Subway Snubs Homeschoolers

by Robert Pondiscio
May 28th, 2008

You won’t find a word about it in the papers, but Google ”Subway and homeschool” and you’ll see dozens and dozens of blog entries from HSers peeved that the sandwich chain has excluded their kids from a national essay contest.  The “Every Sandwich Tells a Story” writing contest offers $5,000 in athletic equipment to the winner’s school.  But it’s a disclaimer on the contest’s web page that wrankles. 

Contest is open only to legal US residents, over the age of 18 with children in either elementary, private or parochial schools that serve grades PreK-6. No home schools will be accepted.

A letter from the Home School Legal Defense Association calls for Subway to reverse itself. 

We understand that the competition is focused on traditional public and private schools because the grand prize of $5,000 of athletic equipment is designed to be used by a traditional school and not an individual family. A potential homeschool winner, however, could simply donate the grand prize to a public or private school of their choice or to a homeschool sports league.

Subway has reportedly responded to the pressure, but stopped short of changing the rules.  A letter from the chain posted on the HSLDA site apologies “to anyone who feels excluded by our current essay contest. Our intention was to provide an opportunity for traditional schools, many of which we know have trouble affording athletic equipment, to win equipment. Our intent was certainly not to exclude homeschooled children from the opportunity to win prizes and benefit from better access to fitness equipment.”

The letter promises Subway will “soon create an additional contest in which homeschooled students will be encouraged to participate.” 

“No Child?” No Problem

by Robert Pondiscio
May 28th, 2008

One-hundred percent reading proficiency six years early. Last spring, all 184 students in the third and fourth grades at Ocean City Elementary School passed the Maryland School Assessment, or MSA, a battery of tests given by the state every year since 2003 to satisfy the law. “The school was the first in the state, apart from a few tiny special-education centers, to meet the goal that has defined public education this decade,” reports the Washington Post.

While not a disadvantaged school, neither Ocean City Elementary an affluent suburban school. The Post notes the student population, nearly 600 in total, is 89 percent white, 5 percent Hispanic, 3 percent black, 2 percent Asian and 1 percent American Indian. Twenty-nine students have limited English proficiency, and 134 qualify for subsidized meals because of low family income.

It’s Academic

by Robert Pondiscio
May 28th, 2008

I have to confess I didn’t know It’s Academic was still on the air in Washington, DC and six other cities after nearly 50 years. Sophie Altman, the brains behind the brainiac TV quiz show — the longest running quiz show in history, reportedly — died last week. The Washington Post files a lovely obit. Check out the 1965 photo from the show of a Illinois high schooler named Hillary Rodham.

Kickin’ It Old School

by Robert Pondiscio
May 28th, 2008

Penmanship instruction is making a comeback. For a couple of decades, especially in the 1980s, time spent on handwriting in school was replaced by instruction in computer and keyboard skills. Then with greater emphasis on testing, math and reading pushed penmanship of the curriculum. “Schools couldn’t add more time to the day or add more days to the week, so we began to see less emphasis on formal handwriting instruction,” Dennis Williams, of Zaner-Bloser, one of the best-known publishers of handwriting materials for schools, tells the Associated Press.

Nearly 200,000 people (!) competed in the most recent national handwriting grand championship, with the title going to Arizona seventh-grader Emily Rose Neeb.

USA Today, meanwhile reports spelling is gaining importance again with states increasingly testing students on their writing skills. “Rather than relying on word lists, some school districts are taking a different, more holistic method to spelling instruction. A program called “Spelling for Writers” emphasizes word patterns, roots and meanings rather than relying on word lists, the paper notes.

The 2008 Scripps National Spelling Bee begins tomorrow in Washington.