Commentary


I have always loved school and am glad that I have always been around other kids. I am not sure how I feel about this court ruling, but I wonder if the judge asked the kids.

I like the questions that Nate asks.  My only other addition is to ask if the judge would make a parent stop sending kids to an evolution-hating  school run by fundamentalists.

Home-Schooling

Home-Schooling

Recently, a judge in Raleigh, N.C. ordered three kids who were being home-schooled to attend public school instead.  The issue arose in a divorce proceeding where the father wanted the kids to go to public school, and the mother wanted to continue home-schooling her children.  I have not had the opportunity to read the case itself, but if you’re interested in reading more, click here.

Apparently the problem was that the kids were receiving a creationist focused education when it came to science.  However, the kids were also testing two years above their grade level.  So that begs the question, why were they forced to go to public school?  I don’t believe in creationism, but it does seem to me that no matter what they are learning, if they are testing two years above their grade level, then home-schooling seems to be working out.

My greater concern, though, is: when is it okay to home-school?  The lesson here is that if a judge disagrees with the curriculum, then he can order the kids to public school.  Not enough math?  Too much math?  Not enough structure?  Not reading the right books?  Cases like these can be slippery slopes.

What do you think?  Did the judge make the right decision?  Is it okay for parents to home-school their children?

from Nate at  The Young Writers Blog: The Only Writing Blog For Young Writers And Everyone Else

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These judges should be put in jail in solitary. How much hope have they cost the kids who were innocent? Or who were only guilty of small things? What would they do if it was their own kids?

This is from the New York Times:

Judges Plead Guilty in Scheme to Jail Youths for Profit

Niko J. Kallianiotis for The New York Times

Hillary Transue was sentenced to three months in juvenile detention for a spoof Web page mocking an assistant principal.

Published: February 12, 2009

At worst, Hillary Transue thought she might get a stern lecture when she appeared before a judge for building a spoof MySpace page mocking the assistant principal at her high school in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. She was a stellar student who had never been in trouble, and the page stated clearly at the bottom that it was just a joke.

Prosecutors say Judges Michael T. Conahan, and Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., above, took kickbacks to send teenagers to detention centers.

Instead, the judge sentenced her to three months at a juvenile detention center on a charge of harassment.

She was handcuffed and taken away as her stunned parents stood by.

“I felt like I had been thrown into some surreal sort of nightmare,” said Hillary, 17, who was sentenced in 2007. “All I wanted to know was how this could be fair and why the judge would do such a thing.”

The answers became a bit clearer on Thursday as the judge, Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., and a colleague, Michael T. Conahan, appeared in federal court in Scranton, Pa., to plead guilty to wire fraud and income tax fraud for taking more than $2.6 million in kickbacks to send teenagers to two privately run youth detention centers run by PA Child Care and a sister company, Western PA Child Care.

While prosecutors say that Judge Conahan, 56, secured contracts for the two centers to house juvenile offenders, Judge Ciavarella, 58, was the one who carried out the sentencing to keep the centers filled.

“In my entire career, I’ve never heard of anything remotely approaching this,” said Senior Judge Arthur E. Grim, who was appointed by the State Supreme Court this week to determine what should be done with the estimated 5,000 juveniles who have been sentenced by Judge Ciavarella since the scheme started in 2003. Many of them were first-time offenders and some remain in detention.

The case has shocked Luzerne County, an area in northeastern Pennsylvania that has been battered by a loss of industrial jobs and the closing of most of its anthracite coal mines.

And it raised concerns about whether juveniles should be required to have counsel either before or during their appearances in court and whether juvenile courts should be open to the public or child advocates.

If the court agrees to the plea agreement, both judges will serve 87 months in federal prison and resign from the bench and bar. They are expected to be sentenced in the next several months. Lawyers for both men declined to comment.

You’d think that they would DEFINITELY be going to jail, right?  Forever?  But the article talks about their pensions!  Like they ought to be around to enjoy them or not!

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Maybe it’s worth a lot if you look like her.  I’m not selling anything at the moment.

Natalie Dylan Auctions Off Virginity For Offers Of Up To $3.7 Million

Bidding in the auction for the virginity of Natalie Dylan, a 22-year-old student from San Diego, Calif., has reached absurd new highs. The Daily Telegraph has the story, saying that the price has now hit $3.7 million:

Last September, when her auction came to light, she had received bids up to £162,000 ($243,000) but since then interest in her has rocketed.
The student who has a degree in Women’s Studies insisted she was not demeaning herself.

Natalie Dylan has appeared on the Howard Stern show and is conducting this transaction through Nevada’s Bunny Ranch brothel. Natalie Dylan photos are readily available online and are, unsurprisingly, a popular search term.

Why are you a democrat?  Or a republican?  Or a liberal?  Do you know?  Is your vote for sale?  Here’s a true story about a boy from my school who is a republican for life because of skittles!

skittles

When George Bush was governor of Texas, Oscar and his dad won some sort of contest and the prize was a year’s supply of water bottle.  Stupid prize, but OK.  But now Oscar is a republican for life and he’s only 18!

I wonder if there’s a stupider reason for voting republican.


Contradictions, Misleading and Outright Lies: Recent Speeches by Sarah Palin


Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s speeches are excellent examples of the use of propaganda, distortion and dishonesty in support of an ulterior motive.  In Palin’s case, she attempts to energize the base of her party by promising things they want to hear, while using absolutely contradictory and often false buzz words that are the currency of conservatives in this country.

This is some of what she said in Hershey, Pennsylvania on Tuesday:

Our opponents put their faith in government; John and I, we put our faith in all of you.

If they don’t put their faith in government, why would they want “all of us” to put our faith in them?  This is empty rhetoric which is contradicted by the fact that they are running for the presidency.

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Dear Governor Palin,

I understand that you want to be the VP of a party that thinks no one should ever be able have an abortion no matter what. And you don’t believe in teaching kids about sex and STD’s and birth control. AND your 17 year old daughter is pregnant, still in high school and not married. AND you don’t want us to talk about it because it is your family.

Well Mrs Governor, it doesn’t work that way.

You see, your policies and your republican platform are terrible! They don’t work! Here are some examples:

Abstinence-only sex ed defies common sense. Education policy spreads ignorance, sends confusing message to teens

“One in eight youth are sexually experienced, having engaged in intercourse, oral sex or both before the age of 14,” the Journal of Adolescent Health reported in 2006. According to the Project Connect study, supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: * “9 percent reported ever having sexual intercourse…and 8 percent ever had oral sex (active or receptive).” * “Of those who reported intercourse, 36 percent were age 11 or younger at first sex, 27 percent were 12, 28 percent were 13, and 9 percent were 14 or older.” * “Alarmingly, 43 percent of sexually experienced participants reported multiple sex partners.”

Kate Walsh: Abstinence-Only “Not Working.” Cites One-In-Four Teen Girl STDs Rate In U.S. As Proof Fed-Sponsored Sex Ed Needs Broadening

So we do get to talk about your policies. And we do get to talk about hypocrisy. You asked us to repect your family’s privacy, but you won’t respect my family’s privacy to make our own decisions!

“Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news that, as parents, we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned,” said Palin, 44, and her husband. “We’re proud of Bristol’s decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents.” They asked the media to respect their child’s privacy.

How come she gets to make a decision but the rest of the girls and women in America don’t! You won’t even let me learn in school about all the decisions I might need to make!

Governor Palin, when I had my first boyfriend, my brother talked to me and to him about why we shouldn’t have sex. Actually, we had to sit down in my boyfriend’s living room with his parents and my brother and hear all about STD’s and love and all the reasons we were too young for sex. AND they told us about condoms and other ways of preventing pregnancy even though we promised to keep all hands above the waist until at least 16.

Did you have a talk like that with Bristol and her boyfriend? Did anyone show him how to use a condom? These are fair questions because of the policies you advocate for.

I am glad that Bristol decided to have her baby. Will she and her boyfriend raise it? Will they give it up for adoption? Who is going to pay for her to give birth? And for all the other doctor visits?

If you want your family life to stay private, the please don’t bring your family on stage with you when you campaign, and please stop being a hypocrite.

Sincerely,

Cassie

I wish my friends and I had thought of this! Maybe next year. Time to kill the tests from the grassroots, and that means us in our classrooms. And I hope that the teacher gets OUT of trouble.

New York 8th-Graders Boycott Practice Exam But Teacher May Get Ax

by Juan Gonzalez

Students at a South Bronx middle school have pulled off a stunning boycott against standardized testing.

More than 160 students in six different classes at Intermediate School 318 in the South Bronx – virtually the entire eighth grade – refused to take last Wednesday’s three-hour practice exam for next month’s statewide social studies test.

Instead, the students handed in blank exams.

Then they submitted signed petitions with a list of grievances to school Principal Maria Lopez and the Department of Education.

“We’ve had a whole bunch of these diagnostic tests all year,” Tatiana Nelson, 13, one of the protest leaders, said Tuesday outside the school. “They don’t even count toward our grades. The school system’s just treating us like test dummies for the companies that make the exams.”

According to the petition, they are sick and tired of the “constant, excessive and stressful testing” that causes them to “lose valuable instructional time with our teachers.”

School administrators blamed the boycott on a 30-year-old probationary social studies teacher, Douglas Avella.

The afternoon of the protest, the principal ordered Avella out of the classroom, reassigned him to an empty room in the school and ordered him to have no further contact with students.

A few days later, in a reprimand letter, Lopez accused Avella of initiating the boycott and taking “actions [that] caused a riot at the school.”

The students say their protest was entirely peaceful. In only one class, they say, was there some loud clapping after one exam proctor reacted angrily to their boycott.

This week, Lopez notified Avella in writing that he was to attend a meeting today for “your end of the year rating and my possible recommendation for the discontinuance of your probationary service.”

“They’re saying Mr. Avella made us do this,” said Johnny Cruz, 15, another boycott leader. “They don’t think we have brains of our own, like we’re robots. We students wanted to make this statement. The school is oppressing us too much with all these tests.”

Two days after the boycott, the students say, the principal held a meeting with all the students to find out how their protest was organized.

Avella on Tuesday denied that he urged the students to boycott tests.

Yes, he holds liberal views and is critical of the school system’s increased emphasis on standardized tests, Avella said, but the students decided to organize the protest after weeks of complaining about all the diagnostic tests the school was making them take.

“My students know they are welcome in my class to have open discussions,” Avella said. “I teach them critical thinking.”

“Some teachers implied our graduation ceremony would be in danger, that we didn’t have the right to protest against the test,” said Tia Rivera, 14. “Well, we did it.”

Lopez did not return calls for comment.

“This guy was far over the line in a lot of the ways he was running his classroom,” said Department of Education spokesman David Cantor. “He was pulled because he was inappropriate with the kids. He was giving them messages that were inappropriate.”

Several students defended Avella. They say he had made social studies an exciting subject for them.

“Now they’ve taken away the teacher we love only a few weeks before our real state exam for social studies,” Tatiana Nelson said. “How does that help us?”

jgonzalez@nydailynews.com

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