Low Grades for Wisconsin Schools

And now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Cutting Class

Just days after Wisconsin teachers forced school closings so they could engage in protest marches, we learn that two-thirds of the eighth graders in the state's public schools cannot read proficiently.

The Education Department says only 34 percent of those students earned a proficient rating or better -- that's 4 percent higher than the national average. The other 66 percent earned a rating at or below basic.

Tests show the reading abilities of those students have improved by only a single percentage point since 1998, despite a significant increase in spending per pupil.

Phone Flap

A military mom in Tennessee has been given an apology by her employer after originally being given a suspension for answering a phone call during work hours.

Teresa Danford's son is a Marine deployed to Afghanistan. He only gets to call home about once a month. So she didn't think twice about answering the phone, but that decision broke the company's no-cell phone rule. It resulted in a three-day suspension without pay. Factory managers said if it happened again they would fire her.

After the subsequent public outcry, Crane Interiors revised its no-phone policy and agreed to pay Danford for the days she did not work.

Status Update

A lot of parents are worried about their children being on Facebook, but one Egyptian man decided to name his first born daughter after the social networking site.

Al-Ahram newspaper reports the man wanted to pay tribute to Facebook for its role in organizing the protests that ousted Hosni Mubarak from power. So he named his daughter Facebook Jamal Ibrahim.

You Name It

And speaking of names, Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi has a number of titles that were either given to him or he chose.

They include: Imam of Muslims; Dean of Arab Rulers; Keeper of Arab Nationalism; King of Kings -- and Grapevine's favorite and this is real -- Mad Dog of the Middle East.