HELP US OUT HERE

Is there any appropriate response when your wife says, "Tell Tiny to wash her hands. They smell like her vagina"?

TINY MEAN GIRL?

Meangirls6Speaking of Tiny, she may be a budding Plastic.

According to her pre-K teacher at our parent-teacher conference today, she is not at all shy about excluding other little girls - but only the "bossy" little girls, or so she claims - from recess play time, or offering outlandish excuses for her tactics when she's called on it.

Really starting to look forward to the tween years now. . .

BUT WHO WILL SPEAK FOR THE CHILDREN?*
*(of privilege)

In today's New York Sun, columnist Sara Berman (full disclosure: her father, Michael Steinhardt, is an owner of the paper) bemoans the unjust reality that even private-school students must occasionally have to endure a teacher who is not outstanding, just like (she imagines) public-school kids must:

. . . teacher effectiveness outweighs all other factors as a predictor of student academic growth. If that's the case why is it that schools — particularly private city schools — continue to employ mediocre teachers? Private schools don't have to tackle cumbersome unions or challenge the delicate tenure process: Independent school teachers have year-to-year contracts, and there's hardly a shortage of qualified teachers. . .

So given that elite private schools don't have their hands tied and can fire at will with or without cause, just what does it take to get rid of a teacher who looks at your child the wrong way?

Not surprisingly, parents who have deep pockets are often able to produce the greatest change. "For years, people complained about this useless high school math teacher," a mother of three children who attend a private school in Brooklyn said. "Nothing happened and I swear, hundreds of kids graduated this school not having a clue about algebra because of this teacher. And then one year this teacher taught the child of the school's biggest donor. The parents freaked out and the teacher was fired the next year."

Well, given that their grandfather is worth an estimated $300-$500 million, this shouldn't be a problem for Sara's kids. Write what you know, our teachers always told us.

GOINGS ON ABOUT (FD) TOWN: "MOTHER LOAD" ARRIVING OFF-BROADWAY SOON

IndexOpening April 21 for an eight-week run at the Sage Theater, "Mother Load" - written and performed by (full disclosure: former FD colleague and current FD.com reader) Amy Wilson - promises to be a sharp and bracing evening tonic for the local moms and dads. As the star tells us:

"Mother Load" [is] about the vicissitudes of modern parenting. . . . about how, even though we have everything at our disposal to make our lives easier, it’s harder than ever to feel like a “good” parent, because the standards have gotten so ridiculously high. “Are you doing EVERYTHING YOU CAN to teach your toddler to read?” asks one ad. Well, um, of course not. But how can you read that and NOT feel like a failure? . . . .

We'll tell you more after we've seen it, but for now, won't you consider the show for your spring "To Do" list?

WE'RE HAPPY TO REPORT THAT THE FENG SHUI AT BIG CITY ELEMENTARY IS QUITE STRONG. IT'S NOT THE CLOUD CITY OF BESPIN, BY ANY STRETCH, BUT IT'LL DO

GcbespinEdutopia, the education magazine published by the George Lucas Educational Foundation, this month tackles the critical issue of improving the feng shui in the classroom:

When Nic Taylor returned to his classroom at Bancroft Middle School, in San Leandro, California, after a two-year leave, he immediately felt his spirits sag. The room was long, narrow, and white, with doors at either end. With no windows, and just a few skylights exposing gray skies, "it felt so sterile," recalls Taylor, "not like a creative space." He made an emergency call to Deborah Gee, a Bay Area feng shui consultant, who quickly confirmed Taylor's suspicions: His classroom was suffering from a case of very bad chi.

The feng shui expert confirmed his suspicions? No kidding? What were the odds. . .

The article goes on to offer tips that teachers can use in their own classrooms. For example, "Both teacher and student desks should be in what feng shui considers the 'command position,' facing the entry of the classroom to absorb chi as it enters the room." And we're with Edutopia here. We can't tell you how many times Fellow has come home from school complaining, "I had to sit in the right corner facing the window during reading time today, and so Timmy absorbed all the chi!"

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, YOUR NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL

The city council has decided to back the "milk choice" coalition and throw its inconsiderable weight behind the movement to restore non-skim chocolate milk to the city's school cafeterias, the better to spare children the stress of having to learn how to consume any non-sweetened foods or drinks before they turn 25.

THE FD.COM MUST-READ ARTICLE OF THE MONTH

We're a couple of weeks behind on our Times Sunday magazine, but Karen Olsson's recent piece on a teenage girl and her autistic brothers was admirably, refreshingly, brutally honest. The kicker quotes, in which the girl worries about a future spent caring for her siblings, and the brothers bemoan how their sister, once their best friend, had got "to be old and be  a stupid teenager," still resonate here at HQ.

GOOD GOD, HAVE NONE OF THESE PEOPLE EVEN HEARD OF SCOOBY-DOO?

Suburban New Jersey parents are taking the kids along to Saturday meditation classes where the little "objects of patience" learn "about developing love and cherishing others."

March 20, 2007 | Permalink | Subscribe to RSS

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