IS IT JUST US, or did 2007 produce a bumper crop of bad parents?

It seems that over the past few months, we've read far too many sad stories featuring mothers and fathers whose poor parenting skills have had a direct, and sometimes deadly, impact on their children.

So, as the year winds down and critics publish their "best of 2007" lists, here are our nominees for Best Bad Parents of the Year:

_ Danielle Cattie: She allows her daughter, Ebony Dorsey, 14, an honor student, to baby-sit her boyfriend's 4-year-old daughter overnight at his house . . . the one he shares with his wife. Police say that after doing drugs with Cattie, the boyfriend, Mark O'Donnell, returns home and kills Dorsey. He claims Dorsey was abusing his little girl. Cattie, of Ambler, has been charged with endangering the welfare of children, possession of a controlled substance and related charges.

* Michele Cossey: She's accused of buying her

troubled son, Dillon, 14, weapons including a .22-caliber handgun, a 9 mm semiautomatic and a .22-caller rifle. Dillon planned a Columbine-style shooting at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School, but alas, had no ammunition.

* Leon Caldwell Sr.: He deserted his family in 1973

and wasn't heard from again until the estate of his son Kenneth, who died in the 9/11 attack, stood to get $2.9 million from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. A New York surrogate judge ruled against Leon.

* Djuan Boyd, 24, the father of the 4-year-old

who accidentally killed himself using an illegal gun of his father's that he found in the house. Boyd is a convicted gun felon with multiple drug-dealing arrests. His boy, Dyshon, shot himself in the neck and died an hour later.

Maybe we should forget "No Child Left Behind," and start funding an educational program called "No Parent Left Behind." Instead of math and reading scores, would-be parents must score high in categories such as "common sense," "maturity," "patience" and "role model." Maybe throw in a couple of psychiatric tests, just to be safe.

First enrollee: Jamie Lynn Spears, the 16-year-old sister of bad-mother icon Britney Spears and who has just announced her pregnancy.

Kids don't come into this world filled with hate or fear or a desire to buy guns. Those wants are learned, often at home. But it is often left to social-service agencies, the schools, prisons and drug-

rehab centers to clean up the mess. *