My next novel: coming soon-ish

PARTY TO A CRIME is the first-person account of Roland Dole, a burned-out former teacher who serves as jury foreman in a crack-fueled carjacking trial. The case doesn’t end with the jury’s expedient verdict, however. Thanks to a delinquent son, a half-trained attack dog, and his own faulty memory, Dole finds himself locked in a life-and-death struggle with one of the parties in the case.

Written with realism and dry (sometimes grim) humor, PARTY TO A CRIME tells the story of one man’s “ordeal by trial” and ultimate redemption against the backdrop of a dysfunctional justice system—where guilt and innocence are cheap commodities, traded in backroom deals.

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Nearly half of Americans think humankind is 10,000 years old

And you wonder why it’s difficult to find science teachers.

From Inside Higher Ed:

A new poll by Gallup has found that 46 percent of Americans believe that “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.” Another 32 percent believe that humans have evolved over millions of years but “God guided the process.” And only 15 percent believe that humans evolved without help from God. The breakdown is similar to that Gallup found in 1982, when it started asking about evolution. But in the last year, the percentage who believe in a creationist view increased from 40 to 46 percent, with the other two categories dropping.

Other findings of the new poll:

  • Among those who attend church weekly, 67 percent hold the creationist view.
  • Among Republicans, 58 percent hold the creationist view. (The figure for Democrats is 41 percent.)
  • By educational status, those with some postgraduate education are least likely (25 percent) to hold the creationist view, but among college graduates, the share (46 percent) matches that of the general population.

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A look at million-dollar PTAs in NY’s “public private” schools

The New York Times has published a fascinating article about the perks some wealthier PTAs have provided to their schools, including hiring a fitness coach for recess and a chef–not to mention school trips to ridings schools and swimming lessons, as well as iPads aplenty. It opens up a discussion of equity, too, of course, but who is going to turn down money during tough timese? Interestingly, New York operates a Fund for Schools, which provides grants to financially needy schools. Every large city should have one.

The newspaper reports:

THOUGH some parents say that poorer schools receive Title I financing — federal dollars allocated to schools serving large percentages of low-income children — giving them a lift that wealthier schools do not get, others dismiss that argument. “Title I money is restrictive,” said Yolanda Smith, a senior education analyst in the city’s Independent Budget Office. “It is only supposed to be used for activities specifically related to student achievement. By contrast, PTA money can be used to buy almost anything.”

Dennis M. Walcott, New York City’s schools chancellor, said that he was well aware of “the disparity issue,” but he did not want to penalize parents for getting involved.

Instead, he has worked through the Fund for Public Schools, a nonprofit group designed, in part, to support low-income schools. The fund has provided over 250 library grants of up to $10,000 each and has helped 70 schools upgrade their art spaces with grants of up to $20,000 each.

Department officials say the city has also moved to curb inequities within the system through its budgeting process by instituting a “fair funding formula,” which was put in place, Ms. Miller, the department spokeswoman, said, to allow the city “to direct more resources to schools that need it the most.”

Schools with higher-needs children have received more dollars for each child, but because of budget cuts, the city has not been able to make use of the formula fully. The year it was instituted, the budget office reported that students identified as needy received an average of $217 more than what they would have received under the old system.

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