Thursday, April 21, 2011


"Teachers Aren't the Enemy" by Pedro Noguera and Michelle Fine
The Nation
May 9, 2011

Summary/Key Points: Noguera and Fine give a strong, bipartisan rundown of recent events in both the teacher-bashing and teacher-lauding trends. They mention the last-in-first-out policy, recent developments from the Hill and its policymakers, and discuss some specific local teacher-friendly events. One particularly alarming piece of polemic comes from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who has invoked the historically-weighted term "final solution" when talking about his plan for education, after "slash[ing] school aid by $1.2 billion."

Intended Audience: general public

Relevance: The Nation is a fun journal-- not really particularly left-leaning or right-leaning, they are just strongly against obviously broken systems and terrible ideas, and both the democrats and republicans are offering up a lot that fits within that criteria right now. Anyway! It is good to keep on top of current events in education, and summary articles like this that both lambast and uphold are valuable condensations.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Eminently Reasonable Ruling from District Court

"Bands Promote Awareness, and Giggles, but Aren't Lewd," by Sarah Wheaton
New York Times online

Summary/Key Points: The goofy "I ♥ Boobies" silicone bracelets that have been the thing with middle and high school students for the last few months have riled up stuffy administrators and teachers who are uncomfortable with anything and everything that might be interpreted as having even a tangential relation to sex. The ruling in this case was in favor of the student, who challenged the school on free speech grounds after they punished her with in-school suspension for wearing the bracelet the day after the school banned them. The judge ruled that they were a venue to raise awareness about breast cancer, and "reduce stigma associated with openly discussing breast health."

Intended Audience: general public

Relevance: Part of the Protecting Student and Civil Rights... exam is a handful of questions about court rulings for students, and for administrators, in cases like this. Hopefully this will provide an interesting, recent example for ORELA to include on their test! It's also interesting to keep an eye on things that could be issues as we go into our schools; my school is pretty relaxed and doesn't care too much about these bracelets, and I make it a point to never tell a student to turn them around, like some teachers do. And of course, it's a good free-speech ruling: the idea that these could be anything more than the most minor of distractions reveals more about teachers' poor ability to handle their classrooms than it does about the judgment of students.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Return to Tradition

新学期まで「寺小屋」授業再開を待つ被災地で ("A Report From the Disaster Zone: 'Terakoya' Until the New Semester Starts"), 4/15/2011

Summary and Key Points: The word 寺小屋 (terakoya) caught my eye when I was browsing headlines. These "temple schools" were some of the first public education in Japan available to those outside of the rich and ruling families. Wikipedia has a solid article about them. Students at this one demolished area are participating in an impromptu version of a terakoya; it is more likely at a community center or auditorium than at a temple, but the point is that they are making a school out of whatever building is available. The article mentions them getting back to their regular curriculum: math, language arts, and PE. The students also took a field trip that has a whole new feeling to it; they walked the mountain road designated as the evacuation route in case of tsunami. Some of them mention not even knowing that it existed.

Intended Audience: general public

Relevance: Again, kind of a personal indulgence article here! It gives me more ideas about what I might pursue for my short research project grant next summer. I think it would be really interesting to continue to follow the development of impromptu schools, and see if they end up spawning a new option for Japanese students, sort of like charter schools over here. Or maybe they will end up withering as soon as regular facilities are reestablished and students can attend their big schools again.

As a cog in the public education system, it is interesting to see just how defining it is to the lives of young people. It is everything they do, more or less, so it makes sense to get them back to it as quickly as possible. Surely it is more interesting than sitting around the shelter playing videogames (ha!).

Teaching the Environment

"Our Climate Crisis Is an Education Crisis," by the editors of Rethinking Schools
Rethinking Schools, Spring 2011

Summary and Key Points: This is a rather, hrm... loud article, but by now we are used to this tone from Rethinking Schools. Dial it back, soften it a bit in your head, and look for the key points; that is the technique that I have found works best for me, when the rhetoric just gets too shrill. Anyway! The editors give a brief summary and accounting of global climate change and the things contributing to it. More interestingly, they tie this issue to education: what are the roles of teachers in teaching about this (regardless of your beliefs about its validity) enormously important issue? Which teachers are in particularly effective positions to teach about it? And the biggie: if no one is teaching about it, what will the next generation be doing about it?

Their proposals range from the immediate ("give children a sense of place—to invite children to braid their identities together with the place where they live by calling their attention to the air, the sky, the cracks in the sidewalk where the earth busts out of its cement cage") to the broad (textbook boycotts), but they do indeed offer specific advice. And the article acts as a preamble to this issue of RS, which focuses on environmental issues and the teaching of them.

Intended Audience: educators, general public

Relevance: I am an educator and an environmentalist. As a language teacher, people might see it as a stretch to integrate environmental issues into my classroom. However, the newest vogue in language teaching is "content-based instruction," which suggests that the best language learning is done in the context of learning real materials in the target language. Instead of sitting and reviewing verb forms in the contextless vacuum of the classroom, students say "the earth warms up" and "weather is warm" and "yesterday was warm."

As an environmentalist, I appreciate the efforts of the editors of RS to help educators bring these important issues into the classroom, contextualizing them for the social studies classroom, the art classroom, the LA classroom... Anything that we can teach about that is of actual relevance to students, whether to their daily lives or to the future they will live in, is, in my opinion, of the utmost worth.

Battle of the Books!

"Brains and Books team up at the Oregon Battle of the Books state finals," by Matt Buxton
Oregon Live from The Oregonian

Summary and Key Points: The Battle of the Books finale event was fought out at CCC in Salem recently. This event (for which our school started reading and forming teams back in November, I think) is an exciting way to get kids reading-- and reading critically, for a deep understanding of the content. In fact, that is what the Battle is about: students are quizzed on not just greater themes, but also on small details from the books from their age group.

Intended Audience: general public

Relevance: As a language arts teacher, I am excited about anything that promotes reading-- and all the more so if some group has already chosen half a dozen age-leveled, recent books for the purpose! Making things competitive is always a good engagement technique, and the fact that this is an actual competition with participation from all over the state gives the kids who might not be inclined to sports competition a venue to feel the thrill of competition (although I should say that our star soccer player was also on a district-winning team this year!).

As a reader and lover of all books, I snagged the high school reading list to add to my own personal summer reading list. It will be beneficial both for maintaining that crucial "withit-ness," and also just to see what sort of level is deemed appropriate for highschoolers these days.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Run. Just Do It.

Casey Parks
Teacher at Hillsboro’s Liberty High inspires unlikely athletes to excel in Liberty Fit running club
Retrieved 4/18/2011
Topic: Student fitness

Laurie Jenkins, health teacher and leader of Liberty High’s Liberty Fit, inspires and pushes students who don’t normally exercise to train for the Helvetia Half Marathon in June. Students are training for the 13 mile run with the help from a few running techniques, and motivation provided by Jenkins

Key points: teacher is doing a good job in motivating students to run, providing them a goal of 13 miles, offering different options of participation

Relevance: It is neat that this health teacher is getting students involved in running. I think many students would rather lift weights than to go running. Getting students involved in a group activity, and providing a goal is a great way to motivate exercise.

Latino culture festival

Kelly House
Thousands flock to Hillsboro’s annual Latino festival for a lesson in community, culture
Topic: Latino culture in Hillsboro

This Sunday was Hillsboro’s annual Latino Cultural Festival. The festival’s purpose is to educate those interested in Latino culture, about the customs, traditions and valued beliefs of the Latino Community. Food, shows, art and many “culture rich” activities were around for students, parents and children to experience.

Key points: Break the barrier, immerse yourself in Latino culture.

Relevance: We recently had our culture project. I had a tough time defining the meaning of the word culture. Or identifying the culture I relate to. I have never been to this culture festival, but I am curious as to what they identify as culture, or as to what kind of information is printed on the education pamphlets. I’m not going to lie, I think many times these kinds of things reinforce stereotypes. I wonder if the information printed on the pamphlets resembles false throwaway facts, much like “George Washington cut down the cherry tree”—BOOM! American culture. Much of the culture I see is of traditional past culture. I would like to see what Latino students of today define as culture, and what they think should be included in the festival.

High-performing teachers get more money

Betsy Hammond
Feds insist on giving Oregon millions more to pay for high-performing teachers
Topic: Teacher salaries

A group called the Chalkboard Project was awarded $13 million to improve the quality of teacher for a few Oregon school districts. Federals have urged the group to apply for more money, and the group gained another $11 million to pay for high-performing educators.

Key point: each school district will design their own way of determining who qualifies as high-performing teacher,

Relevance: There is financial hope! (if you are deemed worthy of being a good teacher). What does high-performance mean? Teacher’s who get their student’s to score high on tests? Does that really mean they are worthy of the bonus? Sounds to me like this might cause more damage than good. But we shall see…

News at Pacific

Kelly House
Pacific University celebrates Earth Week with Chomsky lecture, free public activities
Topic: Pacific Earth week

Pacific University will be hosting events and activities that are free to the public, including battery recycling, art showcases, and video screenings. The main event is of course a public lecture by Noam Chomsky, held at noon on Wednesday. It is free. Intended audience: You.

Key point: Get involved with some things happening at Pacific. If you are a Noam Chomsky fan, you should come check this out.

Relevance: We had a big discussion on community today; do you know what goes on at Pacific? Do you know how Pacific gets involved with their community? If you want to find out more stuff about the different events that go on at Pacific, let me know. I can find out for you too. Also let me know if any one is interested in student video showcases. They are quite good.

Sink or Swim

Wendy Owen
Intel surprises Beaverton and Hillsboro schools with influx of Israeli families
Topic: student influx

Intel has brought around 300 Israeli families as part of a training program to their campus, adding around 400 children to the area. Children are flooding the Beaverton and Hillsboro schools, and with little warning, teachers and administrators are scrambling to accommodate these kids into classes and with supplies. Intended audience: Beaverton and Hillsboro area parents and students

Key points: Intel is offering no amount of funding for the lack of supplies; schools are trying to figure out ESL classes for the kids,

Relevance: We were discussing the pros and cons of a track program and full immersion program for students who do not speak English. I feel like many of these students feel like they are being fully immersed in English speaking culture, it is time for sink or swim right? I am curious how this all turns out…

No test left behind

"School Daze" by Jon Carroll
Monday, March 14, 2011 in the San Francisco Chronicle

In South Carolina, 80% of students failed to achieve proficiency scores on state-mandated tests. Solution? Lower the proficiency standards on state-madated tests. 80,000 of the country's 100,000 public schools will more than likely be labeled "failing" after the next round of madatory state benchmark tests.

As Sam Dillon put it in the New York Times: "Critics of the law say it is a bit like requiring all city police forces to end certain crimes - like burglary and drug trafficking - by 2014. They have also long predicted that the law will, over time, determine that all but a handful of schools are failing - a label that would demoralize educators, lower property values and mislead parents about the instructional climates in their schools."

The writer contends that more than likely these tests are ill-conceived, poorly thought out and of course really don't tell us what they claim to be telling us: is a child proficient in a subject? We have heard it many times before, but it appears many legislators have declared war on public schools in general and teachers specifically.

With increased class sizes, higher standards on tests and fewer teachers theing should get real interesting in the next few years. This will no doubt affect us all. Let's hope this signals a rallying cry, the writer states, that says "down with no child left behind."

Kiss your job goodbye, teachers!

"Teacher Layoffs- a destructive annual event," by Dave Eggers
March, 22, 2011 in the San Francisco Chronicle

Sorry to be the bearer of more bad news, but this article sadly reports that last month 2,800 public school teachers in the Bay area were told they might not have jobs in the Fall. The principal at James Lick Middle School was very happy with the teachers at the school until pink slips arrived on March 15 and 14 of the school's best young teachers were told they might not have a job next year. Morale went through the floor as the teachers had to start looking for potential job opportunities elsewhere.

As usual, the low-paid, over-worked teachers are bearing the brunt of education cuts, as 80% on average of education moneys are devoted to payroll of workers/health benfits, retirement, etc. Sadly, 46% of teachers quit the profession before five years elapse and with the current trend in teacher bashing it shouldn't come as surprise. Low pay, no job security, hard work. Sounds great, where do we sign up? The not-so-hidden side effects also include instability in the clasroom and lack of continuity in curriculum and teaching.

I guess we're just not good people. Unfortunately, this story is all too relevant to our class. God bless all those teachers who might get laid off, but I hope they don't head up this way.

Upward Bound soon to be outward bound

"Upward Bound facing eviction from USF," by Nanette Asimov
April 15, 2011 in the San Francisco Chronicle

Over a hundred protesters took to the streets to express their concern and anger over the Universtiy of San Francisco's decision to evict Upward Bound from campus. The university says they need more room for student housing and must remove nine programs, including Outward Bound. The program, which has been on campus for 45 years helps 180 youth in tutoring, summer school and college prep programs.

"They claim to be a Jesuit institution that cares, but they have demonstrated that they couldn't care less about poor people, black people and brown people," the Rev. Amos Brown, president of the San Francisco NAACP, told about 100 students, faculty and clergy rallying on Turk Street in front of USF this week. The problem, protesters claim, is that unlike the other nine programs, Upward Bound relies on USF for its federal grant application, which means, in essence, if they are kicked off the university's premises they will not receive federal money.

Upward Bound proponents say that enrollment in the program doubles the liklihood of youth entering and finishing a four-year degree program. They can't understand why a university who's mission identifies social responsibility and servicde as its core would choose to end its long relationship with program.

This story is a bit upsetting for anyone who has participated in programs like Upward Bound becasue they seem to have a good trach record in helping youth get out of trouble, stay out of trouble and do better in school. Negotiations with the school are ongoing in an attempt to reverse the decision by USF.

Resistance to Test-Based School Reform is Growing

Valerie Strauss
"Resistance to Test-Based School Reform is Growing"
The Washington Post - "The Answer Sheet" Column
April 18, 2011

Ms. Strauss documents protests by teachers and students that are occurring across the nation regarding standardized testing and other school reform ideas.  The protests started locally, but are starting to go national with Facebook groups, blogs, parent groups and teachers possibly coming together in a march on Washington D.C. on July 28-31.

In North Carolina the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school districts tested 52 new standardized tests and possibly adding more tests next year.  The Los Angeles School District will be implementing value-added tests that will be used to rate teachers.  President Obama has spoken out against more testing ,but ironically his proposals have increased testing.  Opponents state these tests do not adequately measure kids' learning, do not prove how good or not good teachers are and are a waste of money and time for the school kids and teachers.  Teachers have also been motivated by Diane Ravitch's book stating at one time she favored the No Child Left Behind program, but now shows it does not work

This is another article on how the public debate can be changed in favor of teachers, kids and schools and against standardized testing, poorly planned school reform and attacks against teachers.  Anybody want to go to the Washington D.C. march in July?!

Powerhouse Principal Dr. Steve Perry Shares His Thoughts

Earl Martin Phalen
"Powerhouse Principal Dr. Steve Perry Shares His Thoughts"
The Huffington Post
April 15, 2011

This is a short interview of Dr. Steve Perry, principal for Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, Connecticut that has a 100 percent of its graduating seniors attending four-year colleges.  Dr. Perry states that when kids come into his school in the sixth grade 40 percent of them are coming in at four grade levels below in their reading.  He states kids are being nurtured in schools and not taught basic skills.  Also, the communities in which many kids grow up in, 30 percent of the adults cannot read so it is difficult for the kids to learn or appreciate reading in their own homes.  Perry's school has teachers work directly with the kids as every teacher is an advisor and counselor.  Capital Prep does not have any guidance counselors as they are not needed due to how the teachers do the counselors jobs.  Also the teachers build relationships with colleges as Mr. Perry contends having counselors do that is a waste of money.

Perry's strategy is a "shout-out" to American communities and teachers that everyone needs to work together to help kids read and learn.  He calls on churches to help adults learn to read and for grandparents as well as parents to help each other raise their kids.  He states that if at least 50 percent of the churches in poor minority communities were to focus on literacy then illiteracy would vanish.  It is a bold strategy and some of his arguments are the same ones we have heard where schools are not doing their job, etc.  I would be interested to see how the community around Capital Prep. views the school to see if it is as idyllic as Dr. Perry makes it sound.  I do have to give him kudos for trying though.

Teachers Hold "Grade-Ins" at Malls To Demonstrate Workload

No Author Given
"Wisc., Mich. and Other Teachers Hold 'Grade-Ins' to Demonstrate Workload"
The Huffington Post
April 11, 2011

Teachers in Wisconsin, Michigan and elsewhere held protests in malls on weekends to show how much work they do outside of school.  The teachers did lesson plans, grading and correcting tests.  In the video that is included in the article a teacher states she normally works on weekends anyway so she decided to show support for teachers and do her work at the mall.

This is a great way to show the public at large how hard the job of teaching really is - especially after one media person "argued teachers don't deserve as much money because they "don't work as much".  It is also a wonderful way for teachers to show support for one another in a non-confrontational way.

We have talked in our classes how teachers could change the climate of debate in the nationwide discussion.  This is a great way to do it!  It is not a protest filled with shouting, but instead is shows openly what the teachers are doing, they are able to interact with the public and it is in a venue that people are familiar and comfortable with.  

Public Education Hijacked by Privileged Elites

In Public School Efforts, a Common Background: Private EducationBy MICHAEL WINERIP
New York Times
Published: April 17, 2011

Summary: There is one thing that characterizes a surprisingly large number of the people who are transforming public schools: they attended private schools.

Does a private school background give them a much-needed distance and fresh perspective to better critique and remake traditional public schools? Does it make them distrust public schools — or even worse — poison their perception of them? Or does it make any difference?

Presents a "Who's Who" list of education reformers and the elite private school they attended.

Audience: General public.

Key Points: When President Bush signed the No Child Left Behind legislation, he expressed his hope that it would combat the “soft bigotry of low expectations.” Indeed, the law could not have higher expectations: every child in the nation is required to be proficient in math and English by 2014. Schools that do not meet their proficiency goals, which are raised every year, are labeled as failing.

Last month, Mr. Duncan predicted that by the end of this year, 82 percent of schools will miss their goal. At this rate, it is highly likely that in a few years, every single public school in the United States will be labeled a failure.

Relevance: Interesting to see the list of people involved in education reform and their private education roots.

Former Obama Staffer Changes Universe - Lengthens Day

Emanuel Gets Boost, and Challenges, in Schools Bill
Rebecca Vevea York Times/Chicago Times
April 16th 2011

Summary: A sweeping public school reform bill unanimously approved by the State Senate gives Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel a chance to fulfill a campaign promise and lengthen Chicago’s school day, currently one of the shortest in the nation. But he will have to overcome daunting budget, educational and labor obstacles.

Audience: General Readers

Key Points: 1) NCLB test emphasis has caused cuts in social studies, science, PE etc... 2) Chicago has one of the shortest school days in the nation. 3) More school hours will cost more money.

Relevance: Education reform will not be easy, no matter what shape or form it takes.

Teacher Inspires from Beyond the Grave

Katie Sanders

In memory of long-time Newton high school teacher Tom DePeter

Read more:
The Newton Tab
May 13, 2009

Topic: This is a tribute article written by a former student on a teacher who passed away. I came across it while pursuing my 'unclaimed money' hobby and thought that it needed to be a blog post.

Key Points: Great Teachers Still make a great difference. You don't have to follow the rules to be a great teacher.

Intended Audience: For the general public, but should be read by those who aspire to be teachers.

Relevance: After a semester of depressing news of budget cuts and layoffs, something inspirational.

California comm college troubles

"Community colleges could turn away 400,000" by Nanette Asimov
March 31, 2011 in the San Francisco Chronicle

California has the largest state school system in the country with an enrollment of 2.65 million students. With more budget cuts hitting the reeling economy there, roughly 400,000 students will be turned away from community colleges this fall. Almost $800,000 million, 10% of the state education budget, is being cut this year. This is a result of expiring taxes that disappear in June. If legislators cannot come up with funding to replace the lost tas revenue, the state school budget will be slashed.

"This is a tremendous tragedy, and a very deep blow to the economy of California," said Community College Chancellor Jack Scott, describing community colleges as the "No. 1 workforce training institution" in the state.

This story is relevant to anyone planning on studying in California and ultimately the fate of California's students could and probably will befall students in other states, like Oregon. It is just another in a littany of problems facing the state, with legislators at odds about what to cut and how to fund programs. It is sad the the nation's best state school higher ed system is getting gutted. It doesn't bode well for the future of the state and its citizens.

Just Let the Children Play!

Why Preschool Shouldn’t Be Like School” by Alison Gopnik
Slate, Posted: March 16, 2011, Accessed: April 12, 2011

Topic: Play based exploration vs. direct instruction for early childhood education

Summary: The article talks about some studies and experiments with 4-year olds that point towards exploration and play as effective ways to “teach” young children.

Intended audience: Educators, Parents

Key Points:

  • Play based exploration allows children to be more creative and learn more
  • Direct instruction squashes creativity and scientific thinking

Relevance: This touches on a lot of the subjects we have talked about in Ed Psych. It also mentions NCLB and the requirement of federally funded preschools to go towards a curriculum based on direct instruction to get results for standardized tests.

CNN Student News

CNN Student News for April 15, 2011 Accessed: April 18, 2011

Topic: CNN’s Daily Student News Broadcast

Summary: Broadcast aimed at middle school/high school students covering a range of topics

Intended audience: Students

Key Points:

  • Taxes
  • Teen driving study
  • Jackie Robinson Day
  • Trivia
  • Replica White House for sale

Relevance: We keep looking at articles directed at educators, parents, and the general public. I thought it would be interesting what the news is saying to our students J I never watched student news broadcasts when I was in school, but I think that was pretty interesting. I think that by the time kids get to high school, they should have a daily dose of news that goes beyond what they get on facebook and twitter!

Jealousy Amongst Colleagues because of Reported Test Scores (Jeff, Topic Twenty-One)

Jason Felch
Singled-out LA Unified Teacher Shares Skills With Colleagues (,0,4961288.story?page=1)
LA Times
March 18th, 2011

Summary: More or less a carefully constructed propaganda piece by the LA Times meant to provide proof of the value of the value-added analysis (which they created). The highlights: This guy is a good teacher (probably true), the other teachers were jealous and hated him for "winning" at the test taking teaching (probably true), and, see because of these stupid unions and what they have done to our budget, this teacher is going to be fired.

Key Points: 1) A defense of the value-added analysis, 2) The test creates issues between colleagues, 3) The budgets are messed up, 4) Good teachers collaborate.

Intended Audience: Those who hate on the value-added analysis

Relevance: This is a very interesting take on the divide between unions, teachers, and testing, and what problems said divide creates in the working environment.

Religious Education at School?!?

Before School Ends, Time to Make the Matzo” by Fernanda Santos
New York Times, April 12, 2011

Topic: “Released Time” in New York Public Schools for religious education

Summary: Since the 1950s, students in the New York Public School system have had the opportunity to leave school an hour early every Wednesday to participate in religious education. Even though the program has been challenged in court (separation of church/state issues) and fewer people participate today, the program is still in use by over 10,000 kids in the school system.

Intended audience: General Public

Key Points:

  • Kids can receive religious education once a week for an hour during “released time”. This instruction is funded by the public schools.
  • Traditionally, Jewish and Catholic students have used the program the most.
  • Instruction cannot take place on school property.
  • This provides a good alternative for parents who may not have the money to send their children to religious private schools, but still want them to receive some education related to their faith.
  • Problems can arise when so many students leave a classroom… the teacher can’t deliver any vital instruction, give tests, etc. without those students missing out.

Relevance: I found this article really interesting! I am not particularly religious, so I never would’ve participated in something like this. I do think it looks like a lot of fun to make Matzo bread though… I think it is important for students to learn about all the religions in the world, I hope this isn’t taking the place of that in the regular curriculum. It’s really a shame that not all kids get to participate in a fun out and about every week! This also brings up the same issues that we have talked about regarding pulling kids out of class for Title 1, ESOL, TAG, etc…

Is too Much "Information" Hazardous to Our Sanity? (Jeff, Topic Twenty)

California Dept. of Public Health
Map: High Risk Schools in Southern California (,0,426776.htmlstory)
LA Times

Summary: An interactive map of southern California. The map allows users to explore local schools by their reported immunization rate. Interesting map.

Audience: Parents of So Cal students.

Key Points: 1) You must get your children the flu shot! 2) If you don't, and if they go to one of the bad colored schools, they will get sick and die! 3) Aren't you worried about this?!?

Relevance: We have been talking about technology and its impact on education, and I have been noticing an increasing amount of more or less useless technological information on the LA Times website. Interactive maps for flue shot rates, school ratings, teacher ratings, etc. and I have to wonder, despite the merits of any of this information, are we overloading ourselves with reasons to pointlessly worry?

Take for example the American diet: since 1977, the US government has actively attempted to influence our nutrition by preaching a particular food pyramid (the one with carbs on the bottom: This was supported by a bunch of well intentioned scientists who had a bunch of new tools at their disposal (the ability to isolate nutrients) and wanted to make a positive difference. It turns out, however, that they were incredibly off the mark, and Americans have done nothing but become fatter since 1977.

I look at some of the ridiculous but well intentioned information available to parents today and wonder how far off the mark it is and what the consequences for its constant availability will be.