The Emma Sullivan Affair: Not Just An Aberration

Time to double-down.

Yes, it's student-hating teacher Natalie Munroe, back again to remind us that the welfare of our children is no longer guranteed to be the #1 priority for your child's teacher, principal or school board member.

Over the weekend, I managed to ignite a controversy with one sentence I included in my discussion of the ridiculous incident which began when high school student Emma Sullivan tweeted that Kansas Governor Sam Brownback “sucks” and ended with her being called on the carpet for it by her principal. Noting that the incident should have been cut short by the school district administrator telling Brownback’s lackey to stop bullying kids, I wrote,

“But the school district administrator had neither the integrity, courage or common sense to do that, which permitted the fiasco to be passed on to the next spineless incompetent, and which also, I submit, tells us all we need to know about why public education in the U.S. is a disgrace.”

“I disagree with your statement and think it is an unfair generalization!” wrote Michael Boyd. Tim LeVier wrote, “…how many public schools are there in the U.S.? How many students are educated (enrolled) by those public schools in the U.S.? How many “social networking” fiascos have there been? Do the positive situations get the same amount of attention as the negative?”

Obviously, I was insufficiently precise, as both Michael and Tim are solid analysts and deft critics here. I was not suggesting that this one incident proves anything about the U.S. public education system. No one incident in a Kansas high school can prove anything about the system as a whole. I was, however, asserting that the deficits of character, warped priorities and lack of common sense displayed by the administrators in this incident are emblematic of the problems of the educational system as a whole. There are too many incompetents in high places, and too often the priorities of the system lie with staying on the right side of the political structure rather than being concerned about the welfare and development of students. To be broader still, my statement indicated that this is the kind of incident that shows why I believe that we can no longer trust the educational establishment, which has “jumped the shark,” “nuked the fridge”, or any other metaphor you  designate to describe when a profession has lost its moorings to professionalism and ethics. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Atlanta Parents’ Verdict: Cheating’s No Big Deal; Grades Are What Matter!”

Is this the current condition of public education?

Michael, a teacher, delivers a powerful but depressing comment in response to the post about Atlanta parents, at least in one school, siding with the cheating teachers and administrators in the school system’s testing scandal. In the original comment he also includes some videos that are amusing, sharp, and illustrative. I didn’t import them here, but you can find them with the original post.

“…I am not positive that the education system can be fixed anymore. The teachers don’t feel that teaching is their job and they are proud of it. In many cases, they feel their noble goal is to teach only the amount of material the slowest student in the class feels like learning. The flip side of their mission is to make sure that no one else in the class learns more than that student. We can’t have people getting all ‘uppity and learnin’ or anything like that. The principals believe this is the way to go, the school boards think everything is hunky-dory, and the parents like the fact that their kids are all getting good grades. Any teacher that actually wants to teach the children is drummed out by the other teachers and the students.

“Our school system stopped using books. Why, you might ask? Because they are only teaching the parts of the subject covered on the state test. They know what will be and what won’t be covered and they just don’t bother teaching what won’t be on the test. They stopped issuing books so no one would get suspicious as to why they were only on chapter 4 of 12 at the end of the year. The attitude this breeds in the children is horrific….

“The terrible thing is that they are ruining these students for life. When you are young, your brain is set up to learn. This becomes harder later on. We waste all their learning years sitting them in a classroom learning nothing. Then they go home, watch reality TV and text. When they are in their late 20′s and they don’t know how to do math, not much can really be done.”

Happy Meal Ethics and the Heart Attack Grill

The Heart Attack Grill, in Phoenix, Arizona, has a medical theme, in keeping with its name. Waitresses dress in skimpy nurses’ uniforms; customers, who come to gorge themselves on super-high calorie fare like Double Bypass Burgers and lard-fried french fries, wear hospital gowns over their clothes and are referred to as patients. The menu features no diet drinks. The new “model” for the Grill is Blair River, a former high school wrestler who stands 6 feet 8 inches tall and weighs 600 pounds (he’s also a financial adviser at the University of Phoenix.) River now has a $100-an-hour contract to pose for ads and TV commercials for the establishment, including a recent YouTube video which invites anyone over 350 pounds to eat for free. And, apparently, if you are over 500 pounds, they pay you. Continue reading