Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Teachers Behaving Badly Department: Debra Beasley Lafave UPDATE

(Please see latest updates at bottom of page.) Back in June of this year, 23-year-old Teacher Debra Beasley Lafave was arrested on a charge of having sex numerous times with a 14-year-old boy that attended her Tampa, Florida middle school.

The encounters had occurred in her classroom, her bedroom, and in the back of her SUV as it was being driven about town by her victim's 15-year-old cousin.

After her arrest, she was released on a relatively modest bail of only $25,000.

There has been much discussion around the 'Wonks school site as to why a young, tall, attractive, that looks like this
would molest a 14-year-old child. (Be sure to scroll all the way down after arriving at the site.)

It's not about the way this miscreant looks, it's about her actions. She is simply proof that evil can (and does) come in pretty packages.

According to the victim, Lafave enjoyed the thrill of having illicit sex with an underage minor.
On CNN's Anderson Cooper 360, it was indicated that Lafave will use the insanity defense as an excuse for her despicable actions. When asked for a reaction, the prosecutor stated, "I was not surprised."

In a video clip, Lafave's attorney said, "Debbie has some profound emotional issues that are not her fault." He went on to say, "I think that once anyone reads what the doctors have to say they will understand a lot more about what happened here.

We agree, this criminal had profound issues alright, but they are her fault. This disgusting little creature abused the sacred bond of trust between student and teachers. There should be a special variety of hell for her.

Unfortunately, her trial is not even scheduled to begin until April of 2005. Considering that this monster was arrested in June, we think that delaying the trial that long is simply idiotic.

As with other similar cases, we have to ask a question: What if the molester had been a 23-year-old male teacher and the victim a 14-year-old female student?

Latest Posts/Main Page

Update: (03/22/06) It looks as if LaFave will escape jail altogether. (With links to ABC story about what many view as a double standard.)

Update: (11/22/05) Debra Lafave Has Copped A Plea! More here.
Update: (1/25/05) To see latest Debra Lefave update, please click here.
Update: Drudge is listing info from a local TV station here.
Update: (12/03) David Anderson over at
ISOU has the latest video and audio tapes!
Update: (12/03 PM) The Smoking Gun has more photos and relevant legal documents.
Update: (12/04) Kevin over at Wizbang! links to information from a local CBS affiliate.

Political Correctism Run Amok Files: Wartime Idiocy

Can Be Kept Out Of Colleges!
Universities and Colleges may now bar military recruiters from their campuses. The New York Times is reporting that the United States Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit (in Philadelphia) has now said that these institutions of "higher learning" have a First Amendment right to keep recruiters off their property.

Of course the schools get to keep all the federal funding that they are now receiving.

The rationale? The Idiot Court says that because the military does not allow practicing gays (don't ask; don't tell) in the military, then colleges may prohibit recruitment activities in protest.

To add insult to injury, the court cited a Supreme Court Decision (2000) that allowed the boy scouts to bar gay scoutmasters.

We here at the 'Wonks think that this is judicial activism at its worst.

Specifically, this despicable act can be laid at the door of several law schools, some of which did not have the courage to "go public," with their asinine lawsuit.

Some might say that obstructing military recruiters from seeking volunteers during wartime is tantamount to treason.

Note To Academia: Has anyone told you people that our nation is at war?

Update:(PM) Bill O'Reilly has opined that this ruling is in retaliation for the Supreme Courts ruling in favor of the Boy Scouts.

Home Schooling Becoming More Mainstream

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is telling us that Home schooling is becoming more widespread. In the past, the stereotypical home schooling situation consisted of families with ultra-conservative morals or religious viewpoints.

According to the article, more parents are choosing to home school because they feel that the public school system is failing to serve the needs of their children.

According to a study by the United States Department Of Education, the reasons why parents choose to home school their children are:
  • 31 percent because of concerns about the environment found with schools
  • 30 percent cited a need to give their children religious or moral instruction
  • 16 percent dissatisfied with the academic instruction offered by schools
  • 9 percent stated reasons such as family unity and individualized instruction
  • 7 percent indicated physical or mental health concerns of the child
  • 7 percent said that their child had some other special need

Clearly, home schooling is becoming more and more popular, across a broad spectrum of America. People are choosing to home school in order to give their kids something that the public school system can't (or won't) provide.

We here at the 'Wonks know that it is currently fashionable to use terms from the "business world" when referring to educational issues, so that is what we will do.

In cases where the underlying cause of customer dissatisfaction with our product is religious in nature (about 1 in 3) it may not be possible to sufficiently modify the system to attract those particular customers.

Almost half of customers that do not choose to use our product are unhappy with the product's quality.

When seeking solutions as to how to improve market share, the question that the Educational Industry should be asking itself is this:

Why are so many of our customers rejecting our product and choosing to look elsewhere?

Monday, November 29, 2004

Political Correctism Run Amok Files: Teacher Forbidden To Use Declaration Of Independence: UPDATE

Politically Incorrect?
As the 'Wonks profiled here last Wednesday, Principal Patricia Vidmar, of Stevens Creek School, is apparently prohibiting fifth-grade teacher Steve Williams from using The Declaration Of Independence and other documents from the Revolutionary period as teaching aids in history class. According to Williams, this is because the documents reference God.

This evening, William's appeared on the Hannity and Colmes show. (Fox News) Also appearing was one of the attorney's that is representing Williams. According to Williams, it all started when a student questioned him about the Flag Pledge. The same day, a parent complained about the "under God" clause in the Pledge.

At this point, Principal Vidmar began monitoring Williams, and requiring that any materials mentioning God be submitted to her (in advance) for approval.

Sean Hannity requested clarification about handouts and the submission of lesson plans. According to Williams, the principal began requiring the submission of teaching aids after "a handful" of parents complained about "God" being included in the documents. The principal then barred use of the papers, because the documents were of "a religious nature."

The 'Wonks contacted Stevens Creek School and The Cupertino Union School District. Both declined to comment on the matter.

The Cupertino Union School District has released this statement (via Fox)

"The district...believes that well-established constitutional principles relating to the separation of church and state must prevail. The district has not violated the constitutional rights of Mr. Williams or any other person. The district denies the allegations in the complaint and has referred the case to its attorneys."

Essentially, Williams re-affirmed the versions of this story that have been published the last few days. The District's statement is what it appears to be.

It is a note written by lawyers for lawyers.

We here at the 'Wonks are very interested in this story. Here in California, districts have traditionally had the right to implement (and exclude) whichever curriculum they choose. This is done under the general supervision of the district's superintendent.

We will continue to update this story as conditions warrant.

The Disgusting Little Creatures Department: Sixteen-Year-Old Alleged Killer Rachelle Waterman

Like many teenage girls, Rachelle Waterman kept a daily diary. And like many modern teens, the old-fashioned diary has evolved into a blog. What makes her blog so very different is the final posting, in which she casually tells the world that her mother has been murdered. She titled her blog, "My Crappy Life," and you can read that final posting here.

In her blog, she writes about many things: "handy" boys; winning the regional championships; vodka soaked watermelon; her "parental units;" wicca; cool boys; shopping; her $10.00 part-time job; and going out to parties until 2:30 AM... And she writes about the police arriving to impound her computer so that the hard drive can be searched.

She was arrested on a charge of murder soon afterwards.

Did the little brat plot to kill her mom for marrying an Evil Step-father? No. Was her father molesting her? No. Was her mother beating her? No. Was a dog telling her to do it? No.

As reported by the
Anchorage Daily News, this 16 year old accused murderess may have wanted to "get even" with her mother for grounding her. It is alleged that Rachelle did this by getting two 24-year-old men to kill her mom while she was in Anchorage playing in the state volleyball tournament.

The victim, Laurie Waterman, was 48 years old....

Update: (P.M.) David at I.S.O.U. has posted some thoughts and Digger has photographs of the people involved.

Those Federal Tests Again!

Schools everywhere are under enormous pressure to raise test scores. This is being done partly to appease parents and other local groups, but mostly in order to keep an overbearing federal government from labeling schools as underperforming. Educators are exploring all possible avenues for increasing those test scores, ever how incrementally.

Kentucky's Lexington Herald-Leader is reporting that a new state rule requires that students that have attended a school less than 100 days should not have their scores count when measuring the school's overall performance. This has resulted in some 7000 students having their scores excluded for this year. The scores do count for the purpose of assessing the district and state.

It is the 'Wonks opinion that this is a good policy. Before a particular child's test score is used to measure a given school's performance, common sense would dictate that the school should have a fair opportunity to instruct the pupil.

And yet even this common sense approach is being heavily criticized. And you can bet that the most vociferous critics are people that have never worked in a classroom, and wouldn't do so on a bet.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

The Disgusting Little Creatures Department: The Successors Of Terrorist Arafat, Part II

The Next Thief In Chief?
Meet Mahmoud Abbas alias Abu Mazen. With the apparent withdrawal of Terrorist Barghouthi (See Part I here.) from the squabble over who will be the next "President" of the Palestinian "Authority," Abbas is considered by many to be the likely successor to Terrorist Arafat. To read biographical information, please click here, and here.

In an
interview from today's Washington Post, Abbas makes some very encouraging noises about wanting to resume negotiations with the Israelis, but here at the 'Wonks, we don't believe Abbas is sincere for a moment. And here is why:

Since the death of Terrorist Arafat, Abbas has been the Chairman of the Palestinian "Liberation" Organization, which was, is, and always will be, a terrorist group. According to his bio, Abbas was a member of the inner circle of the PLO when its operatives murdered Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics.

The criminal mastermind behind the Munich massacre, Abu Doud, said that Abbas obtained funding for the operation, and thus shares much responsibility for this despicable act. In the judgment of the 'Wonks, Abbas has yet to be tried in court or pay in any way for this crime.

It is said by the media that both the United States and Israeli governments favor the selection of Abbas as leader of the Palestinian "Authority." They believe that Abbas is a "pragmatist" that will negotiate in good faith.

We don't know about negotiating in "good faith," but we are sure that Abbas and his cronies will continue to enrich themselves with even more UN/US aid money. We can be so certain because we know more aid dollars will begin flowing to the Palestinian "Authority" as a gesture of "good faith."

As with Terrorist Arafat, Abbas' (and his relatives') bank accounts will soon be bulging with money from graft, corruption, extortion, and a variety of other illicit schemes.

And without a doubt, some of that stolen aid money will find its way into the hands of the "al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades" (suicide bombers) and other equally criminal organizations.

We are equally certain that little or nothing will be done to alleviate the grinding poverty that the Palestinian people have lived in for countless years. The fact that the great majority of Palestinian children have very few (if any) educational opportunities is in itself a crime that can be directly attributed to the miscreants that control the Palestinian "Authority."

Even though it may sound harsh to some readers of the 'Wonks, as with Terrorist Barghouthi, we have learned enough about this individual's past history to bestow upon Abbas the sobriquet "Terrorist." This is because he chose to involve himself with Terrorist Arafat's murderous group, and has stayed with them for over 40 years.

In the words of the old-time Code Of The West, "If you ride with outlaws, you hang with outlaws." Terrorist Abbas continues riding with outlaws.

The Strange Case Of The U.S. Fighter That Strafed A New Jersey Middle School: Update

The Real Story?
As we initially reported November 5th and updated November 10th, (When we became certain of a gov'ment cover-up.) an Air National Guard F-16 jet fighter strafed a New Jersey middle school on the evening of November 3, 2004.

After too many meetings and too much investigation, the gov'ment now knows how to keep this from happening again. (If you accept the "accident" theory.) According to the latest
source, pilots are being issued a preliminary directive: "Don't take the gun-safety off until you are over the target area."

Two boards, several community groups, and three busybodies continue to meet and investigate.....(ha, ha, ha,)

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Who? Me? HIM?

Many folks have been taking these personality tests lately. Digger is inviting people to take the version called, "What type of leader are you?" (See link and text below photo.) He would then like the results trackbacked to his site. Having never taken one of these quizzes, (fear?) I took my first one. Here you see the surprising results of my test. (I am still chuckling!) I really don' know if I should

What Famous Leader Are You?
personality tests by similarminds.com
be shocked, pleased, frightened, or all three. Digger indicated that this test came to him via SortaPundit who got it from Unabrewer.

Students Behaving Badly Files: Stupidity In One Of Canada's Most Elite Private Schools

Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper has a story of a couple of students from one of Canada's elite private prep schools pulling an asinine anti-Semitic "joke" in the school's year book. The "joke" was some sort of code inserted into email addresses of students.

The slur called for the death of all Jews. Fortunately, the plot was discovered before the yearbook was distributed. All 1000 copies were destroyed.

What happened to the malefactors? Nothing, as they had already left the school. Hopefully, they will at least have to pay for all the books destroyed, plus a reprint.

The school's options are limited, as the brats involved have already graduated, gotten their diplomas, and skedaddled. Perhaps the police will charge the two miscreants with a "Hate Crime." But that is doubtful. After all, the "better sort" take care of these things privately.

This is the second incident in the last few weeks at this particular school. Just last month, several students were "disciplined" for attempting to pass counterfeit money. This "discipline" consisted of 1-5 day suspensions, so we here at the 'Wonks thoroughly understand what the rules are for the children of Canada's elite.

Parents pay around $10,000 (US) tuition to send their kids to this institution of higher "learning."

More UN Idiocy: Like Father, Like Son

We here at the 'Wonks have been carefully following the antics of UN Autocrat Koffi Annan and the absolutely scandalous "Oil For Food" swindle. For months, we have been hearing tidbits here and tidbits there about Koffi Annan's son, Kojo Annan.

The New York Sun has some details about all the shenanigans embezzlement that Kojo was pulling while he was working for his daddy. It's a sad story about intrigue, monetary kick-backs, and other criminal behavior.

I now think that its about time that we asked the United Nations to leave New York City and find more suitable accommodations in some other place. The first choice that springs to mind would be Switzerland. But if those sensible, if somewhat secretive people, don't want anything to do with the UN, perhaps Paris or Berlin Bejing will do.

Kids Hit Jackpot For Ditching Class (25 years ago)

One More Brick...
When I was a KidWonk, I liked to listen to just about any type of music from just about any era. This included the English group Pink Floyd. My favorite album of theirs was called The Wall. The two marching hammers that you see were developed to promote the album, and are used by TeachWonk when writing the Diaries.

The album features several unforgettable songs. To me, the best of the tunes was called "Another Brick In The Wall." A few weeks ago, out of the blue, TeachWonk and myself started discussing the songs. But neither of us could remember the title, as it had been many years, since we were in our "Retro" phases. One of our Faculty members, Temujin, over at
West Coast Chaos, came to the rescue when TeachWonk called the song by an incorrect name.

The song itself had a chorus with a bunch of kids singing, "We don't need no education... We don't need no thought control... No dark sarcasms in the classroom... Teacher, leave those kids alone. Etc." This song has served as an anthem for rebellious high school students ever since its release back in 1979.

Now we learn that after 25 years, the kids that were singing the chorus to that song are
suing to get royalties . We were surprised to learn that the kids singing that song were a real class of London school children who had "sneaked off" to the recording studio along with their teacher.

There was just one problem. The teacher had not gotten permission from his principal to do so. The kids sang their songs, the teacher was reprimanded, and the whole episode became something of a local legend.

Maybe I could get a little pocket money for my "singing" the part of Simon Zealot (several years ago) in my University's production of Jesus Christ, Superstar.

Teacher's Note To Parents: If Not Charter Schools, Then What?

Boi From Troy asks some very good questions regarding the revelation that charter schools are not performing as well as had been promised. In fact, many charter schools are performing worse than public schools in some cases. An original Hero of the 'Wonks, Boi has asked our opinion regarding the matter, and we are happy to oblige.

The disillusionment with the charter school movement has left many parents scratching their heads and thinking, "What can be done for my child?" For those parents that are dis-satisfied with their local public schools and can't, (or won't) send their children to private schools, there are basically only two choices, neither of which are easy.

The Case For Vouchers

Many parents would prefer a system of government vouchers that could be used by parents to offset the cost of tuition at the private or public school of their choice. Vouchers appear to be a very attractive alternative to poorly performing public schools, and are favored by many parents as a viable solution to the challenge of getting their children an excellent education.

However, there are many challenges confronting those that favor a voucher system. The history of the voucher movement in California is typical of what has occurred in most states.

Due to the political realities found in California's perpetually Democratic-controlled State Assembly, it is highly unlikely that a voucher system would become law through the usual legislative method. Therefore, the only option available to those seeking vouchers would be through the initiative/referendum process.

The last time that the voters went to the polls and voted on a voucher proposal, (Proposition 38, November 2000) it was rejected by an overwhelming margin. Arguably, the measure was defeated by the millions of dollars spent on television advertisements by the California Teachers Association.

The CTA is not an open, democratic organization. It is a "legalized syndicate" that is controlled by a self-appointed cabal that is extremely liberal in its outlook.

CTA officers are not elected by teachers, and due to "closed shop" laws, all teachers are forced to pay dues to the organization. This guarantees a huge amount of cash that can (and will) be spent opposing any voucher proposal. Reform of the syndicate (union) is highly unlikely, due to the fact that the rank-and-file have no say in the positions adopted by the union. Therefore, CTA will continue to oppose any voucher proposal in the foreseeable future.

The initiative method requires huge amounts of money, organization, and time to even be placed on the ballot. All of which parents do not have an unlimited supply of. Even if such a measure were again put to a vote, due to the political and financial clout wielded by CTA, it is very unlikely that the measure will fare any better than in 2000.

The above scenario has been played out in most states that have held a vote on school vouchers. Even in the best case scenario, it will be many years before a voucher system can be in place here in California. And in our opinion, Washington's talk of vouchers is simply so much election-year rhetoric. However, with Republican control of both the Executive and Legislative branches of the federal government, there is a real possibility of some type of voucher being adopted sometime within the next few years.

Today's parents need a solution that may be of help with their children.

The Case For Using Certain Provisions Of Federal Law:

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about how some well-to-do parents are using a little-known provision of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) that enables them to transfer gifted and talented children out of failing schools and into schools that would better serve their child's needs. An article from The Washington Post served as a reference.

But to use the law, a child need not be enrolled in any gifted, talented, or special education class. What will win the day will be your persistence. Since the law is federal, it is applicable in all 50 states.

Almost any community will have at least one outstanding public school. Your objective as a parent is to get your child into the best school that is available.

Under NCLB, a large number of schools have been labeled as underperforming. And according to the law, any parent has a right to transfer his or her child from such a school into the public school of their choice if room is available. The first step is to contact your local school's principal and find out if it has been classified as "underperforming." If it is, then apply to transfer your child. It is also imperative that you research your school district's policies regarding time lines for the application which must be followed to the letter.

It is of foremost importance that you do not give school administrators any legal excuse to bar your child from the school that you wish to enroll him or her (or them) in.

Parents have found that school administrators will invariably say that such a transfer is not possible, due to a variety of reasons including, "We don't have any room." Yet if parents are persistent and threaten to go up the "chain of command" they will almost always be told, "A space has just opened up." To most school administrators, a quiet school is a happy school. A loud and persistent parent is a threat to his or her job and must be accommodated.

Do not hesitate to make a credible threat to complain to the school board. That is every administrator's nightmare, and is a parent's "ace in the hole."

As a parent and classroom teacher with many years of service, I have learned that when parents act in a calm yet persistent fashion, they can and will often be able to obtain an excellent public school education for their children. The key is not to accept "no" for an answer.

Mortarboard Tip: Boi From Troy
Update: Joanne Jacobs has some interesting thoughts about Charter Schools.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Not A Good Day For Grace

1 for the good guys
This afternoon, I was getting caught up on some of my reading, and I found that David Anderson over at "In Search of Utopia," had replied to one of those scam emails that we all get on a regular basis. The scammer, Grace Mogan (sic) actually sent back an answer to David.

angry retort is side-splittingly funny. As can be seen by her missive, Grace could certainly use some lessons in the proper spelling and use of English invective.

Isn't it wonderful to see one of those bottom-feeding email scammers get all emotional?

From The Leave Those Kids Alone Department: Two In Nevada

The bad thing is the Las Vegas Sun has a shocking story of two Clark County Nevada teachers that have just had their teaching credentials revoked by the state.

  1. Newell Earl Leavitt, middle school teacher in Henderson, plead guilty to a charge of statutory seduction of a teenager and is now serving a 2-8 year prison term.
  2. Byron Covert, elementary school teacher in Laughlin, that plead guilty to the possession of child pornography. This miscreant didn't even get any jail time, but has been sentenced to 5 years of probation.

The worse thing is the relatively light sentences that these criminals received for their crimes.

The worst thing is that it took the State of Nevada more than three years to getting around to revoking these teachers' credentials after they confessed to their crimes.

Disgusting Little Creatures Department: Michael Jackson

What is he?
The Smoking Gun has the latest installment of this Disgusting Little Creature's tale of justice delayed, justice denied. Only the ones being denied justice are his multiple victims. Michael Jackson actually has the 'nads audacity to petition the court that is trying him to have his 14 year-old accuser subjected to a mental examination.

This rascal remains a threat to every child within his field of vision. He needs to be jailed without further delay.

Everyone can see that Jackson is a nutcase. Most people have known it for years. The real mystery are those idiots fans that continue to chant their undying adoration of this sorry excuse for an "entertainer."

The Disgusting Little Creatures Department: Terrorist Arafat's Successors, Part I

Face Of Evil
You are looking at the face of evil. This is the worst of the terrorists that are squabbling over Terrorist Arafat's former "post" as "President" of the Palestinian "Authority." This particular scoundrel's name is Marwan Barghouthi.

He is currently serving 5 life sentences for the murder of innocent Israeli civilians.

According to
The New York Times, this malefactor has decided to run as an independent candidate for the "Presidency." It seems that among many Palestinians, this disgusting little creature has achieved a measure of popularity, and may even win.

Only an organization as dysfunctional as the Palestinian "Authority" would even consider allowing a jailed killer on the ballot for a "Presidential" election. This "Authority" suppresses dissent, keeps its people living in conditions of squalor, and "educates" children in overcrowded/poorly maintained schools.

At the same time, this "Authority" steals hundreds of millions of dollars in United Nations aid money. This theft is done through corruption, graft, extortion, and a variety of kick-back schemes.

While the Palestinian people live in grinding poverty, the elite are appointed to positions in the Palestinian "Authority" where they rapidly obtain well-paid sinecures for themselves and their relatives. These jackals live lives of luxury and ease. They want for nothing, as is the case with Suha, the "widow" of Terrorist Arafat.

Should Barghouthi win the "election," international pressure will be mounted on the Israelis to turn him loose.

We here at the 'Wonks hope that the Israelis will resist pressure to free this murderer, and keep him in close confinement for the rest of his life. Furthermore, we hope that the Bush Administration will support Israel in its efforts to combat this lunacy.

Because of his history of murdering civilians, the 'Wonks will bestow upon this miscreant the sobriquet that we used with Arafat: Terrorist. It is too bad that Israel doesn't give these crazed monsters the "dance lessons with a rope," that they so richly deserve.

Update: (afternoon) It is now being reported that Terrorist Barghouthi has changed his mind and will not be a candidate for the "Presidency" of the Palestinian "Authority." Hopefully, he won't reconsider. He has endorsed his erstwhile opponent, Mahmoud Abbas.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

The Rumors Are True: Kids Can't Thank God In Maryland

This story has been all over the blogosphere, and it seems to be true, though at first we could not believe it. Fox News is reporting that in the state of Maryland, students are not to be taught that the feast of Thanksgiving was initially held to show appreciation to God for a bountiful harvest.

Educational Bureaucrats, not teachers, imposed this ridiculous policy. We would like to know the answer to a couple of questions.
  1. "How did these people get on our side?"
  2. And after a person is hired in a $200,000+ Education Department job, do they automatically throw away whatever common sense that they might have had?

The Bureaucrats that made this idiotic decision need to get a grip, buy some clues, or borrow a few brain cells.

The Corner and a Dunce Cap for 'em!

Update: George over at Alamo Nation has a good comprehensive posting of the issues surrounding this lunacy.

President Bush's Thanksgiving Proclamation

Reproduced below is President Bush's Proclamation honoring Thanksgiving Day. Considering all the challenges that are currently confronting the nation, it speaks very well for itself:



All across America, we gather this week with the people we love to give thanks to God for the blessings in our lives. We are grateful for our freedom, grateful for our families and friends, and grateful for the many gifts of America. On Thanksgiving Day, we acknowledge that all of these things, and life itself, come from the Almighty God.

Almost four centuries ago, the Pilgrims celebrated a harvest feast to thank God after suffering through a brutal winter. President George Washington proclaimed the first National Day of Thanksgiving in 1789, and President Lincoln revived the tradition during the Civil War, asking Americans to give thanks with "one heart and one voice." Since then, in times of war and in times of peace, Americans have gathered with family and friends and given thanks to God for our blessings.

Thanksgiving is also a time to share our blessings with those who are less fortunate. Americans this week will gather food and clothing for neighbors in need. Many young people will give part of their holiday to volunteer at homeless shelters and food pantries. On Thanksgiving, we remember that the true strength of America lies in the hearts and souls of the American people. By seeking out those who are hurting and by lending a hand, Americans touch the lives of their fellow citizens and help make our Nation and the world a better place.

This Thanksgiving, we express our gratitude to our dedicated firefighters and police officers who help keep our homeland safe. We are grateful to the homeland security and intelligence personnel who spend long hours on faithful watch. And we give thanks for the Americans in our Armed Forces who are serving around the world to secure our country and advance the cause of freedom. These brave men and women make our entire Nation proud, and we thank them and their families for their sacrifice.

On this Thanksgiving Day, we thank God for His blessings and ask Him to continue to guide and watch over our Nation.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 25, 2004, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage all Americans to gather together in their homes and places of worship to reinforce the ties of family and community and to express gratitude for the many blessings we enjoy.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-third day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-ninth.


Update: Kevin at Wizbang! has President Washington's original Thanksgiving Proclamation, The Commissar's Politburo Diktat has President Lincoln's Proclamation from the war year of 1863, The Musc Tiger gives some historical background, and Michelle Makin lists a variety of Blogosphere Thanksgiving tributes.

Students Needing To Attend Holiday School: Thanksgiving Edition

Class Is In Session!
As it is Thanksgiving Day, regular school is in recess, and the building is empty. In an effort to maximize resources and make the fullest use of school facilities, there will be a special session of classes held on Thanksgiving. The following students have been referred to attend this session, as their grades are less than satisfactory, and are in need of further instruction.

  1. President George Bush: Is receiving an "F" in Current Affairs 101 for not completing his project titled "Catching or Killing Osama Bin Laden." This student may still receive a passing grade for the course if he completes his project A.S.A.P.
  2. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger: Did not pass his introductory class in fiscal responsibility owing to the fact that California still faces an 8 billion dollar deficit and a redundant, burgeoning, and out-of-control educational bureaucracy.
  3. Democratic Nominee John F Kerry: Earned an "F" in Government 101 due to the fact that his essays entitled "My Plan For America," and "How I Will Win The War" were not clearly written, and thus failed to engage/persuade readers. He may need to repeat the course in order to earn a passing grade.
  4. Representative Nancy (San Fran Nan) Pelosi: Got an "F" in her strategic planning class for being unable to help assemble a broad coalition of voters in order to forge a united party for the purpose of defeating a weakened incumbent president. She also gets an "F" in her public relations course for certain remarks made after the election.
  5. Principal Patricia Vidmar: Administratrix in the Cupertino, California School District, who received an "F" in school administration class for not satisfactorily addressing the concerns of one of her teachers regarding the use of The Declaration Of Independence as a teaching aid. This oversight by Vidmar has enabled the situation to escalate out of control.
  6. N.E.A. President Reg Weaver: This pupil received an "F" in business, because he continues to invest throw away his union's syndicate's funds supporting unsuccessful political campaigns, and has failed to back even one "winning horse."
  7. The United States Congress: Collectively flunked their course in Civics 101 by not declaring war on Terrorism and abdicating this responsibility to the Executive Branch. They also receive a "0" in Military Science 101 for choosing not to mobilize the American people in support of the war effort.
  8. Indiana Pacer Ron Artest: Earned an "F" in physical education due to his pivotal role in accelerating a minor fracas into one of the most disgraceful episodes in the history of American professional sports.
  9. Dr. Phil McGraw: Gets an "F" is science, due to his failure to grasp the scientific principles of "over-exposure."
  10. Donald Trump: He has earned an "F" in Accounting 101 for allowing his firm to slip into bankruptcy. Secondly, this pupil receives an "F" in logic, as he has publicly declared that the bankruptcy was a "Success." Lastly, Trump gets an "F" in science for also failing to grasp the fundamental concepts of "over-exposure." With three "F"s on his report card, Trump receives the "Dunce Cap" for this session.

All the aforementioned students are directed to report to school no later then 8:15 AM, on the day indicated, for remedial instruction. Readers are invited to suggest other individuals that need to be enrolled for the next special school session.

Update: In his 26th Show Trial, The Commissar has also assembled a list of persons that are in need of correction, and has given us teachers an idea or two regarding the punishment of certain students....

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

The Political Correctism Run Amok Files: The Banning Of The Declaration Of Independence In A Public School System

Founding Fathers
In what may be one of the worst examples of Political Correctism Run Amok in recent years, we here at the 'Wonks have learned that there may possibly be an attempt being made to bar students from reading aloud the Declaration Of Independence in at least one large public school district.

This possible assault on American Culture is occurring in (you guessed it) California.

What is being alleged is that an elementary school teacher named Steve Williams has been told by his principal, Patricia Vidmar, that the Cupertino Union School District does not approve of teachers using materials in American History lessons that reference God and religion.

The rationale behind this possible suppressing of the reading of the Declaration of Independence (If it can be termed a rationale.) is due to the various references to the Deity that may be found in Thomas Jefferson's monumental work. This teacher has also been told that he may not use George Washington's writings for the same reasons.

According to the Source, the Principal requires that this ONE teacher turn in lesson plans for approval, along with any handouts that the teacher wishes to use in class.

Now the lawyers have gotten involved. A group called "The Alliance Defense Fund" has actually filed a lawsuit in order to get this ridiculous policy reversed.

If the facts are as stated, we here at the 'Wonks think that this attempt to excise all reference to God is asinine, in that the founding fathers (Many of which did not attend church services on a regular basis.) repeatedly referred to God in many of their writings.

Here at the 'Wonks, we hope to obtain a satisfactory explanation as to what is going on, because it is our past experience that rarely are the issues as clear-cut as is indicated by the above source.

Investigating the matter further, we have some reason to question the objectivity of the above source, as their writing seems somewhat more sympathetic to one side of the dispute. Therefore, we would like to withhold judgment until we get a chance to personally speak with school representatives and get their side of the story.

Being California teachers, we know which questions to ask.

Several attempts to contact Stevens Creek School by The Education Wonks early this afternoon were unsuccessful, as classes are in recess for the Thanksgiving Holiday. We will try again Monday. The 'Wonks will update this story as circumstances warrant.

Mortarboard Tips: Diggers Realm and Right Thinking From The Left Coast

Update: Kevin at Wizbang! has additional information from another source.

Update: The Smoking Gun has the legal documents pertinent to the lawsuit.

Update: (26 Nov) An education writer, Joanne Jacobs, has some interesting additional information. Fox's The O'Reilly Factor profiled this case, with emphasis on the failure of the school's administration to satisfactorily resolve the conflict.

The Teachers Behaving Badly Department: Drivers' Ed Teacher Busted!

Jay Tea of Wizbang! has posted a story about one Arthur Desmeules, a public school driving instructor that was arrested for drunk driving while on his way to pick up his students for a driving lesson. Since it's Wizbang!'s story please click here and visit them to get the juicy details about the drunk, the district's car, and the accident.

Filed From The Luxor Hotel, Las Vegas: Why Is This "Doctor" Smiling?

This very happy man is 51 year-old "Doctor" Andre J. Hornsby, Superintendent of the Prince George County, Maryland school system. Some possible explanations for this man's smile might be:

  • His live-in girlfriend, Sienna Owens, is 26 years old.
  • Girlfriend Owens just got a big promotion (annual salary: $100,000+) from her employer, LeapFrog SchoolHouse (sic) an "educational technology firm."
  • The Superintendent bought over $1,000,000 worth of services from LeapFrog 2 months before his live-in girlfriend's big promotion, which helped solve some "technical difficulties" that the good superintendent was having both at home and at work.
  • Due to Hornsby's networking contacts, LeapFrog is in an ideal position to sell even more services to other large districts, thereby earning his 26 year-old girlfriend another big promotion, which help put an even bigger smile on the 51 year-old Hornsby's face.
  • Hornsby was recalling all the fun that he had during a 10 day junket to South Africa last year. All expenses were paid for by another vender (Plato Learning) that is now seeking a large contract from Hornsby's district. This may result in further opportunities for vender-paid travel, resulting in even more smiles.
  • Hornsby is thinking about his $250,000 annual salary. (Who says public education doesn't pay?) That kind of money is enough to put a grin on anyone's face.
  • His delighted mien is caused by the knowledge that three years remain on his contract.
  • Hornsby always wanted to be a G-Man when he played cops-and-robbers as a kid. Since he is now the subject of a federal probe, he is finally getting his chance to interact with some real G-Men.

The Baltimore Sun is as curious to know why this man is as delighted as us here at the 'Wonks are, and we are quite sure that they are going to continue to be interested.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Filed From The Luxor Hotel, Las Vegas: Black Rock Makes A Move

Will Be Gone!!
ABC News(!) is reporting that Dan Rather has announced that he will make his last broadcast as the anchor of CBS news on March 9, 2005. The final broadcast will be 24 years to the day after he made his debut as the permanent host of the evening news. He will continue working full-time on "60 Minutes."

Bruce Morton of CNN said, "He was the most controversial of the news anchors." Morton went on to state that his "Ratherisms" such as, "That dog won't hunt," will be missed by everyone. We here at the 'Wonks agree that he was the most controversial of the broadcast news anchors, but it is a matter of individual opinion whether or not the "Ratherisms" will be missed.

Some will argue that he was a "victim" of the Rathergate incident. We disagree. Rather was a victim of his own hubris. He simply didn't check his facts, and when his pajama-clad (or not) colleagues out in the blogosphere pointed-out his inconsistencies, Rather continued to "stick to his story," and refused to even consider that documents alleging that George Bush had received preferential treatment during his Air National Guard service could even possibly be forged.

Only when the evidence became overwhelming, did he reluctantly admit that the network had been lax in its verification of the sources.
Dan Rather did this to himself.

Update: Jay over at Wizbang! has more to say about Rather. The Commissar at The Politburo Diktat also makes some excellent points regarding Rather's imminent retirement from the anchor's desk, and Robbie at The Devil's Advocate has some good thoughts.

Filed From The Luxor Hotel, Las Vegas: Fun With Pipes

The LadyWonk and myself went out last night and saw these guys. They are called, "The Blue Man Group." If you haven't caught the act, I recommend that you do. Its a fast-paced, fun, and interactive show.

They are billed as, "Three Enigmatic Male Figures," which is as accurate a description as any that may be given to them. Without giving away the show, I can say that what they do is make excellent music out of a variety of everyday objects, involve the audience in unusual ways, and leave you with a vaguely uneasy feeling about what awaits us in the future. Think of it as Metropolis meets The Drumline.

All of this is done without a single word of dialogue.

After viewing the performance, you won't be able to think of plumbing, crepe paper, marshmallows, bubble gum, and Captain Crunch in quite the same way as before. If you go, whatever you do, don't arrive late. Should you do so, you may very well become a part of the show in a very unexpected way.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Filed From The Luxor Hotel, Las Vegas: Lou Dobbs Continues The Good Fight

Wonks' Hero Lou Dobbs
On this evening's edition of Lou Dobbs, (CNN) we learned that the Administration is opposing a bill that would forbid illegal immigrants undocumented persons from getting driver's licenses anywhere within the United States. This bill is sponsored by Republican Congressman James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin.

He and his ally, Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter of California, continue to oppose passing the "Intelligence Reform Bill," until safeguards are placed within the law to expedite the deportation of illegals undocumented persons. The two Congressmen say that enforcing our border and immigration laws is key to protecting America from terrorists, and the proposed Intelligence Reform Bill fails to do this.

Peter Cabrielle, a spokesman for The Families Of 9/11 Victims, indicated that the group fully supports Sensenbrenner and Hunter.

Dobbs pointed out that the 19 enemy terrorists (of Sept.11) had between them 63 driver's licenses, most of which were issued in spite of the fact that many of the terrorists were in the country illegally without permission.

Dobbs has quoted the administration's figure of 3,000,000 illegals undocumented persons that will invade flood into the country this year. CNN then broadcast a demand speech by Mexican President Vicente Fox. Fox actually had the nerve foresight to declare that the US needs to better safeguard the rights of illegal aliens undocumented persons.

The Education Wonks live only 9 miles from the Mexican border. We experience the ramifications of this invasion of undocumented persons everyday. Anyone that teaches in a classroom anywhere in California will tell you that the amount of money that is expended on students (and parents) that are here illegally without documentation is stupendous.

Some will say that if one advocates repelling this invasion upsurge of illegals undocumented persons, then that person is anti-immigrant. We here at the 'Wonks disagree. We simply think that those that would benefit from our economic system and way of life should not be rewarded for breaking the law.

Update: Michelle Malkin's post, "Open-Borders Obtuseness" links to some fascinating commentary regarding our out-of control borders.

Filed From The Luxor Hotel, Las Vegas Nevada: Suha Has The Records

Wealthy Widow
Now that Terrorist Arafat has, as Rush Limbaugh says, "Assumed room temperature," speculation as to what caused this demon's long-overdue demise continues throughout the blogosphere and old-time (mainstream) media. Perhaps the only person that may know the answer to this riddle, his "wife" Suha, has been given Terrorist Arafat's medical files.

In accordance with French law, as Terrorist Arafat's widow, she and she alone makes the decision whether or not to release the records. She has not yet indicated her decision.

What a strange world we live in when the one person that may benefit most from the death of a criminal is in a position to be the sole source of information behind that criminal's death. But then again, it is the French justice system that is calling the shots.

Update: Drudge is reporting that Terrorist Arafat's nephew, Nasser al-Kidwa, has obtained a copy of the records because he was a relative of Arafat. He has indicated that he will forward the 558 page file to the Palestinian Authority, who will then turn it over to doctors for review.

We here at the 'Wonks think that there will be plenty of opportunities in such a long "chain of custody" for doing a little cutting, pasting, and deleting. If al-Kidwa simply wanted the truth out there, he should just turn-over the records to the Associated Press, Fox News, and CBS NBC.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

The EdWonk Takes A Roadtrip

I am not given (hopefully) to boring my readers by filling these pages with tales and regales of my own meager existence, but this is being written in somewhat different circumstances. Today is my ___ birthday. Just after I made my morning post, the WonkWife gave me my surprise birthday present. (Besides the one your thinking.) She announced that we were going on a little trip, the location of which would be revealed later.

Not one to keep secrets too long, she stated that I was to take some pocket money, and mentioned something about 7 Card Stud, craps, and roulette. Yes your EdWonk was off on a birthday trip to Sin City.

The trip from the Mexican border to The Land Of Adult Fantasies took about 6 hours. Amazingly, it rained the whole way. I say it is amazing, because we live in what must be the ugliest, driest, and flattest piece of real estate in North America. But in Searchlight, Nevada, we encountered a most beautiful little snowstorm. We could not resist the temptation to stop and have a little frolic in the snow....

The WonkWife has always admired Egypt, and all things Egyptian. So that has meant a stay in the Pyramid. But I don't guess the Egyptians get much rain either, because 15 minutes 45 minutes after we checked in, it was noticed that the roof on our 28th floor room leaked. Ordinarily, this would soon be remedied with a quick call to the front desk. Not this time, "It's leaking all over the pyramid." We here at the 'Wonks think that this stay should be on dime of Mandalay Bay Properties. We will see.

It's time to go down to the poker tables, and see if the EdWonk brought his WonkLuck with him...

The Education Wonks Sunday Reading Assignment

These are some interesting compendia from a couple of site's that the 'Wonks read daily. Both groups feature a variety of postings that represent differing viewpoints and approaches. What they have in common are that the entries are entertaining, informative, or thought-provoking.

The Commissar has directed that the Party stage a "Show Trial." In its 23rd edition, several bloggers are threatened with punishment for having opinions contrary to Party Doctrine.

The Pirate has assembled a diverse group of offerings from several sites in a weekly feature that he has christened The Grog Ration.

Choose a little of this, a little of that....think of them as a Bloggers' Banquet.

Note: Today is the EdWonk's ___ birthday!

Saturday, November 20, 2004

UN Autocrat Koffi Annan To Face The Music

UN Autocrat
Both Fox News and CNN are reporting that United Nations Secretary General Koffi Annan will face a vote of "No Confidence" very soon. In the long history of the United Nations, no Secretary General has ever lost such a vote. We think that its high time Koffi Annon found another line of work.

Here at the 'Wonks, we have a novel idea. America pays for some 22% of the UN's operating expenses and the people of New York City put up with all the shenanigans that UN "diplomats" pull while living there.

To be fair, let's have the votes "weighted" according to how much money each country throws away contributes to the "kitty."

Considering all of the corruption to be found in the UN, (Even Kofi Annan's son Kojo has enriched himself.) maybe its time to finally have an American hold the post. Seems logical, as we Americans pay more of the costs than any other country.

The Registry Of Bad School Administrators: Principal Takes A Whipping

May I Have Another?
Principal Steve Unfreid , of Matanuska (Alaska) Christian School, has to be the most naive school administrator around. Either that, or he is simply an idiot. What happened is that he caught two boys kissing girls down in the locker room last week.

This is the kind of thing that happens all the time in a high school.

A normal principal would have given detention, or called the parents, or made the kids write, "I will not kiss girls at school," a million times. What does our Mr. Unfreid do?

He took off his leather belt, gave it to teacher Joe Brost, and asked the teacher to, "Discipline me like you would discipline your own son!"

What teacher can resist giving an obviously loony-toon administrator a beating? So with the two boys watching, the teacher "laid it on." (We here a the 'Wonks want to know what happened to the girls.) The reasoning, as stated by Unfreid, was that Jesus had undergone a similar punishment.

Word soon spread, and the police arrived for a little chat. No arrest were made, however, as there is no law against one allowing another person to beat the !##!% out of one. The School Board was a different matter. Both Unfreid and Brost resigned.

The EdWonk would like to know if Unfreid said, "Thank you sir! May I have another?"

Mortarboard Tip: Kevin of Northern Polemics.

From The Disgusting Little Creatures Files: John Sylvester

John Sylvester
This one really takes the cake. Here we have the story of John Sylvester. He is one of those talking-heads that we listen to during the morning commute. Not only did he put one foot into his mouth, but immediately inserted the other foot for good measure. This idiot actually called National Security Advisor (and nominee to the post of Secretary of State) Condoleezza Rice an "Aunt Jemima." He then compounded the disaster by referring to Secretary of State Colin Powell as an "Uncle Tom."

These terms are used to express disdain when referring to African Americans that are politically conservative. As a result, the station was flooded with over 100 telephone calls regarding Sylvester's remarks.

A Confidential Source has indicated that the office of the local Republican Party has organized a "pool" regarding Sylvester's probable firing. You can read Sylvester's bio by clicking here.

As for Condoleezza Rice's possible political future, Michelle Malkin diagnoses the problem, The Queen has a great idea, and Moxie explores the issues that may be surrounding this particular incident.

Friday, November 19, 2004

EdWonk Makes A Career Move

Expanding Horizons
It is well known that classroom teachers don't make a lot of money. So to help make ends meet, I've been doing a little moonlighting. I have signed-on as a crew member of a Pirate Ship.

Due to my ineptness with the weapons of the Pirates' trade, I have been given the job of Ship's Carpenter. This means that I get paid to use sharp tools and hammer stuff. Besides a ration of GROG, this particular position carries another nice fringe benefit, as will be seen later.

Our Cap'n, The Pirate, has given me my first task. It is to cut a portrait of our vessel's lovely mascot into the ship's prow. This is one job I am most happy to do, as it is assumed that the smiling model will be spending a large amount of time in the Carpenter's workshop. Please
click here to view my assignment.

I think that this is what is meant by the term buccaneer. I am looking forward to a small share of the booty.

British Teacher Tells School Assembly World To End

Target Earth...
Here at the 'Wonks, we know that everyone makes mistakes. (We've made plenty.) But what on Earth (sorry) was this un-named British school teacher thinking when she told a school assembly of 250 junior high school age kids that a meteor is coming and everyone is going to die in 10 days?

The teacher said that students should go home and say their "final farewells" to their loved ones.

The kids believed it. There was much crying, and tears all around. The teacher quickly corrected herself, and apologized. (Which was all she could do.) We can only imagine what the conversation was like in her Principal's office.

What Caused The Death Of Terrorist Arafat?

Dead In Bed!
The Commissar is curious to know what actually caused the long-overdue death of Terrorist Arafat. He is not alone. We too are very interested in this deepening mystery. We believe that there is more than meets the eye.

Even though we here at the 'Wonks freely admit that our knowledge of the medical arts is somewhat limited, we do have some grasp of the Human Condition that comes from many years of working among teachers, parents, and young adolescents.

Normally, it would be premature to speculate in any possible conspiracies. However, the case of Terrorist Arafat is nothing like "normal." We think that there is every possibility that Arafat was destroyed by something other than "natural causes." The most likely possibility would be some kind of slow-acting poison, administered over a relatively long period of time.

Who benefits the most from the death of this minion of Satan? Several Candidates come to mind.

His so-called "wife" Suha will inherit hundreds of millions of dollars in stolen United Nations aide money. She continues to block any official inquiry into Terrorist Arafat's demise. This behavior alone is reason for suspicion.

Various Young Turks in his terrorist organization are desirous of "taking over" his leadership and getting their hands on whatever millions can be gained by further graft and corruption. They feel that they have waited long enough for their master to die.

The Israeli Mossad was finally able to administer a dose of justice to this creature. Even though overdue, the long-arm of justice might have finally caught-up with him.

President Bashar al-Assad of Syria needed to have Terrorist Arafat removed in order to extend his influence into the West Bank and Gaza. It is in al-Assad's interest to keep the area de-stabilized and both the Israelis and Americans distracted.

Arafat offended/demoted one of his henchmen, and the motive was simply one of revenge.

Regardless of the reasons (if any) behind the extinction of Terrorist Arafat, we here at the 'Wonks think that it was over 40 years too late. He should have had some dance lessons with a rope.