But Don’t You Worry Your Pretty Little Head

28 09 2006

This is the county just north of me. But I shouldn’t worry, the superintendent assures me. There’s no separation problem here. . .

St. Lucie churches, schools may work together to boost FCAT


September 28, 2006

FORT PIERCE — The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test likely won’t be included in Sunday school lessons, but if the St. Lucie County education chief gets his way, a group of local churches will be joining the school district to boost student achievement.Schools Superintendent Michael Lannon plans to present the idea next month at a luncheon of religious leaders, seeking to build a relationship with them on everything from mentoring students to providing FCAT assistance.\

. . .


What Banned Books Are You Reading This Week?

28 09 2006

Silver anniversary image
Happy Silver Anniversary to BANNED BOOKS WEEK, you’ve lasted half my life!
Hope you’ll be around for the rest of my life, or we’re doomed.

“Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.”—Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas,” The One Un-American Act.” Nieman Reports, vol. 7, no. 1 (Jan. 1953): p. 20.

Eryn Haley-Brothers, who graduated from Fayetteville High last year, got a firsthand lesson in civic action when she organized students to oppose any restrictions on library books.

“The scary thing was that not many teenagers knew what was going on,” said the 18-year-old, who had read more than half the books on (book-challenging parent) Ms. Taylor’s list.

Push by Sapphire, a novel available in the school library about a young girl who suffers through poverty and incest, “was the saddest book I ever read,” Ms. Haley-Brothers said. “I could understand why someone with a conservative eye would want to ban it, but if you really look at the core of the book, it’s about poverty in America and how it affects everyone.”

Defining Fat and Happy as Family Values

28 09 2006

“The feeding and misfeeding of children has become a tense, awkward point of debate between parents and baby sitters. . .” (see “Memo to Nanny: No Juice Boxes” by Jodi Kantor, September 28.)

Can federal accountability laws for it all be far behind?
Sounds a lot like the growling ascetics who say School must be
about hard work, discipline and denial, breaking one’s will and ability to self-govern.

Fortunately the school-is-to-food analogy works in reverse too – many parents and teachers enjoy both learning and eating with kids absent force-feeding in either classroom or lunchroom:

“The empty plate club,” referring
to kids who successfully clean their plates,
sounds so sad.

“Full plate” sounds much more nurturing.

MLF Kennedy portrait

“Through her artful essays on food and life, which she first began writing in France in the 1930s, Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher transformed the mundane activity of eating into a passion. A unique blend of thoughtful instruction, sense-awakening recipes, and reflections on life’s values, Fisher’s writing is everywhere informed by her conviction that our basic human needs for love, shelter, and food are indivisibly connected.”

For further reading and thinking:
The Anti-Pleasure Principle: The “food police” and the pseudoscience of
self-denial by Jacob Sullum. Reason magazine, July 2003.

Consuming Passions: The Anthropology of Eating
by Peter Farb and George J. Armelagos. HoughtonMifflin, 279 pp., 1980.

“Original Thought” (That Isn’t)

28 09 2006

Middle class kids can be more easily trained to regurgitate pre-fabricated answers faster than children who have not had the advantage of high-literacy households, but they get just as bored and almost as angry . . .

Kids would stay awake and quit being disciplinary bothers, if their billions of neurons and synapses had something to do.

And please don’t write and accuse me of supporting fuzzy thinking that has no right answers, because if right answers and scholarly thinking are mutually exclusive, we have a huge problem on our hands.
Right answers matter a great deal, but without good thinking, they are useless. . .”

This thought isn’t new or original, from me or its author. It’s a classic.

Why Political Talk is So Hard

27 09 2006

It’s designed that way! And it’s not really meant as information;you can’t tell the issues without a glossary to the buzzwords. We don’t want to be informed by the news media anymore, just have our fixed views “validated.”
Or so says linguist GeoffNunberg on NPR today —

Political Glossary for the Midterm Elections

Listen to this story

Talk of the Nation, September 27, 2006 · Defeaticrat, culture of corruption, and security mom are all part of the election-year war of words. Guests explain the strategy behind the slogans.


Geoffrey Nunberg author most recently of the book, “Talking Right: How Conservatives Turned Liberalism into a Tax-Raising, Latte-Drinking, Sushi-Eating, Volvo-Driving, New York Times-Reading, Body-Piercing, Hollywood-Loving, Left-Wing Freak Show:;
inguist at the School of Information at Berkeley

Frank Luntz, Republican pollster

Fed Ed Science earns qualified praise?? Education Week

27 09 2006

“More focused and politically independent than its predecessor agency, the new institute also had a new mission: to foster ‘scientifically based’ research that might offer definitive insights on how to improve schooling. . .”

(Reader access to Education Week requires registration and/or paid subscription)

IES Gets Mixed Grades as It Comes of Age
Published: September 27, 2006

U.S. education research arm earns qualified praise for playing hard role.
By Debra Viadero

The What Works Clearinghouse, an $23.4 million federal project to create an electronic version of Consumer Reports for education research, was supposed to be the institute’s main vehicle for making research more useful and user-friendly.

But observers agree that the clearinghouse has not yet lived up to that promise.
After four years in development, the clearinghouse as of last week had only highlighted eight interventions with “positive” or “potentially positive” evidence of effectiveness.

“School, Mr. Potter, Is Not the Real World”

27 09 2006

Do You-Know-Whose Side School Is On? JJ
Ministry supervisor Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter’s Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom made
the difference between School and Education
crystal-gazing clear.

– “This is School, Mr. Potter. Not the Real World,” she said softly.

– “So we’re not supposed to be prepared for what’s waiting out there?”

– “There’s nothing waiting out there . . .
who do you imagine wants to attack children like yourselves? If you are still worried, if someone is alarming you with fibs, I would like to hear about it. I am your friend. Now kindly continue your reading.