts use to measure how well we're serving our children. As I like to say, "In God we trust- all others bring data."

And with this data, we can see we're moving in the right direction: The achievement gap is closing, and No Child Left Behind is working.

Nationally, reading scores for nine-year-olds increased more over the last five years than in all the years between 1971 and 1999 combined! Hispanic scores alone increased by 12 points!

In math, the achievement gap between Hispanics and whites narrowed significantly. Hispanic student achievement fueled gains that helped nine-year-old and 13-year-old math scores reach all-time highs. In fact, the average Hispanic nine-year-old's math score increased by 17 points over just the last five years!

These results didn't come out of thin air. They come from a commitment to doing something that's never been done before- a commitment to giving every single child a quality education. They are the results of hours of hard work and determination by students, teachers, parents, and people like you here today. Thank you.

Perhaps one of the secretary's advisors suggested to her that one way of "connecting" with hispanic parents was to "personalize" the message with an anecdote involving her own children: (This was what I was taught in the Education courses that I was required to complete in order to earn my bilingual teaching credential in California.)

We need everyone's help to make No Child Left Behind work- teachers, community members, and families. As a mother, I know parents need to feel welcome in schools.

Around the time I was confirmed by the Senate in January, my youngest daughter- typically an A or B student - brought home a D in science. What did I do? I went up to her school and met with her teachers. I wanted to tackle the problem head-on.

Afterward, my daughter said, "I hated that you were in my school." I told her, "You get your grades up, and I'll get out of your school." And guess what? She got an A in science during the next grading period.

I know Hispanic families want to get involved too, but sometimes language and cultural barriers make it difficult, especially with all the educational acronyms like AYP, HQT, and SES flying around. To a lot of people, it sounds like mumbo jumbo. We need to help families make sense of it all. That's why No Child Left Behind requires schools to regularly reach out to families. And the law makes it easier for parents to get information in a language they can understand.

Having said that, The Secretary then went on to say that when the schools, "Fell short of their responsibilities," No Child Left Behind mandates that free tutoring be available to help kids catch-up with their peers. Schools are also required, in the Secretary's words, to "Regularly reach out to families."

It's good that the law provides after-school tutoring to help kids, but please notice that the Madame Secretary referred to schools as falling short of "their responsibilities," and being "required" to reach out to families. As usual, Ms. Spellings said nothing about parents and students themselves being at least partly responsible for any lack of academic success. When things go wrong, it's the school's fault.

Of course, when things go right, Spellings gives credit to the efforts of parents, students, and the school.

Here's an idea: How about if I used a variant of the Secretary's remarks with my junior high school students? I could say, "In God we trust- all others do your homework and study for your exams." (I can just imagine all the parent complaints to my school's administration and possibly the superintendent and governing board as well.) Students are not required to do anything in school, and parents aren't held accountable when their offspring come to school unprepared to learn.

That's one of my major concerns with NCLB. When students don't do their homework or study for exams, or even attempt to do classwork, it's still considered to be the teacher's fault if the students don't achieve their federally-mandated level of proficiency in reading, math, and science.

And yet NCLB doesn't give me, as a teacher, the authority to require student's who aren't even attempting the work to stay after school and complete their assignments. Unless the kid has committed some breach of the school's disciplinary policy, I can't keep them any later than the school regular dismissal time.

The No Child Left Behind Act holds me solely accountable for my students' academic progress but doesn't give me the authority to help make that happen, especially for children that are considered to be "at risk" of failing to meet minimal standards of academic progress.

Sadly, under the law as it is now written, a large number of children are going to be left behind.

A final thought about the Secretary's choice of venue for her remarks:

The organization that the Secretary made her remarks to, La Raza, translates as "The Race," in Spanish. (I've never cared for this name. What would happen if any English-speaking group dared call itself The Race?) The
group is opposed to, among other things, federal legislation which would require all applicants who apply for a driver's license demonstrate that they are lawful residents. The law would be applicable nationwide. Check out La Raza's website here.
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A Special Thanks To George Washington And Co.

I strongly believe that we Americans all owe a debt of gratitude to this country's founders. It was due to their efforts and sacrifices that we Americans don't have to put-up with any of these titled layabouts (especially these two) running amok around and "living large" at taxpayers' expense.

We're stuck with plenty of the elected kind, and that's enough.
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Free Northwestern University's Fashion Slaves!

What choice of footwear would some stylish young women of privileged backgrounds choose when they go to meet the President of The United States? A little something in a pump with a walking heel, perhaps? Oh No! How old fashioned!

The female lacross team of Northwestern University may have had a winning season, but someone needs to liberate these slaves to fashion and remind them that sometimes, there really are occasions when it's important to dress up.

Here is what
The Manolo says about this whole affair:
What can the Manolo possibly say to this, except to note, as he has noted in the past, that we live in the sadly debased era, when the standards of the proper dress and the fit comportment have become the mere suggestions, to be observed or not observed at the whim of the individual.

These girls they do not know–their mamas have not taught them–that properly dressing according to the occasion, it is about the respect; respect for the occasion, respect for the other persons present, and respect for the self.

Yes, the Manolo he is most happy we live in the age of democratic informality, when the humble need not bow and scrape before the mighty, when free peoples may greet each other in the spirit of amity and concord as equals. Yet, at the same of the time, he cannot help but think that we have gone too far in this process of the levelling.

To the mind of the Manolo, the somewhat exaggerated politeness and more formal dress of the previous era gave the dignity and proper sense of self to even the most humble. To put on the suit and tie and shined shoes, to wear the dress and stockings and pumps, these things they recalled one to correct behavior, and demanded of others the respect.

Now, we wear the flip-flops and the shirts of the Hawaiians to the church, and to the funerals, and to meet the Mr. President in the House of Whiteness, and we think that this it is fine, but this it is only because we have forgotten the pleasures and social benefits to be had in dressing properly.

My mom always used to tell us that class couldn't be bought.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Carnival Of Education: Week 24

Welcome to the twenty-fourth edition of The Carnival Of Education. Here we have assembled a variety of interesting and informative posts from around the EduSphere that have been submitted by various writers. We believe that the Carnival represents the widest spectrum of topics, political/educational viewpoints, and writing styles.

Those entries selected by us appear at the bottom of the page.

We offer a comprehensive listing of Carnival archives at the bottom of this post.

A successful carnival is a team effort. Please consider helping to spread the word. The more folks that know about this collection of exhibits, the more that will "drop-in" and visit the midway. Trackbacks, links, and mentions all help.

To those that have helped to publicize the Carnival, we offer our deepest gratitude.

Your comments, constructive criticism, and thinly-veiled threats are always welcome.

Next week, the Carnival will be guest hosted by Jenny D. Please follow the submission guidelines given below.

An Invitation: All writers and readers of education-related posts are invited to contribute to the twenty-fifth edition of The Carnival of Education. Please send your submissions to: jdemonte[at]comcast[dot]net. Contributions should be received no later than 10:00 PM (Eastern) 7:00 PM (Pacific) Tuesday, July 27th, 2005. The Carnival midway will open at Jenny D's place next Wednesday morning.

And now.... let's see what the midway has to offer this week.

They are having quite a discussion over at Alexander Russo's This Week In Education. It's all about an outfit called "Fair Test" and whether or not their agenda should be considered part of the "fringe." Once you've read the post, I guarantee that you'll have an opinion. Then consider joining the discussion. (Background: See Fair Test's k-12 testing website right here.)

Giving us the straight scoop on educational policy and politics is's stock in trade. The year 2014 has been designated by the No Child Left Behind Act as the year in which all children should be testing as proficient in reading and math. In a recent entry, Eduwonk makes
some well-reasoned predictions about what the year 2014 will probably look like, and where public education will go from there.

What would you do if you had worked at a job for a number of years and then someone arbitrarily raised the retirement age due to a "financial emergency." And what would you do if at the same time if management gave itself an increase in pension benefits? Well... that's what the State of Texas is doing to its teachers and Rhymes With Right
has the details.

For many of us classroom teachers surrendering monies to one or more unions is not an option. The unions simply take the money whether or not the teacher chooses to belong. Worse, the unions often use teachers' money to support political causes and candidates that the teacher may oppose. Sense of Soot brings us a round-up of some of the non-education related items that The National Education Association (NEA) busied itself with at its annual convention. (What does a boycott of Wal-Mart and Gallo Wines have to do with wages and working conditions of NEA dues-payers?)

Brand-new homeowner Coach Brown is battling intruders in the form of wasps and black-widow spiders. While avoiding stingers and bites, he wonders why he is having to spend so much time
preparing for a series of classes that "teach" teachers the obvious.

What are some of the things that a first year teacher needs when she begins her very first assignment? The First-Year Writing Teacher
is counting down the days with some sound advice for those who are about to embark on their very first teaching assignment.

Kitchen Table Math is not a blog, but a blooki. (part blog, part wiki, part book) We find the concept to be fascinating. Check out this two-parter about how students learn math, as well as the conceptual gap that many kids experience when learning about abstract operations. See Part I
here, Part II over there, and a description of what is a "blooki" (and an invitation to contribute) right here.

It is said that many public school systems are infested with nepotism and hiring-by-crony. But should a job applicant ever have to shell out big bucks to pay for medical exams and background checks in order to simply apply for a teaching job? Ruminating Dude is
reporting that is what is demanded of prospective job-seekers in Providence, Rhode Island. (Seems like "pay-to-play" to me.) He is looking for work in other locals that seem to actually want teachers to come work in their schools and shares with us some of his experiences concerning "The Interview."

The more things change the more they stay the same. Or so it's been said. Over at The Common Room, they show us how a book published in 1912 has some lessons that are
applicable in the 21st century.

I must admit that I'm fascinated by scientists and things scientific. Well, it looks as though I'm not the only history teacher one who likes science. Polski
is telling everybody about a new discovery. Here is a taste:
The new element has been named Edubureaucratium. Edubureaucratium has one neutron, 12 assistant neutrons, 75 deputy neutrons, and 11 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312. These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons. Since edubureaucratium has no electrons, it is inert.
I just don't understand how some folks can be so dead-set against the use of computers in the classroom. I've seen several articles over the past few months that were written by folks who would seemingly have students sitting at their desks writing on slates. Over at Assorted Stuff, they us how one such critic of classroom technology can be both right and wrong.

Is Ebonics a language? Or is it nothing more than a form of non-standard English? And should it be taught in the schools? And if it is taught, what effect, if any, does it have on students' ability to speak and write standard English? The debate has now been raging for years. Over at Number 2 Pencil, they have the very latest on one of the hottest topics in the EduSphere, as well as links to what others are saying.

When we speak of the Chinese educational system, are we talking about Taiwan, Hong Kong, or mainland China? Chris Correa is always interested in comparative data and in a recent post takes
a well-reasoned look at a piece comparing Chinese and American mathematics programs.

Jenny D. has a post that
introduces many of us to an article by John B. Carroll that is considered by many to be the most cited article in the history of educational research. This entry is a must read for all who are teachers, hope to be teachers, or are interested in educational research.

Has the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act been good for kids? Well, that depends on who you ask. Some say that it's been a mixed blessing. Others argue that what's needed is a major overhaul of the statute. Quincy
takes a look at NCLB and the Achievement Gap between minority students and white students.

is what's being discussed over at What It's Like On The Inside. Did you know that kids in grades 3-12 spend an incredible 6 hours and 21 minutes of each day plugged into some sort of electronic media? How can educators use this to an advantage?

How on Earth did the teaching of mathematics ever become politicized? Does the Pythagorean Theorem belong to a political party? And it it did, who would the theorem support in the next presidential election? Darren, over at Right on the Left Coast has the latest two installments in the debate over the politicized of number theory. Part I
gets it set up, and part II jumps right in.

When it comes to individual income, how much does education matter over time? Ironman at Political Calculations
mines a report from the Dallas Fed and finds that knowledge is what matters most in determining earning power. (Some sites are just plain fun as well as informative; Political Calculations is one of them.)

If you are a stay-at-home parent, have you ever considered homeschooling your children? If the answer is "no," why not? Over at the Thomas Institute,
they are discussing the most often given reason why parents who can don't homeschool.

When I was taking my education classes, our professors preached to us that Whole Language was the program that was going to save public education. We were taught that grammar was evil. Phonics was evil. Then came content-area standards and suddenly everything changed, at least in our part of California. But the effects of Whole Language are still around and Stop The Blackmail shows us in three parts:
here, here, and over there.

Is there a such thing as "Testing to the results?" In a series of commentaries, Jerry Moore, of My Short Pencil,
is raising the alarm that the State of New York may be manipulating its scoring criteria in order to raise the percentage of test-takers who pass New York's Regents Examinations.

A recent graduate of the University of Kansas writes over at a brand-new blog called, Expression. The writer was able to actually attend the recent NECC (National Educational Computing Conference) in Philadelphia where
she delivered a presentation with other students from around the world. I'm envious; I would have loved to have attended that particular conference. Expression is off to a great start!

Who would have thought that Ogres are interested in Education? Well, Ogres are parents too, and the one that writes over at Ogre's Politics & Views is alerting folks that a teacher is alleging that there was
hanky-panky going on with the grades at a Charlotte, North Carolina high school.

And now for some entries that were selected by the editors:

Should credit for recent gains in test scores be attributed to the effects of the No Child Left Behind Act? In a thoughtful post, A Constrained Vision
gives us some straight talk. See the bonus post about public school choice in Massachusetts.

Joanne Jacobs had a multitude of great posts this week, but the one that I found most thought-provoking was the post about Washington State University's administration
approving the disruption of a performance of the satirical play Passion of the Musical by African American student Chris Lee.

Are you one of those lucky people that know how to write effectively? Are you too shy to claim credit for your writing? Do you enjoy working around scientists? If you are tired of teaching for peanuts and want to make some real money, University Diaries
knows about a job for you.

Many of us have played some variation of The In-Law Game at one time or another. Over at Fred's World, they play the game at an altogether different level. See
Part I here and Part II over there. (In this game, patience is a virtue as well as a curse.)

And finally, here at The Education Wonks, we humbly submit for your approval our entry about Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's attempt to
overthrow the city's elected school board in favor of a scheme where he would appoint both board and superintendent.
Carnival Archives

The first edition can be seen here, the second, here the third, here the fourth, here, and the fifth, here the sixth, here the seventh, here the eighth, here the ninth, here the tenth, here the eleventh here the twelfth here, the thirteenth, here the fourteenth, here the fifteenth, here, the sixteenth, here the seventeenth, here the eighteenth, here the nineteenth, here, the twentieth, here, the twenty-first, here the twenty-second, here and the twenty-third, over there. To get to EdWonk's main page, (with a variety of education-related posts) please click here.