Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Learning Means... um...

An interesting essay by Alex Krupp is worth a read.
Merriam-Webster defines learning as "gaining knowledge or understanding of or skill in by study, instruction, or experience."

Unfortunately, this definition is non-actionable. As such, I'd like to propose a new working definition

You've learned something if you can answer a question that you could not have answered previously.

Before we proceed, a couple of caveats. First, this model only works for cognitive learning. That means things like muscle memory are out. Second, this model treats actions as implicit questions. For example, if we learn how to drive a nail then we've answered the implicit question "How do I use a hammer?"

I've challenged several people to find an example that breaks my model. So far no one has succeeded. Even if there is some corner case that breaks the model, I think it's pretty safe to say that it holds for 99 and 44/100% of cases.

The implications here are huge. I'll start with books and blogging, and then I'll tackle school and entrepreneurship.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Is It Time to Teach Religion in Public Schools?

In the wake of the embrace of religious fanaticism in America that has so perverted the American Dream and distorted human values and rights that no one recognizes truth, civility, or decency any more, some religious leaders are making a compelling case for teaching religion - all religions in public schools.

In part their argument is that churches are failing by politicizing the spiritual, mythic, and archetypal role of religion and religious influence in Western culture.

This PBS discussion is worth a read. From Religious Literacy;
ABERNETHY: Prothero thinks churches and families are not teaching religion well, so he wants a course on the Bible for every high school student; also, a course in world religions -- Judaism and Christianity and Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. Prothero insists requiring such courses would not violate the separation of church and state.

Prof. PROTHERO: There's a distinction between preaching religion and teaching about religion. You can't be telling kids, accept Jesus as your Savior and Lord. That's absolutely, totally unconstitutional. Now the other thing, talking about religion, teaching about religion, is totally constitutional. There's no debate about this.

ABERNETHY: But there is debate. Critics say Christianity and Judaism would be favored over other religions in a required course on the Bible, and that would not be neutral. Barry Lynn heads Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Reverend BARRY LYNN (Americans United for Separation of Church and State): Court decisions make it clear that we can't prefer some religions over others or prefer all religion over no religion. I think that when you take one holy scripture -- the holy Christian Bible -- and decide to use that as the centerpiece for your class, as Stephen Prothero suggests, you're on very shaky constitutional ground.

ABERNETHY: Charles Haynes of the Freedom Forum agrees.

Dr. CHARLES HAYNES (Senior Scholar, Freedom Forum First Amendment Center): I think a required Bible course is not a good idea. I think it would be giving too much room in the curriculum to one scripture and some faiths and not others. But, on the other hand, I think a required world religions course would be a good idea, because there I think we expose students to a wide variety of beliefs and practices.

ABERNETHY: When the Supreme Court ruled out school-sponsored prayer in 1962, it set off a generation of conflict not only about school prayer but also about teaching religion. Were the justices really against it?

Dr. HAYNES: They were heard somehow as though telling public schools to ignore religion, to leave it out. But that was a deep misunderstanding of those decisions. They were saying that the state may not impose religion or sponsor religion, but of course public schools must teach about religion in order to offer a good education.

ABERNETHY: At first, after the prayer decision some school districts avoided controversy by ignoring religion altogether. Then, partly because of explanations by the Freedom Forum of how to teach about religion, there was what Haynes calls a "sea change."

Dr. HAYNES: There's probably more religion in our public school curriculum today than there has been at any time since the 19th century. It's across the country in social studies courses particularly.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Does It Pay to Pay Attention?

I came across this link month's ago. It's a study in the oddity of life. Check it out.
The producers tried in vain to disqualify him after the show, but Michael hadn't really don't anything illegal. He'd simply paid attention. In fact, had Michael been ultra-cool and ultra-patient, he could have played on forever, winning millions of dollars. That would have required hours and hours of game play, but there was no stipulation in the rules about how long a contestant could spin. However, Michael was stifled by the CBS regulation that put a cap on $25,000 in winnings. While Michael was allowed to keep all of his money, he was not allowed to return as a champion on the next show.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Earth Stands Still

New reports on the possibility of alien life having rained to earth in India indicate that the DNA-less microbes can reproduce.
I learned to my surprise that there have been three red rains, all with cells that replicate at 300 degrees Celsius (572 degrees F.), but without any known DNA for replication as we know in all other Earth life.
Comet Holmes in a distant galaxy suddenly defies the known physics of such celestial bodies.
Comet Holmes, discovered in 1892, had in recent years been visible only through telescopes until a dramatic outburst made it visible to the naked eye. In fewer than 24 hours, it brightened by a factor of nearly 400,000.

It has now brightened by a factor of a million times what it was before the outburst, a change "absolutely unprecedented in the annals of cometary astronomy," said Joe Rao, SPACE.com's Skywatching Columnist.
And numerous scientists no longer believe that global warming can be either controlled or reversed.
As early as 1992, he says, the US National Academy of Science recognized that adaptation needed to play a key role in humanity's response to global warming.

Some analysts argue that demoting adaptation efforts to the status of "poorer cousin" to emissions reductions in the public debate has cost precious time.

"We've known for 100 years that if you pump enough CO2 into the atmosphere, you're going to get global warming," says Daniel Sarewitz, a science-policy specialist at Arizona State University in Tempe. Despite the conviction that humans are warming the climate expressed in the report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, specific aspects of the science remain riddled with uncertainties. This holds especially true for models trying to project regional effects, he says.

"We spend all this effort trying to understand climate dynamics, but the major variables are the interactions within society and between society and climate," he says, referring to everything from populations exploding along vulnerable coastlines to decisions about what types of crops to plant.

For example, Dr. Noble notes that in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, efforts to encourage growers to replace groundwater- gulping rice with grains that grow better in a drier climate are hitting a wall. "Farmers know that they'd be better off growing millet or sorghum," he says. "But there's no market for millet. If they have to live on what they produce, they'd rather produce rice than millet."

And while some of the highest-profile adaptation challenges may come from severe weather events, Noble adds that "ordinary" weather events can still pose enormous hardship, particularly in the developing world.

If "normal" rain comes in less-frequent but more-intense storms, one storm "could wash away half your crop. That doesn't qualify as a disaster, so you don't get disaster relief," Noble says. In that case, adaptation measures could range from runoff control efforts to government policies establishing crop insurance where it doesn't exist now. It also means building roads and bridges far more resilient in the face of flooding.

Ironically, many measures needed to adapt to global warming come from the same toolkit disaster planners and development agencies use today. "Adaptation means doing the things you do now, but doing them much better," he says.
From Time to begin 'adapting' to climate change?
The World Bank is hiring experts in 'adaptation' to a warming world. Coastal planners are starting to take it into account by Peter N. Spotts | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

The idea that teaching can continue to rehash last generation's syllabus is profoundly wrong. we are entering an age that requires immediate creative responses to events that have never been encountered by man before. Our schools need to be hardened to the new technologies that will be necessary to survive.

Anything less is negligent malfeasance.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Wussification of the West

The evidence continues to mount from all quarters of the western world that our children are being dumbed down, becoming socially sterile, and biologically stripped of natural and interpersonal immunities.

The Guardian, in Bullying is exaggerated, says childhood expert by Anushka Asthana, Tom Gill argues,
'Children are not always nice to each other, but people are not always nice to each other. The world is not like that. One of the things in danger of being lost is children spending time with other children out of sight of adults; growing a sense of consequence for their actions without someone leaping in,' he told The Observer

Gill related an incident in which his own daughter complained that she was being bullied after three boys teased her about a game she was playing in the park. 'What struck me was the use of the word bullying to describe that,' he said. 'Bullying is where the victimisation is sustained and there is a power imbalance. I do not mean we should allow unbridled cruelty, just that one option is asking, "Can you sort it out yourself?" '

In No Fear: Growing up in a Risk-averse Society, which will be published tomorrow, Gill argues that society is 'bubble-wrapping' children. Parents, teachers, police, the government and wider society are all to blame, he said, for overreacting to risks such as 'stranger danger', injury and abuse.

Children were too quickly branded antisocial. He cited a case where three 12-year-olds were arrested and DNA-tested for climbing a tree.
Similarly, the Daily Mail carried an article called Let your children injure themselves, says ROSPA.
Parents must allow their children to play outdoors - even if it means they get hurt, a safety campaigner has said.

Research published last week by the Children's Society suggested that too many parents are refusing to let their children play by themselves outside in case they are injured.

It found 43 per cent of adults think children should not be allowed out with their friends until they are 14 or over.

But Peter Cornall, from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, argues that when children scrape their knees or bump their heads, they learn how to avoid hurting themselves again in future.
The New York Times recently carried an article called, Lobes of Steel by Gretchen Reynolds that reiterated the importance of aerobic exercise, even as schools steal exercise time to cram for yet another test.
University of Illinois scientists have studied school-age children and found that those who have a higher level of aerobic fitness processed information more efficiently; they were quicker on a battery of computerized flashcard tests. The researchers also found that higher levels of aerobic fitness corresponded to better standardized test scores among a set of Illinois public school students. The scientists next plan to study how students’ scores change as their fitness improves.
The SF Gate reports in, Warning: Fun ahead - Safety first, yes, but today's overprotected kids need to live a little by Peter Hartlaub, coming full circle, reminds us,
The wussification of American children is a relatively recent phenomenon, but a very real one. We pamper our kids, over-schedule them, overemphasize fairness in competition (the score ends in a tie ... again!) and keep them indoors too much, to the point that we're doing them a huge disservice. Kids aren't learning how to get hurt, lose, fend for themselves, find their balance and discover minor dangers on their own - all important parts of growing up.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Surgically Removing Student Rights

The Boston Phoenix recently ran a minor article called Eraser Heads by Harvey Silverglate and James F. Tierney that documents the eerie deletion of student rights in the Emerson College Student Handbook. Emerson is a Boston liberal arts school that boasts a journalism legacy.
Emerson’s deletion of student rights from its handbook places the university at the vanguard of a larger, nation-wide campaign that neither began nor will likely end there. Lawyers specializing in advising colleges — including campus “general counsel,” who are reflexively more concerned with minimizing the schools’ legal liability than in protecting students’ rights — have been recommending for several years now that the once-ubiquitous listings of students’ rights be either modified or, worse, eliminated altogether. The main reason for this backlash is that courts in several states have suggested that schools must honor the promises of fairness and freedom they make to students in those handbooks.

Here in Massachusetts, in the 1999 case of Schaer v. Brandeis, in which a student sued the university, the Supreme Judicial Court based its ruling on a stated assumption that the guarantee of fair disciplinary hearings, found in the student handbook, could constitute an enforceable legal contract. (The student lost the case anyway, because the court concluded that Brandeis had provided him with a hearing that, in fact, lived up to the promise made in the handbook.)

Frightened by the thought of courts interpreting their handbooks as contracts, schools have started to make an end-run around the handbooks’ becoming legally binding. According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education — a nonpartisan organization that advocates for academic freedom and due process on campus [Ed. Note: and on which Silverglate serves as chair.] — no other schools have taken the radical step of Emerson’s administrators, though some have started down that road.

First, for instance, schools have started to explain that the rights are not contracts and are unenforceable; then they reserve the right to change the handbook language altogether. The University of New England in Biddeford, Maine, informs students that the school “reserves the right to change the policies, procedures, rules, regulations, and information in this handbook at any time.” Similarly, Creighton University, in Omaha, Nebraska, lists students’ rights but renders them meaningless by explaining that the school can “deviate from this handbook at any time.”

That schools have relied on this ploy is unsurprising. As a result of Schaer and similar court opinions around the country, campus administrators panicked over the possibility that words — and rights — were suddenly going to have real meaning in campus life. But lawyers and administrators, ever creative at figuring out how to avoid having to deliver on what one promises, started to backtrack.

Giving rights real meaning is what America used to stand for not too many years ago but this incident serves as an apt metaphor for the war this generation of politicians is waging on children and teens. This is not so much about liability as it is about inalienable responsibilities of American citizens to ensure that the promise of human rights and fair play in our form of government is not an empty sham.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Is Stabbing the Other Team Unsportsmanlike?

Is that all it is?

There are allegations that a recent high school football game included the use of concealed knives. Kind of makes you sick, no?

From WTNH NEWS [Bob Wilson]:
There are serious allegations against East Hartford High's football squad following a game against Southington High School.

Four Southington players were injured in last Friday's game against East Hartford, but it does not appear to be your typical football injuries.

Police are investigating claims that the players were stabbed while on the playing field by the opposing team. All four Southington players sustained cuts to their hands and one player even had to get stitches for his injuries.

"A couple of the kids got slashed and the way it looks, it wasn't a slash like with a helmet, but a slash like somebody is cutting somebody on the field. It's pretty dangerous," said Southington parent, Shante Davis.

"It's shocking that they have to take it to that level, of hurting the other team instead of playing the game," said Southington parent, Michael Beach.

"I thought it was really dirty and bad on their part," said Southington JV player, Nick Durand.

Southington police are trying to figure out if the high school gridiron is a crime scene or an accident scene.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Congress Needs to Fire Spellings

My head is going to explode from reading the inane adventures of Margaret Spellings, secretary of the US Department of Education. Aside from the fact that she's run the agency into the ground treating it as a partisan money sink for George Bush's personally insane agenda, she now chooses NOT TO INVESTIGATE the student loan scandal!

Congress needs to just get rid of this agency completely, it is hollow and dangerous to children and taxpayers. The political thugs running it should be banned for life from being near kids. Just go away.

From the Courant, Student Loan Trouble Tied To `Confusion'
Education Secretary Plans No Audit Of `Improper' Payments

By AMIT R. PALEY | Washington Post
Education Secretary Margaret Spellings has acknowledged that the federal government "had some responsibility" for "confusion" over subsidy rules that helped student loan companies reap hundreds of millions of dollars in potentially excessive payments at taxpayer expense.

But Spellings said in a recent interview that she has no plans to pursue a full accounting of the cost of what the Education Department's inspector general termed "improper" payments. They occurred in a program that guarantees lenders a 9.5 percent interest rate for certain loans even when market rates are much lower.

The department doesn't plan to seek reimbursement either, she said.
How do you spell bald political corruption and coverup?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Unknown Artist: Lydia Venieri


A few weeks ago I stopped by at the Stux Gallery in Chelsea. There I encountered the most remarkable digital photographic images.
The gallery flyer will tell you Lydia was born in Athens, Greece, studied in Paris, and so on. And she's participated in numerous shows in Europe.

And the gallery assessment of her work suggests surrealist roots but I see it differently. These digital photographs, IMO, at first glance lend themselves to a kitsch sweetness that projects from the pastiche effect of doll-collecting americana, Japanese anime stereotype eyes, and toy box magic.

Upon closer inspection, Venieri turns your initial kitsch impulse into a much more serious satori - so-to-speak. The subjects of Venieri's photos on silk, sugar-innocent dolls bear witness to events happening just over the viewer's shoulders of consciousness - war, hate, and violence.

The juxtaposition, the counterpoint is both startling, accusatory, and infectious. I must admit that I liked this work very much (one of only two or three artists who impressed me that morning) as a strong and bold set of work, beautifully executed and subliminally refined.

I offer my recommendation that, when in New York you visit the gallery and seek out her work. Until then click on the gallery link to see her profile on their website.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

More on the Case Against Homework

I'm finally getting back to a subject worth far more consideration than it gets, homework. About a year ago, I brought you the first part of an excellent article. Here's part two.

After listing (all of the bogus reasons) Why Schools Give Homework

1. It gets parents involved in their kids' education.

2. It gets younger kids used to the idea of doing homework.

3. Parents ask for more homework.

4. Happiness is bad for children.

5. Foreign kids do homework.

6. Homework teaches responsibility.


Orson Scott Card goes on to offer some very interesting insights;
Most teachers really want what's best for their students. Most of them don't realize -- because nobody has ever told them -- how useless homework is. All they need is a friendly conversation in which the parent and teacher are partners in finding a way for each child to have a good education and a happy childhood at the same time. They will be happy to lighten the load.

Here's the guiding principle: You don't try to force them to do things your way at school. They shouldn't try to force you to do things their way at home. Each of you should be master of your own domain. They only get to assign homework -- work done by your children in your home -- with your consent.

Few teachers and fewer school districts ever really think of it that way. That's all we need to do -- remind them that their legal and moral authority over our children ends with the final bell and the children's safe departure from school premises.

After that, we're responsible.

We're not employees of the school district. They're not our bosses. We don't have to do their bidding.

And no matter how much they love our kids, we love them more. They were our kids before they went to school, and they'll be our kids when they get out again. They're still our kids during all the years and days and hours in between.
We'll return to this issue again.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

NCLB Implosion in CA

Today the New York Times reports on the tsunami of failing schools all showing up in poor communities in CA and a bellwether for the rest of the country. Called, Failing Schools Strain to Meet U.S. Standard by Diana Jean Schemo the article is brimming with the same misconceptions and bromides that haven't a snowball's chance in hell of furthering the debate.
For the past half-dozen years, not even one in five students at her district’s teeming high schools has been able to do grade-level math or English. At Abraham Lincoln High School this year, only 7 in 100 students could. At Woodrow Wilson High, only 4 in 100 could.

For chronically failing schools like these, the No Child Left Behind law, now up for renewal in Congress, prescribes drastic measures: firing teachers and principals, shutting schools and turning them over to a private firm, a charter operator or the state itself, or a major overhaul in governance.

But more than 1,000 of California’s 9,500 schools are branded chronic failures, and the numbers are growing. Barring revisions in the law, state officials predict that all 6,063 public schools serving poor students will be declared in need of restructuring by 2014, when the law requires universal proficiency in math and reading.

“What are we supposed to do?” Ms. Paramo asked. “Shut down every school?”
No amount of turning schools into a game of musical chairs will escape the fact that with or without NCLB, schools in poor communities have a difficult time educating the transient hordes of students passing through their doors.

There's no testing required. This fact of educational life has been well-known for a long, long time. There is nothing wrong with the physical plants or the teachers per se.

The article continues.
Under the No Child law, a school declared low-performing for three years in a row must offer students free tutoring and the option to transfer. After five years, such schools are essentially treated as irredeemable, with the law prescribing starting over with a new structure, new leadership or new teachers. But it also gives schools the option of less sweeping changes, like reducing school size or changing who is in charge of hiring.
The law of course is a fool's errand suggested by history's biggest fool of all. What is well-known about reading and math skills is that they must be acquired early in the educational cycle and interventions must occur early as well and by early we are talking about by grade four. This is not to say there won't be exceptions but this is educationally bankable stuff. And class size is most meaningful in the early grades after which it is subjective to many factors but largely irrelevant on the whole.

Numerous studies show that reading and math skills are extremely difficult to acquire once the elementary school window passes. Blaming teachers, schools, administrators, hiring policies, students, homework, poverty, color, class, and politics is a waste of time unless you are a well-paid Department of Education hack.

In other words, expecting Jr. High and High schools to reverse or correct the absence of fundamental learning skills is a mean, unwarranted political game sponsored by the most morally bankrupt of all American administrations ever.

The article continues.
Not all states are facing huge numbers of failing schools. Some were late establishing testing systems, and so lack results over five or more years. Others may have small poor populations, better teaching or easier exams.

But the tensions voiced here are echoed by parents elsewhere, as well as by school officials.

At Woodrow Wilson High one recent morning, teachers broke into small groups over coffee studying test scores for areas of weakness. But there were limits to what they would learn.

The teachers analyzed results for the entire school, not for their own students. Roberto Martinez, the principal, said he had not given teachers the scores of their own students because their union objects, saying the scores were being used to evaluate teachers.

“And who suffers?” asked Veronica Garcia, an English teacher at Wilson. “The kids suffer, because the teacher never gets feedback.”
In conversations I hold with teachers, they tell me this myth is a wholesale lie. Teachers are very aware of what their students are doing in terms of educational progress. NCLB adds nothing to understanding the progress of students except to arbitrarily punish students, teachers and schools for the uniqueness of every student's progress. Students are no longer allowed to learn at their own pace. Today they are expected to be good Nazis and conform to master race specifications drawn up by this administration's Ministries Of Formal Orthodoxies (MOFOs).

There's more.
When Gonzalo struggled over equations, she said, his teacher called him slow rather than going over the material again. Ms. Sanchez said that she had complained, but that the teacher had denied the comment. It was only through the private tutoring, available under No Child Left Behind that he managed to pass seventh grade math, she said.

The principal, Joseph P. Santana, said he did not recall Ms. Sanchez’s complaining, but could not rule it out. “There are 1,600 of them,” he said, referring to the students, “and only one of me.”

Still, Ms. Sanchez is not a big fan of the law. Just weeks into the school year, she said, teachers are focusing almost solely on material likely to appear on state exams. Forget about igniting a passion in children, she said.

“Maybe the system is not designed for people like us,” she said.
No, Ms. Sanchez, the system is killing our children's future - rich and poor. And the veneer of success by spending money ofn private tutors to pass tests will never disguise the fact that our kids don't know how to learn.

The schools aren't broken, the system is perverse, sick, and a disgrace to this country. But then again, this is Bush country.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blogger's Day: Givers and Takers

Gertrude Stein's famous quip about her visit to San Diego may soon apply to our very planet. It is not hard to imagine that an astronomer from some distant origin may someday look up our earth and decide, "There's no there there".

This generation of humans is leaving what was once the natural planet and supplanting it with an entirely new eco-system. Try as our scientists may to convince us that every few hundred years this weather pattern or another has happened before, never before has man had a hand in the proceedings as we have our hands in these.

We are changing the planet beneath our feet and above our heads and we are the whirlwind of change. There is no going back or going forward. This is not the product of history or of deliberation - this is the inertia of man whose desires are no more sophisticated than a barbarian but whose science and sheer volume are on a runaway trajectory to forever seal our fate.

Our planet as a corporate entity is engaged in a cosmic hero's journey as we race across the cosmos and into the void. Until we respect each other we cannot respect the planet who enables our survival.

As a species we have outgrown the natural exponential cycles of birth and death. The need for new bodies is no longer immanently critical. Prayer will soon be defined by the meditations of indefinitely longer lifetimes and gestalt inspired motivations. We will move toward a new virtual childhood of discovery in which the wonders of of existence are knowable and revealed. The flowering of man may everlast. But it can only happen in the concert generosity to each other on a reciprocally nourishing planet.

In 1966, John Cage was interviewed by art critic David Sylvester.

Sylvester: I think you want people to give something. Isn't that it?

Cage: I assume - and I think by assuming it , I invite it - I assume generosity, on my part and on their part.

Sylvester: You quote this saying somewhere: "If something bores you after two minutes, listen for four, if it bores you after four minutes, listen for eight..."

Cage: Yes, and I consider that generosity can be expressed in at least two ways, that is to say, by giving or receiving.

Sylvester: Now, in point of fact it's at the heart of your whole doctrine, is it not, the idea of the spectator's participation in the work, of active participation, that he is not passive but he has to supply something, he has to interpret, he has to select?

Cage: But active at the point where he has disciplined himself, not at the point where he has not disciplined himself.
This idea applies to the environment as well as art. The experience of responsible life requires discipline - discipline enables responsible life.

In the doubts of Mother Teresa we must understand the sacrifice of discipline.
"What do I labor for? If there be no God, there can be no soul. If there be no soul then, Jesus, You also are not true."
The coming years will test us all in chilling ways. We are at the end of an age of cheap energy, of inexpensive food, of hiding behind Gods. We must cultivate our souls because we have no other choice. And that soul must revere this fragile earth.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Deadly Social Vulgarities

The daily barrage of cruel and unusual acts by police, school rent-a-cops, and swat teams is reaching a cultural tipping point. The cavalier tazing (in many cases to death) of unarmed civilians by teams of officers is obscene. The tazing of genitals, of shackling or bound suspects, of drunken fools all incapable of making the sick acts of officers stop has become a national disgrace and a national barometer of who we have become as a nation.

And in recent weeks an even more alarming piece of information has entered the debate. Drug testing is not being randomly performed on police, fire, and emergency personnel. In Boston, this has proven to be fatal.

The Boston Phoenix reports, The Problem with Heroes,
Even the hardest-hearted news consumer had to wince this past week when the private autopsy results of Paul Cahill and Warren Payne were leaked to some of the press. Cahill and Payne were, of course, the Boston firefighters who died in a restaurant blaze in August and were promptly lionized by the public and the press. While the Phoenix has not seen the autopsy data, Cahill, according to multiple news reports, had a blood-alcohol level of .27 at the time of his death, more than three times the legal limit for drivers. Payne, meanwhile, had traces of cocaine in his system (and marijuana, according to the Boston Herald), though it’s not clear whether or how much he was impaired when he was killed fighting the fire.

This was — and remains — a multifaceted story. There are the painful issues of whether Cahill and Payne’s alleged substance use contributed to their deaths and endangered their fellow firefighters. There are lingering questions about the scope of substance abuse in the Boston Fire Department (BFD), and why Boston does less to screen for substance abuse than many other cities. (The Globe reported that, despite a lax testing protocol, 10 percent of the department has been ordered into treatment in the past three years; according to a recent medical study, 10 percent of all US adults have problems with substance abuse at some point.) There’s even a freedom-of-the-press element: a judge’s ruling (dubious and quickly overturned, but all too characteristic of government opacity in Boston and Massachusetts) kept WHDH-TV from breaking news of the autopsy results on October 3.

But ultimately — at its core — this story is about our collective need for heroes, the press’s collusion in that quest, and the way we respond when those heroes fall from grace.
Here, our interest is to ensure that every professional in the school system who is in a position of authority to harm a child or fellow worker needs to be randomly drug-tested as well as given a periodic psychological screening to ensure that the acts of incredible cruelty that we witness daily in the media do not find their way into our schools and communities.

Today, Frank Rich writing in the NYTimes, reminds us,
Our moral trajectory over the Bush years could not be better dramatized than it was by a reunion of an elite group of two dozen World War II veterans in Washington this month. They were participants in a top-secret operation to interrogate some 4,000 Nazi prisoners of war. Until now, they have kept silent, but America’s recent record prompted them to talk to The Washington Post.

“We got more information out of a German general with a game of chess or Ping-Pong than they do today, with their torture,” said Henry Kolm, 90, an M.I.T. physicist whose interrogation of Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy, took place over a chessboard. George Frenkel, 87, recalled that he “never laid hands on anyone” in his many interrogations, adding, “I’m proud to say I never compromised my humanity.”

Our humanity has been compromised by those who use Gestapo tactics in our war. The longer we stand idly by while they do so, the more we resemble those “good Germans” who professed ignorance of their own Gestapo. It’s up to us to wake up our somnambulant Congress to challenge administration policy every day. Let the war’s last supporters filibuster all night if they want to. There is nothing left to lose except whatever remains of our country’s good name.
This country needs to find its way back to civilized behaviors. The sooner the better.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Eightball #22: Trainwreck of Teacher Abuse

The citizens of Guilford, CT have been played for a bunch of rubes. In a town that rewards school administrators with whopping salary increases at the expense of school crossing guards, one has to ask if what's best for children is truly a top priority.

Friday Rick Green updated us on the Nathan Fisher case in Town Loses a Good Teacher.
Wednesday night, the Guilford Board of Education accepted Fisher's resignation. Willie Dow, his lawyer, told me there was little alternative in a community inflamed over allegations about a teacher, a young female student and a comic book erroneously labeled as pornography.

Honestly, I really don't know whether the superintendent, the police or the poor girl's amped-up parents caused this, but it didn't have to happen. A valued, popular teacher was sacrificed because a few people freaked.

And guess what. Investigations by police and the DCF found nothing. In all of this, no responsible educator in town tried to understand what happened.
Green's column concludes, "Guilford handled it shamefully. A promising teacher was thrown to the wolves."

As in the Amero case, an innocent person is surrounded by no one but self-serving cowards. To say that these people are shameful is to be embarrassingly generous.

The threat of investigations, the humiliation of investigations, the inhumanity of sham investigations all amounted to plenty. The extortion of a resignation by Fisher was a howling success. Ushered into a tiny administrative office - surrounded by a none-too-subtle principal, superintendent, and a police officer (maybe the accuser's brother!), Nate was given the same choice we reserve for Guantanamo detainees - you're in a game you can't win, sign this or else (and btw, screw you - you lose).

And no sooner than the ink had dried did a tsunami of lies, disingenuous "facts", and hate crime innuendo creep into the public discourse. The pretense of ""protecting"
Polly Pureheart's parents "right" to defame, destroy, and endanger the life of Nathan Fisher seemingly became the media's crusade. After all, "good" parents can take the law into their own hands, organize vigilante mobs, and do as they damned well please. Why not? Hardly anybody cares, right? Patrick J. Lyons in a NYTimes blog writes in Strange Headlines About Parental Involvement
Beyond the hot-button social issues that figure in these cases — guns and abortion — which will no doubt bring out the familiar political reactions from all sides, The Lede is struck by the light these very different episodes shine on the permeable boundaries between parents and childrens’ lives and the way they can refract people’s perceptions of right and wrong.

Highly questionable though their judgment may have been, in each case the parents appear to have started, at least, with a protective impulse: the Pennsylvania boy had been bullied, we are told, and the Massachusetts parents claim to have been trying to spare their daughter heartache.

Parents often say, “I’d do anything for my kid.” Should they?
Good question. In Nathan Fisher's case the DCF investigation considered the charges "unsubstantiated". Similarly, the police investigation failed to get the eightball in the corner pocket. Never mind - heh, heh.

In America - IN AMERICA, MY COUNTRY TIS OF THEE! - in America, when you make a mistake you should apologize. And so, on the weeknight Guilford's Board of Education should have heard the apologies of the anonymous parents and the recommendation of the Superintendent and Principal to reject Nathan's coerced resignation. Instead, quietly, shamefully, cowardly, Fisher's resignation was accepted without a peep. No teachers stood up, no parents, no students, NO, uh-uh.

In fact, now that Nate's been exposed to the world as an innocent man shouldn't the anonymity of the parents be exposed as well?

I hope the teenagers of Guilford do not grow up to be their parents and guardians. Aim higher. When adults complain about the youth of America, you can always respond with, "Look who's talking" with devastating effect.

Like trained seals, teachers, parents, and the public have been conditioned to accept the human sacrifices offered by teacher's unions, administrators, and timid politicians who insist "there are no winners here", "it's too late to make it right", "too bad", "what a shame", and the cacophony of weasel word excuses used to rationalize the barbarism of petty tyrannies. It's all a nod and wink game.

In response to Rick Green's column, Pulitzer Prize winning author Art Spiegelman wrote,
Seems I ought to have put in my two cents earlier, when I first read reports of this sad comedy of errors, but I was paralyzed with the fascination that can come when witnessing a train-wreck. So, though it may be too late, My hat is off to Nathan Fisher for offering one of Dan Clowes' best works to a ninth-grade student. It's a work richer, more complex and far less licentious than many on the school's approved reading list and a book, coincidentally, that I'd passed to my own daughter when she was in ninth grade (she's at Yale now) with no obvious ill-effects from that reading experience. Clearly, the comic book format brought out atavistic tendencies in the authorities concerned who have damaged Guilford's reputation and all the parties concerned.....If Nathan Fisher needs a letter of recommendation for his next teaching gig, I volunteer my services.
Oh for a few more sparks of courage. If this country is to survive and prosper and overcome the 9/11 lack of vision the previous generation had then courage is the first step.

Toward that end, let's clarify a number of additional facts about this incident for the record. The family of the girl are long-time Guilford residents, the girl was not new to town or the school system. The girl had spent a year in Florida living with an aunt and apparently the parents made no effort to contact the school about high school preparation (like -cough- reading).

The father's brother is affiliated with the police which may explain the implicit, arrogant sense of entitlement to berate this teacher with impunity by the family and family supporters.

The girl stopped after a class to get the assignment and chose a book. Numerous (quite disingenuous commentators describe this as "creepy" or signifying nefarious intent and so on - all fabulist horseshit - Fisher let a new student choose a book - it is what it is, a gateway behavior leading to... -gasp- uh, READING).

Thomas Forcella's letter to parents states, "It is important for parents to know that the material in question rose to a level of unacceptability that is far beyond that of materials normally questioned in educational circles." Even Big Bird would call this sugar-coated propaganda, bullshit.

Finally, the dispproportionate volume of predator hysteria heaped upon males attempting to offer care-taker or teacher functions is reaching epidemic and crisis tipping points. A minivan-diaries blog entry called, The Victimization of Nate Fisher is a must read.

Search my blog for Fisher for more information on this case.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Origins of Cigarette and Abusive Drug Use: Elementary School

A new study that comes out of the University of Michigan indicates early childhood academic problems in school is a gateway behavior toward drug use. That's right, early childhood educational failure leads to later drug use - the myth that drugs contribute to bad grades is misguided!
The authors outlined the policy implications of their research in these terms: “There are many good reasons for encouraging adolescents and preadolescents to do well in school, and to help them to do well. The long-term economic and cultural benefits of a good education are widely recognized and appreciated. The findings of this research suggest an additional class of benefits: Early educational success provides considerable protection against a wide range of problem behaviors, including delinquency, smoking, drinking, and illicit drug use.”

As for whether most adolescent substance use has much impact on educational success and eventual educational attainment, the authors say instead that, “…educational failures tend to come early in the sequence of problem behaviors, followed by adolescent delinquency, smoking, drinking, and illicit drug use. In general, substance use appears to be largely a symptom, rather than a cause, of poor academic adjustment, though one can easily imagine specific examples to the contrary.”

It is probably wishful thinking to suppose that reducing adolescent substance use will lead to substantial increases in educational success. Rather, whatever can be done to improve the educational successes of children and adolescents will likely have a very valuable additional benefit—reducing their substance abuse.”


The authors are careful to add that “we do not view these findings as any reason for slackening efforts to reduce adolescent substance use. There are already more than enough good reasons for discouraging such use, even if we look no further than the potential health consequences. What our findings do suggest is this: One particularly important way to reduce or prevent adolescents’ involvement in substance use is to help them succeed in school—and to do so well before they reach adolescence.”

I plea loudly and often that we are spending far too much at EO Smith and starving the local elementary schools.

Maybe someday the mountain of evidence piled in front of the faces of the public will get their attention.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Herbert's Spot On Analysis of NCLB

I am loathe to merely post blog-ons of others but Bob Herbert of the NYTimes is smoking out the NCLB lies better than any other writer in America this week. Today's column, High-Stakes Flim-Flam, is a primer on why NCLB needs to have a stake driven through its rotten heart.
“We’ve now had four or five different waves of educational reform,” said Dr. Koretz, “that were based on the idea that if we can just get a good test in place and beat people up to raise scores, kids will learn more. That’s really what No Child Left Behind is.”

The problem is that you can raise scores the hard way by teaching more effectively and getting the students to work harder, or you can take shortcuts and start figuring out ways, as Dr. Koretz put it, to “game” the system.

Guess what’s been happening?
Regular visitors here know that I've long pointed out the fraudulent claims being made about high-stakes testing. Herbert's observations, however, continue with one of the best NCLB quotes ever (I will bold it for emphasis here).
A study released last week by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the Northwest Evaluation Association found that “improvements in passing rates on state tests can largely be explained by declines in the difficulty of those tests.”

The people in charge of most school districts would rather jump from the roof of a tall building than allow an unfettered study of their test practices. But that kind of analysis is exactly what’s needed if we’re to get any real sense of how well students are doing.

Five years ago, President Bush and many others who had little understanding of the best ways to educate children were crowing about the prospects of No Child Left Behind. They were warned then about the dangers of relying too much on test scores.

But those warnings didn’t matter in an era in which reality was left behind.


“No longer is it acceptable to hide poor performance,” said Mr. Bush, as if those who were genuinely concerned about the flaws in his approach were in favor of poor performance.

During my interview with Dr. Koretz, he noted that by not rigorously analyzing the phenomenon of high-stakes testing, “we’re creating an illusion of success that is really nice for everybody in the system except the kids.”

That was a few days before the release of the Fordham Institute Study, which used language strikingly similar to Dr. Koretz’s. The study asserted that the tests used by states to measure student progress under No Child Left Behind were creating “a false impression of success.”

The study was titled, “The Proficiency Illusion.”

Saturday, October 06, 2007

America's Next Generation of Slavery

In the past week or two, O.J. Simpson's adventures once again have returned to the gossip venues. And buried within this story is the subplot of the Goldman family stalking O.J. for any penny he may earn for the rest of his life. Their claim to his ability to earn a living is the award of a civil suit they won many years ago based on the death of their daughter.

On one hand, O.J. Simpson was found not guilty and on the other he became forever an indentured servant to the Goldman family. And today as a result, Americans have acquired a strange taste for this cruel and unusual social phenomenon. Now, let's not shed any tears for Simpson's ability to feed himself because he maintains a hefty sheltered income but this paradoxical innocent yet sentenced to a life of servitude is no less a state of slavery than... well.. slavery was.

But this blog entry isn't about O.J., it is about the popularity of of the idea that any American can claim victim-hood and somehow finagle their own private slave income - an O.J. hedge fund so-to-speak.

You see, as we examine other cases, far different from the consequences of murder we find troubling parallels.

Our interest in recent weeks has been the Nathan Fisher case in which Fisher apologized to parents and explained his assignment of a mature reading book to a less-than-mature student. The explanation makes perfect sense to parents of Fisher's previous students who came to his defense voraciously. Yet the ferocity with which the parents framed Fisher's "intention" created a state of siege within the administration. The parents of the fourteen year old short-circuited the internal process that might grant them peace of mind, offer the teacher a fair hearing, and allow the administration a non-hostile environment in which to conduct an investigation.

In fact the parents, using family influence managed to escalate a misguided book assignment into a police investigation that no doubt further unduly influenced the administration into a panicked frenzy to eliminate the pressure by forcing Fisher's resignation. The strategy of the parents worked flawlessly. Fisher was treated just like a sexual deviant - made an offer to resign or be roundly sullied. At least, that's the narrative that is inescapable from the facts we know.

And we know the magic of this injustice is largely do to parents who play passive-aggressive media games, at once claiming they have nothing against such material yet on the other hand proclaiming that a teacher handing out such material must be guilty of something so sinister than neither resignation, nor forever never being able to teach again is quite enough punishment. No, they have a law suit in mind. Maybe, imagining a lifetime of income, acquiring a personal slave is the objective because I have a hard time understanding their campaign to get this guy, someone they have never had the decency to even talk to.

You see, from where I sit Nathan Fisher is obviously innocent of little more than a teaching infraction, the equivalent of a speeding ticket warning. Just slow your ass down there Nathan, this girl's parents can't handle what you dished out. He should have never been confronted with resignation.

The internet is filled with resignation that there will be no winners in this case but I disagree. Everyone can win.

First, the Board of Education needs to reject Nathan's resignation. First, because he's a good man and a great Englisgh teacher.

Secondly, because they are smart enough and brave enough to do the right thing.

When Nathan's job is reinstated the students win - they start enjoying a world-class English education again.

When Nathan's job is restored, the fourteen year old student has the opportunity to restore her lost dignity from the abysmal behavior of the adults around her. She may even get hooked on reading. And, in reading, she may discover that becoming an intelligent person is even better than being the center of attention.

And the parents and inflamed citizens will win by grasping a convention that judges have introduced in a recent FCC ruling on obscenities. It's called Fleeting Expletives. It is the idea that accidental, temporally fleeting, or co-incidental exposures to garment malfunctions, obscenities, and sexual content have never proven harmful to any critical mass of children, teens, or adults. And, as such, constitute a no harm intended fleeting event.

It is a shockingly enlightened way to deal with these issues and one that I pray is taken seriously by all parties involved.

Nathan Fisher deserves his job back. It is morally, ethically, and legally the right thing to do. It also turns a no-winners myth into an everybody wins happy ending.

Mellencamp on Jena; Take Your Nooses Down!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Education Gone Strange

A UConn law professor, Robert L. Birmingham, has been forced to take a leave of his teaching at a UConn as reported in the Courant. An alumni wrote this comment,
I am a full Birmingham supporter and I know plenty of other alumni who feel the same way and feel that Dean Paul is completely in the wrong. Birmingham's class forces student's to examine issues and stretch their logic/analytical skills further and more profoundly then any other class at that school. In fact, I would put his classes against any "philosophy" oriented program at any of the "top ranked" schools that parade around New England in their liberal limousines.
Regardless, I feel that many of comments I've read here are juvenile and way left of center as they relate to what actually transpired. The alumni, including men and women, I believe are not happy today. One our great thinker's and one of the States greatest educator's has taken leave. What a sad day for our educational system.
The insanity just won't stop.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Porn in Guilford Located, but...

Yes, found it. But I strongly urge that only local authorities visit the site. My unwitting visit was one of utter shock and if the women depicted in various acts of sex are Guilford residents then Guilford may in fact have a cottage industry growing in their back yard.

But first, let's talk about Nate Fisher who has been mistreated throughout the coverage of this case by the statements of the parents who under the cover of anonymity continued to smear Nathan Fisher's name by playing a victim card at every turn.

Let's start examining more of the facts surrounding this case. Unknown to most media outlets, reporters initially covering this case were reported to the police as potential trespassers by an unnamed school official (Jason Marchi - Guilford Courier - 9/27 - police incident report).
News media people covering a story about a teacher’s resignation were reported outside Guilford High School, 4:14 p.m. A school administrator asked police to check into whether the media members were trespassing.
One might think that the school official have the courtesy to simply address the press instead of set them up for a tazer shower.

The school it seems has had a truth problem all along. It was widely reported that Nate Fisher resigned before the school's investigation was able to conclude. Here's, for example, is WNBC30's report,
Fisher was placed on leave when administrators learned of the issue. The district said they had not begun the investigation when Fisher resigned.

Police also received a complaint about the incident.
Yet, The Shoreline Times quotes Superintendent Forcella as saying, "Mr. Fisher resigned just after our investigation was over. The book he gave to a student was extremely inappropriate and showed very poor judgment. It contained partial nudity and had sexual content.".

In fact, Shore Publishing's Pam Johnson reports Forcella saying, "“It was his decision to resign…I completed the investigation, and we met to discuss it, and at that meeting he brought forward a letter,” of resignation, said Forcella. The meeting was to discuss the administration’s investigation of a family’s report that Fisher gave a freshman Clowe’s graphic novel, Eightball #22, in early September."

So contrary to popular belief an investigation was conducted and I would love to receive a copy of the content. The reason is obvious. Forcella, in his public comments, not only allows blatant lies to go uncorrected about Nate Fisher's narrative by the parents and his own just-covering-my-ass double-talk.

Forcella and the media covering the incident allow the parents who are made uncomfortable by Fisher supporters to use that support against Fisher as though the well-wishers were proof of a criminal element.

The parents contribute to the fabulism that Fisher was doing something profoundly disturbing by asking English 101 questions like, "How did you feel about this book?" Or by inferring that an after class discussion is a secret, shadowy, sinister opportunity to assign make-up work (which is what actually happened) or to seduce a 14 year old who he had met exactly, um, once (which is hysterical in more ways than one).

The voices of Fisher's supporters have been largely censored everywhere in this smear campaign because of the assertion a death threat was made on Facebook toward the family. Given their uncanny ability to exaggerate simple teacher-student conversations into soap opera slaeze plots, I suspect this assertion is equally dubious. Dubious but useful in silencing any questions about their motives.

Here, from Robert C. Pollack's article Students Defend Teacher is what enlightened parents had to say about Nate Fisher's gift and integrity,
But Loren Sterman, a licensed, clinical social worker for a New London Private school, whose daughter, Amanda, was in Fisher's freshman English class last year, had a different story to tell.
"I met with Mr. Fisher during a parent-teacher conference last year and was concerned because Amanda was not an inspired reader," she said. "I talked with him about how he could help her to read and become interested in reading and to develop her writing skills as well.
"He did all three. He listened to her and was sensitive to her needs. It didn't faze him when she said she didn't like to read. He just kept at it and kept looking for books she would like to read until he found them.
"What troubles me most of all about this is students have to read and teachers have to find a way to get them to do so. I went on line and looked at the book - Eightball #22 by Daniel Clowes. It's one of a series of books about a mythical town and the town's kooky characters, done in comic strip style. Daniel Clowes is a highly respected, award winning author.
"Clearly, Mr. Fisher made a mistake in that it was not an appropriate referral for this ninth grader. But it was not a malicious or lascivious one and should not have led to his suspension and subsequent resignation. In my view, he is a gifted teacher and our students are poorer for his departure. He was Amanda's favorite teacher."
She went on to say she is not being critical of the school administration, but added: "I think there has been a lack of communication and am convinced a horrible mistake has been made."
She pointed out that kids are exposed to "disgusting images" on the Internet, on television and in the movies all the time.
"This was an honest mistake Mr. Fisher is willing to take full responsibility for. I would like to see him reinstated, with some other appropriate penalty. And hope a number of other parents feel the same way. To me, this is clearly a case of overkill."
Her daughter, Amy, agreed. She said Fisher had not only inspired her but had helped her reach the point where she really likes to read.
"He gave, me 'The Lovely Bones' by Alice Sebold and I loved it. And in class, he got all of us to read aloud the parts in Romeo and Juliet and made us relate to it and appreciate it.
"As to talk that he is some kind of a sleaze, that is absolutely ridiculous. He would never do anything inappropriate with us. He just made a mistake in that case and should not have been forced to resign."
Rachele Black, 15, who was also member of Fisher's English class last year, said much the same thing. She said of course Fisher would ask any student to tell him how they feel about a book he gave them to read. "He is an English teacher, so of course he would want to know that."
Black added that "giving this girl this particular book was clearly a mistake, but not one that should take him away from his students.
"Why should this one particular incident overshadow his one year of teaching when he had done nothing wrong until then and was clearly a gifted teacher? I think his permanent departure would a very big loss and I would hate to see him leave the teaching profession."
In contrast and aside from the parents (to the degree this is knowable), an online poster has spammed comics forums with vile insinuations that Fisher's actions are enough to pronounce him guilty of being a sexual predator.

This person uses the internet alias of usrngrx and made the mistake of leaving a profile at bakerradio.com. It identifies the poster as
Male
35 years old
Guilford
United States, Connecticut
Someone responding to his post in Mother Jones mistakenly thinks the person is female.

USRNGRX is someone who maybe an authority figure close to the school or within the police ranks based on the comments scattered around the internet. I tried to no avail to get a more specific profile of the individual.

The person is of interest because he lists links to sex offenders as if Fisher is one. The problem is USRNGRX's own fascinations with pornography at bakerradio, howard stern's blog, and a third site that is shockingly pornographic in nature. I will not link it here but a search of this alias yields a very, very disturbing hit on Yahoo ("suck" being a prominent word in the URL). I urge the general public NOT to go there - but someone needs to.

If the women on that site are Guilford girls then Guilford indeed has a pornography problem.

And some English teachers have the audacity to think irony is dead.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Bob Herbert's Take on School 2.0

The New York Times is back after a disastrous experiment in subscription only viewing and I welcome the opportunity to once again read Bob Herbert and Frank Rich. Today, Herbert talks about intelligent school reform (something alien to this administration but...).

It's all good so read the entire piece, Our Schools Must Do Better. Here's a good reason to.
What’s needed is a wholesale transformation of the public school system from the broken-down postwar model of the past 50 or 60 years. The U.S. has not yet faced up to the fact that it needs a school system capable of fulfilling the educational needs of children growing up in an era that will be at least as different from the 20th century as the 20th was from the 19th.

“We’re not good at thinking about magnitudes,” said Thomas Kane, a professor of education and economics at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. “We’ve got a bunch of little things that we think are moving in the right direction, but we haven’t stepped back and thought, ‘O.K., how big an improvement are we really talking about?’ ” Professor Kane and I were discussing what he believes are the two areas that have the greatest potential for radically improving the way children are taught in the U.S. Both are being neglected by the education establishment.

The first is teacher quality, a topic that gets talked about incessantly. It has been known for decades that some teachers have huge positive effects on student achievement, and that others do poorly. The positive effect of the highest performing teachers on underachieving students is startling.

What is counterintuitive, but well documented, is that paper qualifications, such as teacher certification, have very little to do with whatever it is that makes good teachers effective.

“Regrettably,” said Professor Kane, who has studied this issue extensively, “we’ve never taken that research fact seriously in our teacher policy. We’ve done just the opposite.”
and
The second area to be mined for potentially transformative effects is the wide and varied field of alternative school models. We should be rigorously studying those schools that appear to be having the biggest positive effects on student achievement. Are the effects real? If so, what accounts for them?

The Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP), to cite one example, is a charter school network that has consistently gotten extraordinary academic results from low-income students. It has worked in cities big and small, and in rural areas. Like other successful models, it has adopted a longer school day and places great demands on its teachers and students.

Said Professor Kane: “These alternative models that involve the longer school day and a much more dramatic intervention for kids are promising. If that’s what it takes, then we need to know that, and sooner rather than later.”

If American kids — all American kids, not just the children of the elite — are to have a fair chance at a rewarding life over the next several decades, we’ve got to give them a school system adequate to the times. They need something better than a post-World War II system in a post-9/11 world.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Birthday Brutality

Rocco J Frank Jr., a Candidate for CT State Representative Milford CT, has sent me an extremely disturbing newscast from a California station. When did public schools become movie sets for Mad Max brutality?

Cartoons (click to site of ownership):