April 15th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Penalizing parents if their kids misbehave at school?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

British parents could soon be fined if their kids act up in school... A new government study across the pond takes a look at different ways to keep children in line in the classroom. It suggests that it's time for parents to "share the responsibility for maintaining discipline."

Cafferty: Parents may take more of an interest in disciplining their kids if they have to shell out a few bucks each time they misbehave.

Now there's an idea...

Parents can be fined the equivalent of $75 if their kids are caught in a public place without a good reason within the first five days of being suspended or expelled. The fine doubles if it's not paid within a month. And - parents have to be interviewed by teachers before their child is allowed to return to school.

Schools can also require parents of children who are misbehaving to take parenting classes. If they don't attend, they can be fined up to $1,500.

These guidelines come as teachers warn that existing methods of disciplining students were failing. The Telegraph reports that some schools have been handing out prizes if kids promise to behave - things like plasma screen TVs and iPods - instead of punishing them if they act up.

U.S. schools should pay close attention to how this experiment works. My guess is parents of disruptive little mutants might take more of an interest in disciplining them if they have to shell out a few bucks each time they misbehave. And then the teachers might actually be able to get down to teaching.

Here's my question to you: Is it a good idea to penalize parents if their children misbehave at school?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Uncategorized
April 15th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

What if New York becomes 5th state to legalize gay marriage?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

New York could become the fifth state to legalize gay marriage. Governor David Paterson is expected to introduce legislation tomorrow that would make marriage between same-sex couples legal in New York.

Last week, Vermont became the first state to enact a same sex civil marriage law through legislation, and not a court order.

Paterson has previously said he's committed to bringing "full marriage equality in New York state," adding it's a problem that gays and lesbians who live in a civil union aren't entitled to around 1,300 civil protections that are available to married couples.

Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer introduced the same bill back in 2007 - it passed the Assembly but died in the state Senate. It's expected the bill would pass the Assembly once again, but would need support from some Republicans in order to pass the Senate.

Supporters are hoping that the momentum is there for the bill to pass this time around. That's because Iowa's Supreme Court recently overturned a ban on same-sex marriage; and Vermont's Legislature also just voted to allow gay couples to marry. Same-sex marriage is also legal in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Although these four states have legalized gay marriage, polls suggest the majority of Americans remain opposed to the idea. A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll from December shows 55 percent of those surveyed don't think gay marriages should be recognized by law as valid; 44 percent think same-sex marriages should be recognized.

Here's my question to you: What would it mean if New York becomes the fifth state to legalize gay marriage?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Gay Marriage
April 15th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

What to do about rise in right-wing extremism?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Yet another sign that when economic times are tough, things can get ugly: A new report suggests that right-wing extremism in the U.S. may be on the rise. The Department of Homeland Security says these groups might be using the recession and the election of the country's first African-American president as tools to recruit members.

The Department of Homeland Security says membership in extremist groups like this may be increasing.

They say there's "no specific information" on planned violence by domestic right-wing terrorists; but real-estate foreclosures, unemployment and tight credit could all lead to a "fertile recruiting environment." There's even the possibility of confrontations between these groups and government authorities.

The report says many right-wing extremists are antagonistic toward President Obama and his perceived policies on issues like immigration, expanding social programs to minorities and restrictions on owning guns.

It also points to concerns about anti-Semitism, saying some people are blaming the loss of jobs and home foreclosures on a conspiracy planned by a "cabal of Jewish financial elites."

The report cites "lone wolves and small terrorist cells" as the biggest threat - because their low profile makes it hard to catch them before they act.

The Southern Poverty Law Center agrees that President Obama's election may have boosted membership in some groups, but questions the link to the economy.

Meanwhile at least one conservative radio talk show host suggests that this report is meant to step on free speech and First Amendment Rights - which the Department of Homeland Security denies. It's probably worth pointing out that the Obama administration also issued a warning about left-wing extremists in January.

Here's my question to you: What should be done about a potential increase in right-wing extremism?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?