Archives for January 2009

School nurses get insulin monopoly

Diabetic students won’t be able to get help with insulin at most California schools, because a state judge has ruled that only a nurse can administer insulin shots. Most California schools don’t have a school nurse. Since the ruling late last year, parents of an estimated 15,000 diabetic children are “pushing school districts to hire nurses, driving to schools to administer the insulin shots and in some cases choosing home schooling,” reports the San Jose Mercury News.

Many doctors and diabetes advocates are outraged. Scores of lay people — babysitters, siblings, grandparents — regularly administer insulin, and they see no reason why trained, nonmedical school staff, like teachers or clerks, should not be allowed to help students. They fear the massive shortage of school nurses means children are not getting insulin shots in a timely manner. And they say diabetes is being used as a political tool to force school districts to hire more nurses — an unlikely scenario given the state’s $42 billion budget deficit.

“It’s untenable to expect nurses to be the sole provider of insulin in schools,” said Dr. Darrell Wilson, a pediatric endocrinologist at Stanford University and the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. “To say that only a nurse can do this is spectacularly unnecessary. This is not a complicated procedure.”

Nursing associations sued to make registered nurses the only source of insulin.

Of course, most children with diabetes handle their own blood sugar testing and insulin from a young age. It’s safer if they learn to take responsibility. But there are young children new to juvenile diabetes who could use help from an aide or teacher or volunteer. If they have to wait for a nurse to drive over from another school or for a parent to drive to school . . .

If Shakespeare had twittered

Via Advertising Lab, here’s the twitter version of Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” speech.

“2 be, or nt 2 be: tht’s the q:
Whether ’tis nblr in the mnd 2 sffr
The slngs & rrws of trgs frtn,
Or 2 tk rms gnst a sea of trbls,
by ppsng end thm? 2 die: 2 zzz;
No mr & by a zzz 2 say we end
The hrt-ache & the thsnd ntrl shcks
That flsh is hr 2, ’tis a cnsmmtn
Devoutly 2 be wsh’d. 2 die, 2 zzz;”

And so on . . .

Sitcom squelches Marie Curie

Women who want to be scientists aren’t so faint-hearted as to be stopped by a sitcom, writes Heather Mac Donald in City Journal.

New York Times science reporter Natalie Angier recently called for renewed attention to the lack of proportional representation of women in science. . . . The imbalance in the sciences, Angier reported, is especially bad in physics, where just 6 percent of full professors are women. After canvassing some current theories explaining the imbalance, Angier offered her own scapegoats: “Bubble-headed television shows like ‘The Big Bang Theory,’ with its four nerdy male physics prodigies and the fetching blond girl next door.”

Imagine the devastation that such a show might wreak. A 15-year-old math whiz is happily immersed in the Lorentz transformations, the basis for the theory of special relativity. She looks up at the tube and sees a fictional group of male physics students bashfully speaking to a feisty blonde. Her confidence and enthusiasm shattered, she drops out of her AP physics course and starts hanging out at the mall with the cheerleading squad.

Will she think: I can’t succeed in science? Or: I will be hanging out with nerdy guys at MIT?

14 kids, no dad

The mother of the octuplets born in Southern California already has six children under the age of seven and no husband. Apparently, her father has supported the family by working in his native Iraq as a ontractor.

Why did the fertility clinic agree to any treatment, much less implanting eight embryos? The mother must be crazy.

Here’s more. Family declared bankruptcy last year. All kids conceived through in vitro. Grandma says the mom is obsessed.

One-armed blogger

Blogging will be light until my right arm comes out of the sling and I’m not so dependent on Vicodin. I had surgery to fix my rotator cuff and frozen shoulder.

Filling in the blanks

Submit your funniest (and silliest) test answers to Zero Out of Five, which features an attempt to negotiate with the teacher for the life of “innocent stick people.”

For every point you take off, this guy loses a limb!

Sadly, it didn’t work. Apparently, Reservoir Dogs is not a good life model.

Creativity without content

D-Ed Reckoning’s Ken DeRosa is a grinch.  He looks at a nice, little story about children’s creativity in a National Engineers Week Future City Competition and asks whether students are learning anything.

The competition challenges middle school students to design a city of the future with a focus on water conservation, reuse, and renewable energy. The students use the game SimCity (Deluxe 4) to help them build their three-dimensional models to scale. They have a semester to dream up and then construct their miniature cities entirely out of recycled materials. Supposedly, this inspires them to consider engineering as a profession.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette describes one entry, called L.U.R.E., set in New Mexico:

School is free for everyone, brought into individual homes via a holographic teacher. Nearly everyone in town is gainfully employed as an engineer.

Mountain goat racing and sand surfing satisfy a yen for sports and leisure. And if, for no apparent reason, you need a getaway, there’s the Space Shuttle Gilligan to whisk you on a four-month vacation to the moon…

Students used a Starbucks frappuccino cup to model a coffee shop; they made office buildings from paper towel rolls.

Students were supposed to be learning “how engineers turn ideas into reality.” But they didn’t need any engineering knowledge to build their models, DeRosa grumps.

It’s not as if they built a teaching hologram or used recycled materials to build a real building or designed systems to conserve water and use renewable energy.

My husband, born to be an engineer, built a color TV set when he was in high school.  It worked.  His father, also an engineer, built model planes as a teenager. They flew.

My first husband, a math-physics guy,  designed an atomic bomb in fifth grade for a school project. “It probably wouldn’t have worked,” he said. But he’d studied the science and the math.  It wasn’t an art project.

Italian study: Thimerosal not linked to autism

Yet another study shows no link between vaccines and autism, reports NPR.  “In the early 1990s, thousands of healthy Italian babies in a study of whooping cough vaccines got two different amounts of the preservative thimerosal,” which some fear causes autism.

Only one case of autism was found, and that was in the group that got the lower level of thimerosal.

Alison Singer, executive vice president of communications and awareness at Autism Speaks, recently resigned over the vaccine issue.

“Dozens of credible scientific studies have exonerated vaccines as a cause of autism,” she wrote in a statement. “I believe we must devote limited funding to more promising avenues of autism research.”

Singer, who has an 11-year-old daughter with autism, told Newsweek the vaccine question has been resolved. “We need to be able to say, ‘Yes, we are now satisfied that the earth is round’.”

Carnival of Education

A Day at School is the theme of this week’s Carnival of Education, hosted by Reading Workshop.

More money, less reform

Flypaper’s Education Reform-0-Meter, which started with a “warm” welcome for Arne Duncan as education secretary, is getting colder.

Senate Democrats have stripped the reformist provisions from the education portion of the House stimulus bill.

The Teacher Incentive Fund (which supports merit pay programs): gone. Charter school facilities dollars: gone. Money for data infrastructure projects: gone. Language ensuring that charter schools have equitable access to the money: gone. The teachers unions firmly in control of the Democratic Party: back with a vengeance.

Where is Obama? We shall see how strongly he’ll back education reform.