4th Grade Science, 3rd Rate Answers

by Robert Pondiscio
March 16th, 2009

How long does it take the Earth to revolve around the Sun? Did the earliest humans and dinosaurs live at the same time?  What percent of the Earth’s surface is covered with water?  If you don’t know the answers to all three questions (1 year, no, and about 70%) then you have company.  Lots of company.  Only one out of five American adults know the answer to all three questions, according to a survey commissioned by the California Academy of Sciences.

Despite the low grasp of science knowledge, about 4 in 5 adults say science education is “absolutely essential” or “very important” to the U.S. healthcare system (86%), the U.S. global reputation (79%), and the U.S. economy (77%).  They would know. 

Take the quiz yourself at the California Academy of Science website. 

(HT: Joanne Jacobs)

Elementary School Principal Begs Parents for Cash

by Robert Pondiscio
March 16th, 2009

Nice school your kid’s got here.  Be a shame if something bad happened to it. 

That’s not exactly the message a cash-strapped principal is sending to parents.  But it’s close.  Looking at a $500,000 budget deficit, Trevor Honohan, principal of Audubon Park Elementary in Orlando, Florida sent a fundraising letter to parents last week asking them to contribute $500 each or run the risk of losing staff and programs.   “Our backs are against the wall. I need your help today!” pleaded Honohan’s letter. 

Hard working teachers that we value and love will be unemployed. We will potentially have to cut programs that have allowed our children to succeed in a variety of areas. There is only one solution and it begins with us all. It is time to pay for what we don’t have now; otherwise we will pay for what we didn’t have later. My solution is simple but at the same time it will not be easy to achieve. I am asking for a financial contribution from those families who are in a position to do so.

Honohan’s letter also makes naming rights to the school available for a substantial donation.  “You can purchase and name each classroom, office space or general area (cafeteria, media center etc) in the building,” he writes.  “This will require a minimum financial contribution of $10,000.”

As you might expect, reactions are sharply divided between those who see Honohan as a hero for taking such a bold stance; others feel they already gave in their property taxes. An OrlandoSentinel.com poll found that 54% would not contribute.  “Orange district officials are looking into the propriety of the principal’s missive,” notes Jeff Solochek’s Gradebook blog, “which was not approved by downtown.”  Honohan estimates that just over half the school’s parents have the financial wherewithal to make a donation.