Former CEO of the third largest school system in the US to plead guilty to corruption

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In a story that is sure to surprise everyone nobody, the former CEO of Chicago Public Schools plans to plead guilty to awarding over $23MM in no bid contracts to “education” companies in return for kickbacks and bribes.  Rahm Emmanuel chose Barbara Byrd-Bennett to run CPS in 2012, and apparently she wasted very little time before the scheming began, according to prosecutors.  The embattled Chicago mayor reported back in 2012 that he was proud of his selection of Byrd-Bennett at a salary of $250k per year.  Dozens of schools have been closed since 2012 due to budget concerns.  Now we cant really say how much this scandal cost the school system, but according to the story they had enough to offer Byrd-Bennett a “signing bonus” worth 10% of the overall contract value, on top of the other perks she received over the years.  I wonder how many schools would still be open if that %2.5MM+ was still in the budget instead of being included in the no-bid contracts.

Here is the story on Yahoo News

Irving Student Arrested for bringing home-made clock to school

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clockkid

And the hits just keep on coming folks!  According to this story in the Dallas News, a fourteen year old boy who invents things with spare parts at his home, decided to bring a homemade clock to school to show his engineering teacher.  When the clock’s alarm went off in another class, his English teacher took the clock and said it looked like a bomb.  Ahmed told her it was a clock but she kept it anyway.  He was then pulled out of a later class by the principal and a police officer.  Now to this point I don’t have a problem with the way the incident was handled, there was a concerned teacher, the principal got involved and further involved the authorities to get to the bottom of the situation.  But its what happens next that got me so pissed off I couldn’t even post this on the blog yesterday.

Ahmed was lead to a room where four additional officers waited to interrogate him.  I’m not sure of the laws in Texas but I would think a parent or attorney needs to be present prior to this kid being questioned.  That’s strike one.  Ahmed maintained the device was a clock.  The police stated that he wouldn’t give additional details, what more could he say.  “Its not a bomb, its a clock.”…”you sure its not a bomb?”…”No, look at it, Its a clock.”  Then the principal threatened to expel him if he didn’t make a written statement.  Strike two.  Then the kid is handcuffed, led from the school in front of his peers and teachers by two officers, and arrested for possession of a “hoax bomb.”  Strike Three.  Then they take him to Juvenile Detention and fingerprint him.  Strike four.

I’m not going to add additional comments to the fact that he is Muslim, as many in the local community are, because none of the above should happen to ANY child.  According to the family Ahmed was also suspended for three days.  There has been an absolute social media firestorm with his sisters creating @IStandWithAhmed to which President Obama, MIT, GE, Mark Zuckerburg, Twitter, NASA, UT Austin, and others have extended invitations to visit, and NASA has awarded him a Space Camp Scholarship.

I’m not big on litigation, but if this were one of my daughters I think I’d be speaking to a lawyer about teaching the school system and the responding officers a lesson in stupidity.

Fort Wayne teacher is sued for allegedly disciplining student for not believing in God.

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churchstateIn a lawsuit filed in June, a Fort Wayne Elementary school teacher is accused of disciplining one of her students over his comments on religion.

The second grade student, identified as A.B., was asked by another child if he went to church.  When he responded that he didn’t because he didn’t believe in God, the other child’s feelings were hurt so they reported the hurt feelings to their teacher.  Their teacher ordered A.B to sit alone at lunch for three days and not talk to other students lest he offend them as well.  Additionally, another school employee told the girls with the hurt feelings, with A.B. present, that she should be happy she has faith and that she doesn’t have to listen to A.B. s bad ideas!

For two adults employed by a school system to publicly shame and ostracize a second grader because he has differing religious beliefs is unconscionable!  The school district released a statement in August, two months after the lawsuit was filed, referencing a supposed investigation back in March:

Our investigation in March found she acted appropriately in dealing with an issue between students in a significantly different manner than detailed in the lawsuit. As a school district, we feel we must defend and protect the reputation of our staff when members are being unfairly maligned.

I’m going to be watching this one to see if the kid and his mother are full of it or if the school system is.

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Seattle teachers go on strike, City claims no more money.

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Seattle teachers are on strike, so 53,000 children are out of school for the second week.  Can we all just agree that the system is broken beyond repair?  In the land of Microsoft, Google, and Amazon…do we really need to continue sending kids to brick and mortar schools that fail them in every measurable way?

Lets set the table here:

Seattle has been one of the fastest growing cities in the US over the past few years, adding tens of thousands of high tech, high paying jobs.  A quick search on www.glassdoor.com finds Google and Boeing paying between $100k and 170k depending on experience.  The cost of housing is skyrocketing in Seattle, the mediam rental price is nearly double the national average.  I would imagine that the tax base is exploding, just as school enrollment is.  SO where is the money?

A recently opened elementary school in Seattle had 1/2 of its classroom footprint in portable buildings on day one; Vastly overburdening the facilities such as cafeteria and lunchroom, while having no library, before or after school programs, computer lab, music room, art room, or preschool.  Ill give you one guess as to whether this school is in the high or low income area of the city…

In 2007 the annual decline ended and since 2008 Enrollment has jumped by 7000 students, and they are projecting 60k students by 2020.

So now the teachers want to see some salary increases in line with the new cost of living in the neighborhoods where they teach.  According to this story:

The city is having a housing crisis because more than 40 percent of the new jobs in the region are with Amazon or Boeing, and their starting salaries are twice as much as an experienced teacher, Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata said.

“That means the people who are educating our children are finding it difficult to live in the city where the children they teach live,” he said.

Now lets recap, you have a city that is swimming in new jobs, high wages, new tax money, and a phased in Minimum Wage hike to $15.  At the same time teachers who average $67k per year to teach in overflowing classrooms for 6.1 hours per day over 9 months say they cant afford to live where they teach.  Oh by the way the Seattle Supreme court ruled recently that Charter schools are unconstitutional…

 

Duncanville Soph. nails it, “If you would just get up and teach them instead of handing them a freakin packet, yo. There’s kids in here that don’t learn like that.”

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The Jeff Bliss situation has really highlighted some problems inherent to the system on multiple levels.  This video from 2013 shows Duncanville, TX student Jeff Bliss telling off his teacher for being lazy and teaching by “handing out packets” rather than “touching hearts.”  While this video is a bit old it has been getting some play again recently as more and more people speak out against standardized tests.

The first thing I thought about this video is wow, here is a sophomore standing up for his beliefs regarding education and how awful for the teacher to respond by saying “Bye.” over and over again.  After some research I found some other things that were interesting.  Firstly  Mr. Bliss was an 18 year old Sophomore due to initially failing 9th grade and then dropping out.  I thought it was very impressive that he decided to go back to school but I think that he should have been enrolled in an alternative school or adult education classes rather than just going back to High School where he would be 3 years older than his classmates.  The school system could have done a better job setting Mr. Bliss up to succeed after his change of heart regarding his education.  Instead they take the path of least resistance and end up alienating him.

I think that the fact that the teacher didn’t even think about handling the situation, reinforces his opinion that she is lazy.  A good educator would have seized this as a teachable moment, perhaps discussed with Jeff the realities of teaching in this age of standardized testing, offered to help him find additional help, or at the very least offered to bring an administrator in to have the discussion rather than just booting him from class.  I think its ironic that he is trying to teach her, and she thinks he is “wasting her time”.

The again, during this Follow up interview with Jeff , the self righteous superintendent tries to make us believe that the teacher cared so much about the student she went to the principals office and worked it all out, and Jeff returned to class.  But that doesn’t really jive with Jeff’s statement that she was trying to cover her butt, or the fact that she was suspended.

In an unrelated note, about 18 months later a teacher from the same school resigned after inviting “dumb duck ass crackers” to kill themselves.

What do you think about Jeff’s monologue, or the way the school handled it?

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Hair Length Paramount for Promoting “a positive learning environment.”…but only for Boys

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A Rapides Parish, LA 5th grader’s suspension from school due to his hair length has been upheld by the three person School Board.  According to the policy, hair may be no longer than chin length in the back or 3 inches on top for male students.  It seems at least one of the board members agrees that the policy needs revision.

Board member Stephen Chapman didn’t seem to disagree, but his vote Thursday reflected a timing issue.

“This case is a snapshot in time,” said Chapman, who was appointed to take John Allen’s place at the meeting due to medical reasons. Allen also was absent from the full board meeting Tuesday.

Chapman said the decision came down to enforcing the policy as it stands. But it might not stand as is for long.

“It will be addressed before next year,” Chapman said. “This was not the appropriate way to do it with a specific case.”

Policy changes require a majority vote from the full board. A committee of the board annually reviews such policies.

So once again the education needs of one of their students is less important than policy and procedure.  My one issue with this is that the family tried to turn this into a religious expression argument.  They claim the student grows his hair out because Jesus inspires him.  Now that may be absolutely the case, but this policy should be stricken down on grounds that it is immaterial to the ability of the teacher to do his/her job in educating students rather than trying to muddy the water with a religious expression argument.  When asked about her opinion of the policy, the principal Rebecca Warren stated, “”I think it instills discipline, fosters respect for authority and promotes a positive learning environment,”.

Here is the story

5-year-old forced to sign anti-suicide, anti-homicide contract after drawing gun

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Editors Opinion – While the past record might make it seem impossible, it does appear that the intelligence of school administrators is actually continuing to degrade, possibly by the day, may be in even by the hour.  While people are focused right now on the “Ebola Alert” for a disease less likely to kill you then say being eaten by a shark, perhaps we should instead focus on a true epidemic?

Of course I am referring to the epidemic of rapidly spreading, growing and expanding stupidity among the people running our schools.  Personally if this was my child I would sue the shit out of this school district for two things.

1.  Traumatizing my child for something that was clearly not a threat or any danger to anyone.

2.  Requiring my child to sign a “unenforceable and illegal contract” specifically as a minor with no informing of the child’s guardian.

So here you go, the latest proof that devolution is just as probable as evolution…

Source Alabamas13.com

MOBILE, AL – An Alabama mother is furious that her 5-year-old daughter was forced to sign a school contract stating she wouldn’t kill herself or anyone else at school.

School officials told Rebecca, who did not want to give her last name, they had to send 5-year-old Elizabeth home after an incident in class.

“They told me she drew something that resembled a gun. According to them she pointed a crayon at another student and said ‘pew pew’,” Rebecca explained.

Read the Rest and see the Video Report at Alabamas13.com

Marion County Board of Education Suspends 2 NMHS Teachers – OVER THREE LEGGED RACE

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Editors Opinion – When I started this site I wondered if it would have enough material.  I started this site because it seemed at least weekly I got something really stupid in my in box or on facebook about what schools were doing.  Still I wondered was there really this much stupidity or was I just over reacting to a few examples.   Sadly I don’t think I will run out of material anytime soon!

When I saw this one all I could thinks was FACE PALM.  Over a three legged race?  When I was in school this was part of every field day, carnival, church picnic, etc.  I really don’t have much more to say.  Wake the hell up America!  Please note while the report only says the students were “tied together” I have a direct report from a parent that this tying together was in fact for the dreaded three legged race!

Source – WBOY.COM

“The Marion County Board of Education met Monday night and the hot button issue on the agenda was the proposed suspension of two North Marion High School English teachers.

The Board of Education launched an investigation in August, after a “team building group exercise” left students with various injuries.  Emotions ran high as parents, teachers, and local unions expressed their disapproval after the Board unanimously voted to approve Superintendent Gary Price’s motion to suspend the teachers, April Gilpin and Kristin DeVaul, for one day without pay. “

Read the Rest at WBOY.COM

Washington school district deems swings dangerous

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Editors Opinion – Can swings be dangerous?  Sure back when I was a kid my sister ran in front of some swings and got hit in the head.  These were the OLD SCHOOL thick heavy swings made of solid wood.  She ended up with a few stitches over her right eye.  Soon after in the name of safety the park changed to “modern style” swings, the soft ones  that form around your butt.  We didn’t like them as much because they were harder to jump off of when you were swinging.   The other boys and I used to have a competition, who could jump the farthest on a forward swing.

I think both parents who sue if Johnny or Susie even skin a knee are to blame here as well as our teacup educational system.  The truth is simple, getting hurt is part of being a kid.  When I was a kid I skinned knees, shoulders and elbows at least a few times a year.  I broke a bone or two as well.  You can still see a slight deformity on two fingers of my left hand from a bike wreck.  These tea cup parents and over reactive educational administrators need to understand something.  These kids have to grow up and eventually go to work, when they do likely they will be working for people like myself.

I can tell you it doesn’t work out well for them.  Right now what is happening is clear, at both the parental and educational level, children are being robbed of the right to be children.  Cuts, bumps, bruises and scrapes are part of being a kid.  This doesn’t mean we don’t put in basic common sense safety where we can, like soft floor swings for example.  It does mean we need to once again let kids experience pain and injury while they are young enough to learn from it and small enough to in generally not be truly harmed by it.  I have to say now in my 40’s some of the spills I took would be a lot more harmful today, than when I was a kid.  Childhood is about learning and exploration and on some level injuries are part of that experience.

Source – Blog.SFGate.com

“A school district in Washington state is pulling out the swings at all schools because of pressure from insurance companies over liability, according to KEPR-TV.

Richland School District has already torn out swings at some schools and they’re fast-tracking an effort to remove them all.

“As schools get modernized or renovated or as we’re doing work on the playground equipment, we’ll take out the swings, it’s just really a safety issue, swings have been determined to be the most unsafe of all the playground equipment on a playground,” Richland School District’s Steve Aagard told KEPR-TV.

Labeling swings as dangerous seems to be part of this greater movement in America to make playgrounds excessively safe. Cement is being replaced with rubber surfacing or cedar chips to soften falls. Tall towers and walls are torn down to make way for tamer, low-lying structures. See-saws and merry-go-rounds are a thing of the past.

The modern-day structures are so safe that moms and dads can comfortably talk on their cell phones while their kids run amok–yet they’re also so safe that kids get bored of the equipment by the time they reach age 7.

Children need equipment that challenges them physically and teaches them how to navigate tricky situations. If a kid never figures out how to climb down a tall ladder or hang onto a merry-go-round that’s spinning him around at 5 mph, how’s he ever going to navigate the real world? The “dangerous” situations kids encounter at playgrounds help build common sense.”

Read more at Blog.SFGate.com

Student Suspended for Selling Illicit “Full-Sugar” Pepsi Out of His Locker

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Editors Opinion – I am willing to be more then a case of Pepsi that this schools cafeteria serves Chocolate Milk and considers it healthy.  This is in spite of the fact that a single serving of chocolate milk in a school has a total of 4 added teaspoons of sugar.  In fact ounce for ounce chocolate milk has more sugar than Pepsi or Coke.  You can learn more about how much sugar we feed our children in flavored milk here.

So what is the solution here?  Put the decision back into parents hands.  Let kids eat and drink what they want if parents provide it do them.  They are of course the parents children, not the states, right?  The mom was right, it was a good business move!  We should ask why though.  Without the prohibition there would be no such opportunity.  There is a lesson to be learned there, a big one.

Source Reason.com

Alberta high school student Keenan Shaw was suspended for two days after he got caught selling an illicit substance from his locker at Winston Churchill his school. Weed? Nope. Booze? Nope. Acid? Nope.

Shaw says all those treats (and more) are on offer in the school’s corridors:

“I’m not going to name any names, but I know a couple of people selling marijuana, there’s kids selling smokes, there was a kid last year selling meth, as well as a kid selling acid,” said Shaw.

But his drug of choice is full-sugar Pepsi. Commerce in the sweet, sweet drink is banned at his school, which allows only diet sodas to be sold on premises.

Read the Rest at Reason.com

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