USA Today fashions itself as the newspaper of the average American, and it may well be true. Especially since its redesign, it contains less substance than a single section of the New York Times, pedestrian writing, and mostly bite-size features designed for an audience with an attention span that finds fortune cookies challenging. Every now and then, however, a bit like Family Feud, USA Today’s proud low brow style yields valuable insight. Yesterday’s feature on abortion was such an instance, as the paper gathered reader comments on its Facebook and Twitter locales for America’s opinion regarding Missouri’s new mandated three-day waiting period for women seeking an abortion.
Now that I have reviewed the responses, it all makes sense to me now, and I think I know where we are headed. Oh, there is no valuable insight regarding the measure or abortion among the comments. What is revealing is that among all the responses chosen by USA Today, not single reader could manage sufficient objectivity and critical thinking to produce well-reasoned, fair, thoughtful insight regarding a public policy issue that demands measuring and balancing interests, values, and outcomes, the essence of ethical decision-making. Not one.
Here they are, with my comments in bold: Continue reading
Avery Gagliano is a 13-year-old student in the District of Columbia school system, and an acknowledged musical prodigy. She has won competitions and soloed with orchestras nationwide.She was one of 12 musicians selected from around the world to play at a prestigious event in Munich last year. All of this periodically disrupts her school attendance, and because the District continues to threaten treating her as a truant, Avery’s parents say they have been forced to pull her out of her classes, where she was a happy A student.
“As I shared during our phone conversation this morning, DCPS is unable to excuse Avery’s absences due to her piano travels, performances, rehearsals, etc.,” Jemea Goso, attendance specialist with the school system’s Office of Youth Engagement, wrote in an e-mail to Avery’s parents, Drew Gagliano and Ying Lam, last year. This a classic example of how bureaucratic rigidity, in the absence of employees or officials willing to take initiative and address a non-conforming anomaly, will lead to needless harm and absurd results. Nobody would, or if they did, they did so in such a dysfunctional system that it didn’t make any difference. Continue reading
“Civility is not weighed equally with free speech. It is not a prerequisite of free speech. It is a value, an idea, to be tested in the marketplace of ideas with other vales. Free speech is often uncivil. Lenny Bruce was uncivil. “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” was uncivil. “I have not yet begun to fight” was uncivil. “I called you naughty darling because I do not like that other world” was uncivil. “Now, if it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends of justice, and mingle my blood further with the blood of my children and with the blood of millions in this slave country whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel, and unjust enactments, I submit; so let it be done!” was uncivil. The equality of all humans regardless of station has always been a deeply uncivil idea, because “civil” usually means “that which makes me comfortable.” Comfortable people paint nice watercolors but otherwise don’t accomplish much.”
—Ken White, First Amendment lawyer, wit, philosopher and blogger par excellance, in a masterful dismembering of a sinister email about free speech sent to Berkeley students, faculty, and staff by U.C. Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks .
An equivocating, double-talking, free-speech degrading college administrator attempts to warp our nation’s values in the minds of the young, and Ken exposes the university’s censorious and timid soul for the dangerous fraud and the disgrace to intellectual freedom that it is.
As Carly Simon said once about James Bond, nobody does it better.
Who knows what dark thoughts lurk a teacher’s imagination, unless he tells us? And should it matter if he does?
Patrick McLaw, an eighth grade language arts teachers at Mace’s Lane Middle School in Cambridge, Maryland, has been placed on indefinite administrative leave by the Dorchester County Board of Education and the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office. This measure was taken after it was discovered that McLaw had serveal aliases, two of which he has used to write novels. One of those novels was about the largest school shooting in the country’s history, set in the year 2902.
Because these books terrified parents, apparently, Dorchester County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Henry Wagner felt it necessary to announce that the Dorchester County Board of Education had moved swiftly, saying, “We have advised our community that the gentleman has been placed on administrative leave, and has been prohibited from entering any Dorchester County public school property.” That’s not all that happened. McLaw was taken into custody for an “emergency medical evaluation.” The same day,police swept Mace’s Lane Middle School for bombs and guns.
This sounds like a Kafka novel. Of course, if Kafka had been a middle school teacher in Cambridge Maryland, parents probably would be afraid that he was going to turn their kids into cockroaches.
How can this hysterical reaction to a teacher’s novel be justified, legally, logically or ethically?
Your Labor Day Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz involves yet another possible variation on “The Naked Teacher Principle”:
Is there an “Alarming Novelist-Teacher Principle” ?
When Alex met Kendra…
There are bad apples in every barrel, but no apple barrel should contain poison apples. When it comes to teachers, these two make me regard the entire barrel as a bad risk.
At Summerville High School in Summerville, South Carolina, a teacher caused a 16-year-old student named Alex Stone to be arrested and suspended because he wrote a passage on his Facebook page, as part of an assignment, that described using a gun to kill a dinosaur. Never mind that dinosaurs are extinct: guns are real; the teacher, a hysteric, a child abuser and a fool, notified school officials, and the school notified the police. They in turn, searched Alex’s book bag and locker for the dinosaur murder weapon, and came up empty. Police said that when Stone was asked by school officials about the his post, he became “very irate” —as would I—and so they handcuffed and arrested him.
Look at the bright side: at least they didn’t shoot him. Then Stone was suspended for the rest of the week. Continue reading
How could this happen in a trustworthy institution?
The Washington Post reported this week that Robin Anthony Toogood II resigned as principal of Jennie Dean Elementary School, a job he had held since 2009. He also surrendered his Virginia teaching and administrative license. Toogood, who had worked as a teacher and administrator in Washington D.C. area public schools since 2000, had not only falsely claimed to have a doctorate in education, he also never received an undergraduate bachelor’s degree.
Manassas City officials never checked Toogood’s credentails when he was hired as principal five years ago. The fake degrees were only discovered because he applied to be an elementary school principal in neighboring Prince William County, where to his evident surprise, a proper background check followed. It revealed Toogood’s resume to be Toogood to be true.* He had falsified transcripts from the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Trinity Washington University in the District and Regent University in Virginia. The County alerted Manassas schools, which confronted Toogood. He did not deny the findings and resigned.
He is also apparently a pastor. Manassas City discovered that Toogood also claimed to have earned a doctorate from Andover Theological Seminary and had not.
The Post reports that Toogood had previously been a teacher in D.C. public schools and held administrative positions at several D.C. public charter schools. D.C. public school officials confirmed to the Post that Toogood had taught there from 2000 to 2005, after which he was an administrator at Friendship Collegiate Academy from 2006 to 2007 , and principal of the Center City charter school from 2008 to 2009. The D.C. Public Charter School Board’s spokesperson told the Post “that the schools conduct their own background checks with board guidance.”
Nice job, guys. Continue reading
Now that a federal judge has declared the elite student-athletes at big time sports colleges to be what they are…paid mercenaries…and the sports programs at such institutions to be what we always knew they were…cynical sideshows that sacrificed education to greed…will the pubic, the media, educators, and universities now stop this slow-moving ethics train wreck?
Of course not. If they cared about how high-profile college sports were warping both America’s education and its values, they would have addressed the problem decades ago. They would have stopped it before, for example, schools started paying football and basketball coaches more than any professor. They would have stopped it before prestigious schools gave degrees to graduates whose entire education was a sham, who took ridiculously easy courses and who were held to infantile academic standards, all so rich, fat alumni would continue writing checks. They would have stopped it before a revered football coach held such power in a university that he was able to persuade the school’s leadership to allow a child sexual predator operate on campus.
U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken, in a 99-page ruling agreeing with the claim of a group of plaintiffs fronted by former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon, issued an injunction against the NCAA from “enforcing any rules or bylaws that would prohibit its member schools and conferences from offering their FBS football or Division I basketball recruits a limited share of the revenues generated from the use of their names, images, and likenesses in addition to a full grant-in-aid.”
The ruling will be appealed, and some of its legal conclusions certainly seem debatable. That is not my concern. The opinion effectively kills the fiction that the semi-literate youths who perform on-the-field heroics to burnish the images of universities and attract huge broadcast fees are what the NCAA, alumni, students , the schools and the media pretend that they are. Now that we know they are not truly students, what persuasive ethical justifications can be given for them to play college sports at all?
None. Continue reading