HEY, GROWING UP IN MY TOWN WAS TOUGH, VERY TOUGH. IN MY SCHOOL, YOU KNOW, THEY DIDN’T HAVE TRACKING. NO, ARE YOU KIDDING ME? THEY DIDN’T HAVE TRACKS AT ALL. WE ALL SAT ON THE THIRD RAIL. . . AND THEY GAVE US SQUIRT GUNS.

Most of us reading this grew up in places where our classrooms were strictly tracked – honors, standard, remedial. Our own junior high school had six or seven tracks in each grade, enforced by obscure class numbers that everyone had deciphered by the second week of September. You may recall that a major movement was afoot in the 1990s to get rid of tracking as we knew it. How did that go? Take a guess.

Education Next magazine is now asking, Whatever happened to detracking? It’s an article well worth reading as we all prepare to entrust our children to the system. The author, of course, is opposed to tracking, which we can conclude because her article was accepted by an education reform magazine. (The blogger favors the system.) But she does offer a few statistics that recognize the likely benefits of the practice for the brightest set of kids.

(Apologies to the late Rodney Dangerfield for the opening.)

YES, SMALL FELLOW, THE FIREMAN IS YOUR FRIEND

Walking home from a dinner with a friendly family the other night, we passed by our local New York fire station, the proud home of Engine 74. As always, Small Fellow made sure to check on whether the engine was in the house or out on call. On our way out that night, the engine had been away, but now it was back, and two firefighters were tending to it. Suddenly, the firemen invited Fellow and his friend to come inside and sit in the truck. Post-9/11 or not, it’s pretty damn special for a little guy to get to sit in a fire truck for the first time. FD confesses to never having sat in a fire engine himself, but here’s our initial impression: It’s huge.

And the firemen were terrific. They let the boys hang around as long as they liked, they let them play all around the truck, and they gave them "Sparky's Fire Safety Coloring Book," which has a companion Web site the little ones may enjoy. It features a game where your child pretends to drive a fire engine, and "practices" getting cars and pedestrians out of the way by blowing the truck's horn.

FD spoke to fire departments (and police depts.) across the country for a recent Parents magazine article (not available online) on taking your preschoolers to visit "our protectors." We could not be happier to have finally done it in person. The only drawback is that we now will have to constantly remind Fellow that he really can't visit the station every time we walk by it (although it would probably be fine with us).

HEY, ALL YOU STAY-AT-HOME DADS OUT THERE: YOU CAN HAVE MY SLOT (ON THE SHOW, THAT IS)

As a national leader in the field of telling dads stuff, FD received a message the other day from the producers of ABC's reality show, "Wife Swap." (No, not the one on Fox; ABC calls their version "The Original Wife Swap," which is interesting because Fox' show made it on air first. We now await the premiere of CBS' "Original Famous Ray's Wife Swap" . . . )

"Wife Swap" seeks at-home dads willing to abandon their families for a couple of weeks and allow some other guys to live in their homes and steal all their baseball cards. We're going to pass: Loving Mother is just a little too excited about the idea of swapping mates for our taste, so we're going to be sticking close to the homestead for the forseeable, if you know what we mean.

We'll reprint the message from the show below, and if anyone is interested, follow the links, and don't come crying to us:

ABC's Wife Swap Seeks Stay-at-home Dads

Hello, My name is Hila Perl, and I work on Wife Swap, ABC's new reality TV show. I'm writing to you because we are currently looking for at-home fathers to participate in an episode. I was hoping that you might be of some help. Despite the titillating title, our show is family-friendly programming. We are documenting the modern day American family--how couples share (or don't share) housework and child-rearing responsibilities, how they spend their money, and how they spend their leisure time. I'm writing to find out if you have any resources that could help us get the word out about our search for families with an at-home dad. This could be a simple message about us in a newsletter, a mass email, an announcement at a meeting, or recommending an organization/group that might be of help. Please let me know if you are able to assist, or if you know of any at-home fathers who would be interested in taking part in the show.

Thank you, Hila Perl

Here is the text of the posting:

October 18, 2004 | Permalink | Subscribe to RSS

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