Archive for Education

Let’s Move (Our Bowels)

Not quite, but you get the point:

Students in a rural Kentucky county — and their parents — are the latest to join a growing national chorus of scorn for the healthy school lunches touted by first lady Michelle Obama.

“They say it tastes like vomit,” said Harlan County Public Schools board member Myra Mosley at a contentious board meeting last week, reports The Harlan Daily Enterprise.

The growing body of USDA meal regulations implemented by the Department of Agriculture under the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010? has long been a signature issue for the first lady.

Students can only have one serving of meat or other protein. However, rich kids can buy a second portion each day on their own dime.

Hey, no fair rich kids getting seconds on chicken fingers! The top 1% (and their kids) should be miserable just like everyone else. Speaking of 1%:

Other gripes involved the new bread, which students don’t want to eat because it’s brown wheat bread, and the new milk, which is skim or one percent fat, not two percent or whole. The cafeteria’s chocolate- and strawberry-flavored milk offerings are now nonfat.

While we’re laughing:

[T]he food on offer in the cafeteria is crappy and there isn’t nearly enough of it.

Woody Allen, anyone?

Alvy Singer: [addressing the camera] There’s an old joke – um… two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of ‘em says, “Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.” The other one says, “Yeah, I know; and such small portions.” Well, that’s essentially how I feel about life – full of loneliness, and misery, and suffering, and unhappiness, and it’s all over much too quickly. The… the other important joke, for me, is one that’s usually attributed to Groucho Marx; but, I think it appears originally in Freud’s “Wit and Its Relation to the Unconscious,” and it goes like this – I’m paraphrasing – um, “I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member.” That’s the key joke of my adult life, in terms of my relationships with women.

Part of the reason kids are on starvation diet is that they’ve taken exercise out of the school day. I don’t know how they expect to keep kids fit—mentally as well as physically—if they keep them chained to their desks all day.


Back 2 Skool

Number 2 pencils? Protractor? Pee-Chees?

Kevlar vest?

Thousands of Chicago Public Schools students will head to new schools Monday, the first day of what Mayor Rahm Emanuel has called “a new beginning” for the nation’s third-largest district.

As they go, many will be accompanied by some unfamiliar faces: A crop of newly hired workers in yellow reflective vests, Chicago firefighters and even the security guards from local public libraries, all of them expected to stand guard to ensure kids get to and from school safely.

The effort known as Safe Passage — which stations workers and others along designated routes to help students who must cross gang boundaries — is perhaps the most visible sign of how much is at stake for students in a district that has long struggled academically and financially, as well as for a mayor who has vowed since taking office that he would turn things around.

“Safe Passage is about more than just building a route to school,” Emanuel told about 1,000 people during a training session last week. “It is about building a route to college, career and beyond, so that once our kids get to school, they get the world-class education they deserve.”

This is a good thing, no doubt. It’s just a little late, as the late Hadiya Pendleton would attest to if she were around to attest to anything.

I leave it to you to ponder the meaning of a city with the strictest gun laws in the nation (or near enough) having to post guards along those routes to school that cross “gang boundaries”.


Next On The Agenda?

Raise the cost of college tuition

Everything this President does to “help” end up hurting.

This week, President Obama is hitting the road to unveil his plan to “combat the soaring costs of higher education.” His three part plan consists of connecting financial aid to school performance, supporting academic innovation, and making college more affordable.

His road tour and policy initiatives sound good in the nightly news cycle. They make for great talking points, but President Obama’s plan does not address the fundamental reasons behind why tuition is rising. Both sides can agree that rising college costs are a big problem and burden for students. But more college subsidies and government aid will not solve the problem; in fact it is the reason why tuition is rising.

Over the past thirty years tuition has risen by over 250%, despite Washington continually putting forth new government aid programs and subsides with the attempt to cut tuition costs. The more money Washington puts into the hands of students only enables the colleges and universities to continue propping up the price of education.

Maybe Fox Butterfield is out there somewhere and can explain this to our brilliant, young President.

– Aggie


Obama Administration Cooks Up New Power Grab

This time involving federal financial aid to colleges

Calling higher education an “economic imperative,” President Barack Obama pushing for an ambitious new government rating system for colleges that would judge schools on affordability and performance and ultimately determine how federal financial aid is distributed.

The rating system, which the president wants implemented before the 2015 school year, would evaluate colleges on several criteria, including average tuition and student loan debt, graduation rates, and the average earning of graduates. Obama says he will ask Congress to link the new rating system to the way federal financial aid is disbursed, with students attending highly-rated schools receiving larger grants and more affordable student loans.

I bet there won’t be any politics involved in this.

– Aggie

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Hey Kids, What Time is It?

Trick question: they don’t know how to tell time.

There’s just one little problem with this story:

Federal spending cuts are hitting 57,000 children who would have started preschool in the next few weeks.

The Administration for Children and Families reported Monday that 51,299 fewer children will begin Head Start preschool programs and 5,966 fewer toddlers will enter Early Head Start programs due to the $85 billion in federal budget cuts called sequester.

The federal government spends about $8 billion a year on Head Start, an early childhood development program for low income families. About 1 million children are enrolled in the program nationwide.

Proponents say that children who get a head start in early childhood learning perform better in school.

Detractors cite a federal study that found once Head Start kids get to third grade, they do no better than their schoolmates who didn’t attend Head Start programs.

There you go! It took you only 15 paragraphs to get there!

What are those “detractors” going on about?

Since its creation as part of the War on Poverty in 1965, nearly 30 million children have participated in Head Start at a taxpayer cost of more than $180 billion. The problem is that by the government’s own reckoning the program has never achieved what it promises.

The first major evaluation was in 1969 by the Westinghouse Learning Corporation and Ohio University. It found that pre-schoolers who did make cognitive gains did not maintain them in early grades and that Head Start participants performed no better than children from similar backgrounds who had never been in the program. Federal evaluations in 1985 and 2005 also found that any positive cognitive impact was transitory.

The Department of Health and Human Services released the results of the most recent Head Start evaluation on the Friday before Christmas. Once again, the research showed that cognitive gains didn’t last. By third grade, you can’t tell Head Start alumni from their non-Head Start peers.

The sequester rides again to the rescue!


Is Our Children Learning?

Remember the Left making fun of Bush when he pitched No Child Left Behind? This is what they have replaced it with.

Now, if I had any faith in the educational system, I could imagine going along with her point. It is important to understand groupings and how addition can equal multiplication. But I don’t have any faith. I think they are going to turn out idiots who don’t know the multiplication tables and can’t work. But they’ll feel really good and really smart.

– Aggie

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Save the Children [UPDATED]

For just pennies a day, you can save this child from hunger:

New York’s Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake school district has become the latest casualty in first lady Michelle Obama’s preferred lunch plan, dropping the menu after too many students complained of hunger.

“[Food service manager Nicky] Boehm and her staff worked hard to implement the new regulations, but there were just too many problems and too many foods that students did not like and would not purchase,” said Assistant Superintendent Chris Abdoo about the National School Lunch Program in a statement reported by “Students complained of being hungry with these lunches and the district lost money.”

The district lost about $100,000 trying out the federal menu, which offered such meals as “part” of a chicken patty on a minicroissant, reported.

This isn’t the first school to drop the federal lunch menu plan. Catlin, Ill., schools did the same, calling the guidelines too “restrictive,” reported.

For shame, Mrs. Obama. Starving children for your own amusement. Is there no depth to which you will not sink? Hunger-striking prisoners in Guantanamo with a feeding tube up their noses enjoy their meals more than these poor kids.

OMG, could it get any worse?

Controversial letters that Massachusetts public schools send parents about their children’s weight may be scrapped because of concerns about bullying and cost, state public health officials said Wednesday.

Schools have complained that it is too expensive to mail the letters as required, so they have often been sent home in students’ backpacks. That has sometimes led to inadvertent disclosure of the information to other students and teasing, officials said.

How about you just stick to spelling and algebra, Ms. Fensterbottom, and leave my kid’s diet and waistline to the family? Is this not the archetypal story of the nanny state and its unintended (or very much intended) consequences? This and the NSA story. MYOFB!


No More Teachers

Not much to do with this story but pass it along:

At least 29 students and a teacher have been killed after Islamic extremists attacked on a boarding school in northeast Nigeria.

Survivors, who are being treated for burns and gunshots wounds, say some students were burned alive in the pre-dawn attack today on the Government Secondary School in Mamudo town in Yobe state.

[T]he gunmen came armed with jerry cans of fuel that they used to torch the school’s administrative block and one of the hostels.

Dozens of schools have been torched and unknown scores of students killed among more than 1,600 victims murdered by extremists since 2010.
The attackers set fire to buildings and shot pupils as they tried to flee, according to Reuters. Several of the students were being treated for burns, he added.

It was the deadliest of three attacks on schools since the military launched an offensive in May to try to crush Boko Haram, an Islamist insurgent group whose nickname translates as ‘Western education is sinful’ in the northern Hausa language.

And they don’t even know about the Chicago public schools!

I will leave you with a question: given all the attacks by Islamic “extremists” around the world over the past few years, can they really be said to be “extreme”? I guess they fall at one end of the spectrum of violence, hence extreme, but there are so many of them! One could be forgiven for wondering if the peaceful Muslims were the extremists.


Chicago Teachers

A recent rant I heard related to this video:

“This woman is dumber than dirt if she thinks that white people don’t care about educating black and brown children. If those black and brown children get a good education, then they can get jobs. People with jobs pay taxes. The current system, which she leads, and is a complete failure, does a terrible job of educating many of these kids and then they can’t get jobs that pay a decent wage, and they end up costing these hated white people money, and their taxes have to go up to keep these people on the dole. We want all children educated, no matter what color, so they can pay taxes, so we don’t have to pay as much. What a dipsh*t.”

To that I would add two thoughts: Black and brown parents who work for a living and don’t want to flush tax dollars down the toilet also want the kids of Chicago educated. And Ms. Lewis is using hate speech designed to tear the country apart more than it already is. Populism sucks.

But again, I think it’s basically over and there’s little that can be done to save the Titanic.

– Aggie

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Chicago Schools Close—“Rich White People” Hardest Hit

What took her so long?

In a scathing speech on Wednesday, the president of the Chicago Teachers Union charged that racism and “rich white people” are to blame for the immense financial crisis facing the Chicago Public Schools.

In her remarks to an audience at the upscale City Club of Chicago, union boss Karen Lewis strongly criticized Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. She also urged the city schools to follow the strategic blueprint of the Chicago Cubs baseball team.

“Members of the status quo — the people who are running the schools and advising the mayor on how to best run our district — know what good education looks like because they have secured it for their own children in well-resourced public and private institutions,” the Dartmouth graduate charged.

“When will there be an honest conversation about the poverty, racism and inequality that hinders the delivery of a quality education product in our school system?” Lewis also asked in the speech. “When will we address the fact that rich, white people think they know what’s in the best interest of children of African Americans and Latinos—no matter what the parent’s income or education level.”

I ask with all seriousness: where’s the evidence that non-rich, non-white people know what good education looks like? Or that skin of any color, income of any level, has anything to do with what good education looks like? It is my experience that, due to federal and state mandates, poor education costs as much as (or almost as much as) good education. What makes the difference between poor and good education is the commitment of the teachers and the parents to the outcome.

But she gets one thing right:

“There is something about these folks who love the kids but hate the parents,” Lewis inveighed. “There’s something about these folks who use little black and brown children as stage props at one press conference…”



Chicago Schools Close—Minorities Hardest Hit

No more schools,
No more books…

That’s pretty much it:

The Chicago Board of Education voted Wednesday to close 50 schools and programs, an ambitious plan that has sparked protests and lawsuits and could help define — for better or worse — Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s term in office.

City officials say the closings are necessary because of falling school enrollment and as part of their efforts to improve the city’s struggling education system.

“The only consideration for us today is to do exactly what is right for the children,” schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said before the board’s vote.

Critics have blasted Emanuel, the former White House chief of staff, and Byrd-Bennett, saying the closings disproportionately affect minority neighborhoods and will endanger children who may have to cross gang boundaries to get to a new school.

They protested during the board’s meeting Wednesday and sent busloads of parents, teachers and students to Springfield to lobby lawmakers to approve a moratorium on the closings. Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis called it “a day of mourning” for the children of Chicago.

Chicago is among several major U.S. cities, including Philadelphia, Washington and Detroit to use mass school closures to reduce costs and offset declining enrollment. Detroit has closed more than 130 schools since 2005, including more than 40 in 2010 alone.

The school closings are the second major issue pitting Emanuel against the Chicago Teachers Union. The group’s 26,000 members went on strike early in the school year, partly over the school district’s demand for longer school days, idling students for a week.

Emanuel and Byrd-Bennett say the district’s financial and educational struggles call for drastic action. They say the nation’s third-largest school district is facing a deficit of about $1 billion and that too many Chicago Public Schools buildings are half-empty because of a population drop in some city neighborhoods. They’ve also pledged students will be moved to schools that are performing better academically.

CPS says it has 403,000 students in a system that has seats for more than 500,000.

The city says enrollment has fallen; the teachers say “the closings disproportionately affect minority neighborhoods”. Are the two irreconcilable?

We know for certain that black women abort their unborn children well above the average for all women. Doesn’t it follow that there would be fewer black children to fill those seats in schools? And aren’t the black children who are born at a greater risk of dying of violent crime—see the lovely Hadiya Pendleton—almost always from other black babies who grew up?

I don’t know Rahm Emanuel, but I don’t like whom he associates with. Racism, however, is a strong charge that doesn’t hold up on analysis.



Very, very stupid antics in Oregon

Teachers were shocked and caught off guard when an Oregon school held a school shooting drill.

The Oregonian reports Pine Eagle Charter School in Halfway held the drill last Friday as children were home for an in-service day. Two masked “gunmen” burst into a meeting room holding 15 teachers firing blanks. Teachers only realized it wasn’t a real shooting when none of them were bleeding.

“There was some commotion,” school principal Cammie DeCastro told The Oregonian.

Teachers were frightened about what happened.

“I’ll tell you, the whole situation was horrible,” Morgan Gover told the paper. “I got a couple in the front and a couple in the back.”

The school held the unplanned drill in hopes to better educate teachers on how to deal with a school shooting. Of the 15 teachers in the room, only two would have survived.

“For us not to know how we were going to respond is leaving us open,” DeCastro told The Oregonian.

I’m surprised no one had a heart attack and I wonder if someone will sue. Astonishingly poor judgement.

And I wouldn’t be terribly shocked to learn that some nut has read about this and planned an attack, assuming that teachers will believe the bullets are blanks. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

– Aggie

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