Wednesday, December 26, 2007


The 151st edition of The Carnival of Education (hosted this week by History is Elementary) has opened the midway for your educational pleasure!

And don't forget to complete your educational experience by checking out what the Homies are up to over at The Carnival of Homeschooling.
See our latest entries.


Tuesday, December 25, 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: Big Lizards came in first with The Courage to Do Nothing.

Non-Council Entries: The Ornery American earned top honors with A Stand-up President.
See our latest EduPosts.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Carnival Of Education: Week 150

Welcome to the midway of the 150th edition of The 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 Colossus of Rhodey. 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 submissions to: historyiselementary [at] mail [dot] com , or, easier yet, use this handy submission form. Entries should be received no later than 6:00 PM (Eastern) 3:00 PM (Pacific) Christmas Day. Please include the title of your post, and its URL, if possible. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the midway should open the day after Christmas.

Let the free exchange of thoughts and ideas begin!

EduPolicy And EduPolicymakers:

What should school administrators do when confronted with the challenge of students who have indicated that they might have violent intentions? Is "zero-tolerance" the answer? Joanne Jacobs
takes a look at how one school handled a potentially disastrous situation...

What's the best way to measure a school's success? Norm-referenced or Criterion-based Tests? Grades? Some one's Subjective Judgement? Going to the Matt
wrestles with this most relevant of topics.

My goodness. Ms. Cornelius has
the disturbing news of one Connecticut school that is banning any sort of competitive activities.... during recess!

is letting us know that New York City's public school's chief Joel Klein is being more than a little creative when it comes to the subject of accountability and student progress while both NYC Educator and Education Notes Online are calling out Mayor Michale Bloomberg's EduAdministration. Not to be left out, NYC art teacher Woodlass declares that "Accountability" is a mantra for Spinmeisters.

Heh. Using a data-driven Starbucks-based statistical model, Eduwonkette well-illustrates how New York City's affluent
have chosen to address the situation of less-than-great public schools.

The Tempered Radical
wonders why the United States is adamant that hard targets are inappropriate when discussing global warming yet confident that hard targets are appropriate tools for driving change in education.

Should parents who have children pay a special tax each and every year? Agree or disagree,
prepare to have your thoughts provoked!

KDeRosa of D-Ed Reckoning
is telling us an engaging story about EduReform. It's all about What Happened in Kansas City. Here's a small taste:
The great cities of America never recovered from the unintended wrath of the dragon. All the great cities were now impoverished and destitute. All the capable citizens had fled the cities, leaving only the incapable to fend for themselves. The incapable, being incapable, once again proved their incapability by failing to provide for themselves. The great cities of the kingdom reverted to poverty like almost all the cities that comprise the lands outside of the kingdom. Much gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands ensued trying to rectify the conditions in the now impoverished cities--especially when it was learned that most of the people who remained in the cities were disproportionately the black and brown people who lived in the kingdom. The debate rages as to why this is so. No one knows for sure, but no one seems to be satisfied with the outcome.
Educating the inner-city poor is also on the mind of Delaware-based Kavips. Meanwhile, the professor who writes over at uses an incendiary title in order to make his point.

In this era in which public school students and teachers are heavily discouraged (if not outright banned) from celebrating Christmas in the classroom, Greg over at Rhymes With Right wants to know:
whatever happened to the separation of Mosque and State?

And what about that Texas school
that plans to offer a Masters Degree in Creationism?

The Columbus, Ohio Teachers Association says that one for-profit charter school operator
didn't get the windfall that they anticipated.

one for the books: In Wisconsin, they're apparently thinking about requiring students to study the history of unions and collective bargaining.

We find ourselves in agreement with Dave over at the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence:
we do have a math problem.

The Eternal Battle between those who support creationism and those who do not is the subject of
this contribution by Greg Laden's Blog.

What does it mean when a school
cancels fieldtrips due to standardized testing?

From the Classroom:

Does giving students detention serve as a deterrent for undesirable classroom behaviors? British-based EduBlog Scenes From The Battleground
thoughtfully addresses the question.

Joel at So You Want to Teach had one of "those days"
that we all have from time to time...

What's a teacher to do when the teacher's supervisor comes to watch one teach?
See what one Israeli teacher did.

Miss A of Confessions From The Couch
is telling us about how some of her students remixed children's songs with topics from their study of Buddhism. (Be sure to use the password that she supplies on the post.)

Of Parents and Kids:

Folks who are new to public education
would do well to take a look at this short post about how Home Affects School.

Inside This Teaching Life:

For many years I've enjoyed Berkeley Breathed's Bloom County and Opus. And now the Elementary History Teacher
shows us how Breathed has proven the existence of Santa Claus!

Paul has been chosen as "Teacher of the Year." But,
he asks, "How do they know?"

Mamacita of Scheiss Weekly
has a poignant reminder that when it comes to the Holidays, some folks just need to "chill."

Teacher "Clix"
is looking for opinions concerning Silent Reading.

Ms. Teacher
has contributed a gripping entry that can't help but make us wonder what we would do in her situation. Here's a sample:
A few years ago, I had the privilege to teach a very brave young girl. This girl had been kidnapped by Curtis Dean Anderson. Anderson had kidnapped and murdered another young girl, Xiana Fairchild, previously and so surely his motive would be to do the same to his next victim. The girl that I taught was smarter than him and she managed to escape, outwitting a grown man who thought it normal to have sex with children.

I taught this student three years after this traumatic event. When I took roll that first day and said her name, I thought it sounded familiar, but it was only after talking to my team teacher that we both realized who she was. Looking back, as a relatively new teacher, I wished that I would have been more equipped, but how well prepared can you be when you have a student who has so bravely managed to face death at the tender age of 8?
Check out how Mike in Texas dealt with a potentially disastrous situation involving a child, a perceived lie, and two very upset teachers.

Mister Teacher's elementary school has developed a slightly "different" strategy for preventing student tardiness:
feed them breakfast in the teachers' classrooms. (And yes, teachers get fed too!)

Even though Christmas will soon be here, Nancy F.
reminds us that when it comes to this time of year, it's indeed a small world after all.

Even though Bellringers cautions us that, "no students were harmed in the creation of this blog"
we have to wonder about that category on her school's disciplinary form that is labeled "capital murder..."

Teaching Ideas:

Would you believe that Mad Money's Jim Cramer (
bio here) would make a fantastic English instructor? Believe it!

Challenged by the large number of students who don't learn the material, the Science Goddess over at What It's Like on the Inside
is seeking opinions about a nine-day plan for mastery learning.

Here's a roundup of Christmas math puzzles and other activities for the classroom.

Montana's Michael L Umphrey
has an in-depth piece whose subtitle says it all: Five steps to a better high school writing program.

a brief outline for writing an analysis essay.

How about an online game
for vocabulary development?


Take a gander at what Rational Homeschooling includes and what it does not.


Pssst!! Don't tell the students,(or even the teachers) but The Revolution
has begun!

Teachers don't have to be "power users" every time kids discover a new technology, but they'll fare better in the classroom when they try to meet students where they are. If one is feeling bold enough to try social networking for the first time,
here's some tips that will help one navigate Facebook. (Ed's note: use with care!)

The Department of the Unusual:

Substitute teacher Kauai Mark
links to a whimsical (and very cute) rendition at the "12 Days of Christmas."

I thought that I had heard it all. But it's obvious that I haven't:
The Global Poker Strategic Thinking Society — dedicated to demonstrating that poker has educational benefits.

Higher Education:

Yale freshman Sam Jackson
takes a hard look at whether or not colleges and universities should have complete access to the high school disciplinary records of those who seek admission.

Are you looking for an athletic scholarship? Then you ought to
consider reading this.

Here's some thoughts about why
one should attend college in person.

A global approach to the comparison of colleges and universities? Is this an idea whose time has come? Or would it be an exercise in comparing apples and oranges.
You be the decider!

"Open Source Universities?"
Why not?

Inside the Blogs:

you can have your dream career!

How about
a little brain food?

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


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Carnival Entries Are Due!

Entries for the 150th edition of The Carnival Of Education (Hosted this week by us here at The Education 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 9:00 PM (Eastern) 6:00 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 Colossus of Rhodey, right here.

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

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Inflation.... It's Baaack!

As a public school teacher who doesn't get cost-of-living pay increases, (my monthy take-home pay is only $100 more than it was in 2002) I'm very sensitive to rising prices. The news is not good:
US inflation jumped to an annual rate of 4.3 per cent in November, explaining why the Federal Reserve remains reluctant to cut interest rates too aggressively in spite of the risks to growth.

The data showed the continued pressure on prices from high food and energy costs and highlighted the risk the economy will face at least a brief period of "stagflation" as growth slows and inflation rises.
And let's not forget that in order for one's salary to actually keep up with rising prices, a teacher not only needs to have a pay increase that keeps pace with higher prices, but also covers the additional taxes on income.

For the fifth year in a row, it looks like my salary's purchasing power is going to take yet another hit...

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, Joshuapundit came in first with Pearl Harbor... And 9/11 while Wolf Howling's A Deeply Flawed NIE Changes Nothing & Everything was runner-up.

Non-Council Entries: Michael Yon finished in first place with The Problems and Course of Rebuilding in Iraq.

See our latest EduPosts.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Let's Carnival!

The 149th edition of The Carnival of Education (hosted this week by The Colossus of Rhodey) has opened the midway for your educational pleasure!

And don't forget to complete your educational experience by checking out this week's edition of The Carnival of Homeschooling.
See our latest entries.


Simply Awful

Two Las Vegas teenagers have shot six of their fellow teens as they exited their school bus.

How can we put a stop to all this?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Carnival Entries Are Due!

Entries for the 149th edition of The Carnival Of Education (Hosted this week by The Colossus of Rhodey.) are due. Please email them to: colossusofrhodey [at] gmail [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 So You Want To Teach, 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: New Council Member Wolf Howling garnered first place honors with Of Islamist Foxes and British Chickens.

Non-Council Entries: Pierre Tristam's Middle East Issues Blog received the most votes with Teddy Muhammad.
See our latest EduPosts.


Saturday, December 08, 2007

George F. Will Gets Beyond NCLB

From tomorrow's Washington Post George Will writes:
No Child Left Behind, supposedly an antidote to the "soft bigotry of low expectations," has instead spawned lowered standards. The law will eventually be reauthorized because doubling down on losing bets is what Washington does. But because NCLB contains incentives for perverse behavior, reauthorization should include legislation empowering states to ignore it.

NCLB was passed in 2001 as an extension of the original mistake, President Lyndon Johnson's Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which became law in the year of liberals living exuberantly -- 1965, when Great Society excesses sowed the seeds of conservatism's subsequent ascendancy. ESEA was the first large Washington intrusion into education K through 12.

NCLB was supported by Republicans reluctant to vastly expand that intrusion but even more reluctant to oppose a new president's signature issue. This expansion of Washington's role in the quintessential state and local responsibility was problematic for three reasons.

First, most new ideas are dubious, so the federalization of policy increases the probability of continentwide mistakes. Second, education is susceptible to pedagogic fads and social engineering fantasies -- schools of education incubate them -- so it is prone to producing continental regrets. Third, America always is more likely to have a few wise state governments than a wise federal government.

With mandated data collections -- particularly tests of "adequate yearly progress" in reading and math -- NCLB was supposed to generate information that would enable schools to be held accountable for cognitive outputs commensurate with federal financial inputs. Bad data would make schools blush and reform.

Fourteen months ago, the president said, "The gap is closing. . . . How do we know? Because we're measuring." But about those measurements . . .

NCLB requires states to identify, by criteria they devise, "persistently dangerous schools." But what state wants that embarrassment? The Post recently reported that last year, of America's approximately 94,000 public schools, the "persistently dangerous" numbered 46. There were none among the 9,000 schools in amazingly tranquil California.

NCLB's crucial provisions concern testing to measure yearly progress toward the goal of "universal proficiency" in math and reading by 2014. This goal is America's version of Soviet grain quotas, solemnly avowed but not seriously constraining. Most states retain the low standards they had before; some have defined proficiency down.

So says "The Proficiency Illusion," a report from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, which studies education reform. Its findings include:

The rationale for standards-based reform was that expectations would become more rigorous and uniform, but states' proficiency tests vary "wildly" in difficulty, "with 'passing scores' ranging from the 6th percentile to the 77th." Indeed, "half of the reported improvement in reading, and 70 percent of the reported improvement in mathematics, appear idiosyncratic to the state test." In some states, tests have become more demanding; but in twice as many states, the tests in at least two grades have become easier. NCLB encourages schools to concentrate their efforts on the relatively small number of students near the state test's proficiency minimum -- the students who can most help the state meet its "adequate yearly progress" requirements.

Rep. Peter Hoekstra, a Republican who represents western Michigan's culturally cohesive Dutch Calvinist communities, opposed NCLB from the start because he thought it would "tear apart the bond between the schools and the local communities." He believes the reauthorized version of NCLB will "gut" accountability. He is gloomily sanguine about that because he thinks accountability belongs at the local level anyway and because removing meaningful accountability removes NCLB's raison d'etre. He proposes giving states the option of submitting to Washington a "Declaration of Intent" to reclaim full responsibility for K-12 education. Such states would receive their portion of K-12 funds as block grants.

But Rep. Scott Garrett, a New Jersey Republican, warns that Washington, with its unsleeping hunger for control, steadily attaches multiple strings to block grants. He proposes to allow states to opt out from under NCLB's mandates and regulations and to give residents of those states tax credits equal to the portion of their taxes their state would have received back in federal funds for K-12 education. Garrett thinks that this could be a template for states to escape many entanglements with Washington.

NCLB intensified what Paul Posner of George Mason University calls "coercive federalism." Kenneth Wong and Gail Sunderman of Brown University and the Harvard Civil Rights Project, respectively, say NCLB "signaled the end of 'layer cake' federalism and strengthened the notion of 'marble cake' federalism, where the national and subnational governments share responsibilities in the domestic arena." Hoekstra's and Garrett's proposals would enable states to push Washington toward where it once was and where it belongs regarding K through 12 education: Out.
Ever since I was a young TeenWonk, I've observed that no matter which political party was in charge in Washington, the federal government just got bigger.

And that was true even when Ronald Reagan occupied the White House in spite of the fact that he
publicly expressed his desire to abolish the Department of Education.

If past behavior is the best indicator of future performance, I think that I know what the future holds for the vast Washington EduCracy that has sprung up ever since Jimmy Carter created this Administrative Empire Department back in 1980.

It's just going to get bigger still while becoming ever more intrusive and dictatorial. All the while the Department will continue loudly screeching about the need to hold others (especially those who actually work with children) "accountable" for what goes on in the classroom. Meanwhile they will continue exempting themselves from any accountability whatsoever when it comes their own regrettable lack of substance or success.

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Friday, December 07, 2007

No Mumpee-No Admitee

One university in Maine is barring students at the door if they haven't had their shots:
PORTLAND, Maine - The University of Southern Maine began notifying more than 400 students Thursday that they're being banned from campus for failing to meet the latest vaccination requirements for mumps.

Campus officials provided student lists to professors and were trying to reach about 50 on-campus residents to make sure they have another place to go.

The 426 students were among about 1,300 full-time or residence hall students on the two campuses who were told to get their vaccinations up to date following an outbreak of mumps in Maine that included at least one university student.
Read the whole thing.

College students being the resourceful individuals that they are, I wonder how long it will take for them to figure out that all they have to do to get out of this "requirement" is ask for a "religious waiver" which will exempt them from all vacination requirements.

Get more about the mumps vaccination

When Bad Kids Smile At The Teacher

Teacher "AB" lets us know what it may mean:
For the longest time, my entire first two years of teaching, nothing drove me more crazy than when my ill-behaved kids got in trouble and smiled. It shocked, repulsed, and angered me to the core to be telling a child about the consequences of their disruptive behavior and find their reaction was a broad, plastic smile. I’d been known to double punishments for kids who smiled when they got in trouble.

Then, one keynote speaker forced me to rethink this entirely. She was talking about the cultural misunderstandings that plague educators teaching outside of their home community (which is, sadly, almost every educator I personally know). She specifically referenced this issue of smiling. Among the middle class, she said, you smiled only when you were happy, and the proper reaction to getting in trouble was to look as downcast and remorseful as possible.

Among poor kids and poor families, however, the smile had an entirely different meaning. Certainly, some kids smiled because they were glad to see their class distracted and their teacher perturbed, she said, but more often, it was a defense mechanism. Poor kids, who live in a world where violence is much more prevalent, put on a smile in order to disarm their attacker and deescalate the situation. A smile shows that it’s not that serious, there’s no reason to break out the gun, knife or belt.
You really should read the rest of it as well as the rest of what "AB" has to say on a variety of classroom experiences.

Big Mortarboard Tip to Joanne Jacobs.


Meow Mix-up In The Head

It seems as though most neighborhoods have a "cat lady," but this one is in a league all of her own:
BOSTON -- The state's highest court said that a woman who stored dozens of dead cats in her Boston apartment can keep two that were seized by the city, as long as she complies with city health codes.

Cat breeder Heidi Erickson was charged with animal cruelty after officials found five malnourished cats, one malnourished dog and more than 60 dead cats in her Beacon Hill apartment in 2003, most stored in freezers.

While the criminal case against her was pending, a judge ordered that four live cats and two dead cats that had been seized by the city be returned to Erickson.

After Erickson was convicted, however, the city moved again to block her from getting the dead animals back.

In Thursday's ruling, the Supreme Judicial Court did not require Erickson to destroy or discard the animals, but ordered that whatever she does with them comply with health codes.
This sounds like the sort of thing that can only happen in Massachusetts... or California.


Lest We Forget

What day this is...

Much more here and there.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

U.S. Students Not Comparing Well With Others

It seems as though American students continue underperforming when compared to many of their international peers:
Finland and South Korea have topped the world in a new student ranking survey.

According to the OECD, the two countries lead the world when it comes to education, especially in reading and science.

In particular, Finnish students ranked top in science, while South Korean teenagers were first for reading.

The results come from the 2006 Program for International Student Assessment, which yearly tests 400,000 15-year-olds in 57 countries.

The students are tested on mathematics, literacy, and particularly on their knowledge of science.

The United States, Spain and Italy were among the 32 countries whose education was found to be below the average.
Over at the National Center for Education Statistics, they have this:(emphasis added)
Highlights from PISA 2006: Performance of U.S. 15-Year-Old Students in Science and Mathematics Literacy in an International Context

This report summarizes the performance of U.S. students on the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), comparing the scores of U.S. 15-year-old students in science and mathematics literacy to the scores of their peers internationally in 2006.

PISA, first implemented in 2000, is sponsored by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an intergovernmental agency of 30 member countries. In 2006, fifty-seven jurisdictions participated in PISA, including 30 OECD jurisdictions and 27 non-OECD jurisdictions.

The results show the average combined science literacy scale score for U.S. students to be lower than the OECD average. U.S. students scored lower on science literacy than their peers in 16 of the other 29 OECD jurisdictions and 6 of the 27 non-OECD jurisdictions. Twenty-two jurisdictions (5 OECD jurisdictions and 17 non-OECD jurisdictions) reported lower scores compared to the United States in science literacy.

On the mathematics literacy scale, U.S. students scored lower than the OECD average. Thirty-one jurisdictions (23 OECD jurisdictions and 8 non-OECD jurisdictions) scored higher on average, than the United States in mathematics literacy in 2006. In contrast, 20 jurisdictions (4 OECD jurisdictions and 16 non-OECD jurisdictions) scored lower than the United States in mathematics literacy in 2006.

Differences in student performance based on the selected student characteristics of sex and race/ethnicity are also examined. Following the presentation of results, a technical appendix describes the study design, data collection, and analysis procedures that guided the administration of PISA 2006 in the United States and in the other participating jurisdictions.
Get the full report at the bottom of this page.

Not surprisingly, Queen Of All Testing And Classroom Teacher Accountability U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings
is not happy with the results:
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) today released results from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). PISA assesses science, math and reading skills of 15-year-old students in the principal industrialized countries every three years. In 2006, all 30 OECD-member countries and 27 additional countries and other jurisdictions (e.g., Hong Kong) participated in PISA.

Regarding the 2006 PISA results, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings today made the following statement:

The PISA results released today offer additional data on how America's students are stacking up against their peers in other countries. With scores flat since 2003, the U.S. continues to score below the OECD average and in the middle of all countries assessed.

While disappointing, it speaks to what President Bush has long been advocating for: more rigor in our nation's high schools; additional resources for advanced courses to prepare students for college-level studies; and stronger math and science education. In fact, students are being assessed in science under No Child Left Behind this school year. And, the President has proposed making science assessments an element of states' accountability calculations.

Through such initiatives as the Academic Competitiveness Council and National Math Panel, we're bringing research-based strategies and best practices into our classrooms. By equipping educators with more data to customize instruction, we're laying the groundwork to strengthen math and science education. It's the right course for our students and our workforce.
We're surprised that Queen Secretary Spellings didn't incorporate her pet phrase "In God We Trust All Others Bring Data" into the Department of Education's press release.

Here's a thought: Maybe someone should hold her accountable for this chronic underperformance...

Not likely, given this administration's demonstrated propensity to overlook poor performance at the top.

It seems as though those of us who serve in the classroom are the only ones who get hammered for low test scores "underperformance."

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Babies Having Babies: Now A Generational Problem

While I was reading this Iowa story about the 29-year-old grandmother, I wanted to tear my hair out in clumps:
Quad-City area teenagers are still having babies. But the good news is that fewer teens are doing so across the region — and in Iowa, Illinois and the United States as a whole — than 10 years ago.

Some say the teens who are having babies seem to be getting younger and younger, including a few junior high or middle school students, but the most recent state health department

statistics available do not closely track the ages of teen parents.

What the statistics do show is an overall decline in births among people younger than 20 years since about 1995.

And then there are stories such as Celia’s.

She sits clad in pink Eeyore pajamas, flipping through channels from her hospital bed.

The room is dark and quiet, just right for sleeping. But Celia Magee is wide-awake. She can’t stop looking down at the tiny boy cradled in her left arm.

“I don’t know even what color his eyes are yet,” she says. “He never opens his eyes.”

Russell Eugene is 1 day old.

His mother is 15.

She fidgets with a bottle of milk as she talks.

She can’t wait to get back into her old clothes. When will the baby weight go away?

And shopping. She loves to shop. She can’t believe her son already has more new clothes than she does.

Then, sitting up straighter in bed, she asks, “When do you think I can play basketball again? I want to go out for the team at school.”

She can’t yet imagine the sleepless nights, the responsibility.

Until a few days ago, Celia’s bedroom was the biggest in the house.

And she didn’t have to share it with anyone.

The big bed, the colorful comforter set, the fluffy pillows: She loved it all.

But the teen especially loved the sense of family, and the tranquility, that came with it.

For six months, Celia lived at the new Brighter Futures Maternity Home, which operates from a house in Davenport.

She had to find somewhere to live because her mother was so angry, she says.

And it turned out to be a good choice. The house parents and volunteers treated her like family. She still talks to them almost every day now that she has moved out.

Celia, who moved in when she was three months pregnant, was the first to finish the program and have her baby while living in the home.

“That was a special bond,” said Tammy Ryan, a member of the home’s board of directors and the resident child birth assistant and educator. “I got to know a lot about her.”

Celia’s mother, Leticia Magee, always warned her to never get pregnant. It would complicate things, she said.

Leticia is a grandmother at 29. She was 13 — a seventh-grader — and living in Chicago when she gave birth to her oldest child.

She lived with her grandmother and named the baby after her: Celia.

“I was determined to finish high school, but college wasn’t for me,” she said. “I was 20 when I had my next child.”

Now she has four: Celia; 9-year-old Romeo Johnson, 4-year-old Ramone Johnson and 1-year-old Romello Johnson.

She always urged Celia to tell her if she was having sex so she could arrange birth control for her.

But when Celia did tell her, it was too late. They found out during a doctor’s appointment that she was already pregnant.

“I cried,” Leticia said. “I was upset.”

Celia said she could not believe it, either.

She and Russell’s dad are not together. They are more like friends, she said.

Celia has known her own father, who lives in Chicago, only since she was 10.

She and Russell are living with her mother and three little brothers in the Lincoln Homes complex in Rock Island, where the family moved five years ago.

They left Chicago after Leticia heard about a friend moving to the Quad-Cities and how much low-income housing was available.

She wants to open a beauty shop, but for now she stays home with her youngest sons and new grandson.

Back at home with her mother and brothers, Celia — wearing pajamas and a do-rag that covers her hair — holds the baby. Her tank top shows off two black tattoos on her arms.

One, which winds down her forearm, reads “Tish,” her mom’s nickname. Another, below her shoulder, reads “Manica Magee,” which is the teen’s rap name.

Leticia told the girl she could get inked if she kept her grades up. They went to Chicago to get it done.

“She earned them,” Leticia said, nodding her head.

Celia writes rap songs in her spare time, but she does not foresee making a living by doing that.

“I want to do computers,” she said, or maybe health occupations.

Leticia wanted Celia “to have more out of life” than becoming a teenage parent.

“But anything can happen,” she said. “I want her to go to college.”

Her mother admits that sometimes she is “too much of a friend than a parent” to her daughter, who turned 16 on Oct. 18.

“Everybody’s gotta make their own decisions and your own choices, too,” Leticia said. “But she’s cool. She’s gonna be all right.”

Celia was supposed to return to Rock Island High School six weeks after having the baby Sept. 26.

But she and her mother say there was a mix-up with the credits she earned from the Kimberly Center in the Davenport School District while staying at the maternity home.

Celia finally returned to school Nov. 13, but not at Rocky. Now, she’s going to the district’s Thurgood Marshall alternative school, which offers “credit recovery,” she said.

By the end of the school year, she should qualify to start back in August as a junior at Rocky, she said. She is taking basic courses such as math, health, English and physical education.

And she’s dog-tired most days.

Russell — almost 2 months old now, wide-eyed and alert — does not sleep much at night.

“He got his days mixed up,” she said, gently rubbing Vaseline on his little face. “He sleeps all day. I try to switch him around, but he won’t.”

The baby has cradle cap on his scalp, too, she says. Her mother tells her not to worry: The baby will grow out of it.

So she tries to focus on school, but mostly she thinks about gym class.

“You can leave early, but I stay,” she said. “I play basketball.”

The hoops are unlike the ones near her apartment where people hang on the metal rims and bend them. At school, they’re just right.

She can’t wait to get back.
It's hard to know where to begin with this one. I feel so sorry for the kids who have to operate under such intolerable circumstances.

What's happened to our urban culture when so many young women don't seem to see that there is a problem with having children with multiple men? And what can be done to remedy the situation?

Worse, the so-called "fathers" who produce these children often give little, or no, financial support for their offspring.

But what must surely be the worst of all is that these "fathers" very rarely bother to invest any of their time with the kids. Consequently, these youngsters have few, if any, positive male role-models in their home lives, not to mention the structure that in-the-home dads usually provide for their children.

And for the sake of my own peace of mind, I'm not even going to delve into the sad fact that so many people who don't seem to be able to earn enough money to support themselves and their kids all-too-often seem to have enough cash on hand to pay for tattoos and other alleged body art.

And yes, according to the federally-imposed No Child Left Behind Act, the schools are solely responsible for ensuring that the children of such "parents" attain grade-level proficiency in reading, math, and science.

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The 148th edition of The Carnival of Education (hosted this week by So You Want To Teach?) has opened the midway for your educational pleasure!

And don't forget to complete your educational experience by checking out the homies over at The Carnival of Homeschooling.
See our latest entries.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Things They Don't Teach You In Library School

I came across this while chasing down a lead for another entry; I couldn't resist it:
OXFORD, OH (2007-11-12) In library school, commentator Jennie Kiffmeyer learned all about the Dewey Decimal system, database design, and storytelling. But as she was to realize on the job as a school librarian in suburban Washington, that knowledge didn't amount to a handful of jellybeans. Here is her list of ten things they don't teach you in library school.

10. On your second day of work as a school librarian, there will be a sewage backup in the building. You, along with a hundred four and five year olds and their teachers will be evacuated to a nearby church basement, where you will be asked to read the children a story. Not having a picture book the size of a twin mattress handy, you take a deep breath and tell a story you learned by heart. When the story ends, students will leap up and hug your legs. More! They command you. You about break open with joy and comply until it is time to go home.

9. You will be asked to wipe noses, tie shoes, braid hair, and once, you will be mooned by a three year old.

8. And then there are the gifts:
the handmade Christmas ornaments made out of starched string and tin foil
a tub of homemade tapioca pudding
a hanging pot of Impatiens that you manage to kill
a hot pink cyclamen plant that you don't
a candle holder made out of an empty can of cat food
a bottle of sexy perfume

7. In the beginning, you will work about 65 hours a week during the school year. As your expertise grows, you will be able to decrease that amount by approximately 43 minutes per year.

6. Upon hearing the words, book fair, you will break out in a cold sweat.

5. Every year, you will meet about 300 people who are losing their teeth, wear pants with elastic waistbands, and who think any joke with the word underpants is the height of comedy and you will find something to love about each one. Really.

4. You will divide your wardrobe into two categories: clothes to wear on days when you have recess duty, and clothes for all other occasions.

3. You will finally have an appreciative audience for your repertoire of silly voices.

2. You will watch as parents lose their hair from chemotherapy. One first grader's leukemia comes back, but after months in the hospital and a bone marrow transplant, she is in remission. Another child is killed in an auto accident.

Lauren was coming back from a birthday party in Baltimore. It was raining and a tour bus skidded to a halt on I-95, jumped lanes, and plowed into the car's back seat where Lauren was sitting.

A year before Lauren died, her mother had asked if their mother-daughter book club could meet in the library one Sunday afternoon. I said yes--all I had to do was come in and unlock the library--and was surprised to find a beautiful potted cyclamen on my desk the next day as a thank you. When I moved from Maryland to Indiana two summers ago, I took it with me, wedged in between a snack bag and my son's car seat. The drive about did it in, but it perked up once we arrived in Richmond. It continues to thrive on my shaded deck during the summer and my kitchen windowsill in winter. It is like a thread I can trace back to those days in the library and to Lauren and her family.

And that brings me to the number one thing they don't tell you in library school: with any luck, your job will be full of stories those found in books and those you glean from your students' lives.

Happy reading!
I think that Ms. Kiffmeyer has hit the proverbial nail right on its proverbial head.


Call For Carnival Entries!

Entries for the 148th edition of The Carnival Of Education (Hosted this week by So You Want To .) are due. Please email them to: joel [at] soyouwanttoteach [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 Matt-a-matical Thinking, 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: Right Wing Nut House finished in first place with Buchanan's New Book: “Prepare Ye for the End”.

Non-Council Entries: Wolf Howling earned top honors with Have Our Copperheads Found Their McClellan in Retired LTG General Sanchez?.

See our latest EduPosts.


Monday, December 03, 2007

In Our Teachers' Mailboxes This Morning

We found a paper with this quote from an Unknown Administrator:
That was it. There was nothing more.

We really didn't know what to make of it...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Woman Flushes Fraud

When it comes to folks fighting back against corporations who're trying to put the screws to consumers through the illegal collection of even more sales taxes than they're supposed to, we'll take every victory we can get:
MONROEVILLE, Pa. — It wasn't quite a Boston Tea Party, but Mary Bach claimed victory for all citizens of Pennsylvania with a legal ruling on an item the state calls a nontaxable necessity: toilet paper.

Bach won $100 plus court costs after she sued Kmart for illegally collecting 28 cents tax on a 12-roll package of toilet paper.

Although most paper goods are taxed in Pennsylvania, toilet tissue is listed as a nontaxable necessity by the state Department of Revenue.

Kmart offered to settle the case out of court before a Thursday hearing in Western Pennsylvania, but Bach refused because it would have required her to sign a confidentiality agreement.

"I would lose my ability to spread that message if I were gagged," Bach said after the verdict by a Monroeville district judge.

Bach, of Murrysville, sued in October after a Kmart store in Monroeville twice collected a 7 percent tax on her $3.99 purchases.

Kmart, a unit of Sears Holdings Corp., said it will not appeal the verdict.

"We don't want to fight with our customers," Kmart spokeswoman Kim Freely said. "We apologize for the inconvenience and the problem is being corrected."
Read the whole thing.

Sometimes, justice wipes-out evil and prevails in the end.