Pink Floyd had it right when they wrote the lyric, "We don't need no education. We don't need no thought control. Teachers! Leave those kids alone!"

The New York Times has an interesting article which it will be publishing tomorrow, November 26, 2006, about Unschooling. There also was an article on MSNBC back on October 6, 2006.

As the number of children who are home-schooled grows — an estimated 1.1 million nationwide — some parents like Ms. Walter are opting for what is perhaps the most extreme application of the movement’s ideas. They are “unschooling” their children, a philosophy that is broadly defined by its rejection of the basic foundations of conventional education, including not only the schoolhouse but also classes, curriculums and textbooks.

You can learn more about Unschooling by checking out the Unschooling web site or by reading about Unschooling in the Wikipedia article about it.

My ex-wife, Angela, and I homeschooled 6 of our 9 children beginning in 1985 when we were one of three of the first families in our school district to do so. Today, many of my grandkids are being homeschooled.

Link: No School, and the Child Chooses What to Learn - New York Times.

Education pays according to U.S. Census Bureau

Does education pay? Not always but in general it pays big according to the American Community Survey released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Adults age 18 and older with a bachelor’s degree earned an average of $51,554 in 2004, while those with a high school diploma earned $28,645, according to new tabulations released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. Those without a high school diploma earned an average of $19,169.

Link: Educational Attainment.

Teaching kids to fight back against classroom invaders

No more good boys and girls when it comes to predators threatening to kill kids with guns in schools. How about teaching the kids and staff to take the bad guys out? That's what's happening in Burleson School District outside of Ft. Worth, Texas according to a CNN report on October 13, 2006.

Youngsters in a suburban Fort Worth, Texas, school district are being taught not to sit there like good boys and girls with their hands folded if a gunman invades the classroom, but to rush him and hit him with everything they've got -- books, pencils, legs and arms. "Getting under desks and praying for rescue from professionals is not a recipe for success," said Robin Browne, a major in the British Army reserve and an instructor for Response Options, the company providing the training to the Burleson schools. That kind of fight-back advice is all but unheard of among schools, and some fear it will get children killed.

Link: Teaching kids to fight back against classroom invaders - CNN.com.

Weekday TV watching hurts schoolwork

Teens_watching_tv Reuters reported on October 2, 2006 on study which appears on the October, 2006 issue of Pediatrics on the effects of TV viewing on school performance. The conclusion? Weekday TV watching as a detrimental effect on school performance.

U.S. youths who watch television on weekdays tend to do worse in school than those who don't watch during the week, but weekend viewing appears to have no negative effects on schoolwork, researchers said on Monday.

The study of 4,508 middle school students ranging in age from 9 to 15 years also found schoolwork suffered among those allowed to watch adult, or R-rated, movies and cable channels with adult programming.

"Our data support the recommendation that parents limit weekday television and video game time to less than one hour and restrict access to adult media by limiting exposure to cable movie channels and R-rated movies and videos," wrote study author Dr. Iman Sharif of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, New York.

Among students who watched no television during the week, half did excellent work at school, the study said. Among those who watched between four and seven hours per week, only 24 percent had excellent school performance.

The American Academy Of Pediatrics recommends no more than 1 hour of TV viewing and/or video game playing on school nights.

"Our data support the recommendation that parents limit weekday television and video game time to less than one hour and restrict access to adult media by limiting exposure to cable movie channels and R-rated movies and videos," wrote study author Dr. Iman Sharif of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, New York.

Link: MedlinePlus: Weekday TV watching hurts schoolwork.

A Rush to Medicate Young Minds

Straterra Dr. Elizabeth J. Roberts had a great article in the October 8, 2006 issue of The Washington Post entitled, "A Rush To Medicate Young Minds". She points out that in 2002 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that almost 20% of pediatric office visits are for psychosocial problems. She also points out that there has been a trememdous increase in the prescription of psychotropic medications.

There has been a staggering jump in the percentage of children diagnosed with a mental illness and treated with psychiatric medications. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in 2002 almost 20 percent of office visits to pediatricians were for psychosocial problems -- eclipsing both asthma and heart disease. That same year the Food and Drug Administration reported that some 10.8 million prescriptions were dispensed for children -- they are beginning to outpace the elderly in the consumption of pharmaceuticals. And this year the FDA reported that between 1999 and 2003, 19 children died after taking prescription amphetamines -- the medications used to treat ADHD. These are the same drugs for which the number of prescriptions written rose 500 percent from 1991 to 2000.

Dr. Roberts points out that there are many incentives for various stakeholders in prescribing psychotropic medication, for most stakeholders that is, except the child.

Unfortunately, when a child is diagnosed with a mental illness, almost everyone benefits. The schools get more state funding for the education of a mentally handicapped student. Teachers have more subdued students in their already overcrowded classrooms. Finally, parents are not forced to examine their poor parenting practices, because they have the perfect excuse: Their child has a chemical imbalance.

The only loser in this equation is the child. It is the child who must endure the side effects of these powerful drugs and be burdened unnecessarily with the label of a mental illness. Medicating a child, based on a misdiagnosis, is a tragic injustice for the child: His or her only advocate is the parent who lacked the courage to apply appropriate discipline.

Well-intentioned but misinformed teachers, parents using the Internet to diagnose their children, and hurried doctors are all a part of the complex system that drives the current practice of misdiagnosing and overmedicating children. The solution lies in the practice of good, conscientious medicine that is careful, thorough and patient-centered.

Parents need to be more careful with whom they entrust their child's mental health care. Doctors need to take the time to understand their pediatric patients better and have the courage to deliver the bad news that sometimes a child's disruptive, aggressive and defiant behavior is due to poor parenting, not to a chemical imbalance such as bipolar disorder or ADHD.

To read the whole article, click on the link below.

Link: A Rush to Medicate Young Minds - washingtonpost.com.

Do school based health centers lower teen pregnancy rates? Yes

Teen_pregnancy Do school based health centers help reduce teen pregnancy rates. The answer is clearly yes, significantly, in high schools in Denver, Colorado with high percentages of African American students according to a study publiched in the September, 2006 issue of the American Journal Of Public Health

A high adolescent fertility rate (165 births/1000) in 1992 among Black students in Denver high-school areas with school-based health centers declined to a low rate (38/1000) in 1997 that matched the rate of school areas that did not have school-based health centers. Rates declined for both types of areas over the study period, but the rate of decline in the areas with school-based health centers was significantly greater (77% vs 56%).

Link: School-Based Health Centers and the Decline in Black Teen Fertility During the 1990s in Denver, Colorado -- Ricketts and Guernsey 96 (9): 1588 -- American Journal of Public Health.

Overheard in Rochester Area - The Whole World Is My Classroom

Nice lady in the mall: "You're very handsome. How old are you?"

My 5 year old grandson: "Thanks. I'm five."

Nice lady: "Are you in school yet?"

Grandson: "I could be in Kindergarten, but my parents homeschool me."

Nice Lady: "Homeschool you, dear?"

Grandson: "Yes, the whole world is my class room."


Like how to do laundry. From http://indexed.blogspot.com/

The ugly under belly of America's racist past

Elizabetheckfordmob 49 years ago today, September 4, 1957, Elizabeth Eckford was blocked from becoming the first black student at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. The Governor of Arkansas, Orval Faubus, called out the National Guard to block the school and on September 24, 1957, President Eisenhower sent in federal troops to enforce the law.

I was 11 years old at the time growing up in Brockport NY and feeling scared that I was living in a country where such hatred existed solely because of the color of a person's skin.

Terrorism was alive and well in the South in those days with blacks being killed along with white civil rights workers. This country has an ugly past which we should not forget as we attempt to intervene around the world. There are brave and courageous people among us who fight for justice which often are overlooked by history and from whose courage and sacrifices millions of people now benefit.

On 4th September, 1957, Elizabeth Eckford and eight other African American students attempted to enter Little Rock Central High School, a school that previously had only accepted white children. The governor of Arkansas, Orval Faubus, was determined to ensure that segregation did not take place and sent the National Guard to stop the children from entering the school.

On 24th September, 1957, President
Dwight Eisenhower, went on television and told the American people: "At a time when we face grave situations abroad because of the hatred that communism bears towards a system of government based on human rights, it would be difficult to exaggerate the harm that is being done to the prestige and influence and indeed to the safety of our nation and the world. Our enemies are gloating over this incident and using it everywhere to misrepresent our whole nation. We are portrayed as a violator of those standards which the peoples of the world united to proclaim in the Charter of the United Nations."

After trying for eighteen days to persuade
Orval Faubus to obey the ruling of the Supreme Court, Eisenhower decided to send federal troops to Arkansas to ensure that black children could go to Little Rock Central High School. The white population of Little Rock were furious that they were being forced to integrate their school and Faubus described the federal troops as an army of occupation. Elizabeth Eckford and the eight other African American children at the school suffered physical violence and constant racial abuse. Parents of four of the children lost their jobs because they had insisted in sending them to a white school. Eventually Orvel Faubus decided to close down all the schools in Little Rock.

For more information, click on the link below.

Link: Elizabeth Eckford.

Zero Tolerance in schools - adminstrative cop out?

Do Zero Tolerance policies in schools make sense? Do they work? Are they too easy an excuse of administrators to not use their judgement and gapple with the nuances of difficult situations?      Malcom Gladwell has an interesting essay in the September 4, 2006 issue of The New Yorker entitled "No Mercy".

A Tennessee study found that after zero-tolerance programs were adopted by the state’s public schools the frequency of targeted offenses soared: the firm and unambiguous punishments weren’t deterring bad behavior at all. Is that really a surprise?

To read the American Bar Association report on Zero Tolerance policies click here.

Link: The New Yorker: The Talk of the Town.

Preteen mag accused of military pitching

Cobblestone, a literary magazine targeted towards kids 9 -14, in its latest issue,  is devoted to military recruiting.

Parents and teachers are complaining that the latest issue of a popular magazine for preteens amounts to little more than an early recruitment pitch for the Army.

Cobblestone magazine, which is put out by Carus Publishing in Peterborough, is aimed at children ages 9-14 and is distributed nationwide to schools and libraries. Its latest issue features a cover photo of a soldier in Iraq clutching a machine gun and articles on what it‘s like to go through boot camp, a rundown of the Army‘s "awesome arsenal" and a detailed description of Army career opportunities.

One of the teaching guides — written by Mary Lawson, a teacher in Saint Cloud., Fla. — suggests having students write essays pretending they are going to join the Army: "Have them decide which career they feel they would qualify for and write a paper to persuade a recruiter why that should be the career."

The dozen or so similar complaints come at a time when the military, struggling to meet recruitment goals, has become more aggressive in trying to attract young people. But Cobblestone‘s editors insist the idea for the special issue was theirs alone, though they received permission to use Army photos.

It is interesting how militarism is engrained in our society to the extent that young children and preteens are being encouraged to envision themselves as killers for the government. Of course, the sell is softer, that a career in the military allows one to further their education, serve their country, see the world, etc. The real purpose of the military though is to kill and to enforce the policies of the government. The fact that the last wars which the United States has been involved in such as Viet Nam and Iraq have been declared "unjust" and "immoral" by the Popes of the time and most other religious bodies should not go unnoticed. Whether people in the military are called upon to engage in honorable and just activity or immoral and unjust activity is not under the immediate control of the soldier but rather their commander and the Commander-in chief.

It seems increasingly clear that the current war in Iraq is unjust, entered into on fraudulent premises, and seen by the rest of the world as besought with "war crimes". The fact that the United States has not signed the treaty to participate in the International Criminal Court for fear that it would be prosecuted speaks volumes to the integrity of the United States in its conduct and willingness to be held accountable for its actions by the rest of the world governments.

Glorifying military service to children might be considered child abuse.

I hope that all parents throughout the world would take the pledge, "I will not raise my child to kill your child."

Shame on Cobblestone Magazine and the Carus Publishing Company

Link: Preteen mag accused of military pitching.