Happy birthday to me.
Birthday ethics quiz: When I was 13, my mother decided to throw me a real surprise birthday by having my friends and relatives hiding in our basement, but to stage the ambush four full days before the actual anniversary of my birth. She sent me down into our (creepy, musty) basement on a pretext, and the 25 or so people leaping out of the dark screaming scared the hell out of me. I nearly fell down the stairs. On your real birthday, there’s something in the back of your mind that prepares you for the possibility of a surprise party, however remote. When the surprise comes on another day, it feels more like an attack. As a consequence of that trauma, I detest surprise parties, and am afraid of dark basements. My mother, who loved scaring people, was always proud of her “surprise party that was really a surprise.” I thought it was sadistic and irresponsible, and still do.
What do you think?
1. The Drag Queen Principal Principle? Readers here Know Ethics Alarms frequently explores the various ethical dilemmas raised when a primary or secondary school teacher allows herself to appear naked of nearly so on the web. The tag is “The Naked Teacher Principle.”
This is a variation I haven’t seen before, out of Great Britain, from the BBC:
Andrew Livingstone, 39, is the head of Horatio House in Lound, Suffolk, and he also has a second job outside of work, as an entertainer called Miss Tish Ewe. According to the Eastern Daily Press, his act contains explicit material.
Great Yarmouth Community Trust, which owns the school, said it had agreed guidelines with him to ensure “a separation between his two jobs”. Mr Livingstone’s act is labelled on Twitter as “Queen of Quay Pride and Great Yarmouth!”, and boasts he has performed in places including Cardiff, Bristol and Dundee.
Mr Livingstone was appointed in July as the head of the independent school, near Lowestoft, and its proprietors said he brought “considerable expertise in education and school improvement to the trust”.
The school said his drag queen act came up during checks, but that it did “not believe that the two jobs are incompatible, and agreed with Mr Livingstone clear guidelines to ensure that there is a separation between his two jobs, including the use of social media in promoting his act”.
Both Norfolk and Suffolk county councils said they had not received any complaints.
Note that the key factor in most NTP scenarios isn’t present here. The teacher’s employers knew about the individual’s unusual avocation and approved of it in advance: there was no unexpected revelations or publicity. Note also that this is England, where drag has a somewhat different tradition and reputation than it does in the U.S.
2. George H.W. Bush death ethics. a) Incompetence. Here is the Washington Post’s first obit after the former President’s demise yesterday:
b) Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! The New York Times dredged out the infamous photo it employed to help sink Bush’s reelection in 1992, purporting to show him being “amazed” at a supermarket scanner. Bush was “out of touch” with how real Americans lived, you see, unlike Bill Clinton, who “felt their pain.” That was the false narrative the news media was pushing against THAT Republican President. It was a lie, of course. Times reporter, later editor, Andrew Rosenthal wasn’t even present at the grocers’ convention where the photographed scene took place. He based his article on a two-paragraph report filed by the lone pool newspaperman allowed to cover the event, who only noted that Bush had a “look of wonder” on his face, But President Bush was wondering at new a new technology “regular” Americans would have wondered at too—a prototype scanner that could weigh groceries and read corrupted bar codes.
c) Paranoia! Confirmation bias! Newsbusters and Instapundit found the Associated Press’s obituary nasty and biased. Read it. The piece is fair and accurate. Mine would have been much tougher. Bush joined James Buchanan as men who became President because they had held every other conceivable elected and appointed government post and it was the only step left. That’s a lousy reason to run for President, and both Buchanan and Bush learned that lesson the hard way.
d) This is how it is done, John. The Bush family made it known that President Trump would be attending Bush’s funeral. President Trump was much harder on the Bushes than he was on John McCain. [CORRECTION: I mistakenly and carelessly posted that the Bushes “boycotted” Trump’s swearing in. W. and wife were there; Jeb wasn’t, but he was not obligated to, and H.W. was old and frail enough that he had an automatic excuse, though I doubt that he was inclined to show up. I apologize for the error.] But living ex-Presidents and the one in office traditionally attend the funeral of one of the exclusive club. The Bush’s understand that respect for the Presidency takes precedence over dislike of the man in it.
3. When the going gets tough, the tough get cheating. The unethical tough, anyway. New York Times reported that T.M. Landry College Prep, a Louisiana prep school that made headlines for sending working-class black kids to elite colleges, cut corners, doctored college applications, made up student extracurricular activities and faked grades to help its students get accepted into colleges. Videos of students from opening acceptance letters from top universities, have become an internet sensation.CBS News and the Today Show extolled the school’s ability to send its students on the way to an elite education.
Michael and Tracey Landry, who run the school, are also accused of fostering a culture of fear with physical and emotional abuse. T
Ana Lewis, a former student there said that she “got this education that meant nothing.” Her mother, Latasha Lewis, pulled her and two other children out of the school. “We feel betrayed — I saw the videos and I wanted exactly what I saw in the videos for my children,” Lewis said.
Ashlee McFarlane represents them and several others in a developing law suit. The school has no textbooks, no homework and employs no specific class schedule.
I see this as just another few yards down the slippery slope public school education and affirmative action has already greased.
4. Great. The first one of these this holiday season…In Montville, NJ, a substitute teacher told first-graders that Santa Claus isn’t real. The Cedar Hill School sent a letter to parents apologizing for this abuse of authority.
“During the course of the day, a substitute teacher apparently announced to the class that Santa was not real,” the school’s principal, Michael J. Raj, wrote not identifying the teacher, but assuring parents that he had spoken with her “regarding her poor judgement in making this proclamation.”
It is interesting that schools will immediately react to a teacher overstepping their proper role regarding Santa Claus, but frequently ignore other unethical indoctrination from teachers on political matters. There is no ethical difference between telling students that Santa isn’t real and telling them that climate change threatens the planet or that George Washington was a racist. All are positions outside their authority to promote.
5. KABOOM! How bad is that slippery slope I mentioned above? THIS bad:
The Columbia University Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), will be teaching a seminar to educate professors on how to be “inclusive” to all students . The “Inclusive Teaching Seminar” will be held in Spring 2018. Each session will be dedicated to a specific topic, such as “inclusive grading” or “preventing microaggressions.”
What is “inclusive grading”? Go ahead, guess!
“In a cohort of peers, participants will engage in conversations around topics such as learning through diversity, growth mindset, microaggressions and implicit bias, trigger warnings, stereotype threat, and inclusive homework assessments,” the program explains. Enough leftist jargon for you? Nah, there’s more: a December 6, 2017 Powerpoint presentation by the CTL extolls “trusting students to assess themselves.” Hence “inclusive grading,” which seems to mean letting students grade themselves.
How is this any better than what the Landry School does?
There have been three major cheating scandals at Barnard and Columbia since 2013, but never mind: we all know that students should be trusted to determine how well they are doing. Besides, “Grades are currency for a capitalist system that reduces teaching and learning to a mere transaction” the CT points out. “Grading is a massive coordinated effort to take humans out of the educational process.”
6. Happy birthday! The former Ethics Alarms commenter who is suing me in Massachusetts for banning him after issuing unkind opinions about his conduct and mental state is appealing the judicial opinion holding that he doesn’t have a leg to stand on just because he doesn’t have a leg to stand on. Frivolous as it is, I still have to counter his arguments. The objective, you see, is to waste my time. The notice arrived by mail today.