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June 25, 2007

When You're In School, You Have No Rights

And apparently, according to the Alito Court, when you are out of school you also have no rights:

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court tightened limits on student speech Monday, ruling against a high school student and his 14-foot-long "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" banner.

Schools may prohibit student expression that can be interpreted as
advocating drug use, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court
in a 5-4 ruling.

Joseph Frederick unfurled his homemade sign on a winter morning in 2002,
as the Olympic torch made its way through Juneau, Alaska, en route to
the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Frederick said the banner was a nonsensical message that he first saw
on a snowboard. He intended the banner to proclaim his right to say
anything at all.

Gee, I wonder who those five justices were [/sarcasm]

God what a bullshit decision. The kid did his act when the school was dismissed so that the students could watch the Olympic torch pass. So now kids can be prosecuted for normally constitutional acts outside school hours? That's conservative, Constitution-trampling logic for you, and the last paragraph just made me grin a little:

Conservative groups that often are allied with the administration are backing Frederick out of concern that a ruling for Morse would let schools clamp down on religious expression, including speech that might oppose homosexuality or abortion.

Yep, in their zeal to put women's wombs under federal control and to reclassify gays as second-class citizens, they shot their own selves in the foot. Yes, let's round up all the hatemongering students of all stripes and expell them under this new empowerment of the public schools. They certainly deserve no less than what Fredricks had to go through because of their hard-on for authoritorianism.

Continue reading "When You're In School, You Have No Rights" »

May 17, 2007

Black Kid + Closely Cropped Haircut = Suspension

Yes, Pamela, it's about race. Black kids have had their hairs closely shaved since God knows when, and it hasn't become a problem until now. The school administrators could have easily used discretion on this matter, but instead have decided to be needlessly punitive. Remember, we still live in a country where black kids get in trouble for getting the answer right.

May 8, 2007

Harvard Grad Wins Minnesota Teacher Of The Year

No kidding:

Michael Smart said he is used to addressing groups of 20 to 25 students at a time, so it was understandable that his heart was racing when he stepped to the microphone on Sunday after being named the 2007 Minnesota Teacher of the Year.

. . .Smart gave his remarks in English, but he is just as comfortable conversing in Japanese, a subject he teaches at Robbinsdale Armstrong High School in Plymouth through Intermediate School District 287's Global Languages Program.

He also teaches online classes in Japanese.

Smart, a teacher for 20 years, was one of 11 finalists and one of 130 candidates for the annual award from Education Minnesota, which represents more than 70,000 educators.

Four Minnesota teachers who have won the award in its 43-year history have gone on to become the National Teacher of the Year.

"When I started teaching, I wanted to become a great teacher," said Smart, 45, of Golden Valley. "But classes went much better when I stopped focusing on becoming the best teacher I could be and started focusing on helping my students become the best students they could be."

In choosing Smart, Education Minnesota noted his use of nearly every available means to keep students engaged and involved, including interactive cable TV, videos, computers, the Internet, role playing and games to personalize learning.

"I love to see kids laughing. I love to see kids learning. When you have laughing, learning and bring relevance to the classroom it makes my job so easy it is a joy," he said.

Smart's enthusiasm for his subject and his students might explain why enrollment in his courses has jumped from 12 students in 1991 to more than 100 this year.

. . .Smart earned an economics degree from Harvard in 1984 and a master's degree in education from the University of Minnesota in 2003.

He spent four years teaching at the ECC Foreign Language Institute in Japan in the late 1980s and early 1990s before coming to Minnesota to teach Japanese to students at Cooper, Armstrong, Osseo, Park Center and Maple Grove high schools through District 287, a district created by 13 school districts in the Twin Cities area to provide specialized services.

Yes, it takes extra-ordinary people to be able to teach kids as effectively as he does. Especially in the public schools where you don't get to choose your students. But more often than not, extra-ordinary people tend not to get into the education business because of the high stress and low pay. Why the hell should you get a graduate degree for a job that pays, at best, bachelor degree wages? And look at this Michael Smart guy. He survives Marty Feldsteins class(es?) to get a degree in Economics and instead of becoming rich elected to impart his knowledge on high-school students. That is a rare breed indeed. But as long as we pay babysitters more than we do teachers, the Michael Smarts of the world will remain the exceptions that prove the rule.

February 27, 2007

What The Standardized Testing Mania Has Wrought.

Oy vey iz mir:

With schools under increasing pressure to improve test scores, Mount Diablo High School has resorted to a new way to motivate students: by race.

The Concord campus on Friday held separate assemblies for students of different ethnicities to talk about last year's test results and the upcoming slew of state exams this spring.

Jazz music and pictures of Martin Luther King greeted African-American students, whereas Filipino, Asian and Pacific Islander students saw flags of their foreign homelands on the walls. Latinos and white students each attended their own events, too, complete with statistics showing results for all ethnicities and grade level.

"They started off by saying jokingly, 'What up, white people,'" said freshman Megan Wiley, 14. Teachers flashed last year's test scores and told the white crowd of students to do better for the sake of their people.

"They got into, 'You should be proud of your race,'" Wiley said. "It was just weird."

Several parents later told the Times that the meetings smacked of segregation resurrected.

"Why did they have to divide the students by race?" said Filipino parent Claddy Dennis, mother of freshman Schenlly Dennis. "In this country, everybody is supposed to be treated equally. It sounds like racism to me."

Principal Bev Hansen said she held the student assemblies by ethnicity this year and last year to avoid one group harassing another based on their test scores. The 1,600-student campus, one of the most ethnically diverse high schools in the Mt. Diablo school district, is roughly half Latino, 30 percent white and 15 percent black, with Asian nationalities rounding out the mix.

Now why would the school do such a boneheaded thing like that? Oh. . .

Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, schools, school districts and states must report and are accountable for scores in reading and math for specific races, English learners, special-education students and economically disadvantaged students. All statistically significant groups must show continuous test score improvement.

"It shows that there's so much pressure to raise test scores that teachers and administrators are trying to do anything they can," [President of the National Center on Education Policy Jack] Jennings said. "Sometimes what they choose is not very wise."

All I have to say about this is, go whites!