A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Monday, December 31, 2007

Movie Madness Monday 96: New Year's 2007 edition

Welcome back to a New Year's edition of Movie Madness Monday, the Movie Quote trivia game!

Before you go out to have fun this evening, see if you can come up with a quote from this flick! You know the rules-- quotes in the comment section, no outing the movie!

"And there I was killing them softly with my song. Or rather being killed. And not so softly either."

"Are we having duck? Delicious!"

"Every man is an island. I stand by that. But clearly some men are island CHAINS. Underneath, they are connected..."

"Me, I didn't mean anything. About anything, to anyone. And I knew that guaranteed me a long, depression-free life."

"Oh, no... it's just I thought you had hidden depths."
"No, no, you've always had that wrong about me. I really am this shallow."

Go, go, go!

****Weekend Update: Apparently I'm the only one who saw


but I did it because I like Toni Collette, even though she did Muriel's Wedding, which I did NOT like.

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Seven meme

Matt Johnston at Going to the Mat hath tagged me with the "7 things" meme and.... well you know the rest.

Here are the rules: - Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
- Share 7 random and or weird things about yourself.
- Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
- Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on his or her blog.

My 7 things:
1. I am a big proponent of prayer and meditation. I read Compline from the Book of Common Prayer every night. I also pray Psalm 91, verses 1-4 and 9-12 for several of my beloved friends who are suffering from cancer and other serious illnesses. I invite anyone who reads this to read it with me at 10 pm CST each night and pray for your loved ones who are ill.

2. I love British comedy. I am currently enjoying the Vicar of Dibley Immaculate Collection, that I bought as a splurge from amazon.com. That Dawn French is a genius! I was watching an episode in an airport earlier this month, and not only did I laugh so hard that tears came out of my eyes, but people started coming over to see what I was watching.

3. My children provide my heart with most of the aerobic exercise I receive. The Preeteen Daughter especially has made my heart race a lot lately-- and not always in a good way.

4. I have read 7 books thus far this break: Starman Jones, (an old favorite) by Robert A. Heinlein, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, by J. K. Rowling, The Memory Keeper's Daughter, by Kim Edwards, How to See Yourself as You Really Are, by the Dalai Lama, Evil and the Justice of God, by N. T. Wright, The Bill of Wrongs, by Molly Ivins (God bless her), and Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. I hope to read a book for every day of break.

5. I am a big sports fan. I love to watch football, baseball, and soccer, especially. I play softball and racquetball, and am going to promise myself to start walking and running again this year before I start influencing the tides more.

6. I enjoyed Rome and Weeds and Six Feet Under, but the really repetitively obscene language grates on me after a while, and I am no prude. Do people really talk like that all the time? Outside of fraternity houses, I mean? It just seems boring and indicative of a lack of imagination.

7. I cannot watch horror movies and even the CSI shows are too much for me. Although I have no moral qualms with it, I could never go see one of those exhibitions of preserved human bodies. The images stay in my head for years-- and I mean years. I foolishly went to see Se7en with my husband at the theater, and I have regretted that decision many times. Yuck.

And I now tag:
Dr. Bad Ass
Mike in Texas
Ramblin' Educat


Thursday, December 27, 2007

It's never too late for the Airing of Grievances

Okay, okay, okay, I missed the deadline for Festivus, which is on December 23 (and is the only thing from Seinfeld I ever found funny). But I still has me my grievances to air, and air them I will! To wit:

1. I was just informed that I can not designate part of my United Way donation to Camp Fire USA because there is no local council in this benighted town in which I live (see? no dangling preposition!). This required talking to some young female person who could not pronounce my name correctly, as well (see grievance number 2). Even though I have given money to Camp Fire USA on my United Way donation for over 17 years, suddenly, it's a problem.

So guess what this means? I shall be reducing my United Way pledge, so that I can give money to Camp Fire USA my way. I was a member of Camp Fire (back then we were called Camp Fire Girls) for 11 years. If I wanted to give money to the Girl Scouts, I would have BEEN a Girl Scout.

2. I am tired of people not being able to pronounce my name. It's "Kor-NEEL-yus," NOT "KRO nel-shus," fercryinoutloud. It's just that simple. From now on, telemarketers beware: I shall mock you unmercifully.

3. I have had it with kids coming to school sick. I actually rearranged my seating chart three times during November and December to move the kids who kept coming to school hacking and feverish so that they would be as far away from all the rest of us who wished to remain well. I listened to one kid snort his mucus back up into his sinuses every two minutes for three weeks-- until I actually felt nauseated. You will give yourself a sinus infection! And it's gross!

And if your kid had a fever, you need to keep her at home until 24 hours AFTER the fever has broken, NOT send her to school so that the nurse and the teachers can take care of her so that you don't miss your yoga class.

Then there's the pink eye outbreak we endured. Oh, dear God. There is NO WAY a parent could have missed the gray ooze coming out of both peepers of the first kid. Thankfully, I diagnosed and rerouted the kid before he entered my classroom. (What? You don't see the medical degree on my wall? It's from Common Sense U.)

4. I loathe "Reality TV." Stop it. That one with the lie detector that's going to be starting soon is beyond the pale. Boo.

5. I am tired of parents and students complaining to me about grades and/or test scores when they admit the students have put very little effort into their work because they are so "busy." You get what you put into your education. You need to start by trying, and even then, that may not get you an A-- but certainly makes the odds more likely than playing Halo for four hours a night.

6. I am also wearied by parents attempting to get their child diagnosed with some sort of disorder solely for the purpose of getting them more time to take the SAT. Shameful. I received such a form (in which the mother ADMITTED the scheme to me) a while back, and it's just appalling.

7. I would like to create a special lane for drivers of minivans and Buicks. It would be padded and segregated for their safety and ours. I write this after I just watched some wizened driver flatten the stop sign at the end of the lane after flying downhill on ice. Classic.

And I would appreciate a hood-mounted bazooka for use on people observed doing any of the following behind the wheel: shaving, reading the newspaper draped over the steering wheel, texting, putting on mascara, eating food that is so hot that when one burns one's mouth one then swerves into my lane, blasting misogynistic rap music in traffic, racing motorcycles singly or in packs, drinking beer or liquor, or taking pictures with one's cell phone.

8. I would like to send out a special thank you to the security personnel at the airport who opened my checked luggage, tore open the wrapping on a present I was bringing back, removed the packing material, and broke two of the glasses inside the box. The tiny shards of glass left on all my clothing was a nice touch.

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151 Proof Carnival of Education

...Is up over at Elementaryhistoryteacher's place, and she has done a fabulous job providing us with a tour of the long snd short of the Edusphere.

Go take a look!


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

For unto us is born a savior!

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria.

So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town.

And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son.

She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear.

The angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.
And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger."

And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:
"Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."

When the angels went away from them to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us." So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds.

And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.
Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them.

A Merry and Holy Christmas to you, and may God bless and keep all of you throughout the coming year! May the light and love of the Almighty One lift you up through all your days!


Monday, December 24, 2007

Movie Madness Monday 95: Cleveland Street edition

Welcome to a shamefully commercial edition of Movie Madness Monday, the movie quote trivia game. As Ms. Cornelius has yet to finish her Christmas shopping, she's going out for a while, so play nice while she's gone, hear?

You know the drill: put your quotes in the comments section without naming the movie. And if you can't remember this one, it will be on for 24 hours straught on TBS starting at 7pm tonight.

"I can't put my arms dowwwwwwnnnnnn!"

"Awwww, you should see what it looks like from out here!"

"It's all yours, little Beaver!"

"I could feel the Christmas noose tightening around my neck."

"They traded Bullfrog! I don't believe it!"

"What is the name of the Lone Ranger's nephew's horse?"
"Victor.... his name is Victor."
"How do you know that?"
"Everybody knows that!"

"They looked at me as if I had lobsters crawling out of my ears."

"Oh no! It's Old Blue! Oh no! Cheese it, boys! The jig is up!"

"My father wove a tapestry of profanity that, as far as we know, is still hovering in the air over Lake Michigan."

"In our world, you were either a bully, a toady, or one of the nameless rabble of victims."

****Weekend Update: Ralphie finally gets his wish in


one of my favorite Christmas movies because I love Darren McGavin doing comedy.

I TRIPLE Dog Dare Ya!

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Smile, Teach! It's Candid Camera!

A kid in a St. Louis 'burb pulls out his cameraphone in a classroom and surreptitously takes pictures of his teacher and posts them on the net. He then gets disciplined.

You KNOW there's more to the story:

Seven grainy classroom photos of a Lafayette High School teacher posted on the Internet by a student are at the center of a federal lawsuit that tests the limits of school discipline in the cyber age.

The suit alleges that school officials violated Logan Glover's constitutional rights of free speech and free expression when they disciplined the sophomore over the incident.

But school district officials say the case is about controlling classroom behavior, not placing a lid on a student's right to communicate online.

"The taking of photographs and posting them on the Internet is not necessarily wrong," said Rockwood Superintendent Craig Larson. "It's the disruption that this caused that prompted us to act."

The suit was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in St. Louis. It also names the boy's father, Jerome Glover, as a plaintiff.

Mark Sableman, a prominent First Amendment attorney with the downtown firm of Thompson Coburn, filed the suit on the Glovers' behalf. He asserts that the photographs were taken during a free-time period and did not disrupt instruction.

"The Glovers believe that the school district took action against Logan because it did not like having the photos posted on (the online social network site) Facebook," Sableman stated Thursday in an e-mail. "The First Amendment and prior cases are clear that school officials do not have the right to discipline students for content they post on the Internet outside of school."

The Glovers, of Wildwood, could not be reached for comment.

Named as defendants in the suit are Lafayette Principal John Shaughnessy and two associate principals, Kirti Mehrotra and Jodi Davidson.

According to an affidavit by Shaughnessy, Glover and two classmates disrupted a language arts class on Nov. 20 when they surreptitiously took the pictures last month of teacher Jessica Hauser.

After school that day at his home, Glover posted the pictures on his private Facebook page. According to the lawsuit, he did not post captions with the photographs, or identify anyone in them.

The suit claims Glover removed the photos on Dec. 6, when school officials confronted him about them.

Glover got a three-day, out-of-school suspension and was permanently barred from Hauser's classroom.

The other boys involved each got three days of in-school suspension. They are not parties to the suit.

"My sense is that there were two disruptions," Larson said. "Taking pictures without the teacher knowing it and sending two kids up there to waste her time. And then there was a later disruption generated when kids started talking about it and showed her (Hauser) the pictures."

The photos show the teacher working at her desk with students nearby. She is handling paperwork as she speaks with two male students. In one picture, a boy gives a thumbs-up to the camera while Hauser looks away.

Hauser could not be reached for comment.

Larson said the incident upset the teacher.

"She didn't know the intent of the pictures," Larson said. "She wondered, 'Why did you do this? What are you trying to do to me by posting these images?'"

The incident highlights the emerging dilemma that the Internet poses for schools. Cyber-bullying, students posing online as teachers, and postings of students engaged in illegal behavior, including taking drugs and drinking, have forced schools to push discipline policies beyond the schoolhouse walls.

"Kids are so good with technology that it's like they're always one step ahead of teachers," said DeeAnn Aull, a spokeswoman for the Missouri chapter of the National Education Association. "And sometimes that technology can be misused."

Hauser's class included a teacher from the Special School District who worked with Glover, who was in the district's Individualized Education Plan under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act.

According to the suit, the school does not have a substitute class that meets Glover's special needs.

Larson said the district would find a suitable class for the student.

"He's being moved at the teacher's request because she felt like her trust with him was pretty clearly violated," he said.

Peter Jay, a law professor at Washington University, said the case would hinge on whether the district properly articulated its policies regarding use of cameras.

Jay said: "Absent a clearly articulated and regularly followed school policy, my impression is that a student would have a right to take photos of a teacher in the classroom."

Does a student have the right to take photos of teachers?

Technically, our school requires phones to be turned off during the school day, but this is rarely enforced. And I know for a fact that video of my colleagues that is much the same as the above images has been posted online.

Right or wrong? You make the call. Is this a free speech issue? Before you decide, consider this, in which a teacher was accused of being a member of deviant group I shall not name because of Google (I am not going to explain that one):
NORTH BEND, Ohio -- A Web site entry created by three high school students has led to lengthy suspensions and a federal lawsuit.

The Taylor High students are accused of creating an entry in November on Facebook.com, a social networking site, that included the face and last name of a teacher. It referred to him as a "pedophile" and said he belonged to a group that supports sex between men and boys.

The teens were suspended for 10 days and will be expelled for another 80 days after the holiday break. A federal judge ruled this week that the students could remain in school for the time being.

The students said they created the entry in their homes, on their own time, and access was limited to seven people. They claim violation of free speech rights.

The students and their parents filed suit after the Three Rivers School District's school board voted last week to uphold their punishment.

"Each of the boys has written an apology to the teacher and questioned whether they exercised their best judgment," said their lawyer, Marc Mezibov. He said the school district is overstepping its bounds.

The district said there could be school disruptions and harm to teacher morale. The school's principal said that 14 teachers have asked that their photos be removed from the district's Web site since this incident.

The teacher picture on the Facebook site was copied from a district site.

The case will return to court on Dec. 28.

There have similar cases across Ohio and the country, said Scott Greenwood, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney. Courts have been ruling that students can't be punished by schools for such off-campus acts and that such suspensions violate free speech, he said.

Unbelievable. And so I guess the fact that ONLY seven kids (supposedly) could see the page (HA!) makes it all a violation of the STUDENTS' rights. I am sure no one at school ever commented or thought of it. And I am sure a written apology compensates for the damage done to this man's reputation and dignity.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hippity Hoppity, Winkity Wonkity Carnival of Education

You must go to the Education Wonks' and read the fabulous carnival of education 150 he's woven together. It's amazing, and it's informative, and it's free!


Here's Zoey 102: Don't have sex at 15, you daft little thing!

I hearby announce a temporary abeyance of any anti-Spears postings rule (and look how good I've been, too!) to bring you this little tale:

Yesterday, Preteen Daughter insisted that Jamie Lynn Spears is pregnant.

"Oh no, Ducks, that's just gossip!" I firmly responded.

This morning? After spitting the morning mouthful of tea halfway across the room over the morning paper, I had to eat crow. THAT was a wonderful conversation, lemme tell ya.

Luckily, PTD is still honestly barfed out by the idea of this activity. I hope that lasts at least a few more days-- and I hope she doesn't start thinking that this kind of stuff is no big deal or even cute.

So now, the incredibly fecund Spears girls have proved that they really don't teach about self control OR birth control down in Louisiana. This is also a great lesson (reinforced by Michael Vick and Paris Hilton) that having loads of money and lucky breaks thrown your way certainly do not ensure that one could be hit by the Great Flying Brick o' Common Sense upside the head.

But in a surprising move, Super Mommy Lynn Spears' book on parenting has been placed on hold indefinitely. That's good. Because I don't think the world needs any more advice on how to become wealthy by dint of your children whom you then allow to prance around looking like a child sex worker just to sell a bunch of vapid CDs and then you wonder how they got "in trouble."

Of course, neither one of these girls got this way without some help. Let's hear it for the impregnators, shall we?

I am just disgusted.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Recess-- an evil capitalist plot?

A principal in Connecticut has banned any sort of competitive activity from recess, claiming that students need to be protected from possible skinned knees or hurt feelings if they actually engage in competitive activities.

I. Am. Not. Kidding.

You know, there's another word for those kinds of activities. What is that word?

Oh yeah! "Fun."

Not to mention that this is yet another example of not allowing kids to just figure things out without some adult, no matter how well-meaning, riding to the rescue.

Children at the Oakdale School here in southeastern Connecticut returned this fall to learn that their traditional recess had gone the way of the peanut butter sandwich and the Gumby lunchbox.

No longer could they let off their youthful energy — pent up from hours of long division — by cavorting outside for 22 minutes of unstructured play, or perhaps with a vigorous game of tag or dodgeball. Such games had been virtually banned by the principal, Mark S. Johnson, along with kickball, soccer and other “body-banging” activities, as he put it, where knees — and feelings — might get bruised.

Instead, children are encouraged to jump rope, play with Hula Hoops or gently fling a Frisbee. Balls are practically controlled substances, parceled out under close supervision by playground monitors.

The traditional recess, a rite of grade school, is endangered not only in the Oakdale School here in Montville, a town of 18,500. From Cheyenne, Wyo., to Wyckoff, N.J., recess — long seen as a way for children to develop social competence, recharge after long lessons, and resist obesity — is being rethought and pared down.

In the face of this, a national campaign called Rescuing Recess, sponsored by such organizations as the Cartoon Network, the National Parent Teacher Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Education Association, has taken hold at many schools where parents and children fear that recess will go the way of the one-room schoolhouse.

At Oakdale, Mr. Johnson finally relaxed some prohibitions after a parade of parents complained. Now, twice a week when a parent or grandparent is present, fourth and fifth graders are allowed to play a modified version of kickball as long as the score is not kept. Many parents are still not satisfied, however, saying that such coddling fails to prepare children for adulthood.

“Life is competitive,” said Shari Clewell, the mother of a fifth grader. “Kids compete for attention. They compete for grades. You compete for a job. You compete from the time you’re little all the way to the end.”

Pretending otherwise is pointless, she said. “They’re kids. They are competitive. They can play jump rope and jacks and make it competitive.”

But the principal is determined. “I’m honestly one of the most competitive guys in the world, having coached sports for a long time,” said Mr. Johnson, who has coached youth basketball and softball. “But I honestly don’t believe this is the place for that.”

Acknowledging that the changes caused “quite an uproar,” he defended his policy as a way to build skills and camaraderie rather than competition and conflict, and said that it had nothing to do with insurance costs. He said he had seen too many recesses where children “want all the good kids on one side and they want to win at all costs, and kids are made to feel badly.”

Children are still encouraged to move about, he said, and are free to walk the grounds with the school nurse, or depending on the day, sing in the chorus, play chess or pick up litter. And he insisted that children could still play competitive games in their weekly gym classes or in extracurricular programs.

But Ms. Clewell was dismissive of the alternatives. “I’m not having my son pick up trash around the school,” she said. “This is recess.”

For now, the superintendent of schools, David Erwin, has not intervened in the dispute, although he acknowledges that the public outcry has caught his eye.

Connecticut is one of only a handful of states that require some type of break, or recess, but its law does not spell out how long they should be or what pupils should be doing. Because of the free hand that schools have across the country, some pinch minutes once used for recess to prepare students for standardized tests. Others, citing liability concerns, have banned sports like dodgeball, where children are the targets.

In Cheyenne, Wyo., one school has banished tag from the playground as being too rough but allows other contact sports, like touch football. Several schools in Colorado have banned tag for the same reason.

Oh, there is more to read, and you want to read it all. An here's the link to the latest research on recess.

A few years back there was an animated show on Saturday morning TV-- back when there still was Saturday morning TV for kids-- called Recess in which the balls actually were controlled by a troll like creature wearing support hose and an attitude. It was a funny take on the elementary school hierarchy. It looks like this primcipal, after putting away the patchouli and cutting off his ponytail to take his place in the working-week, saw that show, missed the satire, and thought it was actually a good idea.

Let's hope he never reads "A Modest Proposal" by Jonathan Swift-- and if he does, I wouldn't have lunch at his house any time soon.

So many kids today are hopelessly out-of-shape, malnourished, micromanaged, and overscheduled. So many kids do not know how to solve their own problems without running to mommy or the teacher. I mean-- walking around the school yard with the school nurse? Is that lest they stub their widdow toes? And of course, part of the problem is that some parents want to build protective cocoons around their offspring and don't encourage the development of any independence-- and, by the way, failing to supervise kids is not the same thing as allowing them to "be bored." Then there are those parents who threaten a lawsuit any time a kid gets a boo-boo at school.

The world is a competitive place. Yes, absolutely, all manner of sins are often excused by that mantra, too. I know it. Nonetheless, with proper supervision, a game of kickball shouldn't hurt anyone. Yes, I know some people have horror stories to tell about how recess scarred them forever. However, for the vast majority of us, unstructured play time taught us self-reliance and problem-solving, got our hearts pumping, and gave us something to look forward to after lunch, not to mention helping us to be more focused for the rest of the afternoon classes. It's no wonder that adult kickball and dodgeball leagues have started up around the country. The there's paintball, which doesn't seem to be dying off but is actually used by corporations as a "team-building" activity. Competitive sports teach strategy. Competitive sports teach resilience. And games organized by kids give them a sense of real responsibility for themselves instead of expecting the adults in their lives, and in particular teachers, to make sure they are constantly entertained.

Come to think of it, the point in my life when I got too busy for unstructured recreational time was the point in my life I went from being a string bean to something that influences the tides. So, listen, Mr. Johnson, take a deep breath, and let the kids go out and play.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Movie Madness Monday 94: freaks and geeks edition

More fun awaits you here at Movie Madness Monday, the movie quote trivia game. This week we revisit our childhoods for a classic.

You know the drill: Leave your quotes without naming the movie in the comments section!

I've got a soft spot in my heart for one of these characters, in particular, can you guess which one????

"There are more important things than comfort! Self-respect!"

"Now listen, we have dolls that cry, talk, walk, blink and run a temperature. We don't need any chewing dolls."

"Fog's as thick as peanut butter!"
"You mean pea soup."
"You eat what you like and I'll eat what I'll like."

"Eat, Papa! Eat!"

"How do you like that? Even among misfits you're misfits."

****Weekend update: Yukon Cornelius brings you this week's classic--


But who'd wanna be a dentist?????

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There's A Place in the World For a Gambler

And he sees, oh yes, he sees.

Rest in peace, Dan. August 13, 1951- December 16, 2007.
Dan Fogelberg passed away yesterday from prostate cancer.

Yes, I am a child of the Seventies. And I loved him with all the purity of a ten year old guitar player's heart.


Sunday, December 16, 2007

New Zealand schools: free to hit you and me?

Think we've got it bad here? Try New Zealand, where, under the law, apparently school behavior guides cannot spell out consequences for misbehavior.

Here's the story of Dylan Keen and Slade Butler, who were attacked by fellow students and later dissatisfied with the consequences.

A bit of explanation: a "King hit" is Aussie slang for a hit without provocation.

A school is defending its handling of violent pupils after a teenager's jaw was smashed - the second time this year that one of its students has been bashed by another pupil.

Fifteen-year-old Dylan Keen's jaw was shattered when he was "king hit" by a fellow Waiuku College student. But it appears the attacker may not be expelled and could also escape criminal charges.

While the injured teen was well enough to sit exams last week, the past fortnight has seen him nursing a broken jaw, cracked in two places.

Dylan spent three days in hospital and had a titanium plate inserted in his head, said his father, Gavin Keen.

He said he expected the attacker to be expelled and if this did not happen he would consider placing his son at another school.

Dylan was walking home in a group of four when they were taunted by other boys.

After Dylan retaliated with a verbal response the attacker came up behind him and "king hit" him.

Early this year another Waiuku student was the victim of violence by a fellow student.

When Slade Butler discovered his attackers were back at school within days he led a 200-strong walkout from the school grounds.

Waiuku board chairman Geoff Mercer said he could not discuss specifics of the latest case, but confirmed a student had been suspended pending a board hearing. He doubted Waiuku College had any more of a violence and discipline problem than any other school, but "we acknowledge there is a lot we can do to improve the safety of kids".

Staff had taken measures this year to address punishment and its timeliness, he said, and the climate of the school had "substantially improved".

Dylan's attacker has been suspended from school, but he is not missing out on classes due to the examination timetable and its associated study weeks.

Mr Mercer said that, under education law, schools could no longer spell out consequences for actions. "We are not allowed to say if you do X, you're going to get Y. The courts say we have to keep an open mind."

The emphasis was on keeping students in school.

"We've got to work hard so both the offender and victim remain at school and that they both feel safe."

Sergeant Kevin Kneebone of Waiuku police said the Children, Young Persons and their Families Act was forcing police to tread carefully in how they dealt with the current alleged offender.

"Police are taking action in relation to that case, but we have to follow procedures under the act. It needs to be referred to Youth Aid ... and should be referred to a family group conference."

Police Youth Aid staff would consult CYF's Youth Justice co-ordinator, Mr Kneebone said.

The family group conference would determine whether further steps were warranted. While it was always preferable to keep youths away from the court system, this assault case was serious enough for police to take more action.

Could any Kiwis give us the background info? I will gladly include any further information in an update.

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V for Visine, A for Assault

And then there's this, from Wyoming.
Police in Cheyenne say a junior high school teacher was hospitalized Monday after a student put Visine eyedrops into her drink as a prank.

Police identified the victim as 58-year-old Jo L. Miyamoto, a teacher at Johnson Junior High.

She went to the emergency room for treatment, spent the night in the hospital and was released late Tuesday.

A school receptionist said Miyamoto was back in the classroom on Thursday.

Police say that some popular movies have shown that spiking a person's drink with Visine is just a prank that can give the person diarrhea.

However, police say ingesting Visine in fact can have very serious health effects, including possibly sending the person into a coma.

Police say they intend to have the Cheyenne District Attorney's Office review the matter when their report is complete.

Okay, one? what movies are these people talking about? I know I don't get out much, but jeez....

Two-- never leave your drink unattended in your classroom. A colleague of mine recently had a kid spit in his coffeecup while he had his back turned. Luckily, the other students in the class violated the "no snitchin'" credo and immediately warned him before he got anywhere near to drinking out of it. But still-- Oh. My. God.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Moral Eel

I took one of my kids to the aquarium when she was tiny, and she really liked all of the animals. We saw Nemo, and Bruce, and Flipper. We were disappointed that there were no Ariels, though, and that took some explaining. Later we talked about which creature had the prettiest colors, and the biggest teeth and so on. When I asked her what was one creature she had never seen before, she instantly piped up: "The Moral Eel! It was really scary!"

I really liked that answer.

I've got a student right now who reminds me of this story. He came to me on Monday and said, "Hey, Ms. C., I need my work for the next two days."

"Oh?" I replied.

"Yeah--I've been suspended. It's not fair, either! I was helping Mr. Kite unload some stuff for the benefit auction, and there was some candy, and I took a candy bar after he left the room. It was just one piece! Everyone else did it! I don't think I should be suspended for two days for a piece of candy!"

I have to confess that I wasn't very sympathetic. Does the amount taken not make it stealing? If so, what is the magic cut-off amount that makes stealing okay? Does the fact that the candy was for a fundraiser change our evaluation of the situation, or that, at the root of it all, he was stealing from his own classmates and abusing the trust of his teacher? He affirmed that a) he knew he wasn't given permission to take some candy, and b) he knew that stealing is wrong. To me, if you violate the expectations of society, you take your chances with the punishment. I also recalled that this was not the first time the young man had been less than honest.

The moral eel is slippery. It looms up on the unsuspecting and its greatest asset is its stealthiness. It twists and finds the path of least resistance. I know some would say this young man is just a reflection of the society in which we live, where people talk about values but seem never to live them. Values are, after all, so terribly inconvenient when we're trying to satiate our desire for stuff and status. Or maybe we just want something, right now, like this young man, and feel entitled to it.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I'd like to teach the world to sing....

Okay, so I am horrendously busy and I am deeply sorry that I have been ignoring you all lately and I promise I will be much better in just a few days as soon as everybody in my family gets well and I write this damn paper I'm working on, but I must say this, and I'll just throw it out so you can bat it around amongst yourselves like a litter of kitties with a ball of yarn.

I was listening to my latest favorite band, The Weepies, and really enjoying their voices. Then I was messing around iTunes and listened to some Christmas music, and then-- bammo, there was Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins bleating his way through yet another piece of something and I just thought: DAMN! Who gave this guy a microphone to begin with and thought that this was a good idea?

You have heard me gripe before about people who have recording contracts who can't sing, talented songwriters I am sure, but jeez! I wish they would let someone else sing their songs. You know, people like Lucinda Williams, God bless her, but really, she sings like I speak French: it just doesn't translate into anything intelligible to the human ear. I thought Macy Gray was an elderly, Gitane-smoking, former opium addict when I first heard her. I'm still not too sure I was all that mistaken.

Back to Billy Corgan: I will NEVER forgive him for his cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide." Ever. The first time I heard it, I made the Sound of Ultimate Suffering for about thirty seconds.

So who do you think should never be allowed to sing again?

And let's make it easy: no one who has ever appeared on American Idol need apply, because I think that entire show is just wrong from the get-go.


Monday, December 10, 2007

Movie Madness Monday 93: Mamacita, this 'un's for you edition

This week's M Cubed goes out to my favorite fourth M- Mamacita. She and I share an unreasoning love of this movie, and it is the time of year to trot it back out, because I'm going to watch it this week. As far as I am concerned, you should too.

So put your quote in the comments section!

"We HATE Uncle Jamie!"

"You have this kind of problem? Yeah - of course you did, you saucy minx."

"This year you bring a lady guest?"
"Ah, no. There's a change of situation. It's just me."
"Oh, am I sad or not sad?"
"Uh, I think you're not surprised."

"Now, which doll shall we give to Daisy's little friend Emily? The one that looks like a transvestite or the one that looks like a dominatrix?"

"Find a venue, overorder on the drinks, bulk buy the guacamole and advise the girls to avoid Kevin if they want their breasts unfondled."

"Let's go get the shit kicked out of us by love."

Get going, tralalalaLA lalala LAAAAAAAAAA!

****Weekend update: What do we all need?


Look at those actors! Look at the talent up there! If you haven't seen this, you need to do so now. It is wonderful.

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Monday, December 03, 2007

Movie Madness Monday 92: Rudolph sweater edition

Movie Madness Monday time, and what time better than the pre-Christmas insanity to make one embarass oneself completely? So of course, I thought of this film.

So give me a quote from this movie in the comments, without naming the movie!

"Mother, I do not need a blind date. Particularly not with some verbally incontinent spinster who drinks like a fish, smokes like a chimney and dresses like her mother."

"Here is the man we like to call Mr." (muttering) Titspervert... Titspervert.... (aloud) "Fitzherbert. Because that is his name."

"Four hours of careful cooking and a feast of blue soup, omelette and marmalade."

"All right Cleaver, outside."
"I'm sorry? Outside? Should I bring my dueling pistols or my sword?"

"The only thing worse than a smug married couple; lots of smug married couples."

And GO!

****Weekend Update: If you're going to write down your secrets, don't do what SHe did in

Bridget Jones's Diary!

Hugh Grant. Colin Firth. Why must we choose?

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

At least watching paint dry would be quiet and relaxing

So we had some staff development time scheduled. We could use some that would accomplish something.

The problem was that this staff development was supposed to be about analyzing standardized testing data. That certainly is something that has become vital in this day and age, yessir.

Except for one small problem.

We don't got no stinkin' data.

Ever since NCLB, nobody gives a hangnail about social studies, and we haven't been tested through state assessment in ages.

But, okay, it's still fine, we could still learn some things that maybe someday could be useful.

But we got to listen to a gentleman who had been flown hundreds of miles in to be our consultant talk on and on and on and on. It took him seven and a half hours to talk about something that we completely grasped in 20 minutes.

For. The. Love. Of. Mike.


This was a 90% waste of money, and a 95% waste of time.

Here are some ideas that could be useful:
Violence prevention. Morale and team building-- we sorely need it after a rough six months in which the staff pulled together after tragedies and valiantly gave freely of their own time to re-establish our community's sense of equilibrium. Or perhaps strategies to improve student fluency and especially vocabulary in the content areas. More training for teachers with co-teachers-- PLEASE! More training on our idiotic gradebook program.

And that's just for starters.

If you don't feed the teachers, they'll eat the students. Well not really, but they certainly will get surly or exhausted.

We teachers live under the tyranny of the clock in a way that apparently our administrators have forgotten. Each moment is precious. Please don't waste our time.


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