REASON #56 YOU SHOULD NOT

REASON #56 YOU SHOULD NOT ENTRUST YOUR CHILD'S ENTERTAINMENT OR EDUCATION TO COMMERCIAL BROADCAST NETWORKS

Nickelodeon and ABC Family will pay fines to the FCC after being found in violation of federal limits on the number of commercials they are allowed to air during children's programming. The nets also violated restrictions on ads for merchandise based on their own shows.


APPARENTLY, HIS PANTS WERE NOT PART OF THE "NO-SPIN ZONE"

Earlier, we ran some excerpts from Bill O'Reilly's "The O'Reilly Factor for Kids," in which the Fox News host offers America's children a detailed road map to a paranoid, lonely, narcissistic future. As you may have heard, O'Reilly's planned promotion of the book has hit a bit of a snag in the form of a $60 million sexual harassment lawsuit from a colleague with whom he shared some deeply felt phone conversations.

The Baltimore Sun has delightfully contrasted a series of excerpts from the book with excerpts from his ex-colleague's complaint. Here's a taste:

He wrote: "And guys, if you exploit a girl, it will come back to get you. That's called 'karma.' And don't allow yourself to be exploited by a troubled partner ... "

She wrote: O'Reilly became threatening when reminded he had bragged of his sexual exploits. "If any woman ever breathed a word, I'll make her pay so dearly that she'll wish she'd never been born," she quoted him as saying.

WE FEEL YOUR PAIN, KIM. BACK IN THE DAY, THE MAN WOULDN'T LET FREELANCE DAD APPLY TO WELLESLEY

When a Brooklyn girl with a legit, if longshot, high school transcript was told by her school guidance counselor that she would not be allowed to apply to Harvard, the senior and her attorney sister protested, and the school allowed to application to go through. While we admire her pluck, the girl is unlikely to be wearing crimson next fall, but her story highlights a little known factor in college admissions: The power of school guidance offices to steer students toward and away from elite schools, often in defiance of their desires.

At Boys and Girls High School in Brooklyn, only the top five ranked students were allowed to apply to any Ivy League schools (even Brown), and no one was allowed to apply for early decision. Although the school eventually caved in, administrators defended their policies as realistic, and as saving wear and tear on its overburdened guidance staff. In our experience interviewing college bound high school students, we are often struck by the power guidance instructors assert in trying to place students.

May we all be so lucky to someday be able to complain about which Ivies our kids' guidance counselors try to bar them from, but, if and when we get there, complain we will . . .


WHEN THEY START OFFERING TUTORS IN PUTTING YOUR SOCKS ON AND EATING WITH A *&%#$ FORK, WE'LL GIVE THEM A CALL

Junior Kumon, a national tutoring program for kids as young as - oh, yes - age two, has been giving nightmares to parents nationwide since the recent Wall Street Journal article on their growth. It has 150,000 young clients in grades pre-K through 12, many of them from Asian immigrant families eager to get a leg up in the race for elementary school admissions. But it is looking to expand. As its Web site says:

Kumon has chosen to devote most of its resources to developing rather than promoting its programs. While Kumon has grown steadily in North America—largely by word-of-mouth—it has been a household name primarily in the Asian-American community.

But no more. Its slick Web site features a slick commercial which opens with a voiceover intoning, "Practice makes perfect." Comparing its methods to the methods used to teach baseball, ballet and piano, it shows kids involved in all of those activities. Then it turns to Kumon students, who will never meet those other kids because, as we're told, every day they will learn the basics of math and reading, until it becomes second nature, and saps their very will to live.

The commercial ends with a confident young Asian girl sitting alone in a classroom who turns to the camera and says, with a chilling smile, "Just watch what I can do." She doesn't add, "... to your kids," but it's certainly implied. For some neurotic parents, this ad will probably have the same affect as the LBJ campaign's mushroom-cloud spot back in '64.

Critics from academia predictably bemoan the Kumon approach:

"There's a mistaken notion that education is a race," says David Elkind, professor of child development at Tufts University.

But of course at some level, it IS a race. Small Fellow recently took the Stanford-Binet IQ-style test as part of his application to New York City's elite public school kindergartens. The programs will then set a cutoff for which scores will be allowed to enter the next step in the admissions process, and that makes it pretty much the definition of a race. And so, yes, we've done our 60-piece puzzles, connect-the-dot books, and kindergarten workbooks with him.

Still, we won't be rushing to sign up Small Fellow, or Tiny Girl, at Junior Kumon. We'll agree with the experts that sitting in a classroom mastering addition and multiplication tables is probably not the best way for a toddler to spend his time. No, we'll stick with the old standbys: nose-picking, jumping on the bed, and peeing in the tub.


FREELANCE DAD, NOW AVAILABLE SOMEWHERE ELSE ONLINE

Earlier, we referred visitors to the October issue of Parents magazine, for our article on Dads' tricks of the trade, in which 10 fathers from across the country shared their unique parenting strategies with us. That article has now been posted online, and you can find it here.

October 25, 2004 | Permalink | Subscribe to RSS

Comments

I've landed on your posting about Kumon, which I see is in the US, because I am looking into Kumon in the UK. There's no bad press yet that I can find from this side of the pond and they're actively recruiting/selling Kumon franchises in the UK too.

http://hubpages.com/hub/Private-Tuition-Jobs-for-Women-With-Kumon-Co-UK

Over here it's a race to the death for parents to get their kids into the right school, they even move into houses they can't afford just to get into the right ones, so private tuition is a cheaper option for most.

Posted by: angie | Oct 11, 2009 6:07:00 PM

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