This Is How Our Educational System Teaches Students Not To Challenge Authority

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Hazel Juco, a 17-year-old student at John Glenn High School in suburban Detroit, went to the school’s bathroom to wash her hands. When she turned on the faucet, ugly brown water came out. She then used her cell-phone to take the picture above of the discolored water and posted it to Facebook and Twitter.

Juco says she was soon called to the principal’s office shortly after she posted the photo.“They told me I was being suspended… It’s inappropriate use of electronics in the restroom. And every girl takes selfies in the bathroom and makes it their profile pictures and no one has gotten in trouble,” she said. Indeed, that policy, it has been noted, didn’t seem to apply to the many students in the school whose cell phone use didn’t involve exposing health hazards that school administrators should not allow to exist.

Thanks to social media, the school’s outrageous conduct didn’t remain an internal matter, as it would have in an earlier era. Hazel’s photos were widely circulated, and eventually the news media became involved. After all, this is Michigan, and there was that little episode involving inept elected officials and agency administrators poisoning the Flint water supply just a few months back. Hazel Juco was hardly being an alarmist.

When reporters called Wayne-Westland Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Michele Harmala, and she said school administrators made a mistake by not reporting the water issue to maintenance, and the rule against students taking pictures in bathrooms was misapplied, since Juco was taking photos of polluted water rather than students using the toilet. It’s an easy mistake to make! Anyone could make it!

Sure.

The deteriorating  pipe leading to the faucet is being replaced, and the suspension has been expunged from Juco’s record. How nice. Nonetheless, the fascist, incompetent and abusive administrators remain in their jobs, and though Hazel’s unjust punishment has been retracted, the message sent by it remains. The school has taught the lesson that it is dangerous to speak out, perilous to blow the whistle, and risky to point out the deficiencies of those with power.

Unless the counter-message is sent that Hazel did the right thing, and that serious career consequences await administrators and teachers who seek to cover up their own ineptitude by intimidating students, these episodes will continue.

 

The Oxon Hill High School “Art Display” Controversy

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Oxon Hill (Maryland) High School allowed a display of student art to remain in the school’s rotunda for most of May. Some students and teachers said the display was “cathartic;” the Washington Post called it “an embodiment of the angst and anger” students felt “when police violence made national headlines.” “Young black males: the new endangered species,” read a placard; next to it was a cutout painted to look like a police officer with white skin reading a newspaper with obituaries of black men killed by law enforcement officers. Next to that was another silhouette painted black, depicting a black man with hands raised wearing a T-shirt with holes in it. “Blood” dripped  from the eight bullet holes, forming the stripes of an upside-down American flag.

Last week,  after a photo of the thing was posted  on Facebook and recieved criticsm there and on some conservative websites, school officials decided to remove the display. A spokeswoman for Prince George’s County Public Schools said the decision was made to protect the school and students. But those pesky students installed a new display consisting of two wooden coffins amidst flower petals, with headstones reading, “HERE LIES OUR FREEDOM OF SPEECH” and “HERE LIES OUR FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION.” They then tweeted messages with the hashtag #donttakeitdown and collected nearly 1,500 signatures on a petition demanding a statement of solidarity from the school board.

Isn’t self-righteous ignorance grand? Not only should the display have been removed, it should have never gone up in the first place, since it continues to spread a virulent and divisive lie (nobody was shot eight times with his hands up), while encouraging racial distrust and hatred. Continue reading