Saturday, March 29, 2008

D.C.'s Gangster Education

In today's Washington Post, Colbert I. King let's us know how bad it has gotten in many of the public schools in our nation's capital:
"Security at Wilson High to Be Tightened" announced a headline in The Post's March 21 Metro section. More stringent measures were being put in place after 13 students were arrested because of two fights that week, the story said.

I first visited Woodrow Wilson High School 52 years ago as a 155-pound guard on Dunbar High School's football team. We played the Wilson Tigers to a 13-13 tie. Back then, student clashes were largely governed by rules and referees and limited to the athletic field.

Today, they play war in the cafeteria.

To reduce the violence, D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee wrote in a letter to parents that when Wilson students return from spring break on Monday, they will stay in their classrooms for lunch. Rhee told me in an interview Wednesday that the "classroom lunch" will last for two days "while the school finalizes plans for a new lunch structure."

How did the District's once premier high school end up like this? It didn't happen overnight. And Wilson's sad state shouldn't surprise the city's powers.

On March 1, Mai Abdul Rahman, the mother of a Wilson student, sent Rhee an e-mail laying bare the problem.

Rahman sent copies to Mayor Adrian Fenty; the deputy mayor for education, Victor Reinoso; the D.C. public school ombudsman, Tonya Kinlow; D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray; Mary Cheh, who represents Ward 3, where Wilson is located, on the D.C. Council; as well as The Post and another local paper.

Rahman described an assault on her son that occurred Feb. 26 in Wilson's gym during lunch recess:

He "walked unaccompanied into the gym [and] found himself surrounded by five 9th grade students. . . . For several minutes they proceeded to punch him in the face until two 12th graders broke it up."

"On the same day," Rahman wrote, "a 9th grade student was also 'jumped,' a term used to describe the violent assault action of one group that belong to a gang as they hit and maim their lonely victim. All these violent crimes occurred a day after Wilson security had discovered a gun that was found through the metal detector scanner in a student's bag."

Of her son, Rahman wrote: "The doctor says he was lucky to escape a skull fracture or loss of vision or hearing. He was instructed to recover at home with pain and swelling medication, ointments and a sun lamp to loosen the blood clots and facial trauma he has suffered."

The e-mail continued: "This school year, Wilson has had a rash of violent student assaults and countless number of robberies. I am sure you are aware that our students are often victims of the same crime two or three times. . . . So far in the last three weeks both the Hawk security guards and D.C. police have confirmed to me that they have made 4 arrests of students in the school facilities for a combination of assaults and other criminal activities."

Rahman said that she was concerned that some Wilson students have been subjected to "terror and violence," that teachers and staff weren't present to protect students, that security guards are few and poorly trained, and that security cameras are poorly placed and vandalized.

She pointed to teenagers who roam hallways and the gym, looking for others to prey upon. "Most lack the proper tools to maintain class interest and focus, so they are rarely in class to the delight of most teachers who are tired of the discipline issues."

Things are so out of hand, Rahman wrote in a follow-up e-mail, "that assailants at Wilson often capture their attacks by video and circulate them with little fear of being caught and these videos that offensively chronicle their attacks are being used" to intimidate "all those who dare challenge their assailants."

In her e-mail, Rahman pleaded for more trained staff and services at Wilson.

Rahman, who is active in the PTA, is a doctoral candidate in urban school reform at Howard University. She echoed the worries of other Wilson parents.

Her initial e-mail to Rhee had about as much impact as a mosquito biting an elephant's hide. Sure, there was plenty of huffin' and puffin' -- expressions of sympathy, promises of meetings and committees to do this and that.

But without Rahman's persistence, her son's chief attacker -- an 18-year-old ninth-grader -- would not have been arrested and expelled.

So what? This youth was detained at the D.C. Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services "Youth Services Center" for one night and released to his home the following day.

Perhaps that's a good outcome for him. But it's bad news for the children who want to learn.

Rhee now understands what she's got on her hands.

She is giving Wilson more security officers, closing the school to further enrollment and adopting a zero-tolerance policy that can get disruptive students expelled. She is meeting with staff members from Youth Rehabilitation Services to work out better arrangements for dealing with DYRS-supervised youths who are entering public schools. Some parents believe -- wrongly, Rhee says -- that DYRS youths in public schools are the source of the problem.

News for Rhee: The problem is not confined to Wilson.
Here's some more news for Rhee: the problem of out-of-control students isn't confined to the D.C. public school system.

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Going Biblical In Texas

The Texas Board Of Education has now indicated that high schools in the Lone Star State may offer courses in Bible study:
AUSTIN – Broad guidelines for a Bible course for Texas high schools were approved by the State Board of Education on Friday, but board members delayed action on specific curriculum requirements until the attorney general has ruled on whether all school districts must offer the course.

Board members approved a rule establishing the elective course, which is supposed to be available in high schools by the fall of 2009, on a 13-2 vote.

Critics said the failure to approve specific content standards for the course could lead to some teachers promoting their own religious views or cause other constitutional problems that result in lawsuits against school districts.

But most board members said they wanted to wait and see how Attorney General Greg Abbott rules on the question of whether the Bible course law passed by the Legislature in 2007 requires all school districts to offer the class in high school. Some lawmakers have said the class must be available in all high schools, while others said it is a local decision.

“Until we get the attorney general’s opinion back, how can we know how to proceed,” said board member Bob Craig, R-Lubbock, echoing the views of the majority. “We might be taking action and doing something that we will have to change based on the attorney general’s ruling.”

About two dozen high schools in the state already offer an elective course on the Bible, but there currently are no state guidelines for how the class must be taught and what material should be covered.
There's no word as of yet of whether or not students can obtain extra credit for memorizing the books of the Bible in their correct order.


Can Tutors Be "Hot?"


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: Done With Mirrors received the most Council votes with Get Your Grim Milestone Today?

Non-Council Entries: Michael Yon garnered first place honors with his eye-witness account from the front in Iraq with Stake Through Their Hearts.
See our latest EduPosts.


Friday, March 28, 2008

'Tis The Season For Parents And Kids To Be Scammed

As the parent of a 16-year-old (the TeenWonk) high school junior that has a 4.35 G.P.A., we've been getting a number of so-called "nominations" for inclusion in this or that "national honor roll," "who's-who book," and, of course, the United States Achievement Academy.

The "nominations" were made by her well-intentioned (but unknowing) teachers, who think that they are doing the kids a favor by so "honoring" them with inclusions in these various national honor rolls and "who's-who books."

What the teachers are doing, instead, is a (unintentional) disservice to their students. They aren't just setting the kids' parents up to spend money in order to buy these who's-who books, but worse, far worse, the teachers are setting the kids and parents up to receive a flood of junk mail.

Sadly, many teachers and parents don't know that most (and quite possibly all) of these "honor" outfits are scams.

Go here and read this very illuminating piece by a New York City doctor who did a little homework on these companies. Then read this little eye-opening followup.

And then take a look at how the Better Business Bureau of Kentucky describes the so-called "United States Achievement Academy." Be sure to scroll-down and see the list of "other names" that this business operates under.

Vanity Publisher Indeed.

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Money For Nothing And Their Tips For Free

In the People's Republic of California, it takes a judge to determine how tip money is split over at your local Starbucks.

Update:(03/29/08) It's not over until The Starbucks says "it's over!"

Have Nipple Ring, Won't Travel

Did you hear the one about the Texas woman who couldn't board the airliner without removing her nipple rings first?

As many of those federal TSA-types seem to be into pain, maybe Mandi Hamlin should have offered to use those pliers on those TSA agents as well as on herself.

Full Disc: I must confess that I find the mental picture of her using those pliers on attorney Gloria Allred (pictured, left) to be more entertaining.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Website Of The Day:

While I was watching NBC's Meet the Press last Sunday, host Tim Russert gave a plug to So I went over and had a look. Hotchalk, ( is a website that offers a number of free EduResources for teachers, parents, and students. Be sure to check out the Decision '08 material sponosored by the NBC television network.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008


The 164th edition of The Carnival of Education (hosted this week by Bellringers.) has opened-up its midway!

And don't forget to round out your educational experience by seeing what the homies are up to over at The Carnival of Homeschooling.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Virgina Taxpayers Made To Pay For Criminal's Rampage

Remember when Virginia Tech student Seung-Hui Cho went on a murderous rampage and killed 32 innocent students and staff back in April of 2007?

The miscreant went on to video tape a confession, which he then mailed it to NBC. Finally, Cho saved the commonwealth the expense of a trial (and endless appeals) by blowing his own brains out.

Now it seems as though the people of Virginia are about to be made to pay for this man's monster's crime after all
A proposed multimillion-dollar settlement by Virginia to head off lawsuits over the Virginia Tech mass shooting offers $100,000 to each of the families of those killed; payment and insurance for medical and counseling expenses for families and surviving victims; and repeated opportunities to question the governor and university officials, in person, about the tragedy and its aftermath.

The mediated agreement isn't pleasing everyone, though.

"My people are pretty unhappy with it, and I don't blame them," said Edward Jazlowiecki, one of the lawyers representing the family of Henry Lee, a sophomore from Roanoke who was among the 32 students and professors killed by gunman Seung-Hui Cho in the April 16, 2007, attacks.

Like other families, Jazlowiecki's clients fault Virginia Tech for not better warning or protecting students after the first two students were killed.

"One hundred thousand dollars for a human life is an insult, an absolute insult," Jazlowiecki said.

It's also Virginia's legal maximum when suing the state in cases of simple negligence, as opposed to gross negligence or willful misconduct. Juries could be asked to determine which, if any, of these standards applies to the Virginia Tech tragedy if any families decide to sue.

Families and victims already have received payments ranging from $11,500 to $208,000 from the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund, created from more than $8 million in donations that poured in for victims and the Blacksburg school after the shootings. Some recipients used part or all of the money to endow memorial scholarships.

The proposed state settlement is still being negotiated and revised, participants said. According to a copy obtained by The Virginian-Pilot and dated March 14, families have until Monday to decide whether to participate. If they do, they agree not to sue the state - including Virginia Tech - the town of Blacksburg, Montgomery County or the local New River Valley Community Services Board, which provides mental-health services.

Roger O'Dell of Roanoke, whose son, Derek, was wounded, said families were asked not to discuss the settlement negotiations. He added that his son has made no decision - he doesn't want to become adversarial toward the school that he loves, but he has been told his lifetime counseling costs could range from $125,000 to $500,000, plus higher health-insurance costs because of his pre-existing conditions.

Post-traumatic stress disorder "could flare up at any time and could be disabling without regular treatment," Roger O'Dell said. "He'll have constant reminders because he'll have the bullet holes."

The proposal seeks to have all agreements signed by April 15 - one day before the first anniversary of the shooting rampage in which disturbed senior Cho killed two students in a dorm and 30 more in Norris Hall classrooms, wounded or injured another 27, and then killed himself.

The proposal also states that "(p)articipation by nearly all claimants is necessary. The Commonwealth may withdraw the proposal if there is insufficient agreement for settling claims on these terms."

Among the terms:

- A Direct Payment Fund that, in addition to paying $100,000 each to representatives of the 32 deceased victims, would provide a total of $800,000 for the injured, with a maximum of $100,000 to any individual.

- A Special Damages Fund to reimburse or advance expenses for medical, psychological and psychiatric care for victims and immediate families that is not covered by insurance.

- An attempt to provide to "seriously injured victims" state employee health insurance at employee rates, which would require changes to the state budget and possibly state law. If that is impossible, negotiations would continue over ways to provide coverage.

- Attempts to provide free or reduced-fee treatment through the University of Virginia or Virginia Commonwealth University health systems, with fees covered by the Special Damages Fund.

- A two-pronged, state-administered $3.5 million Public Purpose Fund. Half of the money would be for charitable purposes, such as campus safety and related grants or remembrance activities, decided on by a board of victims, family members and state officials. The other half would be for payments to victims and family members suffering "severe hardship, injury or loss" from the shootings. A neutral party would evaluate requests, and payments to any individual would be capped at 7.5 percent of the hardship fund. Money left over from the Direct Payment Fund also would go into the Public Purpose Fund.

- The Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund, scheduled to close this past December, would remain open for at least five years for new contributions to its scholarship fund.

- Gov. Timothy M. Kaine would meet personally with victims and family members three more times in the next two years before he leaves office to review legislative and administrative actions taken in response to the shootings and other family concerns.

- Within six months of the settlement, victims and families would meet with senior Virginia Tech officials, including President Charles Steger and police Chief Wendell Flinchum, for an overview of campus changes, to ask questions, and to weigh in on April 16 remembrance activities. Also within that time, Flinchum and Virginia State Police would update victims and families on the shooting investigation and answer questions.

- Families would be able to contribute to and review contents of an electronic document archive relating to April 16.
And, of course, there are some lawyers who are angling to get rich on the crime:
Lawyers from the Washington firm of Bode & Grenier, representing 20 families, would receive $750,000 in fees plus $50,000 for expenses. Others who had filed notices on behalf of families would receive $25,000.

Several of them, as well as a lawyer in the governor's office overseeing the mediation, either declined to comment or didn't return phone calls Monday.
Why on Earth should the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia be made to pay a single penny because of the criminal behavior of anyone, much less that of Seung-Hui Cho?

This is yet another instance of what we see is a disturbing trend in America: Whenever bad things happen to people, someone else is made to pay, even when so doing makes no sense whatsoever.

And just guessing, I'd say that the situation won't improve, but just get worse.

Whatever happened to that rugged American individualism as well as the ideal that an individual should be held accountable for his or her actions?

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Carnival Entries Are Due!

Entries for the 164th edition of The Carnival Of Education (Hosted this week over at Bellringers.) are due. Please email them to: mybellringers [at] gmail [dot] com . (Or, easier yet, use this handy submission form.) Submissions should be received no later than 7:00 PM (Eastern) 4 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 midway should open Wednesday.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Hillary, Countess Of Chappaqua, Gets Caught Lying Again!

Hillary, the Countess Of Chappaqua, has been caught telling more whoppers. This latest fish story began on March 17, when she said this about a fact-finding trip junket she and her daughter Chelsea made to Bosnia back in '96:
"I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base."--Hillary Clinton, speech at George Washington University, March 17, 2008.
Hillary Clinton has been regaling supporters on the campaign trail with hair-raising tales of a trip she made to Bosnia in March 1996. In her retelling, she was sent to places that her husband, President Clinton, could not go because they were "too dangerous."

When her account was
challenged by one of her traveling companions, the comedian Sinbad, she upped the ante and injected even more drama into the story. In a speech earlier this week, she talked about "landing under sniper fire" and running for safety with "our heads down."

The Washington Post decided to look into her claims of heroism under fire, and found them to be
completely bogus, as reporter Michael Dobbs attests:
As a reporter who visited Bosnia soon after the December 1995 Dayton Peace agreement, I can attest that the physical risks were minimal during this period, particularly at a heavily fortified U.S. Air Force base, such as Tuzla. Contrary to the claims of Hillary Clinton and former Army secretary Togo West, Bosnia was not "too dangerous" a place for President Clinton to visit in early 1996. In fact, the first Clinton to visit the Tuzla Air Force base was not Hillary, but Bill, on January 13, 1996.

Had Hillary Clinton's plane come "under sniper fire" in March 1996, we would certainly have heard about it long before now. Numerous reporters, including the Washington Post's John Pomfret, covered her trip. A review of nearly 100 news accounts of her visit shows that not a single newspaper or television station reported any security threat to the First Lady. "As a former AP wire service hack, I can safely say that it would have been in my lead had anything like that happened," said Pomfret.

According to Pomfret, the Tuzla airport was "one of the safest places in Bosnia" in March 1996, and "firmly under the control" of the 1st Armored Division.

Far from running to an airport building with their heads down, Clinton and her party were greeted on the tarmac by smiling U.S. and Bosnian officials. An eight-year-old Moslem girl, Emina Bicakcic, read a poem in English. An Associated Press photograph of the greeting ceremony, above, shows a smiling Clinton bending down to receive a kiss.

"There is peace now," Emina told Clinton, according to Pomfret's report in the Washington Post the following day, "because Mr. Clinton signed it. All this peace. I love it."

The First Lady's schedule, released on Wednesday and available here, confirms that she arrived in Tuzla at 8.45 a.m. and was greeted by various dignitaries, including Emina Bicakcic, (whose name has mysteriously been redacted from the document.)

You can see CBS News footage of the arrival ceremony here. The footage shows Clinton walking calmly out of the back of the C-17 military transport plane that brought her from Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany.

Among the U.S. officials on hand to greet Clinton at the airport was Maj. Gen. William Nash, the commander of U.S. troops in Bosnia. Nash told me that he was unaware of any security threat to Clinton during her eight-hour stay in Tuzla. He said, however, that Clinton had a "busy schedule" and may have got the impression that she was being hurried on her way. See clarification below.

According to Sinbad, who provided entertainment on the trip along with the singer Sheryl Crow, the "scariest" part was deciding where to eat. As he told Mary Ann Akers of The Post, "I think the only 'red-phone' moment was: 'Do we eat here or at the next place.'" Sinbad questioned the premise behind the Clinton version of events. "What kind of president would say 'Hey man, I can't go 'cause I might get shot so I'm going to send my wife. Oh, and take a guitar player and a comedian with you."

Replying to Sinbad earlier this week, Clinton dismissed him as "a comedian." Her campaign referred me to Togo West, who was also on the trip and is a staunch Hillary supporter. West could not remember "sniper fire" himself, but said there was no reason to doubt the First Lady's version of events. "Everybody's perceptions are different," he told me.

Clinton made no mention of "sniper fire" in her autobiography "Living History," published in 2003, although she did say there were "reports of snipers" in the hills around the airport.
Hillary Rodham-Clinton's revisionist attempt to turn what was a simple goodwill trip back in '96 into some sort of earth-shaking foreign-policy coup-de-etat on behalf of her serially-philandering "husband" is laughable.

We agree with the Washington Post's assessment of "Four Pinnochios" (see rating criteria here) for the "whoppers" which she told concerning that particular fact finding trip junket.

And should Hillary, the Countess of Chappaqua, somehow become our President, we can expect many more of these types of falsehoods.

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In Our Mailboxes Early One Morning

As it is spring vacation, our school is in recess. But just before our students went on break, the Unknown Administrator placed a paper in every teacher's mailbox that bore this pronouncement:
"Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment."
That was it. There was nothing else on the paper.

We teachers continue to have no idea who is putting these into our mailboxes or why

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: Rhymes With Right received the most Council votes with Fisking the Obama Speech.

Non-Council Entries: The Village Voice (!) took first place with David Mamet: Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal'.

See our latest EduPosts.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Helicopter Parents Vs. Stinger Teachers

When are "involved parents" too involved? In one Maryland district, the fur is flying between some parents and a number of teachers:
The Baltimore Sun ran an article on Tuesday about parental involvement taken to the extreme. The trigger was an annual survey by the Howard County Education Association that shows a majority of teachers say they have been subjected to harassment, and most of the harassment is done by parents.
You should really read the whole thing and follow their links.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Little Teacher-On-Teacher Action

Did you hear the one about the two teachers who went to war in the hallways of their school?
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WLTX) -- Richland County deputies say two middle school teachers who got into a fist-fight in front of students over a personal matter were arrested Wednesday.

Investigators say the original incident happened in the hallway of St. Andrews Middle School between two female eighth-grade teachers on Thursday, March 14.

Sheriff Leon Lott says the school's resource officer, who works with the Richland County Sheriff's Department, say the fight happened at 2 p.m. in between classes.

Lott says 30-year-old Tawana Horton of Columbia and 28-year-old Cambrella Pickney of Columbia got into a physical altercation in the hallway, after the teachers "bumped into each other."

The resource officer says "an ongoing personal dispute" can be blamed for the reason the teachers were fighting, but he didn't elaborate on what the dispute regarded.

Horton and Pinckney were each charged with disturbing schools and booked into the Richland County jail.

"These teachers are still employed by the district, but they have not been back at the school since the incident took place," Richland School District One Spokesperson Karen York told News19. "It is district policy not to disclose any disciplinary action that takes place against it's employees. The district is handling this as a serious matter. Teachers are supposed to be role models for students, and with the teachers fighting in the hall, they are not setting a good example."
Hmm... I can't help but wonder what that "personal matter" was....

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Please Don't Bite The Students!

It seems as though the employment standards of the Tifton, Georgia's Len Lastinger school could use some revision:
Vivian Hightower, a paraprofessional at the school, was suspended without pay for five days by the school’s principal, Dr. Kim Ezekiel. The board confirmed last week that Hightower bit a child she understood had bit another as punishment on Jan. 10. Unconfirmed reports Monday are that Hightower has been reassigned to another position in the school system after meeting with Superintendent Patrick Atwater Monday.

Julie Lambert, the mother of a Len Lastinger student and a volunteer in the school who takes cupcakes and serves them once a month to students with birthdays, said she became concerned when she heard about the student being bitten. Lambert said she didn’t witness the incident, but decided to talk to Ezekiel concerning the matter.

“After I talked with Dr. Ezekiel and told her I was going to administration, I and several parents wanted to set up an appointment to meet with Mr. Atwater, but his secretary told me that Mr. Patrick couldn’t discuss personnel matters with us,” Lambert said. “I was very upset at being told two times in one day that it didn’t concern me.”

Lambert said she was encouraged when she met with Kevin Dobard, BOE personnel director, in mid-February on a Thursday. She said Dobard told her to get letters together from those concerned. He recommended two letters, she said, and she gathered letters from seven people and took them to Ezekiel and copies to Dobard.

“Mr. Dobard, to his credit, has taken more time with me than anybody,” Lambert said. “I left there with the impression that with the letters, something would be done.”

Lambert said she received a letter from Ezekiel the Saturday following her Thursday meeting with Dobard. The letter, Lambert said, was brief and basically, according to Lambert, stated that Ezekiel appreciated Lambert’s concern, reiterating that the school administration places a high priority on school safety and that policy had been followed, but that the issue was a personnel matter the school administration couldn’t discuss with the public.

“I wouldn’t have any reservations in writing a formal complaint, but I question whether they will do anything,” Lambert said. “If I had been asked at any point to do it, I would have just like I got the seven letters together.”

Ezekiel said during an interview conducted in her office Friday that Lambert came to her on Feb. 13 after making an appointment and told her she wasn’t there concerning her son directly, but had a concern. Ezekiel said Lambert told her “she wanted to know why this woman is still in this school.”

“I told her I was not able to discuss personnel issues,” Ezekiel said. “She said she was going to Mr. Atwater and I told her that was fine because he was fully aware of the situation.”

On Feb. 19, according to Ezekiel, Lambert came to her office while she was in a meeting and asked for her. Ezekiel said she got the word from staff that day that Lambert said Dobard had told her to gather the letters. Ezekiel said she received the letters and responded to each of them.

“I said I would be happy to address the concerns having to do with their own children,” Ezekiel said. Ezekiel said that she has not discouraged Lambert from continuing her volunteer work in the school and welcomed her there.

Kano Goff, Lambert’s father, who read a prepared statement at the March 4 BOE meeting expressing his concern that the punishment Ezekiel imposed on Hightower wasn’t sufficient, said he got involved when Lambert told him about his meeting with Atwater.

“I told her, Julie, you have gone to the principal because you are concerned about your child at the school with a biting paraprofessional, Patrick sent her to the personnel director and then gets a letter back from Ezekiel stating the same thing,” Goff said. “I told her it was now time to go to the board.”

The BOE and administrators explained in a press conference Thursday that formal complaints, according to policy, had to have the person’s name, address and telephone number on them before they would be considered. Goff said the written statement he read to the board during the public comment section at Tuesday’s BOE meeting was only his signature away from fitting the criteria for filing a formal complaint in the case.

“They keep stating that they got upset because we didn’t follow procedures and went to the board, but we had talked to everyone we knew who to talk to about it,” Goff said.

“No one was upset that he spoke to us the other night, but the public forum is not designed for action, it is designed to hear concerns,” Potts said.

Goff said he called BOE Vice Chairman Lester Potts on Feb. 25 and he, Potts and Lambert met on Feb. 26 at Shoney’s to discuss the matter over coffee.

“Potts said he knew very little about the situation,” Goff said. “Lester said he was shocked and the gist of the meeting was that it would get to the board and he would see that there was a vote. He told me and Julie that he was only one vote but he would get back to us on March 4.”

Goff said that Potts called Lambert and told him that BOE attorney John Reinhardt had told him that since Hightower had been reprimanded and punished with a five-day unpaid suspension from her job, there was nothing the board could do. After Goff discussed it with Lambert, he called Potts.

“I told him I couldn’t believe there was nothing that could be done about it by the board and that I thought they were taking the easy way out,” Goff said. “I told him that the people of Tift County needed to know and maybe they’d get upset enough to do something about it and that I was going to read a statement in public at the March 4 board meeting.

“I’ve been in business a long time and maybe things are different in government, but if I had someone in my company who did something drastic and found out someone under me issued discipline that wasn’t severe enough, I would fire them,” Goff said. “This wasn’t something that just popped up on him (Potts).”

Potts confirmed Monday that he had met with Lambert and Goff at Shoney’s that night and said that was the first time he had heard about the biting incident.

“At that particular moment, it was hearsay,” Potts said. “I said I would check into it and see what was going on. Lester Potts, as a member of the board, has one vote and has no power or authority outside of the board as a whole.”

Potts said he began to question what had gone on relative to the case and Dobard told him an investigation had been conducted by Ezekiel and that the five-day suspension without pay had been imposed with Atwater’s blessings.

Potts said Goff called him and told him he needed to speak before the board.

“I told him to call Patrick’s secretary and see what he needed to do to be able to speak,” Potts said.

Potts said that at some point he discussed the biting incident with BOE Chairman Rita Griffin. Potts said the personnel committee, of which he is a member, met Wednesday after the Gazette furnished a copy of the incident report concerning Hightower, who was charged in 2006 with aggravated assault in a case that hasn’t been indicted or otherwise adjudicated through the court.

When asked if someone filed a formal complaint in the case that was in compliance with the BOE’s current policy, would he consider bringing the issue of the punishment imposed before the board for consideration and discussion, Potts said, “If the formal complaint process is followed, it would come before the board itself and at that point, the board would take it under consideration.”

When asked what he hoped comes as a result of the flow of information opening in the case, Potts responded, “I hope personally that everyone in the school system and in the community knows that is that it is our desire for open, clear and positive communication among each other. If fear exists in a school building, you can jump the chain of command to get that rectified, but please first do all that you can at the lowest level possible first. The chain of command is an important structure to me because of my military background and important to maintaining order.”
Where do these districts find these employees?

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Let's Carnival!

The 163rd edition of The Carnival of Education (hosted this week by So You Want To Teach.) has opened-up its midway!

And don't forget to round out your educational experience by seeing what the homies are up to over at The Carnival of Homeschooling.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Matter Of Free Speech Or Simple Disrespect?

Should individuals who refuse to stand for the playing of the National Anthem ever be asked to leave a sport event that's being held on public property? That's exactly what is alleged to have happened at one Connecticut high school:
Two spectators at a high school basketball game are considering legal action after they say they were kicked off the court for not standing up for the National Anthem.

The incident happened last week at New Britain High School during the Class-S basketball tournament between Bloomfield and Old Saybrook.

Jeffrey Green and Aaron Johnson say their First Amendment rights were violated after they did not stand for the National Anthem and were subsequently asked to leave the premises.

"We wasn't moving at first. We was asking why, why you kicking us out? We want to know why and he said, 'Cause of the National Anthem,'" explained Jeffrey Green of New Haven.

The men say Lenny Corto, New Britain's athletic director, asked them to leave the game.

Johnson has been an assistant coach at the Hyde Leadership School in Hamden for six years. He says when working games, he does stand for the National Anthem but says, "Being a spectator and being on my own time, at times, I don't stand up."

And they don't have to. According to their lawyer, kicking them out is a violation of their free speech and like it or not, the Constitution protects their right not to stand.

"I think the expectation is to stand but I think everybody has a right if they want to stand or not," Johnson said.

And he says, the athletic director singled them out.

"In order to get to us, he had to go over about four or five rows that had fans in there that weren't standing up," Johnson explained.

Police were called to the scene and the men eventually left with their wives. The school did refund their money for the game but refused to allow them back inside.

News Channel 8 tried to talk to the principal of New Britain High School for comment, but we were referred to the superintendent who has not returned our phone call.

The men's attorney says they want an apology and want to see the athletic director disciplined.
Certainly, the two individuals had a right not to stand for the playing of our National Anthem.

And it's highly unlikely that Athletic Director Lenny Corto had any legal basis for expelling the two men from the gym.

But, regardless of their political views and personal agendas, was it an acceptable thing for these two men to do when at least one of them (Johnson) is a public school employee (of a nearby district) and they are in the presence of school-age children while on school property?

The Wanker Of The Day

If true, then this Florida (It seems that so much of what is going on nowadays originates in Florida...) teacher must surely qualify for the W.O.D.:
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. -- Orange County Public Schools is investigating claims that a student was forced to use a lunchbox as a toilet in front of his class at Meadowbrook Middle School.

The teacher will not be coming to school. She will be relieved of her duty with pay as the school district investigates, officials said.

"If you gotta go, you gotta go," student Quonterious Thomas told Eyewitness News in an interview Monday.

Thomas, 13, says his language arts teacher, Jameeka Chambers, gave him two options when he had to go to the bathroom at Meadowbrook Middle School in Orange County. She said he could wait until the end of class or use her lunchbox in the back of the classroom.

The sixth grader said he used her lunchbox.

"If I had waited any longer, I would have peed on myself and that would have been even more embarrassing," Thomas said, adding that his entire class of 19 students and his teacher watched.

When Thomas told his mom, she said she didn't believe it at first and later realized how traumatized he was.

"I have never, in all the days been living, ever heard about anything happening in all my life. This is a really big shocker for me," said Shameka Bryant, Thomas' mom.

Orange County Public Schools told Eyewitness News the claims are under investigation. The district has taken statements from students in the class, but has not spoken to the teacher.

Chambers has been out of town at an education conference in New Orleans. This is her first year on the job and her record is clean.

"I'm seeking counseling for him, asking questions. What was the purpose? I want to know," Bryant said.

Orange County Public Schools wouldn't specifically comment about what happened. The district says teachers have to allow students to use the restroom.
Follow this link and click on the video.

As for the alleged offense, it seems to me that waaay too many teachers need to take a class in common sense before they obtain their teaching licenses and enter the classroom.

In the interest of fairness, we'd be curious to know why the district didn't drop a dime and call the teacher before this made the hometown media...


Get Your Carnival Entries Submitted!

Entries for the 163rd edition of The Carnival Of Education (Hosted this week by So You Want To Teach.) 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 11:59 PM (Eastern) 8:59 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 Learn Me Good, right here.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the midway should open Wednesday.

Monday, March 17, 2008

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: Wolf Howling garnered the most Council votes with Change & The Cessation of British History.

Non-Council Entries: In recent dispatch from the Iraqi Front, Michael Yon took first place with Guitar Heroes.
See our latest EduPosts.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Smaller Than The Average Baby?

CNN has something for new parents to chew on:
There are few issues that preoccupy new parents more than this: Is my baby growing normally? When the percentiles seem off-kilter, we worry -- but experts say there's rarely reason for concern.

For starters, healthy kids come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, and they don't grow at a steady rate, either.

Your child can look very different from your friends' kids -- or from his own siblings at the same age -- and still be completely normal.

What influences growth

At birth: A baby's size when he's born is based partly on genetics. Firstborns tend to be smaller than subsequent children because the uterus is smaller and tighter in first-time moms.

Boys are larger than girls, and multiples, boys and girls, are smaller than average.

Some environmental factors that can influence a newborn's size:
I've always found it intriguing how much my seventh-grade students physically change over the course of a year.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Exposing Washington's Wasteful Ways: Where's PigFoot?

I couldn't help but chuckle at this one:
WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today launched the first in its new series of occasional video podcasts called Where’s PigFoot? The video podcasts, which will be posted on YouTube and viewable on CAGW’s website and blog, will feature CAGW’s mascot uncovering and exposing government waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement wherever it can be found.

The inaugural installment of the podcast features PigFoot attempting to crash Rep. John Murtha’s (D-Pa.) recent fundraising bash in Arlington, Virginia. The dinner was one of Rep. Murtha’s two annual campaign fundraising events. According to Roll Call, every private recipient of Murtha’s 2008 defense earmarks had given money to his campaign coffers sometime since 2005. Murtha is chairman of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee. After a six-week online poll, he was named CAGW’s 2007 “Porker of the Year” for his relentless pursuit of congressional earmarks. Dressed to the nines, PigFoot attempted to deliver the coveted award to Rep. Murtha personally during the dinner at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel on February 27, but he was unceremoniously ejected from the hotel.

The debut of the Where’s PigFoot? series also coincides with today’s announcement of the introduction of an earmark moratorium amendment to the fiscal year 2009 budget resolution. The amendment, offered by Sens. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), will impose a year-long moratorium on congressional earmarks. The amendment has 10 co-sponsors, including presumptive Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and the top two Democratic candidates, Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.). The unaccountable and dysfunctional process of congressional earmarking has increasingly become the subject of rancorous dispute and political maneuvering. The amendment is scheduled for floor debate and a vote this week.

Citizens Against Government Waste is also fast approaching the April 2 release of the 2008 Congressional Pig Book, the most thorough and detailed compendium of wasteful pork projects. CAGW’s pork list has been a Washington staple since 1991.

Where’s PigFoot? is available for viewing at, as well as on the group’s blog,
John Murtha's love of Pork and All Things Porcine is simply legendary.

The recently retired Republican Congress set new records wasting the taxpayers' money.

But I've little doubt that if the electoral college chooses a Democrat as our president and the Democrats continue to control congress, then we'll see that record shattered in quick time.


Carnival Entries Are Due!

Entries for the 162nd edition of The Carnival Of Education (Hosted this week by Learn Me Good.) are due. Please email them to: learnmegood2 [at] yahoo [dot] com . (Or, easier yet, use this handy submission form.) Submissions should be received no later than 10:00 PM (Eastern) 7:00 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 midway should open Wednesday.

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 garnered the most Council votes with Chicago Rules.

Non-Council Entries: Power Line took first place with To Die in Jerusalem, Part II.
See our latest EduPosts.


Friday, March 07, 2008

Throwing the Bathwater AT the Baby

Did you hear about the mom who punished her young daughter by power-washing the kid at the local car wash?

Yep... she's pregnant with another likely future victim.

People like her always seem to produce larger families.


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Carnival Of Education: Week 161

Welcome to the midway of the 161st 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 a future 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 Sam Jackson College Experience. 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 Learn Me Good. Contributors are invited to send submissions to: learnmegood2 [at] yahoo [dot] com , or, easier yet, use this handy submission form. Entries should be received no later than 10:00 PM (Eastern) 7:00 PM (Pacific) Tuesday, March 11, 2008. Please include the title of your post, and its URL, if possible. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the midway should open next Wednesday.

Let the free exchange of thoughts and ideas begin!

EduPolicy and EduPolicy Makers:

What expectation (if any) should teachers have that they won't be parodied or ridiculed on You Tube and similar Internet sites? Are teachers "public" or "private" persons? Your thoughts
will definitely be provoked by Greg Laden's contribution.

Students in the nation of Finland do particularly well when compared to students from other countries. What's the secret of their success? Joanne Jacobs
has the story.

The Colossus of Rhodey
ponders the dearth of male teachers and why there is a smaller percentage of men serving in public school classrooms than there was 40 years ago. (Don't miss Colossus' speculation as to why so few folks in the MSM are covering the story...)

A school with a "bad reputation" has trouble attracting good teachers. Yet without good teachers, how can a troubled school improve? Buckhorn Road
takes a look at one California high school's experience.

Some say that the imposition of the federal No Child Left Behind Act is responsible for the loss of local control over public education.
Is this what is happening over in Nebraska?

U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings is fond of saying, "In God we trust, all others bring data." The Rightwing Prof over at Right Wing Nation
seems to affirm that statement.

Should separating boys from girls in public school classrooms be an acceptable practice? Lost in the Ozone
chimes in on the argument with an article by Elizabeth Weil of New York Times Magazine while the Science Goddess over at What It's Like on the Inside also has some thoughts on the matter.

The Essential Blog
asks readers what they did - not what they believe, not what they intend - but what they really did - to improve schools, school systems, and the lives of young people and their communities (complete with a side of Oprah Winfrey-generated media analysis).

alerts us to the fact that the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association is taking place soon. And she informs us why so many are so unhappy with AERA.

Teaching And Learning:

Are you smarter than the average bear high school senior?
The answer may surprise you...

When it comes to using contemporary music in the classroom, McSwain of Hildebrand Road reminds us that
being a middle-aged nerd is no excuse for stupid.

Comparing teachers and kids to shoes? Not as silly as it might seem. A
very worthwile read.

Inside This Teaching Life:

Ms. Cornelius of A Shrewdness of Apes
well illustrates how many teachers nowadays feel less like professionals and more like targets.

Pennies don't just make good sense. Mamacita of Scheiss Weekly shows us that some enterprising students have discovered that
pennies can also buy a good protest too.

Bill Ferriter of The Tempered Radical
surprises us with his critique of the current trend of assigning "mentors" to beginning teachers. In fact, on one day in particular, he found himself "fed up" with the state of teacher leadership.

Bellringers gives us
a top 5 countdown to self-irrelevancy. (Number 3 puts things into perspective...)

The UK based Scenes from the Battleground
takes us back to the year halcyon year of 1947 in order to show us that the more things change, the more they remain the same!

Band director Joel is coming to realize one of the Teaching Life's undeniable truths...
things slow down!

And now we learn that in some areas, teachers
aren't even permitted to run a copying machine.

Behold. All is not lost. It is possible
for a school to get off of the NCLB #@!* program improvement list.

Anybody who has ever taught in a public school knows the monster what many teachers dread most. And
the dreaded monster has little or nothing to do with students...

It's true. No matter how old one is, a person never forgets
his or her first man teacher!

I've been seeing the term "21CL" off-and-on
for some time. Now I finally know what it means, while I'm still learning new meanings for the expression "to cover the material."

Teaching Ideas:

Our long-time friend Henry Cate over at Why Homeschool
points us in the direction of some good online teaching resources.

Interested in Shakespeare? Here's
where to start!

If the kids aren't turning in their homework on time, Mrs. Bluebird
has one idea that seems to work.

Testing And Technology:

Jean Mosher
links to an informative New York Times article about the increasing numbers of school age children who are being taught online and the growing debate over its efficacy.

Carol of The Median Sib went to a workshop at Columbia University with pad and pencil in hand and shocked some of the other attendees
who didn't seem to know what those two things were for.

a roundup of computer software that is designed to help students with pronouncing English.

Over in Israel, teacher Muse has had
a little first-hand experience with the perfidies of 21st century technology.

a primer on using Wikis in the classroom.

what about those iPods in the classroom?

Unions and Collective Bargaining:

Here's what can happen when a large teacher's union no longer seems interested in protecting its membership and fostering a sense of relevance among those who financially support it.

It's when I read
stories like this one from New York City that make me wonder why (given the high cost of living and relatively low teaching salaries) anyone would want to teach in the Big Apple.

Teacher Education:

Darren of Right on the Left Coast
received an annoying newsletter from a local College of Education that featured an even more annoying acronym. (When it comes to teacher education, do these people offer a better alternative?)


Motivating one's own children to read can be a challenge.
Here's some thoughts on just how to overcome that challenge.


And now for something completely different:
The substitute teachers' limerick. (Dark humor, perhaps?)

What would happen if the military were tasked with running magnet schools?

Higher Education:

Maybe it is cheaper to send an American kid to a prestigious European university. But then again,
maybe it's not.

Inside The Blogs:

Me worry?

Now... whatever you do... don't get hit in the head by an errant eraser, note book, or pom-pom...
brain cells aren't forever!

Who would have thought that being "unreasonable"
could be a good thing?

If as a parent you do hire a tutor or other after school help,
here are a few tips for getting the most value for your hard-earned money.

Is a tax rebate in your EduFuture? Find out

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, March 04, 2008

In Our Mailboxes Yesterday Morning

The Unknown Administrator has once again put a sheet of paper in each teacher's mailbox that featured only the following statement:
"A person will sometimes devote all his life to the development of one part of his body - the wishbone."
That was it. There was nothing more.

We've no idea who put this latest missive into our boxes or why...

Carnival Entries Are Due!

Entries for the 161st 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 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 Sam Jackson College Experience, right here.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the midway should open Wednesday.

Monday, March 03, 2008

From The Old School Dictionary Of EduSpeak

Trampstamp: (n.) A certain type of tattoo often seen on adolescent/young adult human females. This tattoo is most often placed on the small of the back with the intent to exhibit the tattoo (through the use of short tops such as the one illustrated) while walking through the hallways (and sitting at classroom desks) of high schools and colleges. Also known in some circles as The Mark of the Whore.


Saturday, March 01, 2008

A Penny's Worth Of Detention

Some New Jersey eighth-graders decided to protest their shortened lunch break one-cent-at-a-time:
Readington Township school officials gave 29 students detention after they used pennies to pay for their $2 lunches.

Superintendent Jorden Schiff said it started out as a prank. But as the eighth-graders began to get in trouble for taking up so much time, it turned into a protest about Thursday's shortened lunch period.

Schiff said the students were punished for holding up their peers and disrespecting lunch aides.

Schiff said some parents think a two-day detention went too far and others think it wasn't enough.

The school, which is located in Hunterdon County, said it wants students to know they can express themselves without disrupting other people.
This sorta reminds me of the guy who tendered pennies in order to pay his outrageously high federal tax bill.

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 garnered the most Council votes with In A PC Nation, How Will The GOP Run?

Non-Council Entries: My Shrapnel took first place with To Die in Jerusalem, Part II.
See our latest EduPosts.