Month: September 2015

Old school: Districts rediscover teacher discretion, drop ‘zero tolerance’ policies

So-called “zero tolerance” is out and grownup discretion is back in at schools around the country, after years of policies that punished children for everything from playing cops and robbers at recess to chewing a Pop-Tart into the shape of a gun. Educators from New York to Los Angeles and at numerous districts in between are rethinking policies intended to render classroom justice blind, but which produced dozens of cases in which kids as young as kindergarten paid dearly for behavior that would have been addressed by a simple scolding in a different era. “We need discretion in imposing punishment,” said Elizabeth Rose, longtime New York public high school teacher and author of the memoir “Yo Miz!: 1 teacher + 25 schools= 1 wacky year.” “Zero-tolerance policies forbid persons in authority, like teachers and school administrators, from exercising discretion or changing punishments to fit the circumstances, she added. “Basically, you are taking the authority away from trained education professionals and the people who know their students best.” Among the cases of educators imposing punishments that did not seem to fit the crime that made national headlines in recent years: In 2013, a fifth-grader in Fawn Grove, Pa., was suspended for pretending to shoot an imaginary bow and arrow. Also in 2013, a 6-year-old boy from Canon City, Colo., was accused of sexual harassment and suspended for kissing a girl on the hand. In 2012, a 7-year-old boy in Anne Arundel County, Md., was suspended for gnawing his Pop-Tart into the shape of a gun. “Zero tolerance policies expose the totalitarian ambitions of school administrators,” said Cevin Soling, director of the documentary “The War on Kids” and author of “The Student Resistance Handbook.”

To read the rest of this outstanding, and timely, analysis by Hollie McKay, click on the text above

Hillary Clinton defends flip-flopping on issues, hits Republicans for rigid thinking

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton on Sunday defended her record of flip-flopping on major issues including same-sex marriage, the Iraq War and the Keystone XL pipeline, saying she is not “someone who stakes out a position and holds it regardless of the evidence.” Chuck Todd, anchor of NBC “Meet the Press,” showed Mrs. Clinton a montage of her changing views: As a New York senator in 2002, she voted for the Iraq War, saying “it is with conviction that I support this resolution as being in the best interest of our nation.” Thirteen years later, she said she made a mistake, “plain and simple.” In 2004, Mrs. Clinton said she believed “marriage is not just a bond but a sacred bond between a man and a woman.” The day that the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in June, she said, “love triumphed in the highest court in our land.” As secretary of state in 2010, she said the government was inclined to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would bring oil from Canada to the United States. Last week, she said she opposes it “because I don’t think it’s in the best interest of what we need to do to combat climate change.” Responding to the montage, Mrs. Clinton said: “I don’t think that reflects either my assessment of issues and I don’t think it reflects how people who are thoughtful actually conduct their lives. I mean, if we don’t learn, if we don’t make decisions based on the best information we have available, well, that’s regrettable.” Mrs. Clinton said she had been clear on the fact she made a mistake in voting for an Iraq invasion and that when it came to same-sex marriage, she wasn’t raised to imagine this as a possibility but her thinking on the matter has “evolved.” Changing your views based on new information is key to being a good leader, she said. When she made her initial comments about Keystone XL, “we did not have the kind of energy profile that we now have. We did not have the full understanding of how that particular oil that would’ve been extracted from those tar sands was of a different degree and polluting in terms of greenhouse gases,” Mrs. Clinton said. “I am not someone who stakes out a position and holds it regardless of the evidence or regardless of the way that I perceive what’s happening in the world around me,” she said. “That’s where the Republicans are. They’re still believing in trickle-down economics, even though it was a disaster not once, but twice for our country.” On CNN, Former President Bill Clinton said Republicans are spotlighting Mrs. Clinton’s email scandal and the congressional hearings on the Benghazi attacks because they fear her presidential candidacy. Mr. Clinton said Republicans want his wife’s campaign “as mangled up as possible” because the Democratic primary race is about issues and substance while the Republican contest has turned into a spectacle led by billionaire businessman Donald Trump. Mrs. Clinton had been widely expected to be the front-runner not only in the Democratic primaries but also the general election. Her husband said this scared Republicans, who have been pushing to the forefront of the media the scandal over her exclusive use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state. She has apologized for emails containing classified information that passed through her server. “I think there are lots of people who wanted there to be a race for different reasons, and they thought the only way they could make it a race was a full-scale frontal assault on her, and so this email thing became the biggest story in the world,” Mr. Clinton said. Mrs. Clinton has been falling in Democratic polls, with Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders edging up in a strong second position. Mr. Sanders has surpassed her in New Hampshire polling. Mr. Clinton also weighed in on the Republican primary race, saying it is possible that Mr. Trump could capture the nomination. “He’s got a lot of pizzazz and zip,” Mr. Clinton said, adding that Mr. Trump has the ability to make himself distinct in a race that started out with 17 Republican candidates, and has found a way to make his working-class supporters believe that he would help them economically. “He’s branded himself. He’s created excitement,” Mr. Clinton said.

Agreed… He is very UNlike Hillary, who is breathtakingly boring. I’d rather watch grass grow than hear canned talking points with those obnoxious wide eyes. And, regardless what you think of “The Donald,” at least he says things that are politically incorrect, and not canned. Hillary just spouts the latest talking points put out by her pollsters and Democrat party talking heads. And when she’s not lying brazenly, she’s flip flopping…and when called on it, she says its the Republicans’ fault. Huh? Can someone PLEASE make her go away!! I’m at the point when I see her, I just want to vomit or smash the tv…or both. She’s a nauseating, self-righteous, arrogant, lying, elitist, limousine liberal who thinks shes entitled to, well, everything. We’re all beneath her…in her mind. I can’t wait for that tiara to get knocked off that big head of hers.

Confederate flag on Ga. kid’s backpack leads to school lockdown

A Confederate battle flag attached to a high school sophomore’s backpack reportedly led to a school lockdown in Polk County, Georgia. Officials at Rockmart High School say the flag caused a disruption when the 10th-grader, who is white, was confronted Wednesday morning by two black students prior to school starting, a local Fox News affiliate reported. “They wanted to confront him about what he had on his backpack. What did they say? ‘Hey man, why you doing that,’” Principal Wesley Cupp told the station. Mr. Cupp said there was shoving and an exchange of words, but it was broken up by staff within minutes. He said no weapons were found. Still, the school was put through a lockdown drill with students kept in class after rumors surfaced of other students bringing Confederate battle flags to school, Fox reported. “We just did that as a precautionary situation to help maintain and control what could have been a bad situation,” Mr. Cupp said. He said all three students involved were suspended for the disruption. When they return to school they will be offered counseling and other services to help ease tensions, Fox reported. “When you become a distraction where students can’t learn because of a distraction then that needs to be removed,” Mr. Cupp said.

What a ridiculously silly, and politically correct, standard!! The kid that had the flag on his backpack didn’t do anything wrong. It was the two black students who “confronted” him, that caused the disruption. It is THEY who should have been suspended; NOT the kid who had the flag on his backpack. At MOST, they should have told him to put it away.. But, even that would be a bit much. After all, Georgia was one of the Confederate states, for crying out loud! That flag is even on some Georgia license plates!! And Polk County is over 80% white. Soo.. its not like this kid was in east LA, or southside Chicago, or Harlem. This whole pathological thing surrounding the “Stars and Bars” has gotten WAY out of hand. This idiot principal needs to apologize to the kid for suspending him, and direct the discipline where it belogs, to the kids who confronted him and tried to intimidate him for expressing his southern pride. Unreal…

Meats that really do ‘taste like chicken’

What does chicken taste like? Try and describe it and you will probably find yourself saying words like pale, flavorless, or just “Chicken tastes like chicken.” I can remember staring suspiciously at a mystery meat on my plate as a child and being coaxed into trying a bite with the all-too-common trope, “Try it. It tastes like chicken” — only to find out that, of course, it didn’t always taste like chicken at all. But all kidding aside, some foods really do taste like chicken. Which raises the question, how can it ring true for such diverse breeds of animals from amphibians to fowl? According to Joe Staton from the Museum of Comparative Zoology, evolution is to blame for this phenomenon. In his paper, “Tastes Like Chicken?” he claims that evolutionary traits are either adopted from many generations of ancestors or are developed later in the evolutionary process. Birds share a similar flavor because they are all birds; they share evolutionary traits; whereas, reptiles share a common ancestor with chicken, dinosaurs. Just because these meats taste like chicken, doesn’t mean you can use them freely in chicken recipes. Want to trade roast chicken for roast squab? Or swap out grilled chicken breasts for rabbit saddle? Handling these unusual meats will require some extra attention. You still have to wonder, if all of these exotic foods taste like chicken, what does chicken taste like?

That’s a Jack Handy Deep Thought, methinks… To find out what The Daily Meal thinks “tastes like chicken,” click on the text above. I’m partial to their #1 selection; alligator. Yummy!! 🙂

Mars has flowing liquid water, NASA confirms

NASA has confirmed the existence of flowing liquid salty water on Mars, fueling the possibility of life on the Red Planet. “Today, we’re revolutionizing our understanding of the planet,” said Jim Green, director of planetary science at NASA Headquarters in Washington, during a press conference Monday. “Mars is not the dry, arid planet that we thought of in the past – under certain circumstances, liquid water has been found on Mars.” Speculation has been mounting that NASA’s announcement would involve flowing water. Scientists have long known that there is frozen water at Mars’ poles, but they have never discovered liquid water. The discovery could have huge consequences for future expeditions, including NASA’s goal of sending a manned mission to Mars by the 2030s. Scientists have based their findings on an analysis of the mysterious dark streaks on Mars’ surface called Recurring Slope Lineae (RSL). The streaks have intrigued scientists for some time, fading during cooler months and recurring annually at nearly the same locations. “The dark streaks form in late spring, grow through the summer and disappear by the fall,” explained Michael Meyer, lead scientist for the Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters. Using an an imaging spectrometer on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Obiter (MRO), scientists detected signatures of hydrated minerals on slopes where the streaks occur. Experts believe that the hydrated salts are likely a mixture of magnesium perchlorate, magnesium chlorate and sodium perchlorate. Mary Beth Wilhelm of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. and the Georgia Institute of Technology said the evidence of salty water could have major implications. “Our results may point to more habitable conditions on the near surface of Mars than formerly thought,” she said. “This is tremendously exciting,” added Green. “We now have a great opportunity to be in the right locations to investigate that.” The spectrometer observations show signatures of hydrated salts at multiple RSL locations, but only when the dark features were relatively wide, according to NASA. When the researchers looked at the same locations and RSL weren’t as extensive, they detected no hydrated salt. Armed with the latest RSL findings, scientists are keen to undertake more research over the coming years. “The only way that we will be able to tell if there is life on Mars will be to bring a sample back,” said Meyer. Chris Carberry, executive director of Explore Mars, a non-profit organization that aims to advance the goal of sending humans to Mars within the next two decades, welcomed Monday’s NASA announcement. “We’ve been speculating about whether there is liquid water on Mars for some time, but now that it has been confirmed, it might have some significant implications.”

We’ve all known that there is, or was, liquid water on Mars. Now it has been officially confirmed! Very cool!! 🙂

ACLU targeting Louisiana school over educator’s ‘God Bless You’ greeting

The ACLU of Louisiana is accusing a high school of promoting Christianity in an open letter on Friday because a student group hung prayer boxes and the principal ended an online letter with “May God Bless You All.” Louisiana ACLU Executive Director Marjorie Esman said in a letter published by the Shreveport Times that Airline High School violated the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by allowing the Fellowship of Christian Athletes to set up prayer boxes that feature “Christian Symbols.” Esman’s letter also noted Principal Jason Rowland closed a September 2015 message to the school’s website with “The Future Starts Today – May God Bless You All.” “The United States Constitution requires public schools to ensure that state-supported activity is not used for religious indoctrination,” the letter, which was addressed to superintendent D.C. Machen, states. It alleges that Rowland also “encouraged students to ‘pray to the Almighty God.’” No official action will occur until the school board meets on Oct.1, but the claims addressed in the letter have already been placed on the meeting’s agenda, according to the Shreveport Times. “In the meantime, please understand that the Bossier Parish School System enjoys an established record of achievement,” a statement from Parish spokeswoman Sonja Bailes said. “Such success is due in large part to the fact that, as in this case, the system respects both the law and the religious beliefs of all its students and employees.” While school officials are holding their tongues for the time being, other state groups and officials have begun speaking out. Louisiana State Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Bossier City, has offered free legal services to the Parish and Rowland, according to the Times. “This is typical of the ACLU,” he said. “They’re on a seek-and-destroy mission for all things religious.” He added: “I hope the school will stand its ground.” Freedom Guard, a non-profit public interest law firm, has also offered free legal defense to Airline High School, according to KSLA. Airline High School is in Bossier City, which lies east of Red River, about 3 miles from Shreveport.

You can always count on the ACLU to be on the wrong side of, well, virtually everything.  Freedom OF religion does NOT mean freedom FROM religion.  NOWHERE in that First Amendment does it say someone in a public school can’t say “God Bless You.”  That’s crazy!!  But, that’s where we are now as a country…and where we’ll stay unless more people fight back against these fascist speech nazis and pc police.

Super Blood Moon to Make a Rare Appearance

A rare astronomical phenomenon Sunday night will produce a moon that will appear slightly bigger than usual and have a reddish hue, an event known as a super blood moon. It’s a combination of curiosities that hasn’t happened since 1982, and won’t happen again until 2033. A so-called supermoon, which occurs when the moon is closest to earth in its orbit, will coincide with a lunar eclipse, leaving the moon in Earth’s shadow. Individually, the two phenomena are not uncommon, but they do not align often. Most people are unlikely to detect the larger size of the supermoon. It may appear 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter, but the difference is subtle to the plain eye. But the reddish tint from the lunar eclipse is likely to be visible throughout much of North America, especially on the East Coast. “You’re basically seeing all of the sunrises and sunsets across the world, all at once, being reflected off the surface of the moon,” said Dr. Sarah Noble, a program scientist at NASA. Stargazers are excited. The eclipse will begin at 9:07 p.m. Eastern time, as the Earth’s shadow moves across the moon

So, that’s 7:07pm local time for those of us here in Colorado.  Very cool!!!   🙂