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Posts Tagged ‘education

American Kids Celebrate End Of School Shooting Year

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AR-15Washington, DC, June 12 – Children across the country are excited for the end of the school shooting term, finally free not to attend the institutions where they are forced to sit in classrooms and are placed at increased risk for being killed or wounded by gunfire.

Since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre at the end of 2012, 74 school shooting incidents have taken place in the United States. The litany of such massacres has had no impact on gun control efforts, leaving parents, teachers and administrators with no choice but to simply wait for the school shooting year to end and hope that yet another recurrence does not hit them in the meantime.

“Summer vacation is always a challenge, but this year we’re a little relieved the school shooting year is basically over,” said Eugene, Oregon-area resident Alex Mully. “Summer camp might be expensive, but even with all the climbing, jumping, hiking, camping, dirt, and wilderness, it’s still seems safer than school.”

Mully is hardly alone in his sentiments. Parents and teachers in high schools from coast to coast have joined Facebook groups and other social media venues dedicated to counting down the number of days left until a school shooting is no longer a possibility, as least until September. The groups have become a mixture of cheering each passing day, sharing techniques for coping with the sense of danger, and recipes for cupcakes and other treats to keep the children’s mind off the possibility that at any time in the next few days, a disturbed or evil person will kill and maim them with weapons and ammunition that the politicians seem powerless or unwilling to limit.

The Department of Education has put out an online publication urging principals and teachers not to be distracted by the impending sense of respite, and that they continue to shoulder educational responsibilities. “Let us not lose our focus on the goal,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in an introductory message. Our goal was and remains the provision of knowledge and skills for understanding and functioning in the world, and we cannot allow ourselves to be thwarted by the prospect of being pumped full of lead from an assault rifle. We must therefore ignore that threat.”

Written by Thag

June 12, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Study Links Enunciation Of “T” In “Often” With Low Intelligence

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stupidityCambridge, MA, March 14 – Neurologists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say they have discovered a correlation between improper pronunciation of the word “often” and poor performance on cognitive tests.

According to the study, people who pronounce the silent t in “often” are more likely to show significant deficiencies in problem-solving, comprehension, and basic common sense. They are twice as likely never to have mastered such skills as touch-typing, tying one’s shoes, and harboring a distaste for hip-hop “music,” and three times as likely to put just plain wrong toppings on pizza, such as anchovies, pineapple, corn, and tuna – even simultaneously.

Pronunciation of the t, which is manifestly wrong, according to anyone who knows anything, follows the example of the word soften. “Do people use fabric sof-tener when they do laundry?” asked the study’s lead author, Dr. Yogi Berra of MIT. “Apparently, the unintelligent hear other unintelligent people mangling the word and it sounds higher-class, so they adopt it, as well. It’s basically a plague of stupidity.”

The study found a similar correlation among people whose locutions include “between you and I,” “at the and of the day,” “last but not least,” “blogosphere,” “Web 2.0,” “peace process,” and “in the future/in the past,” the last two of which Dr. Berra calls an indictment of English-speaking civilization as a whole.

Dr. Berra is developing diagnostic tools to predict, at an early age, which children are likely to develop into mentally deficient adults who pronounce the says of the week as if they are missing the penultimate letter.

Written by Thag

March 13, 2014 at 5:56 pm

In Science, Math, US Students Now Rank Behind Mold, Cabbage

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Washington, January 22 – Data from standardized tests shows a new low in the academic achievements Among American high school students, placing their computational and analytical abilities just below those of the fungi and plant kingdoms.

As students from East Asia and the Scandinavian countries continue to excel, US students now rank 23,900,345,988,022nd, representing a severe drop since last year’s position as last among the world’s 208 countries with independent educational systems. Just ahead of the United States last year was South Sudan, a brand-new, war-torn African country, and Somalia, which the United Nations deemed a Failed State just a few years ago.

US leadership in education began to drop off in the decades following the Second World War, and has never really recovered. A stable period during the 1970’s saw the students maintain a position in top 20, but subsequent decay of the culture and educational system rendered any improvement impossible.

“We have to see this as a wake-up call,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “I really have no idea where we went wrong,” he added, noting that he was unsure whether that lack of knowledge was a cause or a symptom of the troubling results.


Not Irma Strumpf. Probably.

“The easiest thing to do is blame the children themselves,” said noted educator Irma Strumpf, 102, who teaches Biology at the Hebrew Academy of Nassau County in Uniondale, New York. “And that’s probably what we’ll do.” She said the fault certainly could not lie with the teachers, who know how to focus on priorities such as belittling students who fail to complete assignments, and unfavorably comparing younger siblings to older ones.

The rankings contain some anomalies that make them even more puzzling to researchers and educators. While US teenagers show little or no aptitude for basic arithmetic or the scientific method, they demonstrate keen abilities in remembering and processing the details of plentiful celebrity gossip, skills that could easily be adapted for use in academics. And with their proficiency in deciphering text messages with myriad non-standard linguistic expressions, educators expected the students to handle non-numeric mathematical symbols easily, which of course has not happened.

Written by Thag

January 22, 2014 at 8:55 am

Education Dept.: Not Enough Time Wasted At Parent-Teacher Meetings

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140px-US-DeptOfEducation-Seal.svgWashington, DC (AP) – Responding to an alarming increase in the risk of parents actually having time to accomplish things, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan directed all schools receiving federal funding to allot more time for meetings with teachers.

Technology has allowed American parents to increase their efficiency, maintaining productive communication with associates, supervisors, and employees even while engaged in the mundane tasks of parenting a school-age child. Smart phones and other mobile devices help them stay in contact via text messages and other media even while they sit in a classroom as a teacher or principal drones on in cliché-ridden pronouncements about educational goals and parental involvement.

To combat this development, Duncan had his staff prepare a plan to restore the status quo ante from decades past, when parents had no choice but to sit idle, silently cursing themselves and their fates while being assaulted with hackneyed verbiage. The Taking the Initiative to Make Educational Sessions Unbearable in Conferences or with Kids (TIMESUCK) program makes it mandatory for all teachers to bar the use of mobile devices while parents are assembled for meetings with teachers.

Through TIMESUCK, the Department of Education seeks to keep parents in their rightful place: scrambling, frustrated, exhausted, confused, and as powerless as possible. “The mission of each cabinet department is to maximize the ways in which US citizens and residents are made to feel helpless and manipulated,” Duncan told reporters. “The Department of Education is charged with achieving that end through the school system.”

Traditionally, explained Duncan, the chief vehicle for cultivating and nurturing the persecution of parents has been post-secondary tuition fees and a program jointly sponsored with the CIA to maintain  certain level of drug addiction in middle and high schools. Further support for these initiatives comes form the Department of Health, which has consistently managed to ensure that a disturbing percentage of female high school students become pregnant at least once by their junior years.

However, uneven distribution of income and parental involvement in children’s schooling has meant that while the goals of the Department were being met, even exceeded, in inner cities and areas hit with socioeconomic distress, middle- and upper-class school districts still had unacceptably high levels of parental satisfaction and engagement. TIMESUCK, says educational consultant Hugh Sunavobicz, will make great strides in equalizing the frustrations of parents across the socioeconomic spectrum.

“In recent years, parents of means could insulate themselves from the soul-sucking experience of parent-teacher conferences, but this measure levels the playing field. In many ways, it’s a back-door achievement to further the goals of the Democratic Party, which prides itself on equalizing the opportunities that the economically disadvantaged normally do not enjoy.” In this case, noted Sunavobicz, few resources are necessary to implement the initiative, a point that short-circuits some of the anticipated criticism from conservative quarters.

Republican Senator Mark Rubio confirms that analysis. “The Republican Party does not oppose granting people opportunity, but it must be done judiciously and non-profligately. TIMESUCK seems to answer to both requirements, but only time will tell.” He added that the GOP has consistently supported other measures to keep parental optimism in check, such as a series of wasteful foreign wars, a government that blatantly violated human rights and constitutional protections, and election campaigns that leave no room for hope in the future.

Written by Thag

December 22, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Sesame Street Donates Big Bird To Feed African Children

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Big BirdNew York (AP) – Against the backdrop of civil wars and the constant threat of famine, the producers of the hit children’s TV show Sesame Street have decided to provide dozens of deprived African children with the protein-rich meat of that largest regular Sesame Street character, Big Bird.

The plan calls for Big Bird to be sent next month by boat to either Nigeria or Burkina-Faso, where he will be slaughtered and butchered. Refrigerated trucks would spread across the region to at least ten remote villages most adversely affected by privation, with the goal of reaching a minimum of one hundred children by the end of January.

Persistent unrest and unchecked disease have disrupted life for millions of Africans. Revolutions, ongoing ethnic conflicts, diamond wars, separatist rebellions, climatic upheaval, and rampant AIDS have made the continent one of the world’s most unpleasant regions, especially south of the Sahara. International aid efforts to distribute food and basic necessities are often stymied by political barriers and local warlords who seek to control access to resources as a means of exercising and consolidating power. Sesame Street Workshop intends to ship Big Bird meat to one of two West African ports, and from there to be distributed to hungry children in the Sub-Saharan region.

Sesame Workshop CEO H. Melvin Ming announced the donation this morning at the company’s headquarters at Lincoln Plaza in Manhattan, telling reporters that the effort will exploit the company’s connections in various African countries, connections forged over decades through international distribution, syndication, and licensing of the TV show for production and broadcast in more than 140 countries.

“The vision of Sesame Street from the very beginning has been one that brings together people from all over the world to help improve the quality of children’s lives,” said Ming. “But we fail at an essential level if we aim only at children’s hearts and minds, when those hearts and minds can only function if attention has first been given to their stomachs.” He added that the company had considered donating Mr. Snuffleupagus, Big Bird’s sometime companion, who would have provided even more meat, but that idea was dismissed because that would drive the species, whatever it is, to extinction.

In parallel with the shipment, slaughter, and distribution of Big Bird meat, Sesame Workshop will embark on a promotional effort to both raise awareness of the specific project and of the importance of self-sacrifice for the greater good. Big Bird will be memorialized on the show with a “plaque” that will appear in the opening and closing credits. A farewell episode will be broadcast at the end of December, in which the other characters will have a chance to say their goodbyes to Big Bird, and select letters from viewers will be read aloud on the air. The show will broadcast scenes from Big Bird’s grand final journey in subsequent episodes, leveraging the event to show children how slaughterhouses work.

Ming expects some of the show’s international partners to buy into the publicity, and several such “co-producers” have already signaled their readiness to carry the message of devotion to a greater good. The Iraq and Gaza Strip Sesame Street affiliates have announced that they will use the Big Bird self-sacrifice narrative to serve in recruitment of suicide bombers.

Written by Thag

December 11, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Parent Scientists Isolate Ideal Bedtime

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Either a health risk or a manifest demonstration of  life lived correctly.

Either a health risk or a manifest demonstration of life lived correctly.

Cambridge, MA (AP) – Physicists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have announced the results of a multi-year effort to define the ideal hour at which children should be put to bed, including confirmation of a long-held assumption that a “golden window” exists during which children who cooperate with parental bedtime directives will enjoy happier, healthier lives.

A team consisting of thirty-five researchers across the country who are also parents of young children examined data regarding a cohort of 70 youths from the ages of six months to eleven years. They found that the best time for children to be tucked into bed was in the range of 6:45 pm and 7:30 pm, and even earlier if Mom or Dad had something special planned just for the two of them. The researchers published their findings in this week’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

According to the article, the benefits of adhering to this bedtime scheme include, but are not limited to: more frequent and more plentiful desserts; fewer occasions for parent-administered discipline; an easier time getting ready for school in the morning; more generous allowance; and a significantly decreased likelihood of getting grounded.

“This study essentially corroborates everything we’ve been saying for a long time,” said Dr. I. Sedso, a Columbia University professor of physics and father of three who was not involved in the research. “Our experience,” she said, referring to the informal studies undertaken by colleagues with small children at home, “bears out that the household functions at peak efficiency when children have dinner at about 5:15, have a bath or shower, change into pajamas, brush teeth, and are ready for maybe a bedtime story and to be tucked in by 7 pm, 7:15 if a lice-combing is necessary,” she said in a telephone interview.

The study is the most recent in a series of MIT efforts to define and quantify various aspects of the parent-child dynamic. A report released in February noted the character-building benefits of taking out the garbage even when one has already removed one’s shoes, and the myriad positive effects on one’s long-term satisfaction inherent in keeping that racket down.

The research is not without its detractors. “We believe studies of this nature are a priori biased,” claims Houston-area ten-year-old Greg Niedermeyer. “They fail to account for the negative social impact that adhering to, for example, an early bedtime, exerts on the life of a typical schoolchild.” Niedermeyer also criticized an earlier study that found only positive outcomes for children who finished their vegetables, noting that only losers ate Brussels sprouts or beets in any form.

Niedermeyer pointed to a conflicting set of studies conducted over the last year by children at various elementary schools in Texas, Vermont, Indiana, and Florida, which found a significant correlation between later bedtimes and freer access to candy. “It’s clear that from a happiness point of view, liberal parental attitudes are key. The studies indicating otherwise suffer from a prejudiced set of assumptions, among them that whatever a parent wants is ipso facto desirable.”

Adult researchers, in turn, have assailed the schoolchildren’s research as agenda-driven, and noted that it was all underwritten by manufacturers of unnecessarily sweet breakfast cereals and of violent video games masquerading as educational tools.

Written by Thag

September 17, 2013 at 11:45 pm

Students Protest Inconsistent Value Of X

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find xWashington, DC (AP) – Students across the country have begun to object to the variable value assigned to the character X in their mathematics curricula, and intend to petition the Department of Education to demand a single standard value.

The Disciples’ Union for Mathematical Basics (DUMB) has collected the signatures of over four hundred thousand middle school and high school students since the start of the academic year on a petition to have the federal government mandate that X represent a constant value, a move that would remove serious unnecessary burdens from the shoulders of tomorrow’s leaders.

“We students spend countless hours in class and at home, puzzling out something that could just as easily be assigned a value once and for all,” said DUMB president Blonde Zaff-Morfun, 17, a high school junior and captain of her Memphis, Tennessee, cheerleading squad. “That time could be better spent on pursuits with more lasting impact, such as exploring the proper use contraceptives,” she claimed.

Along with the support of those myriad students, the movement has attracted the unexpected endorsement of teachers. The nation’s third-largest teacher’s organization, the Disciplinary Union of Mathematics and Biology EducatoRs (DUMBER), issued a statement backing the students’ initiative, asserting that its members waste valuable classroom time training their charges how to discover the value of X, only to have X represent a different – sometimes vastly different – number in a following exercise, often on the very next line of the textbook.

“DUMBER educators fully support the DUMB petition to assign one value to X once and for all,” read the statement, in part, “much as it supported the successful effort to ban biological terms longer than ten letters,” referring to a 1995 campaign to simplify the life sciences for junior high and high school students. That campaign won over enough Congressmen and Department of Education program directors to go into effect nearly immediately, putting an end to, for example, the Endoplasmic Reticulum, thenceforth known as Squiggle.

Whether the push by DUMB and DUMBER will attain its goals remains to be seen, as it has encountered opposition from rival movements that would like to see priority given to other educational arenas. The Brawny Union for Lotharios, Lackeys, and Yes-men (BULLY), for instance, sees the elimination of the variable value of X as a threat to its members’ social standing, as proficiency in math and the sciences remains one of the few academic areas in which the differences between BULLY students and others are still apparent in the classroom.

“The progressive dilution of the American middle- and high-school curriculum over the years has effectively eliminated the few diagnostic tools our members have to identify the Poindexters,” read a BULLY press release. “Any further elimination of achievement-based indicators threatens the more physically endowed students’ capacity to make gym class and between-period hallway taunting a living hell for those elements of the student body too pathetic to merit being left alone.”

The statement added that such treatment of academic achievement has been a cherished, valuable part of the American educational heritage, and its post-high-school practitioners have influenced the development of American foreign policy since Eisenhower.

Written by Thag

September 9, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Shakespeare Baffled By English Teacher’s Analysis of His Work

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361px-Romeoandjuliet1597Stratford-Upon-Avon, England (AP) – The Bard of Avon expressed befuddlement this week at all of the symbolism and interpretation of his work by Long Island eighth-grade schoolteacher Barbara Kass.

For years, Mrs. Kass has been studying various works by the Elizabethan poet and playwright with her middle-school English literature class, often choosing Romeo and Juliet or Macbeth. In her explication of the material, the teacher often points out literary devices, imagery, and occurrences of irony or foreshadowing that Shakespeare himself did not intend. As a result, says the Bard, the effect of the play in question becomes obscured or distorted in the minds of the preadolescent and adolescent students, he asserts.

“By my troth, this wench doth confound and conflate,” observed the greatest writer the English language has ever seen. “Teach she must not, grades seven nor eight.” He cited numerous instances of Kass’s imputation of meaning where none existed, and of completely missing the point.

“Wherefore doth she ignore the intended offense of Rosaline becoming a nun?” he wondered. “Wherefore would she deprive her disciples of the apprehension that the fair Capulet niece conveys to the protagonist that she would sooner remove herself from all men than concede to a coupling with him? Is the intent not clear as a summer’s day?”

“What man or woman of thirteen years would would relish not such a barb?” he continued.

As for Kass’s insistence on reading into Shakespeare’s use of light and dark in contrast to symbolize the love and hate that bring the lovers together and ultimately keep them apart, respectively, the Bard admits nothing of the sort. “What ho! That the brawling be in daytime and he trysts at night, would she read as poesy? Brigandess! Villainess! Impute not what thou imputest, foul teacher-woman! For it be nary more than simple convenience of the plot!”

A similar instance occurred several years ago when Dr. William Lee, a professor of English Literature at the University of Pennsylvania, saw Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea as a political allegory of the Jewish struggle for a homeland in the territory of Palestine, foreseeing decades of ultimately Pyrrhic struggle to control the land and the hostile Arabs within and around it. The author, who committed suicide in 1962, made his displeasure known.

The same happened when Herman Melville denounced most of the literary analysis of his Moby Dick, insisting that is was simply a good story of an eccentric sea captain, if somewhat long-winded.

Written by Thag

August 14, 2013 at 4:09 am

University Hopes Sex Scandal A Boon To Recruitment Among Pedophiles

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yuhsbNew York, August 11 (AP) – Still reeling from revelations that the institution covered up and did not adequately address allegations that members of its staff had abused high school students in its care in the 1980’s, the Yeshiva University leadership nevertheless sees a silver lining to the scandal.

The flagship institution of the Modern Orthodox movement in Judaism anticipates that its emerging history of treating pedophile faculty with kid gloves will attract other potential teachers to its high school, teachers in search of an environment that better accommodates their attraction to adolescent males.

“This episode could really work in our favor,” said Dr. Seth Taylor, Principal of General Studies at the Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy, the high school in question. “There are untold numbers of educators out there who could expose our students to everything imaginable, but who are deterred by the potential career and personal fallout from their tendencies.”

“But now that it turns out YU – and the boys’ high school in particular – has been friendly to those who have a more open way of expressing attraction to teenage boys, we fully expect to find quality applicants for teaching positions who would be afraid to apply anywhere else,” he concluded.

Head of School Rabbi Michael Taubes concurs. “MTA has unwittingly placed itself in the vanguard of institutions vying for the experience  – both inside and outside the classroom – that this uncharted demographic can get a better feel than most for the students’ bodies – I mean the student body,” said Taubes, who assumed his current position during the previous school year, referring to the boys’ high school by the initials by which it is popularly known.

In the cases that received recent media attention, several men who attended MTA in the 1980’s charged that the school had ignored their accusations that the principal at the time had engaged in inappropriate physical activities with students, such as wrestling; the principal and another faculty member were quietly advised to resign, and found employment in other Jewish high schools elsewhere in the country. YU declined to inform those institutions of the questionable background to those former employees’ resignations.

In a letter marking his retirement as Chancellor of the university, this year Dr. Norman Lamm, who served as president when the faculty members were accused of the misconduct, acknowledged that he and other administration figures mishandled the cases. In a response to that portion of the letter, current YU president Richard Joel honored Dr. Lamm’s expression of regret, but asserted that in fact the erstwhile scandal would in the end benefit Yeshiva by demonstrating its longtime commitment to protecting faculty who stray.

“Recent events in academia have shown what top-notch educators and leaders can do for our children when left unmolested,” wrote Joel, making reference to the saga of Penn State University athletics figure Jerry Sandusky. “We at Yeshiva fully resolve to pioneer a new avenue in the recruitment of faculty, drawing those teachers to us who would be uncomfortable anywhere else.”

Written by Thag

August 12, 2013 at 6:36 am

To Combat School Shootings, GOP Proposes Banning Schools

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BoehnerWashington, DC (AP) – A rash of mass shootings in recent months has shaken even the Republican political establishment, leading its leaders to propose a sweeping measure to outlaw schools in order to prevent more school shootings.

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) told reporters Monday that the GOP would soon introduce legislation that both addressed the school safety concerns of millions of parents and protected Second Amendment rights. The law would mandate home schooling, depriving would-be gunmen of venues such as Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where dozens of children and faculty were murdered or wounded in December.

At the same time, said Boehner, the measure would safeguard the cherished access to firearms that Americans enjoy, since the closure of the schools would effectively eliminate them as targets for such assailants, thereby removing the need to further regulate what firearms industry spokespeople have called an excessively burdened industry.

A further benefit of eliminating schools would be a sizable savings in government education spending. “And that’s not all,” added Boehner. “We’re going to take the government out of the schools and let parents use their autonomy to decide how best to educate their children.” Thus, for example, children in run-down, foreclosure-plagued Chicago suburbs, whose schools have ceased to function effectively, would no longer be forced to attend those failing institutions, and could spend more time at home.

“What the Republicans are proposing is a win-win situation,” explained conservative columnist Hope Liss. “One of the holy grails of conservative politics is smaller government and less spending. This initiative would essentially eliminate all primary education costs at the federal level, letting states and local government handle them as they see fit. And it would also be tough on crime, cutting down on the opportunities that attackers might have to terrorize schoolchildren.”

What’s more, added Liss, the Republican Party’s voter base has shrunk over the last decade, and it must rely more and more on election campaign strategies devoid of substance in order to scare or seduce the less-educated, more easily manipulated citizen into casting its ballot for the GOP candidate. Making public education that much less available primes the next several generations of voters to more easily react in the ways the Republican strategists wish.

The GOP faces a tough sell with parents of college-age children, however. “Virginia Tech could happen again,” warned Sorrel Luser, who heads an Atlanta-area group of anti-crime activists, referring to a 2007 mass shooting that took 32 lives. “This proposal doesn’t go far enough. If the Republicans were really serious about this, they’d go all the way, and outlaw all education.”

“Except maybe the study of Chinese,” he conceded. “We’re all gonna need to know that pretty soon.”

Written by Thag

June 17, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Why Yes, I’d Love to Waste an Evening at My Kid’s School

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School performances

Please Like Mightier than the Pen on Facebook, just as soon as you can find an excuse to leave your kid’s lame school event.

Written by Thag

January 26, 2013 at 10:33 pm

Lice: ‘Indiana Preschool Infested with Children’

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lice combTerre Haute, Indiana (AP) – Lice at the Kiddie Carousel Day Care are complaining that the facility, on South Seventh Street, is infested with human children. Children are a risk factor in the forcible uprooting and premature death of millions of lice every year.

The two-legged, immature humans provide an initially welcoming environment for lice. But often, once the insect population has been lulled into complacency, the surroundings suddenly become hostile. Baths of harsh chemicals often occur just when the lice population has begun to thrive, and sweeps of the child’s scalp area indiscriminately carry off young and old alike when the dreaded Comb passes through.

The International Taskforce on Cootie Hosting, or ITCH, has documented at least seven hundred thousand cases of child infestation in North America this year alone, representing an increase of eight percent over last year, which in turn grew from eight percent the year before. According to government statistics, although the number of human children has remained steady in North America during that time, an increase has been noted in the number of the hazardous human spawn inhabiting sites that lice once found more friendly.

ITCH has documented a general increase in dangerous conditions for lice. Famine and wars in Africa have reduced the number of available hosts in certain areas, although the most recent data point to stagnant growth in the African cephalic environment to begin with, as the hair of the African human tends to be less suitable to habitation by lice. But violent conflict in Syria, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan have wrought havoc with the consistency of available residences.

The situation is not nearly as dire as it was seven hundred years ago, when the Black Plague swept through Europe and severely reduced the human population. Rival arthropod species seemed poised to assert dominance over the parasitic world, but a steady rebound in the number of humans on the continent, coupled with the displacement of bubonic plague hosts, assured the ascendance of head lice for centuries after.

In fact the lice future has never looked rosier, according to a new report by SUCK, the Society of Users of Chitin Knees. The SUCK report notes an overall global increase in human population, which will provide many more heads for lice to inhabit, and global warming means more of the planet will be hospitable to the insects, which survive longer in warmer environments if they become detached from the scalps of their hosts.

But the lice at Kiddie Carousel are still worried, as the presence of the deadly combs and topical treatments have been detected, according to rampant rumors among the lice.

Can YOU think of a more hostile environment?

Can YOU think of a more hostile environment?

A vocal contingent denies the rumors, calling into question the evidence for the comb and shampoo phenomena, as well as any indication of silicone spray. The skeptics note that all the fear-mongering stifles the productivity and growth of the population, and deem the rumors “pediculous.” Moreover, they argue, any such threat, even if imminent, lies beyond the capability of the lice community to address.

At press time, a louse with dyed, otherworldly-shaped orange hair was seen departing the preschool in a tiny helicopter marked “Trump.”

Please Like Mightier than the Pen on Facebook. Scratch. Scratch. Scratch.

Written by Thag

December 30, 2012 at 3:38 pm

PETA to Mother Goose: Stop Promoting Cruelty to Animals

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PETA logoNorfolk, Virginia (AP) – Ingrid Newkirk, co-founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, has denounced the legendary teller of nursery rhymes Mother Goose for encouraging violence and mistreatment of animals in her doggerel.

“Treating blackbirds as food is bad enough – but Mother Goose would have us sadistically putting the captive birds in a hot oven and baking them into a pie,” said Newkirk. “How out-of-touch with ethical behavior can you be?”

PETA released a litany of cruel acts against animals in Mother Goose’s rhyming verse and called for a boycott of her nursery rhymes until Mother Goose could demonstrate she had reformed.

The PETA report grades all of Mother Goose’s rhymes, assigning them a score on a scale of 1-4, with 1 representing an “acceptable” attitude toward animals, 2 meaning “borderline” and 3 meaning “poor” and 4 meaning “reprehensible.”

“Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” was rated borderline, as the report indicates, because it takes for granted that the little sheep’s wool is meant to serve human needs, when, as PETA contends, any human appropriation of animal products violates the animals’ inherent rights. However, the rhyme does not cross the problematic line into “poor” because the lyrics can be construed as trying to elicit the black sheep’s consent to part with its wool, which bespeaks an attitude much more in keeping with proper ethics, the report says.

Mother Goose“Humpty Dumpty” presents a more disturbing situation, in which “all the king’s horses” are clearly being exploited by “all the king’s men” to reach Humpty Dumpty in time to put him back together. But the rhyme was rated 3 and not 4 because, as the report explains, the verse can be construed as meaning that the horses voluntarily participate in attempting to reassemble Dumpty, but with society’s current set of assumptions that is not an obvious reading.

“Pop Goes the Weasel” has a misleading title that might lead to the assumption that a rodent is being mistreated, but in fact the poem received a score of 1, since, as many scholars suggest, the “weasel” in question is cockney rhyming slang for a non-animal object being pawned by a pauper. In the report PETA expressed dislike for the reference to an animal, but the offense was not egregious enough to warrant a demotion to 2.

In an unusual twist, “Hey Diddle Diddle,” despite its myriad references to animals, scored 1 in the report, as the animals in the poem clearly behave the way they do in the absence of human interference, and the rhyme implies that when unfettered by exploitative, abusive captivity, cats can train themselves to play violin, cows can develop aerospace technology, dogs develop a philosophical sense of wonder and inanimate objects mature to the point of recognizing that fundamental physical differences are no barrier to emotional intimacy.

However, the flagrant and brutal treatment that occurs in a number of other rhymes prompted PETA to question Mother Goose’s moral compass. “To Market, To Market” encourages the purchase, slaughter and consumption of swine; “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” endorses the enslavement of animals and, worse yet, implies that the creatures prefer it that way; “Itsy Bitsy Spider” finds nothing cruel about watching an arachnid get repeatedly washed away.

Even some selections without overt mistreatment were rated as unacceptable by the PETA report. The three men in a tub include a butcher, a cruel profession so beyond the pale that its mere mention earned the poem a rating of 4. And in “Hickory Dickory Dock,” the implied use of a human-constructed implement, a clock, to scare away mice was deemed a poor choice.

Newkirk also demanded that Mother Goose clarify at once why the apocryphal, eighteenth-century folk figure uses the name of a blameless bird. She concluded, “Anyone who doubts the speciesism rampant in Mother Goose’s works just has to take a gander at them.”

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Written by Thag

December 25, 2012 at 7:47 pm

This Post Was Not Plagiarized for Your Kid’s Research Project. Yet.

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Written by Thag

December 16, 2012 at 7:29 pm

NRA Says Arming 6-Year-Olds Would Have Prevented Massacre

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NRAFairfax, Virginia (AP) – In response to the fatal shooting of 26 people at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said that had the students been allowed to carry a weapon, the murders could have been averted.

“A gun is an easy piece of equipment to use,” said LaPierre at a news conference at NRA headquarters. “A child as young as five can be properly trained to load and aim one. I’m not saying that arming the children would have necessarily prevented all the tragic deaths, but I know the gunman would have thought twice before entering a classroom of two dozen first-graders with upwards of 140 rounds of ammunition at their disposal.”

“And that’s just if you assume each one has a six-shooter,” he continued, referring to the standard revolver. The number of potential deterrent bullets could rise as high as 360, said LaPierre, if each first-grader were provided with a weapon holding a 15-round magazine. He said the NRA would soon be offering firearms purchasing and training programs in school districts throughout the country.

Lanza, depicted as if he were encountering a roomful of first-graders armed to the teeth.

Lanza, depicted as if he were encountering a roomful of first-graders armed to the teeth.

According to the evidence the police have pieced together so far, twenty-year-old Adam Lanza forced his way into the school building and went from classroom to classroom, shooting students and faculty before taking his own life. It was as yet unclear how the weapons, which Lanza had taken from his mother after killing her earlier, came into her possession. They were a semiautomatic rifle and two semiautomatic pistols.

The shootings underscored the deep divide in the US between supporters of strict gun control and advocates of expansive Second Amendment rights. It is but the latest in a gruesome series of mass murders by gunfire over the last few years, each one rekindling the debate over what makes American society safer: more guns in the hands of more people, the fact of which might deter would-be attackers, or tougher access across the board to the acquisition of any firearms, which would make criminal shootings less likely.

The NRA has lobbied vigorously for freer access to firearms by the broadest possible section of American society. Aside from deterring crime, they contend, the preservation of Second Amendment liberties safeguards other fundamental rights that the government might, under some circumstances, attempt to deny, as if such an attempt would not be backed by firepower and tactics far that would overwhelm, to the point of ludicrousness, anything even collective US gun owners could muster.

As for statistics demonstrating that a gun owner is more likely to be killed by his own weapon than by anyone else’s, the NRA recommends expanding the pool of gun ownership even further. “We’re all about gun safety,” said NRA President David Keene. “Anyone who accidentally shoots himself probably deserves it, and anyone who does so intentionally, well, that’s one fewer loose cannon to worry about, right?” Arming elementary school children, argues Keene, would enable the youngsters to experience the responsibility at a tender age, responsibility that would bring a maturity currently in short supply.

“Kids love top play cops and robbers, or some variation thereof,” continued Keene. “Allowing them to do so with actual firearms would drive home the point that these things are not toys, and that their use requires a seriousness that can only serve them well – in school, at work, wherever.”

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Written by Thag

December 15, 2012 at 10:19 pm

The Top Ten Things Never Said by a Parent

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Please Like Mightier than the Pen on Facebook. And stop using that napkin – what do you thing sleeves are for?

Written by Thag

November 2, 2012 at 10:33 am

Church Distributes G-Rated, 12-Page Version of Bible

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Chicago, IL (Reuters) – Concerned about the effects that exposure to violence, sex and gore can have on the impressionable minds of children, the Union Methodist Church has published a “family friendly” edition of the Bible. The new version has selected only those portions of scripture that its editorial team deemed non-threatening to youngsters, and it numbers a dozen pages.

“We are responding to the concerns of parents everywhere that they have less and less say in the ideas and images to which their children have access,” said Alicia Censor, the head of the editorial team. “Yet few of us ever considered that every Sunday we were undermining our own sensibilities by exposing our children to page after page of horrible ideas.”

So a group of church members volunteered to put together an abridged version that would offer parents and educators tighter control over what their children read and hear. Under the guidance of Pastor Rob Eublind, the team spent the better part of six months sifting through the Bible and retaining only those passages that do not mention nudity, sexuality, bloodshed, vivisection, corruption, or questionable behavior of any sort.

They therefore omitted the entire second chapter of Genesis, for example, in which the first man and woman lived unclothed, and the series of “begats” connecting Adam to Noah, and then Noah to Abraham, in order to avoid the question of how all that begetting took place. Cain’s murder of Abel was also removed, because of the killing itself; the mention of Cain “knowing” his wife; and several verses later, the mention of Lemech and his two wives, which could prompt uncomfortable questions regarding the sanctity of the monogamous family unit.

In some cases the team expunged entire books, such as Leviticus, which extensively details the slaughter and dismemberment of animals. They also gave the Song of Solomon the editorial ax, with its constant use of erotic metaphor.

Congregations and relieved parents have already placed orders for hundreds of thousands of copies, and RePress, the publisher, will have to produce a second run, as they only anticipated needing about twenty thousand. Fortunately, the new Bible is small, and shipment is inexpensive.

Eublind expressed satisfaction at the outcome, and pride in his congregation. “Sometimes the situation is so dire that even the leadership is paralyzed – but then along comes someone who stands up and takes action. It’s just like Phineas, who, in the wilderness – wait you aren’t going to let any children read this, are you?”

Parents in the community are similarly thrilled. “I’ve been all worried about how to teach my daughters about Abraham in Egypt, Lot in Sodom, and about Joseph in Potiphar’s house,” said Stephen Prude, 33, a father of three. “But thanks to this new Bible I know I can just skip those parts. Perhaps that’s the approach we should agitate for about all that sex education in the schools,” he wondered.

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Written by Thag

October 18, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Classic Thag, February 2011: You Are Cordially Invited to Attend Reality

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Originally posted February 9, 2011.

Dear parents of my six-year-old’s classmates:

Thank you for including my son in your child’s after-school birthday party. Aside from the obvious generosity involved in putting together such an event, the party provides a number of social and educational services that only became clear to me after the fact. I would like to share with you my appreciation of each one, first and foremost the junk food.

My wife and I attempt to restrict our children’s intake of sugary, greasy or only marginally nutritious snacks. We try to instill in them a like for green vegetables, for fruits, and for a variety of protein-rich foods such as fish, chicken and meat. This contrasts sharply with your philosophy, as demonstrated by your complete reliance, for the occasion, upon candy, potato chips, pretzels, buttered popcorn, cake, cookies and more candy.

I had anticipated, perhaps ignorantly, that a party for two dozen or so first-graders at dinnertime might include something vaguely resembling dinner. Granted, preparing dinner for two dozen first-graders can prove quite a daunting task; I did not expect anyone to take upon himself such an endeavor. However, I note the existence of at least four pizza parlors within a six-block radius of your home, all of which offer free delivery. Pizza is not the optimal dinner every single day, but its just-above-marginal nutritional value nevertheless renders it superior to candy, cake, cookies, and greasy snacks. I rather doubt these pizza places would have survived this long without the patronage of local families such as yours; I thus find your sudden reluctance to engage their services original, to say the least.

I do recall that in my youth, birthday parties in my area tended to feature pizza from a particular place followed by ice cream from a different particular place. They usually happened at the same skating venue. Now, I do understand that you prefer to conduct your party at home, and that skating venue is both six thousand miles away and probably defunct. Nevertheless, the experience of my youth conditioned me to expect some sort of party activity to accompany, or at least alternate with, the food. In your case, this activity seemed to consist of watching TV shows or movies of questionable merit, with occasional individual forays into the kitchen to ingest more candy, cookies, cake and greasy snacks. I applaud your bold disregard for stodgy, “mainstream” pediatric guidance.

This innovative, hands-off approach to kid partying offers the obvious advantage of leaving the parents free to engage in other activities; clearly, you seized this opportunity to pour even more effort in to party-related pursuits, such as opening and serving more snack foods. I stand in awe of your efficient ways.

My son had an advantage over most of the other children, in that he arrived a good bit before the other guests, and benefited from more individual adult attention. He informs me that this attention consisted of sitting him in front of the TV and serving him a sandwich with chocolate spread. Thus, in addition to the junk food he would receive a little later with the rest of the pack, my son also got to consume one additional portion of yet another permutation of grease, sugar and empty calories. Thank you for singling him out for such special treatment.

His early arrival time, as well, contained a lesson for us. While I had always been under the impression that the time listed on an invitation represents the time the event will start, you disabused me of that notion – when my son arrived, the preparations were nowhere near complete, which highlights yet another benefit of your robust sit-them-in-front-of-the-TV policy. I note that most of the other parents displayed keen awareness of this etiquette quirk, as they did not begin bringing their children until about twenty minutes later, judging by my son’s description.

The cumulative effect of your child’s birthday party, I must say, brought out a side of my child’s personality that I rarely, if ever, get to see: when his body, vocal cords and mouth work faster than his brain, as a result of significantly increased blood sugar. He was so excited about the party, he could not focus on getting in pajamas for a full twenty minutes after getting home, and then did not fall asleep until well after his usual bedtime despite continual encouragement. Thank you for enabling me to experience this phenomenon once again. I really do not get to do that frequently enough.

This has been an edifying, educational experience. Words cannot convey how I anticipate the effect of your child-rearing on my son for years to come.

Yours truly,


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Written by Thag

October 7, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Education Dept. Sets Minimum of Four Weirdo Teachers per School

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Washington, DC (Reuters) – The Department of Education announced today that it has issued new rules regarding the hiring of teachers, mainly the requirement that each school with more than seventy pupils must have at least four weirdos on its teaching staff.

The move comes in response to census data indicating that children in some areas of the country are exposed to vastly different levels of weirdness from their teachers, and the numbers are critically low in such straight-laced portions of the country as Iowa, Idaho and Kansas. The new rules also address the difficulty of children being exposed only to weird teachers, which occurs primarily in California, though that has not had an appreciable effect on the state’s weirdness quotient in the last two decades.

Educators and education officials alike have long noted the importance of zany, absent-minded or just plain creepy teachers in children’s development, especially between the ages of ten and sixteen. Repeated studies have shown that exposure to comical faculty attire, unkempt hair, unsettling mannerisms, cutesy lingo and inexplicable ignorance of pop culture mainstays are a critical component of a healthy outlook and ability to learn. In China, where weirdness is currently outlawed, standardized tests consistently demonstrate the youths’ difficulty in understanding the centrality of such crucial issues as reality TV, the popularity of The Big Lebowski and why it is simply not cool to actually complete one’s schoolwork properly.

Weirdness has also been shown to play a role in electoral decisions, notably whether a voter will actually decide to submit an absentee ballot if necessary. Approximately 95% of absentee ballots are submitted by weirdos, many of whom are passionate about local politics and run for positions such as village alderman and the local school district board.

“America didn’t get where it is today by ignoring the importance of people like Doc Brown in Back to the Future,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “In fact a large number of the greatest minds in history were those of eccentric – no, we’ll say it plainly – weirdos.” He cited pioneering geologist Charles Lyell, who adopted excruciating positions in his chair when engaged in deep thought, and Isaac Newton, who had no romantic relationships in his life, as prominent examples.

“There’s quite a correlation between genius and social awkwardness,” said Abby Slightlyoff, a lecturer on cultural anthropology at the University of North Carolina, as she hunched over, twisted her body to the left and twisted some of her hair between her fingers as she spoke. “Anthropologists have known for years that the pervasive influence of weirdos during childhood makes it all the more likely that a person will grow up with at least a modicum of obliviousness to social conventions.”

The new regulations specifically exempt home-schooling families from any specific requirement, noting that home schooling is inherently weird enough to guarantee at least six times the minimum recommended weirdness.

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Written by Thag

September 13, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Instructions: Step 1: Avoid This Assignment

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Written by Thag

September 1, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Philosophers Dispute Whether NY Mets Could Be Any Worse

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Cambridge, MA (AP) – Leading thinkers have taken up the issue of the New York Mets – specifically, whether the team’s disappointing performance in the second half of the season constitutes the kind of rock-bottom situation that by definition makes getting worse impossible.

At a conference on the subject hosted by Harvard University this week, advocates for the can’t-get-worse position argued that the cumulative frustration and wasted efforts outweigh any bright spots in the season’s play, such as pitcher R.A. Dickey’s Cy-Young-Award-worthy year. In fact, they contend, such bright spots make the situation that much worse, underlining the otherwise dismal win-loss statistics.

Opponents countered with comparisons to other teams that have done significantly worse, at least in terms of winning percentage, such as the Mets themselves – in their debut season of 1962, when they struggled to win forty games.

That piece of evidence failed to sway advocates of the can’t-get-worse school, who, in a detailed rebuttal, dismissed “mere win-loss records,” explaining that other circumstances must be taken into account. While it is true, they concede, that teams in their first several years do not play as well as their opponents, no one expects them to play very well, and the consequent disappointment barely registers, minimizing the relevance of the Mets’ first season. As further evidence they adduce the Washington Nationals, Florida Marlins, Colorado Rockies and Tampa Bay Rays, among others, whose less-than-stellar initial seasons were greeted not with the bitterness and anger that so characterizes the life of the Mets fan, but with hope and excitement over the latent potential of a developing franchise, with which Mets fans long ago ceased to be familiar.

Today’s Mets Fan, they argue, roots for a franchise that has appeared in four World Series and won two of them – the first one a mere seven years after the team’s inception. Consequently, the aggregate frustration and disappointment, building since 1986, their last championship, combined with the emotional fallout from the owners’ involvement with Bernie Madoff and his Ponzi Scheme, make this season the worst possible.

Perversely, even the Chicago Cubs, long a punchline of jokes about futility, enjoy a less pathetic status than the Mets, the argument continues. Although the Cubs last won a World Series in 1907, their fans long ago came to terms with the team’s accursed state, so more than a century of failure hardly moves them anymore. The Cubs flirted briefly with success in the late nineties, but inevitably collapsed in the playoffs and have yet to be heard from since.

A similar argument is made regarding the Cleveland Indians, whose last championship was in 1954, and who lost to the Atlanta Braves in the 1995 World Series. Moreover, that team represents Cleveland, from which no one ever expects anything beyond mediocrity and bad weather.

The conference ended without a satisfying conclusion either way, an apt metaphor for the team under discussion.

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Written by Thag

August 22, 2012 at 3:32 pm

The Worst-Sellers in Children’s Books

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It’s time to revisit a theme I have long neglected: Bad ideas in the genre of Children’s book titles.

One More Hand Grenade for Baby
Words that Rhyme with Angina
Billy Bob’s Big Book of Beggars’ Boils
Let’s Make Fun: Retards
Let’s Make Fun II: Gimps
Let’s Make Fun III: Old People
Let’s Make Fun IV: Rednecks
How Loud Can You Yell in Mommy’s Ear?
The iPhone, the Toilet and You
Bathtub Toast
That’s Not a Tea Bag
The Pleasures of Paranoia
Sweet Schizophrenia
You Can Be Obese, Too!
Where Daddy Keeps the Gin
Prescription Candy
101 Places to Wipe Your Boogers
Who’s Going to Hell Unless You Browbeat Them into Accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?

Enough for now. Additional suggestions welcome. Keep it PG-13, please.
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Written by Thag

July 21, 2012 at 10:00 pm

Classic Thag, March 2011: Entry-Level Bigotry

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Originally posted March 31, 2011

Hello, everyone. Settle down, please. Today we’re going to talk about pluralism.

Pluralism means wanting or accepting our differences, even if those differences are very big. Timmy, sit down, and leave Marcia alone. Leaving Marcia alone means you accept her being different from you, even though she never takes a bath. We call that part of pluralism “tolerance.”

When we are tolerant, we do not make other people feel bad for being different from us. Gregory here is the only black person in this class, but to call him “son-of-a-whore” because of it would not be tolerant, even if he probably doesn’t know who his father is. Kim and Anna’s parents came from some godforsaken country in Asia, but we do not call them “gook” or “slanty-eyed.” We want to be pluralistic.

Now, the principal wants us to talk about pluralism because some children in the older grades beat up another student because he goes to a Mormon church, not a real church. We all know that beating people up for being different is wrong; we’re only supposed to give them dirty looks and say they will go to Hell when they die. But Principal Martin thinks we need to try even harder than that. So we’re going to talk about pluralism and tolerance.

You might think that we don’t try to be tolerant when someone is clearly wrong, but actually, that’s exactly when it happens. Even though Jews are Hellspawn who killed our Lord, we are not going to spit on Jacob or Beth. We are going to treat them as we treat everyone else. Yes, Timothy, that means they stay in the room when we have our class Christmas party.

Pluralism is one of the reasons our founding fathers made sure there would be freedom of religion, and that’s the way the courts still see it, even though our founding fathers did not face the danger of Muslims trying to impose Shariah law on us and make us their servants. Yes, Jessica, that’s exactly what they believe; just ask your pastor. But if we had a Muslim in our class, there would be no singling him or her out for beaning during dodge ball just for that reason. He would also have to be a nerd. Yes, Timothy, he could also come to the Christmas party.

What’s that, Grace? Well, that is a good question, but not really about pluralism, so I’ll answer it very briefly. Our founding fathers decided we need what’s called a “separation of church and state,” which means that the government will not favor one religious group over another. But of course everyone knows they meant this to be a Christian nation, so having a Christmas party in a public school is no big deal.

But back to pluralism. In addition to talking about pluralism, we’re going to spend some time practicing it. I have here a dress – a very ugly dress. Jacob, you’ll get to wear this dress and stand at the front of the class. The rest of us will practice trying not to laugh or throw things at Jacob.

We’ll do this every morning, right after the pledge of allegiance. Jacob, Beth, Kim, Anna and Gregory will take turns wearing the dress.

Now, if you’ll open your English books to page forty…

Written by Thag

February 22, 2012 at 10:19 pm

Take Your Future Leech to Work Day

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January 2, 2012 at 11:13 pm

I’m Declaring a Major in Peer Pressure

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December 1, 2011 at 8:07 pm