Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Late Blogging, Again

One of the interesting things about having company is how completely the normal routine goes out the window. It's not that this is a bad thing, necessarily; but it does have some effects here and there, and for a newshound and small-time blogger like myself one of those effects tends to be that by the time I see a story and want to write about it, the clock is approaching midnight, which means that any detailed analysis is going to have to wait.

Take this story, for instance:
MIAMI (AP) — A judge on Tuesday ruled that a strict Florida law that blocks gay people from adopting children is unconstitutional, declaring there was no legal or scientific reason for sexual orientation alone to prohibit anyone from adopting.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman said the 31-year-old law violates equal protection rights for the children and their prospective gay parents, rejecting the state's arguments that there is "a supposed dark cloud hovering over homes of homosexuals and their children."

She noted that gay people are allowed to be foster parents in Florida. "There is no rational basis to prohibit gay parents from adopting," she wrote in a 53-page ruling.

Florida is the only state with an outright ban on gay adoption. Arkansas voters last month approved a measure similar to a law in Utah that bans any unmarried straight or gay couples from adopting or fostering children. Mississippi bans gay couples, but not single gays, from adopting.

Now, you know I've got things to say about that, right? But I'll have to get back to it next week.

Then there's this one:

John Paul II High School opened in Plano four years ago with high expectations.

The first Catholic high school north of Dallas hoped to tap into Collin County's booming Catholic population and expected to see a large enrollment.

But the projected students haven't arrived yet, and the school's finances remain out of the red only because 17 area parishes have provided aid.

"I think in the very beginning they had very generous projections of growth," said Sister Gloria Cain, superintendent of schools for the Catholic Diocese of Dallas. "But they have a stable enrollment, and I think it takes a high school a little bit longer to get established."

School leaders initially projected the school would open its doors to 900 students. Instead, 316 students showed up.

Enrollment has grown to 637, but 900 is considered the number of students the school needs to no longer require parish aid. [...]

Mr. Poore said that eventually – though he won't estimate when – John Paul II will reach the enrollment it needs. Until then, he said, he keeps a close eye on expenses and is working on attracting more parents, despite the downturn in the economy. Tuition is $11,500 per year. [Emphasis added--E.M.]

Tuition at this high school costs more than my first or second year of college (though I think by the third year it was approaching that amount, and topped it by the fourth). Median income in Collin County was about $75,000 in 2004, meaning that a family with only two children in high school at the same time would only (sarcasm alert) spend about 30% of their annual income on tuition. Gee, I wonder why more Catholic families, especially those with four, five, six or more children, didn't jump at the chance to enroll their kids? Maybe we can look at this some more, next week.

Then there's this:

Traces of the industrial chemical melamine have been detected in samples of top-selling U.S. infant formula, but federal regulators insist the products are safe. The Food and Drug Administration said last month it was unable to identify any melamine exposure level as safe for infants, but a top official said it would be a "dangerous overreaction" for parents to stop feeding infant formula to babies who depend on it.

"The levels that we are detecting are extremely low," said Dr. Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. "They should not be changing the diet. If they've been feeding a particular product, they should continue to feed that product. That's in the best interest of the baby."

Melamine is the chemical found in Chinese infant formula — in far larger concentrations — that has been blamed for killing at least three babies and making at least 50,000 others ill.

Previously undisclosed tests, obtained by The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act, show that the FDA has detected melamine in a sample of one popular formula and the presence of cyanuric acid, a chemical relative of melamine, in the formula of a second manufacturer.

Separately, a third major formula maker told AP that in-house tests had detected trace levels of melamine in its infant formula.

Hey, I have an idea. Let's require the FDA officials, especially Dr. Stephen Sundlof, to consume the same exact proportion of melamine by weight as infants on a formula diet would consume in the course of a day. It's totally safe, right? So prove it. Eat up, gentlemen.

Yeah, I don't think they'd go for it either. I may not wait until next week to comment on this one, especially if this story gets half the attention it deserves.


Nikki said...

Wow that melamine story is scary! We leave in a few weeks to pick up our daughter from China. I was planning to pack American formula even though I have been told her Chinese formula was safe. I didn't want to take chances. Now I am not sure what to do. Thanks for the heads up. I will be doing a little more digging.

I will be looking forward to hearing your comments.

freddy said...

Nikki, congragulations to you and your family! You'll be in my prayers.

This may sound really weird, but it is possible to breastfeed an adopted child. It seems from the things I've read to be a little tricky, and you'd have to supplement heavily at first, but many moms have had success doing this. Also (and again, it sounds odd) but there are breastfeeding co-ops in which women actually donate breastmilk to help out other women. Finally, there must be some brands out there that are safe! And surely at least the U.S. brands will probably be somewhat safer than the Chinese brands.

Hopefully getting this news story out there will get some changes made quickly!

God bless you!

Patrick Archbold said...

I see where your problem is. You think blogging should require analysis and thought. Not so!

I find that blogging takes much less time when you just blurt out the first ill-conceived and intemperate thing that comes to mind. That's what I do.

Just trying to help.

Siobhan said...

Two comments -
First, the high school tuition quoted is not out of the ordinary for a good Catholic High School. They probably discount enrollment for siblings. We count the money we spent sending our son to Detroit Catholic Central High School the best money we ever spent. Homeschooling is not doubt an even better investment, but we weren't equipped to do that.
Second, my cat died from tainted cat food in February 2007 in an astonishingly short period of time. I would not touch baby formula with melamine in it.

Daddio said...

I'm actually REALLY impressed that they started with that many students and have already doubled. There's a private Catholic school in Roanoke (TX) now that has been trying to get off the ground for the better part of 10 years, and they still have only about 30 students and no senior class this year. They're in a new (portable) building on their own piece of land and they expect big things in the coming years. But I'll believe it when I see it. Of course, the current size is fine by me, it's like a big home school. But, of course, the money thing is just prohibitive. I'm not saying it isn't "worth it", I'm saying I can't afford it. Simple as that. It's like that BMW I've had my eye on. Worth every penny. Except that I'm coming up about 4,000,000 pennies short. And I wonder about putting my kids in any environment that only serves the rich.

Martha said...


JPII has had tons of diocesan support: write-ups in the diocesan paper, fundraising, etc. Our parish in Dallas (which has 5 Catholic high schools closer) takes up a special collection for this school once a month and all the other parishes in the generously designed attendance area are expected to as well. Diocesan support makes a huge difference. And the price is in line with other Catholic high schools in the area. (ack, argh.) The thing is -- it's in Collin County. People move to Collin County for the schools. Turns out not too many of them want to pay for high school when they are already paying property taxes for the excellent public high schools in the area.
Add on top of that that the original land for this school had to be sold to pay for the disastrous Rudy Kos settlement, and the early contributions for it got eaten up by that legal mess as well, and I can see why other people are as reluctant to support it as I am.

NancyP said...

Catholic school tuition is a Catch-22 situation. Dioceses mandate "salary parity" to retain good teachers - in our county, beginning teachers make $40K in the public "schools" - and must raise tuition to support this. Then, many families leave the Catholic school system because the tuition is too high. (Side effect - volunteer drain - experienced and willing parents are no longer around to help with fundraisers, lunch recess, etc. Cost to schools, unknown.) Then, schools can't raise teachers' pay because there aren't enough paying students to support this.

This cycle began in our diocese in 2002. Six years later, most of our Catholic elementary schools have openings all year long.

We are now, not coincidentally, in our seventh year of homeschooling.