Archive for the ‘Education/Schools’ Category

Free speech–the forgotten freedom

November 13th, 2015 4 comments

From a statement by the group Amherst Uprising:

5. President Martin must issue a statement to the Amherst College community at large that states we do not tolerate the actions of student(s) who posted the “All Lives Matter” and “Free Speech” posters. Also let the student body know that it was racially insensitive to the students of color on our college campus and beyond who are victim to racial harassment and death threats; alert them that Student Affairs may require them to go through the Disciplinary Process if a formal complaint is filed, and that they will be required to attend extensive training for racial and cultural competency.

6. President Martin must issue a statement of support for the revision of the Honor Code to reflect a zero-tolerance policy for racial insensitivity and hate speech.

According to the president of the Amherst College Republicans, the “All Lives Matter” posters were pro-life posters (or antiabortion posters, if you prefer).

These young upstarts really need to take a good look at themselves, then at the Constitution.  Right now I am ready to call to repeal the 26th Amendment.  That would be a good place to start.

“All lives matter” is hardly offensive.  Since when are the students running the colleges?


Mizzou: The drama continues and I have a new hero

November 12th, 2015 13 comments


Dale Brigham thought he was doing the right thing.

As anonymous death threats against minorities swirled on social media Tuesday night, setting the college town of Columbia, Mo., on edge, the bespectacled Mizzou professor began receiving e-mails from terrified students.

“Good Evening Professor Brigham,” wrote an African American student in Brigham’s Nutritional Science 1034 class. “There are online threats at our school warning the minorities to not step on campus tomorrow. I am scared for my life therefore, I will not be attending class tomorrow. When can I makeup the exam?”

[Ed. Note:  Translation:  I didn’t study for my exam because I was out being a drama king or queen.]

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Click Clack, you’re off the track–long live the first Amendment

November 10th, 2015 8 comments

The University of Missouri’s journalism school issued a statement Tuesday commending student journalist Tim Tai for his handling of a confrontation with protesters on campus that was captured on a widely spread video.

The school also distanced itself from the professor, Melissa Click, who was seen in the video calling for “muscle” to remove another journalist from the protest site. It also hinted that her work at the school may be in jeopardy.

“The Missouri School of Journalism is proud of photojournalism senior Tim Tai,” said David Kurpius, dean of the Missouri School of Journalism. “The news media have First Amendment rights to cover public events. Tai handled himself professionally and with poise.”

Click apologized Tuesday afternoon through a statement issued by the school: “I have reviewed and reflected upon the video of me that is circulating, and have written this statement to offer both apology and context of my actions.”

These students and staff have so much to learn.  Assault and battery is on-going.  Tim Tai is actually a student and has every right to be there.  Students really don’t have the right to set up perimeters.

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Phi Kappa Psi sues Rolling Stone for $25 million

November 9th, 2015 3 comments

The Phi Kappa Psi fraternity chapter at the University of Virginia filed a $25 million lawsuit Monday against Rolling Stone magazine, which published an article in 2014 that alleged a freshman was gang raped at the house during a party.

The lawsuit focuses on a Rolling Stone article titled “A Rape on Campus,” which detailed a harrowing attack on a freshman named Jackie at the Phi Psi house on Sept. 28, 2012. The article, written by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, described how Jackie was raped by seven men while two others watched in a second floor bedroom while a fraternity party raged downstairs. The article alleged that the attack was part of a hazing ritual at the long-time U-Va. fraternity.

The Washington Post found significant discrepancies in the Rolling Stone account, including that the fraternity did not host a party that night in 2012 and that a student identified by Jackie as her main attacker was never a member of the fraternity and did not attend U-Va.

That is a steep penalty for being careless and wrong.  I also jumped on the story on this blog.  I had little reason to not believe Rolling Stone.  I grew up 2 blocks from that frat house and I know bad things happen at UVA as well as most other campuses across this country.  I also had a friend gang raped while she was passed out at a college near Richmond,  back when I was in college.  Yes, it can and does happen.

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Cops on the loose: What really happened here?

October 27th, 2015 33 comments

This video asks a lot of questions. Let me ask a few.

Is the cop definitely wrong?
Would you feel differently if the student had been male?
Do we know what the student did?
Would you want your child’s instruction disrupted by this student or another student?
What would have been a better way to remove this student from the classroom?
Will incidents like this keep individuals from becoming public servants?

Watching TV today, I heard a number of people in the media pontificating on how horrible the police officer was.  I had a flash back to a few fairly evil students I had encountered over the years.  I found myself thinking, “walk a mile in my moccasins.”  Then I thought about the police officer.  I am sure he will be fired.  I can feel it.  (I hope I am wrong.)

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Where are the math texts in Prince William County?

September 28th, 2015 20 comments

From Prince William County School policy:

Purchasing Textbooks: It is the policy of the Prince William County School Board that in each core curriculum area there is at least one currently adopted textbook on the appropriate level available to every student.

Textbooks and related materials shall be approved by the School Board or the Associate Superintendent for Student Learning and Accountability before being purchased. The following purchasing procedures have been established to assist in procuring textbooks and instructional materials.
A. The following is a suggested purchase allocation for purchasing textbooks after the adoption approval:
1. First year – As many copies as budgeted funds will allow, but at least   50% of student enrollment.
2. Second year – complete total purchasing requirement according to the policy of one copy per student.
3. Third through sixth years – maintain ample copies of adopted textbooks to meet policy requirements, one copy per student.

That sounds to me like there shall be 1 copy of a textbook in core academic areas for every student.  This isn’t the state, this is Prince William County’s own policy.

PWC Schools are not following their own policy in math and haven’t been for several years.  I believe this is a cheating way for the individual schools to save money.  One classroom set of books is bought and that is the name of that tune.  No homework is given in the math book and to the best of my knowledge, most of the math texts do nothing but sit there and gather dust.

Students need to learn to read across the curriculum, including math instruction.  Students also need to have a math book if they need outside help.  Try tutoring a kid without a math book.  It’s fairly difficult to do unless you have a really good grasp of SOL curriculum.   Then you can pull problems out of thin air or rely on old textbooks if you have your own private stash.

Regardless, if you ask  around you will be hard pressed to find a kid who has been assigned his or her own math textbook to take back and forth to school.  Prince William County’s half-assed approach to providing every student with a math book violates their own policy and certainly does not conform to best practice in the field of education.

It’s time for the school system to stop cheating the kids and the tax payers and to assign each student a math textbook.   Yes, it’s getting personal now.  Come on Stonewall High School–get with the program.  Come on Reagan Middle and Stonewall Middle, get with the program.

You are not acting in the best interests of children.  You are handicapping students and creating innumeracy.

Those running for positions on the school board need to address this issue.


Where is the outrage over ” Little Johnny Maple Leaf?”

September 21st, 2015 21 comments

maple leaf

Earlier this school year, a sixth-grader in the gifted-and-talented program at Bedford Middle School in Bedford, Virginia was suspended for one year after an assistant principal found something that looked like a marijuana leaf in his backpack.

The student, the 11-year-old son of two school teachers, had to enroll in the district’s alternative education program and be homeschooled. He was evaluated by a psychiatrist for substance abuse problems, and charged with marijuana possession in juvenile court. In the months since September, he’s become withdrawn, depressed, and he suffers from panic attacks. He is worried his life is over, according to his mother, and that he will never get into college.

The only problem? The “leaf” found in the student’s backpack wasn’t what authorities thought it was — it tested negative for marijuana three separate times.

All of this is laid out in detail by Dan Casey in a column in the Roanoke Times today. While the juvenile court dropped its case against the student after the tests turned up negative, the school system, in a community located midway between Roanoke and Lynchburg, has been far less forgiving. That’s because stringent anti-drug policies in school districts in Virginia and elsewhere consider “imitation” drugs to be identical to real ones for disciplinary purposes.

Depriving a student of an education for a year does have a long-lasting, harmful effect.   It has better be done over something extremely important.  Most codes of behavior within the state speak of placebos–look-alike pills.  A leaf is not a pill.

Kids act silly about things that are forbidden.  So do adults.  I have continually joked that the Prince William County seal looks like it honors the marijuana plant even though I clearly know it does not.

So what if the kid said his maple leaf was “marijuana.”  Where is the harm?  I could even understand if the kid were hauled in and interrogated for an hour and his leaf sent off to some lab somewhere (maybe).  I could understand if his parents were called.  What I don’t understand is the kid being long-term suspended for a year  after the leaf tested negative three different times.

The article in the Roanoke Times is has not been found.  However, there is great coverage in some of the alternative newspapers. covered the entire story as did several other periodicals.

What is the difference in Ahmed and “Johnny Maple Leaf” some might ask.  The difference is the public safety as well as the degree of consequence.   A real marijuana leaf doesn’t have the potential to detonate.  Ahmed’s punishment lasted 3 days.  Johnny’s lasted a year.   Where is the outrage on behalf of Johnny Maple Leaf?

Disclosure:  I have a similar tree in my yard.


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I do NOT stand with Ahmed Mohamed

September 17th, 2015 70 comments

Ahmed Mohamed just wanted to impress his teachers with a homemade invention. The story of what happened next has made the 14-year-old from Irving, Tex., the object of national outrage and attention.

Eager to show off to his engineering teacher, Mohamed walked into MacArthur High School on Monday morning with his hastily assembled invention: A digital clock.

Hours later, the ninth-grader was escorted out of the school in police custody after teachers mistook the device for a bomb.

The incident has triggered allegations of racism and made a Texas school district the target of outrage that began online and quickly spilled into the most powerful offices in the land.

As the story spread, along with a photo of Mohamed in a NASA T-shirt and handcuffs, support came flooding in.

He was escorted out in handcuffs, not shot, for God’s sake. My criticism of the school and/or police is that hours later he was removed rather than immediately.

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What’s happened to the middle school text books in PWC?

March 10th, 2015 5 comments


During the  last joint session of the Prince William County School Board and the Board of Supervisors, Supervisors Lawson and Candland chose to pick a fight with the School Board over a budget flyer sent home.  I wish they had discussed the needs of the school board, especially as it relates to textbooks.

Disclosure:  up until 3 years ago I was a certified secondary math teacher so this is important to me and I think I know what I am talking about.  I also have grandchildren in PWC Schools.

Kids aren’t being issued textbooks.  I checked with my middle school grandson.  No math book.  I couldn’t get an answer about the other books.  I checked with friends who have kids in the school system.  Their kids don’t have text books in any of the subjects.  WTF?  There are classroom sets.

So I asked about homework.  It seems that kids have binders and worksheets.  Sorry.  That doesn’t cut it.  How on earth are our kids learning to read in the content areas?  Apparently they are not.  Reading in the content areas is a critical skill that people who move beyond high school must have to be successful.  If our SAT scores are coming up short, that is one place to immediately look.

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Where were the thundering hordes?

March 4th, 2015 12 comments

As I watched speaker after speaker go to the podium in the Supervisors chambers last night, requesting that the BOCS advertise a tax rate high enough to support the 5 year plan, I questioned my own sanity.  Where were the thundering hordes of people I had heard about?  You know, those people who wanted the tax rate frozen at some ridiculously low figure that would pretty much halt most progress in Prince William County.

Our house-mate suggested that I must have been listening to talking hand  sock puppets–that old propaganda trick of making people think that there were a lot more people out there than really exist.  Sometime after 9 pm, a lone man got up and asked for a 1.3% rise in taxes.  Actually, I think he thought that was even too much.  He was also plenty irate about the budget sheet that got sent home with each school kid.  I wonder if he got irate last year and the year before that?

Sending materials home with students is the main way the school system communicates between school and home.  It always has been.  Just because we live in an age of technology doesn’t mean that all parents have computers.  Even in households with computers, often the computers were bought for the kids to help them with their studies (forget enhancing their social life).  I don’t think some of our middle and upper middle class residents understand that everyone isn’t just like them.

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