Monday, October 31, 2005

Fun With The Law: "Legalizing" Trick-Or-Treat

Would you believe that in several Virginia towns and cities "trick-or-treat" is regulated by law and that the city of Norfolk even outlaws the activity for anyone over the age of 12?
Sec. 29-4. Prohibited "trick or treat" activities.

(a) If any person over the age of twelve shall engage in the activity commonly known as "trick or treat" or any other activity of similar character or nature under any name whatsoever, he shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor. Nothing herein shall be construed as prohibiting any parent, guardian or other responsible person, having lawfully in his custody a child twelve (12) years old or younger, from accompanying such child who is playing "trick or treat" for the purpose of caring for, looking after or protecting such child.

(b) If any person shall engage in the activity commonly known as "trick or treat" or any other activity of similar character or nature under any name whatsoever after 8:00 p.m., he shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor
Other cities in the area prescribe permitted hours and who and what age groups are permitted to go about seeking treats. Some even indicate who may wear masks.

Perhaps if a 13-year-old is caught breaking the law by being too old, then he or she could pay all or part of the fine with those funny-looking little packages of candy-corn that one only sees during Halloween.

No mention is made by the article of adults who masquerade as politicians but behave like children.
See the latest edition of The Carnival Of Education (with entry guidelines) here, and our latest posts over there.


This news being reported by Reuters is just devastating:
At least 17,000 children died in schools destroyed in Pakistan's devastating earthquake and a second wave of deaths could happen unless the United Nations gets funds to ensure proper care for survivors, UNICEF said on Monday.

Children who survived the quake had suffered probably even worse trauma than those who escaped the Asian tsunami, said Ann Veneman, executive director of the U.N. Children's Fund.

"They were in school at the time when so many other school buildings came down," she told a news conference in the Pakistani capital Islamabad after visiting the disaster area.

"The ones that survived, many have injuries. The ones that survived, also many lost friends. They lost teachers, they lost important people in their lives."

The government says more than 55,000 people died in Pakistan in the October 8 earthquake while more than 78,000 were injured.

"We know that children under 18 are about half of the population in the affected areas," Veneman said. "And therefore we think that about half of the victims, either injured or the dead, have been children."

She said UNICEF estimated at least 17,000 children were killed in schools destroyed in the quake, which struck during morning classes on a Saturday. "That is one number we have some estimates on," she said.

A massive U.N.-led relief effort has been struggling to ensure survivors in remote mountains settlements have shelter and sufficient food for the coming Himalayan winter.
The Pakistani government has reopened makeshift schools using tents as classrooms.
See the latest edition of The Carnival Of Education (with entry guidelines) here, and our latest posts over there.

The Spellings Report: Ask The Secretary

If you are a teacher, here's your opportunity to ask Secretary Of Education Margaret Spellings a question of your choosing. You don't even have to tell her your real name. We know this for a fact, because we didn't tell her ours and she answered our question. See all of the Qs and As right here.

Open Commenting Thread

An open thread by any other name would be just as free.


Lest our old nemeses the Censorchimps make an unexpected appearance and attempt to shut this site down, we'd like to take this opportunity to wish all ghouls and goblins, whatever age they may be, a Happy Halloween.

In the spirit of the day, we present
this little article which is all about North Carolina's Great Wall of Pumpkins.

A Red Apple Salute!

Band teacher Robert Holloday of Bowie, Maryland, has been chosen as that community's Teacher of the Month.

Band teachers must have an immense amount of patience in order to put up with all those notes that must be passed in class. How do they do it?

To all those who teach music to our young people, whatever their talents, (or lack thereof) we humbly offer our Red Apple Salute.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Not Your Average Halloween Haunted House

For the past few years, a growing number of conservative Christian churches around the country are sponsoring what are generally being called "Hell Houses" during Halloween:
It's a few nights before the opening of the House of Destiny at First Baptist Church of Florence [Mississippi] and dozens of amateur actors are practicing their lines.

In the basement, the Gatekeeper of Hell, portrayed by church pianist Betty Sapp, welcomes a visitor into the fiery underworld with her best high-pitched cackle.

"Well, well, well ... we've been expecting you," Sapp says. "You didn't think God would send you down here, did you? What, with all those good works you've done, you thought you'd go to heaven ..."

Welcome to the creepiest stop in the afterlife — complete with real fire, demonic characters, a heavy metal soundtrack and unfortunate souls bound by clanking chains. In the knick of time, visitors are whisked away to a heavenly realm of redemption.

Under 15,000 feet of black plastic sheeting, the church has been transformed into a dark, twisting maze where visitors can witness scenes of death and destruction — from the living room of a Hurricane Katrina victim to the beheading of an American civilian in Iraq. Then, there's the judgment scene where Christ invites Christians into heaven and banishes others to hell.

Like a haunted house, the scenes are intense and at times, disturbing. [see above images] Although tours are timed for Halloween, the production is not meant to celebrate a holiday that, for most people, translates into a night of costumes and candy.

It's part of a growing number of local faith-based events offered as an alternative to the ghosts-and-goblins formula of mainstream Halloween.

The anti-Halloween movement has attracted a large following, especially in the Bible Belt, with many churches opting to host youth lock-ins, harvest festivals and dramatic presentations to encourage members to shun Halloween.

Members of Wells United Methodist Church in Jackson are planning a fall festival for Sunday, complete with children's games and modest costumes.

The church has never opted for a House of Destiny-style project because they don't support its portrayal of judgment and what awaits those who shun Christianity, said Todd Watson, associate minister at Wells.

Planning began six months ago on the House of Destiny. The project cost about $2,000, with church members donating props and equipment, Herrin said.

Organizers view the project as a catalyst to cause people to consider where they will spend eternity. About 2,300 people went through the first House of Destiny four years ago and more than 200 made the decision to follow Christ, Herrin said.

"A lot of folks who would never come to church came to it because of what it is," he said. "I would feel it was 100 percent successful if one person came to Christ."

Watson, however, remains skeptical about the overall ramifications of such a project and its use as a tool for outreach. He suspects many of the visitors already are Christians or members of the church.

"I don't think it will make (people) embrace faith if the faith is all about fear and condemnation," Watson said. "Who wants to be near that? I doubt there are people who would become Christians because of it. Decisions made in fear rarely stick."
The idea of a Christian "haunted house" has been promoted in recent years by Keenan Roberts, who created a "Hell House" in Roswell, N.M., in 1992 and began marketing it to other religious organizations across the country.

In 2002, Colonial Heights Baptist Church created a "Judgment House," which was first marketed in 1983 by New Creation Evangelism Inc. in Clearwater, Fla. Wynndale Baptist Church in Terry put on a production, written by a church member, in 2001. The same year, Parkway Pentecostal Church presented the House of Choice drama.
See the latest edition of The Carnival Of Education here, and our latest posts over there.

The Question Of The Day

Should the words "under God" be removed from The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag? Why or why not?

The Education Congregation

This excerpt from a post at The Wake-Up Call does give one pause for much reflection:
Teachers are priests. We do the same work. We bring the ages to a new generation. We conjure wonder if not miracles, and bear witness to the challenges of reformation. We fuel the engines of enterprise, including spiritual, and we are demonized by the unruly lords who rule us.

If Shakespeare, Einstein, or Churchill, in their prime, became New York City teachers and performed in the classroom on a par with their other contributions to civilization, they would categorically be hauled in on disciplinary charges and fired for incompetence. These priests would have bucked the micro-managers whose authority is so absurdly higher than their talent. The discrepancies and implications are most stark in education.

The Bard might have been caught shortening, lengthening, or for some cause articulable to him but indefensible to his superiors in the non-meritocracy, the ten-minute mandated "mini-lesson."

Maybe he indulged an original approach to the compulsory five-minute "journal entry" activity, or volunteered on any given Thursday an insight not officially approved by the modeling "literacy coach." Perhaps his room did not boast a print-rich bulletin board like Abe Lincoln would have known, or he was guilty of dominating his lessons to his people, the children, as Moses did. The final blow may well have been his storage of portfolios on a shelf instead of a ledge.

Leonard Bernstein, the late composer and conductor of the New York Philharmonic, was America's premier musical artist ands educator of the last century. He was a priest. Fifteen years of his hypnotic lecture telecasts for children were recently released on DVD. His style was dynamic but unorthodox, arresting but irksomely idiosyncratic. Genius is adamant and will not be compromised. All history's great teachers were geniuses.

Not deterred by Bernstein's "tics...sighing...fumbling...moaning", the New York Times gave it its merited rave review. If Bernstein had been a music teacher in New York City now, he would be rated "unsatisfactory" by a principal who couldn't tell a treble clef from a cocoa puff.

This "manager" would automatically be sustained by several frozen fat layers of non school-based patronage job holders with such intriguing titles as "LIS", "RIS", and "ISS." The Chancellor Klein dictatorship wrought these plums overnight. Many hundreds of these barnacles earn, as the term is loosely defined, roughly triple the pay of many of teachers. They are centurions in the Department of Education's imperial empire of thousands of specious "staff developers", principal's "mentors", "coaches" and hangers-on galore.

Reportedly many of these collaborated on the top-secret leaked seminal tome by the Department of Education: "How to Frame and Fire Teachers for Dummies."
See the latest edition of The Carnival Of Education here, and our latest posts over there.

Ethical Dilemma

Newoldschoolteacher has posted some examples of poorly-written student work over at her place. Here is a sample:
"1 thing i liked about the book "[Title]" was that she kept on fighting for freedom and never gave up no matter what happen. She stood strong even when she witness her fathers die. I really didn't have any dislike's about the book. I would really recommand this book to other 11th graders." and is wondering whether or not it may have been unethical to do so."
Here's the dilemma that Newoldschoolteacher is wrestling with: Is it unethical to post examples of student work in order to illustrate a point?

I'm of the opinion that as long as the work cannot be identified as having been written by, or associated with, any individual student or students, then confidentiality is safeguarded.

One of the most positive aspects of EduBlogging is the fact that it greatly facilitates the free exchange of thoughts and ideas regarding best educational practices.

Before we can effectively propose and debate solutions to the challenges that we face as educators, we must first identify those concerns that need to be addressed.

Still, we must exercise the utmost care to protect our students' privacy.

See the latest edition of The Carnival Of Education here, and our latest posts over there.

The Watcher's Council Has Spoken!

Each and every week, Watcher of Weasels sponsors a contest to see what are some of 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 Member Entries: Rightwing Nuthouse won first place with Syria and the Hariri Conspiracy. The Sundries Shack placed second with Don’t Secret Cabals Have To Be... Well... Secret?

Non-Council Entries: ShrinkWrapped's entry called Race and the Unconscious took top honors while The Unrepentant Individual's Separation was the first runner-up

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Sign Of The Times

If it's time for the Great Pumpkin, then you know that the season is upon us for some knuckleheads to cancel a school's Halloween activities.

I seem to remember that there was a time when kids could just be kids once in a while.

Check out the varied "Halloween policies" that are to be found in the affluent coastal community of Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Update: Joanne Jacobs reports that one Massachusetts school is planning a "celebration of fall" in lieu of Halloween.

Rise Of The Charters: The New Orleans Story

There will be 20 new public charter schools opening soon in the New Orleans area. The Times-Picayune refers to the plan as the "balkanization" of the school system:
In a move that could signal the eventual balkanization of much of the New Orleans public school system, the board unanimously approved charter applications for 20 district schools, including seven on the east bank and another 13 on the west bank that, although previously approved, had been blocked by a court order.

The decision comes after weeks of bitter feuding over how to reopen the few schools that remain undamaged by Hurricane Katrina and amid dismal financial projections from district. Friday's decision was met with thundering applause from hundreds of parents and students who packed the City Council chambers.

In an abrupt about-face, board President Torin Sanders agreed to support all of the charter proposals, despite earlier opposition and charges that the proposal was racist as recently as last week.

Sanders said his sudden change of heart came after the board adopted a resolution Friday that would require 20 percent of the student body at each school be comprised of students on free and reduced-price lunch programs.
I find board member Torin Sanders charge that charter schools are "racist" to be both ridiculous and divisive. For all intents and purposes, the system was already "balkanized" with a large number of middle class and affluent white parents sending their offspring to private schools.

Before Hurricane Katrina struck, the New Orleans public school system was troubled by crime and poor academic performance. If the school system is to effectively serve students and the community, then clearly it would not be either's interest to rebuild them as they were.

Increasing the number of charter schools may be part of the solution.
See the latest edition of The Carnival Of Education here, and our latest posts over there.

Open Commenting Thread: The Weekend Edition

Your right to comment anonymously is guaranteed by this thread.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Tar-Heel Education: The $4.16 Per Day Pay Raise

Well... I guess North Carolina Governor Mike Easley's heart is in the right place:
North Carolina's average teacher salary is $45,149, which is $3,814 below the national average. Using a room full of teachers and students at a Raleigh elementary school as a backdrop, Easley said the state aimed to raise the state's average teacher salary to $52,266 a year by 2008. That would be about $60 more than what is projected to be the national average that year.

To start, all teachers will get a $750 annual pay increase for the current school year that will begin showing up in their November paychecks.

North Carolina budgets are written in two-year cycles, and Easley said the budget outline shows there should be enough money to pay for the 5 percent increase next year.

The prospects for the 5 percent raises required in the 2007 and 2008 school years are less certain.

Although Easley will remain governor until 2008, all legislators must run for re-election in 2006. A significant shift in the legislature's makeup could make it harder to make good on the promised salary increases.
Of course, the governor is promising those 5% annual raises for future years.

Meanwhile, what about this year? Let's see... if there are 180 teaching days in a year, and a teacher receives a whopping $750 pay hike for this year, that works out to... $4.16 per day. Less taxes.

Y'all don't spend all that new-found wealth in one place!
See the latest edition of The Carnival Of Education here, and our latest posts over there.

Strategic Blunder

Many folks would agree that the most productive negotiating tactic that a union can employ in its efforts to negotiate a favorable contract with their district's administration is to build good will in the community. This is not how to do it.

The Prodigal Blog-Son

The Commissar, over at The Politburo Diktat, is assembling a family tree of the blogosphere, and would like to know who your blog parents are.

The official blogfather of The Education Wonks is Boi From Troy (I know! I know! You don't have to say it!) and our blogmother is, as incredible as it may seem, Wonkette.

We have one known blogchild, Polski3's View From Here.

Do you know who your blog parents are?

Via: Joanne Jacobs

Other Voices: Ms. Frizzle
See the latest edition of The Carnival Of Education here, and our latest posts over there.

Open Thread: Funday Friday

This thread will never be for rent or hire.

California Dreaming

California's Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell is happy with the latest test scores.

Now if we can get the other 32% of schools to meet their academic targets, we can all celebrate.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


Have you gotten your invitation to the social event of the Century? Apparently, all the cool people in the World of Education are going to be there.

I guess our invitation must've been lost in the mail.

The Return Of The Victory Garden

I wonder how this plan would play out in your typical American junior high school:
Jamie Oliver wants kids to grow their own veg [vegitables] as the next stage of his School Dinners project.

The TV chef hopes to echo a project in America where pupils create their own Edible Garden - as pioneered by his US cook friend Alice Waters.

He said; "In our Feed Me Better plan, we did a whole idea about gardening and getting free seeds and things like that.

"Alice has achieved some incredible stuff in California and I recommended it here. But the problem was that we had to prioritise.

"We had to cut a programme that was honest, specific and to the point.

"To grow stuff at school is incredible because any kid loves it - in funny names, shapes, whatever."

Oliver, a double winner at the National TV Awards, will revisit places next year featured in his original campaign.

He also plans to ask Tony Blair for a 10-to-15 pence rise on the 65 pence-per-lunch he won and a shake-up in dinner ladies' training. Oliver, 30, vowed: "I'm going to be in school dinners for years."
I can just imagine the type of crop that some of the students around our junior high school would try to grow.
See the latest edition of The Carnival Of Education here, and our latest posts over there.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Carnival Of Education: Week 38

Welcome to this week's midway of The Carnival Of Education! We are delighted to be presenting this week's collection of exhibits from around the EduSphere.

All posts were submitted by writers or readers except those labeled, "Editor's Choice."

A successful Carnival is a team effort. Please consider helping to spread the word. Feedback is always welcomed.

Special Announcement: Next week's midway will be guest hosted by Scott Elliott's Get on the Bus. Scott is the education reporter at the Dayton Daily News. Send your contributions to Scott by 9:00 PM (Pacific) no later than Tuesday, November 1st. The email address is: scemel [at] aol [dot] com . Please include the title of your post, and its URL. Barring unforeseen circumstances, the midway should open over at Get on the Bus next Wednesday.

Welcome Instapundit readers! The Carnival of Education is a weekly roundup of posts written and submitted by those who are concerned with education. Even though our site is the home of The Carnival, the midway does travel to other sites. A new edition is published each Wednesday morning. We maintain a link to the current edition on our index page, that may be found at the bottom our regular posts.

There is a complete set of carnival archives
here. For our latest posts, visit our home page.

Let the free exchange of thoughts and ideas begin...

Education Policy:

In a highly-readable posting, Kitchen Table Math invites us to take a trip to wonderland where Alice
helps us understand that curricula based upon "real life math" is just like Alice's bugaboo, the Queen of Hearts. (Wasn't she the one who kept saying "Off with her head?") Don't forget to beware of the deck of cards Queen's Court!

Does the No Child Left Behind Act need fixing? I guess the answer depends on the point of view of the person who's doing the questioning. Sherman Dorn argues forcefully that
fundamental change is needed from the top on down. Check out this bonus post about how the Nation's Report Card (NAEP) is a "Category 3 on the Spin Semper Scale."

Around here, we've always thought that the EduSphere should be all about healthy debate and dialogue between all educational viewpoints. That's why we were both surprised and saddened to learn that Jenny D's
efforts to build bridges in the EduBlogging community were rebuffed. All we can do is try...

School Of Blog has learned that Secretary Margaret Spellings of the Department of Education readily admits that
some children are going to be left behind. The Secretary's reasoning may surprise you. Or not.

All Facts And Opinions
forcefully states that the House of Representatives has passed a bill that would allow faith-based organizations that receive federal tax dollars to use an applicant's religion as a factor in employee hiring for some pre-school programs. Agree or disagree, it's your choice; The Free Exchange of Thoughts And Ideas means just that!

Let's see.... kids aren't learning math as well as they should, and many wind-up taking remedial courses in college. So what's the answer? Over at A Shrewdness of Apes they've got some
good ideas on where to start.

Crossblogging is alerting everyone that Jesus
is on his way to the Supreme Court.

Here at The Education Wonks, we humbly submit for your consideration our take on the Nation's Report Card.

Teaching And Learning:

Classroom teacher Dana Huff's site, HuffEnglish, is always considering effective classroom teaching techniques. In
a recent posting, she taught us how to make an effective compare/contrast graphic organizer. The step-by-step instructions are priceless!

How does one help high school students become good writers? That's one of education's Eternal Questions. Tim Fredrick has some
good sound reasoning about teaching kids to be effective writers.

Mr. Lawrence
has a cautionary note concerning the use of high-school age teaching assistants in the classroom. We agree with him about that student who was giving back-rubs with lotion!

Kindergarten teachers take heed. This is
what can happen to that child who comes to your class already knowing her ABCs. Keep him or her challenged and loving school as much on the last day as he or she did on the first.

Seriously consider reading this
thought-provoking collection of real-life community college essay excerpts from Mamacita's site, Scheiss Weekly. First I laughed, and then I cried, and then I sighed. In a bonus post, see what Elvis Impersonators, Deer Hunting, and Motorcycles have in common.

Do you know of any children who were taught mathematics with a curriculum known as "Integrated Math?" How did the kids do? Over at Scholar's Notebook,
they advocate the need for your involvement in whatever math program that your child's school is using.

Washington State teacher Mr. McNamar
has some suggestions about how middle schools can better prepare students for success in his ninth-grade math class.

The Secret Lives Of Teachers:

If you've ever written or read an EduBlog, Alexander Russo has developed just the thing for you: A
map of the EduSphere. In a bonus post, This Week in Education brings us the sad news that Education Week is now requiring a subscription for full access to their resources. This news disappoints us...

Over at Decorabilia, Jim is revealing a secret exercise program that many fit teachers have been using for years. Here's one recommended exercise that he calls "The Runaround:"

Start at your classroom. Run to the copy room to make a last-minute transparency. Run back to your room (you forgot a blank transparency). Run back to the copy room. Wait five minutes (now there's a line). Wait five minutes more (now the machine is jammed). Finally make the copy. Run back to your classroom. Test overhead. Run to Audio-Visual room (bulb is burnt out). Run back to classroom. Insert new bulb. Teach.
Take a look at some of the challenges that New York's City corps of teachers have to put up with in order to even try to teach their students. Is it any wonder why so many great teachers in the City leave for the suburbs?

Polski3 has some concerns about teacher's unions in general and CTA/NEA in particular. In response to a reader's comment, Polski tells us
what unions ought to be doing for their members.

At Going to the Matt, they answered Polski's post and have
added some thoughts of their own regarding the things that unions ought to be doing for their membership.

Let's see... You work in a middle school. You get thick packet from the local high school with an invitation to a meeting at their campus on short notice. You discover that there will be a discussion of test scores. To us, this sounds like
a formula for a meeting disaster.

What do you think would happen if a teacher at your local school was assaulted by a baseball bat wielding student? The answer may
both surprise and disturb you.

The teaching of math is on the mind of the Instructivist who
brings us some ideas for teaching problem-solving that are based upon his own classroom teaching experience.

Editor's Choice: Fred, who writes over at the aptly named Fred's World, recently came back from that place where what happens there stays there. But he
lets us in on a few secrets anyway. Don't miss the photos!

Survival Guide For Students And Parents:

Darren, over at Right on the Left Coast, is bringing to everyone's attention the fact that his school
continues to charge students and parents illegal fees.

At Scott Elliott's Get on the Bus, they have a tale of two posts: The school system in the State of Ohio
is getting dumber, but at least Ohio's kids are getting smarter.

How many times each year is your doorbell rung by a student who is selling items on behalf of some school's fundraising effort? Over at Multiple Mentality,
they're telling us of a new option that is becoming available for parents of kids who've been asked to raise funds.

A set of coping strategies are something that every teacher and parent needs to have in his or her toolbelt. We think that Steve Pavlina has some of the best, and this week
he brings us some methods for increasing our productivity!

Shhh... the Ruminating Dude is reporting about
a math program that may be coming to a school near you. This program is so.... special.. that one advanced-placement student who completed the program told the Dude that the plan made him decide... drum roll please.... "I don't want to go to college." Must be some plan.

Editor's Choice: Our 13-year-old daughter, the TeenWonk, is very interested in attending Vassar College. Joanne Jacobs reports that
tolerance for diversity doesn't seem to be tolerated over at one of America's most prestigious colleges. This saddened me and disappointed the TeenWonk who has, as one might have guessed, a strongly believes in the freedom of expression.

Education Finance:

The Super over on The Super's Blog
is discussing a trend that is happening across the nation. The state government controls the decision-making process, but passes the costs and blame to on to local school officials. They get to have their cake and eat it too!

Did you know that there are states that require the hiring of union labor for the construction of school buildings? I didn't know that. Education Matters
has the scoop.


And I thought that the fictional Brady Bunch were living in a crowded house. Over at Jones Blog, Vernice is telling us an immigrant's story of six families living under one roof. This is
the third installment of her highly-readable series of interviews of people from varied races and backgrounds.

From the "How On Earth Could Any Parent Do That? Department," SpunkyHomeschool brings us this tragic tale of
parents who taught their twin girls to hate.

Technology And Testing:

The effective mining of data is Chris Correa's stock in trade, and he
has found some interesting correlations in the latest issue of The Nation's Report Card, as well as a cautionary note about how some folk's analysis may not use the latest data in order to support their findings.

At Number 2 Pencil they are wondering why so many who are interested in education
don't want to be confused with facts.

At an Educational Voyage they love Firefox. (100 million downloads... tough luck, Bill Gates) But Firefox has its flaws and the Voyager
is introducing us to the possible Next Generation. Say hello to "Flock."

This midway is registered at TTLB's carnival roundup.

Main Page/Latest Posts

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Show And Tell

A 17 year old boy thought that it would be a good idea to bring a poisonous copperhead snake to school the other day. Predictably, nature ran it's course:
Kaitlin Chrobocinski, 14, was holding the copperhead when it bit her middle finger during a drama club gathering Friday in the school gym, a detective said.

Despite initial concerns about potential damage to her arm _ police initially said she could lose it _ Chrobocinski was released from a hospital Saturday. She has some swelling and pain in her arm, but is in good spirits, police said.

"She is at home recuperating and doing very well," Lower Pottsgrove Detective Michael Foltz said. "She feels bad that this whole thing had to happen."

He said at least two other students also handled the snake, which had been brought to St. Pius X High School in Pottstown by a 17-year-old male student who said he caught it in the Valley Forge area.

The snake was thrown outside afterward, and has not been found.

"My guess, with it being so cold down this way, that it's probably deep inside a hole somewhere warming up," Foltz said.

Authorities identified the snake from a photograph taken on a student's cell phone, which helped guide the treatment.
Thank goodness the young lady will fully recover.

There is no word on the condition of the snake.
Submissions for The Carnival Of Education are due by 9:00 PM (Pacific) tonight. Please send them to owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net. See our latest posts here.

Addressing Only Half The Problem

Have you ever noticed that articles like these put all the blame on classroom teachers while giving school administrators a free pass for their incompetence?

Open Commenting Thread

We think, therefore we thread.

As The Stomach Churns: Today's Episode--- Board Members Gone Wild!

School board member Beverly Coon, age 46, of Pennsylvania's Baldwin-Whitehall School District is accused of first stalking and then drugging her superintendent lover in a fit of jealousy and then attempting to burn his apartment building down. Arrest and arraignment on multiple felony charges followed.

Here's the punch-line: The accused is up for re-election to the governing board this November 8th.

See part I of this real-life soap opera
right here and part II over there.

Carnival Entries Are Due!

Entries for the 38th edition of The Carnival Of Education are due TONIGHT. We should receive them no later than 9:00 PM. (Pacific). Please send all submissions to owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net. View last week's edition, right here.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the carnival's midway should open here at the 'Wonks Wednesday morning.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Notes From The Education Underground: The TeachWonk Diaries

Call today Blue Monday.

I spent the better part of this weekend designing a "killer" power-point presentation for my (mostly) functionally illiterate class of seventh-graders in order to introduce them to a brand-new history unit.

This would be the first time that I had used the program with students, though I have employed it several times when presenting to adults.

Several hours of exacting research went into this lesson's preparation, with several slides featuring original writing as opposed to merely cutting and pasting from online sites.

The overall presentation was designed to be fast-moving, with precision timing of the delivery.

I have found that the key to a successful show is to keep it from "dragging." The goal was total student engagement, giving the kids ample opportunities for participation through questions and discussions. Every moment would be filled with teaching and learning, wrapped into a neat little package that would just fit into our 50 minute period.

I went to my classroom Sunday evening to practice timing and delivery, and to ensure that the supporting technology was ready to go. I wanted everything to be perfect.

And when I got to school today, I discovered that the principal and his two assistant principals had "forgotten" to tell the teaching staff that there would be much shorter classes today as a student assembly had been scheduled in the afternoon.

I had no alternate lesson plan, and as this was the introduction to the unit, I had no alternative than to give the lesson that I had prepared.

Predictably, the whole thing was a disaster, with poorly timed delivery, missed slides, and "hurried" audience feedback. It didn't help that the kids were "wired" because of the unexpected schedule change.

Of course I know better than to complain to the "professional educators," (This is how our Superintendent, Dr. Evil, refers to principals and above while he calls classroom teachers "service providers.") in the members only lodge school office, as those who complain in this district are often punished with bad evaluations.

It's too bad that we teachers don't get a chance to evaluate our administrators.

Cafeteria Wars

Here's the latest dispatch from the front in the war to end childhood obesity. This time, the theater of operations is located in Florida:
Lee County schools have launched an all-out war on behalf of health and nutrition, stomping out children's bad habits before obesity and diabetes reach epidemic levels.

Cafeterias sit on the battle's front line: Deep fryers have been torn out of cafeterias in favor of baked dishes, and soda and candy bars stripped from vending machines and replaced with milk and fresh fruit. Even pizza and cheeseburgers have been altered in the push for low-fat, low-calorie ingredients.

"The kids in the millennium generation, those born in the year 2000, will be the first generation with lesser longevity than their parents," said Sharon Warnecke, health services coordinator for Lee public schools. "It's because of diabetes issues and cardiac issues that relate to their sedimentary lifestyle and obesity."

During the 2004-05 school year, 20 percent of Lee third-graders were deemed overweight using body-mass index data. BMI measures weight versus height for different age groups.

The lunchroom of today is a far cry from the cafeteria of yesteryear. Each meal's nutritional information is calculated electronically and must meet guidelines created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to Lee schools dietician Kay Johnson. Reduced-fat meats and cheeses have transformed cafeteria staples such as pizza and burgers into entrees that aren't frowned upon. Corn dogs, for instance, are made of lower-fat poultry and breading.

Two months into the school year, though, Johnson sees a problem with the grilled chicken nuggets and sloppy Joes being offered every other Wednesday — children don't want to buy either item.

"We have to offer them nutritious meals that also taste good," said Wayne Nagy, director of food services, adding that Lee students consumed 10.1 million meals during the 2004-05 school year. "If kids don't like what they're offered, they aren't going to eat it."

If they don't buy a cafeteria lunch, the school doesn't make any money. And the alternative is children stuffing their stomachs with food that is sometimes far from a balanced diet.

"I've seen kids bring lunches of a couple Twinkies and a bag of M&M's," Nagy said.
So far, the Associated Forces of Childhood Fitness have been losing to the better organized and well-supplied United Armies of Fat.

Final victory in this war over the health of our children remains as elusive as ever as the high command of the United Armies of Fat continue to find new and improved ways of manipulating obtaining the enthusiastic financial support of parents who just can't say "no" to unhealthy snacks and continue to support the war-effort of the U.A.F. with the purchase of their contraband products.
See the latest edition of The Carnival Of Education, with entry guidelines for this week's midway, here. View our latest posts over there.


After public school teachers in the Province of British Columbia participated in an illegal strike of two weeks, everything's over except the singing of "O Canada."

Open Commenting Thread: Second Day

A thread is like a window to a commenter's soul.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

This Teaching Life

In yesterday's open thread, Ms. Cornelius, of A Shrewdness of Apes, had some very though-provoking commentary into what, for many, the Teaching Life is becoming in the 21st Century. I thought that they should have a post of their own:
I am afraid it all goes back to the fact that what teaching actually entails is a mystery to most parents, and, sadly, many administrators. People think that because they went to school, they know what teachers do. That's like saying that because I've been operated upon, I know what surgeons do (which, from my last surgery, is apparently to tell your patient that an infected incision was "actually worthy of an A minus," which once again proves my point that non-teachers don't understand teaching).

The Greek chorus of politicians and administrators and parents chants that they want instruction to students to be the first consideration, then layer on the bureaucracy.

My students and I were having a conversation in US history class about outsourcing the other day. We talked about the role technology has played in making outsourcing possible.

I looked at the computer on my desk as I spoke. When I began teaching in this district, we didn't even have a phone or intercom help button in our rooms. If there was an emergency, you had to have a trusted student run downstairs to the office and get someone (after the first emergency, I had to amend the instructions to include, "Stand there and loudly yell for help until an administrator actually comes with you right then.")

Then we all were "given" computers as long as we agreed to take 12 classes on various pieces of software and pass assessments on them-- classes after school or before school on our own time, unpaid, BTW (Can you say, "Job security for the technology diva?").

Once computers were on everyone's desk, our school district went online, and grading and progress reports and email to parents became de rigeur. But you can't enter grades from home, and although we are supposed to check our email frequently during the day, we teachers are given a time limit for how many minutes each day you leave the email on-- exceed it, and you are cut off, even if you are waiting for an urgent response from an administrator or counselor. You are not supposed to be online during instructional time, and could be fired for doing so, but the community is told that the internet is used as a tool by the teacher during the school day- say, to show students the answer to a student question or whatnot.

Parents can set up the system so that every time a new grade is entered for their child, they are emailed, which can lead to about 20 emails a day from parents, all of which have to be answered. I had one parent who checked her daughter's grade 897 times between October through the end of May. I am not making this up-- the counselor and I had a bet on it.

Yes, we teachers are supposed to stay off the computer, which means no grading or answering the zillion parent emails-- unless there is a "situation," then the principal comes over the intercom to tell all teachers to drop what they are doing to check their emails immediately for a special announcement, right in the middle of instructional time. Oh, and don't tell the kids what the email was about, although they have all watched you go over and read it.

We were told that technology would make our teaching lives easier. All I see is that it's actually caused me to spend exponentially more time on non-instructional tasks. This is not the fault of the technology. It is the fault of the restrictions placed upon our use of technology by administration.

At least I don't have to turn in lesson plans detailing the district, state and essential curriculum standards I cover and how this relates to testing blahblahblah every week. It could be worse.
I find it vexing that what should be the most beautiful and fulfilling job in the world is increasingly becoming an exercise in frustration for many, (including ourselves) not because of the actual teaching, or the students, but because all of the additional non-instructional responsibilities and meaningless paperwork that is being foisted upon classroom teachers, who already have their hands full just doing the job of teaching.

And let's not forget that both school administrators and the public continue to expect that test scores will increase each and every year, even if students make no attempt to do the work, or worse, are permitted to impede the academic progress of other pupils, as
this excellent eye-witness account demonstrates.
See the latest edition of The Carnival Of Education here, and our latest posts over there.

The Watcher's Council Has Spoken!

Each and every week, Watcher of Weasels sponsors a contest to see what are some of 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 Member Entries: In the third consequtive vote in which The Watcher had to break a tie, The Glittering Eye won first place with A Sketch History of U.S. Military Bases in the Middle East: The Overthrow of Mossadegh. The first runner-up was Gates of Vienna's The Counterterrorism Blog Looks Into the Face of Evil.

Non-Council Entries: Iraq the Model's entry called Iraqis Preparing to Decide took top honors

Special Announcement: The Watcher's Council has one vacancy. The Watcher invites interested writers to apply for Council membership. Get additional information here. The rules of the Council, as well as the application guidelines, can be found over there.

Update (PM) The vacancy has been filled. Eric's Grumbles Before the Grave will be joining the Council. Congratulations and welcome aboard!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Mixed Message

Prepare to smile, cry, and then wonder what's next for this little girl.

Getting Served?

Indianapolis' Flanner House Learning Center Charter School is being shut down:
An appointed trustee will oversee the dissolution of the school and will try to recover any assets that could be used to repay the state nearly $700,000 owed for students the school claimed to enroll but now can't account for. The trustee also will help the remaining students move to new high schools in the city.

• Inspectors at times found as few as 20 students in class in a school claiming to have more than 160 enrolled.
• Elective courses included crocheting, sign language and game strategies.
• Several people on the payroll were related to [School Director] Diamond.

Diamond was paid more than $150,000 a year to oversee the Learning Center, Flanner House Indianapolis -- a nonprofit, multi-service center -- and a charter elementary school. She said she was disappointed with the review board's decision.
It's never a wise practice to stack payroll with relatives, a common mistake of nonprofit organizations, said Leslie Lenkowsky, an Indiana University professor who specializes in nonprofit management.


This is the sort of nonsense that gives enemies of the charter school movement potent ammunition to use against any form of public school choice.
See the latest edition of The Carnival Of Education here, and our latest posts over there.

Open Commenting Thread

What's in a thread? An open thread by any other name would be just as free.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Nation's Report Card: Advance And Retreat?

The New York Times reports very mixed results on the 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) National and State Report Cards in Mathematics and Reading, also known as the Nation's Report Card:

Math scores were up slightly (see image) but eighth-grade reading showed a decline, and there was only modest progress toward closing the achievement gap between white and minority students, which is one of the Bush administration's primary goals. In many categories, the results indicated, the gap remains as wide as it was in the early 1990's.

Department of Education officials administered the test to 660,000 students in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, and on military bases around the world from January to March. It uses a 500-point scale, with scores assigned to achievement levels: below basic; basic, which denotes partial mastery of grade-level knowledge and skills; proficient, which represents solid performance and competency, and advanced, signifying superior performance.

This year's fourth-grade reading scores were almost flat, with the average score rising one point, but with 31 percent of students scoring proficient this year, the same percentage as in 2003. The decline in eighth-grade reading came as 31 percent of students scored as proficient, compared with 32 percent in 2003.

Fourth-grade students improved in math, with 36 percent scoring proficient, compared with 32 percent in 2003. Among the fourth-grade math scores there was another important gain, with the proportion of black students performing below basic declining to 40 percent from 46 percent.

Eighth-grade math scores also rose, with 30 percent of students proficient in math this year, compared with 29 percent in 2003.
Get the actual Report Card right here.

Predictably, the House of Spellings
is attributing student successes to the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Heh. Remember when Secretary Spellings insisted that No Child Left Behind is not a mandate but a "partnership" between Washington and the states? That was a strange thing for the Secretary to say, especially in light of the fact that when a State displays a little too much independance, Spellings doesn't hesitate to crack the whip.

My guess is that in most classrooms, the Teaching Life will not improve as a result of this news, as working conditions and compensation aren't influenced by good news, but we definitely hear about it when the news is bad.

As for rising test scores, I believe that the rate of future increases will be subject to the principle of
diminishing returns unless federal and state governments either substantially increase education funding, or, better yet, require that parents and students also be held accountable for academic progress.

But don't look for that to happen anytime soon. It's much safer politically for lawmakers to place the entire responsibility for insufficient progress upon "failing" schools. Parents are voters. And no lawmaker wants to run the risk of making such large block of voters angry with him or her.

Even though federal and state governments continue to take a more active role in the setting of education policy, the old maxim remains true: All politics is local.

Other Voices: Joanne Jacobs, also
here,, Jenny D, Ms. Frizzle.
See the latest edition of The Carnival Of Education here, and our latest posts over there.

Marching In Lockstep

Junior High School Teacher has a question:
"Are you a Team Player?"

How many times do we hear that from our administration?

And what it really means is "Don't complain, even if it's unfair."

Here's the deal. There's a big push right now for common assessments in all classes. Of course, there's no extra time, or money to pay us for the extra time, to get together and create these common assessments. Well, why should we? Why reinvent the wheel for goodness sake? Holt, Rinecourt and Winston have already done it for us. And they are aligned with the State Standards! How wonderful is that? You don't have to create anything. You don't even have to think. Just do what it says according to the teacher's edition of the textbook. They've even mapped out the whole year.

Wow. Think of it. All students all across California, on the same page on the same day. Every one getting exactly the same thing. Delivered in the same way. Talk about equal access. It's fabulous.
We've added Junior High School Teacher to the EduSphere.

Look for several new voices to be included in the next few days
See the latest edition of The Carnival Of Education here, and our latest posts over there.

Friday's Open Thread

Thankfully, the First Amendment still safeguards our right to thread... for now.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


Why is it that these monsters never get the death penalty? Is there any act more horrific than a parent murdering his or her children? And I don't buy that oft-given excuse that the killer "was mentally depressed." As long as the perpetrator knows right from wrong, it's still murder.

The Touchy-Feely Bully

The school district in Pocatello, Idaho is hiring a motivational speaker to teach students how to "talk" bullies into being nice:
Irving Middle School administrators brought in motivational speaker Terry Brewer Tuesday to teach students how to use humor to deflate bullies, but the district's counselors stress that the assembly is just one example of how District 25 tackles bullying every day.

“(Bullying) is one of our top three priority issues we work on all the time. It is not a novel topic. Keeping school culture safe is an absolute priority because people don't learn well in conditions that are hostile or intimidating. And the other issue, it is a matter of human dignity,” said Jefferson Elementary School counselor Jan McCormick. “These are taught values, it doesn't happen naturally. You have to teach all this - the values of pro-social development, how to get along and how to handle anger appropriately.”

While bullying continues to be a problem plaguing schools in our own backyard just as it does in schools across the country, McCormick believes District 25's students are safer than ever.

“We do think we are making terrific gains,” McCormick said. “I think schools are much safer than they used to be.”

McCormick said teachers and school counselors weave anti-bullying strategies, such as conflict management, multicultural and diversity training, into the curriculum every day, beginning in kindergarten and ending at high school graduation.
Heh. I guess the plan is for victims to tell the bully a joke in order to laugh him or her to death. Barring that, I suppose plan "B" must be to attempt to "relate" to the bully's unfulfilled Acquisitional Needs by forking over lunch money in hope of avoiding an unpleasant interpersonal conflict.
See the latest edition of The Carnival Of Education here, and our latest posts over there.

This Just In

After someone questioned his right to blog, Coach Brown of A Passion for Teaching And Opinions is letting everybody know that he is not about to be silenced.

Back To The Future

A middle school near you may be slated for the chopping block as several large American public education systems are returning to the traditional two school configuration.

Open Commenting Thread: Thursday-Thursday

How many angels can dance upon the surface of a thread?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Carnival Of Education: Week 37

With a great big tip of the mortarboard to last week's guest host Jenny D, this week's edition of The Carnival Of Education will use the groupings that Jenny has developed. And with reader feedback like this, how can it be otherwise?

All posts were submitted by writers or readers except those labeled, "Editor's Choice."

Writers of education-related posts are invited to send contributions to next week's Carnival. Please send your submissions to: owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net. We should receive them no later than 9:00 PM (Pacific) next Tuesday, October 25th. Please include the title of your post, and its URL. Barring unforeseen circumstances, the midway should open here next Wednesday.

There is a complete set of carnival archives
here. For our latest posts, visit our home page.

Let the free exchange of thoughts and ideas begin...

Teaching And Learning

Did you know that there is a national effort underway to use film in order to document the folkways of people who live in various parts of the country? Gaia's Homeschool
has the details about this long-overdue project.

Is there a way for students to self-assess their knowlege? (In other words, to know if they know.) That's not an easy question to answer, but over at What It's Like on the Inside
they are showing us an effective practice that does just that.

Could you imagine what public schools would be like if students were able to choose the topics for study? What if classes weren't separated by grades? And what would happen if report cards didn't exist? Would chaos ensue? Or would kids dedicate themselves to the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake? As unlikely as this is, Number 2 Pencil reports that
the idea is being actively promoted!

In a reflective post, Tim Fredrick
considers a sound technique that he has developed that is guaranteed to get the attention of students who are failing. And that technique may just motivate many of them to try to get "caught up" with their classmates.

Was there an inspirational teacher in your life? For most of us, the answer is yes. But sometimes that special teacher was much more than a teacher but
a life-changing experience who treated her class to Cheech and Chong's Sister Mary Elephant.

The Ruminating Dude teaches high school chemistry. He is expressing concern over his students lack of even fundamental math skills,
but he proposes a solution.

I had no idea that a good history lesson could be learned from a $10.00 bill. But I know it now. Scott, who writes over at Get on the Bus, has
a very engaging post about how history should never be our students' most "boring" class.

Survival Guide For Teachers, Students, And Parents

Should teachers who blog have fewer First Amendment rights than other Americans? Some might think so... Over at A Passion For Teaching And Opinions, Coach Brown is telling us that someone
is causing him concern over his blog and he is turning the whole episode into a Teaching Moment.

For years, we've been big fans of
Blue Man Group, but I never dreamed that those Blue Guys actually had to go to school in order to learn their stuff. Alexander Russo's This Week In Education has a great roundup that features several aspects of student and school life.

Did you know that students are "blessed" by their parents? Well, it's true, and Polski3
tells us how.

Pregnant high school students say the most interesting things, and Mr. Lawrence
lets us in on what he heard. (But what about those teachers talking about fat cheerleaders, and where did Mr. Lawrence get my yearbook photo?)

Here's a thought-provoking question: How has education changed in 200 years? Dr. Stat has
a very surprising answer.

We are very pleased to have received a contribution from a site written in the world's largest democracy, India. Interim Thoughts
is carefully considering the options that parents have when it comes to selecting the best schools for their children.

Here at The Education Wonks, we humbly submit for your consideration our post which addresses the fact that teacher salaries are not keeping up with inflation while what is expected of teachers continues to rapidly increase.

Editor's Choice: Psst! Hey Buddy... Is your child struggling with his or her term paper? Did he or she put-off doing it until it was too late? Would you like to know of a government-approved website where you can buy that term paper? Just for you... will let you
in on the secret, courtesy of the State of Rhode Island.

Editor's Choice: Graycie, at Today's Homework, is having difficulty with uncooperative machines. (I've always wanted to know: When batteries die, do they go to heaven?)

Education Policy

The Devil may have went down to Georgia, but he has been
banned from the music program at a high school in Virginia's Prince William County.

I think that we are fortunate that the government in Washington doesn't write or publish student textbooks... yet. The Common Room
shows us how bad it can be when governments authorize textbooks that present fraudulent material as factual.

Most teachers (and not a few parents) will tell you that smaller class sizes are a good idea. But I think that it's important to keep an open mind and take a look at the other side of the debate-- That perhaps larger
class sizes are better.

What was your own school experience like? If yours was like mine, you'd hope that today's kids would get something better. Mamacita
takes us down memory lane and has some proposals for making things better. In a bonus post, the author of Scheiss Weekly gives new meaning to the term "generation gap."

Darren, over at Right on the Left Coast, is alerting us that there is more than meets the eye in Calfornia's upcoming special election,
and has fired the first shot in his campaign to raise public awareness.


New York homeschooler Vernice Jones has embarked on an intriguing series of interviews with a variety of persons from different races and socioeconomic backgrounds. Checkout the
first weekly installment.

Editor's Choice: Over at Spunkyhomeschooler (She teaches six!)
they have a post about "What Makes For Great Homeschooling."

Technology And Testing

Most of us have heard of the testing "achievement gap" between white students and minorities, but over at EdWahoo they discuss what may be a significant (and under-reported)
contributing factor to this lamentable situation.

Today's young people are going to have to possess a whole new skill-set in order to succeed in the technology-rich economy of the 21st century. Clarence, of Remote Access,
is thinking about the different literacies that our students are going to need.

If it were in your power to equip a school from scratch with effective teaching and learning technology, what tools would you select? Chris Lehmann has
some great ideas. Don't miss this bonus post that shows us a number of productive uses for those tools!

This year's crop of graduating seniors are the first that must pass California's High School Exit Examintion. (the CAHSEE) Many educators are opposed to this form of high stakes testing, but over at Friends of Dave,
they present their case in support of the test.

Thomas Edison once predicted that motion pictures would take the place of books in the classroom of the future. While back then (and today) many scoffed at the notion, over at Ideas in Progress they show us how Edison
may have been right all along.

Rip, Mix, and Burn isn't a new version of the Beatles "Revolution Number 9," but is in fact something altogether different; it's a workshop. Darren, over at A Difference,
is preparing a presentation at the workshop that bears that intriguing title and is inviting everyone to attend.

Higher Education

a great post, Living the Scientific Life gives us some intimate behind-the-scenes details of the politics and policies that affect personnel decisions in a small college. But the bigger message is that Scientific Life is letting us know about a national trend when it comes to the teaching of science.

Editor's Choice: The University Diaries brings us this absolutely hilarious post about how residents who live near Duke University must treat the school's affluent students with "cultural sensitivity." Read it. Be amused, entertained, or angered. A
nice piece of writing that shouldn't be missed. (I still think that Duke is the home of Charlotte Simmons.)

Editor's Choice: Over at Scribblingwoman, they are hosting the second edition of The Teaching Carnival, which is focused on college and university-level instruction.
This midway has been registered at TTLB's carnival roundup.