Archive for ‘Education Bites’

October 14th, 2008

Chicago’s “Gay-Friendly” High School

by Venomous Kate

Faced with harassment and violence against openly gay students, which leads to increased dropout rates, Chicago’s public school officials are considering the creation of a “gay-friendly” high school. The school isn’t the first of its kind. New York’s Harvey Milk High School similarly focuses on gay students, although it limits admissions to those at risk for dropping out.

Currently named Pride School, the building would be attached to the School for Social Justice. It would also not be an all-gay school, in part because federal law prohibits school administrators from asking students about their sexual orientation.

The School for Social Justice Pride Campus, which officials say will not be exclusive to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, is aimed at being safe and welcoming for any student looking for another school option, said Josh Edelman, executive officer in the Chicago Public Schools’ Office of New Schools.

Of course, the open-enrollment policy begs the question: if school officials can’t prevent anti-gay violence in other public schools, how can they prevent it in this one? Granted, social norms might be different in a primarily gay school, but isn’t there just as big a risk that straight students enrolled there would become the new targets?

September 23rd, 2008

5th Grader Suspended For Anti-Obama Shirt

by Venomous Kate

Fifth grader Daxx Dalton suspended over anti-Obama t-shirt When Aurora Frontier K-8 School in Aurora, Colorado told students to show their patriotism by wearing red, white and blue shirts, apparently they meant only shirts the administration agreed with.

That’s what fifth grader Daxx Dalton learned when he wore a homemade anti-Obama t-shirt to school. (That’s the shirt on the left.) The school told him to turn the thing inside-out, and when Daxx didn’t they suspended him.

“They’re taking away my right of freedom of speech,” he said. “If I have the right to wear this shirt I’m going to use it. And if the only way to use it is get suspended, then I’m going to get suspended.”

The school district claims Daxx wasn’t suspended for exercising his right to free speech but, rather, for “willful disobedience and defiance” when he wouldn’t wear it inside out.

Frankly, I think this calls for an entirely new t-shirt:

Free Daxx Dalton

June 13th, 2008

High School’s Object Lesson Went Too Far

by Venomous Kate

Highway patrol officers and school officials at El Camino High School in Oceanside, California, wanted to teach teens about the consequences of drinking and driving, how it’s not just those committing the crime who are affected, how those left behind after a drunk-driving accident will forever be changed. So on a Monday morning last month the patrol officers entered 20 classrooms in the school to tell students that one of their peers had been killed in a drunk-driving accident over the weekend.

Not surprisingly, students freaked out.

As a parent of a teenage girl, I can only imagine. At that age, they go hy-freaking-sterical over just about anything: my daughter cried for hours when Flower died on Meerkat Manor last season, and the way she carried on over Heath Ledger’s tragic death would’ve made you think she personally knew the guy. (She did not. In fact, she remembered him as “that guy in the medieval movie with the rock music who kissed the other dude.”)

From that I can infer that her reaction — and those of other girls like her — upon hearing that a classmate had been killed would make the professional mourners in 14th century Spain look stoic. Except my daughters’ grief would be real, just as it was for those kids at El Camino High who didn’t know the whole thing was a hoax.

School officials say that was the point of the whole exercise: “They were traumatized, but we wanted them to be traumatized,” said the school counselor. In fact, they’d intended for the kids to remain upset all day long until an assembly was called, at which point the administration would inform the kids of the truth.

But some teachers (you know, those folks who actually deal with kids face-to-face instead of sitting in their administrative offices thinking up Bright Fucking Ideas like this one) realized the teens were more than just a little upset, so they explained that the whole thing was a demonstration in order to calm the kids down.

No doubt those teachers recognized something the administrators and counselors should know already: kids who are freaking out don’t learn a thing, and kids who feel tricked aren’t going to remember why someone tricked them. So all that emotional manipulation ultimately amounted to nothing… except a whole bunch of traumatized kids.

June 6th, 2008

Diploma Honors “Educaiton”

by Venomous Kate

It’s a pretty sad commentary about the state of our educational system when administrators make spelling errors on high school diplomas. Twice.

A Cleveland-area principal says he’s embarrassed his students got proof of their “educaiton” on their high school diplomas.

Westlake High School officials misspelled “education” on the diplomas distributed last weekend. It’s been the subject of mockery on local radio.

Principal Timothy Freeman says he sent back the diplomas once to correct another error. When the diplomas came back, no one bothered to check things they thought were right the first time.

Yeah, Cleveland rawks all right.

April 9th, 2008

Dear Little Dipshit…

by Venomous Kate

Dear Little 13-year-old Dipshit Who Rang My Doorbell at 3:47 p.m. today:

I realize that someone probably taught you that Americans love the “get up and go” spirit, hence you decided to blow off doing your homework after school to sell candy bars for your class trip fund raiser.

That same person would no doubt have advised you not to actually be eating one of those candy bars when you shoved your grimy, chocolate-streaked finger repeatedly on my doorbell, then smacked your lips throughout your 30-second spiel on why I should pay $5 for a bar of stale chocolate.

I also realize that your mom and dad must have been busy working, which is no doubt why your teenage sister (?) sat in her car dripping oil on my driveway while bobbing her head senselessly as 50 Cent thud-thud-thudded loudly on her crappy stereo system. As for her halter top (it’s only 58 degrees out, girl) and ebullient makeup, well, I’ll just assume she’s on her way to a costume party.

Let me just assure you, that was not why I refused to buy your candy.

The thing is, Dear Dipshit, that sign above the doorbell reads “No Soliciting”, which is precisely what you were doing.

No, I’m not surprised you don’t know what that word means. You are, after all, a product of the very public school system which now has you out pounding pavement to hawk products for them.

So, to make a long story short, Dear Dipshit, I didn’t buy the candy from you because, from what I can see of you and your lineage, the last thing you need is to be spending time away from the classroom. Go hit the books, kid. And tell your sister to do the same so she doesn’t have to resort to soliciting someday soon, too.

The Crabby Lady On the Cul-De-Sac

UPDATE: Jeff has a warning for parents who send their fund-raising kids his direction. Geez, and they call me ‘Venomous’.

September 10th, 2007

Race-Based School Choice?

by Venomous Kate

San Francisco, that bastion of liberal “rainbow” politics, has a nasty little secret to hide when it comes to how parents choose the schools their children will attend.

A recent study of the city’s school choice program — which allows families to rank their preferred schools and then usually grants admission to one of the top two choices — shows that parents don’t like to send their kids to a school with a large number of African-American students. Of course, none of the parents actually came out and said as much: instead, a study using regression analysis isolated various factors such as income and skin color.

If anything, this is an accepted fact among those who work in education. School board member Kim-Shree Maufas, who is the first African American member of the board in 10 years, says, “It doesn’t surprise me.”

“I recognize it and am very disturbed that people are selecting on that basis,” Maufas says. “But I’m on to thinking about the next step.”

That’s the tough part – doing something to change perceptions. As Sanchez says, not only is race a difficult and sensitive topic, most parents don’t even want to discuss it.

“And they especially don’t want to talk about it if they are going to be blamed,” Sanchez says. “We are not saying you are a bad person if you didn’t choose these schools.”

Whether a conscious decision or not, the statistics confirm that parental school choice manifests itself in race-based discrimination, perhaps on the basis of perceptions the study itself was not examining. And that selectiveness is something that educators throughout the nation need to consider, since it is no doubt taken into account by parents living in cities without school choice programs like San Fransico’s. In those places, parents investigate schools while choosing to decide where to live.

One proposal to deal with this problem in San Francisco involves giving kids “extra points” during the college admission process if they attended a school with a large percentage of African-American students. That plan’s proponent claims such a bonus would mean “People would be beating down the doors to get in.”

What say you?

March 13th, 2007

Short On Time?

by Venomous Kate

With very little time on my hands these days, my reading routine has definitely taken a backseat to activities like getting my garden ready for spring. So I was tickled to run into Squashed Philosophers today.

Covering the thinkers who influenced Western philosophy, this site condenses great books from their original length to as little as 5 minutes reading (Epicurus’s Sovran Maxims) up to slightly over an hour (Plato’s Republic).

Sure, it’s not the same thing as reading the original, but to badly butcher Frost, it is better to have read condensed than never to have read at all.

March 2nd, 2007

Conservapedia: A Conservative Encyclopedia

by Venomous Kate

There’s a new wiki-based encyclopedia on the web, and this one’s for the Right. Conservapedia was created in response to the perceived bias in Wikipedia:

Conservapedia is a much-needed alternative to Wikipedia, which is increasingly anti-Christian and anti-American. On Wikipedia, many of the dates are provided in the anti-Christian “C.E.” instead of “A.D.”, which Conservapedia uses. Christianity receives no credit for the great advances and discoveries it inspired, such as those of the Renaissance.[…]

Conservapedia is an online resource and meeting place where we favor Christianity and America. Conservapedia has easy-to-use indexes to facilitate review of topics. You will much prefer using Conservapedia compared to Wikipedia if you want concise answers free of “political correctness”.

The project was created by a “large, advanced group” of New Jersey homeschoolers in November 2006 — as if I needed another reason to like it!