Close the Schools – Save the Children

I’ve been reading about the high cost of diesel fuel for school buses and I’ve got a rather radical plan about education. I have a plan to save millions–no BILLIONS in property taxes every year. Why can’t kids telecommute to class? Colleges give degrees online, why can’t schools do the same thing? Why do we need school buses? Why do we even need schools any more? Do you realize how much we could save if we dumped all the schools, fired the teachers and gave each kid a laptop with a Kindergarten CD–the do the work and pass a test that is at the back of the CD at the end of the “school year” and then they get a 1st grade CD and so on all the way through high school graduation, take the high school test and then go on to college online.

Each child would work at his or her own pace in the safety and comfort of their own home, no teasing or bullying and if they need help, there would be a virtual teacher (or maybe even a real one) to help them with whatever they were having problems with. The cost of the CDs would be minimal–about $2 each and the entire curriculum for each year could be placed on each CD. A child would pop the CD into the laptop, go to a website to view a video on that day’s lesson, then do the exercise in the lesson on the computer and have it graded instantly.

They must complete the exercise lesson before they can go on to the next lesson on the CD, you could restrict access by making the program password protected and the child doesn’t get the password for the next lesson until the previous one is completed successfully and then the CD gives the child the password for the next lesson. At the end of each week, there is a test on the lessons that the child must pass in order to get the password for the next week’s lesson. Every month there is a major test that must be passed before the child moves on. There would be no reason for brick and mortar schools or teachers, administrators, insurance, school lunches, school buses, playgrounds, or anything else. The savings in taxes would be tremendous and the kids wouldn’t have to worry about being bullied, or shot or molested by rogue teachers.

There would be no teenage pregnancy, no detentions, no missed school buses, no competition for who had the coolest whatever and the students would have the benefit of having a first class education. If the student didn’t successfully complete the prescribed course work by the end of the term then s/he would have to continue all summer in order to keep up with their class in the fall and social promotions would be unnecessary because there’s no one to make fun of a slow learner. Children who wished to graduate earlier could go to school year round or do more work to get their education completed in less time and colleges could do the same thing–most colleges now offer online classes now anyway. Going to a brick and mortar school is an obsolete concept and should be ended. Children would socialize through activities with their parents in their communities and juvenile crime would be a thing of the past. Close public libraries too–no one needs them, we have the internet to do research–put the Library of Congress online and everyone would have access. Virtual field trips would be to places like the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa instead of to a crummy local museum. Kids would have a much better education and the taxpayers would not have to pay the outlandish property taxes they are paying now.

The savings would be astronomical!! Every child would be issued a laptop and an internet access card–like a prepaid phone card–at age 6 and given the CD for kindergarten beginning on the first September 1 (after their 6th birthday) and would have to complete all the coursework by June 1 of the following year in order to be promoted to first grade–which would mean being given the CD with the first grade coursework. Of course a gifted and/or motivated child could receive the next grade’s CD early if they completed the previous grade’s coursework sooner than June 1 or if they wanted to get ahead by continuing to go to virtual school during the summer.

This is an absolutely simple concept and it would be very easy to do. It would be so much cheaper to issue each child a laptop and provide internet access–look at all the parents who are homeschooling their children using this concept! $500 for each laptop and $50 for the entire elementary, middle and high school curriculum on CDs is dirt cheap compared to the cost of building and operating schools, paying teachers and all the other employees,operating school buses, paying for insurance, fuel for the buses and to heat and cool the schools. It’s the way of the future! Wake up and smell the 21st century! Stop preparing the leaders of tomorrow with the educational traditions of the 18th century!!

The author, Teri Davis Newman resides in the metro St. Louis area and is a wedding planner. She also owns and operates a nationally recognized limousine service. She answers questions on etiquette, social situations, sex, fashion, food, wine and general advice on her blog as an off-the-cuff running commentary on any subject that annoys, amuses or aggravates her.

Outrage Fatigue Seems To Be Settling In As Chronic Condition

www.latimes.com

Mortgaged to the House of Saud

Robert Scheer

August 9, 2005

THE ONLY EVIDENCE you need that President Bush is losing the “war on terror” is this: On Sunday, the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia said that relations with the United States “couldn’t be better.”

Tell that to the parents of those who have died in two wars defending this corrupt spawning ground of violent extremism. Never mind the ugly facts: We are deeply entwined with Saudi Arabia even though it shares none of our values and supports our enemies.

Yet on Friday, Bush’s father and Vice President Dick Cheney made another in a long line of obsequious American pilgrimages to Riyadh to assure the Saudis that we continue to be grateful for the punishment they dish out.

“The relationship has tremendously improved with the United States,” Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al Faisal told a news conference in Riyadh. “With the government, of course, it is very harmonious, as it ever was. Whether it has returned to the same level as it was before in terms of public opinion [in both countries], that is debatable.”

Well, score one for public opinion. It makes sense to distrust the mercenary and distasteful alliance between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. We protect the repressive kingdom that spawned Osama bin Laden, and most of the 9/11 hijackers, in exchange for the Saudis keeping our fecklessly oil-addicted country lubricated.

Yes, it has stuck deep in the craw of many of us Americans that after 9/11, Washington squandered global goodwill and a huge percentage of our resources invading a country that had nothing to do with Al Qaeda, while continuing to pander to this dysfunctional dynasty. After all, Saudi Arabia is believed to have paid Bin Laden’s murderous gang millions in protection money in the years before 9/11, and it lavishly funds extremist religious schools throughout the region that preach and teach anti-Western jihad.

“Al Qaeda found fertile fundraising ground in the kingdom,” noted the 9/11 commission report in one of its many careful understatements. The fact is, without Saudi Arabia, there would be no Al Qaeda today.

Our president loves to use the word “evil” in his speeches, yet throughout his life he and his family have had deep personal, political and financial ties with a country that represents everything the American Revolution stood against: tyranny, religious intolerance, corrupt royalty and popular ignorance. This is a country where women aren’t allowed to drive and those who show “too much skin” can be beaten in the street by officially sanctioned mobs of fanatics. A medieval land where newspapers routinely publish the most outlandish anti-Semitic rants. A place where executions are held in public, torture is the norm in prison and the most extreme and expansionist version of Islam is the state religion.

It’s hard to see how Saddam Hussein’s brutal and secular Iraq was worse than the brutal theocracy run by the House of Saud. Yet one nation we raze and the other we fete. Is it any wonder that much of the world sees the United States as the planet’s biggest hypocrite?

As insider books by former White House terrorism advisor Richard Clarke, journalist Bob Woodward and others have recounted, punishing Saudi Arabia in any way for its long ideological and financial support of terrorism was not even on the table in the days after 9/11. Instead, within hours of the planes hitting the towers, the powerful neoconservatives in the White House rushed to use the tragedy as an excuse for a long-dreamed invasion of Iraq.

Meanwhile, after two wars to make the Middle East safe for the Saudis, wars that cost hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars and thousands of American lives, the price of oil is soaring — up 42% from just a year ago. Good thing we just passed a pork-laden energy bill that will do little to nothing to ease our crushing — and rising — dependence on imported oil. Federal officials project that by 2025, the U.S. will have to import 68% of its oil to meet demand, up from 58% today.

There are those who argue that the best rationale for invading Iraq was to ease our dependence on Saudi Arabia’s massive oil fields, which might allow for a more rational or moral relationship. Yet the dark irony is that with Iraq in chaos and its oil flow limited by insurgent attacks and a bungled reconstruction, Saudi Arabia is now more important to the United States than ever.

It’s scary, but these gaping contradictions don’t seem to trouble our president a whit.

As the drumbeat of devastating terrorist attacks in Baghdad, London and elsewhere continue, Bush prattles on — five times in a speech last Wednesday — about his pyrrhic victories in the “war on terror.” This is a sorry rhetorical device that disguises the fact that the forces of Islamic fanaticism in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the world are stronger than ever.

Eat Like a European?

What’s up with these Europeans anyway?

If you walk around any major European city, it’s hard not to notice that most people look fit and slim. Yet, you also can’t ignore the fact that many are walking around with a baguette sandwich or ice cream cone in their hand.

When I first noticed this, I wondered if there was some unwritten rule that overweight people have to move out of the city and are not permitted to return until they shape up. But joking aside, everyone seems to be in good shape and in good spirits. And after observing their eating habits at restaurants during lunch and dinner, I became rather envious.

So what do Europeans eat that keeps them so slim and trim? You’d be surprised!

My usual lunch consists of a small salad with a piece of fish. If I plan on working out later in the day, I might treat myself to a latte with a piece of dark chocolate. Or if I was really good the day before, I might have a piece of toast with jam for breakfast. Either way, I’m always conscious of the carbs, fats, or whatever else we Americans are supposed to be counting at the moment.

Europeans eat very differently. Their morning begins with espresso, and moves slowly to a very heavy lunch that consists of a sandwich and always a dessert. All of which is chased by a glass of wine. Dinners are even heavier, with rich sauces, very rare meat (dripping with blood!), potatoes or pasta. Wine is consumed like water. And don’t forget the salad, appetizer and breadbasket that get devoured at every meal.

If Europeans can regularly enjoy such luxurious meals and get away with it, what are we Americans doing wrong? Why do so many of us seem to be losing the never-ending “battle of the bulge?”

The answer is simple — they walk, we drive.

I pride myself on walking four miles a day at least five days a week. And on a good week, I will throw in a few weight-training sessions as well. Twenty miles a week may seem like a big accomplishment. But when you get down to it, for women over 40 it’s not enough to prevent weight gain if you aren’t careful about what you eat. And it’s definitely not enough to stay fit and toned or to shed unwanted pounds.

Most European women do not go to the gym. Yet, most of them don’t have cellulite, and most don’t stress or obsess over their bodies. They eat only when they are hungry, stop when they are full, and walk all the time. Now that is a formula that works.

In addition, European foods don’t contain as many hormones, pesticides and preservatives as American foods. I once met a French baker who lived in San Diego for a while before returning to France. He used the same ingredients to make his baguettes every morning when he lived in San Diego, yet he claims they tasted different.

Another thing I like about Europe is the untouched faces of women. You rarely see evidence of Botox injections or plastic surgery of any kind. The older generation proudly displays their wrinkles, and in doing so shows the younger one how to age gracefully.

I’m not saying all is right with Europe and everything is wrong with America. But when it comes to taking care of ourselves and getting comfortable with our bodies as we grow older, it seems we could learn a few things from our friends across the sea.

All the best,

Yana

Yana Berlin is the founder and CEO of http://www.fabulously40.com, devoted to the celebration of all things, primarily women and the challenges and joys they face juggling their careers, children, relationships, and life’s other issues. Fabulously 40.com is a social network for women that catalyzes its members to celebrate and embrace their life. Since launching http://www.fabulously40.com – Mrs. Berlin has been connecting, and supporting women all over the world.

2008 (c) This article can only be reproduced in it’s entirety when the link to http://www.fabulously40.com is live at all times.

Healthy Confusion?

I am a resident of New York State, but if someone were to ask which state I live in, I would reply that I live in a “state of mental confusion.”

Mental confusion may sometimes be healthy, if it leads to questioning, enquiry and growth of wisdom. Perhaps that is why one of the wisest men, a sage from China was named Confused, Confuse Us or something similar, I am not sure. Talking about health, nowadays I am deluged with so much information about health matters that I do not know what to believe and what to dismiss, so I am totally contra-fused, excuse me, confused.

Our parents told us to play outside and breathe deeply; inhale a lot of oxygen, which was supposed to be good for health. Now however, when I go to the supermarket, almost every package label proudly proclaims that the food is high in anti-oxidants. Won’t an anti-oxidant reduce the oxygen in my blood and be toxic? I find this very contradictory and contra-fusing, sorry, confusing.

Also, when we were children, anyone who looked well nourished was referred to as healthy, while anyone who was slightly built was told to go and put some meat on their bones. This too has changed completely, anyone who does not look starved is told to reduce their weight. Similarly, we are constantly admonished to eat less fatty foods, since they contain cholesterol- but then we are told that some cholesterols are good while others are bad for us.

Ditto for sunlight; I used to think that exposing my skin to sunlight was very healthy- it helped synthesize Vitamin D and promoted healthy bones. Now, however it seems that sunlight has UV radiation which causes skin cancer and I am urged to protect myself with a sun blocker like SPF 15 or something similar. In a similar vein, we are often told not to use certain aerosols so as to preserve the ozone layer but when the ozone level is high we are told not to walk outside. So is ozone healthy for us or unhealthy?

Similarly, I used to believe that alcohol would ruin my liver, scramble my brain and lead to an early demise. However, I am now told that drinking alcohol daily, especially wine, prevents heart attacks. This had me confused for a while until I realized that if you die young from cirrhosis of the liver, you cannot die from a heart attack.

Enough of this unhealthy confusion, I think I will take a walk and clear my head, but wait- I better check the ozone levels, the air quality and the UV index, put on my orange reflectors and a nose mask before I step out of the house.

Rohit Khera