Monday, April 30, 2007

Wonkitorial: The Latest From Babylon, D.C.

Looks like another of the Washington Crowd has been caught with his pants down hands in the hypocrisy jar:(emphasis added)
"Miz Julia" doled out a steady stream of advice, both practical and philosophical.

From her California home, she e-mailed tips to the 132 women who worked across the Washington area for the firm Pamela Martin & Associates. Her newsletters, now excerpted in court records, were a virtual how-to manual for avoiding all kinds of trouble in a business said to specialize in erotic fantasies.

"One never quite knows where evil, i.e., the vice squad is lurking in this business," read one arch entry from 1995. "The misogynists get a real kick out of surprising (shocking) you girls, when you give them the opportunity!!! . . . Therefore, you are to lock, double lock, triple lock all doors!!! . . . Figure it out, before they 'get cha'!!!"

Miz Julia was the pseudonym for Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the woman at the center of a sex scandal that has caused a deputy secretary of state to resign and has lawyers calling around town trying to keep their clients' names out of public view. A one-time law student, Palfrey ran for 13 years what she insists was a legal escort service. Federal prosecutors allege she was providing $300-an-hour prostitutes, and a grand jury indicted her in February on federal racketeering charges.

Palfrey piqued fascination -- and anxiety -- by first threatening to sell phone records that could unveil thousands of clients, and then handing them over, apparently for free, to ABC News. She is scheduled to appear tomorrow in U.S. District Court in the District.

On Friday, Randall L. Tobias resigned as deputy secretary of state one day after confirming to Brian Ross of ABC that he had patronized the Pamela Martin firm. Speaking yesterday on "Good Morning America," Ross said Tobias told him Tobias's number was on Palfrey's phone records because he had called "to have gals come over to the condo to give me a massage." There had been "no sex," Ross quoted Tobias as saying, and that recently he has used another service, "with Central American gals," for massages.

Tobias, who is 65 and married, was director of U.S. Foreign Assistance and administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. He previously held a top job in the Bush administration overseeing AIDS relief, in which he promoted abstinence and a policy requiring grant recipients to swear they oppose prostitution.

Palfrey's flamboyant attorney, Montgomery Blair Sibley, said Friday that he has been contacted by five lawyers recently, asking whether their clients' names are on Palfrey's list of 10,000 to 15,000 phone numbers. Some, Sibley said, have inquired about whether accommodations could be made to keep their identities private. ABC is expected to air a report on Palfrey and her clients on "20/20" on May 4, during sweeps.

More revelations are in the offing. Ross said the list includes the names of some "very prominent people," as well as a number of women with "important and serious jobs" who had worked as escorts for the firm.
Read the backstory about this whole sorry episode right here.

This is just another incident that seems to support the idea that over the past few decades, Washington Babylon-on-the-Potomac has become little more than a cesspool of non-stop depravity, cronyism, reckless spending of the public's money, and gross administrative incompetence.

While our nation is in the middle of a supposed "war" on terror in which thousands of our nation's young people are getting killed and maimed due to a lack of proper equipment, (such as up-armored combat-ready vehicles) the Washington Crowd New Babylonians seemingly do little else besides party, travel on taxpayer-financed sightseeing junkets, and play endless rounds of employer-employee grab-ass while marking time in their plushly-appointed (again, at taxpayer expense) office suites.

In his
first inaugural address, President Ronald Reagan said, "Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." Mr. Regan went on to say:
"We hear much of special interest groups. Well, our concern must be for a special interest group that has been too long neglected. It knows no sectional boundaries or ethnic and racial divisions, and it crosses political party lines. It is made up of men and women who raise our food, patrol our streets, man our mines and factories, teach our children, keep our homes, and heal us when we're sick--professionals, industrialists, shopkeepers, clerks, cabbies, and truck drivers. They are, in short, "we the people," this breed called Americans.

So, as we begin, let us take inventory. We are a nation that has a government--not the other way around. And this makes us special among the nations of the Earth. Our government has no power except that granted it by the people. It is time to check and reverse the growth of government, which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed.

It is no coincidence that our present troubles parallel and are proportionate to the intervention and intrusion in our lives that result from unnecessary and excessive growth of government..."
During the 1992 Presidential campaign, which ended-up being won by Bill Clinton, (who just may be the most morally bankrupt man to ever hold the office) then-candidate Ross Perot spoke about the need for someone to go to Washington Babylon-on-the-Potomac and, in his words, "clean-out the barn."

President Reagan's call to reign-in an arrogant and increasingly overbearing federal government continues to resonate today while that barn of which Mr. Perot spoke about is still in need of a thorough cleaning.

We hope that any and all of those who are involved (be they Democrats or Republicans) in this latest scandal among the nation's ruling so-called "elite" are exposed and held up to the public ridicule that they so richly deserve at the hands of the hard-working, over-taxed, and over-regulated folks who live out here in what these Washingtonians New Babylonians sneeringly refer to (while in attendance at any one of their numberless pickup-parties-in-the-guise-of-office-cocktail-mixers) as "fly-over country."

Stay tuned.
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Friday, April 27, 2007

The Nation's Top Teacher Meets The President

President Bush met with Washington State music teacher Andrea Peterson who has been selected as the "National Teacher of the Year:"
WASHINGTON -- Teaching is a family thing for Andrea Peterson, honored Thursday as the nation's top teacher.

The 33-year-old is a music instructor in Granite Falls, Wash. Her father, Victor Rahn, has been in the classroom since before Andrea was born. Two sisters-in-law and her mother-in-law are also teachers.

President Bush stressed those and other family connections as he saluted Peterson at a Rose Garden ceremony.

"When you come from a family of teachers, you tend to develop a lifelong appreciation of learning. And more importantly, it enables you to find creative ways to instill that appreciation in others," Bush said, with Peterson by his side.

"This is a family that really cares about good grammar," Bush added. "I probably wouldn't do all that well at the dinner table."

Bush said Peterson had told him that her father was her first role model. The president praised Victor Rahn at the ceremony, which was attended by nearly 200 people who braved threatening skies to celebrate Peterson's selection as the 57th national teacher of the year.

"We congratulate you on being such a fine dad that your daughter stands here in the Rose Garden as the national teacher of the year," Bush said.

Peterson said her father set an example that she has tried to follow for 10 years as a music teacher in tiny Granite Falls, north of Seattle.

"Generations of children are leading productive lives because Victor Rahn said, 'I care what happens to you. I'm interested in your life,'" Peterson said.

Her father, who teaches special education at Onalaska High School in Onalaska, Wash., provided countless examples of the difference a teacher can make in a student's life, Peterson said.

"A talented student is a teacher's ultimate reward. As a daughter, I'm his ultimate student," said Peterson, who graduated from Onalaska High in 1991. Her father never taught her in the classroom but did coach her in basketball.

Rahn, who traveled with his wife, Darlene, a librarian, and their extended family to the White House, called the award ceremony "huge - probably one of the high points of my life."

Andrea Peterson said she was thrilled by the award - especially the recognition of music at a time when many schools stress reading and writing.

"It's exciting that arts can be brought to a national spotlight," she said.

Peterson is only the second music teacher to be honored as the national teacher of the year.
Read all about President Bush, Laura Bush, and Education Secretary Margaret Spellings' encounter with Ms. Peterson and all the other "State Teachers of the Year" at the White House.

It is to Andrea Peterson and all the hard-working teachers that she represents that we humbly offer our Red Apple Salute
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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Carnival Of Education: Week 116

Welcome to the midway of the 116th Carnival of Education!

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

If you're interested in hosting an edition of The Carnival Of Education, please let us know via this email address: edwonk [at] educationwonks [dot] org.

As always, we give a hearty "thank you" to everybody who helped spread the word about last week's midway. Visit the C.O.E.'s archives here and see our latest EduPosts there.

Next Week's Carnival midway will be hosted by Dr. Homeslice. Contributors are invited to send submissions to: drhomeslice [at] hotmail [dot] com , or use this handy submission form. Entries should be received no later than 9:00 PM (Eastern) Tuesday, May 1, 2007. Please include the title of your post, and its URL, if possible. Barring unforeseen circumstances, the midway should open next Wednesday morning.

Let the free exchange of thoughts and ideas begin!


Around here,
we like to keep an eye on the comings and goings of Margaret Spellings, the globe-trotting U.S. Education Secretary. And now we've learned that somebody else is keeping an eye on She Who Must Be Obeyed.

Has the American public education system become a "free-for-all" with competing interests vying for influence over what is taught? Mark Montgomery asserts that if stakeholders in the education community cannot agree on a set of common EduObjectives,
the textbook companies will.

While Matt has some good news for those of us who are fans of Teach For America, (See T.F.A. website
here.) he also suggests what needs to be done in order to make a good program better.

The Virginia Tech Massacre:

Mamacita of Scheiss Weekly
reflects upon the recent tragedy at Virginia Tech. Here's a sample:
The incident at Virginia Tech had nothing to do with gun control, no matter how hard some people are trying to make it so. People like this student will find a weapon one way or another, and no amount of legislating or safeguarding or waiting periods will make any difference. This is not a gun control issue. This is a self control issue. And it is people who have no self control who ruin everything for all of us.

People with no self-control take up more than their fair share of an airline seat. People with no self-control eat all the Hostess cupcakes. People with no self-control talk in the movie theater, and they grab for things they want, and they scream and cry when they don't get their own way. People with no self-control see no reason why they should obey the rules or, when they're older, the laws. People with no self-control want what they want when they want it. People with no self-control never quite grew up somewhere in the brain.
Consider reading the whole thing.

From The Classroom:

NYC Educator
is letting the public in on a Teaching Trade Secret that most successful classroom educators possess: it's known simply as "the look."

Attention parents, teachers, and school administrators: contrary to the beliefs of some of you out there in EduLand,
children are not accessories.

what happens in the real world when a Texas public school teacher insisted on maintaining high grading standards. (Was the teacher fairly treated? You make the call....)

Most of us know about a great teacher who got tired of all the non-teaching hassles and retired early, but
this submission by Education in Texas leaves us scratching our heads and asking ourselves yet again... why are so many talented educators calling it quits just when they're needed the most? Meanwhile Ms. Cornelius reveals just how quickly a veteran educator's priorities can be forced to change.

touches upon a dilemma that is familiar to many, if not most, history teachers: What's a teacher to do when there is too much history to teach and too little year left to teach it in?

Even though there's still nine-weeks of school to go, high school English teacher Graycie
can see the light at the end of the tunnel. (But is that light an on-rushing train?)

School Governance:

Joanne Jacobs is telling us about a school administrator who suspended a student simply because he made negative comments about a photo of his classmates. But then again, as is so often the case,
there's more than meets the eye to this one.

Inside This Teaching Life:

For many teachers, simply hearing the words "professional development" causes a wide-range of feelings, from revulsion to anxiety. Nevertheless, "P.D." is a fact of life for most educators. What It's Like on the Inside
gives us the inside scoop on a good activity that involves, of all things, the use of a picture book!

IB a Math Teacher
ponders a question that we ourselves have pondered: why do so many school administrators talk to their teachers as if the teachers were idiots?

See what happened when a California high school student asked her very pro-military, pro-War Against Islamofascism math teacher to assist her with getting a "Peace Scholarship."

Missprofe compares American students with those of France and
asks a pretty good question: when it comes to students, where's the personal accountability?

On the last day of the school year, Pete the teacher
asked that question so many of us would like to ask of those students who we know are capable of learning but choose not to.

Unions And Collective Bargaining:

The internet offers a number of intriguing possibilities for those progressive and forward-thinking teachers associations. Dr. Homeslice has some for those who are willing to think
outside of the traditional union box.


The University of Houston's HUNBlog is introducing us to a new hands-on science curriculum:
say "hello" to the HUNBox!

Stephen of Live Granades
takes a hard look at that time-honored nemesis tradition: the five-paragraph essay.

Higher Education:

When it comes to teaching large-enrollment college classes, the implementation of a fair and equitable grading policy becomes paramount. Rightwingprof
makes the case for a system of grading that he has developed.

A traditionally non-traditional student asks a good question:
Is community college right for you?

The Collegiate Way has
a cautionary tale about the need to be aware of low-flying birds of prey bearing omens from the Gods.

Testing and Technology:

Taz has a
simple but effective method for parents who want to encourage their children to develop familiarity with a home computer but don't want them to become overly-familiar with the Internet.

Tennessee teacher Carol of The Medium Sib
gives us 13 ways Test Week is so much more different than those other, more mundane EduWeeks. (The good, the bad, and the ugly.)

Learn Me Good is
exposing a different type of testing cover-up. (We've been down that road ourselves...)


Reader NYC Educator has tipped us to this post from Miss Cellania that
reminds us that there is something about a teacher.

Let's Play Math
lets us learn all about how to insult somebody using the best Shakespearean English.


a method of developing a child's writing skills.... without writing!

And now
we discover that the Homeschooling Revolution has come to Britain!

Included by the editors: Round-out your Educational Experience by finding out what the homies are up to over at
this week's edition of The Carnival of Homeschooling.

Inside The Blogs:

Philosopher's Playground
challenges readers to leave a one-word response to his post about Steve Fuller's (A defender of Intelligent Design.) remarks concerning Scientists and Things Scientific.

Scott at Dangerously Irrelevant
gets a reality check about how a large number of parents and teachers really feel about empowering students to take charge of their own learning experiences.

submitted for your consideration is our post about Eagle Scout James Calderwood, who has achieved the astounding feat of earning every single merit badge in book. (That's all 122 of 'em.)

And finally: This, like most of our journeys around the EduSphere, has been both enjoyable and informative. Our continued thanks to all the contributors whose submissions make the midway's continuing success possible, the folks who donate their time to help spread the word, and the readers who continue to make it A Free Exchange of Thoughts and Ideas
This midway is registered at TTLB's carnival roundup. See our latest EduPosts here, and the (somewhat) complete Carnival archives over there.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

High Noon For High School Sports?

Mr. McNamar of The Daily Grind is asking a very sensitive question: Has the time come to end high school sports?
The central mission of public education is to teach the skills necessary to contribute to the global society. Then how do high school athletics fit in?

Here are four reasons why high school athletics may not fit into the mission of public education.

Reason 1: Across the country, school districts face a money shortage. Athletics, for all the good that can come from them, add to the financial burden. For instance, a school that has Football, Soccer (boys' and girls'), Volleyball, Tennis (boys' and girls'), Cross-Country, Basketball (boys' and girls'), Swim (boys' and girls'), Bowling, Wrestling, Baseball, Softball, Track (boys' and girls'), and Golf (boys' and girls') has 19 Varsity head coaches. On average, let's assume a salary of 3,000 per coach. That is $57,000. Then, add in the cost of Junior Varsity coaches for each of those sports. At a salary of a modest 1,500, that would be $28,500. But, some of these programs have a third or even fourth coach for Freshman/C-Team participants. I'll estimate five such coaches at the J.V. salary for an additional $7,500. The total output: $93,000.

But that number fails to account for insurance, maintenance, equipment, transportation, supervision, janitorial, referees, Athletic Directors (a plush position at both the school and Central Office--leading to secretarial needs, etc.)
Athletics cost money. Too much money, perhaps.
Get all of Mr. McNamar's reasons and decide for yourself whether or not the game should be called on high school extra-curricular sports.
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Carnival Entries Are Due!

Entries for the 116th midway of The Carnival Of Education are due today. Please email them to: owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net . (Or, easier yet, use this handy submission form.) Submissions should be received no later than 9:00 PM (Eastern) 6:00 PM (Pacific). Contributions should include your site's name, the title of the post, and the post's URL if possible.

Visit last week's midway, hosted by DY/DAN, over there.

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

The Watcher's Council Has Spoken!

Each and every week, Watcher of Weasels sponsors a contest among posts from the Conservative side of the 'Sphere. The winning entries are determined by a jury of 12 writers (and The Watcher) known as "The Watchers Council."

The Council has met and cast their ballots for last week's submitted posts.

Council Member Entries: Big Lizards took first place with Fighting Back Was Not an Option, Part 2.

Non-Council Entries: The Belmont Club garnered the most votes with The Laughter in the Dark.
See our latest EduPosts.


Monday, April 23, 2007

The Website Of The Day: TeacherTube

If you're a fan of YouTube, then you're gonna love TeacherTube. Check'em out right over there.

(TipWonk'd by: Polski3 of Polski3's View From Here)


Trespassers Will Be Eaten!

A group of Chinese youngsters thought that it would be cute to jump over a park's fence in order to tease some carnivorous animals that are housed there. The trespassers received a first-hand lesson about the food-chain instead:
BEIJING, China (AP) -- A crocodile shot to death in south China during a search for a missing 9-year-old student was found to contain the child's remains, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

The crocodile was shot Saturday in a park in Beihai, a city in the Guangxi region, by investigators looking for the missing child. Investigators confirmed that human remains found in the reptile were that of the student, the report said.

The child, surnamed Liu, disappeared Friday after Liu and three other children climbed over the fence around a pool in the park that had been used to stage crocodile shows, Xinhua said.

"The children shot the animals with catapults and beat them with wooden sticks," the agency said. "One of the irritated crocodiles bit Liu's clothes and dragged him into water, where he was eaten by a swarm of crocodiles."

Snipers used pork to lure the reptiles from the pool on Saturday and shot the first one that crawled ashore, the report said.

No other details were given, and it wasn't immediately clear what would happen to the other crocodiles.

Local residents said the park's owner had hired a keeper for the crocodiles, but it was not clear why the man was not at the site when the students broke in, the report said.
Since this unfortunate incident happened in China, rather than the United States, my guess is that the parents will not be able to sue the park's owner and recover millions of dollars in compensation for their children's disregard of fences, common-sense, and the laws of nature.
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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Merit-Based Success: James Calderwood

Now here's a young man who's actually earned his accolades the good old-fashioned way: he worked for them:
Archaeology, emergency preparedness, textiles, personal fitness — this seemingly random list of activities is just the beginning of the things James Calderwood has mastered.

Calderwood is a Boy Scout who's earned every single merit badge available. Twenty-one are needed to become an Eagle Scout. He earned all 122.

"I never really planned on earning all the merit badges," Calderwood said, "and if I had I definitely wouldn't have left bugling for the last one. I sort of started following my different passions and hobbies; and found merit badges a great way to learn about new things."

We'll get back to the bugling in a minute. Earning one merit badge — much less 122 — is no easy task. A scout must prove he is proficient at the task and is then quizzed by a professional in the field before he gets to sew that badge on his sash.

"Boy Scouts doesn't have a sash that holds all the badges, so I had to engineer my own sash. So I took three sashes and sewed them together so there are three parts to it," Calderwood said.

It took him six years to earn all the badges. Some of this high school senior's most memorable include fishing (his first badge), photography (a really big passion of his), Indian lore (after spending time with Arizona's Hopi Indians) and aviation.

"I spent a day at the Coast Guard's flight training center and actually got to fly a helicopter simulator there," Calderwood said. "Unfortunately, I crashed it into the aircraft carrier."

He said that the public health, medicine and first aid badges helped him get a taste for what he wants to do — become a doctor and help people in the third world. That's something he already has had opportunity to do while earning his merit badges.

But first, back to the bugle. Calderwood earned his final merit badge just two days shy of his 18th birthday, the Boy Scout cutoff.

"Bugling was probably the hardest badge for me. I've never been musically talented or gifted," he said. "It would have been a shame to end it with one left to go."

The Boy Scouts don't keep records of scouts who have earned every merit badge, but they say it is very rare.

"Moving through scouting, it's really taught me a lot about leadership. There's no situation where I feel sort of useless in," he said. "There's always something I can do, some way I can help out."

Calderwood's bound for Kenya this summer — to work in a health clinic.

This weekend, he plans to focus on which college to attend in the fall. It looks as if it will be either Columbia University or the University of Pennsylvania.

Wherever he goes, he might have to resist the temptation to take every course.
Young Mr. Calderwood has certainly earned our Red Apple Salute!

Much more on merit badges here.
See our latest entries.


Friday, April 20, 2007

British UnParenting

It has long been said that English parents rear very well-behaved children. Well.... it appears as though that's no longer true as ever-increasing numbers of young (even kindergarten-age) children are being expelled for criminal behaviors that run the gamut from drug dealing to sexual assault:
At least one child aged five or under is expelled from school every week and dozens more are suspended as bad behaviour among pupils soars.

Official Government figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show that increasing numbers of children are being barred from primary school for offences as serious as sexual assault, theft, racism and even drug dealing.

In an alarming disclosure, it is revealed that 230 pupils are suspended and six are permanently excluded from primary schools in England every day during term time.

In the reception year alone, 60 pupils aged four or five were expelled in just 12 months - a three-fold increase compared to year earlier. A further 960 - or five a day - were suspended.

The findings will fuel concerns that bad behaviour among teenagers is increasingly trickling down to the very youngest children. Teachers claim that many pupils arrive at school without any sense of respect for adults as parents fail to impose any discipline in the home.
There's much more to read over there.

When it comes to parents who don't do their jobs teaching kids how to behave in public, American parents have a lot in common with their transatlantic cousins
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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Administrative Idiocy: Parents And Teachers Fight Back

Administrators in one Texas school district really know how to disrespect teachers and anger parents:
ANNA – The story of Black Friday has shaken the small Anna school district, but tonight many people here hope to make it a legend of the past.

Some residents of this rural Collin County town have painted their cars, donned T-shirts and posted signs to protest Black Friday, the day known by staff for the practice of publicly firing teachers.

Many parents and teachers plan to attend tonight's school board meeting when the board is scheduled to hear appeals in closed session from three staff members who say they were pushed out of their jobs in a humiliating way the day before spring break.

Black Friday drew widespread attention last month when staff members told the school board that administrators dressed in black suits had pulled them aside in front of their co-workers to notify them that their contracts wouldn't be renewed for the coming school year, tantamount to firing in the education field.

"I can't believe they can get away with doing that," said Shannon West, who plans to attend the meeting with several other parents. "They've got it so all the teachers are scared. What kind of work environment is that?"

Some of them accused officials of retaliation tied to TAKS testing security breaches, nepotism and other issues. Joe Wardell, the district's superintendent, declined to comment on specific personnel matters but said he plans to review the dismissal process.

Former Central Campus principal Laura Jenks and two teachers, Tiffaney Taylor and Carol Falls, are scheduled to appeal the decisions tonight. Dr. Jenks was moved off campus to an administrative job on Black Friday. Ms. Taylor and Ms. Falls lost their contracts effective at the end of the school year.

Dr. Jenks said many of the teachers who spoke out against Black Friday at the March board meeting have reported to her that they have been retaliated against in the past few weeks. Some of them say administrators have eavesdropped on their classes through the intercom system, Dr. Jenks said. Others say their computers were searched.

"They do feel they are being mistreated and not treated the same as other teachers," said Dr. Jenks, who said the superintendent has treated her well.

Dr. Wardell said he hasn't received any reports of retaliation.

"I can't imagine how to respond to that," he said when asked about the intercom allegations. "Why would anyone want to be doing something like that?"

Ms. Falls, one of the teachers who was let go, said she's confronted some people who she feels have treated her differently since she spoke out.

"The general atmosphere at the campus is tense," she said.

Ms. Falls told the school board in March that she felt she was fired in retaliation for reporting that she saw Assistant Superintendent Dirk Callison enter the room holding TAKS tests and answer sheets after hours. Mr. Callison said he was looking for computer parts and didn't disturb any testing materials.

Dr. Jenks reported the testing breach to the superintendent, who reported it to the Texas Education Agency. The TEA did no further investigation.

Dr. Jenks said she believes she was pushed out of her job because she reported the breach and also recommended that the district not renew one of her employee's contracts. Others identified that employee as Mr. Callison's wife, Jan, an art teacher at Central Campus.

"I care about my teachers, and I care about my kids, and that's why I'm not on campus," Dr. Jenks said. "That's what I believe."

Mr. Callison has said there is no connection.

Ms. Taylor, a kindergarten teacher, said she's not sure why she was dismissed on Black Friday. Since the March meeting, she said, she's heard from parents and others in Anna, a tight-knit town of about 7,000 people.

"The support is great," Ms. Taylor said. "The parents have been awesome."

Connie Montgomery, whose granddaughter is in Ms. Taylor's class, made T-shirts and posted signs against Black Friday after the board meeting in March.

"The way it was handled was wrong," Ms. Montgomery said. "Ms. Taylor is one of the greatest teachers Anna has ever had. When my granddaughter goes to school and Ms. Taylor isn't there, she cries."

Many teachers said they had heard about Black Friday but thought it was a rumor until March 9, the day before spring break.

Dr. Wardell said he didn't realize the teachers had that outlook about the notification process. State law requires school districts to notify teachers whose contracts won't be renewed at least 45 days before the end of the school year, he said.

"It's good that you're letting people know that early," he said, "but the negative side of that is that you have 45 instructional days with kids, and you may wind up with a person who is not happy you made that decision."

Dr. Wardell said he would review the process in coming years.

"I never dreamed there was any level of that perception out there," he said.
Maybe the governing board ought to "review" Dr. Wadell's contract....
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Wednesday, April 18, 2007


The 115th edition of The Carnival of Education (hosted this week by DY/DAN) has opened-up the midway with a variety of exhibits and freak sideshows from across the EduSphere.

Round-out your Educational Experience by seeing what the homies are up to over at Tax Edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling.
See our latest EduPosts.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Carnival Entries Are Due!

Entries for the 115th midway of The Carnival Of Education (hosted this week by Dan over at DY/DAN) are due today. Please email them to: dan [at] mrmeyer [dot] com . (Or, easier yet, use this handy submission form.) Submissions should be received no later than 11:00 PM (Pacific). Contributions should include your site's name, the title of the post, and the post's URL if possible.

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

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

The Watcher's Council Has Spoken!

Each and every week, Watcher of Weasels sponsors a contest among posts from the Conservative side of the 'Sphere. The winning entries are determined by a jury of 12 writers (and The Watcher) known as "The Watchers Council."

The Council has met and cast their ballots for last week's submitted posts.

Council Member Entries: Cheat Seeking Missiles took first place with Don't Know Your Enemy.

Non-Council Entries: American Future garnered the most votes with Orwell, the Left, and 9/11.
See our latest EduPosts.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

President Bush: The Reasoning Behind NCLB

President Bush tells us why he pushed N.C.L.B. in the first place: all he wanted to do was help public schools:
President Bush, acknowledging public frustration over his No Child Left Behind Act, said Thursday the point of the law is not to punish schools that fall short, but to help them.

Bush suggested the White House and its allies must do a better job of explaining the goal of holding schools accountable.

Congress is working on renewing the law, which remains unpopular in many districts nationwide.

"It is important for all of us to make it clear that accountability is not a way to punish anybody," Bush told supporters of the law in a meeting at the White House. "It's an essential component to making sure that our system, our education system, frankly is not discriminatory."

Bush got unified support from the group of business, education and civil rights leaders he invited to the Roosevelt Room. They spoke of economic competitiveness and social justice.

But even his friendly audience pointed out flaws in the law.

The most common concern was that some states -- free to determine their own academic standards -- are manipulating the law by setting the bar too low for students.

"There have been some states that have been attempting to skirt the act by, in effect, dumbing down their curriculum," said Paul Vallas, CEO of the Philadelphia School District.

No Child Left Behind, approved by Congress early in Bush's first term, is the biggest federal act in a generation. Politically, it is also vital to Bush's agenda and his legacy.

Schools that receive federal aid face sanctions if they don't show yearly progress among their students, including poor children, minorities and limited-English learners.

The result is that schools must give more attention to kids who often struggle the most.

Yet where Bush sees accountability, others see punishment.

Many parents and teachers say schools put too much emphasis on getting kids to pass tests. Bush's support of private-school vouchers has also made critics suspicious of his intentions.

The president seemed aware of these perceptions.

"It's really important for the citizens to understand that I'm a huge believer in the public school systems," Bush said. "I believe our public schools have really made America."

The White House allowed two reporters to sit in on Bush's meeting.

Bush appears to have enough bipartisan support to get the law renewed with its core elements intact, although conservative Republicans oppose it on grounds that it is a federal intrusion.

The law orders states to test children in reading and math in grades three through eight, and once in high school.

Bush offered no commitment on the issue of getting states to raise their standards. Instead, he defended local control and opposed the idea of judging schools based on a federal test.

The status quo, though isn't working, Bush was told time and again. State standards are a hodgepodge nationwide, although many states have committed to improve those standards.

Jeanne Allen, president of the Center for Education Reform and a participant in the meeting, said after that Bush realizes the law needs work -- without being weakened.

"He was familiar with the rhetoric, and with the fact that it's very difficult for parents to negotiate No Child Left Behind," Allen said. "He knows the challenges and the perceptions."
For the record, we don't have anything against holding people accountable for their performance. Far from it.

But it just seems to us as though America's classroom teachers are the only folks that the Washington crowd this Administration seems eager to make "accountable."

They certainly don't seem to hold themselves (FEMA, Department of Defense, GSA, Customs/Immigration, Congress etc.) "accountable" for anything
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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Principal Pornstar Meets Ms. Horndog The Teacher

School principal Leroy Coleman and 8th grade teacher Janet Loften thought that it would be cute to "get their honey 'lovin where they get their money." He and She have now ended-up starring in their own adult film which was produced on location in his office: (Ed's note: See latest updates at the bottom of this entry.)
CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- A principal and a teacher at a suburban elementary school quit amid allegations they were caught on video having sex in the principal's office, authorities say.

In keeping with Cook County's reputation for bare-knuckle politics, the scandal broke after copies of the sex tape were mailed anonymously to parents this week, just days before a contested school board election.

The case has also created something of a mystery: Who planted the camera that recorded the action?

Leroy Coleman and Janet Lofton submitted their resignations after meeting with the district superintendent Thursday, said John Izzo, board attorney for the Sandridge Elementary School district, about 20 miles south of Chicago.

Izzo said that Coleman, the school's principal since 2005, wrote that he was quitting for health reasons. He said Lofton wrote that she was stepping down immediately "due to the illness of a family member."

Kim Grivakis, the mother of a 13-year-old girl and 11-year-old boy who attend the school, said she received a copy of the 2½-hour DVD in the mail Wednesday. She organized a meeting Thursday with other parents to call for action from the school board.

Grivakis said she could identify Coleman and Lofton on the tape.

"It made me sick," Grivakis said. "It's very graphic. I can't tell you how graphic because I have two children standing right here."

The Cook County Sheriff's Department is investigating.

"At this point we don't know if a crime has been committed," department spokeswoman Penny Mateck said, adding that investigators had a copy of the video.

Lofton has an unlisted telephone number, and no listing could be found for Coleman.

Izzo said that he had been told by a sheriff's official that the two on the tape are Coleman and Lofton. "They asked to look at pictures of the staff members and they identified them," he said of the investigators.

The school board attorney said Coleman and Lofton apparently did not know about the camera. "Somebody got access and planted a bug in a school office," Izzo said.

He said sheriff's investigators searched the office on Thursday and apparently did not find a camera.

Copies of the video, apparently taped in December and January from the date stamps on it, emerged just days before Tuesday's elections. Eight candidates are competing for four board slots.

"How come it took five days before the election?" said School Board President Cheryl Ward said. "I think that is sick."
Updates: Australia's Brisbane Times has a video screenshot of the romantic couple here NBC has a little more about the particulars here. Drop-in and visit the school's website over there.

Heh. We'd be willing to bet that "merit-based promotion," isn't the method used to select and retain administrators in the Sandridge Elementary School District.

But then again, the idea of "merit-based" promotion seems to be a real rarity in the field of public education where folks are more often than not promoted based upon their political connections rather than qualifications, proven track-record of success, and abundant common-sense

As to who planted the camara, our guess is that it was probably an Inside Job, most likely someone who works in the office or had a high degree of access. (Such as a custodian.)At any rate, it was somebody (or somebodies) who wanted that particular principal gone.
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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Carnival Of Education: Week 114

Welcome to the midway of the 114th Carnival of Education!

Here's this week's roundup of entries from around the EduSphere. All entries this week were submitted by the writers themselves.

If you're interested in hosting an edition of The Carnival Of Education, please let us know via this email address: edwonk [at] educationwonks [dot] org.

As always, we give a hearty "thank you" to everybody who helped spread the word about last week's midway. Visit the C.O.E.'s archives here and see our latest EduPosts there.

Next Week's Carnival midway will be hosted by Dan over at DY/DAN. Contributors are invited to send submissions to: dan [at] mrmeyer [dot] com , or use this handy submission form. Entries should be received no later than 11:00 PM (Pacific) Tuesday, April 17, 2007. Please include the title of your post, and its URL, if possible. Barring unforeseen circumstances, the midway should open next Wednesday morning.

Let the free exchange of thoughts and ideas begin!


Edspresso continues fostering EduDialogue with
this week's debate. The topic is the Whole Language instructional method, with whole language teacher Nancy Creech going-up against edblogger Ken De Rosa of D-Ed Reckoning.

Should there be a national math curriculum? Now that's a controversial EduQuestion if we've ever seen one. I.B. a Math Teacher comments upon the findings of a recent survey that ponders that very notion.

In many high schools around the country, the role of A.P. classes continues to be a hotly-debated topic. Matthew K. Tabor
has some thoughts on recent program audits and the need to make sure that when it comes to A.P., that there is truth in advertising.

Should high school students who profess to be gay be granted the same access to school facilities as other, more traditional student groups? That's been an ongoing controversy for a number of years. High school math teacher Darren
has the skinny on the latest federal interference court rulings and lets us know in no uncertain terms which side of the issue that he's on.

The Colossus of Rhodey has been keeping an eye on the Seattle School Board. But
this latest report from Colossus about the Search for a new school superintendent and how the need for job applicants to have an "understanding" of "institutionalized oppression" will most certainly provoke strong reactions. Judge for yourself.

Baltimore's public education system continues to be
in a state of complete meltdown. (Are the people who're responsible for this on-going disaster ever going to be held accountable?)

While Baltimore's public schools continue to flail about struggle, things aren't much better in Los Angeles. A few months ago, the second-largest school district in the country hired retired navy vice-admiral David Brewer III (
initial four-year contract, lotsa perks) as its superintendent even though he had no experience in public education whatsoever. Friends of Dave
reviews the latest episode in the long-running soap opera that is the nation's second-largest school system.

This week's entry from Right Wing Nation
takes a hard look at a recent survey that illustrates the astounding disconnect between high school and college educators about how well students are prepared for university-level work. Be sure to check out the tables used by Nation to buttress their position.

One of the first friends that we made back when the EduSphere was young (Sept. 2004) was former school board member Tony Iovino of A Red Mind in a Blue State. In
this week's Carnival entry, Tony links to, and comments upon, a controversial study that asserts that when it comes to math and reading, the use of high-tech software in the classroom makes little or no difference in student performance.

How much homework is too much homework? NYC Educator
has the news about a young man who is taking a stand against the assignment of excessive homework over vacation. (Disc. We ourselves don't assign "vacation homework." We consider vacation to be just that...)

From The Classroom:

What would you do if a kid walked into your classroom with a t-shirt that was emblazoned with the hammer and sickle? That's exactly what happened to one California teacher. Find out how he dealt with
this very sickle situation.

Prepare to have your heartstrings pulled when you read this entry from a teacher named Pete who
did all that could could do to help one of his most challenging students. But in the end, those challenges could not be overcome.

Today's Homework also has a heart string puller with
this entry about one student who is saved and one who was lost.... (And don't miss that part about the ships!)

Ms. Cornelius of A Shrewdness of Apes
is showing us how some parents insist on academic commitments being scheduled around their kid's social and extra-curricular calendars. Here's a sample
And BTW, this parent sent me the email the day before the test was scheduled. This person noted that his son had chosen to be involved in this project, and of course he should take responsibility for his choices and make sure he can handle them, but, and I quote, "isn't it really a teacher's job to encourage students to be involved in activities outside of school?" He concluded with the suggestion that if I couldn't move the test, perhaps I could shorten it. The parent also stated that he had talked this over with other parents, and they agreed. So he was sort of carrying the standard, if you will, for a groundswell of opinion.
In order to help students have a better grasp of ratios, Let's Play Math has taken multi-billionaire Bill Gates' net worth and stood it on its dollar-stuffed head. Mathematically-speaking, of course.

When it comes to speaking to one's students, the Science Goddess
gives us a reminder about the importance of knowing our audience.

Inside This Teaching Life:

Mamacita takes us down memory lane with this tidy post that invokes the "Equal Rights Amendment" and the correct use of indicative/reflexive pronouns. (Like Cita, we only buy ERA detergent when its on sale...)

Once again, we can see what damage a principal does to his or her school's program by
engaging in favoritism. (If you are a teacher who works for a principal who doesn't play favorites, then you are truly blessed.) Was it George Orwell who wrote, "All teachers are equal but some teachers are more equal than others?"

What kind of individual
sociopath uses their employer's school bus as a gettaway vehicle after stealing $17 worth of food from a grocer?

Mr. Miller of The 21st Century School House
is venturing into Dangerous Territory. He went into his principal's office recently and volunteered to put-on a professional growth workshop on EduTechnology. (We hope that his presentation is not plagued by the Dark Demons of Technology Demos...)

Texas teacher Missprofe has
come to grips with one of those aspects of The Teaching Life that all veteran teachers must realize if they are to survive very long in the trenches.

Respectfully submitted for your consideration is our entry about the high school jock senior who mooned his teacher and then turned around and sued the school!

Teaching And Learning:

Check out this cute (and highly-readable) entry about the moon. The post is structured around.... a test question! (Ed's note: M-O-O-N... that spells "moon." [We'll give bonus points to anyone who can tell us which author/book that we lifted that one from.] The book's one of our favs.)

his entry to last week's Carnival of Education, Scott McLeod's asked if "Schools quash Student's Enthusiasm for learning?" Henry Cate of Why Homeschool gives his answer to Scott's question.

Teaching in the Twenty-First Century poses an interesting EduQuestion:
Are You a Teacher of Content or Teacher of Skills/Strategies?

Is there such a thing as an "Emotional I.Q.?" And if there is, how would it affect the learning process?
Judge for yourself.

International Perspectives:

Over in Britain, it appears as though the EduPowers-that-be are giving
serious consideration to handing the keys to the asylum over to the inmates.

Unions and Collective Bargaining:

Former C.O.E. host Dr. Homeslice presents a roundup
of union-related posts from around the EduSphere. (Key vocabulary needed for understanding: "grievance.")

Parent And Student Survival Guide:

We think that this must be the first time that
someone has actually mapped the intimate intricate personal relationships that are to be found in the typical American public high school. (Looks to us like there's more than a passing similarity to certain perennially popular soap operas...)

Pick the Brain tells us which 5 types of books
will actually make your child smarter. (We really like number 4, but then again we're biased in that particular department.) While Sharp Brains recommends a few books on how learning changes our Brains-literally. And at any age.

a list (indispensable, for some) of the easiest colleges to get into. (This is definitely a one-of-a-kind roundup.)

Absolutelee has
some strong thoughts about parents who send their daughters to school dressed more like for a Friday night dance date rather than Monday morning math lesson.


Life Without School has
a good introductory primer about homeschooling. Recommended for those who are contemplating teaching their kids in the home as well as those that are curious.

Diary of 1
reminds us not to forget one primary trait that's key to the success of any effort to educate our children.

We first heard of homeschooling some twenty years ago about the time we were infatuated with listening to
this musical group as well as that one. Trivium Pursuit takes us back to those early days of the Homeschooling Movement with a link to one of the very first interviews given by homeschooling pioneer John Holt.

Higher Education:

Sophistpundit proposes an idea why college texts cost so much.
It's a conspiracy by the Cartel!

We definitely agree with
this assertion that medical students need more training in mental health! (Meanwhile, we'd like to recommend this particular book. Good summer reading.)

short submission sounds like something that could have been written by the fictional Dr. Doogie Howser.

It's about time that somebody
is finally making some headway in the development of some ethical standards in the granting of student loans. (Now if someone would finally make some headway in reigning-in the ever-rising cost of student tuition....)

here's one method of lowering your student loan payments. (But who'd want to give anyone that kind of access to your account info?)


Teacher Dana Huff
answers the question: What Can You Do with a Wiki?

Inside the Blogs:

We have to agree with The Essential Blog's
critique of the new No Child Left Behind logo. (And to think that someone actually earned made money to come up with that awful graphic and that someone else in one of the higher pay-grades in the federal civil service must have made the final decision to adopt it....)

And finally: This, like most of our journeys around the EduSphere, has been both enjoyable and informative. Our continued thanks to all the contributors whose submissions make the midway's continuing success possible, the folks who donate their time to help spread the word, and the readers who continue to make it A Free Exchange of Thoughts and Ideas
This midway is registered at TTLB's carnival roundup. See our latest EduPosts here, and the (somewhat) complete Carnival archives over there.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Carnival Entries Are Due!

Entries for the 114th midway of The Carnival Of Education (hosted this week by us here at The 'Wonks.) are due today. Please email them to: owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net . (Or use this handy submission form.) Submissions should be received no later than 9:00 PM (Eastern), 6:00 PM (Pacific). Contributions should include your site's name, the title of the post, and the post's URL if possible.

Those wishing to host an edition of the Midway, please drop us a line via the same email address.

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

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the exhibits should open Wednesday.
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The Watcher's Council Has Spoken!

Each and every week, Watcher of Weasels sponsors a contest among posts from the Conservative side of the 'Sphere. The winning entries are determined by a jury of 12 writers (and The Watcher) known as "The Watchers Council."

The Council has met and cast their ballots for last week's submitted posts.

Council Member Entries: Eternity Road took first place (for the second week in a row) with The Scourging.

Non-Council Entries: Gates of Vienna garnered the most votes with Universal Moral Equivalence.
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Friday, April 06, 2007

13-Year Old Busted For Writing On Desk!

Thirteen-year-old New York City middle school student Chelsea Fraser thought that it would be swell to scribble "okay" on her school desktop. She was caught and led away in handcuffs:
In this day and age when young students are frequently charged for serious school offenses such as possessing weapons, dealing drugs, or assaulting other students on school property, one Brooklyn teen's arrest may come as a surprise. A 13-year-old girl was handcuffed and placed under arrest in front of her classmates in Dyker Heights after she wrote "Okay" on her desk.

The "suspect," Chelsea Fraser, says she's sorry for scribbling the word on her desk, but both she and her mother are shocked at the punishment.

"I'm appalled, because here we have rapists, murderers, and you're taking a 13-year-old kid? Wasting valuable manpower to arrest a child who wrote on a desk?" Fraser's mother Diana Silva told WCBS-TV.

Police confirm that's exactly what is written on her arrest record, and for the crime she's been charged with criminal mischief and the making of graffiti. Fraser says the day she marked her desk, she was wrongly grouped together with troublemakers who had plastered stickers all over the classroom.

Fraser was arrested at the Dyker Heights Intermediate School on March 30 along with three other male students. She says she was made to empty her pockets and take off her belt. Then she was handcuffed and led out of the school in front of her classmates and placed in the back of a police car.

"It was really embarrassing because some of the kids, they talk, and they're going to label me as a bad kid. But I'm really not," Fraser said. "I didn't know writing 'Okay' would get me arrested."

"All the kids were ... watching these three boys and my daughter being marched out with four -- they had four police officers -- walking them out, handcuffed," Silva said. "She goes to me, 'Mommy, these hurt!'"

The students were taken to the 68th Precinct station house where Silva says they were separated for three hours. "My child is 13-years-old -- doesn't it stand that I'm supposed to be present for any questioning?" Silva said. "I'm watching my daughter, she's handcuffed to the pole. I ask the officer has she been there the entire time? She says, 'Yes.'"

On her report card, under conduct, Fraser has earned all "satisfactory" marks and one "excellent" mark.

"My daughter just wrote something on a desk. I would have her scrub it with Soft Scrub on a Saturday morning when she should be out playing, and maybe a day of in-house and a formal apology to the principal," Silva said.

WCBS contacted both the NYPD and the Board of Education for a response. The police say the arrests followed a request by the school's principal. The Board of Education said the matter is under investigation, adding that graffiti was found on several desks.
It's stuff like this that causes many people to think long and hard about either private schools or homeschooling their children....
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