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>The underworked American

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Lexington

The underworked American
Jun 11th 2009
From The Economist print edition

Children are exceptions to the country’s work ethic

AMERICANS like to think of themselves as martyrs to work. They delight in telling stories about their punishing hours, snatched holidays and ever-intrusive BlackBerrys. At this time of the year they marvel at the laziness of their European cousins, particularly the French. Did you know that the French take the whole of August off to recover from their 35-hour work weeks? Have you heard that they are so addicted to their holidays that they leave the sick to die and the dead to moulder?
There is an element of exaggeration in this, of course, and not just about French burial habits; studies show that Americans are less Stakhanovite than they think. Still, the average American gets only four weeks of paid leave a year compared with seven for the French and eight for the Germans. In Paris many shops simply close down for August; in Washington, where the weather is sweltering, they remain open, some for 24 hours a day.

But when it comes to the young the situation is reversed. American children have it easier than most other children in the world, including the supposedly lazy Europeans. They have one of the shortest school years anywhere, a mere 180 days compared with an average of 195 for OECD countries and more than 200 for East Asian countries. German children spend 20 more days in school than American ones, and South Koreans over a month more. Over 12 years, a 15-day deficit means American children lose out on 180 days of school, equivalent to an entire year.
American children also have one of the shortest school days, six-and-a-half hours, adding up to 32 hours a week. By contrast, the school week is 37 hours in Luxembourg, 44 in Belgium, 53 in Denmark and 60 in Sweden. On top of that, American children do only about an hour’s-worth of homework a day, a figure that stuns the Japanese and Chinese.

Americans also divide up their school time oddly. They cram the school day into the morning and early afternoon, and close their schools for three months in the summer. The country that tut-tuts at Europe’s mega-holidays thinks nothing of giving its children such a lazy summer. But the long summer vacation acts like a mental eraser, with the average child reportedly forgetting about a month’s-worth of instruction in many subjects and almost three times that in mathematics. American academics have even invented a term for this phenomenon, “summer learning loss”. This pedagogical understretch is exacerbating social inequalities. Poorer children frequently have no one to look after them in the long hours between the end of the school day and the end of the average working day. They are also particularly prone to learning loss. They fall behind by an average of over two months in their reading. Richer children actually improve their performance.

The understretch is also leaving American children ill-equipped to compete. They usually perform poorly in international educational tests, coming behind Asian countries that spend less on education but work their children harder. California’s state universities have to send over a third of their entering class to take remedial courses in English and maths. At least a third of successful PhD students come from abroad.

A growing number of politicians from both sides of the aisle are waking up to the problem. Barack Obama has urged school administrators to “rethink the school day”, arguing that “we can no longer afford an academic calendar designed for when America was a nation of farmers who needed their children at home ploughing the land at the end of each day.” Newt Gingrich has trumpeted a documentary arguing that Chinese and Indian children are much more academic than American ones.

These politicians have no shortage of evidence that America’s poor educational performance is weakening its economy. A recent report from McKinsey, a management consultancy, argues that the lagging performance of the country’s school pupils, particularly its poor and minority children, has wreaked more devastation on the economy than the current recession.

Learning the lesson
A growing number of schools are already doing what Mr Obama urges, and experimenting with lengthening the school day. About 1,000 of the country’s 90,000 schools have broken the shackles of the regular school day. In particular, charter schools in the Knowledge is Power Programme (KIPP) start the school day at 7.30am and end at 5pm, hold classes on some Saturdays and teach for a couple of weeks in the summer. All in all, KIPP students get about 60% more class time than their peers and routinely score better in tests.

Still, American schoolchildren are unlikely to end up working as hard as the French, let alone the South Koreans, any time soon. There are institutional reasons for this. The federal government has only a limited influence over the school system. Powerful interest groups, most notably the teachers’ unions, but also the summer-camp industry, have a vested interest in the status quo. But reformers are also up against powerful cultural forces.

One is sentimentality; the archetypical American child is Huckleberry Finn, who had little taste for formal education. Another is complacency. American parents have led grass-root protests against attempts to extend the school year into August or July, or to increase the amount of homework their little darlings have to do. They still find it hard to believe that all those Chinese students, beavering away at their books, will steal their children’s jobs. But Huckleberry Finn was published in 1884. And brain work is going the way of manual work, to whoever will provide the best value for money. The next time Americans make a joke about the Europeans and their taste for la dolce vita, they ought to take a look a bit closer to home.

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>July 4th Parades ‘Jumping on The Bandwagon’ Time

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“July 4th Parades are used by Politicians and Activists to attract Crowds”

by Dom Nizza

2009 Ridgewood NJ July 4th Parade theme will be “50 States One Nation”
Town merchants, will have tickets for the fireworks and the evening performances. What is your local community doing this year? Or will your parade be ‘rained on’ by those that are ‘Jumping on the Bandwagon? Theodore Roosevelt made a clear-cut reference to the practice in his Letters, 1899 (published 1951). What political alliances wil we see at the Parades this year and ready to ‘jump on the bandwagon’? Yes, all photos courtesy of Google.

The Bandwagon is coming, the Bandwagon is coming”……
Traditional 10 horse drawn P. T. Barnum Bandwagon, that everyone tried to climb aboard whether they could play an instrument or not. That was the political approach many used for causes they advocated for (or against).We have many going on today don’t we? It’s becoming a real Circus with plenty of manure.

Modern Bandwagons today, many large bands are not always marching but, carried on large and smaller trailers like these. Some are from small towns that can be easily moved, the same day, to the next near-by town where a parade is also scheduled. That is the traditional sharing of talented musicians and the usual opportunists with a cause.

Editor Thanks once again from one of our “My Community” readers that has a
personal political cause, suggested that this year we will have many more activists spouting support for their personal interest. It’s unfortunate but, that’s what our July 4th Parades have come to be….. nothing wrong with that, provided you can play an instrument and not just jump on the Bandwagon to be seen. Send your photos and story to domnizza@netzero.com OK?

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>The Ridgewood Fourth of July Celebration

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2009 Ridgewood Fourth of July Celebration.
The theme this year is “50 States – One Nation.”

The Ridgewood Fourth of July Celebration Committee urges you to look for these stars in many area businesses. These businesses and individuals are generous sponsors of the Ridgewood Fourth of July Celebration. The Committee asks you to patronize these businesses, and to thank them for helping to “Support the Tradition” of the Ridgewood Fourth of July Celebration.

http://www.ridgewoodjuly4th.org/
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>Swine Flu Update – June 6th 2009

>The Village of Ridgewood is monitoring the swine flu situation in the United States and State of New Jersey It is maintaining close ties with the health and emergency operations management at both the county and state level. The websites listed below provide the latest available information. State Joint Center for Information has a Hotline for Questions at 866/321-9571.

GigaGolf, Inc.

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Pascack Valley Hospital:Stakes are high as hospital hearing starts

>Stakes are high as hospital hearing starts

Monday, June 8, 2009
Last updated: Monday June 8, 2009, 6:30 AM
BY LINDY WASHBURN
NorthJersey.com
STAFF WRITER

http://www.northjersey.com/news/health/47172637.html

The people who live near the former Pascack Valley Hospital say their health will be jeopardized if it doesn’t reopen.

But some North Jersey hospitals say it is the region’s health care system that will be thrown into disarray if Pascack is revived.

http://www.northjersey.com/news/health/47172637.html

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>Bergen County awards the Village of Ridgewood with $263,500 of Open Space and Historic Preservation Trust funds

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Picture ID from left to right: Councilman Paul Aronsohn, Freeholder Vernon Walton, Freeholder Julie O’Brien, County Executive Dennis McNerney, Councilwoman Anne Zusy, Ridgewood Deputy Mayor Keith Killion


Bergen County Executive Dennis McNerney and the Board of Chosen Freeholders are pleased to announce that the Village of Ridgewood has been authorized to receive a total of $263,500 from Bergen County’s Open Space and Historic Preservation Trust Funds. This project will repair approximately 10,400 square feet of green tile roofing, which are important to the building’s design and are in deteriorated condition.

The railroad station complex is located in Garber Square, Ridgewood. It was erected in 1915-16 and was later owned by the village of Ridgewood in 1967.

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>June 6, 1944: D-Day

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June 6, 1944, 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France. General Dwight D. Eisenhower called the operation a crusade in which “we will accept nothing less than full victory.” More than 5,000 Ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion, and by day’s end on June 6, the Allies gained a foot- hold in Normandy. The D-Day cost was high -more than 9,000 Allied Soldiers were killed or wounded — but more than 100,000 Soldiers began the march across Europe to defeat Hitler.

http://www.army.mil/d-day/

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>New Jersey cops bust up widespread prostitution ring

>RAMSEY, NJ – A large-scale prostitution ring operating throughout the Bergen and Rockland County areas was shut down yesterday, authorities say.

The reported ringleader, John Lanza, 42, of the Bronx, was arrested on Wednesday, June 3 at approximately 3:30 p.m. on the charge of promoting prostitution. Also arrested, on the charge of engaging in prostitution, were Wol Lee, 28, of Queens, NY, and Hye Yeun Bang, 37, also of Queens.

According to authorities, the arrest stemmed from an investigation in which John Lanza was operating a large scale prostitution organization throughout the Bergen and Rockland County areas. Utilizing Internet advertisements and area hotels, Lanza would arrange for encounters where persons would either engage in or facilitate prostitution.

The arrests came about as a result of an investigation conducted by members of the Ramsey Police Department, under the direction Chief Bryan Gurney; numerous local law enforcment officers from the Bergen County Police Department and the police departments of Fort Lee, Saddle River, Hillsdale, Rochelle Park, River Vale, Park Ridge, Ridgewood, Bogota, and Tenafly; and the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Computer Crimes Task Force.

The suspects have all been released on their own recognizance.

http://blogofbile.com/2009/06/04/non-crime-new-jersey-cops-bust-up-widespread-prostitution-ring/

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>Chris Christie : Join Me ,Thursday, June 11 for a rally with my good friend, Governor Mitt Romney, to kick-off our general election campaign!

>Jon Corzine has created an absolute mess in Trenton. We’re going to change Trenton and we’re going to start by changing Governors. I’m so proud to be leading our party and excited to have such a great team of Assembly, Freeholder and local candidates all over New Jersey who are ready to cut taxes, lower spending, restore pride and make New Jersey an affordable place to live again.

We can’t win this fight alone, though. We need to rebuild the state party to help me defeat Governor Corzine. I hope you’ll join me next Thursday, June 11 for a rally with my good friend, Governor Mitt Romney, to kick-off our general election campaign to Take Back New Jersey. The rally is from 5 pm to 7 pm in the Robert Meyner Reception Center at PNC Bank Arts Center right off the Parkway in Holmdel.

This is our first chance to send a loud and clear message to Governor Corzine and make it clear that we’re ready for a change. We can turn our state into a job leader again. We can put the taxpayers first. We can reign in a government that has grown too big and too expensive. But I need your help. Join our campaign to Take Back New Jersey and join Gov. Mitt Romney and me next Thursday.

Chris Christie

Paid for by The New Jersey Republican State Committee, John Bennett Treasurer