Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Let's Carnival!

The 143rd midway of The Carnival of Education (hosted this week by What It's Like on the Inside) has opened-up the midway for your trick-or-treating pleasure.

Round-out your educational experience by checking out what the homies are up to over at the latest edition of The Carnival of Homeschooling.
See our latest entries.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Carnival Call!

Entries for the 143rd edition of The Carnival Of Education (Hosted this week by the Science Goddess over at What It's Like on the Inside.) are due. Please email them to: the_science_goddess [at] yahoo [dot] com . (Or, easier yet, use this handy submission form.) Submissions should be received no later than 6:00 PM (Eastern) 3:00 PM (Pacific) Today. Contributions should include your site's name, the title of the post, and the post's URL if possible.

Visit last week's midway, hosted History is Elementary, right here.

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

Monday, October 29, 2007

When Kids Grow Up Too Fast: The Maine Story

What's up with that Maine middle school that wants to hand out contraceptives to girls as young as 11?
School officials voted last night to OK a plan to distribute contraceptives to children as young as 11 in Portland, Maine.

The Associated Press says the decision follows at least 17 pregnancies in the last four years among students at the city's three middle schools. Children who have parental permission to visit the health center at King Middle School will have confidential access to birth-control pills, condoms and other contraceptives, according to the wire service.

Sarah Thompson, the mother of an eight-grader and a member of the Portland School Committee, explains why she voted in favor of the proposal: "I know I've done my job as a parent. (But there) may be a time when she doesn't feel comfortable coming to me ... (and) not all these kids have a strong parental advocate at home."

About 13% of middle school students in Maine say they're sexually active, according to a survey cited by the Portland Press Herald.
A number of concerned parents are already organizing an effort to recall the seven board members who voted to authorize the controversial policy.

One very important aspect of this story that no one seems willing to address is the sad truth that 17 of Portland's middle school students have gotten pregnant in the first place.

Clearly, there are some parents who aren't parenting.

And when schools try to take on the role of parents this is what happens...


Sunday, October 28, 2007

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: Bookworm Room garnered the most Council Member votes with The MSM's Rush Limbaugh Horror Story.

Non-Council Entries: In a tie vote that was broken by The Watcher, Michael Yon took first place honors with Resistance Is Futile.

See our latest EduPosts.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Censorchimps: The Massachusetts Subspecies

It's been reported that a new subspecies of Censorchimp has been sighted on a school campus in the eastern United States. This particular variety, which has long been present in the Bay State, is attempting to feast on fears that some folks have about Harry Potter:
WAKEFIELD - The summer reading feats of Lynne Bimmler's sixth-grade class are proudly chronicled on the St. Joseph's School website.

"The sixth grade reads an average of 7.5 books each with many students in double digits," says a note on the class page. "Of course, Harry Potter was a popular choice."

But last month, students found that their favorite series had "disapparated" from the school library, after St. Joseph's pastor, the Rev. Ron Barker, removed the books, declaring that the themes of witchcraft and sorcery were inappropriate for a Catholic school.

"He said that he thought most children were strong enough to resist the temptation," said one mother who asked that her name not be used because she did not want her family to be singled out. "But he said it's his job to protect the weak and the strong."

The removal at St. Joseph's is the first reported instance that the wildly popular series has been banned in the Bay State, according to the American Library Association. But British author J.K. Rowling's series, which many educators credit with inspiring a generation of children to pick up a book, has been as controversial as it has been popular. Groups in at least 17 other states have tried to ban the books since the first one was published in 1998, prompting the library association last year to name the Harry Potter collection "the most challenged books of the 21st century."

"Most of the controversy is centered around the witchcraft and occult themes," said Deborah Caldwell, who directs the office of intellectual freedom for the association. "But there are others who say the books model disrespect for adults."

Barker declined an interview yesterday, saying through his secretary that the removal of the books "is an in-house situation."

The decision has angered some parents at St. Joseph's.

"I'm upset it was done in the first place, and I'm upset it was done without talking to anyone about it," said Rick Hudson, who has sent all three of his children to the school.

But not everyone interviewed at the school yesterday was against the banning.

"I think the spirit of what he's doing is the right thing," said a mother who asked that her name not be used. "I believe he is sincerely interested in the children's well-being."

"We send our kids here for a reason," she added.

The Catholic Church has no formal policy on the books.

This summer, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops rated the most recent movie, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," appropriate for adults and adolescents.

Though Massachusetts is thought of as a bastion of liberal thought today, the state has a long history of banning books. In 1650, William Pynchon's "The Meritorius Price of Our Redemption" was publicly burned because colony leaders considered it too critical of the Puritan religion. In 1878, the New England Watch and Ward Society was founded to ban books, fight pornography, and "watch and ward off evildoers."

At the height of the society's power, in the 1920s and 1930s, controversial books at the Boston Public Library were kept in a locked room, and the police vice squad arrested anyone selling works considered offensive.

As a result, Boston led the nation in censorship based on moral grounds. Later, publishers actively sought to have books "banned in Boston" to increase sales in the rest of the country.
Once thought by some to be on the brink of extinction, Censorchimps are being increasingly encountered in all regions of the country.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007


The 142nd midway of The Carnival of Education (hosted this week by History is Elementary) has opened-up the midway for your educational pleasure.

Round-out your educational experience by checking out what the homies are up to over at the latest edition of The Carnival of Homeschooling.
See our latest entries.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Alzheimer's And Education: The Bad And The Worse

It was somewhat heartening to learn that one's likelihood of developing Alzheimer's disease was lessened when one had more education, but it was downright depressing to learn that once one does develop the disease, the more education one has the faster one declines:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Having more years of formal education delays the memory loss linked to Alzheimer's disease, but once the condition begins to take hold, better-educated people decline more rapidly, researchers said on Monday.

Their study, published in the journal Neurology, tracked memory loss in a group of elderly people from New York City's Bronx borough before they were diagnosed with Alzheimer's or another form of old-age dementia.

Every year of education delayed the accelerated memory decline that precedes dementia by about 2-1/2 months, according to the researchers at Yeshiva University's Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

But once this memory loss began, the rate of decline unfolded 4 percent more quickly for each additional year of education, the researchers said.

Someone with 16 years of schooling might experience memory decline 50 percent more quickly than another person with just four years education, based on the findings.

Alzheimer's disease is a degenerative brain malady that is the most common form of dementia among the elderly.

"An elderly person who starts to see memory loss might well deteriorate fairly rapidly, particularly if he or she has a high education or high IQ," Charles Hall, a professor of epidemiology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine who led the study, said in a telephone interview.

"And this is important to clinicians to know so they can advise their patients that things might well get very bad very fast, whereas in a lot of other people the decline is relatively gradual over a long period of time," Hall added.

People with more years of formal education appear to have a greater "cognitive reserve," Hall said, referring to the brain's ability to keep working despite damage.

While better-educated people may be diagnosed with Alzheimer's later than people with less education, it appears they have suffered brain damage but their "cognitive reserve" was able to hide and delay the effects, the researchers said.

The study started in the 1980s, tracking 488 people born from 1894 and 1908 and giving them periodic memory tests. The findings published on Monday were based on 117 of them who eventually developed Alzheimer's or another dementia.

Most of the participants were followed until either death or diagnosis of dementia. Those diagnosed with dementia were followed for up to about 16 years, with an average of six years.

The study included people with postgraduate education as well as others with fewer than three years of elementary school. Hall noted that levels of education that people received varied much more in the early part of the 20th century than they do now.
Over the years, I've known several people who've suffered the cruel effects of Alzheimer's. These include my grandfather and, most recently, our neighbor.


Carnival Entries Are Due!

Entries for the 142nd edition of The Carnival Of Education (hosted this week by History is Elementary.) are due. Please email them to: historyiselementary [at] mail [dot] com . (Or, easier yet, use this handy submission form.) Submissions should be received no later than 6:00 PM (Eastern) 3:00 PM (Pacific) Today. Contributions should include your site's name, the title of the post, and the post's URL if possible.

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

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

Monday, October 22, 2007

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: In a tie vote that was broken by The Watcher, Done With Mirrors came in first with Carrolling while Joshuapundit's Texas Gang Rape and Murder Case Puts America's Sovereignty In Jeopardy was runner-up.

Non-Council Entries: In yet another tie vote Dumb Looks Still Free came in first with The Problems and Course of Rebuilding in Iraq while ShrinkWrapped's MSM Bias and Pallywood: Incompetence or Malice? came in second.

See our latest EduPosts.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Carnival Of Education: Week 141

Welcome to the midway of the 141st Carnival of Education!

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

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

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

Next Week's Carnival will be hosted by History is Elementary. Contributors are invited to send their submissions to: historyiselementary [at] mail [dot] com , or use this handy submission form. Entries should be received no later than 6:00 PM (Eastern) 3:00 PM (Pacific) Tuesday, October 23, 2007. Please include the title of your post, and its URL, if possible. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the midway should open next Wednesday morning.

Let the free exchange of thoughts and ideas begin!

EduPolicy And EduPolicymakers:

It seems as though school site shootings and stabbings have been around for decades. But instead of just rushing to put more metal detectors at the school house door or starting more programs in order to address the plague of school yard bullies, Joanne Jacobs raises some issues about
one of the contributing factors to all the violence that many in the MSM just seems to continually miss.

With the No Child Left Behind Act up for reauthorization this year, the debate grows ever more intense. Recalling what the EduWorld was like prior to the passage of NCLB, the folks over at Homeschool2.0 Blog
make their case for the law's renewal in no uncertain terms.

The title of this contribution by The DeHavilland Blog says it all:
Why Do We Educate?

Andrew Rotherham's Eduwonk has a feminine counterpart in the Mystery Lady who's writing over at Eduwonkette. (Could it be the much-missed
Alice in Eduland???) In this week's Carnival entry, Eduwonkette takes a hard look at the criteria that are being used to evaluate the much-ballyhooed KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) Schools that primarily serve inner-city youths.

Some say that there will be a "teacher shortage" in the near future. Others say that rumors of such a shortage are greatly exaggerated. Dave says
take a look at the math while Scott says take a look at the graph. (We report, you decide. - With apologies to Rupert Murdoch and Fox News.)

Should corporations fund public schools?

Thanks to Lost in the Ozone, we don't have to register in order to take a look at
Chester "Checker" Finn's latest piece in the Wall Street Journal. Finn's newest is called, "Dumbing Education Down."

IB a Math Teacher of Three Standard Deviations to the Left presents us with
an alternative translation of the acronym NCLB while making us think about where all that money is really going.

What, if, anything,
is wrong with this statement: Dear Parent: Your kid is fat- Sincerely, the Principal.

Is so-called "Affirmative Action"
based upon one's socio-economic class rather than on one's race in our societal future?

From The Classroom:

Only those who have never taught could possibly say that teaching is easy.
Just take a look at a snapshot of one of the students in Mrs. Bluebird's classroom:
He endeared himself to his classmates by rapidly running his hands back and forth across his head and screaming "It's snowing!" as the dandruff flew. He scratched and itched and scratched at flea bites so bad that we were sending him to the nurse twice a day to try to see if there was anything she could do to get him to stop scratching until he bled. He steals things from other children (and was a bit upset when I caught him in the act). He refuses to do any work whatsoever. None. Nada. He won't even put his name on a piece of paper. He will, however, hum, play with pens, draw his cartoons, tap his pencil, rock back and forth, mutter, kick at chairs and yell at tablemates for no reason whatsoever. (I have him sitting with the two most patient kids on earth, bless their hearts). Today he pulled his shirt up over his head, tucked his arms in to his side, and assumed a fetal position for most of class.
And yes, the federal government has mandated that Mrs. Bluebird's student, like every other kid in America, will be performing at or grade-level in reading, math, and science by 2014 or else the school will be held 100% accountable while the parents avoid any responsibility whatsoever...

And now for something unexpected: at least one public school in America requires that its female teachers wear panty hose and male teachers dress shirts and ties. (No word as of this writing about male teachers who wear pantyhose...)

The Science Goddess
gives a timely reminder to teachers everywhere that when it comes to interacting with students, they should beware of the "but word."

Mamacita brings us some real-life student essays that are just beyond belief. See the first one
here, the second here, and, just when we thought that all was lost, we found total redemption over there.

has sent us this contribution concerning extra-curricular activities that reminds us about how public school teaching ought to be.

Inside This Teaching Life:

For those of you out there who thought only K-12 teachers were subjected to those all-but-useless timewasters known as "professional development" seminars, the Rightwing Prof has
a reality check for you.

In New York City, teachers who are on payroll but not assigned to a classroom are often spend their days in what is known as "the rubber room." Get
a first-hand report from the asylum right here.

Looking for ways to reduce job stress? Joel
recommends a few stress-reduction activities.

A reader has submitted this post that takes us through the first few weeks of a newly-minted teacher. What's it about? Take a hint from the title:
When New Teachers Begin To Wilt. Touché.

Friends of Dave reminds us that when it comes to the MSM extolling the accomplishments of individual schools,
what one sees isn't necessarily what one gets.

Favoritism involving School principals and their favorite "pet teachers" seems to be a widespread problem in public education. But Texas teacher Mike
is telling us about a case that would cause all but the most hard-boiled teaching veterans to do a double take.

Music teacher Nancy Flanagan asks: What's a teacher to do
when the real world intrudes into the classroom? Just say no--or deal with it? (On 9/11, our principal sent us a written memo that directed us to say nothing about what was occurring to our 7th and 8th grade students. They were to have what she called a "normal day.")

Teacher Carol of Bellringers has
a fantasy suggestion for millionaire NBA teamowners, talk-show goddesses, and softwear moguls who think of $500,000 as "pocket change."

Editor's Choice: Like many public school teachers we know, Ms. Cornelius of A Shrewdness of Apes is being subjected to the whims of useless (and clueless) outside sadists consultants who masquerade as EduExperts.


Mr. McNamar of The Daily Grind
wants to know if you have to turn in lesson plans. And if so, is it weekly, daily, or Something Else?

Sibhan Curious has read Harry K. & Rosemary T. Wong’s The First Days of School,
and compares the Wongs' advice with that which has been learned by their own experience.

Editor's Choice: Looking for a way to teach nouns? Say hello to The Noun Eater!

Teacher Pat H. has some suggestions for
creating effective lesson plans.

Parent Survival Guide:

Digital learning is here to stay...even if students aren't prepared to protect themselves online. And parents
would be well-advised to take a look at what many kids are doing on the computer when none of the grownups are around...

Collective Bargaining:

When it comes to an ongoing labor dispute between Baltimore's teachers and their district, Going to the Mat let's us know that the City Council
might want to think twice about taking sides.

International Perspectives:

Israeli teacher Muse has an eyewitness report of
what happens when Israeli teachers take to the streets. (Be sure to check out those horses!) More here.

Our Trans-Atlantic cousins in the United Kingdom have also been implementing funadamental changes to their state-supported education system. In
this week's entry, the British edublog Scenes from the Battleground point out that would-be EduReformers just might be doing the Devil's work. (With Halloween just around the corner, be on the lookout for 'ole Scratch!)


Becky of Life Without School
lets us on the inside of her decision to become an unschooler.

Higher Education:

Here's a roundup of "college rankings" by several MSM outfits.

How about 7 ways
to get into college without a high school diploma?

When it comes to high school seniors applying to numerous "safety schools," in hopes of being admitted to a top-level college or university, high school math teacher Darren of Right on the Left Coast
presents his version of "Dr. Stangelove or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Admissions Process."

Mark Mongomery
has the latest on the controversy surrounding whether or not students should be able to use a Common Application when petitioning multiple schools for admission. (Should be a no-brainer, but isn't.)

Inside The EduBlogs:

Humbly submitted for your approval is our coverage of eleven-year-old Arabella Uhry, who is looking to land a spot on the U.S. Olympic Fencing Team.

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

This week's midway is registered at TTLB's carnival roundup. See our latest EduPosts here, and the (somewhat) complete Carnival of Education archives over there.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Wankerette Of The Day: Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle

It's bad enough that our nation is being overrun by a tidal wave of illegal immigration. But it's worse, far worse, when appointed-for-life-and-therefore-accountable-to-no-one federal judges block the enforcement of laws not because they have concerns over the Constitutionality of the legislation, but because of their own personal views, biases, and proclivities. Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle's unilateral blocking of a new border fence on a trumped-up excuse of "unknown evironmental impacts" is the latest case in point:
A federal judge on Wednesday temporarily delayed construction of a 1.5-mile section of a border fence in a wildlife conservation area on the Arizona-Mexico line.

The Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club had requested a 10-day delay in a motion alleging that the Bureau of Land Management and other agencies had failed to conduct a thorough study of the fence's effect on the environment.

U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle said she granted the delay in part because the federal government did not explain why it hurried through an environmental assessment and began building the fence in the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area.

Huvelle repeatedly asked the government's attorney, Gregory Page, to explain why the agencies took only three weeks to do the environmental assessment. She said that amount of time was unprecedented and that the government was trying to "ram" the environmental study through and start construction "before anyone would wake up."

Huvelle also questioned why equal urgency was not applied to building border fences in Texas and California.

President Bush signed a law last year ordering the Homeland Security Department to build 700 miles of fence along the U.S.-Mexico border. Construction is nearly finished in other parts of Arizona, but the proposed fence is running into strong opposition in Texas.

Opponents of the fence have said it will interfere with wildlife, disrupt commerce and disturb the bilateral way of life along the border. Supporters say it will curb illegal immigration and is needed for national security.

The San Pedro conservation area includes the biologically diverse San Pedro River, one of the last free-flowing rivers in the Southwest. The river, whose banks are dotted with cottonwood and willow trees, is a seasonal flyway for millions of migratory birds and hosts a large variety of plant and animal life

Page argued that building the fence at the conservation area would not only address a national security problem but also the environmental problems caused by thousands of illegal immigrants cutting through the conservation area, on foot and car, leaving behind trash and damaging wildlife.

"When you abate a border-security problem, that itself causes environmental problems, you are acting as a steward of the land," Page said.

Huvelle and Brian Segee, the attorney for the environmental groups, said the environmental problems caused by the illegal immigrants have been going on for a long time. Previously, the federal government planned to construct vehicle barriers, which were not opposed, Segee said.

Huvelle agreed with Segee's argument that the government failed to look at the cumulative effect of fencing on the border. The failure of the government to even acknowledge the potential impact of fencing on other parts of the border "renders this environmental assessment inadequate," she said.

Huvelle noted that her decision could be made moot by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who can waive all environmental laws to build the fence.

"The law allows you to trump it. You have all the power," Huvelle said.

The Homeland Security Department will review the decision and its options, spokesman Russell Knocke said.

"Arizonans and, quite frankly, Americans everywhere have been clear that they want more border security. Today's ruling will not diminish our resolve to deliver it," Knocke said.
It will be interesting to see if the Bush Administration (Which seems to go out of its way to facilitate the entry and continued presence of potential terrorists illegal immigrants.) will actually exercise its ability to "trump" the judge's ruling and continue the construction of this long-overdue and much needed security precaution.

Stay tuned


Carnival Call!

Entries for the 141st edition of The Carnival Of Education (Hosted this week by us here at the 'Wonks.) are due. Please email them to: owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net . (Or, easier yet, use this handy submission form.) Submissions should be received no later than 11:00 PM (Eastern) 8:00 PM (Pacific) Today. Contributions should include your site's name, the title of the post, and the post's URL if possible.

Visit last week's midway, hosted by The Tempered Radical, right here.

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

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Watcher's Council Has Spoken!

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

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

Council Member Entries: For the second week in a row, Big Lizards has earned first place honors. This time, they won with: Murtha: Underhanded and Overlawyered.

Non-Council Entries: Publius Pundit received the most votes with Battleground Che.

See our latest EduPosts.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Today's Political Non Sequitur

I'm not a Democrat, but if I were, then I'd be somewhat concerned highly upset with Nancy "San Fran Nan" Pelosi's seemingly complete ineffectiveness as a party leader. She seems unable to get anything done.

At this point, I don't think that San Fran Nan could organize and lead a church parade much less the United States House of Representatives.

Nancy Pelosi just might be the best Republican leader of the House that the Democrats ever had.

Maybe the only thing more comic tragic than a bumbling president is an even more bufoonish leader of the opposition


Let's Carnival!

The 140th midway of The Carnival of Education (hosted this week by The Tempered Radical) has opened-up the midway.

And if you're in the mood for a little extra educredit, round-out your educational experience over at this week's edition of The Carnival of Homeschooling.
See our latest entries.


Kid Dynamite

Eleven-year-old competetive fencer Arabella Uhry of New York City could be an opposing Olympic swashbuckler's worst nightmare.

I wish that I'd have thought of using swordplay as a way to getting on the U.S. team.

Good for her


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Carnival Entries Are Due!

Entries for the 140th edition of The Carnival Of Education (hosted this week by The Tempered Radical.) are due. Please email them to: wferriter [at] hotmail [dot] com . (Or, easier yet, use this handy submission form.) Submissions should be received no later than 7:00 PM (Eastern) 4:00 PM (Pacific) Today. Contributions should include your site's name, the title of the post, and the post's URL if possible.

Visit last week's midway, hosted by Evolution.... not just a theory any more, 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: Big Lizards earned first place honors with Gratefully Not Dead: Iraq Civilian and US Military Deaths Plummet.

Non-Council Entries: Pajamas Media placed first with That's Propa-tainment!.

See our latest EduPosts.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Banning 'Lil Ghosts And Goblins At The School House Door

Halloween is still weeks away. But already in Colorado the PC crowd has begun its campaign to suppress yet another harmless childhood rite of passage:
BROOMFIELD - There won't be little ghosts and goblins at Kohl Elementary School this Halloween.

In a newsletter sent home to parents, Principal Cindy Kaier wrote that the traditional Halloween party celebrated in classrooms each year will be replaced by a fall party on Friday.

And because the party is focused on fall, not Halloween, children can't wear costumes.

Parents expressed frustration that they weren't included in the decision.

Brook Kimber said it's hard to explain a random Oct. 5 party to a child.

The decision came after a discussion that culminated in an "emotional" meeting with teachers that focused on school holiday parties and how Kohl could continue to celebrate without leaving out anyone.
What's next? Is somebody going to say that we can't celebrate the 4th of July because it might offend the English?

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007


The 139th midway of The Carnival of Education (hosted this week by Evolution.... not just a theory any more) has opened-up the midway.

And if you're in the mood for a little extra credit, check out what the homies are up to over at The Carnival of Homeschooling.
See our latest entries.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Boondoggle Chronicles: Public Housing For The Affluent

One of the things that really gets me mad is when I learn of a government program that knows it is being wasteful of the taxpayers' hard-earned money and does nothing about it.

As reported by The Washington Post, the latest instance of wasteful spending
is to be found in relatively affluent Fairfax County Virginia:
Hundreds of families living in housing subsidized by Fairfax County taxpayers exceed income caps designed to ensure that only the neediest receive assistance, a review of county records shows.

In the most extreme cases, Fairfax is underwriting rents for families making well into six figures: One household getting help makes more than $216,000 a year; another, $184,000. Dozens of others -- making $60,000, $70,000, $90,000 -- exceed eligibility caps. And they do so with the tacit approval of county housing administrators, who do little to encourage occupants to move on when their fortunes improve.

These tenants live in housing intended for families at the bottom of the county's economic spectrum. They are in the federally subsidized public housing program, the Fairfax rental program and the county's senior housing program. The county's Department of Housing and Community Development will spend about $4.5 million this year running these programs.

The fact that higher-income families choose to remain in subsidized housing illustrates the critical lack of affordable housing in Fairfax, named the nation's most affluent county last month by the Census Bureau. The median new-home price in the region's largest jurisdiction is $960,000, and the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,306, according to county data.

The incomes also reflect, critics say, a disconnect between county practices and its housing policies, which aim in most cases to help families making less than half of Fairfax's median annual household income of $94,500 for a family of four. Fairfax leaders have long put affordable housing at the tops of their priority lists: Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerald E. Connolly (D) helped establish an initiative in 2005 to funnel more than $20 million a year toward the preservation of lower-cost housing.

But that mission should not include subsidizing the rents of families making more than $100,000 a year, Connolly said.

"Clearly this housing was not designed for that," he said. "It's good that these folks have reached a point where they are now successful in their income level. But they need to move into market-rate housing and allow these units to be used for the people they are intended to benefit."

County housing officials emphasize -- and a review of county and federal housing rules confirms -- that they have broken no rules by letting tenants remain after their incomes rise. They say every household met eligibility caps when they entered the program. Officials also say that to turn families out would punish them for attaining self-sufficiency. And they note -- correctly, according to records -- that most tenants in the county's housing programs have low incomes.

"We are definitely fulfilling our mission here," said Paula C. Sampson, director of the housing department. "You have to look at all the numbers. The vast majority of the people we are serving are very low income."

Still, some housing experts say even a smattering of such high incomes is unheard of in most subsidized housing nationwide. This is particularly true of public housing, a program regulated and funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and intended for the country's poorest families.

While many housing agencies allow families to stay after their incomes surpass initial eligibility requirements, many also impose income ceilings that require tenants to seek market-rate housing after their earnings cross a particular threshold.

HUD has allowed agencies to impose such a threshold for more than five years. The Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority adopted a policy last month to begin doing so. And its new ceiling is the area's median income -- $94,500 for a family of four -- meaning families fairly high up the economic ladder will be able to remain in taxpayer-funded housing.
There's much more to read on page 2 and page 3.

As is the case of many of my fellow conservatives, this type of wastage is especially galling to me.

It's galling because even though there are plenty who are willing to talk about all the waste, nobody ever seems to actually do anything about it.

For years, the borrow-and-spend porkmeisters who completely deceived the nation by calling themselves "Republicans" held both houses of Congress and the White House.

And, despite all the rhetoric to the contrary, these spendthrifts-in-elephant's-clothing did nothing to curb the huge amounts of waste, fraud, and abuse that is to be found at all levels of government.

Worse, the pseudo conservatives who were mistakenly called "Republicans" went happily about setting new records for pork barrel spending and boondoggle projects.

Which brings us to 2007.

The tax-and-spend porkmeisters who fraudulently call themselves "Democrats" are in charge of Congress, and, as things look now, have a good chance of winning the White House in 2008.

And if that happens, the corruption will be legion.


Carnival Call!

Entries for the 139th edition of The Carnival Of Education (hosted this week by Evolution... not just a theory anymore.) are due. Please email them to: greg [at] gregladen [dot] com . (Or, easier yet, use this handy submission form.) Submissions should be received no later than 2:00 AM (Eastern) Tomorrow. 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 Global Citizenship in a Virtual World, right here.

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

Monday, October 01, 2007

The Spellings Report: Pushing NCLB

The nation's report card has just come out and Queen of All Testing U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings is positively giddy over the news:
"Student achievement is on the rise," said Secretary Spellings. "No Child Left Behind is working. It's doable, reasonable and necessary. Any efforts to weaken accountability would fly in the face of rising achievement."

Spellings noted that 48 states and the District of Columbia either improved academically or held steady in all categories.

"To those who would suggest that No Child Left Behind is not working, our nation's 4th- and 8th-graders and their teachers just proved the naysayers wrong," Spellings added. "Math scores for 4th- and 8th-graders and the reading scores for 4th-graders are at historic highs and the biggest gains were made by African American and Hispanic students."

More than 700,000 students nationwide participated in the 2007 Nation's Report Card on reading and math, and they represented a diverse student population, including one-third minority students and a growing proportion of English language learners.

"At a time when our student population is becoming more diverse, educators and students are rising to the challenge and excelling in the classroom," Spellings said. "I'm pleased with the progress but not satisfied. As we inch closer to our goal of having every child on grade level in reading and math by 2014, we need to continue to pick up the pace. I am confident that our nation's schools and teachers can get the job done."

Spellings emphasized that today's results prove once again that moving away from accountability would send us in the wrong direction.

"What President Bush has proposed in his reauthorization plan for No Child Left Behind is the right direction," said Spellings. "It provides parents more information and options to make the right educational decisions for their children; it gives states and schools more effective ways to target resources and interventions where they're needed most; and it gives educators more incentives to teach in our most challenging educational environments.

"Bottom line: No Child Left Behind is empowering parents and students by infusing accountability into education—and the Nation's Report Card shows that it is working on behalf of our nation's children," said Spellings.
Naturally enough, these results will provide useful ammunition for those who are battling for the reauthorization of NCLB.

Did you notice that last paragraph? As with most of her utterances, the Secretary expounds the need for public educators to be held accountable for the success of the public education system.Far from it.

As professionals, we do need to be "held accountable" for our classroom performance and its effectiveness.

What we've always had a problem with is that when Spellings and her ilk mention accountability, it's nearly always the classroom teachers and site administrators who are held wholly accountable for students' academic progress; she rarely, if ever, mentions the need for parents and students to also be responsible for at least making an effort to achieve success

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Crackingdown On Crack

North Carolina's Mecklenburg County is the latest locality that is considering a crackdown on individuals who insist on displaying their dirty underwear "sagging" pants:
The Rev. Willie Simpson thinks low-riding pants are indecent. Now he wants Mecklenburg County to make them illegal.
On Tuesday, Simpson asked Mecklenburg County commissioners to work with the Charlotte City Council to pass a ban.

"Pants hanging off a backside is degrading for any young man or woman to do," said Simpson, who wore a crisp white suit to the commissioners' meeting. "I don't understand why we allow this young generation to be exposed the way they are."

In agreement was Blanche Penn, who oversees the local "Just Pull 'Em Up" campaign. It promotes pulling up sagging pants as a symbol of self-improvement. The style is thought to have started in prisons, where inmates aren't given belts with their loose uniform pants. The look caught on, first in rap music videos, then in suburban malls and now everywhere.

The tiny town of Delcambre, La., has banned wearing saggy pants. Trenton, N.J., and Atlanta are talking about doing the same.

The commissioners didn't comment on the suggestion, but support might be lurking. In July, Mayor Pat McCrory blasted youths, especially blacks, for wearing "gangster type of dress."

Commissioners Chairwoman Jennifer Roberts, however, doubts a ban would be possible.

"I think that it would be very difficult to write and very difficult to enforce," said Roberts, a Democrat.

Furthermore, Roberts said, "It's a fashion -- it doesn't necessarily reflect on the values of the youth."
Interestingly, the authorities who "just say no to crack," rarely, if ever, do so to females who insist on publicly exhibiting their underwear.