Monthly Archives: November 2009

Who vs. Whom

We have all run into this problem of not knowing when to use “who” and when to use “whom”. Who and whom are both pronouns. How to use them depends on what you are referring to in the sentence. If you are referring to the subject of the sentence you use “who”. If you are referring to the object in a sentence or clause you would use “whom”.

It can seem confusing to think about subject and object but it really isn’t so difficult if you break it down. The subject is usually the person in the sentence that is doing something and the object is the thing that the subject is doing something to.
Sample sentence: Mary kicked the ball.
Mary is the subject and the ball is the object.
So if you were going to add who or whom to this sentence you would say “Who kicked the ball?” because “who” refers to the subject which is Mary.
If it helps you can think of the pronouns as replacing the object and subject. So in the sentence above. Mary is the subject and when you put “Who” in the place of “Mary” you are replacing the subject. We will give you a few more examples. Remember that “who” and “whom” are interrogative pronouns. They ask about the subject or object.
– Jim ate the sandwich?
Who ate the sandwich?
– Jim had a sandwich with Mary.
Whom did Jim have a sandwich with?
– Jeremy went to the store.
Who went to the store?
– Jeremy went to the store with JoAnn.
With whom did Jeremy go to the store?
Who and whom can also be used in statements. Just remember that they replace a subject and/or and object. One rule of thumb is to remember that “whom” is always to be used after a preposition. English can be tricky in this way but if you just remember the few key points it can make the rules of grammar usage much easier.

Bad vs. Badly

We often hear people or read things that say “I feel badly” or sentences that are similar. Have you ever wondered when you use the word “bad” or when you use “badly”? Well, we have and we figured it was worth addressing. In this post we will discuss the difference in these words when used in a sentence.

“Bad” is a verb. “Badly” is an adverb. This makes all the difference in their meaning and their place in sentence structure.
If I say that “I feel badly”, it is not a very accurate statement. The verb “feel” means to touch or to “have a sensation of (something), other than by sight, hearing, smell or taste. An example of this is “feel a stabbing pain”. So basically, if I say that I “feel badly”, I am saying that I “touch badly”.
A person pointed out at one time that most people don’t say that they”feel badly” or “feel sadly”, so why would anyone “feel badly”? This makes perfect sense. “Feel” is a verb and “badly is an adverb. Adverbs modify verbs so it just doesn’t make sense to use it in this manner.
Here are a few sentences to show examples of correct and incorrect usage:
Incorrect: I feel badly.
Correct: I feel bad.
Incorrect: I smell badly.
Correct: I smell bad.
Times when the use of “badly” does not follow the rules above are:
“You behaved badly in the movie theatre.”
“The move went badly.”
The misconception with “bad” vs. “badly” is that in most cases you are just fine using an adverb after a verb but with this particular verb and adverb you need to watch it. We must point out that different people have different views on English grammar and usage rules.

Assure vs. Ensure vs. Insure

These words are frequently misused and confused in the English language. They seem at first glance that they would be interchangeable but we will take a closer look in this post as to the proper usage of each one. These words do basically have the same meaning but, again, usage is important.

If you assure something you say or write that you will do something specific.
“He assured me he would pick up the pasta.”
You ensure that something happens.
“I will ensure that the pasta is picked up.”
Insure guarantees something with insurance or other financial backing.
“He made sure the car was insured before driving it to the store for pasta.”
Here are a few sample sentences that you can try to see if you can get the right word. The answers are below. You can use any tense of these words, such as: ensure, ensured, insure, insurance, insured, assure, assurance, assured, etc.
1. I just spoke to my agent to make sure they got the boat _____________.
2. Rest ___________, I will be there.
3. I picked him up from school to _______________ that he was home on time.
4. I will ______________ that the mail goes out.
5. The dealership ____________ me that there would be no delivery fee for the car.
6. The school should have ___________ for the children involved in sports.
7. Can you ___________ that the yard work is done?
8. You can ___________ the babysitter that we will be on time.
9. Call the office to ___________ the motorcycle.
10. You must ____________ that this gets done.
1. insured 2. assured 3. ensure 4. ensure 5. assured 6. insurance 7. ensure 8. assure 9. insure 10. ensure

It can be hard to look back at our school classes and recall all the different uses for different words. It is good to brush up on our skills at times so that we do use our language correctly.


Homeschool is defined as an alternative form of education that takes place in the student’s home and not in a traditional school setting. In some states homeschool is actually considered to be a private school. The reasons why parents choose to homeschool their students range from opposition to school curriculum, the ability to add religious teachings into a students education, concerns about school violence, a desire to give the student more one on one instructional time, and at times to avoid some negative social aspects that come with a traditional school setting.

Homeschooling is quickly on the rise but getting firm numbers in regards to this is a challenge. There are some homeschool families that willingly give information about their families and other that think that the government should stay out of their right to educate their children as they see fit. Regardless, we do know that the numbers are quickly rising and the most recent statistics show that parents were worried about school safety. There are homeschool statistics that state that in 2007 there were reportedly 1,500,000 homeschooled students. In 1999 there were 850,000 students that were reported. This is an amazing amount of growth.
Every state has different requirements for homeschoolers. To find the homeschool laws for your state you should contact your Department of Education.
The main arguments involved in homeschool vs. public school are that of socialization and of state standardized testing. There are no studies to show that either of these really makes a difference in how well a homeschooled students does.

At Risk Youth

Most children are capable of succeeding in school but there are things that happen in a child’s life that can keep them from reaching their full potential. A number of factors can add up to a student being defined as “at risk”. These can include but are not limited to poverty, limited use of the English language, physical and/or mental disabilities, and being raised in a dysfunctional or even abusive home. There are times when a student only has one of these that makes them at risk but there are a lot of times where they have multiple risk factors to deal with. For at-risk students it is necessary for families, educators and communities to come together on behalf of the students.

Every year educators are seeing more and more at risk students in their schools and this creates unique challenges that they have to overcome. Statistics say that about 50% of all American teens take part in some at risk behavior on some level that inhibits their ability to succeed academically. For at risk teens some of this risky behaviors include: teen pregnancy, drug use, alcohol use, unsafe sex, truancy, and criminal behaviors. Many times there are more than one at risk behaviors to deal with all at once.
Research has shown that just trying to handle these problems with a single approach will not help make students successful. It truly takes multi-faceted efforts to help students that are in these life situations or for teens that choose these lifestyle choices. Legislators, educators, community leaders and parents have an increasingly difficult job in trying to stay aware of each student’s behavior and then to have programs in place that can help these students out of their current path and get them on the road to success.

Classroom Size

Classroom size is consistently a number one concern for parents and teachers. No matter how many policies are put into place to reduce class sizes teachers continue to be overwhelmed by classroom size. 36 states currently have policies in place that limits the number of students in any general education classroom. In the school year of 1999 and 2000 there was $3.5 billion spent on class size reductions. 2.3 billion of this was spent by states and the remaining 1.2 billion was federal funding. Since 1999 under the Class Size Reduction Program approximately 29,000 teachers have been hired and partly due to this classroom sizes for grades 1, 2, and 3 have decreased. The classroom sizes have gone from 23 to 18.

The National Education Association states that the optimum classroom size is 15 . Most schools struggle to keep class sizes below 25 to 30 students per one teacher. The problem with this is that teachers can’t possibly be expected to hone in on every single student’s learning style when there are 30 kids in the class. It is hard enough to do this with a handful of students.
Teachers today have more demands on their time than ever. With the onset of posting grades and progress every single week online (this is a new feature in many schools) to keep parents posted and the paper work that any district requires of teachers they have very little time left to really research learning styles and put together programs that may help students with the hurdles that they encounter in their education from time to time. More schools are getting away from text books and expecting teachers to develop their own curriculum. There just simply is not enough time!
With less students in a classroom the teacher can also better deal with behavioral problems that may arise and the overall school safety is better.

Safety and Student Discipline

School violence is the number one concern of parents of school age children. Rightfully so, the news is saturated in recent years of stories that tell us that anything and everything is imaginable at school. School administrators and state government officials have set in place many changes that include more harsh punishments for those that attempt to bring guns or other weapons to school or who try to execute bomb threats (real or not). They are also working on prevention of these incidents.

Studies continue to show that our schools are a very safe place but the public perceives schools to be increasingly unsafe. While there are incidents of violence in our schools from time to time the media coverage may play a large role in making the general public believe that they happen more often than they really do.
Because acts of violence are often accompanied by gangs and drug use, parents and administrators are demanding that tougher punishments be put in place. Essentially, most people want zero tolerance of such behaviors. Schools rely heavily on the ability to suspend or expel students for such acts.
In 1994 the Safe and Guns Free Schools Act was signed and basically means that schools will expel for a minimum of one year any student who brings a gun to school. This act started as a way to deal with guns in school but has now spread to deal with other weapons, acts of violence, drugs and alcohol as well as disruptive behavior.
While most parents and administrator are happier with the zero tolerance way of handling things, there are those that argue that it is too strict and does not take into account any extenuating circumstances.

After School Programs

It is estimated that over 8 million school age children are left unattended after school is let out. Statistics show that the hours between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. are when kids are most likely to take part in high risk behaviors such as drug use, drinking alcohol and youth violence. Between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. is when the highest amount of teen criminal activity takes place. This sends a loud message that the after school hours are a crucial time to get our kids into structured activities and programs that are supervised in order to keep them safe.

Researchers have found that kids who spend one to four hours per week in after school programs and extra curricular activities have better school attendance and display fewer behavior problems than their unattended peers. After school programs are a time to enrich the lives of these kids and to teach them new skills that will boost their self esteem and help them become responsible adults.
Government agencies are identifying the needs of these children and putting programs in place. Right now 90 % of people say that after school programs should be available to all kids regardless of financial ability. However, 2/3 of parents and caretakers will tell you that they find it hard to find such programs locally.
Perhaps while the government is working on putting more programs in place, communities need more willing citizens who will head up programs and donate their time and talents at schools and community centers in their area. This is a great opportunity to help your community and to better the lives of so many.

Homeless Education

Prior to 1987 more than 50% of homeless children were not being given a formal education on a regular basis. In that year Congress passed the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. This act enables all children, regardless of income or social status can get a good education. For this Act the government had to define clearly what “homeless” meant. Once that was established several things were put into place:

  • Grants must be issued by the U.S. Secretary of Education to the states for the education of homeless children.
  • The states are to make sure that all children have equal access to a suitable education and they must ensure that they can fulfill this obligation.
  • Each state must have a “Office of Coordinator for Education of Homeless Children and Youths” who will oversee data collection, and activities for the homeless children in their state. This office is also to disperse funding to local agencies for the education of homeless children.
  • In 1994 it was added that all homeless preschool children have the right to a free preschool program.
  • Also in 1994 the school systems were to begin working with the housing authorities on these issues.
The No Child Left Behind Act directly affected the McKinney-Vento Act in the following ways:
  • The definition of “homeless” was changed to take in children living with family members other than their parents or legal guardians. This also takes in those children that have had a loss of their housing, financial hard times, or other similar reasons.
  • Homeless children are not to be segregated in anyway from other children in school.
  • The schools have to provide transportation for the children no matter where they are coming from.
  • If there arises a conflict about what school a child should go to, the parent chooses and the child attends that school until the conflict is resolved.
  • Children should be placed where their needs are best met. They should be kept in their school of origin unless it is against the will of the parents.

The struggles of the homeless child are many. They deal with lack of nutrition, living conditions that can be sub-standard, lack of health care, transient living, and emotional stress. These issues away from school can cause struggles in their education. None of these obstacles is to big to overcome (educationally speaking) but the key is having the people in charge of our education system know the intricate details of what the children go through so that they are better able to get the resources together to help the children on an individual basis.

Disabled Students

In Spring of 1998 PBS did a segment on a family that had a non-verbal autistic son. He was school age at the time and these parents wanted this child integrated into a normal classroom. It started out this way and then the school made a fuss about things saying that he needed to be moved full time to the “special education” department of the school. The parents would not stand for it. They even sued the school and tried to get the Supreme Court to hear their case. This did not happen. However, this family took their son to another school that willingly gave him a full time aid and helps him be integrated into the classroom with his peers.

His aid made comments about the fact that this boy communicates in his own way but he does communicate. He also can do more than what the other school was asking of him. At the old school this autistic boy was given tasks that just whittled the time away but never really could have been called “education”. He was simply stacking blocks and other tasks of similar nature. At his new school he goes along with his peers, follows along with reading assignments and more.
Prior to 1978 students with disabilities were completely segregated and put into special education programs without a thought. No one dreamed of integrating these children into a normal classroom. However, what has now been realized is that the students who are not disabled learn a lot in ways that are not so academic about acceptance, tolerance, and understanding. It doesn’t hurt that we also see progress in the disabled student when they are integrated with their peer group.