Strange Stuff 20.2

Illustrator: © 2005 Mikhaela

© 2005 Mikhaela

Intelligent Revenge

In early November, Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson said the people of Dover, Penn., might suffer for electing school board members who believe the teaching of “intelligent design” is not appropriate for public schools. “I’d like to say to the good citizens of Dover: If there is a disaster in your area, don’t turn to God; you just rejected him from your city.” Robertson said during an episode of The 700 Club. In earlier rants, Robertson predicted that Orlando might get hit by a meteor for allowing people to fly gay pride flags and called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

High-Stakes Tots

A government proposal in Britain would monitor early childhood caregivers on their adherence to an “Early Years Foundation Stage” curriculum, which would prescribe what children would learn from birth to age 3. National inspections would ensure that children are meeting benchmarks. In addition, all 3-year-olds would be taught rudimentary math, language, and literacy. A spokewoman for the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations called the proposal “absolute madness.”

School Financing

Here’s a solution for cash-strapped college students. According to a press release from “Spread the News PR,” a Carnegie Mellon University student won his tuition playing online poker. Jeremy Olisar, 21, won the “Win Your Tuition” prize for playing Texas Hold ‘Em. The business director for Absolute Poker said, “We applaud him for taking the title and are pleased to have the opportunity to play an important part in his educational pursuits.”

Service with a Smile

Schools in southwest Florida are emphasizing the “customer service” aspect of education. Front office clerks in Port Charlotte, Fla., have been told to keep a mirror handy to check their smiles. The Sarasota district says it will train all its 5,000 employees in customer-service techniques. In an age when public schools have to compete with charters, home schooling, and magnet schools, “customer service is a measure of success,” said Sally Wade, who trains teachers and administrators.

More Than a Tux

A principal of a private school in Long Island cancelled the spring prom for reasons of escalating “financial decadence.” Kenneth Hoagland of Kellen-berg Memorial, a Catholic high school in Uniondale, N.Y., said he was reacting to reports of “students putting down $10,000 to rent a house in
the Hamptons for a weekend bash . . . fathers chartering a boat so their kids could go out on a late-night cruise.” Hoagland, a brother in the Marianist order, said the “flaunting of affluence” bothered him more than the “sex, booze, and drugs” associated with proms.

Teachers’ Aid

According to a press release, the company Health by Association has announced “Just for Teachers,” a dietary supplement “designed to combat the unique challenges of the classroom.” The vitamin was developed by a family practitioner whose wife is a special education teacher.