• I feel inspired!

  • Great first post! You've inspired me to put more thought into my children's education.

  • Good for you Lisa - we are lucky to have you as an advocate for our schools!

  • Nice job, Lisa. Very impressed and happy for all you're doing!!!!

  • excellent post! Love the name! Very thought provoking, here's to more parent advocates!!!!

  • There's definitely no constructive things to learn from Cee-Lo Green or Christina Aguilera that's for sure.

  • Looking forward to a visit to Cantigny this summer. Thanks for the info.

  • Great discussion to open a new week with!

    Moderation IS the operative word. I have watched a group of men convening at a local pizza pub pouring over stats and having animated discussions about players' abilities. I thought they were part of a fantasy baseball league, but they were actually coaches of a ten year-old little league team! There are too many parents that are living vicariously through their children or hoping to recapture their own lost youth.

    Your childhood experiences jive perfectly with my own. I rode my bike to practice and it was rare to have more than a handful of parents to watch our evening or Saturday games. And if we performed poorly at school, we were prevented from playing sports as a PUNISHMENT. Sports were just another play activity - a reward for doing well in school and completing chores.

    There is much being written about how all of this managing and micromanaging of kids' activities can actually become a detriment as a child grows up. Many children are so accustomed to parents and coaches organizing activities for them that they become dependent and lack the initiative and creativity to do these things for themselves.

    One study I read recently showed that kids who are driven everywhere by car couldn't even draw a map of their communities. Kids who walked or rode a bike, by contrast, were able to produce very detailed and accurate maps. My point? The difference between passive and active involvement.

    Doing everything for our kids to keep them safe and "focused" can actually prevent them from developing critical thinking skills. If they survive into high school without becoming burned out on sports (or any other organized extracurricular activity), they may become great team players, but may never know how to actually lead.

    One of the themes of my writing is how bicycling as a child fueled my imagination, gave me a sense of independence, taught me personal responsibility, and expanded my physical universe as I grew older. That lesson is true with team sports, music lessons, art classes or any other activity a child CHOOSES to participate in.

    We have to let our children explore, understand, and cultivate their passions in a way that is relevant to them - not just to us. These activities are for their benefit and can serve as valuable life lessons, but we have to let them learn those lessons on their own.

    And we can't let their education take a backseat to extracurricular activities.

  • In reply to Brent Cohrs:

    Brent- Thank you for your insightful comments and that study you mentioned sounds very interesting!

  • Great comments Brent. I have to agree with your bicycling analogies! There was a point in my life when our bikes were our world. We rode them everywhere, baseball practice, pick-up games, our fishing holes and even to the local minor league baseball games. We bought and installed banana seats, handle bars and constantly fixed our own flat tires! We knew the price of a tire and tube down to the penny! The study contrasting kids that bike or walk versus kids that are driven makes perfect sense. We knew our small town intimately and we learned to plan our arrivals based on distance and the time it took to ride our bikes to our destination! I'm with you! Kids should be put back on their bikes!

  • In reply to rmccann99:

    Growing up- we were always on our bikes...until we turned 16! Thank you for commenting and I hope you return for future postings!

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    Doctors treating more children for overuse injuries (This one bothers me a lot, but, in my situation, it's not the parents in our house that push the kid, it's the kid that pushes himself. He will ask for someone to go outside and throw with him before we even leave the park headed home from practice and games. However, because he is really well conditioned from playing outside early and often, we've avoided injuries so far.)
    • Parents holding back or “red-shirting “ kindergarteners for academics but also sports advantages (Where we are, this is no where near as big of a problem as parents pushing their kids to play above their level. Guilty as charged! My 4 year old played tball with 6 year olds, when he was 5, he played with 6 year olds, when he was 6, he played with 8 year olds and now that he is 7, he played with 8 year olds again. He is already prepping to play with 9 year olds this fall while he is still 7 and we haven't made a decision about the spring yet. School sports take a real backseat to some degree here because so many people are more interested in getting them on the ball field at age 3 and working them out until they are old enough for school ball.)
    • Churches are reporting low attendance, one factor -families sports schedules (This doesn't come into play in our area until All-Stars which amounts to the possibility of missing 4 or 5 Sundays. However, we choose to play Upward Bound Basketball because of the atmosphere at church. It's all about perspective again and deciding what is really important.)
    • School boards that approve funding for Astroturf instead of textbooks (Again, not sure how this even happened but in our area, sports programs fund themselves for the most part and school boards don't typically fork out large sums of money for such)
    • Cuts to education but not pay-to-play for sports (This one I don't even know about at all, no clue what it means....sorry)

    So, that said...because I was a coach in public schools, I can honestly tell you that sports are all that keep some kids from leaving school. Up until that point, the idea that parents are pushing the kids is horrible but I think that many times we don't realize who the pusher is. I literally stand at our park in the spring and try to convince coaches that their 6 year old son is not a bad ball player because he doesn't hit like a 10 year old. I talk til I am blue in the face. I answer "what is wrong with this kid?" with "he is 6 years old" or whatever a million times.

    Now, all that said, my parents never watched me play either and I played organized sports in and out of school. They simply had other things to do. And I turned out ok. However, we spend an inordinate amount of time preaching "parental engagement" so we can't exactly start faulting the parents for spending time at the ball park with their kids instead of at school. If we want parents to be engaged, we have to let them be engaged in the best way they know how to some degree. Then, we need to take advantage of that involvement to help them understand the importance of being involved in other areas.

    One example is the teacher that shows up at the baseball park on Saturday morning even when she doesn't have a child playing. She comes to interact with the parents that are showing up there but not at school conferences. She befriends them on that level and encourages them to be at the next conference or parents night.

    It's definitely a personal call but this is just how I see it...

  • In reply to Jerri Ann Reason:

    Jerri, you make an excellent point about sports keeping kids in school.

    My b-day is in late August, so I was already the youngest person in my class. Then I skipped 1st Grade, so I turned 16 at the start of my senior year. I dominated my age group in baseball, and while I was still really good in HS (All Bi-County, All-Sectional, Western Indiana All-Stars), I wasn't good enough to play college ball at (barely) 17 as a Freshman.

    I quit after one year, and while it was more my own apathy than my immaturity, I have no doubt that if I had stayed in my own age group in school, I could have at least gotten a scholarship to play D-3 ball.

    I can absolutely guarantee that if I would have played college ball, I would have stayed in school and gotten my degree.

  • In reply to Jerri Ann Reason:

    Jerri Ann- being a self-proclaimed sports parent and coach, it is interesting to learn your views on the topic. Again, it is not that sports are bad...just we need to take a step back and look at the level of involvement and the big picture. I love that story of the teacher that reaches out to parents on the ball field that don't attend conferences or parent nights....is it working? Are the parents then gaining a comfort level with her and showing up at school to support their child's education as well as sports activity. Thanks for sharing! Come back soon on another post!

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    In reply to Lisa Stiegman:

    I think it is working, I think it means a lot. One of the barriers that we face in this rural area is that often the parents are intimidated just walking into the building. Some because the administrators were there when they went to school there and they see them as the authority figure and won't address the concerns they have because of it. Others had the teachers that are now teaching their children and have the same problems.

    As I said on the facebook thread, if we want parents to be engaged, we have to let them choose their place of engagement? Don't we?

  • What I like about Children Sports.
    My child is on travel team and most of her games are in the afternoon on Sunday and if there is a game during church time, we go to church another day, like Saturday night mass. Sports have provided my daughter a sense of team work,displicine, and friendship. If homework is not done or a project is not done, then no sports. Also as Tara Parker-Pope noted in the NYTimes, girls who play sports are shown to have lower teen pregnancy, higher self esteem, and better grades. So that is what I like about my daughter playing sports.

    Also Harvard Medical School put a study about girls playing sports. childrenshospital.org/clinicalservices/.../girlsshouldplaysport.pdf

  • In reply to Nick:

    Not everyone has an alternate church schedule. Church service is Sunday morning. PERIOD. If there's something else scheduled, oh well.

  • In reply to Nick:

    Nick- thank you for sharing your comment. I bet your daughter also has built self-confidence and strength from her involvement in sports too. That is great! It seems you have struck a balance and keep everything in perspective with your homework vs. sports policy. Thank you for commenting and I hope you continue to read School Zone.

  • All excellent and thoughtful observations. Perhaps the parents who should be considering the issues, aren't.

  • In reply to banksjeri:

    Thank you for commenting...sometimes we all need to step back and re-evaluate things.

  • I think there should be no and never should have been any organized sports in schools. Sports teaches nothing whatever -- at least nothing that can't easily be taught in other ways.

    And I agree that all sports in school does is take too much time away from academics. It also takes away much needed budget money from teaching worthwhile things to kids. We should be canceling sports and putting that money into music as music has been found to be far, far more beneficial to kids than sports.

    Sports outside school is fine. Have your park district leagues or church softball. Fine. But get useless, expensive, and silly sports OUT of our schools (and I mean from grade school all the way to the university).

  • In reply to publiusforum:

    Ah, where to start?

    First, this post was about the effect EXTRACURRICULAR sports participation is having on schoolwork. While sports is the topic, it could apply to any outside activity that takes precedence over education - even music.

    Second, participation in sports - whether inside or outside of school - teaches teamwork. Corporations desire individuals who understand how to work in a team. (You may have been absent on the day that talking point was issued)

    Third, since we're conflating extracurricular and school-supported athletics under the term sports, I'll go one better and conflate it with physical education. In case you haven't noticed, we have an obesity epidemic with 2/3 of our adult population overweight and an alarming number of children obese and/or suffering from Type II Diabetes. A little more emphasis on sports and physical activity could actually be beneficial in reducing this alarming trend.

    I think you're off message on this one, Warner. Participating in sports (and other physical activities) is taking personal responsibility for one's health - ultimately saving our Socialistic government money in future treatment. Participating in sports is also teaching future corporate employees how to work together to achieve the organization's (team's) goal.

    And lest you should forget, small town residents - the heart and soul of "Real America" - take great pride in their towns' sports teams. You'll see as many of them at a Friday night football game as you will in the pews on Sunday morning.

    We'll give you another chance to reframe your argument and comment on the topic at hand. Try not to rattle the base this time!

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    In reply to publiusforum:

    That is absurd. I have a lot on my mind as I just returned from a 6 year old tournament that ended with coaches fighting and well-meaning parents who are school teachers being thrown out of the park .......and I can promise you...it doesn't have anything to do with whether the games are played through school league or summer programs...there are lots of lessons to be learned including "it's just a game people". As one of the park admins who has to deal with this craziness this time of the year, I am still a big big big proponent of sports and they have their place........and they do teach much that can't be taught sitting in a classroom.

  • In reply to Jerri Ann Reason:

    Sounds like the parents are ones that could use a few "lessons"!!! What a terrible example they are setting!

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    In reply to Lisa Stiegman:

    Oh, indeed the parents were in the wrong in all kind of ways..including the parent that is a school teacher......but that doesn't mean the kids weren't learning all kinds of good things.

  • publius, I couldn't disagree more.

    How many poor kids have gotten the chance to go to college because they received an athletic scholarship?

    And sports are a HUGE business all over the world- not just athletes who make millions, but broadcasters, coaches, trainers, etc. Kids develop that interest by participating in scholastic sports.

    As for the budget money, I agree when it comes to many sports- but there are many sports that make enough money off ticket and concession sales that they pay for themselves. The kids often do their own fund-raisers to help pay for things as well.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    Oh, please, Don. They went to college and.... so what? They went for SPORTS not to learn anything. And the ones that "make millions" off sports is about 1% of those that attend. Not a good return, I'd say, and certainly not enough to justify the waste.

    Further the money colleges make from sports almost NEVER goes to education. It all gets plowed right back into sports. Sports does precisely NOTHING for the actual job of a university: teaching.

  • In reply to publiusforum:

    I have to agree with publiusforum: from Sports Illustrated:

    By the time they have been retired for two years, 78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce.

    • Within five years of retirement, an estimated 60% of former NBA players are broke.

    So did they get an education? Did their college experience prepare them for life?

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    In reply to rmccann99:

    It's not exactly fair to peg that group for bankruptcy.....how many people file bankruptcy every year? I can promise you my college education prepared me for life, the part that was scholarship as well as the part that wasn't. And, I can say that college itself didn't prepare me for my current career path. Although I have used my college degree, I only took advantage of the piece of paper for 5 out of the last 21 years but the education I received overall has always been part of my life.

  • In reply to publiusforum:

    I agree with you here - because these "sports gods" were passed through school and had their yes men encouraging them, they never learned fundamentals about education. They blow through their money and are left bankrupt and without any fall-back career.

    And those are the ones that make it to the professional level (rare) for any length of time (more rare).....

    Take my nephew, for example - my brother is counting on him to be the savior since he was REALLY, REALLY GOOD in little league. He raised a kid focused only on sports (which he doesn't really have the heart or the skill to make it to the the minors much less the majors) and he's extremely mediocre in school. No drive. No passion.

    Plus this "teamwork" that people speak of - he doesn't have it. If someone is better than him, he gets angry. If someone isn't as good as him, he's a bully.

    I don't hate the kid but unless he gets chosen for some MTV reality show, this kid doesn't have too many other options for a viable career.....

  • No publius, almost all kids who get a scholarship DO NOT play sports professionally. Thousands and thousands graduate every year who wouldn't have gotten the chance to go to school if it weren't for sports.

    I suppose schools should get rid of music too, right? The odds of becoming a pro musician are pretty slim as well, and music does nothing to bring revenue to the school. How much money could be saved by firing the music teacher.

    Journalism club, math club? Get rid of it all.

    The flag corps? Dance team? Get rid of it all, right? Nothing but classes.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    Apparently, being a sports fan, you are blissfully unaware that studies show that teaching kids music INCREASES their ability to learn. So, no I would not get rid of music. In fact, I put the money wasted on sports into the music program.

    As to the rest of your silly rant, you obviously don't understand that writing and math is something we call USEFUL!

    If you are an example of what sports produces, you've made my case for me. So, thanks for that.

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    In reply to publiusforum:

    Teaching kids to be physically active is a good idea too....not just music and art...and I posted earlier but it said I was posting too quick...how many kids that do no participate in sports go home and get some good exercise? Very few I would bet and they aren't getting any physical activity at school b/c most states don't require it anymore.....they go to school and do school work, they come home and do more school work...sports= fun for a lot of folks never mind the opportunity to further their education and since when is having fun a bad thing for our youth? Seriously, let's be realistic here.....all work and no play.....makes you a dull boy......trust me when I say I am not just a sports fan and I am not blissfully unaware that music is a great piece of the puzzle...so is physical activity, so is learning the physics of bat hits ball and the end results is? so is, hitting a volleyball at one angle will render a point for one team and hitting it at another a point for the other...the long term takeaway is that the volleyball or baseball player has a heads up on the whole physics lesson when the time comes.......of course that's if the teachers and coaches are doing their jobs and not just bellyaching because they weren't part of the jocks in school.......I personally played 2 sports, was in the band, served on the quizbowl, was in Honor Society and Beta Club and had both academic and athletic scholarships waiting on me...not because I was some amazing athlete...but because I was a well-rounded individual....and the reason for that was academics, sports, music, and my PARENTS..... not money, not money at all......again, the sports funded themselves...the academic-extras were when I had to sell donuts for activities......

  • Thank you all for visiting School Zone and commenting - lots of passionate views on this topic. Please visit often!

  • I agree with Lisa 100%.

  • Something odd must have happened with sports in the last ten to twenty years. Remember in the old days when people used to tell kids that if they got involved in sports, they'd stay out of trouble with the law? Now some teams' rosters look almost like an episode of "America's Most Wanted".

    Also, think about it: there's always a pep rally before a big football or basketball game. When was there one for something like the math club or a spelling bee champ?

  • What a great program. Thanks for passing this along. Will let my fellow grandmothers know about this.

  • Just got an email from my local park district that July is national park and recreation month. They have all kinds of special activitities planned for Going Wild in the Parks!

  • Thank you for linking to my post! I'm so glad I know about KaBoom Tag Ap. I just downloaded it and will be entering all my park visits there.

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  • That CBS Sunday morning piece was interesting. Here is a related post, which speaks to the "boy crisis" and what one professor is doing in the White House to try and address the issue.


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    As a teacher, I have noticed the decline in boys in my AP Physics classes.. The classes are now dominated by girls. The boys just don't think it is cool to be good at physics.

  • Very disappointed to hear that. Glad that girls are getting motivated. AAUW and other women's organizations have taken steps to involve girls in science. Now I guess we need to include boys and advocate for science study for all!

  • This is definitely becoming a serious issue. Research has shown video games activate & stimulate children's brains in ways much more intense than the natural environment. All of this "virtual" interaction is breeding a generation of kids who will, no doubt, have difficulties interacting in the real world. Even though computers and technology are an integral part of our work, (as you well know) we institute the "30 minute rule" in our house. The microwave timer turns on and when it beeps 30 minutes later, video games/computers/iPhones turn off. I've had to physically wrestle the technology away from my little man's hands at times (which in itself is an obvious sign that these games are addictive), but it's the right thing to do for us as a family in the long run.

  • The days of big pensions and free health care with no deductibles is over for the public sector employees, and so it should be. And the free ride for education is coming to an end, too. If you plan on having kids, don't have more than you can pay for. Most tax payers "get it", it's just those with no money that don't seem to understand, to them it's ALL FREE! Rahm is going to purge all the companies he can from the 'burbs, then raise the water rates, and the pinnacle will be to dump the pension fees all back on the individual districts. Yup, keep voting the libs in, and be sure to keep your checkbook out, you're going to be needing it. The sad FACT is, those that can afford to leave Chicago and Illinois, will, and those that will be left, will be those unable to afford to move. That's a pretty thought, eh?

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    "Meanwhile, teachers will continue to be painted as greedy for counting on a pension they contributed to for retirement. " I dont get it..a teacher pays 9% into their pension..we all pay 7.8% into Soc Security. The absolute maximum social security(i.e. Warren Buffet's) is about 28K a year at age 67. The average current retiree pension in Ill is over 55K and gotten by age 60. It's present value is more than double social security. If a teacher thinks they can pay 1% more but get double than they are being willfully ignorant and hoping the taxpayer doesnt notice. The taxpayer has finally noticed. There are many ways to be greedy, one is to look the other way when you are living like royalty in retirement while your peer (college educated accountant) is working at WalMart. Thank God this is being discussed now.

  • This blog focuses on reform of pension abuse, WGN's revelation of aggregious loop hole scams beginning with Gov. Thompson and continuing with lawmakers of both parties to the present. The teacher pension fund was a victim of this fraud. Our goal should be adequate pensions for all citizens including both teachers and WalMart personnel, adequate public and private plans. It should be true for healthcare as well. Stopping the abuse by the politicians is a start.

  • Thanks for information on WGN's show. Is it the teacher's fault that lawmakers have made a mess of the pension fund? Many teachers had to work 35 years in order to get a full pension. But whenever the public hears about teachers getting time off, or raises and pensions they fall back on "those greedy teachers. Nobody went into teaching for the money nor for the pension.

  • I am truly grateful for Mark Suppelsa reporting on this pension scandal. We now have a chance to tackle the problem of public corruption. Governor Quinn says that we should consider suspending cost of living increases for teachers and public safety employee pensions. He also recommends that these individuals contribute more to these plans. That's a start, but doesn't go far enough to stabilize public pension plans.

    He should also mandate that state legislators contribute to their pension plans. Also, legislation should be passed to require that pension plan rules be changed only through a public referendum. We can not realistically expect state legislators to restrain themselves from passing legislation to augment their own pension otherwise.

  • Glad to see you are back, but maybe you forgot the first principal of journalism? Where is the balance in your story about the teachers' pensions system? Where were the teachers' unions, the teachers themselves? Where was the other side's story? Did the fact that the Tribune owns WGN have anything to do with your bias? Or was this merely a remnant from your stint at Murdoch's Fox "news"--the same Murdoch that Mike Royko nicknamed "the Alien?" If you think this story was "fair and balanced," maybe WGN has also sold out to the Murdoch empire--along with the Civic Federation, the state legislature and the governor.

  • "Where will the money come from for the news teachers? Will it be at the expense of other programs?"

    my crystal ball tells me that Chicago has a city income tax in its future.

  • I understand that you get upset when people are swearing around your kids, and although it is a free country and people are allowed to use whatever language they want when they want, it would probably have been just as easy as walking over and asking the table to "please" keep it down. They just might have not realized that they were as loud as they were.

    Also - I'm glad you and your friend consider it a "small victory" to get in kids' faces and scream at them. And then I wonder where kids learn their manners. Large fail.

  • I'm very sorry that you don't appreciate freedom of speech, but the fact of the matter is, people can say what they want where they want (with the obviously exceptions stated by law). I'm also very sorry that you don't want to have to parent your children; there seems to be a lot of that going around these days.

    Children are exposed to a multitude of behaviors, speech patterns, beliefs, etc, every single day. It is up to the parents to teach their children what they find acceptable and what they do not. You children will not be damaged if they hear a curse word, and if you do your job as a parent, they won't repeat those words (excluding the minor slip-ups that all children experience when learning something new).

    Your friend should be ashamed of herself. Her manners were far worse than those of the teenagers. She might not have liked their language, but it was not up to her to police it. It is the height of entitlement for her to think that she can dictate her own personal rules to others. The fact that she got in their faces and scared them shows her for what she is: a bully. Why on Earth are you celebrating the actions of a bully? Is that the lesson you want to teach your children? "He who yells loudest wins."

    Furthermore, the "you sound stupid" argument is trite and pointless. Sometimes, a curse word is the exact appropriate word. Maybe not always, but I don't think that's really up to you. Curse words have been used by the greatest minds in the world since the invention of language.

    Finally, given all of the errors in your post, I don't think you are in any position to criticize the speech patterns of others. One cannot proofread what they say before they say it, but one can certainly proofread a blog before they post it.

  • Unless you want to raise your kids in a bubble, they're going to be exposed to all sorts of things you don't approve of. It's very simple - teach them that there are words and activities that are reserved for adults only.

  • Am amazed at the two comments posted. But it points to how our society has deteriorated. I suppose if someone wanted to appear nude in a restaurant we would have to excuse it on the terms that its only freedom of expression. AS a former H.S. teacher I was suppose to ignore the use of F in the classroom, and in the halls and any other behavior that seemed inappropriate in a public place? I would hope that people who are in favor of the use of the F word would look up its meaning and determine whether its a noun, adj. verb, adverb and then examine how they use it. Usually, its grammatically incorrect.

  • In reply to Miss D:

    I am a very educated woman who works for one of the top universities in the country. I hardly think I'm a sign of how society has deteriorated.

    You are comparing apples and oranges. It is illegal in most places to appear nude in a restaurant. It is NOT illegal to swear. There is a huge difference, and if you can't see that, I honestly question whether you were fit to be a teacher. (Of course, your typos make me question that as well; I pray you didn't teach English.)

    I take mass transit in a major city. Believe me, I hear appalling things all the time. However, we don't live in a totalitarian state. There's no "unless someone doesn't want to hear it" clause in the first amendment. That's why hate groups are allowed to spew their vitriol; it's why people like Fred Phelps and his group haven't been shut down. Do I like what they have to say? Of course not. However, the Constitution guarantees them the right to say it, and if we curtail that right, we start down a slippery slope.

    I digress; we aren't talking legalities here, really. We are talking about people who have decided that their way is the right way and therefore feel that they can impose their beliefs on complete strangers. Sadly for you and the writer but fortunately for the rest of the world, they cannot.

  • In reply to Miss D:

    *I am *restaurant, *it's *As *supposed *place. *it's *adjective, *verb, or *it's

  • In reply to meganly:

    Oooh, or maybe that was supposed to be a question? It's hard to tell! If so, it should be, "As a former H.S. teacher *was I supposed to ignore the use of F in the classroom, and in the halls, and any other behavior that seemed inappropriate in a public place?" That said, the sentence could still use a bit of tightening up!
    Muphry's law wins again!

    Hugs and kisses from a serial cusser!

  • In reply to Miss D:

    There's a difference in using "fuck" in the classroom and outside of it. Just like a judge, the classroom is YOUR domain. And you can decide what is appropiate or not.

    In public, there's no such rule. It has nothing to do with "society deteriorating". Just about any word can be considered offensive to some people.

    The principle is that she cannot FORCE others to behave in the way she feels fit -just because there's kids around. They will hear, if not say, much worse. She can be civil and request that they keep their voices down - which they may if approached in a normal, civilized manner.

  • I get freedom of speech but I don't want my kids exposed to endless f-bombs, either. I have no problem asking people to tone it down when my kids are present - did it last week. Just because it is legal doesn't make it appropriate. A little self-awareness, people! Oh, and I wish you worked in my school district!

  • I will curse where I want, when I want. It's not my responsibility to coddle your children.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    Go ahead and swear in front of my children and I'll kick your F'in ass, little Eddie. First offff allll.. stop fuckusing on typos people. Second... asking someone to tone it down is acceptable. If anyone with an ounce of class refuses, "Freedom of Speech" does not protect the right to keep swearing. Freedom of Speech is suppose to protect your right to speak your mind and not have the government come after you. A restaurant has the right to kick you out of their building if you are too loud or vulgar. I hate stupid people using the "Freedom of Speech" card to allow them to be stupid.

  • In reply to BigO:

    Haha, you said "fuckusing."

  • Sorry, but it's not my job to parent your children - it's yours. I don't generally curse loudly and freely in public (anymore) because I'm not a teenager, but there are times when it does slip out. You were well within your rights to scold the teenagers in your classroom, because that is *your* domain. You are well within your right to ask that someone refrain from cursing in front of your children in your home, because that is also your domain. However, in public, kids are going to be exposed to things you don't like or don't approve of - and it's up to you to teach your children that saying X word that they heard in the mall is not OK to repeat. You can't control the behavior of others and it isn't up to you to try, but you ARE responsible for your minor children. Try living up to that responsibility rather than trying to control an environment over which you have no control to suit you. Failing that, buy a private island and raise your kids there, exposing them only to that which you think is appropriate.

  • I'm addressing several of you on this topic. I also had a similar experience; I did address some youths in a civil & polite manner only to receive vulgar & hostile retorts. I agree with some of the others that we are entitled to freedom of speech, and we cannot keep our children in a bubble. Yes it is our responsibiltiy to parent our own children; by teaching, SCREENING what they experience. This is what the woman was trying to accomplish. When you politely ask someone to be considerate & have some decorum & they respond with filfth & a lack of respect then yes, it's safe to say that society is deteriorating. Parents are not teaching their children to respect adults or young impressional minds by setting a good example.

  • In reply to Banky:

    "The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers." -Socrates

    Society has been deteriorating for an awful long time!

  • I think it's worth noting that the best-written and most eloquent responses come down on the side free speech.

    BigO, freedom of speech actually does cover the right to keep swearing. I can get into Constitutional law if you like, but given the way you write, I seriously doubt it would make sense to you. Yes, restaurant owners have the right to eject patrons if they object to their behavior; the point is that other patrons do not have the same right. To break it down into simpler terms, "Your house, your rules." You can't tell me to stop swearing in public any more than I can walk into your house and demand you learn how to spell or put together a coherent sentence.

  • I think that delighting in an adult intimidating and scarring teens just makes you look stupid. It does not make the teens look bad – they’re kids. Your friend has not taught them anything other than if you’re older, you can act like a jerk and get away with it. Furthermore, I think that not proofing your own blog and About section after extoling your virtues as an editor and former teacher with a Masters in Education also makes you look stupid.

  • *scaring (I should take my own advice!)

  • I find that most of the posts to this blog quite embarrassing and that is putting it mildly. What I find so funny is that they are saying she doesn't want to parent her children...where in this blog does she say that??? You won't find it people because she did not say it. The personal attack was unbelievable. As soon as you say somebody can't do something(which was not the case here) the attack begins and "freedom of speech" is thrown out there like a wet dish rag. Really people???? This is NOT about freedom of speech what it is about is common decency and to be smart enough when to be appropriate in public. But as you can see from these many posts common decency has been thrown out the window and the 'dumbness" sets in. Look around and see your surroundings instead of being so caught up in your own world you fail to see all the people around you. It is ALL about common decency for the people around you and that is the bottom line here. I love the part Lisa when you stated about this is where the education part comes in.....those were all great points and how true! Keep up the good work I love reading what you have to say!

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    This is awesome news! Glee for "underdogs" forever!! http://www.facebook.com/pages/Gleeks/409664172416708

  • Excellent suggestions!

  • My son is only starting preschool, but I will try to keep these in mind.

  • I am definitely going to try this because when I asked the dreaded question this morning, I got the dreaded, "Zero things. We did zero things at school."

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    My daughter asked me "Did I have any questions for her related to my "parent homework"... What was my homework u may ask;)

    Well I just finished my" parent homework" I filled out my childrens school "Emergency Contact" cards n triplicate, reviewed and accepted my chiilds & my " school contract" that outlined MY responsibility as a parent to ensure their success in school etc... I gave ALL ways for the school to contact me if there is a problem, question or concern...

    What I DID NOT see is what I can expect from the
    Principal & Teachers related to my childs success but no worries I have an " educator contract" for them to review thus ensuring WE ALL are on the same page, accepting the fact that we all will be held accountable to ensure the teacher/principal's and all childrens success;)

    PS. I also have a "home contract" for my kids to ensure they understand what is expected this school year;)

  • Thank you all for reading the post and commenting. I am interested in hearing how it goes for you - as you promote critical thinking skills with your own children. I am thinking this would be a great strategy to use with teens as well as they approach driving age. The parent think out loud strategy of how to predict and react to traffic and making good decisions on the road.

  • Appreciated references to topics for consideration. Tough problem here, important one but lots of angles.

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    What a fabulous idea! Oprah - you can do this! Raise awareness and enrich our city!

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    What a great idea Lisa! Your spirit is amazing and your reach to the people that can and should make a difference is invigorating to see. You are a suburban mom, wanting to see improvement in the Chicago schools, they should all be happy to know you! Hope Oprah's staff sees this and answers your request!!

  • Terrific idea.It's really a hands on operation instead of all the talk of how bad the schools are and the myriad ideas that have been attempted without success.

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    There is negligence by the media and US government regarding obesity problems. Mr. Obama assigned Dr. Regina Benjamin a physician 42 lbs overweight as General Surgeon to guide Americans on a fight against obesity. She has to convince lay people about healthy lifestyles when she cannot convince herself besides her available professional background.
    I am a PhD scientist and I ran two half-marathons during my PhD at Penn State. We are simply becoming victims of modern lifestyle not only by obesity but neurogenesis effect also as lack of fitness increases the weight and reduces neurons in the cerebellum making people bigger and dumber as a consequence of sedentary options.
    Unhappily they are becoming obese and less intelligent to fix it making the trend grow and get worse and worse till a catastrophe kicks in.
    Obesity is a natural consequence of our physiology storing energy for the hard time that does not come anymore.
    It took around 10,000 years for humans to get used of covering their bodies as like any animal we are born naked and have walked naked in the landscape for millions of years.
    In the future we will learn how to live in the modern landscape in balance with our physiology when machinery does most of the work and our diet is becoming unsuitable because the food industry is changing it for profit. What we are eating is just good for the profitability goal.
    We are in the turning point of human evolution when food chase man for profit and we are not even intelligent enough to run away even less to do some minimum work out to protect a healthy functioning of our physiology.
    There is no such obesity level in Ethiopia as food is kind of scarce there. Also, ‘undeveloped’ humans like those uncontacted tribes in the Amazon are so behind that their obesity level indeed is ZERO.
    As humans we are born to solve problems we face. This spreading obesity will be fixed down the line but it may take some decades or centuries till the consequences of neglecting nature balance shows enough consequences to provide guidance of how bad it can become and how important is to pursue nature that respect nature functioning.
    This ruse of Ms. Livingston and Dr. Regina Benjamin General Surgeon is a clear portrait on how much awareness is employed to cope with an emerging problem that is going to hurt many for not paying attention on what is really important on our daily life.
    Sorry, there is no offense in science.
    Whenever you neglect Gravity, you fall down and get hurt. Screaming, shouting, cursing, laughing, yelling, or sobbing is not going to change or alleviate you pain.
    You learned to respect nature on your first steps to walk and survive in the landscape.
    As I read I see the toll that obesity is taking as coffins do not fit larger sizes, crematory cannot accommodate huge corpses, paramedics need cranes to handle big people, ambulances need reinforcement, and hospitals need large doors. Recently a 19 year old girl extremely obese had the wall of her house in UK broke down to let her visit a hospital as she was not passing through the door.

    Humans are intelligent and this is not supposed to be happening within our own understanding of reason and glare.

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    Until we begin looking at differential treatment from an early age and show just how our individual environments create different mental/emotional/social conditioning; how average stress is made up of layers of mental frictions that take up real mental energy, and how differential treatment creates real advantages for girls today, we will continue to be at a loss to explain the growing Male Crisis. Pleas do not buy into the genetic models, for they will only make it much worse for Male students.
    The problem is more complex than school curriculum or boy chemistry. The problem involves two entirely different treatment of Males and Females beginning as early as one year of age and increases in differential treatment through adulthood. This is creating the growing Male Crisis in the information age. The belief Males should be strong allows more aggressive treatment of Males beginning as early and possibly earlier than one year. This is coupled with much "less" kind, stable, verbal interaction and less mental/emotional/social support, knowledge, and skills for fear of coddling. This increases over time and continued by society from peers and teachers to others in society. This creates more social/emotional distance from parents and other authority figures who have knowledge; higher average stress that hurts learning and motivation to learn; more activity due to need for stress relief; more defensiveness and wariness of others further hindering emotional and social growth; and higher muscle tension (creating more pressure on pencil and tighter grip) that hurts writing and motivation to write. It creates much lag in development creating a learned sense of helplessness in school. This differential treatment continues on through adulthood, almost fixing many Males onto roads of failure and more escape into more short-term areas of enjoyment. Also the giving of love based on achievement that many Males thus falling behind academics then turns their attention toward video games and sports, risk taking to receive small measures of love/honor not received in the classroom.

    Since girls by differential treatment are given more positive, continual, and close mental/emotional/social/ support verbal interaction and care from an early age onward this creates quite the opposite outcome for girls compared with boys. The lower the socioeconomic bracket and time in that bracket the more amplified the differential treatment from a young age and increased in more differentiated over time.

    http://learningtheory.homestead.com/Theory.html My learning theory explains how individual environments create large differences in learning over time and provides tools to improve our lives.

  • The real vote should be for "none-of-the-above".

    Why in the world should there be "an education president"?

    That is akin to saying that there should be a "health president".

    You see where I am going, obviously.

    The federal government should have no involvement in education. There is nothing they can do but muck it up and politicize it, which it has done.

    The thought that government schools are somehow going to return to the so-called "golden" days of the 1940's and 1950's, is tired and done.

    Teacher unions hold parents and school districts hostage, and deliver the money and the vote to the Democrat candidate, who then returns the favor by supporting hardball, unrealistic tactics demanded by the unions.

    There should be "education teachers", who should be honest enough to admit that the current system is a failure.

    I had an posting war with another teacher on this site, who walked out to "defend his profession". Uh-huh. Sure. He walked out to get guaranteed raises, have less accountability and to ensure health coverage.

    The teaching profession needs no defending that way, considering that most make twice per capita of the residents of their districts. Where the defense is needed is to get administrators and unions and, most of all, the federal government, out of the classroom and allow all the freedom to use their tax money to decide where education has the most value.

  • That's a very nice idea, but the President doesn't have to take person time, or even go without pay in order to make it to a parent-teacher conference. A lot of working parents do.

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    I think teachers bend over backwards to accomodate working parents and have plenty of evening conference times. This article is great! I bet the teachers wish that the could send a copy home with each student!!!! Happy conferences. :)

  • Great column. I enjoy scattergories not to build vocabulary but to keep it. Things you replace? H? hips

  • This column is great, lots of fun stuff to do.

  • These are some great ideas! We did a few of them when my daughter was younger and are trying to come up with new ones. I think I will take #4 literally and have my tween "expand" on a book by writing a story that is a prequel or a sequel, or somehow related. Maybe a take on Polar Express from the perspective of the conductor or another child on the train? Or they can write their own. We're also a big fan of haikus in our house. Thanks for the motivation to write a few holiday-themed ones! We're also writing cards to soldiers, but that works for any age. A friend of hers mentioned during the carpool yesterday that her family has an audio recording of A Christmas Carol and they are listening to a little every night leading up to Christmas, which is a nice take on your #5. Sorry this got so long!

  • I really, really love that quote. I want to make sure I remember it in June, when resolutions seem so far away. One of my resolutions is to use more positive reinforcement.

    Here's a post I did on ProActive Kids - a group working to help kids be healthy: http://www.chicagonow.com/tween-us/2012/08/program-helps-tweens-and-their-families-fight-obesity/

    Happy New Year!

  • Really enjoyed the column. Looking forward to reading the book.

  • It would be really challenging for me and my entire family. I am not sure if I have the energy to try it!

  • This was much more difficult than I thought! But worth the effort!

  • Very interesting. Might try a modified version.

  • Hi Lisa.

  • Hi Lisa
    OMG that blog about end if school burnout was hilarious and so true! Thanks for sharing!

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    Great ideas for the summer Lisa! I'm signing up! And I loved your last blog post - end of year burnout. You always have such a fresh and positive outlook on School and LIFE!

  • Thanks so much for the link! I put one back here in my blog, too! :) Hope your summer is off to a great, educational start!

  • Terrific post. I am sending this to all of my grandmother friends.

  • Thanks for all the suggestions. I like the suggested age ranges after each one. I will get some of these for Henry & Sadie this summer!

  • [...]  School Zone has a great gallery of Ten Books Kids Want to Read [...]

  • Great post - thanks so much! My tween adores the City Museum and has been asking to go back for a year. Will definitely stop for custard the next time we go!

  • Reminds me of past trips. Good ideas and worth trying.

  • Love this post! I just blogged yesterday about our family taking a "culinary trip to France" in our own kitchen. Thanks for the new ideas!

  • In reply to Christine Mary:

    Thank you so much for complimenting/commenting. I will definitely check out your blog! I almost included a recipe for cream puffs in this post but it was getting a little long. Used to make them all the time - very "francais!"

  • [...] objectionable. My tween said, "It's odd yet fun." It's also part of a series, and Lisa Stiegman of School Zone says, "Teachers know that a secret to reading success is to find a series that students [...]

  • Love the entry, especially the notion of reading around the world.

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    I don’t want to go in debate whether obama education related programs are good or Romney, but I think investing and undertaking efforts at this matter will bring benefits to students.
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    Excellent article! As a clinical social worker working with school-age children and teens, I agree that parents need to investigate their child's reticence about returning to school - there may be more to it - fear of bullies, looking right, fitting in or just plain nervous about the classes. Keep up the great posts!
    Michelle Krepps, LCSW, MSW, MBA
    Clinical Associates in Counseling

  • Thank you for commenting and reading the blog!

  • So glad to see you back blogging! Hope you're having a great summer!

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    As a learning specialist (15+ years) and a former child/adolescent therapist, I have found that it is not so much a question of which learning modality is strongest, but how five of them work in concert (what I call their OptiKode) according to each student that makes the difference. When we take the time to understand how each child learns best, we can sync the learning to the child so lands in a way that makes sense for them.

  • thank you


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    This is such a beautiful story. I think dedicating a writing day to her is a perfect way to show appreciation. I’m sure a lot of students would want to take part, moreover writing is an enjoyable process. It reminds me of numerous writing contests we had in college. Some of best works are still can be found in the internet (you can follow the link to read them). It’s really something to remember, I’m so grateful our professors took time to organize them each year. Anyway, I’m really happy I read this article, thank you!

  • Amy, you are welcome and thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts on this post! I'm very appreciative. We miss this special teacher.

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    I hope we can begin to see through the the veneer of "not cool to study or perform academic work". I hope this will then allow us to see the more primary problem facing boys today. I feel many of those boys have been lagging in academics for a long time and now are not able to take the AP Classes. I can see why this position is taken by many professionals. They sincerely believe in the genetics models with no interfering, environmental or differential treatment influences. Since they then sincerely believe on average, boys and girls are equal, they can only assume the verbals they are given that "it is simply not cool". We need to see how the differential treatment they are receiving is creating the academic problems. My comment toward the bottom, below this one shows such differential treatment effects. We need to also see the belief boys should be strong allowing "more ridicule and discipline for failure" then creates and either success or ruin scenario for boys. Since they must continually generate love and honor through some achievement, this keeps boys' esteem and feelings of self-worth lower, something society put in place to make boys strong and keep trying. Oh, with the higher average stress from the differential treatment, you also have improper pace and intensity fed into attempting to perform mental work. For many boys this can create a much added intensity to average stress to further hurt learning from an early age that hurts more so in say, high school where they are already behind in reading, math, and complex science areas. Oh, I feel abstract thinking is very necessary for reading and higher math and science areas. This requires lower layers of average stress and also proper pace and intensity along with the verbal skills (usually not provided by parents, teachers, and peers from much more social/emotional distance and fear of coddling.

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  • I'm glad to see you also blogged on this subject. I agree with everything you've said and the questions you asked are certainly those one would have thought school officials would have raised. This story also incited me because of my past work as a dean of students at a south side charter school. I wrote about what would have happened had Ahmed been my student in my latest blog on "In FITNESS and In Health." Hope you read it and would love to hear your thoughts as well. Have a great day!

  • Very well written, Lisa. You asked all the right questions, in my opinion.

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    Lisa Stiegman

    My name is Lisa Stiegman and I have been a Chicago area resident all my life. Besides being the mother of three children, I have been a writer, editor, and teacher.

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