Sunday, April 30, 2006

From Our What Were They Thinking Files?

I did a double take when I read this story about the Alabama school that had students, some of them African American, singing a Confederate marching song at a school program:
Singing a popular marching song of the Confederacy during a Civil War history lesson angered some parents of black students at The Highlands School in Mountain Brook.

At least five black students sang, along with other fifth-graders, the lyrics of "The Bonnie Blue Flag" at the closing of last Friday's program.

The 1861 song was written in honor of the blue flag with the white star that Mississippi flew over the state Capitol upon seceding from the Union. While singing it in the class, a black student held one end of a cardboard representation of the blue Confederate flag with a single white star.

Whitlynn Battle said she could not believe her ears when her 11-year-old daughter sang the lyrics, "We are a band of brothers and native to the soil. Fighting for the property we gained by honest toil."

"There's no explanation or excuse for it," she told The Birmingham News in a story Wednesday.

Highlands School is a private school for 4-year-olds through eighth-graders. About 11 percent of the 280 students are minority students, according to the school's Web site.

Dale Hanson, the school's acting head, said he has received a couple of e-mails and the school is handling the issue in-house.

"I've had the teacher write and explain it to the parents and I'm going to do the same," he said. Hanson declined to discuss the explanation.

Battle said the song was not on the printed program. The presentation featured students dressed in Civil War-era garb while they read journal entries from people involved in the war.

Battle said she and other parents had no idea the students would sing the song since all the practices were done during music class and the lyrics were not brought home.

A song drawing the words from Abraham Lincoln's campaign song followed the Confederate hymn, but Battle said school officials should have known better than to have the children sing "Bonnie Blue."

"We are sorry if anyone was offended and we certainly did not mean to offend anyone," said Hillery Head, chairwoman of the school's board.
Now I'm a southerner both by birth and by ancestery. Our southern roots are deep; in the 18th century, the Wonk family immigrated from Scotland, settled in Georgia, and later moved to northern Florida. My ancestors on both the agnate and distaff sides fought for the Confederate cause.

What continues to puzzle me, however, is how some of my fellow Southerners continue to insist on re-fighting the Civil War ad nauseum even though it ended some 141 years ago.

I guess this might be news to some: The war is over. The North won. Let's get over it and move on.

I believe it's unlikely that the school was being rascist in its selection of songs. (Consider taking a look at the lyrics of The Bonnie Blue Flag
here and more about the song there.) But I do think that they were being monumentally insensitive to their students, both black and white.
See our latest education-related entries right here.


Did you hear the one about the central Florida high school senior that thought it would be amusing to throw away his graduation fabricate a phony terrorist attack on his school and then use a page to announce the impending assault?

Heh. I guess it could be said that the knucklehead
punk'd himself.
See our latest education-related entries right here.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

D-Ed Eye Reckoning

We don't agree with many of the positions held by up-and-coming blogger KDeRosa over at D-Ed Reckoning, but we have to like DeRosa's well-crafted way of presenting them. Not only did he make his point with this post, but he entertained as well. Consider checking out his place and judge for yourself. Agree or disagree, your thoughts will be provoked.
See our latest education-related entries right here.

Just Horsing Around

If your looking for an exciting and lucrative career change, why not enroll in America's very first Jockey College?
A two-year college-level school for jockeys will begin training its first class of 15 at the Kentucky Horse Park this fall under the direction of Hall of Fame Jockey Chris McCarron.

The North American Racing Academy, the first school of its kind in the United States, will be affiliated with the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.

KCTCS will bestow associate degrees requiring about 60 hours of college credits on academy graduates.

"I can tell you the Kentucky Horse Park is so very proud to be the home of this academy," Horse Park executive director John Nicholson said yesterday during the official announcement of the program.

State Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, also presented McCarron with a symbolic check for the $300,000 in seed money approved by the 2006 General Assembly for the academy.

Thayer also thanked Gov. Ernie Fletcher "for not vetoing this project" in a series of recent vetoes intended to reduce state spending.
I wonder what type of pre-requisite courses one would need in order to be accepted?
See our latest education-related entries right here.

Star Spangled Espanol

Ms. Cornelius expresses our thoughts on the controversy surrounding the Spanish version of The National Anthem so much better than we ourselves ever could:
Over at NPR they’ve got a very useful posting about the Spanish version of the Star Spangled Banner, which has aroused quite a bit of controversy. Created just in time for the big protests on Monday, this Spanish version begs the question: Is this an attempt to show how devoted illegal immigrants are to our country, or is it an attempt to co-opt the national anthem for the purpose of those who want full amnesty and an open border?

Now, first, let me say that I think it’s a bit embarrassing that our national anthem was set to the tune of a drinking song, and that it is practically unsingable. But be that as it may, I also am a purist about it, since I love my country and believe that it deserves the utmost honor. It personally makes me blanch every time I hear someone play fast and loose with the singing of this song, displaying their narcissistic vocal pyrotechnics when all we really need is to think about the duty and sacrifice and honor that is encumbent upon us as Americans. Just hit the notes, please, so we can concentrate on what’s really important. And by the way—it’s even worse when the singers forget the lyrics or mangle them in their focus on showing off their vocal chords.
As Ms. Cornelius goes on to point out, the Spanish version is not the same song as the English one, even though one might infer that from the song's title. Consider reading her whole post.

Even though we disagree with President Bush on many things, I agree with his sentiments when it comes to our National Anthem.

We lived in Mexico for a number of years, where I became fluent in Spanish. Both the WifeWonk and our daughter, the TeenWonk, were born there.

I could not even imagine American citizens (or anyone else, for that matter) being able to publicly display any foreign banner (especially an American one) in a parade or demonstration anywhere in Mexico without causing a riot and the active suppression of any such parade or display by the police.

But that's the difference between the freedom that we enjoy here in the United States vs. the insitutionally corrupt government that the Mexican People have been forced to endure for generations. In our America, folks can sing whatever songs or fly whatever flags that they wish.

And for the record, Mexican citizens are not permitted to legally purchase or otherwise own any type of firearm (or ammunition) unless they are wealthy and wield the type of influence needed to obtain a myriad of permits from both police and Mexican Army. It goes without saying that resident foreigners aren't allowed to legally possess firearms under any circumstances.

If Mexico was a democracy, its government would not fear having an armed citizenry.
See our latest education-related entries right here.

Inside The Secret World Of EduBloggers

Are you a blogger who craves anonymity? It's a fact that many, if not most, EduBloggers publish under pseudonyms. But why? Is it because they participate in a 12-step program called Bloggers Anonymous? Or are the reasons more complex?

Over at Edspresso,
they're looking to talk to Anonymous EduBloggers and the people who read them.

You need not use your real name.
See our latest education-related entries right here.

Thank You! Thank You!

We would like to express our deepest appreciation to these fine websites for supporting the 64th edition of The Canival of Education. Thanks to their links and commentary, The Carnival continues to be a meeting place for the Free Exchange of Thoughts and Ideas. Additional sites will be added to this list as they become known to us.



Ms. Frizzle

Joanne Jacobs

Spunky Homeschool

The Median Sib

Here in the Bonny Glen

Science and Politics

A Shrewdness of Apes

Scheiss Weekly

Watcher Of Weasels

Multiple Mentality

Cold Spring Shop

NYC Educator

The Questionable Authority

JIS Topics

Friends of Dave

Neural Gourmet


Se Hace Camino Al Andar

Right Wing Nation

The Upside Down World

Living the Scientific Life

The Dayton Daily News'
Get on the Bus

The Reflective Teacher



A Passion for Teaching and Opinions

Bee Policy

Publishing The CoE continues to be a team effort. We can't thank the team enough for their support.
See our latest education-related entries right here.

Friday, April 28, 2006

California Senate Shocker: School Boycott Endorsed!

Adding fuel to an already smoldering fire, the California State Senate has passed a resolution endorsing a boycott of schools and businesses by illegal immigrants and their supporters. The nationwide boycott is set for Monday, May 1:
State senators on Thursday endorsed Monday's boycott of schools, jobs and stores by illegal immigrants and their allies as supporters equated the protest with great social movements in American history.

By a 24-13 vote that split along party lines, the Senate approved a resolution that calls the one-day protest the Great American Boycott 2006 and describes it as an attempt to educate Americans "about the tremendous contribution immigrants make on a daily basis to our society and economy."

"It's one day ... for immigrants to tell the country peacefully, 'We matter ... (we're) not invisible,'" said Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, the resolution's chief author. She said immigrants make up a third of California's labor force and a quarter of its residents.

Opponents said the nonbinding resolution was misleading because it failed to mention a goal of the boycott was pressuring Congress to legalize millions of undocumented people.

"It is a disingenuous effort to put the government of California on record supporting open borders," said Sen. Bill Morrow, R-Oceanside.

The boycott, also called "A Day Without Immigrants," grew out of huge pro-immigrant marches across the United States in recent weeks. Organizers are urging people to stay home from school and jobs and avoid spending money on Monday to demonstrate their importance to the U.S. economy.

California's top education official appeared with school officials in several cities Thursday to urge students to stay in school on Monday.

State Superintendent for Public Instruction Jack O'Connell encouraged students interested in the immigration issue to voice their opinions by participating in protest activities - but only after attending their classes.

"If students need to protest, they should feel free to do so after school," O'Connell told students and reporters at San Jose High Academy. "We want students to exercise free speech, but not at the expense of their education."

Rallies are planned for Monday in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Gardena, Bell, Santa Ana, Sacramento, San Jose, Oakland, Concord and other cities.

School officials in San Leandro, meanwhile, said Thursday that rising tensions over the immigration issue may have contributed to a series of brawls between Hispanic and black teenagers.

Over a dozen San Leandro High School students were taken into custody Wednesday following the fights that started on campus and spilled over into the parking lot of a nearby convenience store.

While educators theorized that the stress children of immigrants are under while the immigration debate roils may have played a role in the violence, students told television station KTVU that racial tensions predated recent developments.

Several senators equated the protest with the civil rights movement of the 1960s and other major events in American history.

Segregation was ended in part because of the public bus boycott by blacks in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955, said Romero.

Sen. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, likened the debate over immigrant rights to the fights over slavery, women's suffrage, the internment of Japanese during World War II, and the Vietnam War.

America wouldn't have been created without illegal action, said Sen. Richard Alarcon, D-Van Nuys. "They dumped a bunch of tea in Boston harbor, illegally. God bless them," he said.

But Sen. Dave Cox, R-Fair Oaks, said lawmakers should not encourage lawbreakers even if they disagreed with the law.

"It is irresponsible for this body to advocate that students leave school for any reason," Cox said.

He introduced a bill that would require a special school attendance audit on Monday, so that schools would not receive state aid for any student who was truant. School funding is based on attendance levels. O'Connell said the state would not grant waivers to schools that lose funding if students were absent while out protesting.

The debate was personal and emotional for some senators.

Sen. Nell Soto, D-Pomona, recalled watching as a child as immigration police swept up brown-skinned farmworkers, "not even asking if they were illegal or illegal."

Sen. Martha Escutia, D-Norwalk, described how her grandfather remained in the country illegally after overstaying a work permit during the 1940s, when he picked fruits and vegetables while American men were fighting World War II.

"This happened 60 years ago. And you know what? The story still continues," Escutia said, choking up as she described her 11-year-old son asking her about the controversy. She said the Great American Boycott should be renamed "the Great American Secret, and that is we all rely on someone who is here illegally."

Sen. Tom McClintock, R-Thousand Oaks, while citing immigrants' contributions, said the nation's goal should be assimilation: "From many people, one people, the American people. One race, the American race."
You can read the text of the actual resolution, SCR 113, right here.

In spite of the California Senate's tacit approval of the deliberate breaking of California's compulsory school attendance laws, our district's superintendent has sent home a letter advising students that Monday is not a holiday and that the parents of any student who is absent must call the school or send a note with the child verifying that the absence was due to illness or the observance of a religious holiday.

In effect, what this means is that if the child stays out of school on Monday and the parent is willing to lie about the reason, the school system has little recourse. Still...we like the idea that our superintendent has done what he could.

Having said that, the use of the boycott as a method of non-violent protest by Americans is a time-honored tradition. It is our view that the simple act of not patronizing a business or industry is a valid form of protest that can be highly effective.

However, we are disappointed that our state's senate has chosen to officially endorsed this boycott. But we are even more disappointed that these men and women masquerading-as-lawmakers didn't write anything in their resolution specifically expressing their non-support of those aspects of the boycott that are aimed at schools.

In our eyes, those men and women of the California Senate who voted for this resolution have done our state's children a grave disservice by encouraging them and their parents to break the law.

Even though we've had our disagreements with some of State Superintendent Jack O'Connell's (bio
here) public statements, we applaud him for going on the record and stating in no uncertain terms that that this school boycott in not in the best interest of the children.
See our latest education-related entries right here.

The Soda Wars: Latest Dispatch From The Front

In order to address the epidemic of childhood obesity, the State of Connecticut has banned the sale of sodas and sports drinks from public schools:
Connecticut's state legislature voted on Thursday to ban sales of sodas and other sugary beverages in state elementary, middle and high schools as part of an effort to stem teen obesity.

Gov. Jodi Rell has pledged to sign the bill, which would make Connecticut the fourth state with a strong law in schools to trim the growing American teenage waistline.

The ban includes all regular and diet sodas, along with "electrolyte replacement beverages" such as Gatorade. The only drinks allowed to go on sale in schools would be bottled water, milk or 100-percent fruit and vegetable drinks.

"The bill clearly won't solve all food and beverage questions that lead to the increase in excess weight and obesity that we are seeing among children and adults in our society, but it's a good start," said state Rep. Andrew Fleischmann.
We agree with the idea of not selling sodas in school, but think that perhaps the ban on sports drinks such as Gatorade might be a little much.

But on the other hand, those sport drinks do get a substantial percentage of their calories from various forms of sugar.

How's this for irony: Objectively-speaking, when it comes to calories and fat content, can't many of the same objections be raised about whole milk? And yet I can't even imagine keeping milk away from children.
See our latest education-related entries right here.

Website Roulette

Have you ever sat in front of your computer monitor and wondered who or what was on the other side of certain domain names? And then, defying all logic, you went there just to have a quick look?

It's kinda like playing Russian Roulette with your computer.

Expecting something related to after-school punishment, when I keyed-in , I learned all about incarceration instead.

I should have known better.

Oh well... it was an itch that needed to be scratched.
See our latest education-related entries right here.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Backpack Buddies

Texas teacher Kayla Brown (pictured) originated an idea that we really like: (as this story will soon disappear into ABC's archives, we've reprinted the whole thing)
Kayla Brown was barely out of college, in her first teaching job, when she made a discovery that would change her life.

One particularly delightful kindergarten student, a bright little boy whose initially sunny disposition and eagerness to learn were a joy to Brown, suddenly changed.

"He snapped," she said. "It was like he just went from this perfect little sweet boy, then he was mean and he was awful. And his grades went down. It was like he wasn't even trying. He didn't want to," she said.

No amount of coaxing, correcting or caring could shake the child from this change in personality. Then came the day when Brown, 24, was on cafeteria duty and heard a group of children laughing. They were laughing at the little boy.

"I walked over closer to the table, and he was licking his plate," Brown said.

The child was holding the plate in front of him and licking it, oblivious to the laughter around him. She thought he was goofing off or playing for attention until she moved closer and looked into the eyes of an intensely sad child.

He explained to her: "I'm hungry."

Brown learned that the boy's father had disappeared, leaving the family with no money and no food in the house. She went to her church and sought help for the family. That seemed like enough of a fix until she moved to a new school in Bowie, Texas, where there was a higher proportion of children living in poverty.

"My whole class," she said, "was just, you know, irritable."

She noticed they were particularly cranky on Monday mornings, and she remembered that had been the case with the little boy in her previous school. He received subsidized school breakfasts and lunches during the week, but went hungry for most evenings, and much of the weekend.

"And I thought about that little boy, and it just kind of came back to me," Brown said.

She reviewed test scores, poverty levels and behavior patterns, and added it up: Chances were that many of these children were simply hungry. She went to her new pastor and got her new church moving to supplement their meals.

Today, she and her volunteers pack up food for 170 children every weekend.

The project is called Backpack Buddies because teachers quietly slip the food into children's backpacks while most are at recess.

Students must qualify for the assistance, which includes nonperishable items such as juice boxes, fruit cups, soup and canned vegetables.

The program gets high marks from Jeannette Shaw, the counselor at the Bowie elementary school where Brown teaches.

"If a child is hungry, it's hard to focus on anything else," she said.

Shaw says that hunger is now at the top of the list when she checks to see what's going wrong with a student.

"If a student is acting out, or a student chooses not to do work. … Sometimes it's looked at as a behavior or a discipline issue, but many, many times when I get a student down to my office and I ask the question, 'Did you get breakfast this morning? Can I get you something to eat?' That's all that is needed to solve the problem," Shaw said.

Others have taken a cue from Backpack Buddies. Similar volunteer programs are under way in nearly a dozen states, feeding thousands of children each week. They rely on donations from food banks and the efforts of an army of volunteers. Many are seeing documentable differences in the children they serve.

At Bowie Elementary, the standardized test scores of children enrolled in the Backpack Buddies program have steadily increased since the program began. Some have seen test scores improve as much as 20 percent. Simply getting those children enough to eat has been a huge factor.

Brown is hoping to expand the Backpack Buddies program to feed children in her school district throughout the summer. She'll need more help, she says, and it can be tough to convince Americans that there are hungry children in their neighborhood.

The fact is that hunger is often not obvious. The children usually don't look any different from their peers, and are very reluctant to stand out. "Kids don't say anything. Parents don't like to say it," Brown said.
For those desiring links, here's page 1, page 2, and page 3.

Cynic that I usually am, I can't help but like a program such as this. I believe that anyone who has ever taught children for any length of time can affirm that there are children who come to school hungry.

They sometimes go to bed hungry as well.

In a country that's as rich as ours, that really shouldn't happen.

Regardless about how we may feel toward parents who don't make sure that their kids have enough to eat, kids that are hungry usually aren't going to do as well in school as those who have eaten.

Kudos to Ms. Brown for doing something about the problem.

She's certainly earned our Red Apple Salute!

See this week's edition of The Carnival Of Education here and our latest posts over there.

Indiana Diploma Denial Update

A few days ago, we took a look at the story of Indiana high school senior Filip Lempa.

Filip is an exchange student from Poland who has completed all his classes (with straight-"A"s) and earned a passing score on Indiana's tests.

In spite of all this, the high school that he is attending has denied his request to receive a diploma.

Now here's the update part. Filip Lempa saw
our original post and has commented on the situation in his own words. I think the young man expresses himself very well indeed.

After reading Filip's thoughts, consider scrolling-up and seeing what the other commenters had to say.

I hope Felip ends-up being awarded the diploma that he's worked so hard to earn.

See this week's edition of The Carnival Of Education here and our latest posts over there.

Bad Moon Rising

It's nice to know that we're not the only teachers who wish that some folks would just say "no" to crack. And yes, if you follow that link you will see a rapidly rising moon.
See our latest education-related entries right there.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Carnival Of Education: Week 64

Welcome to the midway of the Carnival Of Education! What we have here is a selection of entries that have been submitted from throughout the EduSphere. We believe that the posts represent a wide variety of political and educational viewpoints. All entries were submitted by the writers unless labeled otherwise and are grouped into several categories.

If you are interested in guest hosting an edition of The Carnival Of Education, please let us know via the email address given below.

Thanks to everyone who helped spread the word about last week's midway. Links are much appreciated, trackbacks are adored.

Next Week's Carnival midway will be hosted by us here at The Education Wonks. Please send contributions to: owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net. We should receive them no later than 9:00 PM (Pacific) Tuesday, May 2nd. Please include the title of your post, and its URL, if possible. Barring unforeseen circumstances, the midway of should open next Wednesday morning.

Visit last week's Carnival here. See the archives (Which I'll update later this week.)
there. For our latest posts, please visit our home page.

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


What happens when a public charter school meets its No Child Left Behind obligations, sends 100% of its first two graduating classes to college, and has a long waiting list of students eager to get in? The school gets protested by some group calling itself "Save our Schools!" More about 'em here.

Up-and-coming EduBlogger KDeRosa of D-Ed Reckoning takes on Jonathan Kozal in a two-parter
here and over there. Here's a peek:
Let's dispense with his main argument right off the bat. Kozol contends, without any proof, that you can easily improve student performance of poor kids by sending them to affluent school districts. Supposedly, the teaching that is going on is these affluent school districts is so superior that the deprived children would naturally just learn everything they need to. If but this were true.

Apparently, no one has told Kozol that NCLB now requires school districts to disaggregate their data by race and SES so it's now pretty easy to show that he is wrong.
It's a sad tragic fact that only some 6 percent of high school freshmen in Chicago's public school will complete a college degree before their mid-20s. Cold Spring Shops offers a comprehensive look at the problem of students who finish high school but are unprepared to tackle college work.

I think that most folks would agree that substitute teaching offers some of the most challenging work in public education. But here's
a brand new idea: Why not require a year of substitute classroom teaching for all new teachers? Definitely some food for thought.

Should the sexual orientation of historical figures be a factor for their inclusion in California's public school textbooks? Spunkyhomeschool
raises the issue. (Consider following the link she provides to UCLA's Daily Bruin.)

Editor's Choice: When it comes to California's public school textbooks, there's no shortage of controversy. Joanne Jacobs is showing us that a number of ethnic and cultural groups are clamoring for inclusion in the state's history texts. (As a California history teacher, this hits close to home.)

Editor's Choice: Matthew I. Pinzur, education reporter for the Miami Herald, has launched a brand-new EduBlog. Looks like it's going to be a good one. Say "hello" to Miami Gradebook: Inside South Florida Education. Don't miss their
first post.

Teaching And Learning:

Over in A History Teacher's classroom, they're talking wikis. Here's a taste:
Essentially, each group is given a topic that we have covered in varying degrees over the course of the year. Once they have research the topic and created a short and concise article addressing the important elements of topic, they are to post it on the wiki. Then, in phase two, the groups go through and validate two other articles – making corrections and additions where needed. If all goes as planned, by next Friday (five days before the exam), my students will have a solid collection of study guides.
What would you think about a private school in the Washington, D.C. area that charges some $6800 per year per student yet has no curriculum, no homework, and, apparently, no structure? I guess education is in the eye of the parent who pays the tuition...

From The Classroom:

Consider making Mamacita's place one of your daily reads. She tells it like it is....the good, the bad, and the simply awful. In this entry, see what happens to the principal who got caught "desk dancing"
with his pants down.

What happens when you take a microscope, some tongue scrapings, latex gloves, and add a few 3-5 year olds? You get
Microbiology for Preschoolers!

In this age of increased fuel costs, I didn't know that there were still schools out there that took numerous field trips. But it seems that there are and Three Standard Deviations to the Left
fills us in on the logistical nightmare for those teachers left behind.

New York City middle school teacher Ms. Frizzle is sounding
a clarion call for bloggers and readers to lend a helping hand to a kindergarten teacher who needs to purchase science kits for the classroom.

Is use of the "N-word" ever appropriate? I wouldn't think so. Yet substitute teacher Mr. Lawrence is
hearing it all the time. Sad.

Higher Education:

Radagast is designing an online college-level course in biology and is
looking for readers' suggestions. Wow. This is so far out of my league that I'm not even in the ballpark...

Using the institution of slavery as an example, Pulitzer Prize recipient Professor David Brion Davis shows us how our perception of historical events is subject
to substantial change over time.

From the "What On Earth Were They Thinking Department," we have this story about the university president who was shown the door after it was disclosed that she'd spent nearly
$650,000 in university funds on personal expenses. Truthfully, it was the golf lessons that got to me...

I wonder what kind of connections Kaavya Viswanathan has: She got a half million dollar book deal from a publisher without ever having written a single word. And now this young lady is a student at Harvard University. But there's trouble in Paradise: It seems as though there's credible evidence that she plagiarized entire passages of her book, How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life. Oh, well...


And now for something completely different. Did you hear the one about the math teacher that was was suspected of being a member of the Al-Gebra terrorist movement? He was arrested
while at the airport.

a short post that manages to put across an effective message about assessment.


Here in California, the day of reckoning is approaching for those students who must pass the state's exit examination in order to collect their high school diplomas. But
the controversy continues with Friends of Dave linking to a story about some students who have yet to pass.

I have to admit (possibly to the surprise of some) that I support California's High School Exit Examination. (the CAHSEE) Respectfully submitted
for your consideration, Kimberly Swygert presents our take on two lawsuits that were filed to delay the implementation of the exam's "must pass" provisions.

Parent And Student Survival Guide:

some good advice for college students who are looking for that first job in a science laboratory.

What would you do if a school administrator told your child to "leave your faith is the car." Amazingly,
that's what seems to have happened in Poway, California.

Short but sweet, this post has yet another warning about but is of
particular interest to those who're applying to the college of their choice.

The allegation of rape that has been leveled at members of the Duke Lacrosse team is on the mind of Multiple Mentality who asks for
a measured approach when it comes to disseminating the names of those involved.

The Secret Lives of Educators:

Have you given any thought at all about retirement? Sooner or later, we'll all get there. Coach Brown of A Passion for Teaching and Opinions
warns us about the sweetheart deals that the NEA apparently has made with some underperforming investment services in order to get the union's seal of approval.

The Upside Down World
has some thoughts about the Chicago teacher who blogged a little too candidly about his out of control high school.

The Median Sib is letting us know about the sacrifices
that are being made in Iraq and Afghanistan by school support personnel who are now serving on the front lines.

Beware of playing sports with former students. As Muse reminds us,
time marches on but even though our bones crack and our muscles ache, somebody's got to motivate our students to get out there.

Inside The EduBlogs:

Over at What It's Like on the Inside, the Science Goddess does
an excellent job of explaining why so many of us EduBloggers prefer to write using pseudonyms. Recommended.

Rhymes With Right asserts that some students' political speech
is well-protected by the courts but the political statements of others seem to be relegated to second-class status.

Why on earth would a third-grade teacher talk to her class about abortion procedures? Apparently, that's what happened. The Prof over at Right Wing Nation
has the disturbing details.

Scott Elliott of Get on the Bus
ponders a tough question: [Are] Americans Not Deep Thinkers?

NY Educator
has been keeping an eye on young Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Could it be that RFK has aspirations for 2012?

Our friends over at The Common Room are hosting the 17th edition of The Carnival of Homeschooling. Consider checking it out!

Editor's Choice: Over at This Week in Education, Alexander Russo provides us with a handy edumap that shows the various places around the country where folks who speak languages other than English are living. A great resource for the E.L.D. teacher in your life.

And finally: As always, this journey around the EduSphere has been both enjoyable and informative. Thanks to all the contributors whose submissions make the midway's continuing success possible, the folks who help spread the word, and the readers who continue to make it rewarding.

This midway is registered at TTLB's carnival roundup. See our latest posts here, and the (soon to be) complete Carnival archives over there.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

And What About Next Time?

Three plots to carry out Columbine-style massacres have been thwarted in the last few days:

1. Five high school students arrested in
Riverton, Kansas.

2. Six middle schoolers near
Fairbanks, Alaska.

3. A 16-year-old high school student in Puyallup, Washington, who allegedly wanted "to finally go out in a blaze of hatred and fury,"
was arrested just the other day.

Without a doubt the uncovering of these alleged plots has saved lives. But what about next time? Having safe schools should be a national priority.

No child should ever go to school in fear of his or her personal safety.
Contributions for this week's edition of The Carnival Of Education are due tonight. Get submission info here; see our latest education-related entries over there.

The Spellings Report: Actions And Reactions

Since so much of what we do in the classroom nowadays is mandated by the good folks in Washington, we've learned that it pays to keep a close eye on the comings and goings of those who lurk inhabit the office suites over at The House of Spellings.

Last week,
we reported the serious allegation that several states were exploiting a loophole in the No Child Left Behind Act in order to avoid reporting the test scores of "statistically insignificant" groups that were mostly minority, and mostly lower scoring.

The story created quite a buzz in the EduSphere,
here, here, here, here, and here.

All the hub-bub also attracted the interest of U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, who, going into hyper damage-control mode, will be
looking into the matter.

Key quote from the Secretary: "We ought to be doing more about that."

More of the Q and A
right here.

Thankfully, it seems as though for once she didn't use her
signature expression: "Put on your big girl panties and deal with it."

In other Department of Education news, Secretary Spellings
is announcing that this is "Volunteer Week." Spellings says, "Volunteers are the glue that holds our public education system together."

I can't help but wonder if that means the federal government may consider legislation that would reimburse volunteers who are
forced to pay out of pocket for their fingerprinting, background checks, and health exams.

But nowadays it seems to me that the federal government doesn't seem to do much of anything unless somebody bribes gives major-league money to one or more political action committees.
Contributions for this week's edition of The Carnival Of Education are due tonight. Get submission info here; see our latest education-related entries over there.

Science Tuesday: The Hip-Hoppers

I guess that schools have to do whatever it takes in order to hook kids into science. But I never would have thought that the hook would involve hip hop music:
Largo, Florida - NASA believes the first person to walk on Mars may be sitting in an elementary or middle school somewhere in the country. It sounds exciting, except not many kids are choosing careers in science.

Honeywell reports the number of science and math related fields is growing at three times the rate than any other profession. So to inspire kids to pursue science careers, NASA and Honeywell have developed an award winning program that holds students’ attention.

Using hip hop music and break dancing moves, science class never looked like this.

Eric Olson, Performer for “FMA Live”:
"By the end of this show, you'll know the three laws of motion inside and out"

Three actors take Largo Middle School students through a science lesson they may never forget.

Students learn about inertia using a large Velcro wall. Kylie Fox demonstrates force equals mass multiplied by acceleration.

“Kylie got a strong leg look at how big this soccer ball is the reason she didn't budge is it's massive mass."

Kylie Fox, 8th Grader, Largo Middle School:
“It was kind of confusing learning out of the book but doing this is a lot easier doing hands on activities learning it with the soccer ball it helped."

Teachers get into the act too as Suma wrestlers to teach the lesson on force. The science concert is Honeywell International and NASA's way of showing students science is cool.

Candi Hall, Performer “FMA Live”:
“To try and bring it to life to really inspire them about math, enjoy math, enjoy science, technology see it can be fun."

Gurart Radani, 8th Grader Largo Middle School:
“Here they made the stuff you learn in class really stick with you."

A 45 minute concert may just spark some future Sir Isaac Newton in these students.

"You see the great scientist and what they have done our generation has to take over have to come up with something as great or even better."

The three year long program has been traveling the country since 2004. So far, they’ve visited 73,000 students at 153 schools in 32 states.
Like I said. They're doing whatever it takes.

I wonder if this is the way secondary schools teach science in Japan or Germany?
Contributions for this week's edition of The Carnival Of Education are due tonight. Get submission info here; see our latest education-related entries over there.

Carnival Entries Are Due!

Entries for the 64th 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. Include the title of your post, and its URL if possible. Take a look at last week's midway right here.

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

The Watcher's Council Has Spoken!

Each and every week, Watcher of Weasels sponsors a contest among 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 cast their ballots for last week's submitted posts.

Council Member Entries: Rhymes With Right won first place with Arrogant District Refuses To Protect White Students.

Non-Council Entries: Wolfgang Bruno took first place honors with Do We Need Religion? Part 1.

Monday, April 24, 2006

The CAHSEE fight continues

By Kimberly Swygert

Opponents of California's state exit exam (the CAHSEE) have now
filed a second lawsuit in an attempt to prevent the withholding of diplomas from those seniors who fail the exam. Perhaps not surprisingly, while the first lawsuit was fairly broad with its complaints, this lawsuit focuses specifically on the exam issue:
While the lawsuit filed in February by the San Francisco firm Morrison & Foerster alleges a wide array of wrong-doings by the state, the lawsuit filed this week by a public-interest law firm focuses on just one issue: the state's consideration of alternatives to the test that is a graduation requirement this year.

The suit filed in Alameda Superior Court by the Public Advocates law firm and Californians for Justice, an advocacy group that has fought the exit exam, alleges that state Superintendent Jack O'Connell and the state Board of Education broke the law by waiting until this school year to study alternatives to the test.

O'Connell and the Board of Education "dragged their feet until it was too late to implement any alternatives for this first class facing" the exam's consequences, the lawsuit states.
Assembly Bill 1609 - the law that created the exit exam system - states that the California BOE and state superintendent were to study possible alternatives to the exit exam after "the initial administrations" of the test. The issue here is whether it is acceptable for the state to not have completed a study in time for those students who are being held accountable for their test scores, although I couldn't find anything in the original bill which said that the state eventually has to provide alternatives (I'm no lawyer, so I may have missed it).

Regardless, it's difficult to tell whether those filing the second lawsuit are doing so because they genuinely want the state to investigate alternatives, or whether this is more of the same general loathing of high-stakes testing. The anti-testing contingent in California has gathered steam as the test has moved from pilot to operational;
in at least one school district in California, board members debated whether to obey the law at all, because one board member thought it "unfair" that one-fifth of the seniors in that district failed the exam. I agree completely - it is unfair that so many students with twelve years of school under their belt cannot pass what appears to be a test of at most tenth-grade level constructs (less than that for math).

What's more, while there are no testing alternatives in place, there are options in place for those students who fail the exam. As
stated on the CAHSEE website, students failing the exit exam can recieve further schooling and remedial instruction until they pass (up to age 22), and are free to obtain diploma alternatives. Why, one wonders, wouldn't this be good enough for those filing the lawsuits? Isn't additional schooling a better choice than a worthless piece of paper? Isn't the point of the diploma to demonstrate that the student receiving it has earned the knowledge consistent with it?

Who appears to be more geniunely concerned with the educational achievements of seniors in the state, those filing these lawsuits, or educational activists such as
Russlyn Ali of Education Trust West, who spoke out against testing alternatives earlier this year?, Superintendent Jack O’Connell did the right thing by holding the line on the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE), and declaring that there are no acceptable alternatives. The push towards alternatives might seem compassionate. But, staying the course on high school standards represents the truly compassionate path. We cannot continue to send students out into the world with pathetically low skills.
I'm hoping Ali's viewpoint will ultimately prevail.
See our latest education-related entries right here.

Pushing The EduBlogging Envelope

Both Joanne Jacobs and Alexander Russo are covering the story of an un-named Chicago area teacher who blogged ranted about his students, co-workers, and just about anything and anyone else that swam into view his crosshairs:
Typing rambling screeds in an anonymous blog he called "Fast Times at Regnef High," a Fenger High School teacher unleashed his frustration over the chaos he saw around him.

He labeled his students "criminals," saying they stole from teachers, dealt drugs in the hallways, had sex in the stairwells, flaunted their pregnant bellies and tossed books out windows. He dismissed their parents as unemployed "project" dwellers who subsist on food stamps, refuse to support their "baby mommas" and bad-mouth teachers because their no-show teens are flunking.

He took swipes at his colleagues, too--"union-minimum" teachers, literacy specialists who "decorate their office door with pro-black propaganda," and security officers whose "loyalty is to the hood, not the school."

In his blog, the teacher did not identify himself or his students, the exact name of his school or the city where he taught. But like most bloggers, he wanted an audience, so he wrote in his blog that he had leaked news of his site to a few co-workers. Soon enough, the 30-year-old teacher's name was the talk of the school.

This week, after returning from spring break, the students read how they were depicted and flamed the blog with profane threats and righteous indignation toward the teacher.
By following this link: Fast Times at Regnef High, (Regnef is Fenger spelled backwards) one can see what appears to be several posts that have been archived and then republished, probably by a student. (Disc- It's entirely possible that these posts may have been altered from the originals.)

The earlier posts were written as though the school building was doing the talking. The latter posts were more conventional in that they were written from the teacher's point of view.

Read the posts for yourself. In me, they produced feelings of anger, sympathy, and even a sense of loss and missed opportunities.
See our latest education-related entries right here.

Today's Back To Work "Special"

It was fun while it lasted. But spring vacation is now officially over. Today, I'll be back in front of the classroom teaching history, the WifeWonk will return to her elementary school, and the TeenWonk will go (excitedly) back to 9th grade.

A good student, the TeenWonk completed all of her homework, (Which included an analysis of Erich Maria Remarque's classic anti-war novel All Quiet on the Western Front.) on time and in full.

As for myself, it'll be good to see my students again.

Summer vacation is only "a smile away."

Update:(PM) Well.... no good mood lasts long. Right in the middle of our very first 50 minute period, when the kids were settled down and working well, somebody in the office decided that exact moment would be the best good time* to have our monthly "surpise" fire drill.

*Our school's administrators have been out of the classroom and away from teaching so long that they've forgotten what a challenge it can be to re-establish academic focus after a lengthy vacation.
See our latest education-related entries right here.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Today's One-Room School House: Good For Kids?

Mrs. Cornelius tells us that one of the last functioning one-room school houses is under threat:
Go slow when you drive through Croydon, N.H. It's a tiny place with a general store, a town hall, one church and a red brick, one-story school. Croydon's school was built in 1780 and has been in continuous operation ever since. But change is coming. It's a matter of growth.

Most of America's one-room schools are threatened with closure because of lack of population. Croydon might lose its school because it has too many people.

Today, only first-, second- and third-graders attend Croydon Village School. From fourth grade on, they take a bus to Newport, the next town down the highway.

Citizens of Croydon are happy with the arrangement and support it with their tax dollars. At a town meeting every March, they scrutinize the school budget line by line. Lifelong resident Harry Newcomb sums up a prevailing attitude: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
I like a slice of Americana as much as the next Wonk. The notion of a one-room school house evokes powerful images (which may or may not be grounded in fact) of simpler, more wholesome times. But what was (and is) the real reason behind the existence, then and now, of nearly all one-room school houses?

It was to save money. Education on the cheap. The paradigm was simple: cram as many kids as possible (usually the economically less-advantaged) of differing ages into a small single-room building, add one teacher, and call it "public education."

Communities with one-room school houses avoided the unpleasantness of paying higher taxes (almost exclusively on real property) in order to finance additional teachers and classrooms.

As for the situation in Croydon, in today's standards-based model of public education, is it really such a good idea to have childen (of differing ability levels) from three grades competing for the attention of one teacher?

The one-room school house may actually be a viable instructional model for those children who are responsible, motivated, and have plenty of support in the home, but what about kids who have special needs or are from family backgrounds that are less supportive?

If the community wants to keep its one-room school house, that's fine. As long as the folks in Croyden bear in mind that it's their children who may very well pay the price for their insistance on retaining a charming holdover from the days when America didn't have to compete in a global economy.

Are there cases where the one-room setting may be appropriate? Certainly a good case can be made for the single-room school house located in the remote settlement of Angle Inlet, Minnesota.

This community, which is on a peninsula that juts several miles into the Lake of the Woods, is the most northerly settlement in the 48 contiguous states and is completely surrounded by Canadian territory. The place is snowed-in several months each year. The one-room school house (which is Minnesota's last) serves from 8-12 students, some of which live on nearby islands. We visited Angle Inlet a few years ago
and posted about it here.
See our latest education-related entries right here.

Wonkitorial: In The End, Who's Really Accountable?

Now that oil is trading for over $70 per barrel, I've been hearing a lot of complaining about high gas prices.

But before we start looking about for rocks to throw at the nearest oil company executive, consider how much of the per gallon price is due to taxes imposed by
various governmental entities. Here in California's "Imperial" County, that adds up to some 50 cents per gallon. Then, to add insult to injury, both state and county collect sales taxes totaling 7.25% on the total. (Yes, that's a tax-on-a-tax.)

Spare a moment or two to think about who is really responsible for setting those tax rates as well as our overall energy policies.

Here are some questions that may be worthwhile to ponder:

1. Who'd you vote for in the last election?

2. Who are you going to vote for in the next election?

3. Was the person you voted for an incumbent?

4. And will the person that you vote for in the next election also be an incumbent?

5. If the answers to questions 4-5 are yes, and you are one of those who is complaining about the high price of fuel or the ineffectiveness of government in general, then who is really to blame for the situation in which we find ourselves?

When incumbents start actually fearing that the electorate will throw them out of office for unsatisfactory performance, (unlike the
present situation) then we'll finally get a government that is responsive to the needs of those who work for their money rather than those whose money works for them.

And that goes for both major political parties.

When it comes to the government that our country gets, "We are the deciders."

Accountability should be extended to all who work in the public sector, most especially our elected officials.
See our latest education-related entries right here.

Extending The History Experience

Take a Peek at what Polski 3 has done to enrich his 7th-grade World History lessons. He's downloaded pictures of foreign postage stamps from online collectors' cataloges and has fabricated bookmarks for his students.

Total monetary cost? A little printer ink, a few sheets of paper, and some Elmer's Glue-All.
See our latest education-related entries right here.

A Word Of Thanks

We would like to take a few moments to express our appreciation to everyone who helped support, mention, or comment upon, the latest edition of The Carnival Of Education. (We'll include all sites as they become known to us.)



Joanne Jacobs

Neural Gourmet

Watcher of Weasels

Right Wing Nation

Plugged In Teacher

Math and Text

Wax Banks

The Thomas Institute

Se Hace Camino Al Andar

Science And Politics

Personal Finance Advice

An Educational Voyage

Any successful Carnival is a team effort. It is through the help of good folks such as these that the Carnival midway continues to flourish.

Thanks again for all that you do.
See our latest education-related entries right here.