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Great Links Curriculum for Tuesday, November 18

If you aren’t already following me on Twitter, you ought to start. I link to and comment on education stories ’round the clock.

And if you’re new to Twitter or aren’t sure how to get started, check out TwiTip’s 10 Easy Steps for Twitter Beginners. Give it a whirl!

Now for the Great Links… and some real stinkers that also deserve attention.

Via EIA, Andrew Sullivan and Michelle Rheetwo peas in a pod? Believe it or not, yes. I suppose even Sullivan gets to be sensible every once in a while. Blind squirrel, broken clock, etc. etc.

There aren’t too many men teaching K-12, reports Eduflack. In MA, fewer than 25% of K-12 teachers are men. And it’s everywhere, too – in April 2007 I wrote a post about male elementary teachers in NY dropping to 9%, a 40-year low. Some folks like MenTeach have been trying to raise awareness for a while now. Check them out and subscribe.

Ted Tedesco of Woodbury, Vermont is a hero. He’s worked to restore the Pledge of Allegiance in that small school district. The admins’ solution to his request is ridiculous, but at least everyone sees it. That, and a generation of kids in Woodbury knows how important it is to defend their country and their culture. As I wrote in the comments of the Core Knowledge post:

“A few months ago I attended a reunion banquet for a tiny, rural high school that closed shop during the consolidation efforts of the 1950s. Their meeting included the Pledge of Allegiance. When the Pledge came up in the agenda, all of the ~100 in attendance rose – and some with great difficulty, as they were in their 80s and 90s – to recite it.”

You know where I stand on this issue, and there’s a reason why I call the Green Mountain State “The People’s Republic of Vermont.” [Sorry, Jessie.]

Across the pond, here’s why I like the Tories. They’ve got a plan to re-introduce a bit of rigor to GCSEs and A-levels. The GCSEs in particular have been gutted – remember this physics teacher begging the government via petition to return mathematical rigor to secondary physics?

“Hot Boys”? I’d prefer that EdSector’s Quick and the Ed bloggers had a bit more self-respect. I already have trouble taking them seriously – these post titles don’t help.

Schools suing bloggers? You betcha. PRO on HCPS links to a libel case against an unhappy parent. Well, if “libel” means “a school district seething when held accountable by the public.” Guess who won? [UPDATE: PRO on HCPS gives us a better link for schools suing bloggers.]

Litigation is expensive when you’re trying to fire a teacher, administrator or school employee. In nearby Utica, NY, Craig Fehlhaber’s hearings have cost the Utica City Schools $250,000 – and counting. If Fehlhaber wins, the district will likely have to reimburse his attorney’s fees as well. We went through the same process in Cooperstown several years ago. If you ever wondered why schools tend not to dismiss bad employees, now you’ve got one reason.

Dave at ‘Friends of Dave’ – a very sharp blog, subscribe with all deliberate speed – highlights some recent irony in California. The California Association of School Business Officers have a conference at which they’ll discuss our tough economic times and how their districts can cope. And that conference is at a hotel/spa/golf course in Newport Beach. Dave has a sensible take on it all, but c’mon, CASBO. He says, “It is a bit ironic that the people who are typically the ones telling their co-workers that they can’t have an extra ream of paper are the ones having a really nice time at a Hotel and Spa on the beach.” Agreed.

Victory in Iraq Day – November 22, 2008. ZombieTime has declared 11/22/08 VI Day and I’m with him 100%. Read his post to see why it’s appropriate to declare VI Day and you’ll see why I support it, too.

“Building a GREAT teaching workforce,” described by American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence’s Dave Saba. Saba/ABCTE sing the praises – rightly – of a new report on the effectiveness of alternative certification programs.

Great Links Curriculum, Volume 1 – World Premiere!

Thank God for Google Reader. At this point, I follow ~500 blogs, view ~12,000 items a month [about 85% are education related] and highlight/distribute about 2% of those posts in a host of ways.

And then there’s the education blog…

… and Twitter, an excellent, free PR tool. If you aren’t following me on Twitter already – or using it yourself – sign up for free, check my profile and click follow. There’s always a good conversation to have or a good link to click.

That triumvirate of e-media makes it easy to do a roundup of interesting stuff I’ve read, so give a warm welcome to the world premier of the Great Links Curriculum.

The British are one baby step ahead of us in self-destruction. DailyWritingTips brings us a story from the Telegraph about banning “elitist” and “discriminatory” Latin phrases – like bona fide, vice versa and et cetera. Fancy book larnin’s a 20th century skeel, it seems.

“Why Parents Get Angry When They Learn the Truth,” from Motel Special Ed.

“Quantifying Greatness” - Greg Forster debunks an unfounded gripe about the Great Books.

Exhibit 1036a: Perfect example why normal people don’t take educrats seriously, courtesy of Salon. Really, that diagram could be drawn for just about any topic on Earth.

The Carnival of Education is up at the Core Knowledge Blog. This Carnival’s scripting took some real effort – well done.

Flypaper with some sober common sense. Want to retain great teachers? Remove the bad ones.

Obama celebrated in the World of Warcraft? Good Lord, there are so many factual errors in this testimony as to make me want to call the poor kid out. We’ll see.

Having solved every problem in New York public education, the State Education Department decided to buy a ton of fruits and vegetables.

Racial taunts in class for supporting John McCain? You betcha. This ideological intolerance happens a bit more than people realize, and sometimes – as in this case – it can get ugly.

Really, really, really, really smart to get into law school? George Leef at Phi Beta Cons drags that argument back to reality.

Head over to eMailOurMilitary and drop a quick note, even if it’s just a quick thanks.

Bill Gates?!?!? Making curriculum?!?! Relax, mouth-frothers. Ms. Jacobs and Mr. Pondiscio will calm you down.

… and another political candidate in the education world whines while laying bare her ignorance on blogs, media and technology. Advertising, too, I suppose. Well done, Ms. Gallucci of Pinellas County. Perhaps the problem isn’t your makeup or wardrobe, but the woeful inadequacy you bring to the job.

In New York State, the education budget cut spin begins. Give it a day or two, you’ll want to throw money at NYSED just to get this circus to stop.

I Love the Brits, I Love Them Not

more bacon, please

I was thinking earlier today [as I fried 12oz. of bacon and topped it with sharp cheddar, which I write to induce "Americans are so fat" deprecation so the foreigners will feel better about what follows] if there’s any group of people, any country, any anything in the world about which my feelings oscillate so often and so quickly. I mean rapid shifts like those in sports – he’s a hero when he hits a home run and a bum when he strikes out – but about more rational subjects.

No – the Brits win the prize. I can go from thrilled and proud to eyes-closed-and-shaking-head in about 3 minutes.

Boris Johnson, the recently elected mayor of London, is a Brit I’ve loved for many years. He’s sharp, funny, too honest and too open. He wrote a piece on the BBC licence fee that Wikipedia describes:

“In the United Kingdom and the Crown dependencies, a television licence is required to receive any publicly broadcast television service, from any source. This includes the commercial channels, cable and satellite transmissions. The money from the licence fee is used to provide radio, television and Internet content for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and Welsh-language television programmes for S4C.”

I think it’s about 150 GBP right now – or about $275 USD.

Boris introduced his editorial, which advocated relaxing gripes about the fee, by saying:

“Treachery, thy name is Edmonds. After decades in which his hairy chops have been clamped about the hind teat of the BBC, Noel Edmonds has announced that he will not pay the licence fee, and I can imagine that some people will declare him a hero.”

And that’s why I love Boris Johnson.

Then some dolt of a [retired] professor has to muck it up by suggesting we throw out spelling and apostrophe rules to improve literacy, which I wrote about over at the GlobalScholar blog.

At least it’s not as bad as the imposition of sharia courts in the UK.

You guys drive me mad.

Aw, I can’t stay mad at you.

Today’s Reads, Mostly Education, Some Educational

Working on other projects. I still read, though.

“Democrats are Standing up to the Teachers Unions: Can this be True?” asks little Ed over at Ed is Watching. Maybe he’ll get some answers on September 19th [if the event doesn't run past his bedtime]. Yet another thumbs up for the DFER folks.

From RightWingProf, who came across this dandy fop opining out of San Diego: “Sarah Palin often uses lots of notes when she speaks, even going so far as to use tabs and different colors of notecards. This is just so unbelievably tacky and small town I am considering killing myself.” Yipes. I know that frustration, though. I see it every time I obliterate, shame, or otherwise invalidate an argument made by someone who has contempt for ignorant, small town rubes [like  me].

Brown University reformed its curricula in the late 1960s. I wouldn’t have done it, and not the way they did, but no one asked me then. They’re reforming things now – and ACTA says that it’s not perfect, but that it’s a step in the right direction.

Mike S. Adams has founded F.A.S.H.I.S.T. at UNC-Wilmington – Faculty Against Sexual Harassment Initiatives and Sensitivity Training. He asks whether “mandate” is sexist, and then says, “Five years ago the administration chipped in $60,000 to help bring Ludacris to campus. He sang a lot about hos. Shouldn’t we be forcing the administration to attend mandatory sexual harassment training not the other way around?”

Haaaaaaaaaaaahahahha. Awesome.

An interesting video about Senator Obama and edu-huckster extraordinaire, Bill Ayers.

The Onion: The Word “Presumptive” Prepares for Another 4-year Hibernation.

BIG NEWS: Detroit Superintendent hung up the phone on someone. My school board members barked at me like junkyard dogs, used school facilities/organizations to campaign against me, and school employees used in-house computers to suggest that I was a drug dealer. I don’t hang up on anyone [nor do I take or sell drugs].

Today is Battle of Britain Day in the United Kingdom. British resilience is a trait I love, and one that we in Upstate New York share. Let us hope that steely resolve makes a comeback in the wake of Sharia law.

Stop Playing Sports, Kids – It’ll Make You Fat.

a proud sportsman

EdWeek published an article last week stating that participation in high school athletics rose to about 7.4 million students:

“The survey was based on figures supplied by the associations from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It showed 3.06 million participants in girls sports, breaking the former record of 3.02 million set last year, and 4.372 million in boys sports, breaking the former record of 4.367 million set in 1977-78.”

Thank goodness all those kids are in the United States, because competitive sport in the United Kingdom apparently leads to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and general fat-itude:

“Schools should cut down on competitive sport because it is putting children off exercise and undermining the government’s drive to tackle obesity, researchers warned today.

Last month, the prime minister, Gordon Brown, promised to bring back competitive sport in schools and to extend the range of sports offered to children.

However, a new study by Laura Ward, from Loughborough University, claimed the heavy emphasis on fitness and competitive sport in many secondary schools is doing little or nothing to help curb the UK’s record teenage obesity rates.”

Some might say that running around while playing sports provides general exercise. Ha! Wrong, sayeth the academics:

“But Ward will tell the annual conference of the British Educational Research Association in Edinburgh later today that too many PE teachers, particularly men, are still emphasising the importance of competitive team sports at the expense of more individual activities.”

Yes, a sport is different than a targeted, sustained cardiovascular exercise regimen. I’ll even admit that a regimen provides more health benefits than a sport.

I don’t care.

I prefer the former to the latter, and I’ve always been more likely to engage a competitive sport than… a treadmill.

“Teachers’ own deeply-embedded attitudes are also influential. A teacher who has experienced lifelong success in sport is likely to want to focus upon competitive team games within their lessons. This then presents us with a persistent cycle whereby sport is privileged within PE and health-related exercise is marginalised.”

You know it’s serious when the academics bring out the “P” word.

If you think some students hate gym class now, turn it into “Exercise Class” and measure their attitudes again. I wasn’t a class-cutter in high school, but I’d have taken every opportunity to skip that one.

News flash: Kids prefer dodge ball to pilates.

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