More Proof, As If More Were Needed, That The American Education System Breeds Hopelessly Dim And Foolish Administrators Who Understand Neither Children, Education, Childhood, Or Life, And Therefore Should Not And Must Not Be Entrusted With The Welfare Of Our Young In Any Way, Since These Fools Possess Neither Common Sense Nor The Judgment Possessed By The Average Garden Slug:

Kindergarten-1

Here’s the easy-reading version:

April 25, 2014

Dear Kindergarten Parents and Guardians,

We hope this letter serves to help you better understand how the demands of the 21st century are changing schools, and, more specifically, to clarify, misperceptions about the Kindergarten show. It is most important to keep in mind is [sic] that this issue is not unique to Elwood. Although the movement toward more rigorous learning standards has been in the national news for more than a decade, the changing face of education is beginning to feel unsettling for some people. What and how we teach is changing to meet the demands of a changing world.

The reason for eliminating the Kindergarten show is simple. We are responsible for preparing children for college and career with valuable lifelong skills and know that we can best do that by having them become strong readers, writers, coworkers and problem solvers. Please do not fault us for making professional decisions that we know will never be able to please everyone. But know that we are making these decisions with the interests of all children in mind.

 

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The Donald Sterling Mess: Watching An Ethics Train Wreck Develop Before Our Eyes

Circus Train wreck

I realized that the Donald Sterling controversy was going to be a full-blown ethics train wreck when, as I should have predicted but didn’t, President Obama once again tossed his office, authority and power into a completely non-governmental matter that his involvement could only confound, and can’t possibly help. “When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance you don’t really have to do anything, you just let them talk,” the President responded during a news conference in Kuala Lumpur,  after being asked about Sterling’s alleged remarks. At least he didn’t say that V. Stiviano, the NBA owner’s mistress who recorded the comments, could have been his daughter.

This continues a pattern, exemplified by the President’s gratuitous statements as the Trayvon Martin case was unfolding, of Obama being willfully ignorant of the injustice done when the President of the United States uses his bullhorn to warp independent investigations before they are complete, and attempts to sway public opinion in matters outside his proper duties. The NBA is currently examining the circumstances of Sterling’s statements, and Obama’s irresponsible interjections can do nothing but upset the process. He simply cannot or will not restrain himself. My view: this stuff is easy, an approximation of being Presidential for a leader who is foundering in dealing with the important, legitimate challenges of his job. It is an expression of weakness.

Meanwhile, it is increasingly likely that, in classic ethics train wreck fashion, everyone connected to and responding to this episode is or will be tainted. Sterling’s girlfriend, for example, broke the law: California is a state like Maryland ( Hello, Linda Tripp, wherever you are!) and others, where it is illegal to record anyone without their consent. Her motives were also despicable: reputedly she had vowed vengeance because Sterling’s wife (oh, yes, her sugar-daddy is still married) has sued her for embezzlement. His wife calls her a gold-digger; perhaps that is unfair, and perhaps she really loves the 80-year-old evident racist for the purity of his soul and vitality in the sack rather than his bank account, just as I may be secretly a bighorn sheep. But the incident roiling the worlds of sports and culture is clearly the product of domestic warfare and at least two thoroughly awful people. Continue reading

Beautiful, Desired, Happy and Exploited: The Life of an NFL Cheerleader

cheerleaders

National Football League cheerleaders volunteer. They receive a puny per-game honorarium, but nothing for their many hours of rehearsal, or the use of their images for promotion. Can this be squared with basic principles of fairness?

It cannot, but people will try. The cheerleaders  have such glamorous jobs! They are adored, and treated like royalty, or at least Kardashians! They get to date football players, and you know how hot and rich they are, at least until they become senile in their fifties! Most of all, the competition for the cheerleader squads is fierce!  They don’t want to be paid! The job is its own reward!

Weak. Athletes are paid mega-millions of dollars to play the same games they played for years as recreation. Actors receive union-dictated salaries for engaging in the same activities they fought like dogs to do for free in high school, college and community theater. The standard mantra is that joy and fulfillment in life arrives  when you are fortunate enough to be paid for doing what you love, not to be allowed to do what you love so someone else will make a lot of money, while you get dates. The NFL is a money machine, generating billions and paying its management, employees and contractors very well, but they “allow” young women to significantly enhance the NFL brand and  product for little or nothing. The word for this is exploitation. The NFL does it because it can, and the women put up with it because, well, they enjoy it. Continue reading

KABOOM! A Teacher Sexually Molests A Middle School Student In Class (And The Daily Caller Thinks It’s Funny)

Well, there goes THAT suit...

Well, there goes THAT suit…

The latest KABOOM occurred when I read this report about Felicia Smith, a Houston 40-something middle school sexual predator masquerading as a teacher, who gave a a male student a lap dance in class, in front of his classmates, for his birthday.

I’m not going to reprint the details here; there are not levels of inappropriate lap dances for pre-teens. The teacher is under arrest; that’s not enough. A school that vets its teachers this negligently is a menace; a profession that allows a practitioner with such wretched judgement and such vile proclivities in its ranks is innately untrustworthy and an ugly sham. And a society that entrusts its vulnerable young to a system so corrupt and inept that this could occur is irresponsible.

One young  maniac attacks a school in New Town, and a national movement of fear is launched to remove a Constitutional right. Teachers sexually assault students nearly every day. What are schools doing about it? What are teacher unions and the education profession doing to protect potential victims? Where is the oversight? Does anyone believe that until she turned into a middle school stripper, Smith never demonstrated any suspicious tendencies? She just awoke one morning and decided that this was the day to give a child a lap dance? I don’t. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Quiz: Peeps Ethics”

Peeps Last Supper by Leonardo DiPeepchi

Peeps Last Supper by Leonardo DiPeepchi

Extradimensional Cephalopod’s thoughtful answer to today’s ethics quiz was instantly recognizable as a Comment of the Day, so here it is, EC’s musings on the ethical limits on peeps art, as posed by the post, Ethics Quiz: Peeps Ethics:

Full disclosure: I identify as a freethinker, which in my case means my opinions are informed by this idea: “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” –Aristotle (or so the Internet tells me)

With that in mind, offhand I’d say anyone who can’t handle the juxtaposition of a serious scene with a cutesy or comical medium is not emotionally mature enough to be trusted to react appropriately in today’s complex and nuanced culture, and their reverence is likely to be taken to unhealthy levels. I think it is not only ethical, but a requirement for intellectual health to be able to entertain different perspectives and styles of presenting even the most serious subjects. Before someone asks, yes, that includes depictions of the prophet Muhammad, along with all other historical figures on pedestals. I think taboos are unhealthy for a society because they limit critical thinking and creative free thought, both of which are necessary (yet seldom employed) to resolve social issues and differences in perspective.

Bad taste is still a valid concept, but it is context-dependent. It is possible that a subject is not appropriate for most contexts because it leads people to feel bad, but it is imperative that there be some place where it can be discussed, even if it is only under the Jester’s Privilege. My subjective judgment rules that depicting the Civil Rights Movement with marshmallows in this case is not intended with disrespect: the contest stipulated that the medium be marshmallows, and the artist chose a powerful scene without regard for the medium, as is the artist’s prerogative. I personally think the marshmallow scene is quite dignified, but then I am a bit out of sync with humanity as to what I take at face value and what I don’t. I form opinions of peeps by their actions, not by their countenance. It’s unethical for an artist to deliberately spread misconceptions about history, and it may be unethical for an artist to deliberately show disrespect to powerful agents of good. Disrespect is usually unethical because it causes so many problems. However, I’m not sure a sincerely respectful artist can be unethical in their art, unless they simply fail to do the research on the facts they depict and the cultural context for showing respect.

If depicting scenes from the Civil Rights Movement with marshmallows (and putting a good deal of effort into it) is wrong, though, what else is wrong? Crayon drawings by kids? Macaroni? Charcoal? Embroidery? Spray paint? Etch-A-Sketch? Is anything that looks insufficiently grandiose for depicting humanity’s legendary heroes an affront upon their memories? Are scenes of historical importance off-limits to mediocre artists, for fear the general public will lose respect for heroes drawn with funny expressions and ridiculous poses? What if an artist is deliberately depicting a heroic person comically, but without telling lies? Why can’t we be mature, and tell the history with respect while artists do their best in sincerity or spite? Why not simply say, “Well, it’s nice, but it really doesn’t do it justice,” and walk away?

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Strict Liability For Biases and the Racist NBA Team Owner Principle

Keep the lock secure, and all the bad stuff inside might not matter...

Keep the lock secure, and all the bad stuff inside might not matter…

I had an unusual  roommate in law school, a former Marine, smart, handsome and charismatic. Let’s call him “Carl.”

He was also a racist, and unapologetic about it. He was an anti-Semite too. After Carl died at the age of 27 in a freak accident, his funeral was attended by several Jewish and African-American law students who considered my roommate a good friend. They had no idea that he was prejudiced, because my friend treated everyone with fairness and respect, at least in my experience. I would ask Carl about this, and he would express surprise that I would be confused at his behavior. “I would never treat anyone with disrespect, no matter who he or she was, or unfairly either,” he said. “That would be wrong, and not Christian.” (He was a Roman Catholic.) Carl also gave annual contributions to the United Negro College Fund, and he was far from wealthy.

That was my introduction to the truth, and it is a comforting one, that biases can be overcome if someone has the character and the strength to recognize them as biases. Racism is just a bias, you know; a particularly harmful and strong one, but still a bias. Having a bias, even a strong one, is not unethical, just as thoughts themselves, without more, are not unethical. A bias is an ethics impediment, a condition that makes being ethical more difficult, and for many of us, impossible. My friend was one of the most honorable and ethical people in his conduct that I ever knew. He had a bias, knew that to be an ethical human being he had to overcome it daily, and did.

If, however, his black and Jewish friends had learned about his private arguments with me, they would have been hurt, and could not have remained friends with him. It would simply be a matter of trust….although, in fact, Carl was completely worthy of trust no matter what race or creed you were. But it is impossible, I think to continue to trust anyone once you know that he is prejudiced against your race.

This brings us to the ugly tale of Donald Sterling, owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers. His girlfriend, who is black, recorded an argument between the two of them in which he reprimanded her for posting photographs of African-American companions. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: Peeps Ethics

peeps winner

I collect sentences that can safely be said to have never been uttered before in the history of mankind, and encountered one this morning in a letter of complaint to the Washington Post. It read…

“To take a sacred and historic event in our nation’s history and depict it using marshmallow candy is highly insulting and offensive to the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and to all those who worked, and continue to work, for racial justice in this country.”

Like all of the sentences in my collection, my favorite being my sister’s immortal, “That fish looks so good, from now on I think I’ll wear my bra on my head,” this one requires some context. The Post holds an annual contest for its readers around Easter, challenging them to submit the best diorama of a scene, using marshmallow peeps. This year’s winner was created by Matthew McFeeley, Mary Clare Peate, and Alex Baker, and involved meticulously painting the colorful bunny stand-ins for King and his throng  at the 1963 March on Washingtonian eight shades of gray to evoke the black-and-white photographs of the event.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz, in the sadly neglected field of peeps ethics, is…

Is it unethical to use marshmallow candy as a medium to portray serious, solemn, or other events that many feel deserve respect and reverence?

I know my answer, but this time, I’ll hold my fire until I hear from readers. I’d also be interested in whether any events—Gettysburg…JFK’s assassination…the Lindbergh baby kidnapping…the Crucifixion…Pearl Harbor…9-11…  are ethically off-limits for peeps creativity as inherently offensive, or if this is just  an unappetizing mixture of “ick,” art, humor, and candy.

Ethics Dunce: Justice Sonia Sotamayor

We shouldn't need one of these at the Supreme Court.

We shouldn’t need one of these at the Supreme Court.

Supporters of Justice Sotamayor’s embarrassingly anti-judicial dissent in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative, Integration and Immigration and Fight for Equality by Any Means Necessary betray their ignorance of law and worse, their endorsement of double-talk from the one place in our government where it should never be tolerated, the Supreme Court.

It’s not even debatable.

“The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race,” she wrote,  “and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination.”  “Speak openly and candidly…”

How does Sotamayor speak openly and candidly?  Like this, from footnote 2 of her dissent…

“Although the term “affirmative action” is commonly used to describe colleges’ and universities’ use of race in crafting admissions policies, I instead use the term “race-sensitive admissions policies.” Some comprehend the term “affirmative action” as connoting intentional preferential treatment based on race alone—for example, the use of a quota system, whereby a certain proportion of seats in an institution’s incoming class must be set aside for racial minorities; the use of a “points” system, whereby an institution accords a fixed numerical advantage to an applicant because of her race; or the admission of otherwise unqualified students to an institution solely on account of their race. None of this is an accurate description of the practices that public universities are permitted to adopt after this Court’s decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U. S. 306 (2003) . There, we instructed that institutions of higher education could consider race in admissions in only a very limited way in an effort to create a diverse student body. To comport with Grutter, colleges and universities must use race flexibly, id., at 334, and must not maintain a quota, ibid. And even this limited sensitivity to race must be limited in time, id., at 341–343, and must be employed only after “serious, good faith consideration of workable race-neutral alternatives,” id., at 339. Grutter-compliant admissions plans, like the ones in place at Michigan’s institutions, are thus a far cry from affirmative action plans that confer preferential treatment intentionally and solely on the basis of race.”

Oh, look! A new euphemism, which is how partisans, activists, advocates and pols muddy public policy discussions by using carefully crafted words and phrases designed to mislead the public and hide what is going on!

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No “Affluenza” Defense Here: A Judge Lowers The Boom On A Teen Predator

"Well, maybe she can be rehabilitated..."

“Well, maybe she can be rehabilitated…”

Perhaps you have read about the horrific bullying case in Southern Maryland, where two teenaged girls victimized an autistic boy who attended their school who thought—indeed still thinks, apparently—that they were his friends. A recent Slate story gives you the flavor of it:

“A teenage boy identified as Michael and described as autistic started writing love letters to a pretty girl at his Southern Maryland high school. They became friends and started hanging out with the girl’s older friend, 17-year-old Lauren Bush, who was a cheerleader. On days when their parents weren’t around—mostly snow days—the girls began to toy with Michael. Bush put a knife to his throat and scared him, kicked him in the groin, dragged him by his hair, and tried to get him to have sex with the family dog. His younger “girlfriend” took video of the incidents on her cellphone. Once they got Michael to walk on a half-frozen pond. He fell through the ice, and they didn’t help him. Then, Sunday’s Post story revealed they didn’t let him ride in the warm car because he’d get the seats wet. Instead, they made him ride in the trunk.”

Nice girls! Continue reading

Wait…WHAT? Something Is Missing From This Ethics Story….

please-move-along-theres-nothing-to-see-here-1

From the Washington Post:

“Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson put the agency’s former inspector general on administrative leave late Thursday, the same day The Washington Post revealed a congressional investigation’s finding that the former watchdog had tailored reports to the liking of senior Obama administration officials. A Senate investigative report concluded that Charles K. Edwards, who served as acting inspector general at the agency from 2011 until this past December, had directed altering and delaying critical investigative reports and audits at the request of top political appointees in the department”

In that story, we learned that  Edwards, who served as acting DHS inspector general from 2011 through 2013, routinely socialized with department leaders and gave them inside information about the timing and findings of investigations.  The objective, which staff members said that Edwards was confident he had in the bag, was White House support for his position to be made permanent. A year-long bipartisan investigation also concluded that Edwards improperly consulted with top political advisers to then-Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and acquiesced to their suggestions about the wording and timing of his supposedly objective reports. Whistleblowers told the panel that Edwards ordered them to remove derogatory information about the Secret Service in the findings regarding the Service’s prostitution scandal, and also evidence implicating a White House staff member. Other whistleblowers alleged deletions and alterations in other reports by Edwards. Investigators told the Post they were able to confirm the improper deletions and delays in several reports, but did not reach a conclusion on the Secret Service-related allegations because the DHS, which is, as we all know, part of the most transparent administration ever. declined to provide Edwards’s e-mails about the Secret Service incident. Continue reading