Open thread

by Grace aka costofcollege

Any and all topics are welcome during today’s open thread!

Feeling talkative? ‘Chatty’ gene discovered by scientists in study breakthrough

THE gene which makes people chatty has been discovered in a breakthrough that could lead to new treatments for autism and other social disorders.

Is Brexit on your mind?

The non-Brits guide to Brexit



179 thoughts on “Open thread

  1. For others that have an abundance of cucumbers, mint, and dill right now, this Southern Living recipe makes a GREAT spread. Perfect summer appetizer with crackers (or would be great on small sandwiches if you are hosting a shower or something).

    1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
    2 cucumbers, seeds removed, diced (about 2 cups) (my cucumbers are not very big, so I used about 5)
    1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
    2 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
    2 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint
    2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
    1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper

    Mix. Chill. Serve.

  2. Eldest DD and I will be in the Washington D C area next week. We plan on going to the Smithsonian. Any suggestions for museums, restaurants, etc?

  3. I really love the museum of the American Indian – and their cafeteria is fairly adventurous – buffalo and quinoa. We once went to the Bureau of Engraving – you actually get to see all the money being printed, it’s somewhat surreal to see so much and a bit off the beaten path (but just a block or two from one end of the mall). I think you might need a reservation.

    Also, it can be fun to visit your representative, especially since you live fairly far from DC (if I recall), meaning they don’t have a ton of visitors. They are usually pretty welcoming – I would check their official page – they may have a weekly coffee hour.

  4. greetings from LA! Not sure if anyone here is going to Brazil for the Olympics but I will be there for the first few days if anyone wants to meet up!

  5. Also, I think it goes without saying, but peel the cucumbers.

    Why? I made taziki the other day. It didn’t say to peel the cucumbers so I just tossed them in the food processor for a few pulses and then drained them through a cheese cloth. It came out great. Also, almost all the nutrients are in the peel. For example, 9 micrograms of vitamin K in the flesh and 49 micrograms in the peel.

  6. My complaint regarding the British – first join something, then have a big poll threatening to leave whatever you joined. Becomes old after a while. Too much drama.

  7. lagirl, I’ve been wondering if you were going after all! Have fun and be careful. Lot’s of negative publicity, but I’m sure it’s overblown.

    If you’re in Georgetown I’d suggest Martin’s Tavern, an old school place with lots of history. Supposedly JFK proposed to Jackie in one of the booths.

  8. Brexit is a big topic in our home because it impacts our work. DH was in UK last week, and his staff is concerned. It would have a direct impact for both of us so I hope they vote to stay in, but I can understand why some people want to leave. I didn’t get it because I thought it was all about immigration and money, but I recently learned it isn’t that simple.

    One of my former colleagues is fine with the immigration, but she said there are so many obscure European laws that she has to comply with in her daily life. For example, she had an issue with some bats in her house. The laws around so many things are different from the former law, and she said its from people in Brussels that don’t understand about the UK. She was saying that it’s very different than the states vs. federal because we do choose our federal govt. she dislikes living with so many laws and rules from people in the EU.

  9. Some cukes have thicker peels than others. I forget exactly what each type is called.

  10. @ Rhett – because they’re diced and then hand mixed in (as opposed to something you put in the blender) – it’s not a smooth dip, it’s a chunky one and the peel will mess up the texture. But definitely if that doesn’t bother you, leave it on.

  11. Peel on cukes we get are often very thick. I tend to peel them in stripes, so I leave about 1/2 the peel on. In small quantities it often is OK, but sometimes it can make the dish a bit chewier than desired. We have an abundance of tomatoes right now….I have been eating 4-5 per day and the pile of them is not getting any smaller. Trying salsa later this week.

  12. costofcollege-considering how far out i booked everything i’m still going. I am a little nervous-especially since everyone wants to tell me all the bad stories haha. but i’m taking lots of mosquito spray. but i’d appreciate all the good thoughts people want to send my way!

  13. The laws around so many things are different from the former law, and she said its from people in Brussels that don’t understand about the UK.

    John Oliver’s take, and that of many in the know in the UK, is that things won’t change as so much of the UK’s imports and exports going through the EU. As a result, all those rules will still apply as the UK isn’t a big enough market for a slew of custom products. And, to the degree they do get custom products, they will be more expensive.

  14. For those of you with High Schoolers, I have a question about summer homework.

    DD#1 –
    Read a book for AP English (assigned novel), annotate, test first week of school.
    Read a book for AP US History (non-fiction, but more popular vs. scholarly) list, annotate, be prepared to discuss with teacher during the first week.
    Complete binder for AP Physics – Includes more than 100 pages. Some are just reading, but the vast majority also include short answer questions or problems that require math to solve them.

    DD#2 – Read a book for Pre-AP English of your choice, annotate and be prepared to discuss (list of items) with the teacher.

  15. And the question is….is the physics what you have experienced or does this seem excessive?

  16. We don’t have AP Physics, but DD2’s AP English homework involves:

    Read, annotate, and answer discussion questions on rhetoric textbook (DD1 says they never used any of that material or textbook in class)
    Read, annotate and assigned novel and be prepared to write a timed essay the first week of class,
    There is another lengthy assignment also due.

    I think it is excessive and used as a tool to prevent kids from taking the class.

    When DD1 took the class, the teacher never graded any of the summer homework.

    The principal assures me that the teacher will grade the summer homework this year. We will see, however, I am not willing to bet whether the teacher or principal will win this battle, so DD is wrecking a portion of her summer doing useless busywork.

  17. Anon for this–the physics assignment is consistent with what my S had to do for AP physics. The rest of it also seems consistent with his summer homework for AP classes.

  18. @Cordelia – local here. Don’t know what they are into but here are my suggestions:

    Portrait Gallery – a little off the beaten path so way less crowded and a lot more than just portraits – very wide variety of art. Check the web site to see what they have there now.

    Hrishorn Museum – on the mall but set back and thus much less crowded – contemporary art. Our family favorite.

    Newseum – if they are into news and have enough context to get it. Not good for smaller children because not much of it means anything to them.

    Spy Museum – I’m not a huge fan but a lot of other people are. It is right across the street from the Portrait Gallery. It is moving soon.

    Union Market – Haven’t been by everyone is talking about it all the damn time. Newer trendy open air food market thing.

    If you have a car check out the Air Force memorial as it is situated beautifully above the city.

    Rent bikes and bike along the Potomac River or out to Roosevelt Island in Arlington. (do not do this on a weekend day. The “serious” bikers are crazy and make it a real hazzard. I also think the National Park Service does free bike tours throughout the week.

    If you go to the Lincoln Memorial, make sure to walk around the back. At night depending on how the trees are you can sometimes see the eternal flame burning just below the Lee House.

    wouldn’t bother going up the Washington Monument, the elevator has been breaking a lot and it is not that great of a view.

    If you are into different sorts of things and over by the Archives which is another pretty cool museum that people often over look (more than just the Constitution) check out one of the last surviving temperance fountains. this is a fun article about the Cogswell Society that I really want to join.

    I’ve never done it but I think the night time segway tours is a great way to see the monuments. Make sure you see them at night especially, Lincoln, Viet Nam, Korea and WWII – so beautiful. Also giant Einstein statue is just across Constitution at the National Academy of Sciences and it is a great fun picture to take as you can climb on it and stuff. My kids like to put their hands in his nose.

    Finally, they are doing a lot of work on the metro so check here before you book your hotel if you are counting on metro.

    Sorry so long, just love my city. I could go on and on! Enjoy your visit and when you are on the subway escalators – stand to your right, walk to your left!

  19. Cordelia – wrote a super long post to you about DC but it isn’t showing up, maybe it will pop up later!

  20. Vacation advice needed:
    Our original plan was a few days in Paris combined with a week bike touring/camping in Bretagne. The biking plan was to be self-organized – we’re pretty good at plotting bike routes and finding campgrounds as we go, and the kids are old enough to tote their crap on a bike.

    But the combination of sky high airfares (cheapest is around $900 per person) and the fact that we had to spend a bunch of money rebuilding our shed/garage and having some maintenance done on the outside of the house has left me feeling like this may be the wrong year. WHich is sad because I also feel like we are running out of time to show kids the cool places in the world.

    Where else could we go to do bike touring that offers a) relatively flat terrain b) campgrounds close enough together that we aren’t stuck with 70 mile days c) stuff to see? With our kids “pretty scenery” isn’t going to do it – they need fun or interesting stuff to do and see. They all like historical sites, which is one of the reasons Bretagne would have worked so well (plus they are huge Asterix fans so they wanted to see Asterix’s home province)

    I thought of redoing the bike tour on the St Lawrence which fits all the criteria above. Only thing is, kids have been to Montreal and Quebec City numerous times. I am also wondering if there are places to bike say on the Outer Banks? Or would it be way too hot? Is there anything historical down there? We could combine beach, bikes and other sightseeing perhaps.

  21. Oh and one more thing. Go to the old Post Office – there is a HUGE Trump sign in front of the building (he is redoing it) all of our guests enjoy getting their photo in front of that whilst expressing in many different ways, the way they feel about him.

  22. DD is wrecking a portion of her summer doing useless busywork.

    Isn’t that the goal? Or, (and I don’t know how much actual thought goes into this nonsense) is the goal to get future professionals used to the idea that they won’t have any real time off?

  23. Best museum cafeteria in Washington DC is definitely the one at the Museum of the American Indian. Worst one is the giant McDonalds at Air and Space with no other choices.

  24. Mooshi – I’d stay away from Paris this year. All the strikes and nonsense there! Have you thought about the NEtherlands? Most everyone speaks english, biking culture, very flat. You could also do one of those boats you rent and have your bikes on them. I think Outer Banks would be way too hot, but I hate the heat so….

  25. People do love American Indian Museum restaurant but my kids (14-16) prefer the one in the basement of the Natural History museum. If you just cross Constitution over behind the Archives by the Navy Memorial there are a number of nice restaurants where you can sit and get a proper salad or meal without getting too far off your plan. There’s also a CVS over there for emergencies.

  26. MM – how about biking along the Erie Canal? Start where you want…the canal ends at the Buffalo Naval Yards which have two or three WWII era boats. Then you can bike to Niagara Falls (20 miles) and do both the American and Canadian sides.

  27. The AP English here has two books to read in the summer, with some type of writing assignment the first week. We don’t know yet if DS1 will get into AP English and they probably won’t decide until August, leaving him with little time to do the reading.

    Even if he manages to qualify, guidance counselor is against him taking AP English because he is taking Regents Physics and AP Chemistry along with his science research project next year. I agree that it may be too much work, but, I said to her, it would be nice if he could place out of the ever boring freshman comp course. And then she said she is telling everyone to not take too many AP courses because colleges aren’t accepting them any more.
    I told her that my department takes both the AP Calculus and AP Computer Science if the student has a 4 or better. She replied that we must be unusual. I said that some of the uber elite schools don’t count AP, but I was pretty sure the schools DS1 wants to go to will count AP. When I went home, I checked the various SUNYs and CUNYs, as well as RPI and a few others, and sure enough, they give AP credit for all the standard APs

    So is this guidance counselor spreading misinformation on purpose?

  28. Moxie, we biked in the Netherlands 2 years ago. And no canal boats! My idea of a ring of hell is being trapped on a canal boat with a bunch of cranky senior citizens and my loud kids. You have to EAT on them too!

  29. Erie Canal – I only know the part near Albany which is not very scenic. But visiting Buffalo could be nice. I wonder how far apart the campgrounds are. It certainly would be flat.

  30. For the AP physics class, is the work graded or just “You are responsible to know xxx because the class will be starting here.” My AP chemistry teacher assigned more homework than I thought was necessary, but since we were in charge of doing it and grading it, everyone did whatever level (s)he thought was appropriate.

    The other chemistry teacher at my high school was a biology major who was not very good at chemistry and I would have gotten in trouble in her class, because she was not competent and I was not patient with teachers like that. I can imagine my AP chemistry teacher using such a packet to let kids who had done well in her class but didn’t know chemistry study independently to get any background they missed.

    A huge problem in AP classes is people taking them who aren’t adequately competent at the prerequisite material. I hope the teacher created the packet so that parents can’t come and complain, “AP physics is moving too fast for little Susie. You need to slow down and review.”

    Forewarned is forearmed.

  31. Mooshi, regarding your counselor question, remember the motto: “Never attribute to malice what you can attribute to incompetence.”

  32. So is this guidance counselor spreading misinformation on purpose?

    Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence.

    Still, the guidance counselor at my kids’ school spreads the same kind of nonsense, included that kids only need to get C’s in the UC A-G courses to get into a UC.

    DH and the kids and I have an ongoing discussion on whether the school officials are malicious or incompetent. The majority opinion is incompetence because malice requires too much effort.

  33. I suspect many of the kids taking AP courses are going to SLACs or private Universities and they are not taking the credits – or not taking them easily. My undergrad was not elite, but AP credits (up to 4) were allowed as electives. My 5 on AP Bio got me a higher standing, but did not get me out of Freshman Bio.

    My school did not allow students to place out of Freshman composition under any circumstances, nor do most schools. They consider it important to impart a sense of how they define college writing, as well as learning about research resources and plagiarism policies.

    Perhaps he should find a school that doesn’t have a boring Freshman comp class? I don’t think it is necessary that all people hate Freshman Comp.

  34. All the schools that DD got into and she looked at seriously gave credit for scores of 3 or better on the AP tests.

  35. Some students choose not to use their AP credits, so that they can re-take the classes and get good grades, to boost their GPA. However, I haven’t heard of colleges not accepting the credit.

    Some AP teachers will have a lot of work at the beginning of an AP class to weed kids out. Sometime after the first 6-8 weeks, homework settles down a bit.

  36. Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence.

    Maybe it’s selection bias? The type of people who tend to ask these questions are also the type of people who tend to send their kids to school at places that don’t accept APs?

  37. Ada, we don’t send a lot of grads to the elite SLACs. Last year, at the awards ceremony, they introduced the top 10 seniors, and talked about where they were headed. One was going to Cornell, but the others were mainly going to places like CUNY, SUNY, Fordham (local favorite, never could understand why), U of Delaware, Hofstra….

    I just checked – SUNY Stony Brook, Buffalo, and Albany all count AP English as the comp credit. You need a 4 at Stony Brook and Buffalo and a 3 at Albany.

  38. MM – cross from USA to Canada via the Peace Bridge and ride up to Niagara Falls on that side. 20? miles, maybe less to the west of NF is the Welland Canal which runs between Lakes Erie and Ontario…can be interesting. And at the far NW tip of NY is Old Fort Niagara for some history stuff.

  39. My ignorant question – do you have to take a test to get into an AP class ? or is it past grades, teacher recommendations..
    I feel that kid’s school offers formal information a little bit late (or maybe assumes that being a Totebaggish school – parents ought to know).
    If I ask a question though, I get a good response.

  40. Louise, it varies by HS. In our HS, you need a 88 in honors English or a 92 in standard English the year before.

  41. Cordelia – what kinds of restaurants do you like? Where are you staying?

    Definitely try to make time for the Holocaust Museum.

  42. Back in the dino days, I placed out of freshman comp based on my SAT subject test in English, so I never bothered to take the AP test. I was really glad. I don’t see the point of wasting precious college credits repeating what you already learned in HS, plus I was always allergic to freshman survey courses. I had to take the freshman sciences, but that was fine because my HS science preparation was pretty bad. But I never took any humanities survey courses, which was wonderful because I fulfilled those requriements with courses like Byzantine Art, Early Medieval and Romanesque Art, Philosophy of Science, and a film course. I also took a grad level course in medieval history one summer. So cool – it was mainly about theological thought in that period, and we did Hildegard of Bingen, and the Franciscan mystics, and my own fave, Joachim of Fiore

  43. Moxie- filing that away for next time we visit DC- I haven’t been since childhood. Thanks for the great info!

  44. My son has AP English running all summer as basically an online class, though the total amount of work doesn’t seem to be more than others have described. It’s just that he has to keep checking in because there are deadlines during the summer.

    For AP chem he doesn’t have summer work that I know of, but then again I wasn’t aware of the AP English until he started it up.

  45. I may be biased as this teacher has a reputation for not being a very good physics teacher. My DD seems to be taking it in stride, so far. Some of it is clearly busy work – read and copy down the main topics of the class from the AP Website. Some of it is math problems – I assume to make sure you have appropriate background.

    If you go to the AP website you can see who accepts what course and what scores. Looking at 2 different colleges in my state, you get different credit. At one, if you get a 5 on the AP Spanish test, you get 3 semesters of credit, a 4 gets you 2 semesters, and a 3 gets you 1 semester. At the other, a 4 or better gets you 2 semesters, a 3 is not accepted.

    In the public schools locally, they seem to be pushing dual credit over AP because all schools in my state by law must give you credit for dual credit, but AP is at their discretion. However, while the colleges must give you credit hours, they can give you credit as an elective only or give you credit for a class that doesn’t count toward your degree program. Of course, the whole dual credit thing is iffy with out of state schools.


    The trend at selective schools is to use AP test scores for placement out of introductory courses, but to deny or greatly restrict credit (requiring a 5 rather than a 3 or 4). DH’s university is hotly debating this issue now. He thinks that the concern is lost tuition rather than academic, but does agree that many AP courses are not equivalent to the courses taught on campus. YVMV.

  47. In our HS, the criteria for AP depends on the subject. AP English is very popular and they only run two sections. Approx 25 qualified kids get shut out each year, so you need two years of A/a- average and ELA teacher recommendations from 9th and 10th grade teachers. The kids coming out of honors have a better chance of getting into AP. They even started to look at PSAT results, but parents are fighting that criteria.

    There are few kids that want to take AP Physics, so it’s easier to get in because the kids really only apply if they’re qualified to be in the class.

  48. There are 3-4 non-AP classes at my kid’s HS for which they have an agreement with a local college that kids can get college credit and a real grade on the college transcript if they get a high enough grade. Then the class is perfectly transferable at least to fill a gen ed reqt. Worked for my middle kid to satisfy his calculus req’t for his major.

  49. I didn’t look at all of MM’s examples, but it looks like Buffalo grants credit based on SAT/ACT or AP score, so taking the AP test is irrelevant for students who have passed a certain threshold.

  50. I just cannot understand why schools do this. It is really unfair…
    “Approx 25 qualified kids get shut out each year,”

    OTOH, I wish our school would use the PSAT. My DS1 would have qualified easily if our school would do that

  51. “But, $1900 for 3 days?”

    I know. I saw another company that was about $2600 for a week. OR, I realized, if I got a trailer and truck, I could bring my own boat, and just plan a series of hotels/cabins/campgrounds.

    Interesting history, and I love the down-to-business facts on the economics of canal transport vs. carriage (one third of the time, at one tenth of the cost):

    On July 4, 1817, shovels went to work in Rome, New York, with one group facing west and the other group facing east. Eight years later, they completed a canal that was 40 feet across and four feet deep. Clinton made it a point to ride the new waterway to Buffalo, scoop two casks of water from Lake Erie, and carry it back to New York Harbor where he poured Lake Erie into the Hudson River. But the naysayers wouldn’t let it go, saying the $7 million cost to build what they were now calling “Clinton’s Ditch” was money down the drain. Well, just a few years later, the Erie Canal had paid for itself through the use of tolls. Whereas travel by horse-drawn wagon had once cost $100/ton and taken two weeks on the road, travel through the canal now cost $10/ton and could be completed in three-and-a-half days.

  52. @ Mooshi – I’ve never been, but isn’t Nantucket supposed to be really bikeable?

  53. @ Mooshi – I’ve never been, but isn’t Nantucket supposed to be really bikeable?

    It is but it’s 13 miles wide. You can bike across it in a little over an hour.

  54. I’ve biked Nantucket. You can do it in an afternoon!! It is lovely though

  55. Our high school’s summer AP Physics workload was much less than what Anon for this described. And at least one top-10 university that I know gives generous credit for 4/5 scores.

    Some high schools have no requirements to get into AP courses, probably in part motivated by rating systems based simply on percentage of students taking AP courses with no regard to test grades. I imagine those AP classes are less rigorous than those with entry requirements.

  56. Another thing (so not totebaggy) – is to get an American flag that was flown over the capitol. Through your Senator or Representative’s website you can order a flag, flown on a specific date if you like, and usually pick it up in their office. We’ll be in D.C. late in the summer, and I think I might order a 4th of July flag for the Au Pair as a souvenir – give us an excuse to go to the office building.

  57. I’m feeling curmudgeonly. Does anyone else get tired of nearly contentless articles like the Brexit one? Such a topic seems deserving of more than a list of inane soundbites.

  58. Sweden is lovely to bike through, though weather can be dicey. Often cheap flights on Iceland air. Very liberal (surprise!) camping policies – easy to camp almost anywhere, private or public land.

    Allemansrätten – Every Man’s Right – to go/camp wherever you like.

    Also, I have come to accept that getting to Europe in the summer always costs more than I think it should.

  59. I looked at Icelandair to Denmark and to France, but it costs more than some of the other options right now. DS2 wants to go to Denmark

  60. WCE – Even a lot of the more substantive attempts at explaining BREXIT ultimately boil down to “we don’t know how this will happen or what the consequences will be” because it could be accomplished in any number of ways or cover new ground, with at this point unforeseeable consequences. It will also not be quick. Extricating itself from European laws will take years.

  61. Also, I have come to accept that getting to Europe in the summer always costs more than I think it should.

    The flight next month, Monday/Thursday from Boston to Cincinnati, is $678 in coach on Delta. How much do people think a ticket to Europe should cost?

  62. Yeah, but if flexible on dates, you can go (with one stop) for $294. Or $387 nonstop.

    I will acknowledge that what I think it should cost to go to Europe may bear little relation to what it actually does cost.

  63. DD took AP math (calc?) and French in HS. She received state university credit for both classes but I believe she had to take the state u midterm and final exam. She did not sit for the AP exam. The teachers were not happy about that. One even called me about it. I told her that I didn’t see the point in paying for the AP exam when she already had the college credit.

    I’ve also heard that a number of colleges are not accepting/restricting AP credits but they will accept transfer state u credits similar to those that DD earned in HS.

  64. Flying to places like Cincinnati is always crazy expensive. We have given up on flying when we have to go to KY and drive instead. OTOH, I can get to Chicago for about $300 RT

  65. Delta has roundtrip JFK to Stockholm in August for $775. I don’t expect it can get much better than that.

  66. Another thing to keep in mind . . . I’ve found that living expenses (food, hotel/housing, public transportation, etc.) tend to cost more in Nordic countries as compared to some other Euro countries.

  67. Holocaust Museum is amazing, but intense. Ada is right about the flags. We have found that depending on your congressional office, the wait can sometimes be several months.

  68. For my son, AP Chem was based on teacher ok and AP English they had everyone who was interested take a pre-test meant to show what you would likely have scored on the AP exam if you’d taken it that day. Apparently it drew a bunch of kids from the regular track in addition to the honors ones, and the scores covered the whole range from one to five. The ones and twos, the counselor / teacher was going to dissuade from taking the class, but it didn’t sound like they were actually going to forbid it to anyone.

  69. Found a receipt for a Thanksgiving plane ticket in 1989 from DC to Midwest – $375. That was a lot of money then. The fact that it isn’t much more expensive than that now is absolutely astounding!

  70. Since when have Papyrus cards cost so much – $7.95 range? Also, I used google maps to find a Papyrus store near me, walked around for a while not seeing it and then realized that the directions were for a Papyrus card section at Duane Reade. Very deceptive.

    Do you give school year end (class/individual) gifts to teachers? We do for elementary school teachers, specials teachers (gym, technology, music, etc.) and therapists.

  71. @another – yeah, cards are crazy expensive! With Middle and High school we just give gift cards to the teachers the kids liked best. There are usually about 3 of them. I buy the gift card and the kids have to write the note.

  72. In other news (sorry working on a tedious project again and posting here helps me mull stuff over), my kids are being taught cursive in the last two weeks of school (3rd grade). I was surprised they snuck it in but the teacher must be running out of things to keep the kids occupied.

  73. Question about AP classes. Do you think that they really are equivalent to college level classes? I’ve always kind of wondered if the kids aren’t missing out on some higher quality instruction/inspiration that one gets from a good professor and a great group of classmates. That said – I went to SLAC where everything was taught by a professor at Big State I’m guessing it is more of a TA thing for Bio 101.

  74. My DS1 learned cursive in 3rd grade too. It’s an all year project here.

    I will note that helping your children complete 3 dioramas/reports on obscure animals while your DH is overseas and you have a one year old requires a lot of executive function.

  75. I suspect AP classes are vastly inferior to a good professor and a great group of classmates. My favorite AP was AP (AB) computer science, due to the small, motivated group of classmates and great teacher. Data structures are adorable.

    The reality of Econ 101 or Psych 101 or English 101 at Big State U is pretty dismal. Half the class has an ACT composite below 25 and a significant minority doesn’t show up.

  76. i buy cards on Etsy-that is the store i use but there are tons of them-

    You can get what you want and it’s cheaper than the store.

    I also just started my etsy shop-so i can craft gleefully and not have things clutter up my house

  77. AP Calculus is very problematic, and a lot of kids end up just retaking it in college. OTOH, we are seeing our first wave of kids who have taken AP Computer Science (it hadn’t been common in NY until recently) and I am very impressed.

    AP English (Language) is the kind of writing prep that all kids heading to college would benefit from. I do not think the regular English class, at least here in NY, adequately prepares them for college writing. Since writing is all about practice, I think HS students who are college bound should take TWO YEARS of AP English or equivalent – the constant intense writing practice is what they need. One semester of college comp isn’t enough to fix the problems.

  78. Cursive was all year in 3rd grade. For kids like DD who like design, it was fun fancy writing; when DS had to do cursive it was pure torture.
    DS is miffed because some items that gave him the most trouble have been dropped, so DD doesn’t have to do them when she comes along.

  79. Mooshi, is scenery were enough, I would recommend mackinack island. Only bikes allowed.

  80. Mackinack always seems too cottagy for me, at least judging from travel articles I have seen. I think the kids would die of boredom

  81. “helping your children complete 3 dioramas/reports on obscure animals”
    WCE – totally agreeing with you but whether your DH was around and whether there are other kids in the picture are just complicating factors. Based on my experience, I have concluded that all such art-esque projects should be done 100% in school. If they want me to send in $5 or whatever for specific supplies, good. Advantages of doing the projects in school:
    #1-10 – the work is actually done by the kid
    #11 – never have to worry about doing it all the night before (which of course entails finding the instructions/rubric and acquiring the missing supplies that same afternoon)
    #12 – no devolving into screaming / crying at home because a sibling thought it would be cool to touch the project and surprise! something got wrecked
    #13 – no needing to figure out how to get it into school on/by the due date when, of course, one parent is unavailable, it’s pouring buckets, and the kid is actually sick that day
    #14 – did I mention the kid actually does the work?

  82. Mooshi, it probably doesn’t meet the interest threshold, but RAGBRAI does all the prep for you. (Register Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa)

  83. “Question about AP classes. Do you think that they really are equivalent to college level classes?”

    IME, since I took a bunch of AP classes but went to a school that was not keen on awarding credit for them and therefore re-took them, they were reasonably equivalent, but what was covered over the course of a year in HS took only the first semester of college, and maybe the grading scale was more competitive. This was clearly true in Calc I, Physics, and Chemistry. It’s a little more difficult to relate HS’s AP Euro History to college’s “Western Civ,” especially since they both happened during their respective sophomore years.

  84. “I’ve always kind of wondered if the kids aren’t missing out on some higher quality instruction/inspiration that one gets from a good professor and a great group of classmates.”

    This is one reason to take AP classes in high school. They have the best teachers and the best students.

  85. I think the problem is that the school’s Common Core curriculum has expectations (find the weight of a Pacific Chorus Frog and a dragonfly) that first graders (at least my first graders) are unable to accomplish independently. The answer is 0.4 g and that is “as much as 2 raisins.”

    The Wikipedia section on how a Pacific chorus frog changes color was interesting to me but vastly beyond my kid. My summary was, “Chemicals help the frog turn brown or green to match its surroundings.”

  86. Personally, the benefit of AP classes is not being able to get out of college classes, but the higher level of instruction, the better teachers, and the better students.

  87. I’ve been able to save a lot of money and hassle recently by buying multi packs of cards for various occasions online. You can get stuff that is very cute and looks similar to the high end ones for about a dollar per card. The margins on the gift cards sold in stores must be absurdly high.

  88. “AP Calculus is very problematic, and a lot of kids end up just retaking it in college.”

    I should not have placed out of first semester college calculus with my AP credit. It was a disaster.

  89. being able to get out of college classes

    Wouldn’t the typical totebag kid be better off with a few easy A’s under his/her belt freshmen year to help ease them into college life?

  90. Rhett, you’re probably right about the typical Totebag kid, but not a kid who is having to fund his own education.

  91. “Question about AP classes. Do you think that they really are equivalent to college level classes?”

    No, but they are much better than the non AP class the kids would take instead. E.g. regular U.S. history involves lots of coloring projects, AP History involves reading and writing papers. Whether or not the teacher actually looks at the paper is yet to be determined.

  92. but not a kid who is having to fund his own education.

    If he/she ends up dropping out and/or flunking out then the money is totally wasted. Better to get a few easy A’s and graduate on time with a bit more debt than flunk out and be in debt with no diploma.

  93. “Wouldn’t the typical totebag kid be better off with a few easy A’s under his/her belt freshmen year to help ease them into college life?”

    I agree. Also, as others have mentioned, you can’t be sure that the AP class covered the same material as the college-level class–especially in STEM classes, this makes a difference. Also, some colleges have GPA requirements for scholarships (at Texas A&M, it’s a 3.5), so it might make sense to take some less challenging classes to balance against harder classes (especially for engineering majors).

  94. I agree with Houston. The IDEA of AP courses is great — giving high-achieving juniors and seniors the chance to take more rigorous courses that will help prepare them for college-level work. But the reality of the program at most schools is that it has been hijacked by all of the worst aspects of our secondary education system. Schools either let everyone in, out of a misguided sense of egalitarianism or guilt, or set up ridiculous barriers that exclude many qualified students but ensure that the students who are allowed to enroll are more likely to be well-behaved docile and grateful kids rather than quirky kids who think outside the box. The history and humanities curriculum can be absurdly politically correct. As some have noted here today, teachers often require huge amounts of pointless summer busywork that interferes with family priorities. The competitive nature of selective college admissions results in many kids loading up on AP courses in which they have neither interest nor aptitude, because the number of AP courses is an easy metric for admissions staff to judge high school course rigor. Though our sons had some good experiences with college- level courses in high school (AP at one school and non-AP at the other) taught by teachers with subject-matter PhDs, most high school teachers don’t have the same educational background as college instructors. And then worst of all is that so many kids are stunned to reach college and find that their courses are nothing like the cookbook, factoid-heavy AP courses.

  95. I wish they could just throw out AP courses and start over. When I go to the orientation for alumni recruiting, they insist that students must demonstrate a “rigorous” schedule, and that translates to AP and honors courses.

    It really has corrupted the AP process in my opinion because many kids are not taking the course because they want to take it, but it is just one more thing that they have to do. In a state such as NY where school starts so late, it creates a lot of work during the summer and anxiety to finish the coursework before the test in May. The test is national, and the kids that start school in early August have 4 – 5 weeks of additional class instruction vs. most of the mid atlantic and New England. When my friends in VA missed so many days of school, the AP classes were still held in virtual classrooms because the teachers knew they couldn’t complete all of the material before the first week of May.

    It creates pressure for the teachers. It creates pressure for teachers and administrators that ar forced to select students for these classes. It is also expensive for some families that can’t afford the test.

    I personally think the whole system is a mess, and it is just one more box to check for the elite schools.

  96. I feel like middle school is now high school and high school is now college and college is now grad school. Are they smarter? Are they better prepared from all of this or are we just feeding some corporate education beast? I’ve always felt like my kids shouldn’t take an AP unless they have a natural aptitude for a subject or really love it. I feel like kids are trying to make themselves into something that the schools want them to be as opposed to just being who they are – and to what end?

  97. AP classes helped me retain what sanity I still possess.

    For classes with a “default” curriculum (intro to chemistry, calculus, etc.), there should be a test-out option and students should get credit for passing the test. Whether this is an AP test or some other national exam is unimportant. If you can pass the Calc I exam (usually a few months after finishing it) with a grade comparable to the other people going into Calc II, you should receive credit. Sitting through interminable lectures with a limited English speaking TA who has no teaching experience is not going to enrich your life.

    The idea that students should pay thousands (or, at elite schools, tens of thousands) of dollars in tuition so they can take classes as “review” for a marginally higher GPA is utterly foreign to my working class, non-GPA-oriented mind.

    And I agree that some students should take courses as review, (I did) but to force EVERY student to review is draconian. You’re hitting all my anger buttons from high school.

  98. Benefit of AP classes – (1) child is in class with other “better” students, (2) at our school anyway, fewer to no group projects in AP classes, (3) the external test helps you know how much you really learned vs the grade a teacher assigns based solely on his/her decisions on what to teach and how to test it, and (4) college credit possibility and you can choose to use or not.

    At our school they use PSAT test, performance in the prior year, and teacher recommendation to determine if you can get into AP classes. Of interest, my DD used a specific AP World History book, 6th Edition. Her friend in public school was using the same book, 2nd Edition as our state only adopts textbooks every 7 years. It seems that newer editions adapt to changes on the AP test, so does it put students using older texts at a disadvantage and/or more work on the teacher to modify based on the changes?

  99. Moxie – you are making me want to go to DC!

    Fred – I completely agree with your comment at 2:02 that projects should be done in school. Kids that have a parent who can help them have such an advantage over kids that can’t. DH is responsible for working with the kids on all dioramas, models, etc. If I was a single mom or if I was married to someone like me, the kids would be completely out of luck as I have no talent, no patience and no interest in these sorts of projects.

  100. Fred – I completely agree with your comment at 2:02 that projects should be done in school.

    Me too

  101. I love DC. One of my very favorite places, but try to avoid being a tourist there in the summer. It is very, very sticky.

  102. Are they better prepared from all of this or are we just feeding some corporate education beast?

    I think the theory is that if their natural set point is Rutgers or Fordham, if you can Amy Chua their way into Cornell or Columbia they will end up doing much better in life. But, the statistics don’t seem to bear that out. They may get an initial boost but they will eventually settle at level of their ability.

  103. “I personally think the whole system is a mess, and it is just one more box to check for the elite schools.”

    It ultimately comes down to the problem of too many people competing for too few spots at an arbitrarily limited list of elite schools.

  104. ATM, we do end of year gifts for classroom teachers and for anyone I think has gone above and beyond for my kid (this year, the social worker).

    Most people here buy chocolates/flowers/bath products or give a $25-$50 gift card, but I usually get a gift certificate to a local restaurant sufficient to take the immediate family out to dinner. For the preschool teachers – who really went beyond the call of duty for DS and are not paid much – I got visa gift cards large enough to go away for the weekend.

    The kids also write a letter and/or draw a picture thanking the teacher.

    But I am an outlier; there are only one or two others who spend that much per class and a lot of people sign a nice card and consider their class dues for the group gifts for the year sufficient.

  105. Cordelia– when we went to DC a couple of summers ago, my family’s top two places to eat, looking back, were Shake Shack and a food truck parked outside our hotel.

    We really enjoyed visiting the SCOTUS. My kids like zoos a lot, so we really enjoyed the National Zoo, although it’s not near the Mall. I do remember that there was a Chipotle between the train stop and the zoo.

    I agree with Kate and Moxie about the Holocaust Museum. It can be intense and even overwhelming to some people, but IMO it’s very significant and well worth the stop.

    You might also want to check the Kennedy Center calendar. They have all kinds of performances there– we caught the National Symphony when we were there– and they make access easy with a shuttle bus to/from the nearest subway station.

  106. The AP monster is not just an issue for the small percentage of students aiming for elite schools. At most Totebaggy high schools, nearly everyone takes at least one AP course (it is usually listed prominently on the school website), and most of those kids end up at pretty ordinary colleges.

  107. Moxie, you would enjoy Leonard Sax’s new book, The Collapse of Parenting.

    I can’t recommend it to anyone IRL lest they interpret it as a commentary on their parenting philosophy, but a portion of it outlines the case against viewing material/professional success as the measure of a life. (I should probably be compelled to reread it at regular intervals, given my tiger mom tendencies….)

  108. Sky, I’m going to look up your recommendation. I read _The Importance of Being Little_ (well, as much as you can read while supervising a 1 year old on a playground structure) and it was just OK.

  109. Whew! The suburban house closed! We will be toasting tonight – only one mortgage! What a huge relief.

  110. AP:

    -My kids don’t have summer homework for any classes, unless they’re taking summer school classes. One thing I like about the school is they really try to avoid busywork; they know the kids are heavily scheduled.

    -The school pretty much allows the kids to decide if they want to take AP classes or not. They discourage kids from taking a lot of AP courses, but from what I’ve seen, kids that really want to take a lot of them, especially with a good track record, are allowed to take a bunch.

    -As Houston mentioned, the main benefit of AP classes is that they’re sort of like honors classes. They attract the better students, and the expectations are higher than for the non-AP classes.

    -OTOH, AP classes are also popular because most of them are pretty much done after the AP exams in the beginning of May. DS’ language class continued to meet after the AP exams, which I think is a good idea, since so much of language is just exposure and repetition, and it’s so easy to forget if you don’t use it.

    -Not taking the AP exam is not an option.

  111. “some of the uber elite schools don’t count AP”

    DS told me that at some of the uber elite schools, they don’t give credit for AP, but they can get you exempted from requirements, freeing you up to take more electives.

  112. Sky- that is really generous! I give cash or Amazon gift cards, so it can be spend on whatever the person wants. We’ll get a picture of each kid with their teacher as well. They love her. Most parents contribute to a (cash) glass gift. I give $25-40 to each therapist and, I forgot them earlier, $40-50 to the afterschool program counselors (mostly college age) collectively.

    Congrats Ada.

    On material/professional success – I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Now that I am somewhat successful, I find it hard to throttle back. Work won’t let me. Paying for kids stuff and the mortgage won’t let me, unless we moved and significantly downsized, which means changing jobs. I keep thinking I’ll retire early but that would still be at a point where my kids are off to college or older. I think I am still looking for that part-time job that keeps me engaged, but let’s me work to live not live to work.

  113. My son is only taking AP Govt (or whatever it’s called) because his plot is as barren as Honolulu’s image yesterday. (And he did not elect to take it, but had been placed in it by his AP US History teacher). But he is actually looking forward to his summer assignment, which is reading and summarizing 25 Supreme Court cases. All students have to do a large Project Based Learning project that, at least last year, had some good practical math and science application, and had hideous busy work English and social studies components. He has arbitrarily set July as the time he will start these, so no feedback yet on the actual work. He only has 4 classes, home room and a study hall next year, and will be out at 1-something each day. This is foreign to me. I’m skeptical and have been encouraging him to add on a dual credit course “just for fun”. He’s made clear that we have different ideas of fun.

  114. “Register Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa”

    I believe I’ve heard that this ride is not really flat. You might want to check into that before signing up.

    I’ve heard Cycle Oregon is quite good (I used to work with a guy who loved it so much he did it year after year), but it’s so popular that registration is limited.

  115. “We really enjoyed visiting the SCOTUS. My kids like zoos a lot,….”

    End the second sentence where the comma is, and it is quite a perceptive statement.

  116. “Question about AP classes. Do you think that they really are equivalent to college level classes?”

    I think the definitive answer is, “it depends.”

    Some AP classes at top prep schools are probably at least equivalent to classes at some CCs.

    OTOH, I think most AP classes at HS with high %ages of free and reduced price lunch kids will not be equivalent to a similarly titled class at HYPS.

  117. PTM, lol.

    I didn’t really mean to make a statement about the SCOTUS, other than that we enjoyed visiting it.

  118. The Upper Midwest has some great bike trails, but lack of history will cause boredom for those looking for history (aside from the Edmund Fitzgerald Shipwreck Museum and the Soo Locks). Michigan’s UP has some great spots to visit and MI State Parks have great campgrounds, but the terrain is hilly, and I don’t recommend biking along Hwy 2 with children. This weekend I’m headed to SE Minnesota for biking and camping – beautiful scenery, but that is about it.

  119. Chiming back in….
    My DS1 ended up dropping AP Global History because the course, quite frankly, was a disaster. Not only was it based on endless busywork, but they spent the the entire first half of the year on Genocide and the Holocaust. By November, my DS could see that they had done NO preparation at all for the AP exam, and that the second half of the year was going to be grueling. Plus, did I say endless busywork? At least an hour’s worth of writing up Cornell notes every night, with points taken off if you did not follow the format exactly. So he dropped, along with a lot of other kids.

    But…. here is the thing. The regular global history is really not college preparatory, even though they claim it is. They have done almost no writing. They mostly regurgitate factoids on weekly quizzes. Luckily my DS1 can already write (and the AP Global was not helping him with that either because the teacher mandated the weirdest writing style ever) , so it isn’t hurting him. But I can see why it is I get so many students who cannot write at all. The regular “college prep” courses simply do not have enough writing assignments.

    So that is a good reason to take AP – to get in enough writing practice to be ready for college.

  120. I have a friend who did that Iowa ride. She really liked it, but she doesn’t have kids to keep entertained

  121. At many schools (including pretty much everywhere I’ve attended or lived), writing instruction and especially feedback are minimal due to class sizes even in higher level courses. I help DS1 with his weekly writing assignment because I figure he won’t get instruction elsewhere. My twins had 30 and 31 kids in their first grade classes, so teacher support was limited there too.

    I suspect writing is the area where parental education has the biggest impact on achievement. Or maybe my kids are outliers at struggling primarily with writing.

  122. Mosquitoes are a given, but at least it isn’t blazin’ hot like the rest of the country. SE MN has less mosquitoes because of the terrain (Mississippi River bluffs = no standing water).

  123. For a bike trip with kids, I would consider a canal or towpath route. Flat, away from vehicle traffic, but not necessarily in the middle of scenic or boring nowhere that usually comes with flat and no traffic. Maybe one where you can hop on a barge and go through a lock. Or one with ruins.

  124. Mooshi: Your kid just had a crappy teacher. It had nothing to do with the AP World History material. DS1 took the class and enjoyed it. It started with domestication and the river valley civilizations and went on from there. 40% of the class focused on writing short answer and long essays, similar to those required on the AP exam.

  125. I find that doing all the work for an AP class but not factoring in the exam results for the high school graduation requirements to be odd.
    It feels to me to be jumping ahead when such a step is not advisable for many students.

  126. In our school, if you take the AP exam, you get out of taking the final exam for the AP level class. In AP American History, they spent the last 2 weeks of class watching movies reflecting periods of American History, such as Selma, Lincoln, etc.

  127. Ada – Great! That frees up cash flow for you to buy this. Since you’re halfway to homeschooling, anyway, you could do it underway while cruising the Inside Passage.

    Two control stations, large galley and salon, two staterooms, two heads. Really, the thing is huge, and bigger than it looks. And this is the preferred style for more intense Pacific Northwest cruising.

  128. Houston, yes, that is my assumption. The syllabus for AP Global looks great – it is just that they weren’t really covering it.

  129. “At many schools (including pretty much everywhere I’ve attended or lived), writing instruction and especially feedback are minimal due to class sizes even in higher level courses.”

    Class size is often a factor, but in K-12 the core problem is the method of instruction.  The type of writing instruction my kids received and that has been most common is a massive failure.

    For most of the 1990s, elementary- and middle-­school children kept journals in which they wrote personal narratives, poetry, and memoirs and engaged in “peer editing,” without much attention to formal composition….

    A few years ago the Atlantic featured a story about the turnaround at a low-income NYC school that had adopted a writing instruction program that went back to basics.  I just saw this update about another NYC school that was following the same path, using a instructional program called the Hochman Method.

    The program is grounded in three fundamental characteristics: It emphasizes direct, explicit teaching of foundational skills for expository writing; it begins with basic, sentence-level strategies before building to more complex tasks; and it’s designed to be used in every subject and content area, from English and history to math and even physical education.

    These schools had previously tried smaller classes, special tutoring, and other interventions that were unsuccessful.  As with math, writing must be taught by moving through a hierarchy of skills, starting with basic grammar and sentence composition before moving on to essays.  And as with other public school instructional failures, it’s the low-income students that suffer the most.  But many children from affluent families are also taking remedial courses in college.

  130. Coc – I saw the shift taking place. 4th grade was hard for DS because though the school tried to change gradually there was a big leap towards more of a text based approach. It didn’t impact my second kid because the switch had already been made.

  131. I went to a smaller private school (about 100 in my graduating class). If you wanted to take Calculus, AP Calculus was the only option, same with Junior year Biology and Senior year Chem

  132. They did add AP Lit my senior year and still offered honors, I took the honors class instead (both were weighted a 5 instead of normal class of 4)

    DH said at his school, honors were weighted 5 and AP 6

  133. Louise – I don’t understand your comment about not factoring in the AP exam grade? It is somewhat hard to do as they took the exams in May, school was out June 3 and we still don’t have the exam grades. It will be early July before we get them.

    DD#1’s AP World History teacher made each test look like the AP test, but only covering material in the chapters covered since the last test, and used the AP test grading system to grade them as well. There are 3 types of essay questions. The first semester, they focused on learning how to write each of those types of responses. The second semester, each test had one of each type of question, like the actual AP test.

    They finished all the material two weeks before the AP test. Those two weeks were spent taking practice tests and the teacher answered questions about areas students had questions on while reviewing or from the practice tests.

  134. I didn’t learn to write well until I started working as a lawyer. The law journal experience was very useful for mastering the obscure rules for legal citation (in what circumstances do you have to italicize a comma?), but having partners brutally edit my work was much better. “Does it sing?” was a question some of them would ask when I dropped off a draft.

    My kids were luckier and went to schools that emphasized basic writing skills. They didn’t encounter “peer editing” until college.
    It does’t take a lot of expensive equipment or teacher training modules to teach writing. As CoC pointed out, it’s fairly straightforward, and it’s accessible to the most cash-starved school settings. But no, schools spend their resources on smart boards and iPads to placate the device-addled kids and assure their clueless parents that the kids will be able to compete in the global workforce because they can do Power Point.

  135. “But no, schools spend their resources on smart boards and iPads to placate the device-addled kids and assure their clueless parents that the kids will be able to compete in the global workforce because they can do Power Point.”

    I think the issue is that there is much less work for the teachers if their students engage in peer editing, and they can claim they are teaching 21st century skills, because everyone works in groups in the grown up world.

    That and many teachers cannot write and do not know basic grammar themselves, which makes it impossible for them to teach writing.

  136. My writing, while OK, was honed once in the work world. My first job required not only a lot of writing, but writing to a particular style and format. We worked in teams and the goal was that we could all write different parts of a report, but with only a tiny bit of smoothing, it read like it was all written by the same person. At first, it looked like my work had been bled upon. However, it served me well throughout my career. On thing it brought home to me was to make your style match your organization’s and your writing was always deemed “better”.

  137. I don’t think my kids have ever encountered peer editing, but they did write far too many memoirs and poetry instead of more basic types of writing. That has been changing, and honestly, all of my kids did a lot of grammar too – I used to see endless grammar worksheets coming home. I think the problem is more at the middle and especially high school level, because there does not seem to be enough writing in the regular courses.

  138. Austin – thanks for sharing the time line of the AP exam. The time line is such that it cannot be factored in and to me coming from a system where the final state test counted for a lot in the next step that seems strange. I think my state tests taken for each subject but score combined were sort of like the SAT or LSAT where scores determined where you got in.

  139. My college students have clearly written too many memoirs and other touchy-feely forms of writing, because their writing is always a mess of “I feel” type statements and a kind of rambling narrative organization. What shocks me is that nobody seems to have ever taught them to write a basic “compare and contrast” paper. They completely fall apart at the idea.

    The professional majors at my school are in a constant battle with the core studies people over the content of the core writing courses. We want them to concentrate on boring analytical writing that focuses on facts, but they want to do lots of memoirs and creative stuff.

    I am friendly with someone who is on the writing faculty at the local CC (she is the mom of my DS1’s friend, so we chat about lots of stuff). She recently told me that people who run college writing programs are increasingly wondering whether they should drop traditional forms the essay, and move to doing blogs with the students. She said they think that would be more relevant to the students. I just started laughing. I thought blogs were kind of dying out.

    Personally, I think everyone should be taught how to write coherently on topics such as a recommended course of action to solve some problem, or comparing, contrasting, and choosing some product, or an explanation of why a particular budget is going to meet goals. These are the kinds of things people have to write about in real life.

  140. Congrats Ada! You must have slept well last night.

    Seattle – come to DC but come it the fall, it is less crowded and much nicer.

    Mooshi – Scarlett’s comment made me think that maybe you should consider the C&O canal. You could start in WV and end in DC or the other way around. You can camp along the way and even stay in some of the lock houses. Super safe, super beautiful, very flat! I’m there every day.

  141. Both my kids were, and one still is, subject to peer editing. So if you give it to a couple of buddies who are worse writers than you, you don’t get much out of it. Some larger writing projects (such as interpreting song lyrics in the context of your life) were returned with no feedback at all to explain the reason for the B, other than one page was a little short. Both have had a couple of teachers who clearly put a lot of effort into providing very helpful feedback, but that seemed to be the exception rather than rule. Since it is a weakness for both kids, we have used various tutoring and summer programs as well. There are a lot of people out there who are not particularly good at teaching writing. They made more progress just working with me.

  142. You could start in WV and end in DC or the other way around. You can camp along the way and even stay in some of the lock houses.

    Riding all day and then camping out and sleeping in the stifling humidity of a DC summer?

  143. Oh yes, I have biked that trail in the Thousand Islands. We stayed at a fantastic campground, and I remember swimming in the St Lawrence. I also started getting really nauseous on that trip, and when we got back home, it turned out I was pregnant with DS1. So in some sense he has already done that route too.

  144. Peer editing is/has been required for my kids. The issue is how much effort the peer puts into and can they write at least as well as you do. DD1 complains more about this as last year the teacher told them things like every one pass your paper two to the right or some such and that is who your peer editor was. One girl she edited couldn’t put a coherent paragraph together let alone string two of them together in any orderly fashion! After editing the first two paragraphs extensively, DD1 just outlined the paper for her and said start over. Teacher called DD1 in after school saying that the girl complained about her editing. DD1 kept what she received and what she returned back. Teacher made a copy and not another word was said.

  145. The English teachers my first kid has had have been older and more seasoned teachers who have focused on writing and grammar. I am discovering that good teachers don’t fade away but they do retire. I am hoping my second kid still has these dedicated ladies around.

  146. Congrats, Ada!

    Finn – my DD has taken about 4 AP classes now and hasn’t taken any of the AP exams. Is it not an option for your kids b/c of the school’s requirement, or because of your parental requirement?

    BTW, I have a long car trip today/tonight and am hoping for the magical properties of little-consumed caffeine. Put a tiny bit in my AM coffee for the first leg of the drive and am making tons of typing errors b/c am too revved up. Hoping NOT to crash (on caffeine, or on the highway!) mid-afternoon and hoping a tall Starby’s will power me through to my midnight or later arrival tonight.

  147. Here are some thoughts on college and the AP question. First, the school district here presented data indicating that kids who had to petition to get in were as likely to get 4 or 5 on the AP test as those who met the regular admit criteria. Second, US colleges still rank high internationally and that lends them validity in my eyes. Third, the US system looks awesome in comparison. Our friend with Indian family described how the parents (both doctors) took all summer off to help their daughter cram for the med school exam only to have the exam scrapped after it was taken. The new exam may not be offered in her language of instruction or her native language.

  148. I *think” if we took the AP class, the school required the exam (over 15 years ago…)

  149. “Is it not an option for your kids b/c of the school’s requirement, or because of your parental requirement?”

    School requirement. The school even registers the students for the AP exams, and bills the parents.

  150. I took five AP courses senior year. When I learned that my choice of college didn’t award AP credit, I figured it would be a waste of money and effort to take any of those AP exams. iirc, AP test scores were mailed out in the summer (after graduation), so it’s not like Finn’s school could even use a failing score against a graduating student.

  151. Our public school sends bills for the AP exam. They will not allow a child to take the course if you won’t sit for the exam.

    If you can’t afford the exam, you speak to the guidance counselor. The district or the PTA will pay the bill. This is generally only offered to free and reduced lunch students.

    We had to sign a “contract” that promised that we would sit for the AP exam when I was in school 25 years ago.

  152. “AP test scores were mailed out in the summer (after graduation), so it’s not like Finn’s school could even use a failing score against a graduating student.”

    I don’t see why a HS couldn’t contact colleges to let them know a student did not complete certain HS classes. Colleges have been known to rescind acceptances.

  153. I am uncomfortable excluding kids at the borderline of reduced price lunches from taking an AP class based on whether they think taking the exam is worthwhile after the class. My family was around the reduced price lunch borderline when I was taking AP classes and one of the teachers was really bad in a class I (fortunately) didn’t take. I would have felt horribly guilty taking a week’s grocery money from my family to take an exam I likely wouldn’t pass.

    For a large family at the margin of reduced price lunches, an AP exam is a lot of money.

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