Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Carnival Of Education: Week 30

The thirtieth edition of The Carnival Of Education is now open for your reading enjoyment. We hope that you'll find that this collection of writer-submitted posts is representative of the very wide range of thoughts and ideas that are to be found in the EduSphere.

As always, those entries selected by the editors appear at the bottom of the page just above the Carnival archives.

Any successful carnival is a team effort. Please consider helping to spread the word. The more readers who know about this collection of exhibits, the more that will "drop-in" and visit the midway. Trackbacks, links, and casual mentions all help.

A number of sites have been very helpful in publicizing the midway. We thank them for their continued support. If you would like to guest-host an edition of the Carnival at your site sometime in the future, please contact us at owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net.

Your comments, constructive criticism, and suggestions are always heartily welcomed.

An Invitation: Writers of education-related posts are encouraged to contribute to the 3lst edition of The Carnival Of Education, which will be guest-hosted by The Science Goddess over at What It's Like On The Inside. Please send contributions to: the_science_goddess [at] yahoo [dot] com.
They should be received no later than 6:00 PM (Pacific) 9:00 PM (Eastern) Tuesday, September 6th. The Carnival should open Wednesday morning.

Let's see what the midway has to offer this week:

As educators, we are continually reminded that parental involvement is a good thing. Or can there be too much of a good thing? Next week's carnival guest-host, What It's Like on the Inside, takes
a look at everyone's "favorite" parental type: Helicopter Parents.

If baseball is the national pastime, football is the National Passion. But what place should athletics occupy in America's colleges and universities? Is the expenditure of $235 million for a new football stadium ever justified? Written by a student who attends the University of Minnesota, Knowledge
gives us a student's viewpoint that may be surprising to many and provocative to some.

Jenny D has returned from a week's vacation in the wilds of Utah to find that the United Federation of Teachers in New York City has sponsored a blog that not only provides a forum for the expression of dissent, but has something interesting to say about educational practices as well. Jenny
invites the bloggers over at Edwize to engage her in dialogue. (Let's hope that they do.)

One of the Eternal Questions in education centers on the best way to educate non English-Speaking students. The New York City-based School of Blog
makes its Carnival debut with a post about how President Bush may be ignoring a report on bilingual education because his administration doesn't agree with the study's findings. Think about taking a look at this bonus post advocating the hiring of translators in order to increase parent involvement.

When it comes to education oversight and funding, the battles between the federal government and the states has been long and bitter. In a recent post, Friends of Dave
examines the tug of war that has been going-on between Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings and California's Superintendent of Public Education, Jack O'Connell.

One of our oldest friends in the blogging world is Tony over at A Red Mind in a Blue State. In this week's entry, he brings us the story about what happens when the adults in a school district can't do math and end-up losing their jobs because of a budgetary surplus!

Both educators and parents are often at a loss when it comes to the teaching of the special needs child. Mrs. Ris has the latest installment in a series of posts that offer sound advice with a focus on maintaining a well-managed learning environment.

What do top teachers want for their students? For a variety of reasons, that may not always be an easy question to answer. Courtesy of the San Diego Tribune, Polski3 has found an intriguing list that makes a lot of sense to us. This should be a "must" read for parents and teachers...

There are three words that will spark an immediate debate in education circles around the country. Those three words are: Year...Round...School. Diane Weir has published an informative post that introduces readers to the fundamental issues surrounding one of education's most controversial topics.

School Choice is another hotly-debated topic among parents and educators. Going to the Matt points us to a report from The National Governors Association that discusses issues concerning the financial aspects of school choice.

Is there anyone who doubts the power of advertising? At Extreme Wisdom, they assert that the prevailing mindset in education that more funding equals better education is the result of a carefully-crafted propaganda campaign by The Education Industry. What's the remedy? Extreme Wisdom
makes a proposal.

There is a battle royal shaping up in California's federal courts. In one corner, we have The University of California System. In the other corner, there is an association of Christian High Schools. Round one of this fight to the finish has begun, and No Left Turns examines some of the strategies that the fighters may use in the ring.

Once upon a time a principal said to me, "A report card grade is an objective attempt to give a label to a subjective concept."
After reading this post from Se Hace Camino al Andar, I realize that the principal may have been more right than she knew when she uttered those words...

The No Child Left Behind Act continues to provoke thought and commentary throughout the EduSphere. Over at Assorted Stuff, Tim
has been considering some of the more illogical provisions of the act and, like many, wonders why NCLB's expensive "one size fits all" approach doesn't seem to be meeting expectations. In a bonus post, check out Tim's take on teaching a moving target.

Rhymes With Right is written by Greg, a teacher who practices in Texas. This week, Greg is reporting to the EduSphere
one of the most sinister hoaxes ever portrayed on an unsuspecting public. And consider reading the follow-up post here.

One would think that the board of regents of just about any given institution of higher learning would be concerned with educational matters. Think again. Multiple Mentality is showing us that this isn't necessarily true. (Required Vocabulary to understand today's lesson: "Diversity, trustees, marijuana, meritocracy.")

It's going-away-to-college time for many young adults. But do parents know what their children are really studying? Over at The Common Room,
they have some concerns about their daughter's "American Government" class. Here is a sample:

Her textbook says that the purpose of government is to provide goods and services to the people. We asked, sarcastically, 'what goods was it the government's job to provide, Welfare?' Yes, the HG tells us seriously, that is exactly what the textbook says. We are flummoxed. How can we have fun with the textbook if our best attempt at mockery turns out to be precisely the same as the author's best attempt at logical thought?
Would you believe that in an effort to get an "unforgettable" school picture, a high school senior was mauled to death by a tiger? It seems that kids are going through ever-more-extreme measures to get that photo. Whatever happened to cheerleader outfits and double-breasted navy-blue blazers? Get on the Bus has the disturbing details of the story.

Did you know that in Georgia, the state says that students must now read at least 25 books each year?
See what happens when they don't.

The Invasion of The Bloggers continues, with hundreds of new blogs going online everyday. Over at Living the Scientific Life, Hedwig The Owl gives us a peek at how blogs are
making a difference in the scientific community.

We are always pleased when we receive a contribution from The Art of Getting By. Why? Because we know that when we finish reading Janet's post
we will have a smile on our face yet again. (And yes, we can't but hope that Janet does beat the school at its own game.)

Clarence, the author of Remote Access, teaches in a school that is located in northern Canada. As he is keenly interested in education technology,
it was only natural that Clarence would be the first to learn of a plan by the makers of Lego toys to construct a virtual factory so that online users can design and build virtual Lego creations. The really fun part is that if Lego likes the virtual creation, the company may produce and market the real thing!

Do you remember reading a book called Caps For Sale? I do. Well, Muse over at Me-ander
continues the tradition with photos of her granddaughters learning all about the importance of finding just the right headgear as well as a neat tie-in for teachers of students with limited English vocabulary.

I am a public school teacher. I firmly believe that an effective system of public education contributes to a better society. But having said that, this site strongly believes in the rights of parents who wish to teach their children in the home. Over at CrossBlogging,
you can see one more reason why I think that homeschooling is often the right choice for many families.

Here is a dilemma: Imagine that you are the principal of a public school. A well-known group approaches you with the offer of performing, for free, a student assembly that promises to be a "life-affirming, positive experience that incorporated demonstrations of strength and martial arts into a narrative of life lessons." Would you allow the show to go on? Consider
taking a look at what Darren's school principal decided to do over at Right on the Left Coast.

A few years ago, I heard a district superintendent remark that he considers "professional educators" to be principals and above while teachers are merely "service providers" in the classroom. See how the teacher who writes over at Ruminating Dude proved that Worthy's statement to be incorrect with
a well-reasoned post regarding an effective chemistry curriculum.

A Shrewdness of Apes is written by Ms. Cornelius, who is an "anonymous" public school teacher. And like all of us teachers,
there were certain surprises awaiting her when she returned to school after summer vacation. But at least she finished her check list... (Just remember, if you wake-up one morning in Ape City; don't talk! We don't want them to know that we have that ability.)

If you are looking for some well-reasoned advice on how to look at life's challenges, you can't go wrong by reading what Steve Pavlina has to say. In this week's entry, Steve
asks you to think about your career in an altogether new way.

A short time ago, we took a look at the
meltdown that has occurred in the administrative apparatus of the Saulk Village, Illinois school system. Education Matters, which is written in Illinois, (and is a lot closer to where all this is going on) has the details of the superintendent that has been arrested and charged with stealing more than $100,000 in cash from the children in his own school district.

And now, for some entries that have been selected by the editors:

In a writing style that is all her own, Mz. Smlph has written
another outstanding post, this time offering sound advice that is useful for all teachers, be they first-year novices or more experienced veterans. A must read.

EdWahoo is written by a student who attends The University of Virginia. We were impressed with this
solidly-written post about the too-slow rate of progress that our students are making toward academic proficiency.

Over at Number 2 Pencil, Kimberly
has the skinny about the British school that will allow each student to drop up to five "F-Bombs" per lesson. I like her observation about the number of "F-Bombs" that this policy will cause teachers to drop.

Mike Antonucci's Intercepts shows all of us exactly where much of one state's education funding ends up being spent while at the same time effectively demonstrating how any decisive action is blocked by a system that can only be called "Byzantine." One result of this inertia and ineptitude can be seen here. (Could you just imagine what this chart would look like in California?)

The recently returned from vacation Joanne Jacobs
has some great news about a KIPP school in San Jose California. As is the case with many KIPP schools, large numbers of the students are ethnic minorities. Here is a sample:

Last year, KIPP Heartwood's inaugural class of 73 fifth-graders outscored students in some of the highest-achieving districts in the valley on the California STAR program, the state's standardized tests. On the English-language arts exam, 69 percent were proficient or advanced while 93 were proficient in math (10 percentage points higher than fifth-graders in Palo Alto, three percentage points more than in Saratoga).
And finally, when we here at The Education Wonks humbly submit for your approval our take on being "professionally" developed.
Carnival Archives

The first edition can be seen here, the second, here the third, here the fourth, here, and the fifth, here the sixth, here the seventh, here the eighth, here the ninth, here the tenth, here the eleventh here the twelfth here, the thirteenth, here the fourteenth, here the fifteenth, here, the sixteenth, here the seventeenth, here the eighteenth, here the nineteenth, here, the twentieth, here, the twenty-first, here the twenty-second, here the twenty-third, here the twenty-fourth, here, the twenty-fifth, here, the twenty-sixth, here the twenty-seventh here, the twenty-eighth, here and the twenty-ninth, over there. To get to EdWonk's main page, (with a variety of education-related posts) please click here.

This midway is registered at TTLB's carnival roundup.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Who Is Accountable For This?

When the school system of Clark County, Nevada needs to hire hundreds of substitute teachers on the first day of school due to unfilled teaching vacancies, something is seriously wrong with the system: (emphasis added)
Clark County's teacher shortage is prompting the school district to call a large number of substitute teachers into service for this first day of school.

Jordan Adams says the first day of school didn't go too bad. "I liked it because I got to talk to the kids on a one-to-one basis." Jordan is a substitute teacher at Cheyenne High School. She's one of 418 substitutes who reported to work today at Clark County schools. Normally subs are brought in for a day or a week. Jordan is here through late October.
All that is needed to get a job as a substitute in Clark County is a bachelor's in anything or 62 semester units of college, six of which must be in education.

Applications are being accepted.
Entries for The Carnival Of Education are due tonight. Get the details here.

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The First Day Of School

In response to a reader's request:

Yesterday was the first day of classes in our junior high school.

As I
predicted, each of my classes was stuffed to the maximum of 35 students each, for a total enrollment of 175 history students and 24 students in homeroom.

Today, I'll probably get another in first period for an even 200.

I have some really nice kids who I believe will be fun to work with. I just wish that there weren't so many of them in each and every class.

When I started teaching back in 1991, most classes in our school only had 22-25 students each. Since that time, our school's teaching staff has been downsized by eight positions.

Our well-entrenched-superintendent-for-life, Dr. Evil, famously said that research doesn't support the notion of smaller class sizes contributing to higher test scores.

He also said that "professional educators" were principals and above.

Dr. Evil doesn't give a hoot about teacher morale. He knows veteran teachers can't leave, and there are many more new teachers looking for jobs than there are posts needing to be filled.

The word for yesterday was
Therblig. This term and concept was developed by efficiency experts Frank and Lillian Gilbreth in the '20s and '30s (It's actually "Gilbreth" spelled backwards.) and effectively communicates our district's attitude toward it's teaching corps. All that is missing are the stopwatches.

The other images that come to mind when I think about what our district really thinks about its teachers are certain scenes from
this movie, and that movie, both of which are among my favorites.

Classroom teachers have just been informed that due to higher insurance premiums, we will be taking a pay-cut of approximately $200 per month.

As with last year, my paychecks will be smaller than they were 4 years ago.

It's hard to feel enthusiastic about one's job when one earns less money for more work while the price of nearly everything from fuel to food to college tuition continues to rise.

The insurance premiums for administrators, on the other hand, continue to be paid in full by the district. They will also receive a five-percent pay increase for the current school year. One high-level district administratrix said that the raise was justified because administrators, "Work so hard."

Perhaps those raises were paid for with the cutting of three teaching positions from our school site, including
both the Art and Shop programs.

Seniority rules in California make it financially punishing to change one's district in mid-career. As the TeenWonk will be attending college soon, I can't afford the permanent decrease in pay that would result from switching districts...

But enough of my feeling sorry for myself! Now is the time to focus on being the most effective teacher for my students that I can be. The kids' deserve nothing less. I'm confident that it's going to be a good year in the classroom.

Entries for The Carnival Of Education are due tonight. Get the details here.

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Carnival Entries Are Due!

Entries for the 30th edition of The Carnival Of Education are due TONIGHT. We should receive them no later than 9:00 PM. (Pacific) 12:00 midnight (Eastern). Please send all submissions to owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net. View last week's edition right here.

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

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Monday, August 29, 2005

Math Equation: (Con) Plus (Insult) Often, But Not Always, Equals "Consultant"

Show me a classroom teacher who hasn't been subjected to this type of "professional development" and I'll show you a teacher who hasn't been teaching very long:
Ice breakers. Stupid signs. White people with fake grins. Soothing tones from a phony xylophone. Lots of emphasis on feeling good. Happy happy happy learning learning learning.

And terminal dorkiness.
With a great big tip of the mortarboard, the above comes to us from Joanne Jacobs, who was also given the following advice from an elementary teacher about how she could fill-up excess classroom time in the college news writing (print and online) course that she will soon be teaching:
At the San Jose State journalism faculty barbecue yesterday, I was talking to a professor's wife who's an elementary teacher about my fear of filling the class time. (My class will meet one evening a week for two hours, 45 minutes.) "Break them into groups of four," she said. "They'll waste most of the time chit-chatting. Give them a problem to work on and have them write their ideas on big sheets of paper with markers. Then each group presents to the class."
Joanne is looking for effective instructional techniques that don't necessarily include the use of small groups and felt-tipped markers.

Whenever a presenter or consultant takes out the butcher paper and markers at our junior high school, I can actually hear the eyeballs of my colleagues rolling in their sockets.

Ever since I began my classroom service 14 years ago, consultants and other "professional" development speakers and have been having us classroom teachers split into groups of four to gossip and waste time design and make presentations, mark-up miles of butcher paper, make countless drawings on posterboard, pop a circus big-top full of balloons, and do idiotic little "humorous skits" that are supposed to punish teachers show everyone what we have learned from the Wise One who has been imported for The Occasion.

And let's not forget the almost inevitable (and infantile) introductory "icebreaker" that so many presenters insist on their audience participating in.

I would be the first to say that there are a number of excellent consultants who are working in the field of education. Having said that however, the type of modus operandi given above seems to be endemic to folks who work with (and train) those in education. If I didn't know any better, I would say that many consultants are lifting their delivery-of-presentation strategies from the same how-to guide for consultants: How To Both Patronize And Alienate Your "Captive" Audience Of Teachers In Five Easy Baby-Steps.

I have the same sentiments as
this guy. If teachers are indeed professionals, they deserve to be treated as such and not be "professionally developed" by the hordes of consultants who sign lucrative contracts to "help" teachers but spend all their time insulting our intelligence by having us play their little "consulting games."
View the latest edition of The Carnival Of Education as well as entry instructions for next week's edition right here.

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Power Breakfasts For Kiddies

With practically everyone these days eating breakfast "on the fly," it was inevitable that someone would develop and market a version for kids:
Responding to the need for more nutritious choices for school children, East Side Entrees is introducing its new "grab and go" Breakfast Breaks this fall in schools nationwide. Each boxed meal includes a cereal bowl pack, an additional bread/grain snack serving, and a serving of 100% fruit juice.
Served with milk, it provides a complete, nutritious breakfast that meets the
government requirements for key nutrients for children. Offered in seven
different varieties, one menu, for example, includes General Mills Honey Nut
Cheerios(R), animal crackers, and Mott's(R) Apple Juice.

"No preparation is necessary. The school foodservice staff gives each
student a Breakfast Breaks package and a milk and they are good to go,"
explains Gary Davis, CEO of East Side Entrees. "Our goal is two-fold - to
make it convenient for schools to serve breakfast and for kids to want to eat it."
Read the whole article right here.

The plan is to market the boxed breakfasts to schools through the federally-funded School Breakfast Program.

I don't think anyone would argue against the idea that kids do better in school when they eat a good breakfast. It's a pity that the schools are now expected to step-up and do yet another job that should be done by parents.

I wistfully long for those bygone days when many families somehow found the time to eat their meals together.

Even after all these years, I can still remember the wonderful aroma of the coffee that my father would brew early every morning while mom was busy preparing the foods such as eggs, sausages, pancakes, and waffles.
View the latest edition of The Carnival Of Education as well as entry instructions for next week's edition right here.

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Fun With Statistics: The Calculus Gap

From the National Center for Education Statistics we get this interesting little tidbit from the recently released "Nation's Report Card." The graph is from a larger report which takes a look at trends in mathematics course-taking at Age 17 by Race/Ethnicity.

As can be seen by following this link, a greater percentage of White, Black, and Hispanic seventeen-year-olds indicated their highest course was second-year algebra in 2004 than in 1978.

In 2004, a higher percentage of White students took calculus (19 percent) than Black students of the same age (8 percent).

At 14 percent, the percentage of Hispanic students taking calculus was not measurably different from the percentage of White or Black students

To tell the truth, I'm surprised the the percentage of students taking calculus is as high as it is. (Calculus is not an easy subject to study at any age.) Nevertheless, that significant gap between the percentages of white students and black students taking calculus concerns me. What would be the cause, and what would be the remedy?

Food for thought.
View the latest edition of The Carnival Of Education as well as entry instructions for next week's edition right here.

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The Circle Opens

Today is the first day of classes at our California junior high school.

I've already been told to expect 35 students each and every period.

Here is the word for today: Therblig.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

California SmackDown! Christian HS Vs. The UC System

You might want to keep a close eye on how this one plays out:
A group representing California religious schools has filed a lawsuit accusing the University of California system of discriminating against high schools that teach creationism and other conservative Christian viewpoints.

The Association of Christian Schools International, which represents more than 800 schools, filed a federal lawsuit Thursday claiming UC admissions officials have refused to certify high school science courses that use textbooks challenging Darwin's theory of evolution. Other rejected courses include "Christianity's Influence in American History."

According to the lawsuit, the Calvary Chapel Christian School in Murrieta was told its courses were rejected because they use textbooks printed by two Christian publishers, Bob Jones University Press and A Beka Books.
Read the whole thing. There is more here, here, and especially over there.

Ravi Poorsina, who is a spokeswoman for the university system, declined to comment as the university has not yet been served with the lawsuit. She did indicate that the institution had the right to set course requirements.

This lawsuit will almost certainly involve a variety of constitutional issues and may very well end-up being heard in front of the United States Supreme Court.

Stay tuned.

Tomorrow, our 13-year-old daughter, the TeenWonk, will begin her first-year of high school. The university system has perscribed a list of classes that public school students should take if they wish to attend a school in the UC system.

As she will be attending a public school, I hope the textbooks that my kid will soon be using have the UC stamp of approval.
View the latest edition of The Carnival Of Education as well as entry instructions for next week's edition right here.

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History: It's All A Matter Of Perspective

Over at What It's Like on the Inside, they have introduced us to a unique resource from Beloit College called the "Mindset List" that helps us teachers put things into perspective by letting us know some of the environmental factors that have helped shape students' views about the world around them.

Here is
the complete Mindset List for the high school graduating class of 2006:

1. A Southerner has always been President of the United States.
2. Richard Burton, Ricky Nelson and Truman Capote have always been dead.
3. South Africa's official policy of apartheid has not existed during their lifetime.
4. Cars have always had eye-level rear stop lights, CD players, and air bags.
5. We have always been able to choose our long distance carriers.
6. Weather reports have always been available 24-hours a day on television.
7. The "evil empire" has moved from Moscow to a setting in some distant galaxy.
8. Big Brother is merely a television show.
9. Cyberspace has always existed.
10. Bruce Springsteen's new hit, Born in the USA, could have been played to celebrate their birth.
11. Barbie has always had a job.
12. Telephone bills have always been totally incomprehensible.
13. Prom dresses have always come in basic black.
14. A "Hair Band" is some sort of fashion accessory.
15. George Foreman has always been a barbecue grill salesman.
16. Afghanistan has always been a front page story.
17. There has always been an heir to the heir to the British throne.
18. They have no recollection of Connie Chung or Geraldo Rivera as serious journalists.
19. Peter Jennings, Dan Rather, and Tom Brokaw have always anchored the evening news.
20. China has always been a market-based reforming regime.
21. The United States has always been trying to put nuclear waste in Nevada.
22. The U.S. and the Soviets have always been partners in space.
23. Mrs. Fields' cookies and Swatch watches have always been favorites.
24. Nicolas Cage, Daryll Hannah, Eddie Murphy, and John Malkovich made their first major film impressions the year they were born.
25. The GM Saturn has always been on the road.
26. The "Fab Four" are not a male rock group, but four women enjoying Sex and the City.
27. Fox has always been a television network choice.
28. Males do not carry a handkerchief in a back pocket.
29. This generation has never wanted to "be a Pepper too."
30. Ozzy's lifestyle has nothing to do with the Nelson family.
31. Women have always had tattoos.
32. Vanessa Williams and Madonna are aging singers.
33. Perrier has always come in flavors.
34. Cherry Coke has always come in cans.
35. A "hotline" is a consumer service rather than a phone used to avoid accidental nuclear war.
36. The drug "ecstasy" has always been around.
37. Genetic testing and DNA screening have always been available.
38. Electronic filing of federal income taxes has always been an option.
39. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) has always been available to doctors.
40. Trivial Pursuit may have been played by their parents the night before they were born.
41. The U.S. has always maintained that it has a "clear right to use force against terrorism."
42. The drinking age has always been 21 throughout the country.
43. Women have always been members of the Jaycees.
44. The center of chic has shifted from Studio 54 to Liza's living room, live!
45. Julian Lennon had his only hit the year they were born.
46. Sylvan Learning Centers have always been an after-school option.
47. Hip-hop and rap have always been popular musical forms.
48. They grew up in minivans.
49. Scientists have always recognized the impact of acid rain.
50. The Coen Brothers have always been making films.

I agree with On the Inside's observation that these lists make me feel old. But then again, getting older is a lot more preferable than The Alternative.
View the latest edition of The Carnival Of Education as well as entry instructions for next week's edition right here.

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Diggers Realm: Making The Grade

One of the first friends that we made in the blogosphere was Digger, who writes over at Diggers Realm. Digger is celebrating a milestone: The Realm has surpassed one million page views!

They have achieved this goal due to Digger's effective mix of topical reporting, insightful commentary, and humor. Consider
taking a look at this post about his family's experiences traveling along the backroads of Arizona (with no air conditioning!!) during their recent cross-country move from California to upstate New York.

Ed's Note: We passed by the Wigwam Motel on Route 66 on one of our cross-country trips but didn't get the opportunity to see the inside of one of those tepees. Now we know what we missed!
View the latest edition of The Carnival Of Education as well as entry instructions for next week's edition right here.

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The Watcher's Council Has Spoken!

Each and every week, Watcher of Weasels sponsors a contest to see what are the most link-worthy 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 voted on this past week's submitted posts.

Council Entries: Writing as a mother who has experienced the devastating loss of her child, Dymphna, over at Gates of Vienna, easily took first place with her powerfully-written letter to Cindy Sheehan.

Non-Council Entries: Former Council member Alpha Patriot garnered the most votes with Israeli Pride; Israeli Angst.
View the latest edition of The Carnival Of Education as well as entry instructions for next week's edition right here.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

HBO's Rome: Your Latin Refresher Course For The Fall

What history teacher could resist a $100 million television series about the last days of the Roman Republic? Rome, the 12 episode limited series co-produced by HBO and the BBC is set to begin on HBO this Sunday evening.

Over at Slate, critic Dana Stevens took a look at the first six episodes. She gave the first six
a very mixed review.

According to Stevens, the series features all the gore and nudity that are HBO's stock-in-trade, so it's use as a tool for classroom instruction will probably be extremely limited.

I'll be watching Sunday evening. As Monday will be the first day of classes at our junior high school, the historical comparisons are obvious.

I'm usually one of those "the book was better" type of guys. Any television or movie about this time-frame will have to go a long way to rival the series of six highly readable and exhaustively-researched historical novels by Colleen McCullough that are collectively known as The Masters of Rome (info
here) which does an excellent job of "bringing to life" the personalities and events surrounding the final few decades of the Republic.

Ed's Note: Good news Masters fans: Even though McCullough had concluded the series with the defeat of Julius Caesar's assassins, she has responded to much lobbying by fans and is in the process of writing one more book, which will be concerned mainly with Antony and Cleopatra.

Update: (08/28) After watching the episode, I'll give the producers an "A" for costuming and sets. The acting seems to be OK, (with a possible miscasting of the role of Marcus Porcius Cato Uticencis) but the sex scene featuring Octavian's mother was purely gratuitous to the story. I'll have to withold judgement (for the time being) on historical accuracy.
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What Is It With These Guys?

Yesterday, it was Illinois superintendent Thomas E. Ryan who was arrested and charged with stealing from his own district. Today, it's American University President Benjamin Ladner who's alleged to have had his hand in the school's till: (emphasis added)
The investigation, which is being conducted by outside lawyers and auditors, was revealed by The Washington Post early this month. The Post reported that it had received an anonymous letter — also apparently sent to board members — with allegations about spending by Ladner. According to the letter, Ladner used university funds to pay for the use of a French chef, an engagement party for his son, trips to Europe, and $200,000 in drainage and landscaping work at his home.
I supposed that they must've found some meaningful evidence to substantiate the allegations, as the board of trustees has placed Ladner on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

While the board statement did not say so, the spokeswoman said that the president’s leave is a paid one. According to Internal Revenue Service records, Ladner’s salary was $633,000 last year.

EdWonk's note to pilfering school administrators: Stealing is wrong. It's bad. Very bad! Don't do it! If you get caught, you will get into trouble.

Maybe nobody taught you that at home and you weren't paying attention in kindergarten.

Heh. On the other hand, maybe they just couldn't help themselves.
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Friday, August 26, 2005

Another Question To Consider

In a 5-4 vote Thursday, the Dallas, Texas school board made the county the first in the nation to require that some principals learn Spanish within three years or face the possibility of losing their jobs. More here, here, and especially here. The policy applies to principals and other administrators who work in schools where more than 50% of the students have limited English proficiency, regardless of the students' primary language.

Here is the question:

Is it ever appropriate to require employees to learn a language other than English in order to keep their jobs?

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Go West, New Teachers!

Looking for the "Genie post?" Please click right here.

California will need to hire some 100,000 teachers within the next few years, reports Fox News: (emphasis added)

A massive teacher shortage in California has more than just students raising their hands in the air asking for help.

According to a new study, one-third of all teachers in the state will retire over the next decade, leaving California nearly 100,000 teachers short.

"We're facing a major crisis that's worse than any we've seen so far," said Harvey Hunt of the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning (search), a nonprofit organization that deals with teacher development policy.

The No Child Left Behind Act (search) made state teacher credentialing requirements tougher, and as a result thinned the ranks of would-be teachers.

Administrators say that, in addition to the tougher credentialing requirements, with an average starting salary of $35,000 it is often difficult to recruit and retain qualified teachers, especially given California's high cost of living and competition from other industries.

California is not alone in having teacher shortage woes. In neighboring Nevada, the state has become so desperate for teachers that it has recruited from overseas, hiring 34 teachers from the Philippines.

And in Las Vegas, schools are still some 400 full-time teachers short, with classes set to begin next week.

I wonder what percentage of the anticipated "teacher shortage" will be caused by "burnout" and teachers leaving the craft because in spite of constantly increasing performance expectations, pay increases remain stagnant or sub-inflationary?

Potential new teaching recruits should keep in mind that in California's larger cities, detached single-family homes often cost $300,000 (or more) and no matter what salary you earn,
this organization as well as that organization will relieve each teacher of a combined sum of approximately $900.00 each and every year whether one likes it or not.

And no, unlike this much more progressive and open-minded organization in New York City, neither NEA nor CTA offer dues-payers and the public a forum for dissent.

Update: As we live in the desert, far from the large cities, commenter Coach Brown sets us straight about the true costs of purchasing a home in much of The Golden State.
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The Spellings Report: Teachers' Questions Wanted!

Secretary of Education Magaret Spellings is inviting teachers to ask her questions, some of which she promises will be answered on the Department of Education's website:
"As President Bush likes to say, teaching is a calling. Teachers deserve our thanks for answering the call. And now they will be able to call on us for answers.

"Today I am proud to announce Teachers Ask the Secretary, a new feature of the U.S. Department of Education's web site. It's available at (select "Teachers") or go directly to

"This easy-to-use page will help teachers learn answers on a wide range of subjects: teacher quality, professional development, state academic standards and more. We will share best practices and success stories under the No Child Left Behind Act. And we will listen to your concerns.

"The page will be regularly and frequently updated so we can get to as many new topics as possible. I cannot promise written answers to every question. But every question will be read.

"This is just the latest in a series of interactive resources for teachers, including our popular eLearning online courses, searchable online database and electronic Teacher Updates.

"The No Child Left Behind Act is a partnership. And a true partnership relies on communication. Teachers Ask the Secretary gives us one more tool to stay in touch."
Of course, we couldn't resist submitting a couple of questions to Secretary Spellings ourselves:
According to Fox News, California will soon experience a shortage of some 100,000 teachers. Since NCLB directs that fully-credentialed teachers shall be serving in our children's classrooms, will the market-forces of supply and demand be allowed to help determine teacher salaries?

Or will California be permitted to issue "emergency" credentials to thousands of teachers with little or no formal training in pedagogy?

Do you think that we will get an answer to either question from the Secretary?
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Meltdown And Malfeasance In Sauk Village

Back in March, we took a look at the strange case of Illinois school superintendent Thomas E. Ryan, who at the time was suspected of committing a variety of unethical (and possibly illegal) acts.

Thursday's New York Times reported that Ryan has been
arrested and charged (use ID: freenyt95 password: nytimes) with several felonies, including the theft of more than $100,000. (emphasis added)

Thomas E. Ryan, 53, the superintendent in Sauk Village, Ill., was charged Tuesday with several felonies including theft, intimidation, obstruction of justice and bribery.

"Thomas Ryan was a reverse Robin Hood," said Richard A. Devine, the Cook County state's attorney, in a statement, "stealing from the poor children in his district to line his own pockets, spending money on himself, his family and his friends."

Mr. Ryan is accused of stealing $70,000 to pay for his daughters' college tuition and of giving almost $2,000 in gifts to them, buying hockey tickets worth $1,000 and taking friends out to eat and drink with money from the district, one of the poorest in the state.

Mr. Ryan, the superintendent for 16 years, earned a salary of $183,000 and was known in the community for his zero tolerance policies, once suspending a student for taking a water gun to school.

Investigators said they seized $730,000 in cash from Mr. Ryan's home in a raid last week. Witnesses who cooperated with the investigation said Mr. Ryan bullied subordinates into altering documents to hide his actions, according to the state's attorney's office.

Mr. Ryan, who has pleaded not guilty, is in the Cook County Jail awaiting a bond hearing next month.

On Wednesday, the first day back to school in this suburb of 10,000 people 30 miles south of Chicago, several dozen angry residents chanted "Down with the board" and picketed in front of the school administration building. They demanded that the six remaining school board members be removed for not preventing the alleged misconduct.

Last month, Louise Morales, 73, the school board president, was charged with theft, official misconduct and misapplication of funds. Ms. Morales resigned and has a court date next month.

If (the accused are innocent until proven guilty) Ryan and Morales are convicted of committing these crimes, I hope that they are required to make full restitution, pay hefty fines, and get some significant jail time.

I really don't have much sympathy for folks who steal resources from kids.
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The New Dick And Jane

See Dick.

See Dick talk to Jane.

See Dick cussing at Jane.

Cuss, Dick, cuss!

See Dick and Jane cussing.

See Mr. Teacher
do nothing about Dick or Jane's filthy language.

See Number 2 Pencil
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Thursday, August 25, 2005

How Many Is Too Many?

Looking for the "Genie post?" Please click right here.

It was when I was reading this post about Darren's first day of school that I realized something: (emphasis added)
I brought home some more data entry work to do tonight. I have 41 students in one of my classes, 5 over the contract limit, and 39 in another. However, the school has a month to fix that! Guess I'd better start scrounging for desks. Last district I worked in, we were paid cash money twice a year for overages, in part because of the extra grading/data entry/attention/work involved. Not so here! So I'll be typing more student ID numbers into my grading program (I use Grade Machine) so that later in the week, after I give the first assignment, I'll have all my recordkeeping ready to go.
While many teachers must cope with such large numbers of students, (In Darren's case, a math class, no less!) I find it amazing that there are administrators out there (including our district's superintendent) who actually have the nerve to inform (without citing any sources) their teaching staffs that research doesn't support the idea that smaller class sizes help raise the level of student achievement.

With large class sizes such as these, how can that be true? For most teachers working in public schools, having classes the size of Darren's offer little opportunity for the instructor to work with individual students. Even working with a small group of pupils becomes a difficult proposition as much of the teacher's energies must be expended on keeping the rest of the class orderly and on task.

I am curious to know if those who administer schools (but wouldn't, on a bet, go near a classroom and teach kids themselves) and repeatedly tell their teachers that when it comes to academic achievement, "class size doesn't matter," would concede that there is any correlation between large classes and low teacher morale and high rates of "burnout."

I wonder what the research would show?

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Learning A Foreign Language The Common-Sense Way

With the exception of a parent or tutor, this must certainly be the best method for English-speaking children to learn foreign languages:(emphais added)
Sandra Rosado is big on class participation. So when her fourth-graders had a hard time keeping quiet until it was their turn to answer, she didn't mind.

Until a few of them spoke in English.

"No ingles!" Rosado reminded her Spanish class at Perkins Elementary.

No problem. At ages 9 and 10, the children spoke Spanish for the rest of the class, eagerly naming Central American capitals and vocabulary words from potatoes to pineapples.

"The goal is to create a love for language while they're young, while they're still risk takers in class," Rosado said. "Little by little, we give them the confidence."

Starting little is getting big in languages. Long considered a subject for college or high school, foreign language is becoming more popular in elementary schools, experts say.

Parents and teachers are often fueling this expansion in their schools, backed by research that shows young children have great capacity for learning languages. But the drive also comes out of a sense of national necessity, as big gaps in language skills have threatened the country's security and commercial competitiveness.

"There's a perception in this country that English is fine, English is enough to get by, and languages are only for the college-bound elite kids," said Marty Abbott, director of education at the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. "That's what we're trying to overcome."
There is much more to read in the whole piece.

Schools are also facing unprecedented pressure under federal law to raise math and reading scores, and as a result, some are inadvertently pushing languages to the margins, warns a report by the
National Association of State Boards of Education.

I know that this isn't a new idea for teaching foreign languages to English-speaking children, but I wonder why it wasn't adopted long ago as the model for the teaching of foreign languages in our schools. It has been asserted by experts that the acquisition of a foreign language is one of the best methods for children to practice their "critical-thinking" skills.

Many would agree that one of the most marketable skills that anyone can possess is fluency in two or more languages. (In the interest of full disclosure, I learned Spanish while living in Mexico after graduating from college.)
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Welcome To The EduSphere!

We are always on the lookout for voices in the World of Education that are new, informative, interesting, fun, or even dissenting. Today, we've added Scheiss Weekly to our sidebar. Consider checking-out this post about Mamacita's (who is a teacher) own experiences as a student and how she learned from them in order to help her students.
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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Question Of The Day

Here's a hypothetical situation:

You are on a quest to improve our public schools. Through a series of remarkable circumstances, you have encountered a reform-minded
genie who has agreed to grant you ONE "Wish" with the stipulation that the purpose of your request must be for the improvement of public education.

What ONE change would you implement in order to improve public schools?
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The Carnival Of Education: Week 29

The back-to-school edition of The Carnival Of Education is now open for your reading enjoyment. We hope that you'll find that this collection of writer-submitted posts is representative of the very wide range of thought that is out there in the World of Education.

As always, those entries selected by the editors appear at the bottom of the page just above the Carnival archives.

Any successful carnival is a team effort. Please consider helping to spread the word. The more readers who know about this collection of exhibits, the more that will "drop-in" and visit the midway. Trackbacks, links, and casual mentions all help.

A number of sites have been very helpful in publicizing the midway. We thank them for their continued support. If you would like to guest-host an edition of the Carnival at your site sometime in the future, please contact us at the email address given below.

Your comments, constructive criticism, and suggestions are always heartily welcomed in our commenting threads.

An Invitation: Writers of education-related posts are encouraged to contribute to the 30th edition of The Carnival Of Education. Please send your submissions to owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net no later than 9:00 PM (Pacific) 12:00 midnight Tuesday, August 30th. Barring unforeseen circumstances, the midway should open here next Wednesday morning.

And now.... let's take a peek at this week's group of exhibits.

The first stop on the midway is last week's guest host, Ticklish Ears. With many students now heading off to college for the first time, what could be more appropriate than some great advice for parents from a college professor about how ease their child's transition into the World of Higher Education?

Art Linkletter has always noted that "Kids say the darndest things." Fred's World let's us know that first-year high school students
uphold the tradition by saying "the darndest things" on the first day of school. In a bonus post, see why folks often choose to be teachers after experiencing success in the corporate world.

Is Oobleck some sort secret biological agent produced by Willy Wonka's
Oompa Loompas? Or is it something else even more exotic? Over at Education in Texas, Mike gives us the scientific details of this useful but mysterious substance.

Probably the hottest topic in public education today is the No Child Left Behind Act. Over at Number 2 Pencil,
they have the skinny on one effective teacher's methods for helping his students meet their academic goals even though they attend an underfunded school. Here is a sample:

By the time the 8 a.m. bell rings, all of Youngblood's students have filed into his middle-trailer classroom -the one with a homemade plastic label on the door admonishing THINK THINK THINK. Inside, they're already hard at work checking their algebra homework answers. Then it's on to in-class problems, which Youngblood runs through with the drive of a drill instructor, and tonight's homework: percentages, rates of speed, calculating the surface area of a cube, and the algebraic order of operations. After that, it's language hour, with assignments in spelling and vocabulary. Next come exercises on compound sentences and similes, followed hard by a spelling test.
Could it be possible that both opposition and support for the No Child Left Behind Act are increasing? Chris Correa has the surprising details as well as a cautionary note advising us to beware of media spin.

In an effort to re-assert its traditional roles in public education oversight and funding, the State of Connecticut has filed a lawsuit against the federal government due to the "Arbitrary, rigid, and capricious" nature of the No Child Left Behind Act. Over at Education at the Brink,
they have the scoop about the latest controversy involving this underfunded mandate.

The No Child Left Behind Act is also on the mind of the California Yankee,
who also takes a look at Connecticut's lawsuit and considers the possibility that the legal action may be motivated by something other than the argument that NCLB is an underfunded mandate.

Don Surber points out yet some other possible motives that may have triggered Connecticut vs. The Federal Government.

Did you know that the schedule followed by most public school students is based upon a model developed in rural 19th century America? At Assorted Stuff,
they advocate the need to fundamentally change our old-fashioned one-size-fits-all public education system.

What's a teacher to do when a child who doesn't know how to read is transferred into her fourth-grade classroom? How can a teacher help a child who is clearly being "left behind" due to the district's refusal to provide any extra assistance? At A Series of Inconsequential Events,
they are seeking suggestions from readers on the best way to serve the needs of this child.

Who would have thought that a school would have an actual entitiy known as the "Positive Behavior Support Committee?" And what would you think if The Committee came to your place of business soliciting funds in order to buy students "rewards" (some would say bribes) for good behavior? Over at The Colossus of Rhodey, they introduce us to the latest trend in public school fundraising.

The National Education Association and its subsidiary unions are a subject of much discussion among educators. Many folks feel that the democratization and establishment of financial accountability to the membership are reforms that are long overdue. Others assert that things are just fine as they are. Over at Spunkyhomeschool,
they are bringing to our attention a brand-new site which promises to keep an eye on the NEA.

Will traditional paper-based textbooks always be used in our schools? Or are they doomed to go the way of the
slate and the hornbook? Diane Weir is letting us know that the future is a lot closer than many folks might think...

Should public school teachers be granted tenure? In California, Governor Schwarzenegger has called a special election that will greatly alter the granting of tenure for teachers who work in public schools. At Polski3's View From Here, California teacher Polski3 is thinking about some of the
unintended consequences of greatly reducing the protections that tenure has traditionally afforded classroom teachers. In a bonus post, Polski has some thoughts about the Governor's ballot initiative requiring public-employee unions to secure their members permission in writing before spending their dues on political candidates and causes.

How much effort, if any, should students who are enrolled in a teacher-preparation program expend in the study of issues such as "diversity" and "multiculturalism?" Professor S. Karlson, who writes over at Cold Spring Shops, offers
an insightful post that lets us know that some teacher-ed programs still aren't focusing enough of their energies on the study of actual teaching methodologies.

How many of us educators have attended workshops, conventions, in-service presentations, and other dog-and-pony-shows that have been a complete waste of time and money? Over at Se Hace Camino Al Andar, Nani
was one of the lucky ones who got to attend the other kind as was Coach Brown from A Passion for Teaching and Opinions. (I'm envious.)

Most would agree that one of the most challenging teaching assignments in education are those that are found in the Special Education classroom. In
the latest installment of a series of posts, Mrs. Ris offers sound advice for anyone who works with children having special needs.

It has been said that one shouldn't steal, but if one does, then steal "big" as it's small amounts that will get one arrested and thrown into jail.
See what happens when a superintendent is accused of stealing bundles of cash and the district must now pay for his legal defense.

The Eternal Question: What can schools do to get parents more involved? For some campuses, it's already time for that back-to-school ritual known as Open House. At the school where the teacher who writes What It's Like on the Inside teaches,
they have some interesting new ideas for re-invigorating an old tradition.

Do teachers have lives outside of the classroom? Kids are always surprised when they see me out shopping or doing those little errands that we all must do in our day-to-day lives. New Jersey elementary school teacher Janet, over at The Art of Getting By,
has a great source for purchasing those items that make teaching so much more effective and enjoyable whether in the classroom or in the home.

People who enrich themselves by winning lawsuits (such as
this) alleging damages because of their own negligence really aggravates me. That was until I read this post over at Scheiss Weekly and saw that there may be an opportunity to jump on the lawsuit gravy train myself.

What's a parent or educator to think when reading about a particular school's test scores? Over at Get on the Bus, they have written
a well-reasoned post with some suggestions on how to look at those scores and understand what they say and what they don't. And consider reading this bonus post about what else makes a good school.

Who would have thought that public education and social security could be compared and contrasted? Well, over at Going to the Mat,
they have done just that! (Watch out for that Third Rail...)

The results of the latest administration of the A.C.T. continue reverberate around the EduSphere. Education Policyist
warns us that the MSM might not be giving us an accurate picture of what those scores mean.

Should classroom learning in high school science be fun? Not only does, Ruminating Dude discuss the concept of "fun" in the classroom,
but he also shows why so many teachers resent attending any type of "professional development" that includes the following: butcher paper, working in groups, dancing, felt-tipped markers, or standing in a circle.

For a refreshing change of pace, consider
taking a look at Steve Pavlina's post about how you can use your computer to liberate large amounts of your own Mental RAM.

As several large school districts have recently begun phasing-out their middle schools in favor of traditional K-8 and 9-12 campuses. Ms. Cornelius
asks this question: "Are Middle Schools Bad for kids?"

There is something inherently intriguing about an blog that is written from the perspective of students. At Fresh Politics, they have published a post about how students in Communist Czechoslovakia
risked everything to stage a protest that helped set-off a chain of events that freed their peoples from the yoke of Communism. And yet, as the post reveals, not everything has changed...

At CrossBlogging, they have
an informative review of the The Old Schoolhouse magazine, which is published for the purpose of assisting those who homeschool their children. What I found particularly interesting was when I learned that the number of parents choosing to teach their children at home has greatly increased throughout the industrialized world.

Over at TFS Magnum, they have written
an engaging post about how homeschoolers continue to break the once air-tight monopoly once enjoyed by traditional schools.

Superintendent Clifford B. Janey of the Washington D.C. public school system recently replaced some 44 school principals, supposedly fulfilling a promise to remove "underperforming" school administrators. Mark Lerner convinces us that
things are not always as they appear...

recent news story about excessive pregnancies among girls in one Ohio high school really serves to illustrate the topical nature of this post from A Clear Voice. Why on Earth did we allow this situation to deteriorate to this point?

Does your local school require students to make use of agendas? The junior high school where I work does, and apparently so do many other schools around the country. One of our contributors suggested
this very interesting post from Get Schooled that addresses this topic. Don't miss what the commenters are saying!

Did you know that a nine hour school day has been proposed? One of our readers submits
this piece entitled "School's In Forever" from A Small Victory which disagrees with that idea.

And now for some entries selected by the editors:

If isn't one of your daily reads, you might want to reconsider and make them one. Take a look
this recent post by guest blogger Sara Mead in which they examine one report's recommendations for addressing some of the greatest challenges facing public education.

In the United Kingdom, they also have problems with grade inflation as well as too many students obtaining maximum scores on too-easy tests. Joanne Jacobs
has the story.

Would you believe that a teachers union has sponsored a blog that has the fortitude to allow commenters to express dissent as well as support?
Believe it! (They have earned our respect. Now if only the NEA and CTA had the guts to follow suit.)

Mike Antonucci, of the
Education Intelligence Agency, has a brand-new blog. Say "hello" to Intercepts.

And finally, we here at The Education Wonks
humbly submit for your consideration our take on the elimination of our Fine Arts class at our California junior high school.
Carnival Archives

The first edition can be seen here, the second, here the third, here the fourth, here, and the fifth, here the sixth, here the seventh, here the eighth, here the ninth, here the tenth, here the eleventh here the twelfth here, the thirteenth, here the fourteenth, here the fifteenth, here, the sixteenth, here the seventeenth, here the eighteenth, here the nineteenth, here, the twentieth, here, the twenty-first, here the twenty-second, here the twenty-third, here the twenty-fourth, here, the twenty-fifth, here, the twenty-sixth, here the twenty-seventh here, and the twenty-eighth, over there. To get to EdWonk's main page, (with a variety of education-related posts) please click here.

This edition has been registered at TTLB's Carnival Roundup.