Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Let's Carnival!

The 189th edition of The Carnival of Education (hosted this week by Thomas J. West Music) has opened-up its midway!

And don't forget to drop-in on the homies over at The Carnival of Homeschooling.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Stupid Is As Stupid Does: Part 1

This cop just threw away his career in law enforcement over a few breakfast sandwhiches:
MORRISTOWN, N.J. -- A Rockaway Township police sergeant's hunger for some breakfast sandwiches has cost him his job.

Sgt. Christopher Stahl pleaded guilty Monday to theft for walking out of a Quick Chek store on West Main Street in Rockaway Borough on Dec. 15, 2007 with eight breakfast sandwiches worth $29.45.

Under his sentence in state Superior Court, the 39-year-old Stahl will have to pay $100, and he loses his job.
Prosecutor Robert Bianchi said the plea "represents the fact that no one is above the law."

The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office said it is committed to purging, from all levels of public service, those who abuse the public trust or the taxpayers’ money.

Defense attorney Edward Bilinkas said Stahl "made a mistake and has taken responsibility."
I guess it takes all kinds...


Get Your Carnival On!

Entries for the 189th edition of The Carnival Of Education (Hosted this week over at Thomas J. West Music.) are due. Please email them to: tomwest [at] psualum [dot] com . (Or, easier yet, use this handy submission form.) Submissions should be received no later than 4:00 PM (Eastern) 1:00 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 over at The Core Knowledge Blog, over there. (You'll need to scroll down as there is no permalink available.)

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the midway should open Wednesday.

Monday, September 15, 2008

U.S. City Celebrates Mexican Independence Day

When it comes to governmental wastage of taxpayer funds, one has to look long and hard in order to exceed that peculiar type of corruption that is found here in the wasteland that is California's so-called "Imperial" Valley. But even here, where all kinds of corruption and nepotism are common-day occurrences, I was stunned to learn that the City of El Centro, California was proudly expending much-needed monies on the celebration of another country's independence day:
When El Centro City Councilman Efrain Silva was elected to the council last November, it led to the opening of doors between the city and Mexicali.

Silva said once he was elected he began communicating with the Mexican Consulate in Mexicali and eventually developed the idea of hosting a Mexican Independence Day event in El Centro.

“Calexico [California] had been doing it for years,” Silva said, “and I wanted to do something for the city of El Centro.”

On Saturday night El Centro, in joint efforts with the Mexican Consulate, hosted “El Grito de Independencia” at Bucklin Park as part of a Mexican Independence Day celebration.

“This was a tremendous opportunity for the community to celebrate Mexican Independence Day,” Silva said.

With thousands packing Bucklin Park, attendees were treated to food, drink and musical performances.

And while the event is celebrating Mexico’s independence from Spain, Silva said with “80 percent of Imperial County’s population of Mexican descent,” the “grito” is a natural part of this community.

“We’re honoring the beauty of the Mexican culture,” Silva said. “And I’m hoping everyone values it and everyone embraces the cultural differences.”

Sierra Gordon, special events coordinator for the city of El Centro, called the event “historic” and said she’d like “El Grito” to become an annual event held within the city.

“We’re not only here to celebrate the independence of our neighboring Mexico,” Gordon said, “but we’re also bringing out the roots of our Hispanic community.”
While I listened to the revelers at park repeatedly shout "Viva Mexico" at the top of their lungs in response to the emcee's Spanish-language promptings over the public-address system, (and yes, I am fluent in Spanish, having been married a Mexican lady for the last 20 years and having resided several years in Mexico) I couldn't help but wonder at the audacity of a California city council that would waste money on this type of nonsense activity while at the same time badgering the already over-taxed populace to vote this November to raise the sales tax another half-percent in order (the council says) to do much-needed pot-hole filling and other road repairs.

Now there are some out there who will invariably compare this celebration of Mexican Independence Day ("El Grito") with other "ethnic" commemorations such as St. Patrick's Day and Columbus Day.

The difference is that St. Patty's Day and Columbus Day are celebrations of a people while those American officials who spent American taxpayer money in order to commemorate Mexican Independence Day are observing the independence of another sovereign nation-state.

And no, the California city of El Centro does not stage a similar type of party on the Fourth of July.

Those Americans (both naturalized and native-born) who would so identify themselves with another nation-state while claiming all the rights and privileges of living in the United States would do well to consider
the words of Theodore Roosevelt:
There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism. When I refer to hyphenated Americans, I do not refer to naturalized Americans. Some of the very best Americans I have ever known were naturalized Americans, Americans born abroad. But a hyphenated American is not an American at all.

This is just as true of the man who puts “native” [Ed's note: in that time, the use of the word "native" referred to those who were born in the U.S. but claimed European decent.] before the hyphen as of the man who puts German or Irish or English or French before the hyphen. Americanism is a matter of the spirit and of the soul. Our allegiance must be purely to the United States. We must unsparingly condemn any man who holds any other allegiance.

But if he is heartily and singly loyal to this Republic, then no matter where he was born, he is just as good an American as any one else.
They might also think about listening to John Wayne read aloud his poem, "The Hyphen."

Hyphenated Americans are Divided Americans.

Sadly, in these times of political correctness run amok, the type of divisiveness that is exemplified by El Centro's celebration of another country's independence will only further deepen those divisions.

While those who even dare question the propriety of such expenditures of hard-earned American taxpayer monies will likely be subjected to charges of racism, and being anti-immigrant.

But such are the times in which we find ourselves living..


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Did You Know?

That this is "Historically Black Colleges and Universities Week?"

I didn't know it, either.

The Ministry of Enforcement of Public Education Policy Conformity United States Department of Education is spending lots of taxpayer money in order to celebrate the occasion:
Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Stephanie Monroe will join 1,000 higher education leaders and policymakers on September 8 in Washington, D.C., during the 2008 national conference celebrating the nation's Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

This year's theme, "HBCUs: Established to Meet a Need, Evolving With the Times, Essential for Today and Tomorrow," recognizes the 105 HBCUs in the U.S. for their valuable academic, cultural, and economic contributions to American society.

The conference includes a host of panels and seminars discussing the critical issues, challenges, and opportunities facing HBCUs, such as workforce readiness; economic impact on HBCUs; health care disparities; HBCU graduate programs, environmental trends—greening the campus and curriculum, and campus radio and television at HBCUs.
Go over there and see your tax dollars at work. And don't forget to take your agenda.


Obama Visits Michigan High School

The gym of Michigan's North Farmington High School was the scene of a visit by Barack Obama just yesterday. He took the time to make a few remarks.
On education, Obama wants to invest in early childhood education, close the achievement gap, pay teachers more money in exchange for more accountability, make college affordable for everyone, in exchange for community service.

“That’s change,” he said. “And, that’s what I’m going to do when I’m the president of the United States.”
As is the case with so many of both McCain's and Obama's speeches, I found lots of nice-sounding generalities but little of substance. But don't take may word for it, go ahead and judge for yourself.


Saturday, September 06, 2008

A Lesson In Funny Money

Some kids are just so resourceful:
OCALA, Fla. (AP) - Authorities say an 8-year-old boy was handing out hundreds of dollars in fake $20 bills at an Ocala elementary school. School officials reported the boy to police on Tuesday.

The fake bills were discovered when a child tried to use one to pay for lunch. An administrator then tracked down several other students with fake bills. Those students all identified the boy.

The boy—who was not identified—was turned over to the Department of Children and Families after authorities learned his guardians had warrants for their arrest.

In all, the counterfeit money added up to 44 notes or $880. Police say they don't know who produced the fake currency.
I'm pretty sure that the kid said Mr. Xerox made him do it...

Friday, September 05, 2008

Dream Cancellation: A Personal Whine

Six years of no increase in take-home pay and several years of insidious inflation have finally gotten the best of our already-tight budget.

Today we cancelled our Christmas trip.

For the first time in ten years, the Wonk Family will not be going back to South Carolina to visit the folks during Christmas recess.


When I began my classroom service, I knew that I would never get rich teaching children.

But I never would have thought that our family would be poorer when I was 45 years of age than when I was 40.

A few years ago, we used to buy name-brands at our local supermarket.

We now buy store-brands at our local Wal-Mart.

Meanwhile, our employers will continue to demand name-brand teaching.

But we teachers will continue to be paid store-brand money...

Dear Readers, please forgive my poor choice of whine...

Thursday, September 04, 2008

British Hospitality

What a bunch of Wankers:
A hotel that refused an injured soldier a room, forcing him to spend the night in his car, was backed into issuing a grovelling apology yesterday after receiving a barrage of abusive phone calls.

The Metro Hotel, in Woking, Surrey, called the police as its phone lines were flooded with angry and threatening calls from the public.

The attack on the switchboards came after it emerged that Corporal Tomos Stringer, 24, had been told that it was company policy not to accept members of the Armed Forces.
Wankers indeed.

L.A.'s Boondoggle High

This is bad, even for California:
LOS ANGELES (AP) - A decade behind schedule, a $350 million downtown high school finally opened on Wednesday after years of environmental, seismic and legal troubles.

"We've been waiting a long time to get this," said Uriel Rivera, an 18-year-old senior at the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center. "A lot of people in the community were supposed to graduate from here, but they didn't. I thought it was going to be the same for me."

Rivera was among more than 2,400 students who streamed into the school on its first day - long after what had been expected to be a late 1990s debut of an education showplace to relieve sorely overcrowded classrooms.

Much of what was then called the Belmont Learning Center was already constructed before fears grew about toxic gases rising from an old oil field upon which it was built.

Construction was halted in 2000, then resumed in 2002 only to be thwarted again, this time by the discovery of an earthquake fault that crosses the site.

Lengthy investigations by the county district attorney's office, the city attorney and the California attorney general found no criminal wrongdoing, but in 2003 District Attorney Steve Cooley labeled the project "a public works disaster of biblical proportions."

The school became a symbol of bureaucratic ineptitude and wasted taxpayer money. The ensuing scandal swept a district superintendent and almost half the school board out of office.

"I feel a little emotional that it took so long. These seniors were in kindergarten when this was being built," Principal Scott Braxton said as he surveyed the sprawling school. "But it's finally here."

The school resembles a college campus, with several classroom buildings surrounding a landscaped courtyard. It boasts a gym with capacity to hold 3,000, a large dance studio with cushioned maple floors, 480 underground parking spaces - and a $17 million toxic gas mitigation system that costs $250,000 a year to operate.

School grounds are dotted with tall light poles topped with mushroom-like caps - vents to let underground methane and hydrogen sulfide gases escape. Sensors monitor subterranean levels of the gases. When a gas buildup is detected, a blower is activated to push out the gases more quickly.

Students at the school choose among six smaller, autonomous "learning communities" that are focused around career themes, including languages, visual arts and humanities, business and finance, computer science and leadership. The Los Angeles Unified School District also is using the curriculum model at some large high schools.

"It's a paradigm shift," Braxton said. "It gives us a chance to personalize high school for the kids."
With runaway idiocy such as this, it's no wonder the state is so short of money that they're looking at another sales tax increase.


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Skipping The First Day Of School

Many pupils in Chicago's troubled public school system decided that truancy was the best way to protest alleged unequal funding:
NORTHFIELD, Ill. (AP) — More than 1,000 Chicago public school students skipped the first day of classes Tuesday to protest unequal education funding, a boycott organizers said would continue through the week with help from retired teachers who will turn office lobbies into impromptu classrooms.

The students took church buses 30 miles north to the wealthy suburb of Northfield, where they filled out applications to enroll in the better-funded New Trier district. The move was largely symbolic because students must pay tuition to attend a school outside their home district.

The turnout fell short of the thousands organizers expected, and was a tiny fraction of the more than 400,000 students who attend Chicago public schools, but protesters and their parents said they're willing to keep the boycott going as long as it takes to persuade state officials to give their district more money.

"It's on us kids," said 14-year-old Tracey Stansberry, a student at Corliss High School. "If we don't, we'll be on the bottom."

Gillie Beal said she will keep her 12-year-old grandson involved in the protest as long as it takes. "You must stand for something or you'll fall for anything," she said.

Chicago Public Schools spokesman Mike Vaughn said he did not know how many students boycotted the country's third-largest district Tuesday; attendance figures would not be available for a couple of days. Although district officials agree the system is underfunded, he said, they consider it a mistake for the children to miss any school.

"We want our kids to start the school year strong, and that means the first week of school," he said. "The first week, it is important for the kids to connect with teachers and lay the groundwork for the year. And that can't happen if kids aren't in school."

On Wednesday, boycott organizers will attempt to set up impromptu classrooms at Chicago City Hall and the state's James R. Thompson Center,as well as in the lobbies of more than a dozen Chicago corporations, including Boeing Co. and Aon Corp., that support Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics.

"If we say we're a world-class city, then we shouldn't be content with having second-class schools," said state Sen. James Meeks, who is leading the boycott of the district and is urging Gov. Rod Blagojevich and state lawmakers agreed to address school funding disparities.

Meeks said he had not cleared his plans with the city or officials of corporations where students are expected to gather, but expected they would not be turned away.

Jodi Kawada, a spokeswoman for Mayor Richard M. Daley, said she'd heard that the group might come to City Hall but hadn't gotten any confirmation.

"For protests in general — we allow protesters to express their First Amendment rights at City Hall," she said in a statement. "Our priority is to ensure the safety of the building occupants and the protesters."

Boeing spokesman John Dern said Tuesday that the Chicago-based company had not been contacted by organizers.

"If children arrive we would ensure their safety and our ability to conduct business," Dern said.

In Illinois, property taxes account for about 70 percent of school funding, meaning rural and inner-city schools generally end up with less to spend per student than suburban schools in areas with higher property values.

Chicago Public Schools spent $11,300 per student last year. New Trier High School spent $17,500 per student, near the top in the state.

Meeks is pushing for a pilot program that would distribute $120 million to four clusters of schools — high schools and their feeder schools — on Chicago's West Side, South Side, south suburbs and downstate. The governor and legislative leaders have made no promises.

"I do not believe that a child's education should be based on where they live," Meeks said. He compared the issue to apartheid in South Africa and said the situation makes it difficult for children to rise from poverty.

"We undereducated these kids' parents, we undereducated their grandparents and now we're in the process of undereducating them," Meeks said.

New Trier Superintendent Linda Yonke acknowledged that money played a role in school performance, along with supportive parents and hardworking students.

"There's also no denying the fact that funding allows us to have smaller classes, a deep and rich curriculum and many extracurricular activities," Yonke said. She said 1,100 elementary students and 150 high school students from Chicago filled out enrollment applications Tuesday for New Trier.

New Trier student body president Matt McAmbridge, a senior, told Chicago students at a rally in suburban Skokie on Tuesday afternoon that students there support the boycotters' cause and would help in any way they can.

"We know the sentiment among New Trier students ... is really in favor of getting better school funding for everybody," McAmbridge said.

On the bus ride to the suburban district, volunteers told the children they were taking part in a historic event similar to the bus boycott in Alabama in the 1950s.

Peggy Richmond, who accompanied her 12-year-old granddaughter Skyler Williams on the boycott, said she was forced to enroll Skyler in a private school because of the poor quality of the public schools in her Chicago neighborhood.

"I'm still angry," she said of having to pay $650 a month in tuition to ensure her granddaughter gets a good education.
It would be interesting to know how many parents and students would show-up for a protest rally if that rally were held after school hours or, better still, on a Saturday.


Getting Fraked

It's not often that we get to be in on the birth of an obscenity:
NEW YORK (AP) -- Lee Goldberg thinks Glen A. Larson is a genius, and not because the prolific television writer and producer gave us "Knight Rider" and "B.J. and the Bear."

It was Larson who first used the faux curse word "frak" in the original "Battlestar Galactica." The word was mostly overlooked back in the '70s series but is working its way into popular vocabulary as SciFi's modern update winds down production.

"All joking aside, say what you will about what you might call the lowbrow nature of many of his shows, he did something truly amazing and subversive, up there with what Steven Bochco gets credit for, with 'frak,' " Goldberg said.

There's no question what the word stands for and it's used gleefully, as many as 20 times in some episodes.

"And he was saying it 30 years ago in the original goofy, god-awful 'Battlestar Galactica,' " said Goldberg, a television writer and novelist whose credits include "Monk" and "Diagnosis Murder."

The word is showing up everywhere -- on T-shirts, in sit-coms, best-selling novels and regular conversation.

"I have to start by saying that I'm drinking coffee out of a mug that says 'frak off' on the side of it, so much has it seeped into my life," "Galactica" star Jamie Bamber said.

The word is insinuating its way into popular vocabulary for a simple reason.

You can't get in trouble. It's a made-up word.

"It may have been the great George Carlin who talked about these things so cleverly," Larson said. "He'd say, 'Mother would say shoot, but she meant ... when she reached in and burned her fingers on the crocker.' And the child says, 'I know what you meant, Mom.' "

The word has slipped the bonds that tethered other pretenders like Mork's "shazbot" in "Mork & Mindy" or Col. Sherman T. Potter's "horse hockey" in "M*A*S*H." Its usage has moved from the small but fervent group of "Galactica" fans into everyday language. It's shown up in very mainstream shows like "The Office," "Gossip Girl" and "Scrubs." One YouTube posting has 2 minutes of sound bites that cover the gamut.

"I'm in my own little cocoon of science fictiondom, but it is certainly used around here and amongst the people I know," said Irene Gallo, art director at the sci-fi imprint Tor Books, where employees held a "frak party" to watch the season premiere. "It's sort of a way to be able to use a four-letter word without really getting into any kind of HR trouble or with people you're really not quite comfortable being yourself with."

The word has even appeared in the funny pages where Dilbert muttered a disconsolate "frack" -- the original spelling before producers of the current show changed it to a four-letter word -- after a particularly dumb order from his evil twit of a boss.

"Dilbert" creator Scott Adams calls the word "pure genius."

"At first I thought 'frak' was too contrived and it bothered me to hear it," Adams said. "Over time it merged in my mind with its coarser cousin and totally worked. The creators ingeniously found a way to make viewers curse in their own heads -- you tend to translate the word -- and yet the show is not profane."

Best-selling novelist Robert Crais slips the word into the prologue of his latest Elvis Cole mystery, "Chasing Darkness." He did it because "Galactica" is his favorite show, like calling out in the wilderness to his fellow fans. But he sees the word popping up everywhere, even among those who have never watched the show.

"It's viral, it spreads like a virus," Crais said. "That first wave of people who use it are all fans. They use it because they're tickled by it and like me they're paying an homage to the show. When they're using it, they're probably doing it with a sly wink. But as it gets heard and people use it, it spreads."

The re-imagined "Battlestar Galactica" tells the story of the human survivors of a war with a robotic race known as the Cylons. Fewer than 40,000 humans remain in a ragtag fleet being pursued across space by the Cylons, who wiped out the 12 colonies in a surprise nuclear holocaust.

Their destination is the mythical planet Earth, a legend passed down in religious texts. Shooting wrapped in July and the final 10 episodes will appear beginning in January.

Larson, one of television's most prolific and successful writers, doesn't much care for the new series. He used "frack" and its cousin "feldergarb" as alternates for curse words because the original "Battlestar" was family friendly and appeared on Sunday nights. The words fit in with his philosophy that while the show was about humans, it shouldn't have an Earthly feel.

In what he said was his first interview about the series, Larson says there were no red fire extinguishers on his Battlestar Galactica and characters wore original costumes, not suits and ties.

"Our point was to whenever possible make it a departure like you're visiting somewhere else," Larson said. "And we did coin certain phrases for use in expletive situations, but we tried to carry that over into a lot of other stuff, even push brooms and the coin of the realm."

When new series producer Ron Moore first introduced "frak" in early scripts, Bamber said the actors were dubious. But as writers expanded its use, they caught on to the possibilities.

"I mean why are we not offended by 'frak' because it means exactly the same thing as the other thing?" said Bamber, who plays fighter pilot-turned-president Lee "Apollo" Adama. "So it raises questions about language and why certain words are offensive. Is it their meaning? ... Clearly it's not their meaning. Clearly it's literally their sound."

Co-executive producer and writer Michael Angeli, an Emmy nominee for the episode "Six of One," said using the word in scripts is satisfying for anyone who's been censored over the years.

"It's a great way to do something naughty and get away with it," Angeli said. "One of the things that television shows do constantly is they battle with Standards and Practices over what can be seen and what can't be seen, what can be said and what can't be said.

"A lot of our characters are soldiers. That whole sort of view and that subculture, that's how they speak. They're rough and tumble, and they're bawdy and they swear."

He said producers have gotten no complaints from SciFi owner NBC Universal or the Federal Communications Commission.

Goldberg believes Larson should get more credit for "frak" and has posted an appreciation on his Web site. He even sought out Larson to let him know how he feels: "I told him, 'Frak is fraking brilliant, Glen.' "
I can't help but wonder if this non-word will show-up in our junior high's classrooms anytime soon.

This sorta reminds me of another television term that has found some popular acceptance: the purely-fictional holiday Festivus.

A final thought: If I consider the fact that I've been making pretty much the same take-home pay for six years now, I can at least take some "comfort" in the fact that I have a thorough knowledge of what it's like to get fraked and get fraked
real good.

And not get paid for it.


The Song Of The Day

Take a listen to Dylan's "My Back Pages" as sung by The Byrds:

Maybe I'll have this one played at my funeral.


Carnival Time!

The 187th edition of The Carnival of Education (hosted this week by Lead from the Start) has opened-up its midway!

And don't forget to drop-in on the homies over at the Labor Day edition of The Carnival of Homeschooling.


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Common Sense For School Administrators

Ms. Cornelius of A Shrewdness of Apes has some advice that really should be read by school administrators and wannabees:
1. Have meetings only if you have something to say. Holding meetings for the sake of holding meetings, or to show the higher-ups that you hold regular meetings, wastes valuable time for everyone. This is especially important in the days before the school year actually starts. Teachers are trying to get their classrooms ready-- sometimes after the summer maintenance staff has broken or misplaced half of their belongings-- and the last thing they need is for you to read a Powerpoint presentation to them like they are preschoolers.

And how do you find something to say? Walk out amongst us, into the school, into the classroom, into the hallways. Stay current on what's going on in education. Ask people what they need and what they think. Then take that seriously.

2. Telling a room full of people you appreciate them is very nice indeed. Telling five individuals on your staff you appreciate something specific they have done is far nicer.

Of course it requires more work, not to mention attention to detail. But consider what you ask your teachers and staff to do in the course of every school day. This can be done. It SHOULD be done. And it shouldn't be done just to people who hang around your office. This behavior also shows that you know what is going on in the classrooms and hallways.
Please consider going over to her place and reading the whole thing.

Those or you who are school administrators or admin wannabees (but more especially those a who have little or no classroom teaching experience themselves) can save yourselves a whole lot of time by giving some serious thought about what Ms. Cornelius has to say.

You'll be a better leader for it.


The Quote Of The Day

Today's quote comes from British statesman William Pitt the Elder:
The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the Crown. It may be frail—its roof may shake—the wind may blow through it—the storm may enter—the rain may enter—but the King of England cannot enter!—all his forces dare not cross the threshold of the ruined tenement!
In these days of American governments stealing taking-away private homes (through the U.S. Supreme Law-Making Junta Court's "reinterpretation" of eminent domain) in order to give said property to another private individual or company whose stated purpose is their own financial gain, Pitt's poignant thought makes me downright sentimental.


Carnival Call!

Entries for the 187th edition of The Carnival Of Education (Hosted this week over at Lead from the Start.) are due. Please email them to: johnmholland [at] gmail [dot] com . (Or, easier yet, use this handy submission form.) Submissions should be received no later than 7:00 PM (Eastern) 4:00 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 over at SharpBrains, right here.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the midway should open Wednesday.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Labor Day 2008: What Was Old May Be New Again

All is quiet; campuses around the country are closed.

Meanwhile, it has been brought to our attention that at least one Arizona school board member is advocating a return to the good old days,
when school started after Labor Day:
One member of the Scottsdale School Board claims a lot of money could be saved if schools statewide started after the Labor Day weekend.

Many schools, including those in Scottsdale, now start in mid-August, which Dieter Schaeffer noted is a month of high-energy use.

Schaeffer wants state lawmakers to start looking at a statewide calendar in which all schools would start after Labor Day.

``The reason for that is, I believe, that there are some significant resources available to us by reducing electricity usage."

Schaeffer said he hopes discussions with legislators, educators and others can start this year.

He said it could take a couple of years to put the plan in motion.

"This is a huge issue that involves universities as well as testing institutions, the whole sports arena -- football, soccer -- and, of course, the legislators."

The first steps are getting cost-saving estimates from Salt River Project and Arizona Public Service Co. and opening up a healthy debate, he said.

He wants the entire state to study moving classes out of the peak summer months for electricity use.

Schaeffer said if the state would save money on school power bills, it could put more money into classrooms.

"I don't want to reduce the academic teaching time. But if we can reduce our energy usage, we can put that money in the classroom," he said.
I don't know if starting after Labor Day will make much difference in Arizona, but out here in the blistering hot wasteland that is California's so-called "Imperial" Valley, we always experience a fairly large number of enrollments the day after Labor Day when vacationing families return to town.

And in this post-NCLB world, the fewer number of days missed by students the better.