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May 2008

Opinion: Gender Equity in Education

On May 20, AAUW released the most comprehensive  analysis to date on trends, race/ethnicity, and income in education: Where the Girls—Facts About Gender Equity in Education. Contrary to some opinions, an analysis of all 50 states shows that girls are not succeeding at the expense of boys and that family income is more closely associated with academics than gender. This report was released in Washington, D. C. and the Washington Post reported the findings on the front page. The report presents a comprehensive look at girls' educational achievements during the past 35 years. It pays special attention to the relationship between girls' and boys' progress. Analyses of results from national standardized tests as well as other measures of educational achievement provide a picture of trends in gender equity from elementary to college and beyond. They support three overarching facts about gender equity in schools today:

1. Girls' Successes Don't Come at Boys' Expense. If girls' successes came at the expense of boys, boys' scores would decline as girls rose. This has not been the case. In states where girls do well on tests, so do boys, and states with low scores for boys tend to have low scores for girls.

2. On Average, Girls' and Boys' Educational Performance Has Improved. From standardized tests in elementary and secondary school to college entrance exams, average scores have risen or remained stable for both girls and boys in recent decades. More women and men are likely to graduate from high school and college than ever before.

3. Understanding Differences in Race/Ethnicity & Family Income Level Is Critical to Understanding Girls' and Boys' Achievement. This report comes at a time when Congress is reassessing the so-called No Child Left Behind program. One hopes that gender/equity and family income issues will be addressed as this program is reconsidered.


Sequoia Needles: No, It's Not a Narconon Group


No, it’s not a Narconon group. Sequoia Needles is the San Mateo County Audubon chapter newsletter, and it is jam-packed with info on pesticides and songbirds, birding field trips on land and water, scholarships, action alerts, kayaking lessons, mentoring Cub Scouts, conservation work, political campaigns, Web site content management.




Fix It: Reuse or Recycle, Do Not Discard



Repair shops help consumers reuse items that otherwise would clog landfills. As always, call before you go just to make sure of their hours: Gas is a lot more expensive these days, no thanks to our Petroleum President:

Menlo Vacuum and Fix-It, 1179 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, 650-322-9333 (all sorts of small appliances and electronics, also recycles all kinds of batteries and provides reuse/recycle info)

West Bay TV, 3219 Middlefield Road, Menlo Park, 650-368-3384 (TVs, stereos, cameras)

Rancho Grande Appliances, 2890 Bryant, San Francisco, 415-641-5139 (washers, dryers, refrigerators, stoves)

(or call 1-888-442-2666)


Senator Yee Slams Scam Scandal at Racetracks

SACRAMENTO - In what started as one horse race bettor in San Mateo, California, noticing a statistical irregularity has now triggered a national investigation and scandal for an already volatile industry. On May 3, 2008, a thoroughbred owner placed 1,300 $1 "quick pick" bets at Bay Meadows Racecourse for the Kentucky Derby superfecta, in which the first four finishers must match the exact order of an individual ticket. But the "20" horse was not included in any of the possible 5,200 spots on the bettor's tickets. The "20" horse, ironically, was the race favorite and eventual winner, Big Brown. A winning $1 bet would have paid $29,368.90.

Scientific Games, the company that processes such bets at California tracks as well as many other venues across the country, including the California State lottery scratch tickets, said the error was the result of a computer glitch in the program that indefinitely excluded the highest-numbered horse in every race from being part of the quick pick pool. 

Despite a directive from the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) to Scientific Games to cease accepting quick pick wagers, such tickets are apparently still being sold at California tracks. In addition, Scientific Games' "computer glitch" excuse is also now in question, as a number of recently purchased quick pick tickets include the highest numbered horse in the field. "Scientific Games has a history of scamming consumers," said Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo), who earlier this week called on the State Auditor to investigate the latest scandal. "Californians deserve better and at the very least, the public deserves answers."

In 2002, employees of Autotote, a Scientific Games subsidiary, rigged bets on the Breeders' Cup worth $3.2 million. The employees later pleaded guilty to fraud. According to correspondence between Scientific Games and the CHRB on May 15, the company was aware of software malfunctions as early as October 30, 2007. CHRB officials say they were never made aware of the problem, resulting in thousands of California consumers being defrauded for months.

"I can't understand how the State of California, either thorough horse racing or the lottery, can contract with a company that has such a history of deceiving the public," said Yee. "I find it equally troubling that the CHRB has failed to administer an independent monitoring system of these machines. As someone who wants to see horse racing thrive again in California and be the economic engine and job creator it once was, these types of incidents make such a goal unattainable."

Adam J. Keigwin
Office of Senator Leland Y. Yee, Ph.D.
Assistant President pro Tem

American Conservative Magazine: Iraq War Costs



In 2007 alone, the U.S. military in Iraq burned more than 1.1 billion gallons of fuel. (American Armed Forces generally use a blend of jet fuel known as JP-8 to propel both aircraft and automobiles.) About 5,500 tanker trucks are involved in the Iraqi fuel-hauling effort. That fleet of trucks is enormously costly. In November 2006, a study produced by the U.S. Military Academy estimated that delivering one gallon of fuel to U.S. soldiers in Iraq cost American taxpayers $42—and that didn’t include the cost of the fuel itself. At that rate, each U.S. soldier in Iraq is costing $840 per day in fuel delivery costs, and the U.S. is spending $923 million per week on fuel-related logistics in order to keep 157,000 G.I.s in Iraq. Given that the Iraq War is now costing about $2.5 billion per week, petroleum costs alone currently account for about one-third of all U.S. military expenditure in Iraq.

Pacificans Help Set Global Coffee Break Record


Mission: Guatemala helped set a worldwide coffee break record by hosting a coffee break at its office at the Linda Mar Educational Center, 830 Rosita Rd. in Pacifica for World Fair Trade Day, May 10. A small but enthusiastic group (Kathleen Bissell, Kathy Green, Lenny Balbus, Mary McArdy, Theresa Kannengeiser, Mar Kaden, Kay Sweeney, and Shiela Harno and her husband) joined 12,128 worldwide Fair Traders who sipped coffee at 12 noon Pacific Time to set an all-time record. Plan to join us next year on World Fair Trade Day 2009 to make it even bigger.

Kay Sweeney
Managing Director
Kateri Tekakwitha Fund/Mission:Guatemala
PO Box 906
Pacifica CA 94044
Phone & Fax: 650 738 9551
Everything is possible with a little help from a friend!


John McCain Dumps Anti-Semitic Rev. Hagee

You might have heard that Pastor John Hagee, a key supporter of John McCain's campaign, once said that the Catholic Church was a "great whore" and that Hurricane Katrina was the judgment of God against New Orleans for planning a gay pride parade. Now a new audiotape has surfaced where Hagee says that God sent Hitler to Earth so that Jews would move to Israel. Today, thousands of citizens asked John McCain to finally renounce Hagee's endorsement, and under extreme pressure, McCain caved in and said he was cutting his ties to Hagee. You can listen to the Hagee audio here: REV. HAGEE'S ANTI-SEMITISM