Produced by Gary Drevitch
FD.COM: SPECIAL HALLOWEEN EDITION
All Hallows Eve arrived and as if on cue, scary stuff has been happening all over the land.
CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE LAME LEADERS OF LONG BEACH
On Superhero Day at Long Beach (NY) High last week, a trio of senior gals were booted from school for wearing the home-made Captain Underpants costumes at left. The girls fashioned their outfits from beige leotards, nude stockings, white briefs, and red capes. That was too much for principal Nicholas Restivo, who said the outfits looked so much like nude skin that they caused a commotion among students. We've looked at a half-dozen photos of the costumes in questions and sorry, but we didn't feel any commotion.
FOR TRICK-OR-TREATING THIS YEAR, MIGHT WE SUGGEST DRESSING AS A BAD ROLE MODEL?
An Oregon Macy's found itself in deep grog after a local substance-abuse prevention group found the store peddling T-shirts in the teen section reading, "Beer: It's What's for Breakfast," and the like:
The next day, Aug. 17, Federated announced they would remove the shirts from every Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s in the country.
See, everyone? The rapid consolidation of our nation's department stores isn't so bad after all.
TO BE SURE, THEIR OLD TRICKS AREN'T PARTICULARLY WELCOME ON THANKSGIVING, EITHER
Interesting NY state Division of Parole item:
The [state] wants to make sure sex offenders aren't up to their old tricks when children are looking for treats this Halloween. The 1,983 sex offenders under supervision of parole officers are subject to special restrictions on October 31. Starting at 3 p.m. or immediately after they get out of work, all sex offender parolees must stay in their homes until 6 a.m. They aren't allowed to wear masks or costumes, participate in any Halloween activity, or open the door to trick-or-treaters. . . . New York state has placed special restrictions on sex offender parolees on Halloween for about 10 years. . .
RIGHTS TO THIS STORY HAVE ALREADY BEEN PURCHASED BY THE PRODUCERS OF THE "SAW" SERIES*
[shocked and appalled emphasis added]
CHICAGO -- A judge in a case closely watched by those who oppose circumcision sided yesterday with a divorced man who did not want his 9-year-old son to undergo the procedure. . . . The father said he believed surgical removal of the boy's foreskin could cause long-term physical and psychological harm. The child's mother wanted the procedure to prevent recurring infections. She testified that the boy had suffered five bouts of painful inflammation and had begged her to help him.
* [By the by, when all the teenagers came back to school from the weekend yesterday, did any of them find it odd to be asking each other, "Did you see Saw?"]
"SIR, THIS IS SERGEANT SACKER. LISTEN TO ME. WE'VE TRACED THE CALL. . . IT'S COMING FROM INSIDE YOUR PANTS."
The number of hours a man talks on a cellular phone each day may affect his fertility, with sperm count and quality deteriorating as the duration of calls increases. [Scientists] tracked 364 men who were being evaluated for infertility . . . . those who used a cell phone more than four hours a day produced on average 66 million sperm a milliliter, 23% less than those in the group who didn't use the phones at all. The proportion of the cell-phone users' sperm that possessed "normal forms" was 21%, almost half the 40% of normal sperm produced by men who didn't use the phones. . . . "The effect of cell phones on sperm parameters may be due to the electromagnetic radiation the devices emit or to the heat they generate," the group said in a summary of the research.
THIS YEAR'S MOST POPULAR COSTUME IN INDIA? AMERICAN TUTOR
One of the mandates of the federal government's wrong-headed, ill-executed No Child Left Behind Act is that students at schools on the Fed's list of schools needing to improve can apply for supplementary tutoring services. States hire outside contractors to provide the services, who are then paid with federal funds.
The contractors are also required to submit a list of employees (including their Social Security numbers) so that the Department of Education can perform background checks. One tutoring service, however, which had been serving more than 2,000 New York City children with tutors it claimed were based in Texas, was derelict in submitting its staff list. And now the city knows why: Its 250 tutors were all based in India. The company's multimillion-dollar contract with the city has been suspended and, to add insult to injury, the New York Sun felt obligated to add:
A co-owner of Socratic Learning, Mythili Sridhar, who is responsible for training the company's tutors, admitted in a letter after an investigation was launched last summer that the tutors did not live in Texas. Ms. Sridhar, who trains the tutors, wrote that they "tutor from there homes," failing to correctly spell the word "their."
BEAKING NEWS: NYC GIFTED AND TALENTED APPLICATIONS ARE NOW AVAILABLE. KINDA.
Applications for G&T programs for the 07-08 school year are now available, for Tiny Girl and all of her precocious pals. The application, which can be completed online, can be found here. Sorta. As the site currently reads:
We regret to inform you that we are still experiencing some technical difficulties. We are currently upgrading the system so you may apply to both district/region G & T programs as well as citywide schools in one place. We expect that by close of business Friday, October 27, 2006 these issues will be resolved. Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding.
If and when the site is up and running, remember that, as of this year, you only need to list those schools you actually want to attend. (Yes, visitors from outside NYC, you can correctly conclude that we were once required to list a number of schools we were not interested in attending.)
KIDS: JUST LIKE US
Fellow has a variety of "special" classes, one each day, at his new school - gym, art, computer lab, etc. - and they rarely give homework, but the other day he claimed that his music teacher had asked the first-graders to complete an original song lyric they had begun working on with partners during the previous week's class. So he pulled out this half-page of paper, with a couple of rhyming lines scrawled on it, and told us the morning of music day that he needed to finish it. Fine, we said, but don't make yourself late for school. Part of us didn't believe it was an actual homework assignment at all, part of us believed it was and was annoyed he'd put it off till the last minute.
And then we dropped him off at school, in the cafeteria, and there,
at his class table, were at least a half-dozen other 5-and-6-year-olds,
desperately scrawling away at their half-pages of lyrics. Our
conclusion? Lousy study habits turn out to be more nature than nurture.
IN A RELATED STORY, THE STATE SUPREME COURT HAS UPHELD THE SCHOOL'S NOOGIE POLICY
A Montana high-school principal has been reinstated after a six-day suspension for giving a student a wedgie:
. . . [Principal Eric Messerli] was suspended for two days without pay and four days with pay for grabbing a Park High senior's soccer jersey and pulling it over his head and giving the student a "wedgie" by pulling up on the waist band of his underwear. The incident happened on Oct. 5 at a junior varsity soccer game.
At a meeting of the district's school board, Messerli read a public apology, and the members followed the superintendent's recommendation that the principal be allowed to return to his job. In interviews after the meeting, however, board members confirmed that if the wedgie had been "atomic," they'd have been forced to fire Messerli and press charges.
AND NOW MORE OF "WHEN PRINCIPALS ATTACK!"
A school principal has resigned and could face felony firearm charges after he shot and killed two orphaned kittens on school property last month. . . .
[Acting Sheriff John] Mastin said the shooting put no one in danger but said Pilloud used "poor discretion and poor timing," especially amid the growing fear of gun violence in schools.
THE REAL TRAGEDY IS THAT HE WAS SNACK DAD THAT DAY, AND SINCE HE WAS ARRESTED BEFORE HALFTIME, NO ONE GOT THEIR RITZ BITS AND PRETZELS
A Philadelphia father brought his .357 Magnum to his son's 5-and-6-year-old football league game, and, as if following a playbook drafted by Chekhov, he was indeed brandishing it by the second quarter. The Dad, irate over his son's lack of playing time, threatened his coach with the weapon, but never fired it.
ATTLEBORO, MASS.: NOW OPEN FOR BULLYING
An elementary school in the "Boston suburb" of Attleboro* has become the country's latest school to ban tag, touch football, and other unsupervised chase games during recess because, as principal Gaylene "Elphaba" Heppe said, recess is "a time when accidents can happen," not unlike, say, breakfast time or bath time.
One parent told the AP that:
. . . her son feels safer because of the rule. "I've witnessed enough near collisions," she said.
That's right, she said "near" collisions. Reached for comment, her son said, "Mom, just don't bother sending me to school with lunch money anymore. Thanks to your emasculating comments in the media, I'm sure I'll be forced to cough it up daily by morning meeting."
[* By the way, why do national media outlets call every single city in Massachusetts a "Boston suburb"? Attleboro is like three miles from Rhode Island. It's not a suburb. No one who lives in Boston would ever think of it as a suburb. It's further away from the city than Foxboro, for Pete's sake.]
BUT IF WE JUST WRITE A CHECK, THEN WHO WILL MAN THE CUPCAKE BOOTH AT FALL FEST THIS WEEKEND?*
Slate loves to shock us with their counterintuitive notions. They recently posted this manifesto urging all of us to immediately stop volunteering our time. If we really cared, we'd just work harder and write bigger checks:
This isn't some silly tautology. If these do-gooders really were motivated by the desire to do good, they would be doing something different. It would almost always be more effective to volunteer less, work overtime, and give more. A . . . banker can pay for a lot of soup-kitchen chefs and servers with a couple of hours' worth of his salary, but that wouldn't provide the same feel-good buzz as ladling out stew himself, would it?
Speaking of which, whose bleep do we have to bleep to find some large
bleeping containers of chocolate and rainbow sprinkles in this town??]
HELP US OUT HERE: IS THIS "GROUNDS"?
We've been a weekly entrant in the New Yorker's Cartoon Caption Contest since it began. Despite the fact that we've never won, coming up with a new caption each week has become one of the few pleasures in our wearying, quotidian life. And yet Loving Mother has now snatched that joy away from us. She's taken a new job, and, OK, it's an exciting new job, and we're very proud of her, etc., but she's now put us in this category (emphasis added):
Any U.S. resident age eighteen or over can enter, except employees, agents, or representatives of Advance Publications, Inc., or any of its parents, subsidiaries, sister companies, or affiliates, or any member of their immediate family.
Fortunately, there's still the Anti-Caption Contest on big-time blog radosh.net, which we'd encourage other frustrated captionistas to enter. (We're even a past winner, though that's a somewhat dubious honor in a contest to write the worst possible caption each week. . .) But now that the missus has taken away our chance at national recognition, we'll begin occasional postings here of our would-be entry of the week, taken completely out of context. (Indulge us.) For example, this week:
"Acme Tightrope just called. They need to recall your pole."
UPDATE: SIR, CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE "FRENZY"?
The New York Sun apparently had a reporter at the same District 3 Community Education Council meeting we attended last week. Their front-page article today following up on the session doesn't have much new to report, but the paper did get its hands on the OLSAT practice book which will eventually become available to all applicant families, and, oh boy, there's trouble already.
You'd need to see the illo from the prep book in the Sun to fully grasp this, but there's a sample question asking a child to ID which of four pictures shows a child helping her father "make the house look new." In one photo, dad and daughter are planting a garden; in another, they're painting the sides of the house. (Two other choices are irrelevant.) So, is the answer the painting or the planting? If you said, painting, proceed to Kindergarten, but the answer sure isn't as immediately obvious as the three-year-olds tend to like it.
Beyond that, the Sun focuses on the expected "frenzy" around the new tests, in a bid to terrify its breeding readers worthy of New York magazine:
Karen Trott, who lives on the West Side and has a 4-year-old daughter who will take the Gifted and Talented tests this year, said she would probably use the practice test to help her daughter prepare, even though she doesn't agree with the testing format. She believes a standardized, multiple-choice test is not a good way to accurately reflect the intelligence of small children.
"I just hate it. I've looked at the test and I haven't shown it to my daughter, I still haven't decided and I haven't hired anyone to teach it to her," she said. "But everyone else is going to run out and do it, so you feel foolish not to."
ON NEWSSTANDS NOW
Freelance Dad, a.k.a. Gary Drevitch, wrote the lead item for Time Out New York Kids' Sept./Oct. issue Books section, on the return of Corduroy the plucky department-store bear, who is now in bookstores in his first full-length story since creator Don Freeman died nearly 30 years ago. We interviewed Corduroy's new author about taking the reins of an iconic series, and we also gave her product, Corduroy Lost and Found, a positive review. And then there's a sidebar, in which we took a look at several other classic children's series which have been revived since their creators' deaths. When we saw the sidebar in the magazine, we were surprised to read that we're more partial to the Berenstain Bears than we imagined, but so it goes. . .
Full text appears in our Articles sidebar.
PICTURES ARE READY
Little Guy is now almost two months old and it turns out, once he gets around to opening his baby blues, he's quite photogenic. About a half-dozen new pieces of evidence now posted in the See the Kids area.
EXCLUSIVE: THE NYC GIFTED AND TALENTED APPLICATION PROCESS FOR THE 07-08 SCHOOL YEAR
FD.com sent a reporter over to the District 3 Community Education Council meeting Wednesday night, to hear Nicky Kram Rosen address the council’s, and the audience’s, questions about the G&T admissions process for the 2007-08 school year.
Ms. Rosen provided the most up-to-date information we've yet heard on the process, but since the details may not be so relevant to our regular readers from outside of New York, click here for the full report.
FD.COM MUST-READ POSTING OF THE WEEK: FAULTY WIRING
Gregg Easterbrook is on Slate today with the stunning results of a Cornell study which all-but-directly links the rise in autism rates to cable-TV wiring. According to the study, as different communities began to get cable wiring in the late 70s/early 80s, which brought them all-day kid channels like Nickelodeon for the first time, their childhood autism rates increased:
. . . autism diagnoses rose more rapidly in counties where a high percentage of households received cable than in counties with a low percentage of cable-TV homes . . .
Researchers Michael Waldman and Sean Nicholson concluded that "roughly 17 percent of the growth in autism in California and Pennsylvania during the 1970s and 1980s was due to the growth in cable television."
Skeptical? In denial? Well, sit down, because there's also this: In areas which had much higher than average rainfall in a given time period, driving children inside to watch cable TV, the autism rates shot up even more:
In counties or years when rain and snow were unusually high, and hence it is assumed children spent a lot of time watching television, autism rates shot up; in places or years of low precipitation, autism rates were low. Waldman and Nicholson conclude that "just under 40 percent of autism diagnoses in the three states studied is the result of television watching."
Easterbrook points out that "whether excessive viewing of brightly colored two-dimensional screen images can cause visual-processing abnormalities is unknown [and t]he Cornell study makes no attempt to propose how television might trigger autism." Possibly to keep FD from hurling himself out the window of a high-rise, Easterbrook offers the possibility that there could be other causes, such as poor inside air quality - maybe kids who stay inside are more affected and more likely to develop autism. Or maybe not:
If screen images cause harm to brain development in the young, the proliferation of . . . TV-like devices may bode ill for the future. The aggressive marketing of Teletubbies, Baby Einstein videos, and similar products intended to encourage television watching by toddlers may turn out to have been a nightmarish mistake.
If television viewing by toddlers is a factor in autism, the parents of afflicted children should not reproach themselves, as there was no warning of this risk. Now there is: The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends against any TV for children under the age of 2. Waldman thinks that until more is known about what triggers autism, families with children under the age of 3 should get them away from the television and keep them away.
Longtime readers here know that the research on TV and kids goes back and forth, and back again. This study certainly won't be the last word. But there's a glimmer here of possibly a massive battle brewing between the pediatric establishment and, say, Viacom/Apple/Sony. If so, friends, you'll have to take sides. Needless to say, if this study hits the press in a big way, we'll be curious to see Noggin's ratings a few months down the line.
SPEAKING OF BAD INFLUENCES . . .
We've been putting this fight off for months now, but a confluence of events has now put it squarely on our plate: Should we allow Fellow to Yu-Gi-Oh? He's known for a while that only slightly bigger kids spend a great deal of time playing the pointless Japanese card-battle game, and that they love it. We've always dismissed his requests for card sets by telling him "it's really fighting game," or "it's only for big kids." But now when we drop him off at first grade each morning, a handful of his very own classmates are trading spells for life points, dragons for flutes, etc., etc. Fellow at some point found about a half-dozen cards on the street one day, then got a few more as part of a birthda-party goody bag. He brings these into school each day and trades them with his pals, we presume for far weaker cards. But he doesn't care: He's itching for more.
And now, Scholastic Inc., in its current Lucky Book Club flyer (full disclosure: Et tu, former employer?) is offering Fellow an unbeatable offer: For just $4.95, a huge starter kit of cards, books, and other Yu-Gi-Oh apparati. Being a bright Fellow, he knows this is a good offer, and he feels he should have it.
So, we ask you, visitors, to advise us: Should we let him have it? Does anyone out there have five- or six-year-old Yu-Gi-Oh players? If so, how miserable has it made you/how happy has it made them?
WHEN REACHED FOR COMMENT, BOB HERBERT SAID HE WAS OUTRAGED BY THE NEWS AND THAT HE BLAMES OUR RUDDERLESS SOCIETY
Doctors are seaching for the causes of some recently-discovered early-onset puberty clusters, in which children as young as preschoolers have been affected. One probable cause is exposure to "endocrine disruptors," testosterone, estrogen, and the like. The Times reports on cases of premature puberty linked to the use of a shampoo containing "estrogen and placental extract," and exposure to a father's "concentrated testosterone skin cream bought from an Internet compounding pharmacy for cosmetic and sexual performance purposes."
Wow. Tough to explain that one to the wife.
ANYONE REMEMBER THE OLD SONG, "I'M MY OWN GRANDPA"? JUST WONDERING
A Japanese woman in her 50s gave birth to a child she had carried for her daughter, who was unable to conceive as she had her womb removed due to cancer, an obstetrician said on Sunday.
The case is likely to further stir debate in Japan about births by surrogate mothers, which both the government and a key medical association oppose.
Yahiro Netsu, the head of a maternity clinic in the central prefecture of Nagano, told a news conference that the woman gave birth in the first half of 2005 using an egg from her daughter and sperm from the daughter's husband, both in their 30s.
Kyodo news agency said it was the first time in Japan that a woman has acted as a surrogate mother for the child of her daughter -- effectively delivering her grandchild.
Netsu said the baby -- whose gender has not been revealed -- was first registered as a child of the surrogate mother and later adopted by the daughter and her husband.
YET THEY STILL FIND TIME TO VISIT FREELANCEDAD.COM
A new study from the University of Maryland finds that parents across the country -- single or married, working or non-working -- are spending more time with their children, and that dads are doing more child care and housework than ever before.
Parents interviewed say they've solved their work-life balance by dropping cooking and cleaning from their schedules. (Sound familiar?) And surprise is expressed that all those icy working mothers are actually making time for their kids:
“We might have expected mothers to curtail the time spent caring for their children, but they do not seem to have done so,” said one of the researchers, Suzanne M. Bianchi, chairwoman of the department of sociology at the University of Maryland. “They certainly did curtail the time they spent on housework.”
ROCK BEATS PAPER, EGG BEATS CHICKEN
The Wall Street Journal recently reported on a set of intelligence surveys which, when taken together, make a powerful argument that smart kids are smart kids out of the womb, that they stay smarter than other kids throughout school, and that less-bright kids don't catch up, even in old age. For example:
On June 1, 1932, Scotland had all children born in 1921 and attending school -- 87,498 11-year-olds -- take a 75-question test on analogies, reading, arithmetic and the like. The goal was to determine the distribution of intellectual ability. In 1998, scientists at the Universities of Edinburgh and Aberdeen tracked down 101 of those students, then 77 years old, and administered the same test. The correlation between scores 66 years apart was a striking .73. (A correlation of 1 would mean no change in rankings; a correlation of .73 is very high.) There is "remarkable stability in individual differences in human intelligence" from childhood to old age, the scientists concluded in a 2000 paper.
Similar studies have been done in this country of kids tested several grades apart. Those studies may lead you to the conclusion that it's tracking and expectations, not innate intelligence, that keeps early high-scorers at a higher level. But then there's this:
Developmental psychologist Marc Bornstein of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and colleagues followed children for four years, starting in infancy with 564 four-month olds. Babies' ability to process information can be tested in a so-called habituation test. They look at a black-on-white pattern until their attention wanes and they look away, or habituate. Later, they're shown the pattern again. How quickly they sense they've seen the image long enough, or have seen it before, is a measure of how quickly, accurately and completely they pick up, assimilate and recall information. The scientists evaluated the children again at six months, 18 months, 24 months and 49 months. In every case, performance mirrored the relative rankings on the infant test, Dr. Bornstein and colleagues reported this year in the journal Psychological Science.
Bornstein, however, was quick to add that while hiw own results may "entice" people to believe that inborn factors determine adult intelligence, he warns that his study did not measure for such important factors as creativity, character, or gumption. Taking up Bornstein's gauntlet, we've applied for an NIH grant to perform a comprehensive study of spunk in preschool children.
LITTLE GUY IS SEVEN WEEKS OLD, SO APPARENTLY WE'VE GOT ONE WEEK LEFT TO SNAP
A new study from England found that eight weeks after the birth of a child, 10 percent of moms -- and a surprisingly high 4 percent of dads -- showed signs of major depressive illness. Slate considers the study, and others like it, to be a wake-up call for pediatricians and other practitiotners. In fact, we'd bring the new data over to our primary-care doctor personally, if only we could motivate ourselves to get off the couch.
[Note: Scroll down on the Slate page to find the depression study, but while you do, take a peek at the ominous news on high-soy diets. Loyal readers know that FD has always been dubious about soy as a staple for children; sounds like the science to back it up is starting to trickle in.]
WHICH JUST GOES TO SHOW: CHRIS WARE CAN MAKE ME LOSE INTEREST IN EVEN THE GREATEST WORKS OF LITERATURE
Longtime readers know that FD is a Comics Guy, and not just a fan of the long-underwear crime-fightiung brigade, either; we feel like we've been on or ahead of the curve on most of the great graphic novelists of the past 20 years. But the ongoing canonization of Chris Ware continues to baffle us. Recently, Penguin hired Ware, along with other comic artists like Charles Burns and Seth, to illustrate a new set of covers for its Penguin Classics series. Ware did Candide (left), and the result speaks (and speaks and speaks) for itself.
In other bad Chris Ware-related news, the Masters of American Comics
exhibit, which we caught in the Hammer Museum in LA earlier this year,
has come to the New York City area, but the curators have sadly put the
earlier, much more interesting half of the show -- Winsor McCay, Lionel
Feininger, George Herriman, Charles M. Schulz, etc. -- in the Newark
Museum in NJ. The second half of the show -- Ware (sigh), Kurtzman, R.
Crumb, etc. -- is in the more easily accessible Jewish Museum in
Manhattan. It's still worth a visit, and the kids should enjoy Jack
Kirby, at least. But it's a shame that many youngsters will miss the
chance to see the original illustrations of McCay, Herriman, and even
Schultz. That's the kind of show that can make a kid like going to the
SHOCKING NEWS FROM THE TEST KITCHEN
Slate test-drives nine prepackaged processed kids lunches, finds them all disgusting. On an average day, Fellow packs a hummus sandwich with a cup of corn-syrup-free apple sauce and an organic "fruit bar." God help us if he ever finds out about Lunchables, or its out-of-control Web site.
THE HOMEWORK WARS
The debate over the validity and efficacy of homework is all over the headlines this fall, with the release of at least three new books arguing the pros and, mostly, cons of nightly homework for all elementary-school kids. (Emily Bazelon summarized the arguments in Slate.)
There is a strong case to be made against homework, and it's been well argued for years: Schools should get their teaching in on their own time, during the school day; kids should be free for creative play in the evenings; rote work turns kids off; parents don't have the time to commit to homework-monitoring, etc.
But right now, where we sit, in first grade, we believe homework is helping Fellow. His writing has improved greatly since the beginning of school a month ago, and we're prepared to credit his homework assignments and the time it demands that he and we spend together on the challenges of writing. He's more successfully executing the physical act of putting words to page neatly, and he's improved on the technical challenge of spelling properly, which has led to more ambitious attempts to write original sentences.
The downside is that his homework, at least for now, takes more than the 10-20 minutes it's intended to (and that's not including time we need to budget for him to read aloud to us, and vice versa) and it leaves precious little time to play chess, Sorry, Trouble, Jenga, or any of the other games which filled our evenings during the off-season. So we can certainly see a time in the very near future where the volume of homework begins to trouble us; we can also easily see how some of our fellow first-grade parents might already be there.
Looking at the homework debate from a more global perspective, there's this argument, summed up by Bazelon below, which should give all of us pause:
. . . . the argument that homework is a net benefit for most kids has a big weakness. When homework boosts achievement, it mostly boosts the achievement of affluent students. They're the ones whose parents are most likely to make them do the assignments, and who have the education to explain and help. "If we sat around and deliberately tried to come up with a way to further enlarge the achievement gap, we might just invent homework," New York educator Deborah Meier told Kohn.
Well, sure. That's a good point. It isn't acknowledged enough, and not enough is being done to solve it. On the other hand, homework does help Fellow, in large part because he does have (relatively) affluent parents educated enough to explain and help with homework. (Full disclosure: Fellow has perhaps an even more heightened advantage by virtue of having a Dad who works in education.) But the fact that homework doesn't work for everyone -- that in its current form, it can't work for everyone -- doesn't necessarily mean it should be scrapped.
One solution might be limiting homework (not including pure reading assignments) to three nights a week instead of five (our vote: Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday). Another might be to mix up the homework routine more. Fellow has so far had some interesting assignments, but mostly in the same subject areas and in the same formats. Perhaps tecahers should be directed to hand out assignments that target all seven kinds of intelligence: more artwork, more problem-solving, more purely creative writing, maybe even more intrapersonal prompts.
As you read the cases for and against homework, as Bazelon also notes, you see that while there's little evidence that nightly homework in the early grades improves a child's performance in school, there's also little evidence to prove it doesn't. Inertia and tradition are strongly on the side of homework and that's likely where schools will stay.
THIS JUST IN: YOUR MOM WAS RIGHT
Just in time for the Halloween season comes proof that when it comes to throwing eggs, someone could in fact lose an eye:
A new study reports that when the eggs strike people in the face, they can cause eye damage, sometimes permanent. The study, led by researchers at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital in England, appears in The Emergency Medicine Journal. . . . ''Aside from the dry cleaning bills,'' the authors write, ''a raw egg can lead to severe ocular injury.''
The Royal Liverpool team has returned to the lab to continue their investigation of such questions as, Can you go swimming a half-hour after eating, and, Will your face really freeze like that. We'll keep you posted on their results.
SHORT OF THAT, PLEASE CONNECT THE EDITORS WITH "HOT" TEENAGE WAR ORPHANS
In case you missed it: Glamour magazine (UK edition) outraged military-family groups when a writer for the magazine contacted Military Families Against the War seeking sources for an article on young war widows, but felt obligated to add this:
"Glamour magazine is very looks-conscious, so, at the risk of sounding ridiculous, they need to be photogenic, or at least comfortable in front of a camera! The editor likes to approve each case history, so when I send her a short bio ('X is aged X and lost her husband in the war X') she likes to see a jpeg pic too. I know this is a big ask, but it's something she demands! Hey ho!"
NOW THAT'S WHAT WE CALL EVERYDAY MATH
It bothers Loving Mother when we disappear into the office
periodically on Sundays to check the scores of NFL games on the
computer. So now Fellow does it for us. The other day, he amazed us
with this report from our desk: "The Patriots are leading, 14-6! So that means the
Patriots must have two touchdowns, and Miami must have two field
He's applying what we've taught him, and we couldn't be prouder.
EXCELSIOR, TRUE BELIEVERS!
As you know, Freelance Dad doesn't like to use this space to toot his own horn. However, today we can boast of having spurred a correction in the paper of record, the New York Times. After a spirited back and forth between FD and the paper's public editor desk, the Times ran this correction on Sunday:
A picture caption on Sept. 24 with an article about immigrant workers who were photographed as superheroes misidentified one of the superheroes. Sergio García, a worker, was dressed as Mr. Fantastic, the Fantastic Four team member with an elastic body — not as Elastic Man. (Go to article)
Feel free to send us your No-Prize using the link below.