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Archive for the ‘education’ Category

Cross-posted from my fictional blog: Relax.Relate.Release.

Obama 2008

To: Staff

From: If You Don’t Know Who I Am By Now You Shouldn’t Be Working Here

Subject: P.A.S.S. or Parentally Approved Skip School Day

Staff:

I’ve heard rumblings that some of you are planning to keep your children home from school on September 8th because you don’t want them viewing the live feed from President Obama’s Back to School Speech. You don’t want him indoctrinating your kids with his Commie-speak. And that’s completely your prerogative. What I want to address is how this “Parentally Approved Skip School Day” will affect your work on Tuesday. Let me put it plainly so there’s no confusion: IT WON’T. It’s rather sad that I have to list what is unacceptable, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to do it.

Just because your kids are not in school doesn’t mean we want them here. We’re a place of business, not a daycare, so don’t bother packing up their lunchboxes and dragging them in here with you on Tuesday morning. And don’t act like you were confused about the contents of this e-mail. “Oh, I thought you meant no kids under five! I assumed Susie would be OK sitting beside me at my desk.” Uh uh. Not going to happen.

Moving on. Let me address those of you who see this as an opportunity to make your three-day weekend become a full blown four-day vacation. This is not Parent Skip day. We’re not off on Tuesday, so don’t try calling in talking about you’re “sick,” while we hear the sounds of your child singing in the car or getting ready to ride an amusement park ride. This also applies to those who don’t have children. Don’t make up some random child’s name on Tuesday as an excuse for why you have to leave suddenly. If you’ve been here for more than nine months and no one has heard you mention little Michael, leave him out of your mouth on Tuesday.

Finally, for those staff members planning to protest outside of the school building with “Keep Your Hands off My Child, Obama!” posters – just know that we do have televisions in the office. If we see you on television protesting when you were supposed to be on your 20-minute break, don’t bother coming up with a lie for why you were late coming back to your desk. This also accounts for those mysteriously missing from the office, but continuously updating your Facebook/Twitter accounts proclaiming how proud you are that you took your kids out of school that day.

Not reading the contents of this e-mail and claiming you didn’t know you couldn’t take off on Tuesday is also not a valid reason for your absence. If for some reason I’ve forgotten any possible excuse you could come up with for not coming into the office on Tuesday, just know that it’s not going to fly unless you have proof that you’re actually sick or dying.

Have a productive day,

Management

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School pupils are to be taught by the world’s first robot teacher in one of the most radical uses so far of android technology. The device, created by scientists after 15 years of research, is being trialed at a primary school in Tokyo.

Named Saya, she can speak different languages, carry out roll calls, set tasks and make facial expressions – including anger – thanks to 18 motors hidden behind her latex face.

Her creator, science professor Hiroshi Kobayashi at the University of Tokyo, had been working on a robot for 15 years. She is the latest example of robots spreading to every aspect of life in Japan. The Japanese government has said that by 2015 it wants a robot in every home and is pouring $35 million (£23 million) into robotic intelligence to make it happen.

The push is because of Japan’s ageing population – in seven years one in four Japanese will be over 65 – which means the workforce is declining, pushing up wage costs for businesses and making recruitment difficult. Telegraph.co.uk

While this is a pretty amazing invention, I can’t see these robot teachers being such a good thing outside of Japan. If they ever brought something like that into the American public school system – which they probably won’t ever do because education funding is like an extremely low priority and our teachers barely get paid so why would the government pay for these robots – I couldn’t imagine such positive stories as a result. (more…)

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LOS ANGELES — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger did not get the election results he sought. Now he seems determined to show California voters the consequences.

In a special election on May 19, voters rejected a batch of measures on increasing taxes, borrowing funds and reapportioning state money that were designed to close a multibillion-dollar budget gap. The cuts Mr. Schwarzenegger has proposed to make up the difference, if enacted by the Legislature, would turn California into a place that in some ways would be unrecognizable in modern America: poor children would have no health insurance, prisoners would be released by the thousands and state parks would be closed.

Nearly all of the billions of dollars in cuts the administration has proposed would affect programs for poor Californians, although prisons and schools would take hits, as well.

“Government doesn’t provide services to rich people,” Mike Genest, the state’s finance director, said on a conference call with reporters on Friday. “It doesn’t even really provide services to the middle class.” He added: “You have to cut where the money is.”

In less than two weeks, the administration has gone from warning residents that a vote against the budget measures would send the state — some $24 billion in the red — into utter turmoil to sanguine acceptance that “the people have spoken” and that the government must move on. NYT

The voters who voted no on the budget proposal weren’t just voting against taxes, they were also voting against the state’s spending practices with those funds.

A more likely explanation of the election results is that the public was furious at Sacramento for foisting a set of incomprehensible measures on them and telling them to finish the budgeting process the Legislature itself seemed unable to complete. It’s hard to blame the people, but they seem unaware that, by passing a series of ballot-box budgeting measures in recent years, voters have largely tied legislators’ hands.

No doubt it felt good to say “no” last week. But it also pretty much guaranteed that California will be facing budget problems for years—and maybe even decades—to come. News Review

Although I think that the California voters who turned down the budget proposal might not truly understand what could happen as a result of the cuts Schwarzenegger will enact, the response of the governor after the vote is extremely telling.

 And so it is that administration officials have been sent off to talk to the Legislature and hold conference calls about the latest proposed blows to state programs, while Mr. Schwarzenegger largely tends to other aspects of governing. He was in Livermore on Friday dedicating the world’s largest laser system (for sustaining nuclear fusion), and has updated his Twitter feed. “Backstage at the Tonight Show,” one tweet said. NYT

Really, Schwarzenegger? The Tonight Show and dedicating a laser system? (more…)

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Hundreds of thousands of students are expected to participate in The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s 13th annual National Day of Silence on Friday to bring attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment. Some students are holding the day this year in memory of Carl Walker-Hoover, an 11-year-old from Springfield, Mass., who took his life April 6 after enduring constant bullying at school, including anti-LGBT attacks. Carl, who did not identify as gay, would have turned 12 on the Day of Silence.

Around middle school age, many kids just want to fit in. To not stand out so much that they are called “different” because at that age, it is just asking to be made fun of. Most adults can look back and see their childhood experiences through wiser eyes as they get older, but Carl Walker won’t get that chance. The bullying was ultimately too much for him to handle.

And school officials knew what Carl was going through because his mother tried to end the bullying on a regular basis.

She said that she contacted the school repeatedly over the last six months to ask teachers to intervene after learning her son had been targeted by students. Walker said her son’s classmates called him gay on a daily basis, made fun of his clothes and threatened to harm him.

Part of the problem is the homophobic belief that gay people aren’t just regular people like anyone else. They’re “different” and if you’re a gay male that makes you less of a male. But who knows if Carl Walker Hoover was even gay or not? Once the kids started labeling him as such, to them, that’s just what he was.

“The truly unfortunate thing is because of the societal atmosphere surrounding gay and lesbian life in the U.S., administrators are reluctant to act or fail to act,” said Eliza Byard, GLSEN’s executive director, who attended Carl’s memorial service.

Some adults believe that bullying is just a part of growing up – it makes kids stronger.

“He shouldn’t have been so sensitive in the first place.”

Well, that type of thinking is another part of the problem. Children aren’t going to recognize how serious bullying can become if adults don’t take it seriously.

His mother hopes his story will help others.

“I am determined for the rest of my life to advocate on behalf of students who are voiceless and silent,” she said.

“I have been homeless, but Carl and I made it through,” said Walker. “I was a victim of domestic violence, and we made it through. The one thing we couldn’t get through was public school.”

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