Archive for the 'education' Category

"I before E" no more?

Rarely would I ever consider blogging about grammar, but here is a big change in the teaching of grammar that will evoke memories for just about all of us.


LONDON – It’s a spelling mantra that generations of schoolchildren have learned — “i before e, except after c.”

But new British government guidance tells teachers not to pass on the rule to students, because there are too many exceptions.

The “Support For Spelling” document, which is being sent to thousands of primary schools, says the rule “is not worth teaching” because it doesn’t account for words like ‘sufficient,’ ‘veil’ and ‘their.’



Teacher Who Had Students Degrade, Vote Out Aspergers Student from Class Able to Retain Tenure

Student Alex Barton, 7; forced out of class by students and teacher.

The appeal of disgraced Florida Kindergarten teacher Wendy Portilio to retain tenure when her period of pay less suspension ends has been approved by the school board.

Portilio is the kindergarten teacher who pressured her young students to say in front of the class “what they hated” about Alex Barton, 7 a student with Aspergers Syndrome whom she accused of acting up, and then voting him out of the class.

FT. PIERCE, FL — Wendy Portillo broke down in tears when the St. Lucie County School Board made their decision.

She’s still suspended without pay until November, but when she returns to the classroom, she’ll come back with tenure.

Portillo has been a teacher in St. Lucie County for 12 years.

It was a little more than a year ago that Portillo had 5-year old Alex Barton in her Kindergarten class at Morningside Elementary School.

Alex had apparently been acting up. Portillo had the other students take a vote and they decided to send Alex out of the room.

The incident gained worldwide attention. Alex was in the process of being diagnosed with a form of autism called Asperger’s Syndrome.

Personally as someone with Aspergers syndrome myself, I think this woman got off easy. To express grievances e-mail the school board. Keep all messages expressed clear, eloquent, and decent.

Maine Knocks Down Proposal to Refashion State Legislature

<a href="“>Unicameral legislature is where instead of having two chambers of a state legislature (usually a House and a senate)the two chambers are merged into one legislative body. Some think this cuts down on red tape and inefficiencies, while critics fear that it could compromise checks and balances.

The State House of Representatives in Maine has voted to approve such a move, but not by the margins necessary to be implemented, while the Senate has balked at the measure altogether.

I don’t quite know how I feel about the unicameral legislative approach. It might work in a more rural state such as Maine, however I doubt that it would be effective in a more urban and populated state such as Massachusetts.

The only other state in the country to have a unicameral legislative body is the state of Nebraska which has a unicameral non-partisan body. Though from time to time one hears a rumble or two from the occasional reformist politician who expresses support for such a concept, it has caught little support from elected leaders and the wider public. maybe its because if approved it would eliminate the jobs of some of those elected leaders.


Alex Barton

It was on May 20 of last year that Florida Kindergarten teacher Wendy Portiio humiliated one of her students Alex Barton, 6 who has Aspergers syndrome, when she called on students to vote Alex out of the class. The young students encouraged by the teacher who should have been the voice of reason among the young children; voted young Alex out of class by a 14-2 Survivor style vote.

I still say a years suspension and being stripped of her tenure is not punishment enough. Furthermore it is embarrassing that so many of her colleagues stood with her in her conduct in this incident. Why this woman will be allowed to educate children again is eludes me.


Mother of Boy with Aspergers Humiliated and Expelled from Class by Teacher, Allegedly Threatened

A follow-up on a story I blogged about last year but amidst all the helter skelter in life didn’t follow up on as much as I should have. Last year around this time Alex Barton, a 5 year old kindergarten student with Aspergers syndrome, was publicly humiliated by his teacher when she had her students engage in an abhorrent exercise where they voiced what they didn’t like about Alex and voted 14-2 to expel him from class.

Following complaints by the Alex’s mother Melissa Barton to the school, the teacher Wendy Portillo was placed in a non-teaching role before being placed on one year suspension and then having her tenure yanked. A bit of a slap on the wrist for such a blatantly stupid and bullying act if you ask me. But supposedly Melissa Barton was recently threatened by another parent at the school.

Melissa Barton said she went to the school Friday for a ceremony honoring her oldest son, according to a Port St. Lucie police report. Another woman approached her in the school cafeteria allegedly threatening to fight her in the parking lot.

Barton’s son, Alex, was ousted from his kindergarten class in a 14-to-2 vote led by his teacher Wendy Portillo. Portillo in November was suspended for one year and her tenure was taken away.

The other mother denied the allegations, the police report said. She told police she approached Barton and said, “I’m going to be real discreet about this. I just want you to know that I love my school and what you did was not fair to our school,” the police report said.

The school resource officer said she escorted Barton to the parking lot because of safety concerns and told her she would send a patrol car to monitor her home.

No arrests were made and the case was closed.

Now if the allegations by Mrs Barton are true this just goes to show how low parenting has devolved to the level that some parents are just as immature and unrestrained in their behavior as their children. But even if this woman didn’t threaten Mrs Barton, all legalities aside, not fair to our school? What about young Alex, who has a social disorder that already likely makes him feel ostracized, was publicly humiliated and shamed before his class, by both his peers and the supposed adult enshrined with caring for each and every student’s welfare? I don’t know about moist, but it would seem that Mrs Barton did the school a service. After all would you want a teacher who instead of ingraining the values of civility in young children ,actually encourages such childish conduct? who acts not as the adult amongst the children but a chief bully amongst them? After all if she did it to one child she would likely do it to any other, including your own child.

Related Items: Check out the Justice for Alex Barton site and blog.


Michael Steele has an "Is our Children learning" moment.

Now I don’t mean to continue harping on RNC chair Michael Steele, but the problem seems to be getting worse. First in a GQ profile (where he infamously spoke out in favor of tolerance and said that abortion should be a woman’s decision although he did think Roe v Wade was bad law), he called the 1950s and 60s crooners “the Rat Pack” the “Pack Rats”. Now in a statement where he both tries to highlight the importance of education and allude to the whole America is in danger of lapsing into socialism, an argument that the conservative base wants to hear, he ends up making a fool of himself. The error may be small but in the context it is in, it is nonetheless laughable.

“Education is key,” said the RNC Chair. “It is where it begins, for all of us… If we understand the difference between Marxism, socialism and capitalism; if we understand the difference between a Roberto Mussolini, an Adolf Hitler, and a Franklin Roosevelt, and his honor the honorable Winston Churchill, if we know those differences than we can appreciate what these times mean. And how history is a precursor of things to come.”

Roberto Mussolini? Just for the record Mr Steele, if it is the former Fascist leader of Italy and Hitler its not Roberto, but Benito. Benito Mussolini. This will really piss off Mussolini’s granddaughter no doubt. Now maybe Steele was referring to the film actor Roberto Benigni, Oscar winning Italian actor and director, who if he was comparing to Hitler, Churchill, and Franklin Roosevelt certainly is very different. But there is no Roberto Mussolini.


Also on this Date

American Indians seize Alcatraz Island in 1969