Friday, November 30, 2007

When Students Throw Crayons At Their Teachers

They get in trouble down in the Sunshine State:(Don't miss the video if you go!)
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A north Florida teenager is facing serious charges Friday morning for throwing a crayon at his teacher.

Taewon Little, 14, admitted he threw the crayon at his teacher at the Philip Randolph Academy in Jacksonville, but doesn't believe he should be charged with a crime. Little faced a judge for third degree battery charges and has been kicked out of school.

He and his mother said the school overreacted, but the principal disagrees.

"We are committed to providing a safe environment that is conducive to learning," said Rhonda Motley, the principal.

"He's not a child that you have in the office everyday," Robyn Little, Taewon's mother, said.

The school said Taewon will be allowed back once he completes courses in an alternate learning program.
So... Did the school overreact?

You make the call!


Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Teddy Bear That Blasphemed

Did you hear about the British teacher who went to Sudan in order to teach and found herself in a heap of trouble?
It probably seemed like the most innocent of ideas to the newly arrived teacher from England, still settling into life in the Sudanese capital Khartoum. She asked her class of six- and seven-year-olds to dress up and name a teddy bear, and keep a diary of his outings. She hoped it would provide material for projects for the rest of the year. And it might have, except for the name the children chose for their bear: Muhammad.

Now Gillian Gibbons, 54, is spending her second night in a Sudanese prison, accused of insulting Islam's Prophet. She faces a public lashing or up to six months in prison if found guilty on charges of blasphemy. And Unity High School — one of a number of exclusive British-run schools in the Sudanese capital — has been closed as staff fear reprisals from Islamic extremists. Robert Boulos, the school's director, said the incident had been blown out of all proportion, but added that the school would remain closed until January to let ill feelings blow over.

"This was a completely innocent mistake," he said in an office decorated with sepia photographs dating back to the school's colonial heyday. "Miss Gibbons would have never wanted to insult Islam."

Police raided the school, where Gibbons also lives, on Sunday.

"We tried to reason with them but we felt they were coming under strong pressure from Islamic courts," said Boulos. "There were men with big beards asking where she was and saying they wanted to kill her."

A similar angry crowd had gathered by the time she arrived at the Khartoum police station where she is being held.

Unity, founded early in the last century, is one of several British schools run along Christian lines in an overwhelmingly Muslim country. Its high brick walls shut out the dust of everyday Sudanese life, transporting the visitor into the shady courtyard of an Oxbridge college or English private school. Many of its pupils come from well-to-do Sudanese families keen for their children to get the best education that money can buy. But Sudan is ruled by religious conservatives. Sharia law was introduced in 1991; alcohol is banned and women must wear headscarves. Convicted criminals are routinely flogged or executed.

The bizarre turn of events that led to the teacher's arrest began in September, soon after she arrived in the country, according to colleagues who have rallied in her support. Her young class was due to study the behavior and habitat of bears, so she suggested that pupils bring in a teddy bear to serve as a case study. A seven-year-old girl brought in her favorite cuddly toy and the rest of the class was invited to name him. After considering the names Hassan and Abdullah, they voted overwhelmingly in favor of Muhammad — the first name of the most popular boy in the class.

"No parents or teachers complained because they knew she had no bad intention," said Boulos. Until last week. Parents from another class raised concerns with the school. Then Sudan's feared police came calling at the weekend. Gibbons' colleagues said they feared a disgruntled member of staff may be using the issue to cause trouble.

Bishop Ezikiel Kondo, chairman of the school council, said: "The thing may be very simple, but they just may make it bigger. It's a kind of blackmail." Khartoum has exploded with anger at accusations of blasphemy in the past. Last year angry demonstrators denounced cartoons of the Prophet that appeared in Danish newspapers. And there have been protests at the actions of Zoe's Ark, a French charity accused of trying to smuggle children out of neighboring Chad.

Now everyone is waiting to see whether religious leaders or politicians will take their supporters onto the streets this time. Most parents arriving at the school gates were supportive of the British teacher. One mother, whose seven-year-old son was in Gibbons' class, said her family had not been offended by the name. "Our Prophet Muhammad tells us to be forgiving," she said. "So she should be released. She didn't mean any of this at all."
And now we learn that the self-proclaimed arbiters of the "religion of tolerance," demanded (and got) "harsh punishment" from Sudan's "justice" system for Gibbons' so-called "offense:" (emphasis ours)
The British teacher who let her pupils call a teddy bear Mohammed escaped a flogging yesterday - but must now endure 15 days in a notorious Sudan jail.

Gillian Gibbons will be incarcerated at the squalid Omdurman women's prison in Khartoum, which is massively overcrowded and infested with mosquitoes. The 54-year-old from Liverpool was said to be "stunned" by the sentence imposed for insulting Islam - after which she will be deported from Sudan.

Last night, her conviction and punishment were furiously condemned and the Foreign Office was criticised for not fighting her case more forcefully.

"The sentence is a mockery of justice and we consider Gillian to be a prisoner of conscience," said Mike Blakemore, of Amnesty International.

Malcolm Moss, a Tory member of the Commons foreign affairs committee, said: "This is disgraceful. She only named a teddy bear and she is serving 15 days in jail.

"It is tokenism by the Sudanese government. If they had really felt she had insulted Islam, they would have sentenced her to much longer. It seems they are scoring points.

"Our government dithered over intervening and this is what happens. We should have been a lot tougher, a lot sooner."

Foreign Secretary David Miliband called in the Sudanese ambassador for the second time in hours last night to protest over the verdict. He said: "We are extremely disappointed that the charges were not dismissed.

"Our clear view is that this is an innocent misunderstanding by a dedicated teacher. Our priority now is to ensure Mrs Gibbons' welfare and wellbeing."

Mrs Gibbons's MP, Louise Ellman, said: "I do realise that the sentence could have been harder, but 15 days in a jail in Sudan could be very, very harsh.

"I think there's distress and anger and I can't see much positive that has come from this. The sentence could have been harsher, but that's not exactly a positive thing at all."

The Omdurman prison where Mrs Gibbon will be locked up was built for 200, but now houses 1,200 women and 300 children, most of the adults jailed for illegally brewing alcohol. (Ed's note: get more info about Omdurman prision right here.)

Last night, her son John said the family are struggling to take in the news of her punishment. "It's really difficult at the moment, my head is everywhere," the 25-year-old marketing consultant added.

"I don't want the verdict to lead to any anti feeling towards Muslims. Everyone has been very nice, but one of my fears, and I imagine my mother's also, will be that this results in any sort of resentment towards Muslim people."

He is hoping to visit his mother in jail and urged the Foreign Office to help speed up the visa process.

The Muslim Council of Britain called the sentence completely unjustified.

"I'm utterly disappointed with this decision," said the council's Ibrahim Mogra. "We have been calling on the Sudanese authorities to show leniency, that this was a case of an innocent oversight, a misunderstanding, and there was no need for this to be escalated."

The verdict came at the end of a day of drama and farce in Khartoum that saw British diplomats initially prevented from entering the court.

Defence lawyers said they would appeal. But with the Sudan authorities planning a major security operation today amid expected protests by hardline Islamic leaders urging tougher sentencing, there were fears the tactic could backfire.

British officials said they would be pressing for a reduction in sentence, and the five days Mrs Gibbons has already spent in custody might count against the 15 to be served.

The Sudanese authorities were also said to have started preparing deportation documents for this weekend, leading to speculation she could be freed as early as tomorrow.

Ali Mohammed Ajab, a member of her defence team, described the verdict as "very unfair".

He said: "She apologised to the court - not that she had done something wrong - but said she was simply doing her job and did not mean any harm."

Sudan's top Muslim clerics had pressed their government to ensure the teacher was punished harshly, comparing her action to author Salman Rushdie's "blasphemies" against the Prophet.

Mrs Gibbons, a divorced mother-of-two, was arrested on Sunday and on Wednesday charged with insulting Islam, inciting hatred and showing contempt for religious beliefs.

It came after seven-year-old pupils chose to call a teddy bear Mohammed at the Unity High School in Khartoum, where she had worked since August.

During the court case behind closed doors yesterday it was revealed that the school's office assistant, Sara Khawad, had complained to the education authorities - leading to the teacher's arrest.

In a statement read to court, Mrs Gibbons tearfully stressed she had not meant to cause offence and pointed out that it had been her pupils who had chosen the name.

There were four prosecution witnesses, and several spoke up for the defence.

Isam Abu Hasabu, chairman of Unity High School's parent-teacher association, said: "The whole thing boiled down to a cultural misunderstanding. In our culture, we don't know the bear as a cuddly symbol of mercy."

Other teachers said many parents had written to the school offering support.

The school's Sudanese director, Robert Boulos, described Mrs Gibbons as "a marvellous teacher", adding: "She was even training our other primary teachers and is an asset to the school.'"
Sadly, these self-same clerics can't find it within themselves to show a little compassion and overlook Gibbon's alleged "offence."

Worse, they seem to be stoking the fires of hate by encouraging the mob to demand Ms. Gibbons' death for her "crime" of naming a Teddy Bear after the Prophet Mohammad:
KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) - Thousands of Sudanese, many armed with clubs and swords and beating drums, burned pictures of a British teacher Friday and demanded her execution for insulting Islam by letting her students name a teddy bear Muhammad.

Sudan's Islamic government, which has long whipped up anti-Western, Muslim hard-line sentiment at home, was balancing between fueling outrage over the case of Gillian Gibbons and containing it.
Read the whole thing.

But then again, this is the type of behavior that can be expected under the type of Islamofascist regime that thinks nothing of suppressing even the most basic rights of its own people.

We continue to be puzzled as to why so many governments in the West (including ours) seem to be "in denial" when it comes to the very real threat posed by Islamofascism.

So should we be surprised?

Update: (05/Dec/07) After some eight days of incarceration, Ms. Gibbons has received a presidential pardon for her "crime" and is now home. Incredibly, (or maybe not so incredibly) she is being generous toward her captors.

Soon, she'll be looking for a job.

There's multiple lessons to be learned here....


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Let's Carnival!

The 147th edition of The Carnival of Education (hosted this week by Matt-a-matical Thinking.) has opened the midway for your educational pleasure!

Don't forget to complete your educational experience by checking out the 100th edition (woot!) of The Carnival of Homeschooling.
See our latest entries.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Why We Don't Give Money To The American Red Cross

As if a cool half-million dollar salary wasn't enough, Red Cross president Mark W. Everson just had to stick his hand up someone's into the moral cookie-jar:
Red Cross President and CEO Mark W. Everson has stepped down after revelations he was "engaged in a personal relationship with a subordinate employee," the organization announced Tuesday.

The Red Cross Board of Governors asked for and received Everson's resignation after it "concluded that the situation reflected poor judgment on Mr. Everson's part and diminished his ability to lead the organization in the future," the Red Cross said in a statement on its Web site.

Everson, 53, said in a written statement that he was leaving the $500,000-per-year job "for personal and family reasons, and deeply regret it is impossible for me to continue in a job so recently undertaken."

Everson -- who is married and has two children -- joined the Red Cross as president and CEO last May.

The organization became aware of Everson's relationship with a female Red Cross employee 10 days ago, Chief Public Affairs Officer Suzy C. DeFrancis told CNN in a telephone interview.

"I think the board acted very quickly," she said, adding that the woman remains in her job.

About Everson, DeFrancis said, "We're grateful for his service."

The board of governors on Tuesday appointed Mary S. Elcano, general counsel and five-year Red Cross employee, as interim president and CEO.

Everson had worked in the Bush administration from August 2001 -- including serving as commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service -- until he was hired by the Red Cross.

"This is flabbergasting, that's all I can say. It's completely contrary to his public persona that he evidenced while he was at the IRS," said Suzanne Ross McDowell, a Washington-based attorney who served on an advisory committee to the IRS division that deals with tax-exempt organizations.

"From the standpoint of exempt organizations on the non-profit sector, it's just another news story that we would rather not see," she said.

"It's got nothing to do with the Red Cross," said Ira Milstein, a New York lawyer specializing in corporate governance who has worked with the organization and was impressed with Everson. "He was a team player and a good leader. To have him fall off a cliff like this is just sad."

A search committee has been formed to begin the process of finding Everson's permanent replacement, the organization said.

The job has been a challenging one. Marsha J. Evans resigned as president in 2005, after the Red Cross response to Hurricane Katrina came under fire.

Four years earlier, Bernadine Healy quit the post after the organization was criticized for mishandling donations intended for victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks and collecting vast quantities of blood that was not needed and ultimately thrown out.

Healy told reporters she "had no choice" about her resignation.

Meanwhile, DeFrancis acknowledged Tuesday that, 14 years after a court ordered the agency to improve its collection of blood, it has yet to meet federal safety and quality-control requirements.
For the record, we do support giving to charitable organizations.

In our case, the Salvation Army.

We stopped supporting the Red Cross when this scandal occurred in our local office in which then-president Dodie Rotherham quit her well-paying (at over $250,000 per annum, the highest Chapter president in the U.S. at that time) post amid charges of corruption.

Meanwhile, a classroom teacher with who I am aquainted was told that she couldn't sit on the local chapter's governing board because she was "just a teacher."

Carnival Entries Are Due!

Entries for the 147th edition of The Carnival Of Education (Hosted this week by Matt-a-matical Thinking.) are due. Please email them to: mbardoe (at) att (dot) net . (Or, easier yet, use this handy submission form.) Submissions should be received no later than 11:59 PM (Eastern) 8:59 PM (Pacific) Today. Contributions should include your site's name, the title of the post, and the post's URL if possible.

Visit last week's midway, hosted by NYC Educator, right here.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the exhibits should open Wednesday.
See our latest EduPosts.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Beauty School Dropouts Make Nasty

Isn't there anything that these 7 ft tall beauties won't do in order to win a title and later get to marry a multi-millionaire?
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- Beauty pageant organizers were investigating Sunday who doused a contestant's evening gowns with pepper spray and spiked her makeup, causing her to break out in hives.

Beauty queen Ingrid Marie Rivera beat 29 rivals to become the island's 2008 Miss Universe contestant, despite applying makeup and wearing evening gowns that had been coated with pepper spray, pageant spokesman Harold Rosario said.

Rivera was composed while appearing before cameras and judges throughout the competition. But once backstage, she had to strip off her clothes and apply ice bags to her face and body, which swelled and broke out in hives twice.

"We thought at first it was an allergic reaction, or maybe nerves," Rosario said. "But the second time, we knew it couldn't have been a coincidence."

Rivera's clothing and makeup later tested positive for pepper spray.

Someone also stole Rivera's bag containing her gowns, makeup and credit cards. And a bomb threat forced pageant officials to postpone the last day of competition on Thursday, said Magali Febles, director of the Miss Puerto Rico Universe pageant.

Pageant organizers said the hoped to catch and expose whoever was responsible for the pranks. They said, however, they were handling the investigation themselves and police are not involved.

Beauty competitions in the U.S. Caribbean territory -- which boasts five Miss Universe titles, second only to the U.S. -- are fierce, drawing boisterous audiences and accusations of rigged results.

But the pranks under investigation this year are a first, Rosario said.

Rivera, who won Miss World Caribbean in 2005, had been a target of controversy from the start of competition, as rivals complained she was too experienced and should be disqualified.

Local media touted her as the likely winner, stoking jealousy among contestants, Rosario said.

When Rivera won, rivals accused her of buying the crown, Puerto Rico's El Nuevo Dia newspaper reported.

A tearful Rivera recounted her ordeal at a news conference Sunday, acknowledging she had wavered about staying in the contest.

"At one point I said, 'Am I a masochist?"' she recalled, her voice breaking. "But I said, 'I am with God and this is my goal, regardless of the results."'

I guess competing in beauty pageants beats working for a living.

As for Rivera wondering aloud whether or not she was, in her words, a "masochist," I'd rather not know...

A final thought: Why is it that only giraffes very tall women seem to be the ones who are allowed to win these "contests?"

Update: (03Dec07) Now it seems as though the pageant's winner was making the whole thing up.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sunday School For Atheists?

Yes indeedy in tony Palo Alto, California:
On Sunday mornings, most parents who don't believe in the Christian God, or any god at all, are probably making brunch or cheering at their kids' soccer game, or running errands or, with luck, sleeping in. Without religion, there's no need for church, right?

Maybe. But some nonbelievers are beginning to think they might need something for their children. "When you have kids," says Julie Willey, a design engineer, "you start to notice that your co-workers or friends have church groups to help teach their kids values and to be able to lean on." So every week, Willey, who was raised Buddhist and says she has never believed in God, and her husband pack their four kids into their blue minivan and head to the Humanist Community Center in Palo Alto, Calif., for atheist Sunday school.

An estimated 14% of Americans profess to have no religion, and among 18-to-25-year-olds, the proportion rises to 20%, according to the Institute for Humanist Studies. The lives of these young people would be much easier, adult nonbelievers say, if they learned at an early age how to respond to the God-fearing majority in the U.S. "It's important for kids not to look weird," says Peter Bishop, who leads the preteen class at the Humanist center in Palo Alto. Others say the weekly instruction supports their position that it's O.K. to not believe in God and gives them a place to reinforce the morals and values they want their children to have.
Read the whole thing.

Heh. What EduInvention will those folks in the San Francisco area think of next


Friday, November 23, 2007

Today's Non Sequitur: San Fran's Bohemian Intolerance

San Francisco has long touted itself as the sort of Bohemian place where non-conformity isn't just tolerated by the populace, but downright expected.

At least as long as the non-conformity meets certain Politikally Korrect expectations. When traditional values are involved, many of those self-styled bohemians who inhabit the City by the Bay can be downright intolerant.

For example. These are the folks who expelled from local high schools the popular junior R.O.T.C. program.

They did this in a time of war.

But now the Tolerance-for-me-but-not-for-thee Set is about to show its true colors by stripping away that most traditional symbol of the home-- the family fireplace
Under the auspices of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, "public hearings" are being held to determine the fate of the family hearth.

Those of us who live in rural areas have a pretty good idea what the outcome is going to be.

Still, in the interest of basic fairness, we'd at least like the decision-makers to employ the rudiments of the scientific method, rather than riding the winds of energy dependence and global warming hysteria, before coming to a final decision.

The scientific method follows a rigid methodology. Ask a question. Do background research. Construct a hypothesis. Test the hypothesis. And then, communicate the results.

So what is the question? Are the fires in our homes bad because they add to global warming? Release carbon dioxide into the air? Pollute the atmosphere with soot and particulate matter? All of the above?

Where is the research? The Chronicle reported that "government studies" indicate that 33 percent of all "particulate matter" comes from your fireplace and mine. With all the industry and all the cars in the Bay Area, does anyone actually believe that?

Shouldn't we be given more quantitative information such has, "How many fireplaces are there in the nine counties? How many are used each night? How many hours is each fireplace used? How much "particulate matter" is expelled from each fire? How many parts per million are in the air? How much dissipates into the atmosphere?"

Is this decision truly about air quality or global warming?

Interestingly, one loses on the issues of global warming because the odd paradox is, the more there is cloud cover or "smoke" in the air, the cooler the Earth will be. It is well documented how the Earth's temperature cooled after the explosion of the volcano Krakatoa. From that standpoint, one ought to encourage fires which produce the maximum amount of smoke.

Of course, that position is politically absurd.

Those of us in rural communities feel bullied by this sort of nanny state legislation. We'd like to believe that a man's home is indeed his castle. Most of us live in small towns or the country for a reason. We don't like cities. We don't like traffic. We don't like noise. We don't like the dirty air.

Our air is clean, and we take umbrage when someone says our fires are polluting their air.

If the ban goes into effect, what is the cost to society? What is the benefit? We need to weigh these carefully.

Then there is this question: Why do we burn?

We stoke our hearths for two reasons.

First, many rural people burn wood because they can't afford to heat their old houses with electricity. Many more feel that burning wood does less damage to the planet than increasing their carbon footprint by using so much electricity.

Banning fires would hurt the elderly who live on fixed incomes and the poor in general. It would be an added tax on the rest of us and increase dependence on petroleum.

Second, for many of us, a fire crackling in the fireplace is about a different kind of energy - psychic energy. After a day's work, is there anything nicer than coming home and having a class of Napa Valley Cabernet in front of a roaring fire?

Rainy Sundays find us stretched out on the couch, newspapers scattered, 49ers on the TV, and a fire roaring in the fireplace.

On wintry school nights, our children used to come down into the living room to do their homework in front of the fire as my wife and I read.

During the energy crisis in California, our family closed the parlor doors and gathered in one tiny room around the fire. it was a scene out of a Jane Austin novel. Five of us read, played chess, did homework and paid bills, in a chilly room heated only by our tiny hearth.

Never was our family closer. The fire was more than a source of heat. It was a mystical, magical magnet of love, warmth and togetherness.

We worry that the real issue here isn't about health, global warming or energy savings, but about control.

Were it not about control, the dialogue would be about baffles and filters to eliminate soot, not about outright bans.

Home fires are not about "particulate matter." They are about warmth, love, quality of life - and for many an economic necessity. How cold are those who would take that from us, their neighbors?
Protecting the environment is the excuse, but Control over, and the suppression of, traditional American property rights and the freedom to live in our homes without governmental intrusion is the aim.


Getting Noosed

Joanne Jacobs has the skinny on how the noose has been affecting several denizens of the EduWorld.

Gives new meaning to the term "hang'em high."

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: In a tie vote in which the Watcher cast the deciding ballot, Cheat Seeking Missiles finished first with Charting a New Course In Iraq Messaging while Bookworm Room's Prophets in a Freudian Age was runner-up.

Non-Council Entries: The Van Der Galiën Gazette earned first-place honors with The Irrationality of Europe.

See our latest EduPosts.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007

Another Thankgiving has rolled around at last.

We've a lot to be thankful for.

Every day above ground is good.

Sure beats the alternative.

We hope that you and yours are well this Thanksgiving Day.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

EduDecision 2008: Obama's $18 Billion EduFix?

Presidential contender (and would be She-Dragon Hillary slayer) Barack Obama is making some noise regarding public education:
MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — Presidential contender Barack Obama on Tuesday called for a $18 billion education plan that he said would fix mistakes his chief Democratic rivals made when they approved President Bush's "No Child Left Behind" effort.

The Illinois Democrat criticized Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and former Sen. John Edwards for not fully funding No Child Left Behind. While outlining his own education proposal to prepare students for college and to train teachers to lead in classrooms, Obama said the two rivals haven't done enough to protect students.

"It's pretty popular to bash No Child Left Behind out on the campaign trail, but when it was being debated in Congress four years ago, my colleague Dick Durbin offered a chance to vote so that the law couldn't be enforced unless it was fully funded," Obama said. "A lot of senators, including Senator Edwards and Senator Clinton, passed on that chance. And I believe that was a serious mistake."

An Edwards spokeswoman said the criticism was not fair.

"In his rush to criticize, Senator Obama left out the inconvenient fact that he supported No Child Left Behind as an Illinois state senator before he opposed it as a presidential candidate," Kate Bedingfield said. "It's not 'a new kind of politics' to try to have it both ways."

Likewise, Clinton spokeswoman Kathleen Strand said, "When he was in the state Senate, Senator Obama voted to implement No Child Left Behind without a requirement for full funding, so his comments today are somewhat curious." She said Clinton has voted several times to fully fund the law.

While still in the Illinois state Legislature, Obama voted for the state board of education to implement No Child Left Behind. He still supports the intent of the federal law — higher standards, highly trained teachers and the closing of achievement gaps — but faults the way it has been executed.

"Labeling a school and its students as failures one day and then throwing your hands up and walking away from them the next is wrong," Obama said.

Obama's plan would encourage universal pre-kindergarten programs — but not require them — expand teacher mentoring programs and reward teachers with increased pay not tied to standardized test scores. Failing teachers would be moved from classrooms and replaced with ones who are competent, Obama said.

Obama's plan would cost $18 billion. His campaign said he would pay for it in part by delaying NASA's Constellation Program, which is developing the vehicle and rockets to go to the moon and later to Mars. He also proposes to help pay for the education plan by reducing costs by auctioning surplus federal property and by cutting down erroneous payments identified by the Government Accountability Office.

A Republican National Committee spokesman said Obama's plan could actually hurt education.

"It is ironic that Barack Obama's plan to help our children reach for the stars is financed in part by slashing a program that helps us learn about those very same stars," Danny Diaz said.

Obama said families also have to be part of the solution.

"We can spend billion after billion on education in this country. We can develop a program for every problem imaginable and we can fund those programs with every last dime we have. But there is no program and no policy that can substitute for a parent who is involved in their child's education from day one," he said.

Obama said he would accredit college programs, remove poorly performing teachers from classrooms and increase time spent on math and science instruction. He said mentoring programs are key to keeping good teachers involved and improving struggling ones.

He said he also would establish 40,000 new scholarships for potential teachers, pay for continuing education programs and invest in new schools.
In the interest of full-disclosure, we've never much cared for (may need to scroll down) Hillary, the Countess of Chappaqua and Duchess of Hypocrisy.

Our concerns about the Countess date back to her earlier squawks utterances about some "vast right-wing conspiracy" being the cause of her and her husband's troubles at the time of his impeachment and subsequent trial in the United States Senate on a charge of perjury.

And, in our opinion, from her obviously fake cackle-like laughter to her flip-flopping on just about every major issue from the Iraq War to illegal immigration, there's just something so slimy about both her and her serially-philandering husband.

Labels: ,

Non Sequitur: Oily Men

Yesterday, the price of oil closed at a record high of $98.03 per barrel. It is trading for over $99.00 as of this morning.

Just in time for the holidays.

With a
so-called "Texas" Oil Man in charge, should anybody find this surprising in Today's America?

Where's the accountability?

Come to think of it, while we're on the subject of holding people accountable... when was the last time any of Washington's talking heads talked about catching or killing Osama Bin Laden?

Please Pass The Thanksgiving Carnival!

The 146th edition of The Carnival of Education (hosted this week by NYC Educator) has reserved a place at the table especially for you. Enjoy your EduMeal!

Don't forget to complete your educational experience by checking out this week's edition of The Carnival of Homeschooling.
See our latest entries.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I (Never) Saw Elvis!

Even though some of us here in EduLand may doubt that the King is dead, what is certain is that his museum is alive and well!

Administrative Buffoonery: Test Company Gets An "F"

When I learned that these test results had to be set aside because some (undoubtedly) well-paid test gurus had forgotten to proof read their work, I didn't know whether I should laugh or cry:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The reading scores of U.S. students on an international test are being tossed out due to a problem with how the test was printed, federal officials said Monday.

Scores on the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, are due out next month. Fifteen-year-olds in more than 50 countries took the test. It focused on science this time but also included math and reading questions.

Only the reading portion is being set aside, and only for U.S. students, said Mark Schneider, Commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, part of the Education Department.

The problem has to do with a printing error made by North Carolina-based RTI International, the federal contractor hired to administer the U.S. version of the test.

The printing mistake made the test confusing by telling students to view the "opposite" page, though the information was not found there.

Schneider said the test was taken in the fall of last year, but the problem was not discovered until this past summer when the test results were being analyzed. That is despite the fact that a printed copy of the test had been sent to U.S. and international officials, Schneider said.

"There's a lot of shared culpability," Schneider said, calling the incident "an embarrassment."

Schneider said the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, which runs the test, decided last month that the U.S. scores should be tossed out because they were invalid.

"We deeply regret that this happened," said RTI spokesman Patrick Gibbons. RTI project manager Patricia Green said the company has subsequently stepped-up its review of tests.

In addition, the company has reimbursed the government $500,000, Schneider said.

He added that this was the first time an error like this had resulted in invalid U.S. scores on the PISA exam or on similar international tests.

In the mid-80s, he said, the results of a national test were deemed invalid because different versions of the test were given to students. In that case, different colors and different printing styles seemed to affect scores.

Kids are increasingly taking standardized tests, and Schneider said the testing industry is stretched and in need of more people who can design and analyze exams.

However, in this case, he said the error was a simple but troubling copy-editing problem.
Not surprisingly, since this latest scandal involves incompetence among the sacred cows tax payer-supported private "contractors" (as opposed to some hapless classroom teacher whose test scores haven't risen by the federally prescribed amount) Her Royal Highness the Queen of All Testing and Teacher Accountability has nothing to say on the matter.


Carnival Entries Are Due!

Entries for the 146th edition of The Carnival Of Education (Hosted this week by NYC Educator.) are due. Please email them to: nyceducator [at] gmail [dot] com . (Or, easier yet, use this handy submission form.) Submissions should be received no later than 6:00 PM (Eastern) 3:00 PM (Pacific) Today. Contributions should include your site's name, the title of the post, and the post's URL if possible. (Please note: submission deadlines this week will be rigorously adhered to!)

Visit last week's midway, hosted by Edspresso, right here.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the exhibits should open Wednesday.
See our latest EduPosts.

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: Joshuapundit earned the most votes with 'Land For Peace', American Style.

Non-Council Entries: Austin Bay Blog finished in first place with A Conversation in Bagram, Afghanistan.

See our latest EduPosts.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Extra Credit Reading: Saturday, November 17, 2007

What's in a last name? Read all about how the all-American last name is undergoing change.

This is just tragic: A woman dies in her apartment and days later her twin babies are found alongside their mother's decaying body. But that wasn't the worst...

Thursday, November 15, 2007


The 145th midway of The Carnival of Education (hosted this week by Edspresso) has opened-up its turnstiles for your educational pleasure.

Round-out your educational experience by checking out what the homies are up to over at the "thankful" edition of The Carnival of Homeschooling.
See our latest entries.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Foreign Students In America: They're Back!

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, many foreign university students decided to stay home instead of pursuing the academic dreams in our institutions of higher learning. Some six years later, they're remembering the value of an American college degree in the international marketplace:
WASHINGTON (AFP) — Fueled by Asia, foreign student enrollment in US higher education institutions has increased significantly for the first time since the September 11, 2001 attacks, which led to tighter visa controls, a report said Monday.

The number of international students enrolled in colleges and universities in the United States increased by three percent to a total of 582,984 in the 2006/07 academic year, the Institute of International Education (IIE) said.

"This is the first significant increase in total international student enrollments since 2001/02," the institute said in its anual report "Open Doors."

In the previous academic year, the increase was just within a fraction of a percent.

In 2006/07, there was even a higher increase in the number of new international students -- those enrolled for the first time at a college or university in fall last year -- which rose 10 percent from the previous year.

Asia remains the largest sending region, accounting for 59 percent of total US international enrollments, and increasing by five percent this year.

Strong increases were seen from the top three sending countries - India up 10 percent, China up eight percent and South Korea by six percent.

Stringent enforcement of US visa policy and seemingly overzealous immigration officers following the September terror attacks not only scared away foreign students and tourists but dampened the investment climate of the United States.

"Washington has moved to address some of the visa concerns although problems still remain," one Asian diplomat told AFP.

An on-line survey conducted by IIE last month in conjunction with seven national higher education associations also suggests that campuses are beginning to see increases in the current fall 2007 semester, the institute said.

In addition, a report from the US State Department's bureau of consular affairs showed the number of student and exchange visas issued in 2007 rose 10.2 percent compared to the same period last year.

US Under Secretary of State for public diplomacy Karen Hughes said the increase in enrollments reflected the "dynamism" of American higher education institutions in a competitive international environment and demonstrated US "commitment" to welcoming international students.

"Given increased global competition for talent, as well as expanded higher education options in many of the leading sending countries, America needs to continue its proactive steps to insure that our academic doors remain wide open, and that students around the world understand that they will be warmly welcomed," said the institute's president, Allan Goodman.

Over the past year, the US government and private education institutions had been aggressively embarking on missions to Asia and elsewhere to regain the confidence of international students interested in studying in the United States.

This is the sixth consecutive year that India has sent the most students to the United States.

Enrollments from East Asia increased by three percent, with strong increases from China, South Korea and Taiwan partially offset by declines from Japan and Hong Kong.

The number of students from South and Central Asia increased by 10 percent, driven by the large increases from India, while enrollments from Pakistan and Bangladesh declined.

Southeast Asian enrollments increased two percent, with gains from Vietnam and Thailand partially offset by declines from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Cambodia.

Enrollments from the Middle East increased by 25 percent in 2006/07, according to the report, with the most notable increase posted by Saudi Arabia.
It's good to see that the world's best and brightest young people are once again coming to our shores in order to "learn their stuff."

Having said that, we hope that the federal government is conducting thorough background checks of all foreign students to ensure that the next generation of terrorist operatives don't infiltrate our nation in the guise of "students."

But given the federal government's unwillingness to secure our borders against the continuing (and unchecked) deluge of illegal immigrants flooding across our frontiers, we doubt it.


Calling All Carnival Entries!

Entries for the 145th edition of The Carnival Of Education (Hosted this week by the folks over at Edspresso.) are due. Please email them to: edspresso [at] edreform [dot] com . (Or, easier yet, use this handy submission form.) Submissions should be received no later than 3:00 PM (Eastern) 12:00 PM (Pacific) Today. Contributions should include your site's name, the title of the post, and the post's URL if possible.

Visit last week's midway, hosted by Right Wing Nation, right here.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the exhibits should open Wednesday.
See our latest EduPosts.

Monday, November 12, 2007

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: Big Lizards finished in first place with Courts v. Terrorism = Wile E. Coyote v. Road Runner.

Non-Council Entries: Eternity Road garnered top honors with A Great Shifting of the Winds.

See our latest EduPosts.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Carnival Entries Are Due!

Entries for the 144th edition of The Carnival Of Education (Hosted this week by the Rightwing Prof over at Rightwing Nation.) are due. Please email them to: bondc [at] rightwingnation [dot] com . (Or, easier yet, use this handy submission form.) Submissions should be received no later than 6:00 PM (Eastern) 3:00 PM (Pacific) Today. Contributions should include your site's name, the title of the post, and the post's URL if possible.

Visit last week's haunted midway, hosted by What It's Like on the Inside, right here.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the exhibits should open Wednesday.
See our latest EduPosts.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Semiannual Stupidity

Once again, just about all of us Americans have had to go through the twice-yearly hassle of changing the clocks. Only this time around, there is some talk that this minor annoyance may be hazardous to the health of pedestrians. And that includes many kids who walk to and from school:
This weekend is the time to turn back those clocks, and according to two scientists, time to be extra careful when walking during evening rush hour.

At 2 a.m. local time Sunday, standard time returned. That means clocks should have been set back an hour.

It also means that pedestrians walking around dusk are now nearly three times more likely to be struck and killed by cars than before the time change, the researchers calculate.

Ending daylight saving time translates into about 37 more U.S. pedestrian deaths around 6 p.m. in November compared to October, the professors report.

Their study of risk to pedestrians is preliminary but confirms previous findings of higher deaths after clocks are set back in fall.

It's not the darkness itself, but the adjustment to earlier nighttime that's the killer, said professors Paul Fischbeck and David Gerard, both of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

Fischbeck, who regularly walks with his 4-year-old twins around 6 p.m., is worried enough that he'll be more cautious starting Monday.

"A three times increase in the risk is really dramatic, and because of that we're carrying a flashlight," he said.

Fischbeck and Gerard conducted a preliminary study of seven years of federal traffic fatalities and calculated risk per mile walked for pedestrians. They found that per-mile risk jumps 186 percent from October to November, but then drops 21 percent in December.

They said the drop-off by December indicates the risk is caused by the trouble both drivers and pedestrians have adjusting when darkness suddenly comes an hour earlier.

The reverse happens in the morning when clocks are set back and daylight comes earlier. Pedestrian risk plummets, but there are fewer walkers then, too. The 13 lives saved at 6 a.m. don't offset the 37 lost at 6 p.m., the researchers found.

The risk for pedestrian deaths at 6 p.m. is by far the highest in November than any other month, the scientists said. The danger declines each month through May.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety of Arlington, Virginaia, in earlier studies found the switch from daylight saving time to standard time increased pedestrian deaths. Going to a year-round daylight saving time would save about 200 deaths a year, the institute calculated, said spokesman Russ Rader.

"Benjamin Franklin conceived of daylight savings time as a way of saving candles," Rader said Friday. "Today we know it saves lives."

The risk at 6 p.m. in November, after daylight saving time ends, is 11 times higher than the risk for the same hour in April, when daylight saving begins, according to the Carnegie Mellon researchers.

Fischbeck and Gerard used federal traffic fatality data that they've incorporated into a searchable database for different risk factors. Their analysis was not peer-reviewed or being published in a scientific journal.

But it does jibe with other peer-reviewed studies that looked at raw fatalities.

A 2001 study by John M. Sullivan at the University of Michigan looked at national traffic statistics from 1987 to 1997 and found that there were 65 crashes killing pedestrians in the week before the clocks fell back and 227 in the week after.

Fischbeck and Gerard found the increase in fatality risk after the end of daylight saving time is only for pedestrians. No such jump was seen for drivers or passengers in cars.

Once everyone "springs forward" to daylight saving time in April, there is a 78 percent drop in risk at 6 p.m., they said.

But overall for the evening rush hour, turning the clock back is a killer. In seven years there have been 250 more deaths in the fall and 139 fewer deaths in the spring.

"This clearly shows that both drivers and pedestrians should think about this daylight savings adjustment," Gerard said. "There are lives at stake."

The time change does not apply in Arizona, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.
Here in California's blistering-hot backward wasteland "Imperial" Valley, what the autumnal time piece tango means is that just when the weather begins to moderate a little, the powers-that-be in Sacramento and Washington mandate that we roll-back the clocks.

Which means that it's nearly pitch-black by 5:00 PM.

And in about six months, just when it begins to get hot again, those same powers-that-be have us "spring forward" the clocks by an hour.

Which means that its often well over a 100 degrees until nearly 9:00 PM.

I wish that California's legislature was as smart as the people of Arizona.

In Arizona, they're too smart to waste time fooling around with clocks.