Thursday, July 10, 2008

Relevant News Flash (7:4)

Education news:
  • People are in a dither about requiring all California 8th graders to take Algebra I. Even I, who was of the camp that could "appreciate math," but just never really took to it, can acknowledge that Algebra I has served me well in my adult life, and crops up rather frequently. While there are some real concerns about teaching resources, this is a sad excuse to justify not holding our public education to a higher standard for our students. Countless reports warn of our economic woes in the future if we can not compete with the other nations that are preparing their citizens to compete globally, and one would think Algebra I would be a rather basic requirement in that goal. Japan is already starting to grapple with a shortage of engineers due to falling enrollment in science disciplines, and they are undertaking aggressive measures to make science "sexier." Meanwhile, women in engineering are still suffering significant sexual discrimination. Get over it guys, it sounds like the ladies are just what we need to compete; but they need to pass Algebra I first.
  • Speaking about dropping the ball with education, the upheavals of the past decades are drawing into sharp relief what leaving fragile societies adrift, with little opportunities for education and advancement, will do to aid the causes of extremism. For an excellent look into one inspiring man's vision to address this issue, pick up the book Three Cups Of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.

Other news, not necessarily parenting related:

  • Are you wedged in between generations, stuck between the whining and self indulgence of the Baby Boomer generation, and the whining and self indulgence of the Generation Y and Millenial generation, and expected to provide support for both while they "find themselves?" You aren't alone in your gripe; Baby Boomers have never really been happy, according to a report in the Washington Post, and the Pew Research Center has the data to back it up. The report also interestingly shows that this generational whininess has happened several times in the past and can be connected to having been born following times of great upheaval.
  • A strong movement is emerging to revive sustainable farming, and keep it local. Community Supported Agriculture cooperatives (CSAs) are growing steadily, and helping small farmers operate, and even make a profit, and consumers control the quality and cost of their produce. This effort also speaks to those that fear what the effects of large scale cultivation and distribution controlled by corporate interests have on our world, environmentally and politically, which are revealing some alarming results, such as the danger to every parent's favorite food stuff, the banana, which is on it's way to extinction through disease! While the access to a CSA remains strongest in a handful of states, like California, the movement is growing and spreading. There are others that are taking the initiative to encourage people to keep produce local and clean by growing it in their own backyards, a modern day push to return to the "victory gardens" of the WWII era. This movement also has the goal of getting the next president to convert part of the White House grounds back into a sustained plot to set the example for the nation. San Francisco is set to convert a plot in front of its city hall into a sustainable garden to supply the city's food banks with local and chemical free produce. There is evidence of a larger receptive audience; garden merchants have seen an unprecedented increase in demand for seeds in the last year.
  • The green thumb enthusiasts don't stop there. A "guerrilla gardening" movement was begun in the 1970s and operates today, with an aim to improve the landscape of our urban jungles, circumventing messy and delayed bureaucracy (and for those of you who have attended a city or town council meeting lately, you know what they mean). Call them cultivation commandos!
  • Folders Anonymous may not be far off! Those who have done their time in retail can attest to the years of conditioned impulses that remain, and apparently the impulse to fold for veterans of the Gap is especially pernicious to shake.
  • As previously written about, modern day women are not accepting that choosing to raise their families well means that they can not also contribute in the modern workforce. Amy Tiemann, author of Mojo Mom, and creator of, speaks on CBS' The Early Show about options for "SWATs" (Smart Women with Available Time):


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