Monday, May 29, 2006

This Week's Recommended Reading

From Ash:

School -- Failing On Both Coasts

This is more an "FYI" than a recommended reading, but I thought you should know that the California Supreme Court has restored the high school exit exam as a graduation requirement for the state's high school seniors. And while it's still an awful mess, and tragic to think that that kids might not be able to pass it, note that the skill-level requirements are just an 10th grade level of proficiency in English and 6th and 7th grade math, plus some algebra. In other words, the half of the graduation test that is so controversial doesn't test high school material, but junior high school material.

Meanwhile, the Boston Globe reports on the results of the first few years after ending bilingual education in Massachusetts. Mass. schools now require foreign-language speakers to take their classes in English as a form of English-immersion. And it isn't working: kids are falling further and further behind. Just 17% of these students were fluent in English after a year of monolingual education. After 3 years, the number of children not fluent was still over 50%.

Supervision of Kids Starts At 15? That's a little late, People.

The New York Times reports that -- despite repeated, dire warnings from pediatricians that children under 2 should never watch television -- parents continue to park their infant children in front of the television set. A new study by the Kaiser Foundation revealed that 61% of babies a year-old or less, are watching tv. And they are, on the average, watching about an hour a day.

And a third of kids under 6 have televisions in their own rooms. My guess -- at least some of these parents aren't using the v-chip, so they have no idea what the kids are watching, or how much time they are in front of the set.

It isn't until they're teens, I guess, that we seem to get more concerned with kids' use of media.

Since this week, the Chicago Trib reported that a local school district board voted unanimously to police students' posts on social networking sites such as Students involved in extracurricular activities or sports teams now will be required to sign an agreement that they can be punished for alcohol or drug use, smoking, and other outside-of- school malfeasance -- including what they write and do on the net.

By the way -- the Los Angeles Times reports that a study of South Korean teens revealed that heavy cell phone use doesn't mean your kids are the happy social types you think chatting on the phone indicates. Instead, it could be just the reverse. The study showed that kids with high phone use are actually anxious and unhappy. Which should give us a lot of pause considering American kids spend an hour a day on their cell phones -- the same amount of time they do homework.

Leaving Home . . . Or Not, As The Case May Be . . . .

In an analysis of recently released Census data, the New York Times observed that, while still a small fraction of the majority of households, that multigenerational households is on the rise.

They also did a sort-of poignant piece on how West Virginians almost all leave the state after they finish their educations -- in order to find better employment -- but that they frequently return home as senior citizens.

And in the "No, I'm not making this up" Category of the Week . . . .

AP reports that Danny Osman was born on May 21. That's news because both his mother and father share his May 21 birthday. The odds of that happening are .000751 percent.

Til Death We Don't Part

I wonder if "til death we part" was in the wedding vows of Andrew and Hayley Kissel. Or if the actual vows are legally enforceable in Connecticut. Because the Kissels were in the middle of a nasty divorce fight, when Andrew died. But, according to AP, the Court has decided that the divorce proceedings (over Andrew's millions as a real estate developer) will continue without him.

My favorite part: the judge admonished the attorneys that their clients must be kept up to date regarding the case. Andrew's lawyer replied, "I think at this point we're beyond Mr. Kissel having knowledge of these proceedings."


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