Wednesday, April 30, 2008


The 169th edition of The Carnival of Education (hosted this week by What It's Like on the Inside.) has opened the midway!

And don't forget to round out your educational experience by seeing what the homies are up to over at The Carnival of Homeschooling.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Get Your Carnival On!

Entries for the 169th edition of The Carnival Of Education (Hosted this week by The Science Goddess over at What It's Like on the Inside.) are due. Please email them to: the_science_goddess [at] yahoo [dot] com . (Or, easier yet, use this handy submission form.) Submissions should be received no later than 9:00 PM (Eastern) 6:00 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 us here at The 'Wonks, right here.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the midway should open Wednesday.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Carnival Of Education: Week 168

Welcome to the midway of the 168th edition of The Carnival of Education!

Here's the very latest roundup of entries from around the EduSphere. Unless clearly labeled otherwise, all entries this week were submitted by the writers themselves.

Folks interested in hosting a future edition of the C.O.E. should please let us know via this email address: owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net.

Thanks to everyone who helped spread the word about last week's midway, which was hosted over at The CEA Blog. Visit the C.O.E.'s early archives here, later archives there, and our latest entries here.

Next Week's Carnival will be hosted by the Science Goddess over at What It's Like on the Inside. Contributors are invited to send submissions to: the_science_goddess [at] yahoo [dot] com , or, easier yet, use this handy submission form. Entries should be received no later than 9:00 PM (Eastern) 6:00 PM (Pacific) Tuesday, April 30, 2008. Please include the title of your post, and its URL, if possible. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the midway should open next Wednesday.

Let the free exchange of thoughts and ideas begin!

EduPolicy And EduPolicy Makers:

Is differentiating instruction
the New Tracking? Or should we simply Differentiate This?

Has education spending really skyrocketed? Or is it all some kind of inflation-driven shell game?
You be the decider.

Here's an example of what happens when the No Child Left Behind Act meets Political Correctness.

Eduwonkette's guest-blogger "Skoolboy"
is having a debate with Kevin Carey of The Quick and the Ed on the status-quo of education policy. (Be sure to read the comments.)

Candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham-Clinton are both proposing programs designed to prevent teens from joining street gangs. Darren of Right on the Left Coast wonders if
this will be money well spent.

Advertising... on School Buses?
Please say that it isn't so! (This post has been brought to you by The Essential Blog.)

When it comes to recruiting teachers, everyone seems to be for high standards. But what about
some of the unintended consequences?

A Nation At Risk has just turned 25 years of age and Matt Johnston
is taking stock.

A group of folks in affluent Scarsdale, New York
have asked some African-American ministers to open a charter school in Scarsdale that is modeled on the Harlem Success School.

Dave acquaints us with Oakland's Monarch Academy, which is a charter school that has
high expectations for all students.

Inside This Teaching Life:

Coach Brown
examines classroom teaching versus several Other Professions and wonders why, unlike some workers, public school educators aren't given the tools needed to do the job.

Here's a rarity:
a list of 10 good reasons why one should continue teaching...

Is there ever a time when a teacher should hide his or her own beliefs while in the classroom?

When traveling with 14 teenagers on an overnight field trip, we agree with Bellringers that a rubber chicken can be
very useful indeed.

Helicopter Parents are always a challenge. But as Mamacita of Scheiss Weekly so engagingly points out, helicopter parents who have college-age kids must surely be the most obnoxious challenging.

Ms. Cornelius has a good idea:
give kids a physical before they're put on Ritalin.

Here's an idea:
using the interruptions caused by classroom visitors in order to focus students' attention.

Mrs. Bluebird points out that even though the kids have finished their annual tests, the Fat Lady
hasn't even begun to sing yet.

Did you hear the one about the parent who wanted to tape record a teacher-parent conference? It ended-up being
two meetings for the pain of one.

Teaching And Learning:

HomeBusBlog is imploring the Education Community to stop a program known as "Inventive Spelling"
before it gets started.

Elementary Historyteacher
makes the case for portfolio assessment over that of The Test.

We agree with this idea: learning is a whole lot like
hiking up and down the Grand Canyon.

What's the purpose of many classroom activities? David posits that, in the tradition of The Karate Kid, it's "
wax-on, wax-off."

Michael L Umphrey of The Good Place reminds educators that, along with academic performance, beauty
also has a place in the classroom.

Wouldn't it be great if your local public school could convince James Lipton to work with its teachers? Just
a thought from next week's Carnival host, What It's Like on the Inside.

Ten Blog
seeks to clarify the difference between assessment and understanding.


Have you or someone you know ever had a
Monongahela moment?

Several weeks ago, a panel of three activist judges
mandated that parents who homeschool their children in California must have a teaching credential. Folks are now being invited to sign a petition in order to express their concerns.

Teaching Ideas:

Here are some pointers
for figuring out figurate numbers.

Using a percussion instrument
in order to learn about topics from fish to surfing? We like the idea.

How about
some ideas for teaching Homer's Odyssey? (Spoiler alert: The cyclops doesn't make out so well.)

a brief primer in the use of the apostrophe. (By taking a look at this site as well, maybe you too can avoid an apostrophe catastrophe as well as get a few chuckles thrown into the bargain.)

Can students be taught
how to memorize things?


Technology can have an unexpectedly frustrating dark side for classroom teachers. This unpleasant fact
can easily be seen by this so-called new and improved attendance protocol.

a few good reasons for finding your own online voice. Meanwhile, Joel wants everybody to know that the Blog Revolution is coming.

Does author
Daniel Pink hate EduBlogger Sylvia?

Larry Ferlazzo
has a roundup of "fun" websites that may not be wholly education-related but from which students can still learn.


NYC Educator gifts us with the
50 worst songs ever written!

A series of comic-strip type drawings
shows us what happens when teenagers don't take responsibility for their own learning. (Be sure to "click" on the pictures in order to see a larger version.

Higher Education:

How about
15 common-sense tips to avoid overspending for first-time college students?

Whatever you do,
avoid this after finishing college.

Inside The Blogs:

The Bag Lady
asks all of us to "let them be kids a little while longer." Lead From The Start makes the case for good old-fashioned romp in the woods for our youngest learners. Sounds good to us.

The "This I Believe" meme
is making the rounds over at The Tempered Radical.

When it comes to traditional American Values, Clyde W. Kirkman
reminds us not to forget.

Labels matter. Names matter.
Especially with autism.

Can large donations by American corporate titans really help
to curb the dropout rate?

And finally: This, like nearly all of our journeys around the EduSphere, has been both enjoyable and informative. We continue to thank all the contributors whose submissions make the midway's continuing success possible, the folks who give of their time to help spread the word, and the readers who continue to make it A Free Exchange of Thoughts and Ideas


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Life Expectancy Down For Some American Women

Saw this article in the Washington Post. It troubles me:
For the first time since the Spanish influenza of 1918, life expectancy is falling for a significant number of American women.

In nearly 1,000 counties that together are home to about 12 percent of the nation's women, life expectancy is now shorter than it was in the early 1980s, according to a study published today.

The downward trend is evident in places in the Deep South, Appalachia, the lower Midwest and in one county in Maine. It is not limited to one race or ethnicity but it is more common in rural and low-income areas. The most dramatic change occurred in two areas in southwestern Virginia (Radford City and Pulaski County), where women's life expectancy has decreased by more than five years since 1983.

The trend appears to be driven by increases in death from diabetes, lung cancer, emphysema and kidney failure. It reflects the long-term consequences of smoking, a habit that women took up in large numbers decades after men did, and the slowing of the historic decline in heart disease deaths.

It may also represent the leading edge of the obesity epidemic. If so, women's life expectancy could decline broadly across the United States in coming years, ending a nearly unbroken rise that dates to the mid-1800s.

"I think this is a harbinger. This is not going to be isolated to this set of counties, is my guess," said Christopher J.L. Murray, a physician and epidemiologist at the University of Washington who led the study. It is being published in PLoS Medicine, an open-access journal of the Public Library of Science.

Said Elizabeth G. Nabel, director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health: "The data demonstrate a very alarming and deeply concerning increase in health disparities in the United States."

The study found a smaller decline, in far fewer places, in the life expectancy of men in this country. In all, longevity is declining for about 4 percent of males.

The phenomenon appears to be not only new but distinctly American.

"If you look in Western Europe, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, we don't see this," Murray said.

About half of all deaths in the United States are attributable to a small number of "modifiable" behaviors and exposures, such as smoking, poor diet and lack of exercise. Although it is impossible to know exactly what is going on in the 1,000 counties, Murray thinks it "would be a reasonably obvious strategy" to target them for aggressive public health campaigns.

Life expectancy is not a direct measure of how long people live. Instead, it is a prediction of how long the average person would live if the death rates at the time of his or her birth lasted a lifetime.
You really should consider going on and reading page 2.

So much of what harms us can be prevented by not engaging in risky behaviors such as smoking and poor diet.

And yet, in a free country, people should be allowed to make these choices.

As long as their choices don't cost me money.

And yet that's what is happening when people who don't have health insurance go to their local hospital's emergency room in order to get treatment for what ails them.

Their costs are passed along in the form of higher insurance premiums for everyone else.

Maybe the taxes collected on cigarettes would be better spent treating smokers for complications arising from their habit.


Carnival Entries Are Due!

Entries for the 168th edition of The Carnival Of Education (Hosted this week by us here at 'The Wonks.) are due. Please email them to: owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net . (Or, easier yet, use this handy submission form.) Submissions should be received no later than 9:00 PM (Eastern) 6:00 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 The CEA Blog, right here.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the midway should open Wednesday.

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: For the second week in a row, Wolf Howling received the most Council votes with The Next Moves In An Existential Chess Match.

Non-Council Entries: Baldilocks easily won with It's the "White" Church that Obama's Talking About (UPDATED).
See our latest EduPosts.


Friday, April 18, 2008

Merit Pay Chronicles: A Teacher Speaks!

Maria Neira is a former classroom teacher who runs a teachers union in New York State. Consider reading what she has to say on the subject of teacher pay based on test scores:
Fully understanding last week's battle in Albany over whether student test scores should be used to determine which teachers earn tenure requires a broader appreciation of what it means to be a classroom teacher.

Too often, teachers' views on classroom issues are not taken seriously. School boards, think tanks, politicians, business leaders and other self-styled educational experts all think they know our jobs better than we do.

Former American Federation of Teachers President Albert Shanker would warn that these powerful figures were sending teachers a message: Be obedient. Keep your mouth shut. Don't rock the boat.

Yet, too often, teachers must rock the boat, such as when school boards and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg tried to muscle the Legislature into allowing a flawed plan to use student test scores in making tenure decisions.

The assessments, given in third through eighth grades, are designed to measure students' progress in math and English language arts. They are not designed as tools for evaluating teachers' knowledge, classroom management skills, ability to collaborate with other teachers or efforts to involve parents.

In addition to excluding guidance counselors, physical education teachers and those who teach grades -- or subjects -- that are not tested (a point few ever considered), inappropriately linking test scores and tenure would also discourage new teachers from taking assignments in high-need school districts.

If your career is riding on how a handful of students answer questions on a single test in mid-January -- and you have no control over the resources available to you, or your students' health care or home circumstances -- wouldn't you choose to teach children who don't face educational challenges?

A better way to determine which teachers get tenure is for administrators to take their supervisory responsibilities seriously. Good administrators regularly observe new teachers at work, make suggestions for improvement and follow up to see if their teachers incorporate those suggestions into practice.

Probationary teachers should also receive meaningful professional development, mentoring and peer support, and should know how to use test results to diagnose student learning problems and, if necessary, to reshape their instructional practices. The most important decision about a teacher's career should follow a thoughtful, comprehensive review of the teacher's skills, not be based on a simple snapshot.

Every day, it seems, teachers have to fend off ideas from so-called experts who have never worked a day in a school. And then, when the teachers union -- the voice of the profession -- objects, they accuse the union of being the problem and begin the finger-pointing and public shaming.

Can you imagine the reaction of corporate CEOs or prominent doctors at big research hospitals if teachers weighed in on their business models or medical therapies and made decisions without their input?

How would they like it if they had no opportunity to use their professional judgment, were micromanaged from afar, denied the resources they know they need and then were told they are not working hard enough?

You can almost hear them protesting that teachers don't have the necessary expertise in finance or medicine to make those kinds of changes. They would be outraged.

To end the achievement gap and improve school performance, there must be recognition that teachers and their union aren't the problem; they are the solution. Instead of marginalizing teachers, teachers must be part of the dialogue -- from the very start.

As professionals, teachers should be equal partners and at the center of decisions that affect their profession and, more importantly, the lives of their students. When teachers -- and, for that matter, parents -- are pushed to the sidelines, students are the ones who pay the heaviest price.

Teachers believe in accountability for what they can control and welcome the meaningful, true accountability that comes with having a place at the table.

True accountability is done with teachers -- not to them. It is only possible when educators have a voice in setting the standards and benchmarks upon which accountability is based. Until then, teachers and their unions are going to be passionate, persistent advocates for the alternative -- standards and policies that make sense and benefit our students and the profession.

To get to that point, you can bet teachers will continue to rock the boat -- on tenure, and all the issues that impact learning and teaching.

Maria Neira, a former New York City elementary school teacher, is vice president of New York State United Teachers. She lives in Loudonville.
Agree or disagree, what Ms. Neira has to say is definately thought-provoking.

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Friday EduGaggle

'Tis the season for EduDecision '08. As such, see what candidate Barack Obama has to say about education in his own words.

Check out what this New York classroom teacher has to say about linking test scores to job security.

Writing to his great-grand daughter and her seventh grade history teacher, Michigan sports writer Suds Sumney gives an engrossing eye-witness testimony concerning his tenth (and final) mission as a Flying Fortress tail-gunner in World War II. (And yes, there was a crash-landing...)


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Thursday EduGaggle

Should a Texas student who takes a cell-phone call from his dad (who is serving in Iraq) while said student is in class be suspended because taking that call broke the rules? A lot of issues to chew-over on this one. Enjoy your meal. More tidbits here and there.

Our Department of Religious Affairs has been monitoring the interesting case of the public school teacher
who is in heaps of trouble for having a Bible on his classroom desk in plain view.

Wanna find out how much your state is spending on education vis-a-vis the other 49 states? Then you need to go here.

Hillary Rodham-Clinton and Barack Obama debated last night in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Get your Hillary's Times
New York Times "coverage" right here. Little was said regarding education policy other than Hillary's remark about the need to revamp NCLB.

No surprise here: Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings
continues her defense of the federally-mandated No Child Left Behind Act. (Unlike today's "Republicans," I can clearly remember when the G.O.P. stood four-square against further concentration of power by the Central Government in Washington... Where have all the Republicans gone???)

From Wall Street, we have the news that for-profit education companies are
taking it on the chin as inflation picks up steam and the recession deepens.

From our International Desk we have
this first hand report concerning the challenges faced by Canada's Inuit people in that country's Far North.

For it's
$100 million dollar donation to help keep kids from dropping out of school, AT&T has certainly earned our Red Apple Salute!

looking to recognise a few great History teachers up in Michigan. (As of this writing, we don't know if that award includes a Florida vacation next winter. We do know that it includes $500 dollars and a plaque...)

From The Office of the Queen of All Media our Entertainment Desk we have this bulletin regarding the death of Martha Stewart's best friend.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Teacher Arrested Not Once, But Twice!

This Florida middle school teacher has been arrested not once but twice for inappropriate behavior with two different students:
TAMPA - When teacher Stephanie Ragusa was having sex with a Davidsen Middle School student last year, she became intimate with a second student, investigators said Tuesday.

Ragusa, 28, was arrested again Tuesday, accused of having a sexual relationship with another Davidsen student when the boy was 15, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said.

She was first arrested March 13, charged with five counts of lewd and lascivious battery. Investigators accused her of having sex at least three times with a then 14-year-old boy from January 2007 to May 2007.

On Tuesday, Ragusa was further charged with two counts of sex with a minor and one count of lewd and lascivious battery stemming from her relationship with the 15-year-old, sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said.

Ragusa last contacted the boy March 10, when she sent him text messages and they agreed to meet at her home, 15324 Lake Bella Vista Drive, Carter said. She said investigators seized Ragusa's cell phone on a search warrant after her first arrest and found the messages.

That's how the sheriff's office identified the second teen, Carter said. She added that "there could potentially be other victims."

Ragusa was released Tuesday night from Orient Road Jail on $22,500 bail.

She remains suspended without pay pending a vote by the Hillsborough County School Board, district spokesman Steve Hegarty said.

He added that he was at a meeting Tuesday with district officials to discuss the recent arrests of teachers accused of having sex with students. Then officials heard the news of Ragusa's arrest about 6 p.m.

"It's shocking - again," Hegarty said. "But she's out of the classroom and she's not being paid."

The victim was a student in Ragusa's math class at Davidsen Middle School in Town 'N Country, Carter said. She was also his tutor.

Ragusa and the teen's relationship started Feb. 15, 2007, when they had sex at Ragusa's former home on Fox Terrier Court in Tampa, investigators said. From then until March 10 this year - three days before Ragusa's first arrest - she and the teen had sex more than 20 times, Carter said.

Ragusa also is accused of buying the teen alcohol during their relationship, investigators said.

The teen identified Ragusa by describing her tattoos, which could only be seen if she was undressed, Carter said.

The two teens are not being identified because they are considered victims of sex crimes.

Before her second arrest, Ragusa had been free on $12,500 bail since March 18.

She started working for the school district in 2006 at Madison Middle School in South Tampa, then voluntarily transferred midyear to Davidsen. Most recently, Ragusa was a math teacher at Martinez Middle School in Lutz.
What can be done to get these teachers predators to leave their students alone?

If the charges are proven, my guess is that Ragusa will most likely do a few months in the county pokey (along with some community service) rather than hard time in the state penitentiary.

It is also possible that Ragusa will escape incarceration altogether and get some sort of probation, as has been the case with several other female teachers who had been convicted of molesting their students.

Heh. But if Ragusa had been a man and the victims had been female I'd be willing to bet that the punishment would be altogether different.


Wednesday EduGaggle

Special for all you classroom teachers out there: even though our paychecks may not be going up, the prices of just about everything is skyrocketing. (Oh yes, what is being expected of us is going up too...)

Ewww! A Pennsylvania elementary school has had a close encounter of the Mold Kind.

Did you know that this is Teach For America Week? We didn't either... See some related pics of First Lady Laura Bush and Our Heartthrob, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, right here.

'Tis the season for high school senior class pranks. 'Tis also the season for high school senior class dumbassedry and related arrests.

When it comes to organizing protests against Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's budget cuts, California school administrators and union officials can't get their act together.


Let's Carnival

The 167th edition of The Carnival of Education (hosted this week by The C.E.A. Blog.) has opened the midway!

And don't forget to round out your educational experience by seeing what the homies are up to over at The Carnival of Homeschooling. (Please keep in mind that The Nerds are in control of this week's C.O.H. roundup...)


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Texas Teacher Shortage?

They're crying out for teachers in the Lone Star State:
Each day, students of different races, genders, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds enter the nation's classrooms. Unfortunately, for some, these factors may work against them - especially in urban areas.

According to TCU's [Texas Christian University] Center for Urban Education, urban schools - those schools with low socioeconomic and/or predominantly minority students - have the most critical shortages of qualified teachers and, therefore, the most openings for college graduates.

The center is designed to help meet this need by training future teachers to help them succeed in urban schools.

"Urban communities are in the state of making sure that all children are successful," said Jennifer Brooks, director of TCU's Center for Urban Education. "We must work and make sure they have teachers who are qualified and have experiences to make them successful."

A study by The Education Trust, an advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C., found that in the nation's high-poverty schools, 34 percent of secondary classes in core academic subjects are assigned to teachers who lack a college minor in the subject.
You should consider reading the whole thing.

In a society where one's social status is directly related to one's take-home pay, maybe our best and brightest college graduates will choose to serve in the classroom when and if they can earn half-way decent wages for themselves and their family.

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Get Your Carnival Entries Submitted!

Entries for the 167th edition of The Carnival Of Education (Hosted this week over at The C.E.A. Blog.) are due. Please email them to: misterhayes [at] hotmail [dot] com . (Or, easier yet, use this handy submission form.) Submissions should be received no later than 7:00 PM (Eastern) 4 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 The Elementary Educator, right here.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the midway should open Wednesday.

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: For the second week in a row, Joshuapundit received the most Council votes, this time with "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie"... Accommodating Islam.

Non-Council Entries: The Brussels Journal easily won with Creating a European Indigenous People's Movement.
See our latest EduPosts.


Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday EduGaggle

And now from San Antonio, Texas we have this sorry tale of a high school fight club.

Hearthrob Angelina Jolie
has issued a call for more and better educational opportunities... for Iraqi kids. (Disc. There's something about that dress she's wearing in the photo that we find uplifting.)

In another entry from our International Desk, we have this story
that disproves the notion that high school students behave better in the Land Down Under. On point of fact, the Australian Army had to pull those battling teenagers apart.

A Muslim public school? Here in America? It's true!

Meanwhile, Pope Benedict XVI is planning to visit New York City later this month. He'll be here just in time to get a first-hand look at a probable teachers strike.... in that city's Catholic school system.

First-year public school teachers in this place earn a starting salary of only $24,000 per year. And they're not going to get any raise this year. All that and ever-increasing performance expectations-- thanks to NCLB. Ouch.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Union President Who Swings

If this South Florida (Why does it always seem to involve Florida?) teachers union president ever gets tired of doing whatever a full-time county-level union person does to fill up his time, I guess he could go back to running a profitable swingers club in his home.

Interestingly, a careful read of this related article might lead one to suspect that this man's past was possibly exposed at the hands of a defeated incumbent certain well-entrenched union officials who felt threatened by his promises to run a "transparent" union..

Heh. transparent teachers union--- An oxymoron if I ever heard one.

Actually, I feel sad for him. What he was accused of did not involve children, violence, or theft.

And it happened a long time ago. On his own time. In his own house.

Still... union politics and union insiders have the reputation that they have for a reason.

Honest, well-intentioned, and hard-working people don't seem to get very far when they attempt to make positive changes within these organizations.

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When Girls Go Stupid

What more can be said about this crime? And what can be done to stop the stupidity of this type of made-for-video violence?

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Our Fine-Feathered Teachers

Teachers and students come in different shapes, sizes, and (apparently) species:
NUNEATON, England, April 8 (UPI) -- The owner of a wildlife sanctuary in Nuneaton, England, says a young parrot has been teaching foul language to its avian brethren.

Geoff Grewcock, owner of the Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary, said 7-year-old macaw Barney apparently learned his profane vocabulary from a previous owner and has been teaching the naughty words to other talking birds, The Daily Mail reported Tuesday.

"I knew that Barney could swear but what has happened is shocking," Grewcock said. "He's been teaching the other two when we had our backs turned. It sounds like a builders' yard, with all the abuse flying about."

"We have got another African Grey called Sunny who squawks 'shut up' at them when the swearing starts -- but they don't take any notice," he said.

Grewcock said workers at the sanctuary have tried to curb Barney's bad linguistic habits, but to no avail.

"We have tried everything to get Barney to curb his language and now we have got another two to contend with," he said. "These birds can live until they are 70 so there are potentially another 60 years of this to contend with."
And yes, you did read the owner's name correctly: Geoff Grewcock.

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The Carnival Of Education Is Up And Running!

The 166th edition of The Carnival of Education (hosted this week by The Elementary Educator.) has opened the midway!

And don't forget to round out your educational experience by seeing what the homies are up to over at The Carnival of Homeschooling.


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Gender Bender Elementary

What were they thinking in Wisconsin?
REEDSBURG, Wis. (AP) - An elementary-school event in which kids were encouraged to dress as members of the opposite gender drew the ire of a Christian radio group, whose angry broadcast prompted outraged calls to the district office.

Students at Pineview Elementary in Reedsburg had been dressing in costume all last week as part of an annual school tradition called Wacky Week. On Friday, students were encouraged to dress either as senior citizens or as members of the opposite sex.

A local resident informed the Voice of Christian Youth America on Friday. The Milwaukee-based radio network responded by interrupting its morning programming for a special broadcast that aired on nine radio stations throughout Wisconsin. The broadcast criticized the dress-up day and accused the district of promoting alternative lifestyles.

"We believe it's the wrong message to send to elementary students," said Jim Schneider, the network's program director. "Our station is one that promotes traditional family values. It concerns us when a school district strikes at the heart and core of the Biblical values. To promote this to elementary-school students is a great error."

Schneider co-hosts "Crosstalk," a nationally syndicated call-in Christian radio show.

After the program aired, both the school and Reedsburg School District office were flooded with calls complaining about the event.

The response surprised Principal Tammy Hayes, who said no one had raised any objections beforehand. She said a flier detailing Wacky Week had been sent home with children the prior week, and an announcement was also included in teacher newsletters.

The dress-up day was not an attempt to promote cross-dressing, homosexuality or alternative gender roles, district administrator Tom Benson said.

"The promotion of transgenderism - that was not our purpose," Benson told the Baraboo News Republic. "Our purpose was to have a Wacky Week, mixing in a bit of silliness with our reading, writing and arithmetic."

The theme for Friday's dress-up day came from students, Hayes said.

"It's different every year. They basically present the ideas, and they vote on what they would like from Monday through Friday," Hayes said. "... They did not mean anything by this day. They were trying to have fun and come up with a fun dress-up day."

About 40 percent of the student body dressed up Friday, Hayes estimated, with half portraying senior citizens and half dressing as the opposite sex.

"I can assure you we will not be having this day (again)," Hayes said.

Reedsburg is in southern Wisconsin, about 60 miles northwest of Madison.
Another example of your taxpayer dollars at "work?"

You be the decider.


Carnival Entries Are Due!

Entries for the 166th edition of The Carnival Of Education (Hosted this week over at The Elementary Educator.) are due. Please email them to: mpullen [at] sbcglobal [dot] net . (Or, easier yet, use this handy submission form.) Submissions should be received no later than 7:00 PM (Eastern) 4 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 I Want To Teach Forever, right here.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the midway should open Wednesday.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Monday Morning

Have you ever gotten to your workplace and said "good morning!" to someone without really thinking about it?

The person so addressed nearly automatically responds with the same greeting and tack-on "how are you?"

To that, nearly everyone responds (without thinking, and usually without listening) with "fine."

We've all done it countless times.

It's a classic (and time-worn) greeting ritual.

Today is going to be different.

The first one who who asks me how I'm doing is going to get
"I'm doing great. Everyday that I'm above ground, it is great."
It's fun to be different. And it's true.


When They're Too Cool For School

Sad But True.

Heh. It's just a matter of time before those all-knowing Washington lawmakers and their associates accomplices over at The Kingdom Of Spellings will attempt to legislate an attitude-change for America's youth.

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

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 received the most Council votes with Black Liberation Theology.

Non-Council Entries: Acute Politics garnered first place honors with 5 Years, 1 year.
See our latest EduPosts.


Friday, April 04, 2008

Censorchimps: The Mandarin Subspecies

In Communist China, if the powers-that-be don't like what you write, you'll do hard time:
A Chinese court Thursday sentenced an outspoken human rights advocate to three and a half years in prison after ruling that his critical essays and comments about Communist Party rule amounted to inciting subversion, his lawyer said.

The conviction of Hu Jia, 34, quickly brought outside criticism of China at a time when the government is already facing international concern over its handling of the Tibetan crisis. Hu's case has been followed closely, especially in Europe, and critics say his conviction is part of a government crackdown to silence dissidents before Beijing plays host to the Olympics in August.

Diane Sovereign, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, described the U.S. government's reaction to the verdict as "dismayed."

"Mr. Hu has consistently worked within China's legal system to protect the rights of his fellow citizens," Sovereign said. "These types of activities support China's efforts to institute the rule of law and should be applauded, not suppressed or punished."
Consider reading the whole thing.

I continue to be puzzled at how our federal government continues to appease Authoritarian China with such "perks" as "Most Favored Nation" trade status even though the Chinese government continues to exclude and/or heavily tax American-made products (such as Hollywood films and Harley-Davidson motorcycles) and worse, far worse, the Chinese regime's continued insults to our armed forces. (Such as
denying our naval vessels safe port during storms and committing acts of air piracy against our military aircraft while flying in international airspace.)

And let's never forget how these thugs murdered untold numbers of their own people for the so-called "crime" of peacefully demonstrating their wish for a democratic government.

Let's also not forget what this criminal regime is doing to the people of occupied Tibet.


Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Wankers Of The Day: Brandon and Amber Herbert

It's so satisfying to see a couple of Wankers get their just deserts:
A week after dozens of people ransacked an Oregon home in response to a Craigslist ad offering its contents for free, police have arrested a couple for orchestrating the online hoax as part of a bid to cover up an earlier burglary at the property. Brandon and Amber Herbert were nabbed last night for allegedly posting the March 22 Craigslist ad, which claimed that the Jacksonville ranch's owner had to leave town so suddenly that his belongings--which included a horse--were available for the taking.
Get the whole story.


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Censorchimps: The East Texas Subspecies

Who would've thought that wearing a "John Edwards for President" T-shirt would get a kid suspended from high school? The lawsuit was inevitable:
A Waxahachie High School sophomore is suing the school district for the right to wear a T-shirt supporting John Edwards as a 2008 presidential candidate.

The Liberty Legal Institute on Tuesday announced that it was suing the Waxahachie Independent School District on behalf of Pete Palmer and his parents.

According to an institute representative, the district violated Palmer's constitutional right to free speech when it sent him home from school in October for wearing the shirt, threatening him with suspension if he did so again.

The suit seeks permission for Palmer to wear the shirt on campus, as well as unspecified monetary damages and reimbursement of the student's legal fees, according to the institute.

"I just think they’re wrong," Palmer said during an October interview with FOX 4 News. "And I just think it’s an incorrect policy and it needs to be changed."

WISD Superintendent Thomas J. Collins said that shirts with political slogans are against dress code policy, which is clearly posted online.

“It had nothing to do with trying to stifle anyone’s free speech,” Collins said.
When I first saw this story, I thought that it might have been an April Fools' prank.


You can follow this link to get to the backstory. And there's more here.

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Get Your Carnival On!

The 165th edition of The Carnival of Education (hosted this week by I Want To Teach Forever.) has opened the midway!

And don't forget to round out your educational experience by seeing what the homies are up to over at the April Fools' Edition of The Carnival of Homeschooling.


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Let's Be Careful Out There!

All points bulletin: Today is April Fools' Day.

Beware of prank-playing students and ordinarily-hurmorless school administrators and other co-workers.

Get more about All Fools' Day here and the "top 100 April Fools' hoaxes" over there.

And remember, if you pull a prank, "the law of unintended consequences" can and will apply.

You've been warned.

Carnival Entries Are Due!

Entries for the 165th edition of The Carnival Of Education (Hosted this week over at I Want To Teach Forever.) are due. Please email them to: teachforever [at] gmail [dot] com . (Or, easier yet, use this handy submission form.) Submissions should be received no later than 7:00 PM (Eastern) 4 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 Bellringers, right here.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the midway should open Wednesday.