Tuesday Morning Quaterback: It Doesn't Pay To Punt

We're All Professionals Here: Leading 16-14 at the 2:03 mark of the fourth quarter, St. Louis had first-and-10 on its own 34, and Arizona down to one timeout. Running up the middle three times probably ices the game. Instead Les Mouflons try to -- well, your guess is as good as mine about what they were trying to do, but the result was a fumble recovered by the Cardinals. Now it's two snaps later, Arizona has first-and-10 on the Rams' 18 with 1:46 remaining and St. Louis is out of timeouts. The Cards are in position for a short field goal to win the game. Instead the Cardinals try to -- well, your guess is as good as mine about what they were trying to do, but the result was a fumble recovered by the Rams. Game over.

The Homework Conspiracy: Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post reported that new studies by Harris Cooper, director of Duke University's Program on Education, conclude, "Elementary school students receive no benefit from homework." The new book "The Homework Myth" by Alfie Kohn comes to the same conclusion, adding that in middle school more than 90 minutes of homework per night, and in high school more than two hours per night, backfire by reducing grades and test scores. The reasons are plain as the nose on your face -- too much homework leaves kids tired in the morning and makes them sick of education, while denying the time they need to goof off and be kids. Yet despite research showing large amounts of homework actively injurious to education, homework requirements have been rising steadily in public schools for years. Tuesday Morning Quarterback thinks he knows why: Teachers are using homework to exact vengeance on parents.

Since the National Commission on Education declared, in 1983, that "educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people," parents have been complaining nonstop about schools. Set aside that the declaration of the National Commission on Education contains a grammatical error -- "Nation" is not a proper noun and in this usage should not be capitalized. The 1983 report put school performance into the headlines. Since then school complaining, not football, has become the national sport of Boomer moms and dads. The media now stereotype public school teachers as muttonheads who oppose high standards and are more concerned with union politics and political correctness than teaching the basics and the classics. (In my experience, teachers spend most of their time on basic subjects and classic texts.) The annoyingly large subset of "helicopter parents" is constantly second-guessing teachers. Salaries of doctors, lawyers and other professionals keep accelerating toward the asteroid belt, while teachers are expected to work for love rather than money. The teachers' revenge? Assign loads of homework.

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