According to a new behavioral study, Spongebob SquarePants may cause short-term attention and learning problems in 4-year olds. The study indicates that watching a mere nine minutes of the program can have such an effect.

Fox News reports:

The problems were seen in a study of 60 children randomly assigned to either watch SpongeBob, or the slower-paced PBS cartoon Caillou or assigned to draw pictures. Immediately after these nine-minute assignments, the kids took mental function tests; those who had watched SpongeBob did measurably worse than the others.

Those who watched SpongeBob SquarePants scored an average of 12 points lower than the other groups. The children who watched Calliou and drew pictures scored nearly the exact same. Another test administered to the three groups was how long the children were able to wait before eating snacks presented to them when the researcher left the room. Those who watched Calliou or drew illustrations waited approximately four minutes, as opposed to those children who watched Spongebob, who waited just two and a half minutes on average.

I received a very interesting comment on my recent article, "The Great Brain Robbery," in which I tried to convey the damage that is being done daily in our elementary schools by teachers who have been so badly miseducated that they have no idea that the teaching methods they are using can cause untold damage to a child’s ability to use his or her mind effectively for the rest of his or her life.

The reader wrote:

As an aspiring teacher with a year left in attaining my Master's of Education online at this site: http://www.cu-portland.edu/ I am extremely averse to the idea of favoring one teaching method over another. Why is phonics-based teaching any better or worse than visual-based learning? Every child is different, and that includes their learning style. You should be careful [not] to endorse a one-size fits all reading curriculum....

Obviously, this aspiring teacher has not yet taught anyone anything, but feels compelled to advise this veteran of the reading wars, that I should be careful not to endorse a “one-size fits all reading curriculum.”

Higher education is getting "Curioser and curioser!" as Alice said in Wonderland. Elmhurst College in Elmhurst, Illinois, is now asking prospective students about their sexual orientations and "gender identities," the Chicago Sun-Times reported recently. "Would you consider yourself to be a member of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender) community?" is now among the questions asked students applying for admission to the college in the fall of 2012. No one is required to answer the question, the school says, though a "Yes" makes the applicant eligible for a scholarship worth a third of the cost of tuition. About 60 percent of the 3.300 students at the private liberal arts college are on scholarships of one sort or another, school officials said.

The school says the question and the scholarship advance the promotion of diversity at the college. "We took this step in an effort to better serve each of our students as a unique person," Elmhurst President S. Alan Ray said in a press release. "It also allows us to live out our commitments to cultural diversity, social justice, mutual respect among all persons, and the dignity of every individual. These are among the core values of this institution. They provide the foundation for all of our academic, student and community programs."

Video footage has surfaced revealing some of the lessons that the New Black Panthers are teaching their audience, which consists largely of children. In the video, party member King Samir Shabazz is shown teaching “black survival,” which includes how to hold weapons, and how to use them.

You may recall that Shabazz was one of the members of the New Black Panther Party who engaged in voter intimidation at a Philadelphia polling state in November 2008 by standing at the polls attired in military clothing and holding a billy club. Despite the overwhelming evidence of voter intimidation, Attorney General Eric Holder elected to drop the charges against the New Black Panthers, a decision that has provoked a great deal of controversy.

During the self-defense demonstration, Shabazz walks the audience through the proper use of three different kinds of weapons: a baseball bat, a machete, and a handgun.

Wisconsin public employees unions were not able to stop Governor Walker’s plan to remove benefits from the items subject to collective bargaining. The unions first persuaded Wisconsin state senators to flee to Illinois, so that a quorum could not be formed to conduct business on that issue in the Wisconsin legislature. Then these unions thronged Madison, trying to intimidate Republican state legislators; these legislators, however, refused to be intimidated. State Supreme Court elections, which once were pro forma referenda on the ethics and competence of justices, was transformed into an ideological policy issue in which Judge Prosser was targeted for elimination because it was felt that he would uphold the constitutionality of Walker’s reforms; that failed too. Finally, public employees unions tried to recall enough Republican state senators to tip control of the state senate back to Democrats; that failed too.

A teacher in Paterson, New Jersey, is in boiling water because she told her Facebook friends that some of her students were “future criminals.”  The pedagogue of Paterson has been suspended with pay, and might well be fired. The students were disrupting her class, but her critics claim her remarks were “racist.”  Paterson’s population is largely black and Hispanic.

What She Said:

Veteran teacher Jennifer O’Brien said she posted the comments to Facebook because of her frustration that the students in her first-grade class are out of control, and she can do little about it.

O’Brien came home from work, North Jersey.com reported, and expressed her genuine feelings after what must have been another tough day in the "blackboard jungle." Wrote O’Brien, “i’m not a teacher — i’m a warden for future criminals.”

There are an estimated 500,000 public school buses in America, which will carry America's school children back and forth about 4.2 billion miles this school year. The Center for Auto Safety and the National Coalition for School Bus Safety had requested that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) mandate that all these buses install seatbelts; however, the federal agency has rejected that petition.

The Coalition's Arthur Yeager decried the decision:

It just confirms the long history of NHTSA in opposition to child restraints in school buses. There is a certain hypocrisy in their supporting seat belts in virtually every other type of vehicle under their control except for school buses…

There are accident after accident [sic] where we can document that the cause has been [school bus] driver distraction. More kids are killed when their own school bus drives over them than by other drivers. Some of those kids are killed because the driver is distracted by kids jumping up and down on the bus.

Rarely does a government official call for himself — and his entire department — to be canned. But that is, in effect, what Secretary of Education Arne Duncan did in a recent webcast, according to a video and partial transcript posted at CNSNews.com.

During the course of the webcast, in which Duncan answered questions submitted via Twitter, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was raised. NCLB is the 2001 version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) signed into law by President George W. Bush that imposes national standards on schools and measures schools’ success in meeting those standards primarily via standardized testing. Its emphasis on testing and its lack of flexibility have caused consternation in state capitals and school districts across the country, especially since failure to meet the standards could mean a loss of federal money.

I am surprised by how many famous people who have achieved great success in their chosen careers have also revealed that they are dyslexic and can’t read functionally. Among them are actors Tom Cruise, Henry Winkler, and Cher; millionaires Nelson, Laurence, and David Rockefeller; Charles Schwab, Richard Branson, and others. In the case of the Rockefeller brothers, they all attended the experimental Lincoln School, endowed by their father, where they were taught to read by the whole-word method, which caused their dyslexia. And probably the others acquired their dyslexia in public and private schools much in the same way. But what is even more disconcerting is that none of these famous people have been, or were, cured of their dyslexia.
 

School reading lists have radically transformed in the last few decades. While students from a generation ago may have spent their summer vacations dipping into such classics as A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, the present crop of students is being assigned dark, graphic, and edgy reading such as Norwegian Wood and Tweak: Growing up on Methamphetamine — novels which feature homosexual orgies and lesbian sex.

Written by Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood is described by one reviewer as “a poignant story of one college student’s romantic coming of age.” A synopsis of the book explains:

 

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