Comment Of The Day: “Fire Them All: No, Training Cannot Fix Teachers Like This One”

Sarah B., proving that Ethics Alarms Comments of the Day do not have to be novelettes in order to make the grade, offers her reaction to the post about the Texas charter school’s grudging admission that forcing 7th graders to pose like sex workers seeking a “date” may not have been appropriate classroom fare:


I saw this and it saddens/frightens/infuriates me so much that I can hardly express it.

I believe that this exhibit, one of so many examples, proves that I need to change my answer to a question I get asked a lot.

“Why do you homeschool?”

Usually I cite my wanting to raise my children in my value system, the need of my second child to have incredible flexibility for medical appointments, a desire to control various aspects of the curriculum such as including cursive and home ec, inculcating them in my faith, nationwide illiteracy rates of 45% in fourth grade and 25% in 12th grade (local isn’t much higher), and my experience as a math tutor showing me that children are not taught math appropriately anymore.

The answer I should give is, “Why don’t you?”

Comment Of The Day: “Afternoon Ethics Alarms, 4/19/2020: Facebook, Harvard, Broadway And You Know, Morons…” (Item #2)

The post touching on a Harvard  professor’s criticism of homeschooling  (also discussed here) sparked a lot of debate here as it has elsewhere.

Here is JimHodgson’s Comment of the Day on Item #2 in the post, “Afternoon Ethics Alarms, 4/19/2020: Facebook, Harvard, Broadway And You Know, Morons…”

The resistance to and denigration of homeschooling by academia is a source of constant irritation to me. It is another case of “our minds are made up, don’t confuse us with the facts. It’s like they just can’t stand a parent who declines letting the dysfunctional village raise their children.

The current societal shut-down due to the Chinese flu has made homeschoolers of many parents who are enjoying the experience. (This is based on conversations with my extended family and fellow church members, your mileage may vary.) My niece’s two girls, ages 6 and 9, exiled from their regular school, have easily kept up their school work, completed several art and STEM projects, and learned how to plant a vegetable garden. They are outside every day, weather permitting. My daughter’s homeschooling process continues without a hitch with her boys. The article’s undercurrent of opposition to parents actually raising their own children is ominous. Continue reading

Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/20/2020: Phantom Patriots Day Edition

The Battle of Menotomy, April 19, 2020.

“One if by land, and two if by sea
And I on the opposite shore will be
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm
For the country folk to be up and to arm!”

Today, the third Monday in April,  is supposed to be Patriots Day in Massachusetts (and  few other states.) It absolutely should be a national holiday, as it celebrates the battles of Concord and Lexington as well as the rides of Paul Revere and his fellow messengers the night before. I typed the excerpt above from Longfellow’s “Paul Revere’s Ride” from memory; I wonder how many students today  have even heard of the poem, or Concord and Lexington, for that matter.

The original holiday was on April 19, the date of both battles, but Arlington, Massachusetts, where I hail from, was actually the site of a bigger battle than either on the same day. On their way back from Concord after being soundly beaten at the bridge, the Redcoats marched through the town of Menotomy (Arlington now), where 5,100 militia men from surrounding towns had gathered after, unfortunately, the British had marched through the Menotomy on the way to Lexington Green with little resistance.  The volunteers, stationed around houses, stone walls, fields and barns, did considerable damage to the already limping British in the fighting that followed, but Arlington residents have always been a bit sheepish about the timing of the fight, and historians regard it as  anti-climactic following the tragedy at Lexington and the surprise victory at Concord.

Patriots Day is a big  deal in Boston, where the Boston Marathon is run annually on that date. The Red Sox also play a unique 11 am game, so spectators can leave the park and watch the finish of the race. All gone this year, of course.

That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t remember, and honor, the heroes, victims and events of 1775 that made the United States of America possible.

1. This is the kind of thing that will lead to serious back-lash against the pandemic dictators. The city of San Clemente was alarmed that some teens, bored with pplaying video games all day, every day, continued to skateboard in a local skate park despite orders that all parks be closed. Its solution?  Fill the park, at taxpayer expense, with 37 tons of sand. The money to build the park was raised by a nonprofit coalition of local families who wanted a place for their kids to be able to skate safely, and they were not even notified that the park would be filled with sand, according to KCAL-TV. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Facebook Wars II”

Though not strictly an ethics comment, Mary’s theory about why school administrators are engaging in so much ethically dubious conduct is provocative and has the ring of truth. Here is her Comment of the Day, on the post “Facebook Wars II: More School Abuse of Power and Privacy“:

“A number of years ago, while extracting myself from a bad relationship, a therapist friend told me that the more healed and “normal” I became, the more outrageous and pathological my ex-partner’s behavior would be, in a psychological attempt to pull me back into the relationship.

“I sometimes think the same thing applies to social relationships and organizations. As they lose their relevancy and people withdraw and move on to new social structures, those invested in the old organizations thrash wildly to maintain an ever crumbling status quo. Continue reading

On the Road With “The Biking Vogels”: What the Kids Are Learning

When we last visited the Vogels, they were in the middle of a two and a half-year quest to get their twins the Guinness Record for the youngest boys to spend their childhood on bikes, or something like that. The Vogels are a couple that has taken their twin boys on a biking odyssey (actually two)  through the Americas, requiring them to abandon a normal childhood to be part of their parents’ chosen lifestyle. It is being funded by the presumption that this is a novel and healthy experiment in home-schooling. Fans of the Vogels, including a fawning American media, pronounce the effort a wonderful educational opportunity for Daryl and Davy, now 12, and the adventure of a lifetime. Critics, such as Ethics Alarms, express concern that the boys are being exploited by their parents at the cost of the children’s comfort, safety, health, and socialization.

Our only information about how the boys are faring and what they are learning on their forced march comes from their own journals. This is Daryl Vogel’s entry on September 25: Continue reading

Child Exploitation or Great Adventure: What We Need To Know About “The Biking Vogels”

America was just introduced to the biking Vogel family, as they embark on a charm offensive seemingly with a potential reality show in their sights. They appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Labor Day, and expect to get a boost in publicity thanks to a typical softball interview by a beaming stand-in for George Stephanopoulos. (Video taken and selected by the Vogels themselves accompanied the interview, further allowing them to present their trip in the most favorable light.) It would be have been both responsible and right, however, if the Vogels had been asked more pointed questions, probing the serious issue of whether John and Nancy Vogel may be exploiting and even abusing their children in pursuit of fame, fortune, and  an “Easy Rider” life-style that being parents of young children ought to preclude. Continue reading

Next: Paramilitary “Jolly Rancher” Raids?

“No tolerance policy” is clearly a misnomer: what it appears to mean in practice is “self-designed trap to expose the incompetence and lack of basic fairness of school personnel. According to that definition, “no tolerance” polices are working extremely well.

For example, an Orchard, Texas third-grader at Brazos Elementary was given a week’s detention for first-degree possession a Jolly Rancher. The school’s principal and superintendent said they were simply complying with a state law that limits junk food in schools. The miscreant, Leighann Adair, 10, was eating lunch  when a teacher saw the candy and confiscated it. Her punishment is that she must be separated from other students during lunch and recess for the rest of the week. Continue reading

Honoring O.J.: Your Tax Dollars at Work

We haven’t had an example of jaw-droppingly incompetent, outrageously irresponsible teacher behavior for a while, so this story from the Associated Press is timely, if not welcome.

Three Los Angeles elementary school teachers gave children portraits of O.J. Simpson, Dennis Rodman and RuPaul to carry in a Black History Month parade. Honest. The teachers have been removed from their classrooms, and investigation is pending. All the teachers were white men, and the classes involved were first, second and fourth grades. Continue reading

Ethics Dunces: The Staff of Milford, Ohio Elementary School

A sixth grade boy informed his mother that his teacher and an aide at the Milford Elementary School had forced him to him to stand before his sixth-grade classroom as they put his shoulder-length hair in  ponytails, and then introduced him to his classmates as a new female student. Then the aide took him to other classrooms and did the same thing.

The mother has filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Cincinnati, seeking  damages for the alleged violation of her son’s constitutional rights and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Continue reading