Advent and Christmas Resources and Link Up

My Domestic Church Links of the Day



It took six years, but even the media is starting to concede that the Obama administration and all of that "hope and change" crapola, is essentially, over.  From the Wall Street Journal. 


President Obama's approval rating has dropped to 41 percent, a majority of Americans disapprove of his handling of foreign policyissues, he has lost support from the Hispanic community and Americans actually think his administration is less competent than the Bush White House post-Hurricane Katrina, according to a new survey from the Wall Street Journal and NBC News.



What is Father's Day like for a boy raised by lesbians?  An interesting read by Robert Oscar Lopez.


A free-thinking salutatorian defies the authorities and expresses his Christianity.




Common Core 101 - pretty much validates everything I wrote a year ago here.

The standards were drafted largely behind closed doors by academics and assessment “experts,” many with ties to testing companies. Education Weekblogger and science teacher Anthony Cody found that, of the 25 individuals in the work groups charged with drafting the standards, six were associated with the test makers from the College Board, five with the test publishers at ACT, and four with Achieve. Zero teachers were in the work groups. The feedback groups had 35 participants, almost all of whom were university professors. Cody found one classroom teacher involved in the entire process. According to teacher educator Nancy Carlsson-Paige: “In all, there were 135 people on the review panels for the Common Core. Not a single one of them was a K–3 classroom teacher or early childhood professional.” Parents were entirely missing. K–12 educators were mostly brought in after the fact to tweak and endorse the standards—and lend legitimacy to the results.

 The idea that by next year Common Core tests will start labeling kids in the 3rd grade as on track or not for college is absurd and offensive.Substantive questions have been raised about the Common Core's tendency to push difficult academic skills to lower grades, about the appropriateness of the early childhood standards, about the sequencing of the math standards, about the mix and type of mandated readings, and about the priority Common Core puts on the close reading of texts in ways that devalue student experience and prior knowledge.
A decade of NCLB tests showed that millions of students were not meeting existing standards, but the sponsors of the Common Core decided that the solution was tougher ones. And this time, instead of each state developing its own standards, the Common Core seeks to create national tests that are comparable across states and districts, and that can produce results that can be plugged into the data-driven crisis machine that is the engine of corporate reform.


Oh, and the Diocese of Cleveland is supporting Common Core.  I'm kinds wondering how Jesus is going to be stuck in among all the other "guidelines."

The Office of Catechetical Formation and Education (OCFE) supports the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Initiative adopted by Ohio, forty-four other states, the District of Columbia, four territories and the Department of Defense Education Activity. The mission of this initiative clearly states “the standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers.”* The shift to the CCSS is motivated by the need to make sure that American students are better prepared to successfully compete in a world economy that affects the lives of all.
The OCFE has adapted the CCSS to the diocesan curriculum. The Ohio Department of Education, as well as the OCFE, has planned full implementation of the Math and English Language Arts standards for the 2014-2015 academic school year.


Lastly, The Feel Good War on breast Cancer. 
Even as American women embraced mammography, researchers’ understanding of breast cancer — including the role of early detection — was shifting. The disease, it has become clear, does not always behave in a uniform way. It’s not even one disease. There are at least four genetically distinct breast cancers. They may have different causes and definitely respond differently to treatment. Two related subtypes, luminal A and luminal B, involve tumors that feed on estrogen; they may respond to a five-year course of pills like tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors, which block cells’ access to that hormone or reduce its levels. In addition, a third type of cancer, called HER2-positive, produces too much of a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2; it may be treatable with a targeted immunotherapy called Herceptin. The final type, basal-like cancer (often called “triple negative” because its growth is not fueled by the most common biomarkers for breast cancer — estrogen, progesterone and HER2), is the most aggressive, accounting for up to 20 percent of breast cancers. More prevalent among young and African-American women, it is genetically closer to ovarian cancer. Within those classifications, there are, doubtless, further distinctions, subtypes that may someday yield a wider variety of drugs that can isolate specific tumor characteristics, allowing for more effective treatment. But that is still years away.Those early mammography trials were conducted before variations in cancer were recognized — before Herceptin, before hormonal therapy, even before the widespread use of chemotherapy. Improved treatment has offset some of the advantage of screening, though how much remains contentious. There has been about a 25 percent drop in breast-cancer death rates since 1990, and some researchers argue that treatment — not mammograms — may be chiefly responsible for that decline. They point to a study of three pairs of European countries with similar health care services and levels of risk: In each pair, mammograms were introduced in one country 10 to 15 years earlier than in the other. Yet the mortality data are virtually identical. Mammography didn’t seem to affect outcomes. In the United States, some researchers credit screening with a death-rate reduction of 15 percent — which holds steady even when screening is reduced to every other year. Gilbert Welch, a professor of medicine at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice and co-author of last November’s New England Journal of Medicine study of screening-induced overtreatment, estimates that only 3 to 13 percent of women whose cancer was detected by mammograms actually benefited from the test.If Welch is right, the test helps between 4,000 and 18,000 women annually. Not an insignificant number, particularly if one of them is you, yet perhaps less than expected given the 138,000 whose cancer has been diagnosed each year through screening. Why didn’t early detection work for more of them? Mammograms, it turns out, are not so great at detecting the most lethal forms of disease — like triple negative — at a treatable phase. Aggressive tumors progress too quickly, often cropping up between mammograms. Even catching them “early,” while they are still small, can be too late: they have already metastasized. That may explain why there has been no decrease in the incidence of metastatic cancer since the introduction of screening.
And as it turns out, mammography can cause more harm than good!

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