Weekly Reader is dead

I heard this on the news the other night, and I mourn our loss. Weekly Reader, that staple of elementary school classrooms since 1928, won’t be back this fall. After bouncing around among different owners, Weekly Reader landed in Scholastic’s lap earlier this year and will be turned into a zombified version of itself and folded into an existing Scholastic publication.

Weekly Reader helped teach kids how to read and—just as importantly (Hello!)—about current events.  And while we might think the time-honored publication is just the latest victim in the decline of print media, there’s another reason. Here’s the money quote, from The New York Times’ Media Decoder:   

While it is tempting to see the close of Weekly Reader as another example of a shrinking print audience, Mr. Goff said that would be misleading. Rather, he pointed to the focus on teaching to the test that has made anything other than math and reading extraneous. “There has been a general loss of teaching kids about current events,” he said. “That is something that has been squeezed out of the classroom.”

I loved Weekly Reader when I was a kid. I was curious about other countries and I also liked to read those old orange and green-bound biographies of presidents. I feel like education has just taken another step backward.

Read more.

The zen of Chain Gang Elementary

Mama Zen writes:

Jonathan Grant, author of Chain Gang Elementary (Thornbriar Press, 2011), just might be my new favorite writer. You want to laugh? Grant writes with smart, sardonic wit. You want to be moved to tears of heartbreak or rage? Grant can get you there, too. And, he does it all within a story that speeds along like a bullet train and keeps you turning page after page. Chain Gang Elementary might be every parent’s nightmare, but it’s a hell of a read, and I highly recommend it.

Read the full review.

Area PTAs aid embezzlement-stricken Culver City chapter

Now is the time for PTA memmbers and leaders to talk about the issue of embezzlement, as new officers take charge. Let everyone know audit results and remind treasurers and presidents that they will be held accountable. Talk about embezzlement and its consequences—especially about those thieves who get caught. Because they held a position of esteem in the community, their lives are shattered. Most PTA embezzlers avoid jail time (too bad). But their children will have to live with whispers behind their backs. There will be shame (and most likely, a move out of town). If anyone is susceptible to being shamed, it’s a PTA parent.  All you potentially sticky-fingered treasurers, presidents, and overactive committee chairs think about what it would be like to stand in front of a judge. To be run out of town by public opinion. To listen to your children tell you you’re a criminal.

Meanwhile, here’s how it’s playing out in California.

From Culver City News:

El Rincon Elementary School was dealt a serious public relations and fiscal blow last year when a high-ranking member of its Parent-Teachers Association was accused of a crime that left the school’s students without funding to help with field trips and other activities that children at other local schools enjoy.

But due to assistance from the school district’s five other elementary schools, as well as the middle and high schools, El Rincon students may soon be able to take part in the aforementioned activities during the next school year.

Former El Rincon PTA Treasurer Cheryl Noda was arrested last year for allegedly embezzling nearly $24,000 from the association. She was charged in April on two counts of grand theft and is currently on trial at the Airport Courthouse.

Read more.

For Cheryl Noda’s side of the story, see this article.

“School restrooms always suck”

The restrooms at Malliford (the setting of Chain Gang Elementary) were a bit of an issue because … well, have you ever been in a school restroom? If so, enough said. My kids were among the millsions who wouldn’t even go into their high school restrooms if they could avoid them. So this caught my eye. 

Tom Baxter has written a piece in the latest Saporta Report about Tom Keating, a man with a mission: Improving school restrooms and restroom habits. The effort has taken up more than two decades off the veteran educator’s time. It’s not a popular cause among overworked and underfunded school administrators, but that hasn’t stopped Keating, who’s been known to show up at meetings wearing yellow janitor’s gloves.

“Out of every 10 middle school and high school kids, four of those 10 avoid the use of the restroom every day,” Keating said. “Nobody has ever told me about the health costs of that statistic, because nobody wants to talk about it. So I talk about it.”

After hearing from a Dutch student that “School restrooms always suck,” Keating has expanded his vision.  “I realized, this is worldwide. I don’t ever have to turn back. Half the planet has never read or written a single word, and half the planet has never pooped in a toilet.”

To that end, Keating has found an ally in Singaporean businessman Jack Sim, founder of the WTO–the World Toilet Organization. There’s also a World Toilet Summit.

So here’s to you, Mr. Keating. You really know your … restrooms.

Read the article.


NCAA decides it wants $60 million from Penn State

The NCAA has announced its penalties against Penn State for its role in the Sandusky scandal. No death penalty. The NCAA didn’t get to be God by being stupid.  And leave it to the NCAA to figure out a way to make money off this mess. Question: Where’s all that money—$60 million—going? Is it is me, or is the smell of extortion heavy in the air?

The sacntions, which include taking 112 victories off the record, mean that Joe Paterno is no longer college football’s winningest coach. Turns out he’s a loser.

So, is Grambling’s Eddie Robinson now the winningest coach? If so, welcome back, Coach.
Best of all, current Penn State players and signees can get out of town and cut their own deals.
Penn State sanctions at a glance via Huffington Post:

Read more.