Georgia O’Keefe, Michigan schools and vaginas

 

okeefe

Washingtonpost.com:

Any serious discussion of Georgia O’Keeffe’s work is bound to touch upon her provocative use of feminine imagery.

The great American painter is celebrated not only for her renditions of Southwestern landscapes and New York skyscrapers, but also for her iconic, colorful flowers. Despite repeated denials by the artist prior to her death 30 years ago, critics have long held that those flowers were overt allusions to female genitalia.

Allison Wint, a substitute teacher at a middle school in Battle Creek, Mich., told the Detroit Free Press that she was hoping to provoke a thoughtful dialogue about historical interpretations of O’Keeffe’s work on Friday when she used the word “vagina” during a discussion with eighth graders.

Now, Wint claims that the verbal reference to female anatomy — a word she freely admits to having used — has cost her a job at Harper Creek Middle School.

“Yes, I did say that word; however, I was saying it in the context of art history,” she told CBS affiliate WWMT. “I wasn’t being vulgar.”

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School board to re-write school naming and renaming policy

Bristowbeat.com:

Prince William School Board members are considering a policy change to change how schools are named or renamed.

The agenda item is a response to the renaming of Godwin Middle School. There was no regulation to guide the board through that process as  regulation 854-1 does not mention anything about renaming schools.

It does dictates how to name a new school or facility, saying community committees must be formed. Those committees present their recommendations to the school board, and the school board then names the schools by majority vote.

Wednesday, Gainesville school board member Alyson Satterwhite asked the board to extend the regulation to include the renaming existing schools and facilities.

“I felt like we needed to put something into policy, so if a renaming came up again, we would have a policy to follow.”

School Board members all agreed with Satterwhite that the community should be involved in any future school renamings, but some went a step further, suggesting other changes to the regulation as well.

Good on the school board for having this discussion, even though it is too little too late.  Their ineptitude last March caused irreparable fractures and damage  in our community.  However, the time to move on upon us.  How do we go forward?

Several members suggested that schools should not be named after living people.  Good idea.  It becomes a popularity contest.  Ms. Jessie disagreed, saying that the school would have never been named for Fannie Fitzgerald had the rule been written policy  that only the deceased could be considered.  How nice that Ms. Fitzgerald knew she had been honored.  She and the other 3 black teachers who were the trailblazers when PWC schools integrated  absolutely should be remembered for their bravery.

Another board member suggested that schools not be named for people at all.  Still another strongly urged the board to consider people closely tied to the education community.

The discussion has begun.  The community needs to give the school board their thoughts and direction.  There was merit in most of the comments I read.

The topic that was omitted was how to decide to rename schools.  That should be an important consideration and I suspect it will become the 2000 pound  elephant in the room.  I say we do not rename schools.  Should a compelling need arise, we need to do it with dignity and honor.  There was no point in the dishonor that was heaped on Mills Godwin.  It was inexcusable.

Where do we go from here and how do we a avoid the Godwin debacle in the future?

 

PWC Schools turf wars

From Prince William Times:

Issue leads to turf war among board members

Prince William County School board members fight over who calls the shots when it comes to visiting another member’s district.

Overstepping and a lack of interest by Prince William County School Board members regarding the Godwin Middle School name change were addressed at the board’s April 6 meeting.

Following the March 2 vote to rename Godwin after George M. Hampton, PWCS Chairman Ryan Sawyers, PWCS Occoquan Representative Lillie Jessie, and PWCS Neabsco Representative Diane Raulston met with Godwin faculty. The March 10 meeting focused on the name change and implementation. No information from that meeting has been released.

Godwin is in the Neabsco district and is represented by Raulston.

Community member Diana Allen spoke during the school board meeting’s Citizen’s Time on April 6. She said Raulston did not serve the Godwin community.

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Happy Pi Day 3.14

pi-berational

If you are just a little bit geeky, and I freely admit that I am, then today is the day to celebrate pi day.  Any recommendations?  I think I will go on my rant about people who brag that they are “dumb” in math.  No.  They are lazy in math.  Anyone can learn basic math.

How many people would willing brag that they are stupid at reading and writing?  None.  What’s the difference?  It’s all part of being literate and numerate.

 

 

What is Pi?  Pi is an irrational number (part of the Real numbers) that is ratio of circumference of a circle to the diameter of the same circle.

Today is my day:

Pi-symbol1

 

School board pulls a stealth end run, by-passing community input Pt. 2

potomaclocal.com:

Prince William County School Board Chairman Ryan Sawyers said the decision to rename the school was an idea that was born in an 11th-hour compromise during School Board meeting recess after two failed tied votes to name the elementary school after Wilson and Hampton, respectively.

Potomac District School Board member Justin Wilk proposed the idea. He called Godwin a “segregationist governor,” and noted the school’s student population to majority minority.

Godwin, from Suffolk, Va. was the first person to be elected to two terms as a Virginia Governor. During his term as Lt. Governor, Godwin was a Democrat who upheld “massive resistance” by denying black students entrance to public schools, which had been federally mandated.

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In Virginia: Opting your child out of reading sexually explicit books

beloved

Washingtonpost.com:

 Lawmakers in Virginia moved forward Thursday with legislation that could make it the first state in the country to allow parents to block their children from reading books in school that contain sexually explicit material.

The bill would require K-12 teachers to identify classroom materials with “sexually explicit content” and notify parents, who would have the right to “opt out” their children and request that the teacher give them something less objectionable to study.

Opponents call it a slippery slope toward book banning; advocates say it is a parent’s right to control their children’s exposure, even if the books are considered classics.

It all started with Laura Murphy, a Fairfax County woman who said she was horrified to discover that one of her sons, a high school senior, had been assigned to read the 1988 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “Beloved.”

The seminal work of fiction, by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, is about a former slave after the Civil War, and it contains scenes of bestiality and gang rape and an infant’s gruesome murder.

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Attempt to strip Byrd name from middle school

byrd

Washingtonpost.com:

A Virginia school board is studying whether to rename a middle school that is named after one of the architects of Massive Resistance, a set of policies that aggressively pushed back against court-ordered integration of public schools in the 1950s and 1960s.

Parents and students supporting the name change at Harry F. Byrd Middle School in Henrico County, just outside Richmond, are confounded that their school could be named for a man who fought to keep black and white students from attending school together. The school’s population is now about evenly split between white students and minorities; about 20 percent of its students are black.

 

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Justice Scalia: When does spoken bigotry end?

Cartoon by Rob Tornoe
Cartoon by Rob Tornoe

Huffingtonpost.com:

WASHINGTON — Do black students matter to Justice Antonin Scalia?

During oral arguments on Wednesday in Fisher v. University of Texas, a contentious affirmative action case, the conservative justice seemed to call their abilities into question.

“There are those who contend that it does not benefit African-Americans to get them into the University of Texas, where they do not do well,” Scalia said, “as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school … a slower-track school where they do well.”

Scalia was engaging former U.S. Solicitor General Gregory Garre, who is now representing the University of Texas at Austin as the school defends its ongoing consideration of race as one of many factors in its admissions program.

Pointing to a brief the court received before oral arguments, Scalia noted “most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas.”

Garre tried to interject, but the justice continued. “They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that … they’re being pushed ahead­­ in classes that are too fast for them,” Scalia said.

 

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Free speech–the forgotten freedom

Washingtonpost.com:

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

brigham

Washingtonpost.com:

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

Msn.com:

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

Washingtonpost.com:

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?

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?

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?”

maple leaf

Washingtonpost.com:

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. Inquistr.com 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.