Where Are We Going?

Sparks Of Insanity By Vinny "Bond" Marini Thursday, August 30, 2007

Keep it up folks - It is incredible the number of wonderful posts
we have received today. It shows the parents want what I have been saying...
NOT the "No Child Left Behind" crap
Or the Everyone wins crap.

We are keeping this post up through the weekend,
as we are impressed with the comments coming in
and want everyone to have a chance...

But before we let you get into it
(for your first or fiftieth time)
we do an update at 4:00PM CDT

Pinstripes 5 -0
Five games out in the AL East
Swept the SAUX out of NYC!




The other evening on Doc Blogsteins Radio Happy Hour, one of the guest was Charlie Sykes a radio host out of Milwaukee. He is the author of a book entitled, “50 Rules Kids Won’t Learn in School: Real World Antedotes to Education".

Now, we did not agree with everything this Mr. Sykes talked about, but we did agree with his principal statement that today's kids are being over pampered and not allowed to learn that the real world is not a "warm happy place". (my words not his)

During the show a gentleman who goes by the handle Plaisted called in. He maintains a blog called PLAISTED WRITES, whose soul purpose seems to be to rebut everything Mr. Sykes says on the air or in his books.

We suggest you click on the player along our left sidebar and listen to the part of the show pertaining to this subject. (Sykes was the second guest and Plaisted comes on about 5 minutes into the interview, so once the player fully loads skip ahead to the 30 minute part - it is about 25 minutes long.)

We were very vocal on this subject for reasons you will hear.

Now, this gentleman totally ticked me off with his attitude that everything that was said was bunk. You will here me stating points about the district we were in in NJ only to be told "it is a small problem...

Then today on his web page he made some snide comments including:

UPDATE: In a comment on Tuesday, one Dr. Blogstein invited me to call in to his talk-blog when he was having a discussion with Sykes that night.
I did,....
They kept me on for about 15 minutes. Any attempts I made to engage Sykes were rebuffed by Sykes and the hosts (I don't know where they were from -- out East, maybe) by claiming I was taking his words too seriously, apparently.
Sykes talks and writes, like all wing-nuts, to reach the level of guys in a bar, and the Blogstein crew was more than willing to play along. Sykes' issues were "apolitical", according to Blogstein.
I argued that Sykes sets up straw-men by pointing out anecdotes and extrapolating out to the whole teaching profession. They were having none of it -- they know what they know and, if they think kids are being coddled ("bubblewrapped", according to Sykes), well, that's what they think. It is (or should be) Sykes' motto: Never let the facts get in the way of a good argument. Anyway, I was basically advised to lighten up.

This is totally not the case, so we ventured over to this gentleman's web site and posted a comment which began a back and forth discussion on this subject.

I am asking you KIDDIES, to let us know your feelings on this subject, and whether you agree or not, your comments are more than welcome...

Here is the text of our conversation:

I am sorry, but your account of the interview is full of sh**, I made specific references to issues I had fought within my school district, and you wanted to fluff it over... I was NOT in total agreement with Sykes and when you called me "Phil" and I corrected you, you blew it off as "whatever'... hey bud... YOUR AGENDA IS JUST AS RABID AS YOU CLAIM SYKES' IS... Why can't you believe for a second this is happening? And your comment that 'they are from the East' shows your absolute disregard for anyone who does not live in your little world out in the mid-west. Why are we any less able to make an informed comment than you are?

Dude, relax. I got a little discombobulated during the talk over that "Phil" thing -- I don't know enough about your show to call anyone there anything, so I didn't call you "Phil". As for guessing you were from out East, that was just a guess -- it doesn't mean anything other than you weren't familiar with Sykes' schtick. If you want to get rolled by his bullshit because of some goofy parent's group in New Jersey, be my guest. But the idea that kids are "bubblewrapped" by the schools is ridiculous. In fact, kids these days have to work harder, just so they have a chance at decent colleges -- a lot more than I ever did. The reason I can't believe it's happening is because it isn't. You can list goofy things happening in a hundred schools throughout the country -- and that's being generous -- and that leaves 99,900 school where it's not happening. Where's the problem? Where's the trend? Like I said, like guys sitting around a bar, you don't want the facts (or lack of them) to get in the way of a good bellyache. And, this is not apolitical. Not for Sykes, anyway. These false notions play into the hands of those who -- like Sykes -- want to destroy the opportunity that public schools provide. That's why he writes this nonsense. Why people like you eat it up is beyond me.

I know nothing about Mr. Sykes. So I am not eating anything up nor am I sitting around a bar giving a good bellyache, and I am well aware of the facts. Why is a "goofy" parents group in NJ not a threat? Why is a school district in MA not a threat? School districts ARE banning dodge ball, and insisting sports teams accept anyone who signs up, and also trying to shut down sports all together because it is not good for little Johnny and Joanie... 100 schools becomes a thousand, a thousand becomes ten thousand... OH and BTW, I am NOT a Republican, so this to me is NOT a political issue. It is an issue of over protecting the children of America and not realizing that when they hit the workforce and their boss gives them a bad review, they will have no idea how to react. I agreed with some of Mr. Sykes' thoughts, I did not get "rolled by his bullshit". Sorry, Sir, but I am not a lemming as you suggest. I am a well educated professional who votes and supports our troops, but not the war and sees the real potential for a problem down the road. You on the other hand want to close your eyes to the fact that it can happen. Did you listen to anything I said last night? That the district my son was in was more concerned with grades then developing well-rounded individuals. ALL that mattered were grades and band and orchestra. When you go to a HS game and your teams marching band comes out do you expect to hear pop and rah rah music or classical dreg? Well all that the band at his HS was allowed to perform was the dreg. WHY? because that is what was pressured on the school (we need to be more mature and playing pop music is SO beneath our children). It is happening...not in your little enclave...but in the 100's of schools you even admitted to. Things like this have to begin somewhere and will spread if left unchecked. If you want to bury your head, be my guest...but do not be condescending to me and tell me to relax. If you do not want contrasting opinions on your blog i will no longer post here, but then you become worse then those trying to push their agenda.

As you can see by looking at any of my comment threads, I encourage and relish opposing views. Be aware, though, that I use this as a chance to engage those who have views contrary to me. One of the tragedies of Rove-era politics is that the right is encouraged not to engage with the "enemy", other than to try to take them down personally. So, come on in, the water's fine, but be prepared to swim. Talk about not coddling... One regret (of many) that I had after getting off the phone last night was that I didn't make the kind of points that "guess" does, above. I agree with her that this generation of kids is, in fact, held to much higher standards than in the past; standards that result in very real consequences. To say that this generation of kids are somehow "bubblewrapped" when one missed question on the SAT will keep them out of even public universities and one joint discovered by a cop will keep them precluded from financial aid is nuts. Even in the area of team sports, the competitive situation is worse, not better, than when I was a kid. Kids who are serious about sports now have to pick one and play it all year long in clubs and travelling teams -- anyone who doesn't and shows up to try out for the high school team is pracically laughed off the field. Everyone keeps score, alright -- with a vengence. As a casual three-sport athlete in high school myself (jack of all trades, master of none), I think this is crazy. But that's the way it is. There may be a community here or there that is going the other way and one of them might be yours. But that's the exception and hardly a trend to be guarded against. And dodgeball is a fun game, where those who are good at all the other sports succeed. But it's not life and who cares if a few schools take it out of the phy ed curriculum? It is hardly the end of Western civilization. That will happen when we take the assumptions of radio demogogues and act to prevent things that aren't happening.

OH please…one missed question will not keep a child out of a public university. My son was an average student and is enrolled in at Towson University earning a degree in Psychology. Though he was a one sport athlete (his decision) there were plenty of multi-sport athletes on his baseball team, so do not try and say that it does not happen. My son played 4 years of HS ball, and played baseball his freshman year at the local JuCO ( a decision made because of things OTHER than grade...and not to be discussed here -) and is now trying to walk on at his new school. He was able to handle the 4AM wake ups during the off season for team practices and still get good grades to allow him to attend Towson. There is a thing called CHOICES, and most of these parents are pushing their kids so that they will end up visiting my son when he opens his practice. The one joint or one beer analogies both GUESS and you use is total crap. I know a number of teens who got busted for both by the police, yet are all attending well known schools, including Ivy League Universities. And GUESS' comment that my generation 'refused to work, cut their hair, or stop getting high.' is laughable. My hair was down the middle of my back for 10 years; I did the getting high thing, so did most of my friends and guess what? We are all incredibly successful and have children who are also. Kids ARE allowed to make mistakes in society…it is the parents who refuse to believe that it is allowed. Maybe GUESS is putting too much pressure on her kids. FOUR AP CLASSES? Please, that is so out of hand it is not funny. Is that because they MUST get into an IVY league school? Are the other schools beneath them? Yes, if you want to play HS sports, you must do certain things. Is this taking away from family time? Then drop the football. When these kids do not get straight A's they go into depressions because they are not a success...that is even worse than anything you can do. And dodge ball is taken out of the curriculum because we can't have little Johnny or Joanie having their feelings hurt... Feelings are going to be hurt our whole life, the sooner a child realizes that the sooner they will have the chance to be well adjusted. THAT has been my point the whole time....simply put, kids need to be kids, and kids will be mean to each other and not every kid can be the most popular or the best athlete or the best student and by dumbing down the way we educate our children, they will never learn this point. Interesting that you keep spouting your mantra, yet you do not address any of the illustrated points I made other than to brush them off as 'only happening in a couple of places.' BTW, not once have I used the term 'bubblewrapped', but you keep throwing it at me...

Your point the whole time: "kids need to be kids, and kids will be mean to each other and not every kid can be the most popular or the best athlete or the best student". My point the whole time: There is no one I know, in or outside of a school building who is trying to deny any of this. "kids will be mean", yes, and the schools will tell you that. They shouldn't allow violence, but every school knows how mean kids will be, better than we do. "not every kid can be the best" -- and where is it exactly where everyone is pretending to be the best? Feelings will be hurt, you say, get used to it. Sure. Schools teach that all the time, everywhere. "Bubblewrap" is Sykes word, not yours, but it's the same allegation -- that schools try too much to cushion the blows of life. It's just not true. Especially since they have to teach-to-the-tests of No Child Left Behind, they don't have the time. After kindergarten (do they get to be nice in kindergarten, or do they need the tough-love there, too?), kids are pretty much on their own. As for your cited incidents, I think recognizing them as isolated is answer enough, but I'll address it further. You say a group of parents in New Jersey wanted to eliminate competitive sports. They failed, school and other parents did the right thing. What's the problem -- good result, right? Should they not be allowed to advocate for this (maybe there is a nightmarish version of the super-competitive club-sports nonsense)? Does the fact they even want to raise it mean that the End is Near? I think that's a bit of a stretch. You believe what you want to believe, but the sky is not falling.

You miss my point and I am tired trying to explain it to you. It is not isolated, parents are getting away with it around the country and if we are not careful, before we know it, it will be way too late.

We guess we could have continued this discussion forever, but he did not want to address any point I made. Where is his rebuttal to the missed SAT question answer? The one joint? The one beer? The fact that dodge ball HAS been banned in school systems around the country?

And out of everything we said he gets "kids will be kids" and "every kid needs to be the best"????

You KIDDIES, have always been vocal on many subjects...I really hope you will be so again today

You who visit from other countries, what is happening where you live? Let us know......let the games begin...

We decided to stay silent on the music today, as this is a very important subject.

Pinstripes 4-3
Tied for the wildcard
6 back in the AL East

43 Of Your Sparks

  1. katherine. Says:
  2. I guess I should go listen to the show...and look at the websites you've linked...but man...I got a lot to say on this one...

  3. KATHERINE: I am anxious to see if we finally agree on something! LOL

  4. Mimi Lenox Says:
  5. Like Katherine, I need to listen to the show and visit the blog. I have firsthand knowledge and would like to weigh in. Give me a little time.....Good debate though. Will be back.

  6. Mimi Lenox Says:
  7. But first: No Child Left Behind is an albatross around the necks of teachers across the country that is impossible to implement on a daily basis and leaves out more of the population than it helps. Because of this federal mandate we have now created a sub-group of learners who are being ignored: those in the middle. And if you think it was designed to reach those kids, you are misinformed. The reality is in the everyday classroom, far far away from Washington and "lovely language" laws. Academically gifted and exceptional learners (ADD, behaviorally challenged and other health impaired) have also suffered because of this political stronghold in our nation. Teachers don't have time to teach because they're too busy differentiating and modifying instruction for every child in the classroom on paper to avoid lawsuits. Once the paperwork is done, the conferences are held, and placements are made, the year is half over and the teacher is exhausted, Buzzzzz!!! the bell rings, class dismissed and there's no time to actually teach what's on the plan. What's worse - the child gave up too.

    NCLB impedes the learning process for all and segregates. It was ill-conceived and dropped on the front porch of the schoolhouse as a social bandaid.

    Don't get me started.
    oops....I think I already have.

  8. Oh Vinny...what a sore subject for me. Sigh. Where to begin? Where to stop?

    I think, for the most part, the crop of college graduates who hit the workforce within the last five or so years were brought up in the era of parents more concerned with building up a child's self-esteem rather than teaching them the hard truths of life. These now young adults enter the workforce believing that they are entitled to certain privileges or rewards for merely showing up at work because "Yay, Johnny! You made it to work today even though you couldn't sleep last night from drinking too much frickin' Jack! Go have a seat and rest yourself. It's okay - Vinny the workhorse will do your work today."

    Sorry, but I think that rewarding people for "showing up" is bullshit. When did we stop teaching kids that LIFE ISN'T FAIR, and NO ONE GIVES YOU ANYTHING; you have to EARN it? When did we stop teaching kids that creative thinking and problem solving is better than producing the same canned answer repeatedly, even if it is "correct?"

    I am so damn sick and tired of young punks telling me that they are "entitled" to a better paying job just because they've been out of school for x number of years; so what if the only jobs they've held were flipping burgers or making lattes? They did it for a WHOLE YEAR, and now that they've received their stupid paper diploma from that pseudo online college (which they BOUGHT and didn't EARN), they "deserve" to make $50,000 a year as an entry-level employee doing inferior quality work in a job for which they are not qualified because they can't think for themselves.

    Yes, I think kids have been protected too much, and yes, I think that kids have been coddled. I think some schools are guilty of producing robots who can't think for themselves and who can't take something they've supposedly learned in one situation and adapt the criteria for another problem because no one ever taught them THEORY, they were only concerned with the ANSWER. What about the process, people? When did the end-product become more important than the process, the journey?

    No Child Left Behind forces teachers to teach kids to produce certain answers on a test; it claims to set certain standards, and I think standards are a good thing. But when teachers are more concerned with trying to get the kids to answer test questions more than getting them to think and dream and create, then there's a problem. A good teacher will teach to the standards and get his/her students to excel on the standardized tests. A GREAT teacher will allow his/her students to explore and discover and arrive at the end, having relished the journey and being sad at the journey's end. They'll also be able to produce the answers on the test.

    Sorry - I've rambled a lot here. Teachers are not to blame for the ills of our education system any more than you or I are. It's a collaborative effort to educate and nurture our children; parents have the primary responsibility, and teachers are partners in this. School administrators? Well, don't get me started on them...

  9. katherine. Says:
  10. I was concerned I would exceed the comment character count....and sent my rant via email...

    some of which we actually do agree on....

  11. PUBLISHING KATHERINE'S EMAIL COMMENT (not a rant when I ask for solid statements):

    Ah Vincent,

    I live in one of the most liberal…treehugging…touchyfeely….socialist-city-council cities in the great state of California... not in the east or the midwest by any means. I worked over twenty years in the merger/acquisition segment of corporate America…but spent the last five working in higher education. I know a great many wingnuts…and drink in a bar with boys who are highly educated academics and executives from silicon valley. I am single, straight, conservative on fiscal and foreign policy issues, liberal on social issues, and the mother bear to three.

    My kids are 25, 19 and 17…one by birth and two who are gifts. Since I am a "cool mom" I know not only their experiences…but also that of the myriad of friends who are always around. They have attended a combination of public and private schools. Two have gone to the University of California (which by all polls is the number one research university in the world) …the oldest has graduated…the youngest is a senior in high school. I have one who excels at every sport ever attempted…one who made a comeback from a life threatening injury…and one who tests off the charts. I push them all to make great grades…not good grades…great grades. Partially because they have the ability… partially cause I want to instill a certain work ethic with personal accountability and partially because I like to brag on them. Whatever I wanted them to know…that they didn't learn at school…I would teach them. I'm the Mommy…IT'S MY JOB. I fully support whatever sport, music or social endeavor they chose. All of them have been known to party….but none of the drives when doing so. None of them follow the crowd…to a fault...sigh…and tend to stand up to adult authority without blinking an eye. So…I know of what I speak…

    At some point each of them have been part of organizations (school, athletics, church) which tried to wrap them in bubblewrap and convince them the world is only a warm and happy place. Everyone is equal. Games where the parents didn't want a score kept…only winners…no losers. Classes where there are no grades. Everyone treated the same…no matter their skills or abilities. Anyone with kids knows that doesn't last long. Kids keep track. Kids know who is where on the scorecard and on the report card.

    To some of the specifics mentioned.

    Dodgeball is being eliminated because it is a sport where children get hurt intentionally and the school districts can't afford the lawsuits brought by parents or their insurance companies. Dodgeball was banned in our elementary school because one of MY girls got fed up with a boy who kept throwing the ball at her…and threw it so hard at his head that it knocked him over. She had to go to anger management therapy…the boy wrote her a letter pledging undying love and begging her forgiveness for getting her in trouble. Regardless…no more Dodgeball.

    I'm all for the policy where everyone who signs up, goes to practice, and makes their grades gets to be on the team. However… not everyone should get to play. That is what "the bench" is for. And speaking of sports… What the hell ever happened to mandatory PE? It is GONE. Not because we are mollycoddling our kids…because we don't put money into our schools….it has been lined off the budget along with art, drama, et cetera.

    The "no child left behind" program has caused tremendous concentration on achieving a level of test scores…with the threat of having your school taken over by the state. Many schools have all but quit teaching anything the kids won't be specifically tested on.

    And Bond…while I do not discount your son's education, ability or experience…a couple of questions on the SAT can make a difference. It may not keep a kid out of "a" public university…but it could very well keep them from the specific one they want. Different public universities provide different levels of education. A perfect math score on the SAT (and upper 700's in English) with a bunch of AP classes and a half a dozen non-academic gigs does not guarantee you get into the UC campus (University of California) of your choice because so many other people with equally stellar transcripts have applied.

  12. PART 2:

    I agree that kids have to work harder than we did to get into a good school. I kinda sorta worked to get into UCLA…and no…it wasn't THAT long ago. There is SO MUCH MORE to learn now than when we were in school. Sadly, the embarrassing low wages we pay our teachers has resulted in a labor union negotiating for a minimal amount of class time. More to learn and less class time results in more homework. Hours and hours of homework…starting in elementary school. And parents are pushing back. Yeah…they are working harder. Do we realize how many MORE class hours the students in OTHER nations spend?

    If you want to play college sports in a D1 or even a D2 school…you are gonna have to do something besides just play on the high school team. (I promise not to discuss steroids with our host ever again.) Maybe if you go to one of those high schools similar to the one featured in "Friday Night Lights"…but that is NOT the normal HS sport program…is it? Most of our HS coaches are teachers who coach as an add-on to make more money…or someone with a fulltime job outside of education who does it for next to nothing. (by the way…high school football WAS family time for us. We have one cheerleader and two players and the entire family went to damn near all the games.) One of the best ways for a serious athlete to get the additional coaching and experience is on a club team. Where parents pay out significant cash…and time. And more importantly…it is the club games where the college scouts come to watch.

    "60 Minutes" did a piece a couple years ago on "Echo Boomers" the generation born between 1982 and 1995. The report said:

    "They are more protected," says Howe. "They regard themselves as collectively special, because of the time in which they were raised."

    Why do they consider themselves special?

    "Because they came along at a time when we started re-valuing kids. During the '60s and '70s, the frontier of reproductive medicine was contraception," says Howe. "During the '80s and beyond, it's been fertility and scouring the world to find orphan kids that we can adopt. ...The culture looked down on kids. Now it wants kids; it celebrates them."

    Echo boomers are the most watched-over generation in history. Most have never ridden a bike without a helmet, ridden in a car without a seat belt, or eaten in a cafeteria that serves peanut butter.


    They're hovered over by what college administrators call "helicopter parents." Protected and polished, they are trophy children in every sense of the word.

    "Everyone is above average in our generation," says Summers.

    "Everybody gets a trophy at the end of the year. It's something you're used to," adds Gissing. "And you have the rows of trophies lined up on your windowsill, or whatever."


    Levine, who is considered one of the foremost authorities in the country on how children learn, is now researching a book on young people entering their 20s. He is concerned that groupthink is stifling initiative. And because they have always been rewarded for participation, not achievement, they don't have a strong sense what they are good at and what they're not.

    For instance, when a young person shows up for work at his or her first job, what do they expect and what are they finding?

    "They expect to be immediate heroes and heroines. They expect a lot of feedback on a daily basis. They expect grade inflation, they expect to be told what a wonderful job they're doing," says Levine.

    "[They expect] that they're gonna be allowed to rise to the top quickly. That they're gonna get all the credit they need for everything they do. And boy, are they naive. Totally naive, in terms of what's really gonna happen."

    The article in its entirety can be found here:


    I agree Bond that if we allow 100 schools to institute mamby-pamby restrictions on competition and recognition it can and will extrapolate to become the law of the land. IF we don't pay attention.

    On one hand the banter on Doc Blogstein's and subsequent commentary made me want to ask if we should get out the ruler (double meaning intended). Skyes had some interesting points…Plaisted definitely wanted to stir everyone up and was not interested in anyone else's opinion or experience. Obviously Mike and Charlie have kids in schools which are diametrically opposed.

    On the other hand I was kinda encouraged that even a handful of parents are so intense about what is wrong with the public school system in the United States. There are a group of parents who want to protect their children from all hurt. They are the one's who don't want to keep score, et cetera. There are parents who want their children to be the best…and may even push the kids and the system to make it happen. The score gives them an advantage. Neither is going to come around to the others viewpoint. But maybe both groups will concentrate on our public schools. Insuring that at least SOME of our best and brightest go into teaching. To making a school day…a DAY and not five hours. To provide instruction in not only language, math and science…but physical education…arts and music. It is long past time we paid attention. It will cost us…and our children in the future if we don't. It will cost us our country.

    Be well,



    This is tooo damn important to ignore!

  14. I encourage you to link to this post to bring your guests here to join in this discussion

  15. Liz Hill Says:
  16. I rarely let myself get pulled in to these discussions because I have too much to say about it. My opinion on topics about the education and raising of children are sometimes summarily dismissed because I have not raised my own-so much for all of us step-parents out there.

    I need to go and listen to the show and check out the sites.

    But I will say that my opinion of NCLB could not be any lower. It defies logic and reason.

    Kinda like 'W' being President.

  17. TURNBABY: Sorry, but today EVERYONE'S OPINION counts here...weigh in...

  18. Maggie Moo Says:
  19. I am very interested in listening to this-I can't from work so I'll do it when I get home.

    Thanks for posting this...

  20. Twyla Says:
  21. I live in a different country, and my daughter is only entering grade 1, but the past year has shown me how 'bubble wrapped' the kids really are...at least in her school.
    I have 2 prime examples. The first is something called 'Participation Day'. We used to have this when I was in school, but we called it 'Field Day'. It was a day that the kids played games and had competitions, and won 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place ribbons. It was kind of like a mini Olympics. Now, the kids no longer play any kind of competitive games and there are no longer 1st, 2nd or 3rd place ribbons. They don't want anyone to feel bad for not winning a ribbon. Instead they give every child a participation ribbon. What the hell? Seriously. If everyone gets one, what makes it special? I never won many ribbons at Field Day, but when I did, I felt so proud...and I wasn't upset when I lost...I was having fun anyways. The kids don't have the chance to experience that anymore. I think it's horrible.
    Second example is something called 'Gotchas'. The kids get a point or a 'gotcha' every time they do something good. After 5 gotchas, they get to cash them in for a toy. I HATE this soooo much. Jenna comes home with 2 or 3 dinky toys a week. But that's not the problem. The problem is, the kids will only be good if there is a reward. When we were small, we were either good, or we were punished. There were no rewards or toys. And now at home, anytime I ask Jenna to do something, like pick up her toys, she asks me what I'll give her for a treat when she does. URGH! You don't get a treat for doing something you're supposed to do anyways! But this is what the kids expect now. I used to take Jenna to the $ store and let her pick out anything she wanted. She thought it was great. Now, she could care less because she gets all these toys at school. Kids don't appreciate things anymore.
    I could rant on about this all day. So much has changed since I've been out of school, and it's only been 9 years. If this is how it is when she's in elementary school, I hate to see what it will be like for her in high school.

  22. AtriaBooks Says:
  23. Colo. school bans tag on its playground

    2 hours, 55 minutes ago

    An elementary school has banned tag on its playground after some children complained they were harassed or chased against their will.

    "It causes a lot of conflict on the playground," said Cindy Fesgen, assistant principal of the Discovery Canyon Campus school.

    Running games are still allowed as long as students don't chase each other, she said.

    Fesgen said two parents complained to her about the ban but most parents and children didn't object.

    In 2005, two elementary schools in the nearby Falcon School District did away with tag and similar games in favor of alternatives with less physical contact. School officials said the move encouraged more students to play games and helped reduce playground squabbles.

  24. Julie Says:
  25. I'll dive into this hopefully tonight when I have a spare hour or two...but suffice it to say that I deal with the deck that's been handed to me. And I do it quite well because my daddy always taught me that life wasn't fair. It's not a bed of roses and sometimes it does make you want to kill yourself (until someone hands you the gun) but perseverance and the desire to succeed WILL pay off.

  26. Dr. A Says:
  27. Bond - I heard the show live and you really stuck it to this guy. And, in reading the aftermath, you speak logic while he is spewing talking points. Keep talking common sense. It may rub off on everyone else someday.

  28. Angell Says:
  29. Being at work, was not able to listen to the show.

    Being the daughter of a teacher, I have a TON to say on the subject.

    I agree with Mimi, the NCLB program is ridiculous. Some of the kids my mother teaches are just plain STUPID, and yet, she has no choice but to pass them so they can move onto high school and continue to be stupid. As I help her mark her papers and projects, she continuously mutters under her breath four letter words that would have had my mouth washed out with soap. BUT they really do apply.

    I agree to a certain extent that the schools and parents these days aren't just cushioning their children, they're also letting them get away with murder. When I was in school, a teacher was allowed to keep you in detention - before school, during and after. These days, not a chance. Parents are too scared to punish their children, and as a result, a teacher is now powerless against their classroom. The threat of calling their parents isn't a threat - because kids control their parents.

    I understand the need to be able to stop child abuse in our countries, but the biggest mistake was putting the power in the hands of thei children. They threaten to call children's aid the second parents discipline goes in the direction they don't like. My aunt Gail, who was the gentlest soul in the world, was a sub teacher for younger grades. One day, a student was upset (grade one)and all she did was put a comforting hand on the girls' shoulder. The girl shrugged her off and said "Don't touch me, you're not allowed to, I'll tell my mommy."

    It terrifies me that the future generations are going this way. In my opinion, we are creating two defined groups: the smart ones, who study their assess off, never experience life and those who feel they can't live up to the smart ones, drop out and wind up turning to crime.

    I hope that made sense, cuz I'm suffering from day two of a major migrane.

    Lots more to say on the subject, but will save it for a time when I'm more coherent.


  30. I am the parent of an "echo boomer" and I can attest to the fact that yes, these kids are being bubble wrapped. By their parents.

    Heck our schools barely have time to teach let alone play Sparkle Fairy to the kids ego.

    I think that a lot of the show up and be rewarded in sports etc, comes from having to little time to coach and schools bowing down to the parents who think THEIR child is the second coming and should have rose petals showered in front of them when they walk.

    This in turns leads to children with little or no discipline who think they are above consequences. These mini exorcist brats then participate in playground games like such as dodge ball and tag and guess what they do? Act like monsters.

    Further increasing the problem is the fact that should the parents of the above child smack that brat on the ass like they deserve, they could be brought up on child abuse charges.

    That said, these days it is much much harder to qualify for student loans or gain entry to colleges. In that sense Plaisted does have a point. These kids are stressed.

    At some point these kids get older and begin to feel the pressure to be the perfect child that mommy and daddy treated them like. At least those that are not completely narcissistic to the core.

    If anyone is guilty of bubble wrapping it is the parents. Of course we live in a society where John Q Public has bubble wrapped themselves from the realities of poverty, racism, and the rampant corruption of our government. Is it any wonder the kids are screwed?

  31. Peg Says:
  32. I'll listen to the conversation tonight after I put the kiddos to bed.

    In the meantime,IMHO, NCLB is a dismal failure. It's about as successful as our latest surge in Iraq--highly touted by W but lacking the real-world success.

    Are todays kids molly-coddled? Holy crap, are they ever. I get the hairy eyeball in Walmart from other mommies, when I say, "No you can't have that..." followed by, "Because I SAID so" or "Life isn't fair" or some other retort to whining demands for crappy trinkets.

    I think trophies for everyone is a crock of shit--a tee shirt at the beginning of the season, OK, but you played so you get another freakin' dust-catching tchotcke? Cuz you played? Bah...

    Eradicating tag as a playground game, removing the competition from games, worrying about Johnny's poor little ego being bruised? Not in my family. My kids get a LOT of love, consistency and boundaries. Self-esteem grows from confidence, and from structure, rules, and clearly delineated expectations. Not from some mamby-pamby, overblown, carefully worded explanation for every blessed thing that an adult decides on behalf of a child.

  33. katherine. Says:
  34. Me again.

    My oldest…who has borne the brunt of my parenting…made an interesting point… (after her exasperated “oh geez Mommy is this another e-phn blog thing?”)

    She pointed out that parents who demand all things be equal…who want to eliminate competition and squelch recognition are the ones whose children do not make the honor roll, hit the homerun, sing the solo, or are awarded the blue ribbon. I wonder how many of these kids could have experienced achievement if given the support of their parents?

    At the end of day, when we talk about education, we are not only guiding OUR children (teenagers and young adults) but the next group of people who will run our nation.

    For the researchers out there…a report was just released on 14 August 2007 titled, “Comparative Indicators of Education in the United States and Other G-8 Countries: 2006.” This report describes how the education system in the United States compares with education systems in the other G-8 countries…Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom.

    It is a long document (90-some pages) complete with charts, graphs and statistics.

    You can read the whole thing at:

    This site is the US Department of Education, Institute for Educational Sciences. It contains a tremendous amount of information. This specific report contains twenty indicators are organized in five sections: (1) population and school enrollment; (2) academic performance; (3) context for learning; (4) expenditure for education; and (5) education returns: educational attainment and income. In addition the appendix details the Educational Systems of each of the G-8 countries.

    I’ll refrain from quoting…if you have any reason to be personally interested…you will read it on your own.

    (another good one is the Digest of Education Statistics…which is available in .pdf for the years 1995 – 2006)

  35. Interesting conversation happening here and on my comments page as well. When I have time later today, I may get into some of it, but Bond and I fleshed much of this out this week. I'm still not sure what I am being accused of not answering. There appear to be plenty of anecdotes, but also little indication that the education establishment is driving any of this supposed coddling. And I still don't know what is so wrong with promoting self-esteem and promoting tolerance. What is the alternative, acting like a jerk in the classroom all day? We have all had teachers like that and we know how much they accomplished.


    Mike Plaisted
    Milwaukee, WI

  36. Tiggerlane Says:
  37. Wow...so much to digest, and so much to think about.

    I have so many thoughts running thru my head, but I think you are dead-on in your assessment.

    Good thing the couch was so comfy, or my butt would be sore from sitting and reading for so long!

  38. Mimi Lenox Says:
  39. Teaching to the test has become so commonplace that the kids now know how to circumvent the process and pass the blasted test anyway. Of course, then the state changes the test and it's back to square one.
    The test is God.

    By the time schools figure out exactly what is needed to help students succeed on the Almighty test - because, like it or not, that's the reality - it's too late to prepare them and you might as well throw out your own plans and creative ideas. Nobody wants to ask the teachers themselves or trust them to (gasp!)teach. When caring educators actually develop relationships with their students and discover their strengths and weaknesses, learning can occur. But that won't happen when the first thing a student says is "Can I sue you?" when faced with perceived unfairness. Another subject for another day.

    The children are stressed about the test (12-year-olds hyperventilating and crying), the parents are stressed about the test (35-year-olds hyperventilating and crying) and teachers....you get the picture.

    The message we are sending this generation is Teach me how to push this button to win the prize which will prove I'm a genius and worthy of passing my grade. It really doesn't matter if they know their multiplication tables, how to construct a sentence or find America on the map.

    What the general public does not understand is how wide the discrepancy can be between the material found on the test and the curriculum the state mandates you teach. It's a joke. Every "new thing" that comes along in education is usually tested in the classroom on an average of two years and then discarded.

    No Child Left Behind should be left behind.

    (stepping daintily off the soapbox)

  40. katherine. Says:
  41. My link to your post…and a challenge

  42. Unknown Says:
  43. Very interesting...

    Here's my two cents:

    My father is a 7th grade science teacher. Unfortunately, most of his day isn't teaching, it's disciplining kids and dealing with parents. Pressure is put on the teachers and on the school system by the parents to raise the kids and the teachers and the school system try to put some of the responsibility back on the parents. It's an endless game of tug o' war.

    Unfortunately, it's the kids who are caught in the middle.

    Mimi Lenox hit the nail on the head. NCLB was a good idea on paper...but it's just not working.

    What can we do? My opinion is that parents need to step up to the bat more...these are our kids and we have a right to choose how we want to raise them. Too many people throw up their hands and say that there's nothing they can do...those are usually the people who don't get involved in PTO and school functions. It's the same with voting - don't complain if you don't vote and don't complain if you're not willing to make your voice heard.

    As for "coddling", Bucky (sorry Bond) says it best:

    Not every kid made the team when they tried
    We got disappointed but that was alright
    We turned out alright

    Disappointment is going to happen...competition is healthy. It tends to bring out the best in kids and adults. Goodness knows, I've had my share of them...but you're going to have to deal with it sooner or later, and if you can find a good way to deal with it when you are young, you'll do much better dealing with it as an adult.

    Guess what...life isn't fair. I sure didn't want or expect to be a single mother. But I've dealt with it and raised a pretty good kid. But ultimately it's not going to matter what school the kids go to or if they got a trophy for picking their nose...they are going to reach the real world sooner or later and that's when they find out what they are made of.

    I think I gave you my three cents...I'll mail you a check for $0.01.

  44. RW Says:
  45. Damm what a battle you two are having I have to check out the show...But give'em HELL Bond!!!

  46. Kat Says:
  47. I can't believe someone asked me to comment on the no child left behind bullshit at.
    Are y'all nuts?

    I live in Florida, and Sarasota County to be exact. I think that part is important to know for reasons I hope I can fit in this box.

    We are one of the wealthiest communities in Florida. We have an abundance of 3 digit million dollar homes, celebs have homes here, wealthy people retire here, this community has so much money, they think of craptastic ways to spend it.

    Our students are being taught to pass the FCAT, the Fla version of the NCLB act standardized testing. They study for this for the first full half of the year. Then in February, after xmas break, they take the test. After kids have just had two weeks off to be lazy and play with new toys.
    The schools in our country who do the best, get HUGE sums of money from the govt for passing this test.
    What have our schools, I mean, the county, done with this money?
    Well they did rebuild a one of the elementary schools which was only 10 years old and not in need of repair.
    They decided to rebuild one of the high schools parking lots too.
    They have been repaving that lot for 2 years so far, at a cost of $3million dollars, so far.
    They are going to rebuild the high school, but have said it's going to take 5 years and over $10 million to do. The school is super old, has asbestos in the walls.
    Now, I'm all for rebuilding a school because it's unhealthy, but in the meantime, our kids are trapped in portables, 30 students per pod, with small windows and 1 box ac window unit per pod.

    What has our county done with the other millions of dollars it received?
    They bought statues for downtown costing over $1 million a piece.
    They built a new bus depot for over $5 million dollars. They rebuilt the entire downtown area, new sidewalks, new everything, and spent over $12 million dollars doing it.

    The school year just started and teachers sent home their required supply lists.
    On those lists were, pens, pencils, markers, dry erase markers, 5 usb flash drives, 1 $50 headset microphones for language class, 5 reams of printing paper, a CASE of kleenex, a CASE of bounty paper towels, 10 pkgs of red pens, 10 pkgs of black pens, 10 pkgs of blue pens, 3 pkgs of yellow highlighters, and my favorite, a spindle of blank DVD discs.

    Were these all for my students use?
    They are for the teachers because after the county got done rebuilding the downtown the bus depot, an elementary school, and a parking lots, and BUYING over 100 portable classrooms, they do not have any money left for classroom supplies for the teachers, so they are making parents buy them.

    I have more to say, adding another comment.
    Man, you opened a can of worms.

  48. Aisby Says:
  49. I haven't read all the comments yet and I haven't even listened. I will add more after I do those two things, but I had something to say quickly.

    I am teaching ninth graders for the first time this semester. The first week of school, I was giving them the rules and instructions. I informed them that if they did not turn their work in on time that I would NOT accept it and they would receive a ZERO.
    I was informed by my entire ninth grade class that I couldn't give a Zero. When I inquired why not, they said it was a rule at the middle school. Apparently at the middle school, you get five points for turning in a blank sheet of paper with your name on it.
    I quickly told them that they were no longer in the middle school and if they didn't believe that I could give zeros just turn in nothing and watch me.

    I was AMAZED and thoroughly discouraged that these kids were coddled so much that they can't receive zeros for doing nothing.

    They also think that any time they do some type of work they need a grade. We were taking notes today and they thought they should get a onehundred just for taking notes. Again, I let them know what a ridiculous idea that was. The point of taking notes was for them to have them to study for the quiz and test. And if they DIDN'T take the notes that their grade would suffer and they would be punished for not following direction.

    They want EVERYTHING handed to them.

    I'll weigh in more later.

    Oh, and I COMPLETELY agree with MiMi about NCLB. It's HORRID.

  50. Kat Says:
  51. Now, onto the coddling, every kid is a winner bullshit.
    No, sorry, not every kid is a winner, and it's high time they learned that.
    in the real world, not everyone is paid the same, not everyone holds the same title at their place of employment, but because some do-gooder parents said it's not fair my son gets picked last for dodgeball, competitive sports were stopped.
    Life is competition.
    They need to bring back dodgeball, they need to reward the students who do well, and push the kids who are failing, harder.
    I'm sure most of us here who are discussing this, grew up in a time when during gym class, we played dodgeball, and floor hockey, and other sports where a team won and a team lost, and oh my gosh! None of us died!
    We survived and we learned that life isn't fair. You won't always get hired for that job, and you won't always have the same pay and same life as everyone else.
    You have to work for what you want, and by the schools making everyone equal, they are doing our kids a huge disservice.
    Parents need to parent. They need to raise their kids, not leave it up to the schools. The schools need to stay out of my living room and focus on teaching.
    It's a pretty sad day when Castro was being discussed on the news, and both my high school age students asked me "Mom, who is Castro?"

    Education standards for our kids have gone down drastically in the years since the Reagan administration.
    With each new president who comes along, touting some new form of education reform, the kids are losing less and less learning time in subjects like geography, (I don't think they really teach this one anymore) science, math, and language arts.
    The way our kids speak and write, is a testament to there not being enough emphasis on the basics.
    Our schools are so focused on passing the standardized tests so that they can receive some of that no child left behind money, they forget to actually teach.

  52. Anonymous Says:
  53. Is it called serendipity? Just having this conversation the other night (but to be honest, I have no children myself) ...

    It takes discipline to teach discipline, strength to teach strength, and courage to teach courage... and right now the system doesn't have any of these traits; it doesn't have the backbone to teach anything valuable, so.. they end up making rules and canceling anything and everything that would require the system to have a backbone.

    It is true that during dodge-ball some bad things will happen, that is why an adult should be present, and when that bad thing happens the adult must be an adult and make decisions that might not be easy or fair... thus, the need for a backbone. But, since no one wants that responsibility,.. cancel it all together.

    And, NCLB is just another, in a long line of laws, designed to grant authority without responsibility.

    Being single, I like the storyline of the book The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson. Maybe a bit extreme, it is science fiction after all, but I like the principle.

    And, finally, a question. Is it me or were teachers older when we were younger? I can think of only two teachers I had my entire life that were under the age of forty... now, it seems that it is hard to find a teacher over thirty. Just asking...

  54. Anonymous Says:
  55. P.S. The BoSox are wise to not waste themselves so close to the post season. i bet they would even prefer to see the Yanks instead of the Mariners come October. (you don't honestly think Manny hurt his back? Just resting him up like they did Shilling a month ago... tired shoulder, indeed.)

    Have fun.

  56. Marilyn Says:
  57. Kids need to learn about failure and competition but they don't need the kind of daily bullying I put up with...and public schools do a rotten job of education.

    I home-school... I still don't know if it's a good idea, but I've been a teacher and I've been a student and I know that what's going on in public school isn't good. I was told by a principle that I couldn't give 80% of my science class an F even if they refused to do the work. What kind of message is that?

    I hear the whole "aren't you worried about socialization," argument constantly and I wonder since when is the job of school "socialization"? I thought we were worried about education.

    School has become its own little culture. You don't learn about the real world there. You don't spend a real career working with people exclusively in your own age group and get promotions just because you sat in your chair for a year.

    If somebody harasses you constantly in the real world you have legal recourse. As a teacher I was told to ignore the kids when they called me a Bitch. I'll teach my own.

  58. Sparky Duck Says:
  59. all that work and the Yanks are still 5 games back with a month to go.

    Now onto the meat of your post, I think I will do a post on a philadelphia magazine article that came out this month calling Main Line parents the worst in the world.

    as for needing travel teams for college, at least in soccer, I can probably guess why that is. Its because of Title IX. Soccer is a cheap sport to play in college, you need uniforms and a ball. So, almost all colleges have it. Travel teams get you noticed.
    But sheesh, NCLB has to be a joke, because it is too broad a standard.

  60. No time to stir the pot as thoroughly as I'd like but, quickly:

    I agree kids today are coddled and the 'everybody gets a trophy' stuff is way overdone. Such a trophy has no value.

    Mr. Plaisted asks "what is so wrong with promoting self-esteem and promoting tolerance?"

    I don't know how tolerance got in there. Nothing's wrong with promoting tolerance.

    But if "promoting self-esteem" means puppy-praising kids for nothing, I'm against it. If "promoting self-esteem" means helping kids find something that they can actually do well and find a measure of success thereby -- that's different, isn't it? But that means it's OK to cut kids from the basketball team -- or play dodgeball -- or give grades in math.

    My kids have all attended private schools through high school and I can't claim familiarity with NCLB. My wife is a teacher in a Catholic grammar school -- and we have discipline problems there, too. And helicopter parents. (Maybe more so than in other places because, they reason, they're paying for success so you better darn well come across with the grades for my Junior....)

    But I'll say this: Standards are lower now than in the '60's. It is indeed harder to get into the best colleges but only because people have realized that a degree from a prestige institution puts you in an entirely different income bracket than a graduate of State U. or the local commuter college.

    But -- just one example -- when I was in fourth grade my teacher gave us exponents as punishment -- calculate 27 to the 8th power -- stuff like that -- and show your work -- and you'd better be right. Or you'd do a different problem.

    And this was before calculators.

    None of my five children saw an exponent before the sixth grade.

    All have been allowed to use calculators for math.

    I fully expect my grandchildren will be allowed to 'Wiki' during history tests. It's about the same thing, isn't it?

  61. Curmudgeon sparked a memory... Also in 4th grade, Catholic School... our punishment for doing something wrong?
    A 3-4 digit number was given. You had to multiply by 2, that answer by 3, then that answer by 4...up to 12
    THEN you needed to divide the final answer by 12, that answer by 11, etc, done to 2
    which should bring you to the initial number given...
    Showing all work...
    I remember that one night after about 4 hours of trying to get it correctly hearing the F word from my mother for what felt like the first time ever, as in "If you get in trouble again and have to do another of these Fing problems...you problem is going to be worse here at home"
    Go on folks... no calculator...
    try 7698
    Give it to your 4th grader tonight...

  62. Schmoop Says:
  63. My son was asked the other day to quit score so many points while playing basketball..I only wish he had the size of Wilt Chamberlain when he was told that. Gimme a break. Sorry to take so long to get with ya Bond. Cheers!!

  64. Meribah Says:
  65. Not only are kids not learning real world skills in school, they're not even learning what they need to know to succeed in college! The university here has to hold workshops and teach non-credit courses in Math and English, so that the students (fresh from high school, by the way) can re-learn what they were suppose to learn in high school. There is something seriously wrong with the education system when the students graduate without knowing the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic! Shameful.

  66. Ok...briefly, I hope. Mid-life Isis (aka Bad-Ass Sis) visiting from Peg's place. I didn't listen to the audio yet. But I am the parent of echo boomers, and I find NCLB to be a complete and total failure. That said, I offer these thoughts:

    Trophys for participation are not awards, they are souvenirs.

    There will always be somebody better than you, and somebody worse than you. Either work harder, or work on something else. (think that serenity prayer may come in handy for that?)

    Self-esteem is just that: SELF-esteem. The definition seems to have changed to mean something closer to Stroked-Ego

    Dodgeball was never my favorite. I was usually the new kid and got picked near the end. I never had the ball fired at my head and the only thing that was ever bruised was my ego. I learned to get the hell out of the way.

    Teaching to test renders tests useless. NCLB is really more of a duty roster. Get enough students to fill in the right cirles, you get the bucks. Kind of reminds me of lab rats that learn to push the right colored button to get a piece of food.

    Parents need to take responsibility for their children's behavior. NO EXCUSES...even when it sucks. That's why parenting is so f-ing hard.

    Thanks for letting me jump on the couch!

  67. Unknown Says:
  68. Ugh...one more thing...I really don't mind that they got rid of dodgeball at all. Being as I was always the littlest one in class (somewhat a bit ironic now), that was my least favorite activity. But the others are fine.

  69. TopChamp Says:
  70. aagh - can't get comments to save... I'll e-mail you if I can.

    Love a rant - this is great!!



    Education here is ok I think. We haven't taken this 'everyone's a winner' thing quite as far. I do think that we should be encouraging children to excel though... .and if they don't excel in sports to be trying to find something the are good at. I don't think this is usually done through the school system though so it does rely on parents.

    Here sport, art and music are not mainstream subjects and very much take a backseat in secondary school education, so underachievement in any one of these fields is not such a big deal. They are offered as a subject at GCSE or A-Level which would directly affect your Uni application but they do not have the same weight as a mainstream subject eg. Maths.

    For example: I took a double Music A-level. This meant that I would get lots of points for music TWICE (practical music and theoretical music). This is a big cheat... but the universities realised and would only count the theoretical part as a condition of entry. Not that it really mattered for music college which is audition-based entry anyway.

    The government here has a policy that all children should to go on to University. This has been said to have lead to devaluement of degrees. So far it seems as though the kids who didn't really do so well academically end up at university getting a low degree grade.

    (I think the point was to try to emphasise that you can do a degree no matter your background.)

    Now the government has decided to emphasise 'vocational training'. So essentially they don't want to go back on their suggestions that further education is for everyone... so they will make further education courses in things like plumbing and building which previously would have been learnt on the job through apprenticeships etc.

    ALSO: (this one's my favourite) they brought in an initiative to pay kids to carry on at school beyond 16 (so they could go on to further education).... but a recent survey found that the majority of kids they were paying would have stayed on anyway!

    Generally though I think that school is somewhere that kids SHOULD be protected from the real world. I don't think that means that races or sports where someone will lose are bad, and do believe in rewarding achievement. I have several pupils though for whom home is not so good, and they deserve to have a safe protected atmosphere at school. They will have plenty of time to learn about 'real life' as adults and I hope that school can be somewhere they enjoy as far as possible.

  72. Anonymous Says:
  73. Are you kidding me? Does anyone remember what parents thought of competition durign the 60's? Guys, nothing new here. Am I the only one who remembers how the "flower children" felt about pressure, winning, and getting ahead? How can we suggest that our kids are less prepared to enter the "real world" than we were. Guys with long hair and jewlery who smoked way too much pot grew up to be bankers, lawyers, and imagine this...bloggers. If we could do it, so can they!

    Society expects a lot from these kids. Most of these 'coddled kids' have working mothers who don't have the time or the energy to be nearly as involved as most of our moms were. They have far more demanding schedules than we ever had.
    You want examples of how much harder it is for kids today...take a look at the admission policies of any top 10 colleges and tell me what you really think!


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