Why Does American Public Education Stink? The Answer: Incompetence, Stupidity, and Fear. The Proof: THIS…

Ah, that look that only a dedicated New York public school teacher can spark!!!

Over at Popehat, Ken has been on another roll, and his latest effort, as depressing and enraging as it is, is a real contribution to our understanding of the kind of entrenched foolishness, cowardice and incompetence in our nation’s public school administration that is gradually rendering the schools useless and our children uneducated.

Spurred by a New York Post story that seemed too horrible to be true, Ken set out to research the claim that the New York School system has compiled a long list of topics that are banned on student tests for a variety of reasons, prime among them that someone, somewhere, will be offended by them.  After some digging on the New York City Department of Education’s websites, what he found  was worse than how the Post had described it.

In an Appendix, he discovered a list of  test question topics “that would probably cause a selection to be deemed unacceptable by the New York City Department of Education… In general, a topic might be unacceptable for any of the following reasons:

  •   The topic could evoke unpleasant emotions in the students that might hamper their ability to take the remainder of the test in the optimal frame of mind.
  •     The topic is controversial among the adult population and might not be acceptable in a state-mandated testing situation.
  •     The topic has been ―done to death in standardized tests or textbooks and is thus overly familiar and/or boring to students.
  •     The topic will appear biased against (or toward) some group of people.

Using those criteria, and undoubtedly using astounding numbers of hours and taxpayer dollars, the Department came up with the following jaw-dropping list of banned test subjects. I’ll flag with red the taboos that are especially outrageous or idiotic, though perhaps I should note the two or three that might be appropriate. Continue reading

First Amendment Ethics and the Conundrum of the Despicable Blogger

Attack-blogger Crystal Cox---exercising her rights, jeopardizing yours.

One thing that the public just doesn’t understand about lawyers is that their job sometimes involves fighting for the most despicable people imaginable, because those despicable people have legal objectives they have a right to pursue as citizens, and because the principles underlying the fight are important, even if the particular clients—and often their objectives too–are blights on humanity.

Over at Popehat, Ken has chronicled a classic example, in which First Amendment specialist Eugene Volokh (he of the Volokh Conspiracy) and the Electronic Freedom Foundation are backing blogger Crystal Cox as she appeals a $2.5 million defamation judgment against her, in which an Oregon judge ruled that bloggers did not have the same protection against defamation claims under the First Amendment as journalists do. Cox, of whom I was blissfully unaware until Ken’s post, is clearly the kind of person who is a menace on the internet, lacking basic decency, fairness, scruples and common sense, and yet stimulated by the power that the medium provides her. The signature act that established this for me is revealed by Ken at the top of his post:

“Here’s the most important thing you need to know about blogger and “investigative journalist” Crystal Cox: when she got angry at First Amendment attorney Marc Randazza, she didn’t just register the domains marcrandazza.com and fuckmarcrandazza.com and marcrandazzasucks.com in order to attack him. She registered jenniferrandazza.com and nataliarandazza.com — the names of Randazza’s wife and three-year-old daughter.”

Yup, that’s enough, all right: signature significance. Is there any chance that an individual who would do this even once could be an ethical, reasonable, fair person?  No! Only an unethical creep would even consider such conduct; with a normal person, the ethics alarms would be ringing so loud that they would be paralyzing. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Train Wreck Extra: the Lawyer, the Advisor, and the Kennedy”

Let's give a warm, Ethics Alarms welcome to attorney MAX KENNERLY!

Max Kennerly, the attorney who has argued that Sandra Fluke could legitimately sue talk show host Rush Limbaugh for his on-air insults, rebuts the Ethics Alarms post finding his argument disturbing. I’ll have a response at the end. Here is his Comment of the Day on “Ethics Train Wreck Extra: the Lawyer, the Advisor, and the Kennedy”:

“Who said anything about “silencing?” Defamation is a civil claim that, when proven, results in a monetary judgment, nothing more. Limbaugh’s still free to say what he wants.

“I assume your response to the “it’s not silencing” argument is something like, “he’s not technically silenced, but his speech is chilled.” To that, I ask which scenario is more chilling: Continue reading