Teacher dressed up as pirate prompted Richlands lockdown

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While I am all for protecting our children, and have no problem with locking down schools in order to protect children during a dangerous situation, this seems a bit stupid to me.  In a story from 2014, we find that four schools in North Carolina were shut down because a teacher who dresses up like a pirate each year to celebrate “pirate week” was mistaken for a man in an olive drab shirt, camo pants, and a gun on his hip.  Come on man!  Are these the type of people we want teaching our students?  In this case the person who reported the suspicious activity was a cafeteria worker, but I think it shows the underlying culture of stupidity built into the system.

Here is the story with updates

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

Ze couldnt make this up if Ze wanted to. UT advises dropping gender specific pronouns.

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OK Folks, this is real. The University of Tennessee in Knoxville’s office for Diversity and Inclusion suggested in their August 2015 Newsletter that Students and Professors stop using “he” and “she” and use gender neutral pronouns such as “ze” instead.  When meeting someone new they suggest asking what pronoun to use.

How do you know what pronoun someone uses? If you cannot use the methods mentioned above, you can always politely ask. “Oh, nice to meet you, [insert name]. What pronouns should I use?” is a perfectly fine question to ask.

I’m sorry but if someone comes up to me and asks me what pronoun I am they are getting cussed out.  I’m pretty obviously a “he”.  If I call someone a he or she and they tell me that they prefer another pronoun, no problem whatsoever.  I respect your gender identity and if I get it wrong, my bad, it will only happen once.

Gary Gates of the Williams Institute at UCLA released a report in 2011 estimating Transgender as 0.3% of the population in the US.  So a school with 30,030 undergrads in 2015 is supposed to rewrite their vocabulary in order to make approximately 90 students not feel excluded.  I’ve met two transgender folks in my lifetime and one of them self identified as a he and the other as a she…and it was pretty obvious which was which when talking to them because they dressed and acted in line with their gender identification.  So in reality we can probably take that 90 and at least cut it in half.

The school did clarify their position stating the use of these new pronouns wasn’t a mandate,  but I think we are walking a slippery slope when we even think that pronoun usage is somehow inclusive or exclusive.  My favorite part is when they try to equate using ‘she’ with calling a mentally disabled person ‘retarded’.  I’m going to resist the urge to point out the irony there, I’ll just say that I learned in first grade the difference between an adjective and a pronoun.

Here’s the news report.

Editorial: Standardized Testing, Cheating, and Cognitive Dissonance

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Opponents of  the Elementary and Secondary Education Act(No Child Left Behind/Common Core/other Educational Programs based on politics and math rather than reality) argue that unrealistic expectations are placed on educators and their power to exercise any professional judgement is eliminated leaving them to instead teach to the test and, as we are seeing left and right, cheat to meet standards.

I wont go into the myriad of studies for and against just about everything, by “researchers” typically paid and selected by one side or the other for the expressed purpose of reinforcing their own claims.  Instead I will tell the story of some students and educators at Parks Middle School in Atlanta, GA–my hometown.

One of the biggest NCLB cheating scandals involved Atlanta Public Schools, and came to a head last year when the former principal and a testing coordinator plead guilty to cheating in order to meet “unattainable” goals set forth by Beverly Hall, the former APS Superintendent.  You see, depending on where they are in the chain of command, successfully delivering improvement and high scores on these standardized tests leads to big time bonuses.  Hall received more than $580k in bonuses in the 12 years she was in that position(disclaimer-those weren’t tied entirely to test scores although board members have stated the annual improvement played a big role in the decision to award the bonuses)

Now lets take the case of an imaginary 8th grader at Parks for the 2013-2014 school year, which was the year in which all students should be at the proficiency level-as measured by annual testing.  This student entered kindergarten in 2005, the second school year that NCLB was in effect.  Cheating became widespread among the feeder elementary schools to Parks in order to meet NCLB goals.  On an annual basis, children took their tests after spending the year being taught how to take the test and being taught the mechanics of math for example, but not the application of those mechanics.  Teachers would then conspire with the testing coordinators to change certain students answers to ensure they met the preset goals.  Each year our imaginary student was passed to the next grade even though they had not retained the required proficiency levels.

When she reached Parks Middle School(previously a school that had made great gains against all odds, and according to teachers had done so on the up and up until Christopher Waller became the principal in 2004) teachers couldn’t understand how these students could possibly be in the 6th grade when they could barely read.

Waller quickly realized that “all decisions have to be made by data–you have to be baptized in it.” based on district memos and meetings.  Each year a bigger and bigger emphasis was put on test scores.  Not only to meet but to exceed the standards.  Teachers who had poured their life’s work into education were either fired for not getting on “the train” or intellectually beaten into submission.  It became a regular occurrence for multiple teachers to pour over dozens of tests, changing answers to ensure passing grades.  Obviously, each year our imaginary student is lauded for exemplary performance, gets to attend pizza and ice cream parties for the school achieving its goals, gets a T-shirt for being a member of a “Blue Ribbon School” and is told how awesome they are.  Now early on the child believes the BS, they trust their teachers and they want to make their parents happy and proud.  But as they get older and they struggle more and more each year, only to continue to be passed to the next level and told how great they are.  Their parents also trust the teachers and the school systems and have no idea that while most teachers hate what they are doing, they justify it as being part of a greater good, or a necessary evil.  They rave about the student to their parents because how could you tell a parent their child cannot read or multiply two digit numbers in the 7th grade when they have passed every standardized test placed before them?

Our imaginary student passes 8th grade and moves on to High School not because she can read, write, communicate, multiply, divide, or even properly articulate their inner feelings of ineptitude, but because someone’s bonus and Title I funding depends on them moving on.  Then the cheating scandal breaks and the truth comes pouring out.  The proud parents of our imaginary student are stricken, they thought they had a bright little high-schooler on the path to greatness, and instead they had a depressed and angry 14 year old who reads at a 5th grade level.  The parents absolutely share the blame because they should have been more involved, but they are part of the new American norm, both parents working to support the family, microwave dinners and TV until bedtime or faces buried in cell phones and tablets updating FB statuses.  Or maybe they are part of the reality surrounding Parks, drug addicted single moms struggling on welfare programs and section 8, who in many instances read at a 5th grade level themselves.  Those single moms are no less proud of their child’s “accomplishments” and hope that they can break out of the ghetto and make something of themselves like their mom’s never had a chance to do.  They spend time at church or family reunions telling everyone that will listen how great their child is doing in school while the child listens and questions her own self worth.

In the end, the teachers, parents, and students are cheated by the system and the processes it has spawned.  But our imaginary 8th grader is lucky because this scandal was identified, and she was put on a special program to help actually teach her what she “needs” to know.  How many millions of students and parents across the country are living in this same reality but whose shortcomings haven’t been brought to light?  How would you feel if you got a letter in the mail telling you that your child is in a school system that had followed the same path as APS after you placed your trust in both the methods and the reported outcomes?

 

Back to School

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OK, its been a while since this site has seen much posting activity but I assure you that isn’t due to the lack of school stupidity. I’m Shawn, and Ill be the flashlight shedding light on the Department of Education at all levels. You see, even though President Carter elevated the DoED to cabinet level in 1979(a move the Republicans decried as unconstitutional and vowed to reverse), it wasn’t until 2001 when George W. Bush(a Republican) signed No Child Left Behind into law did they really take over the setting of standards for education.

The mission of the Federal DoED is “to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.” In 2012 they promoted and fostered to the tune of nearly $90 Billion. Each year approximately 50 Million students are enrolled in public schools in the USA. This site will illuminate the horrifying actions taken on a regular basis by those charged with developing our future leaders.  While I will make every effort to separate fiction and non-fiction, Ill go ahead and say right now that in today’s 24/7 news cycle, outrageous stories are picked up and run with and a well put together fabrication may get airtime on the big three before anyone knows its fake.  That being said if I post something that I later find to be false, Ill update the post and own up to the mistake.

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