Here’s A “No-Tolerance” Policy We Should Get Behind

At least Springfield understands...

At least Springfield understands…

All sane and compassionate adults, tax-payer, responsible citizens and elected officials should adopt this “no-tolerance policy”:

“School officials and teachers who engage in child abuse, hysterical over-reactions and otherwise indefensible punitive measures against children who talk about guns, show pictures of guns, wear T-shirts with guns, use their fingers as guns, form objects that vaguely look like guns, or display obvious toys of any size and material that nobody who has ever watched TV or a movie or traveled among the living could conceivably think was dangerous or a real gun, will not be tolerated, not even once. They will be fired, shunned, and forbidden to engage in any occupation that will give them power or authority over children, anywhere, forever. And school board members, administrators, elected officials or parents supporting such fools will also not be tolerated. Their indefensible opinions will go on their permanent record, creating a prima facie case for any future employer that they are, in fact, too silly to be trusted.”

Is that too harsh? I don’t think so. After all, I just removed the provision that says that any school housing such teachers or officials should be closed down and converted into a shooting range. I can’t stand any more of these stories. Anyone who can read them and blithely send their kids to be “educated’ by such utter dolts and hysterics should be investigated for child cruelty themselves. Who knows what other irresponsible things such parents might be doing?

From the Washington Post: Continue reading

The Stigmatized Science Fair Project: School Indoctrination, Power Abuse and Passive Parents

indoctrinationFrom Lenore Skanzy’s useful and fascinating blog Free Range Kids comes a report from a mother whose Middle Schooler’s science fair project was summarily disqualified after he devoted months of work on it because it involved Airsoft guns, the realistic-looking gun replicas that shoot plastic pellets—toys, though expensive ones, much favored by pre-teen and teen-aged boys. The Airsoft was not physically featured in the project display; apparently the boy was punished for having the bad taste to use anything that looked and behaved like a gun in any activity related to school. According to the mother, his experiment, involving the spin on propelled objects, received a high enough score to send him and his experiment to the regionals, had he not been slapped down for daring to use a toy gun at his own home.

What is going on here? What is going on is a concerted, widespread nation-wide, ideologically-motivated and unethical effort by teachers, administrators and school districts to create a pervasive anti-gun, anti-gun ownership, anti-Second Amendment and pro-gun confiscation culture in the schools, ensuring, through cultural reinforcement, that future generations emerge from public education thoroughly phobic about guns no matter what their purpose. This abuse of power, a particularly stupid, sinister and ignorant abuse of power, is being encouraged by elected officials and the news media, and it is the tip of a very ugly iceberg.

This isn’t about guns, though they are the target this time. It is about school personnel and schools using their influence to implant ideology and political policy views in children, which is neither their job nor the appropriate role of public education. Continue reading

When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Unethical, As A School Board Ponders The Profits of Child Labor

child laborWe learn about how seriously our institutions take their ethics when money gets scarce. States suddenly decided that ol’ devil gambling wasn’t so bad after all, once they realized that lots and lots of poor, desperate people without a lot of mathematical skills would fork over billions they needed to buy food with or save to move out of the ghetto in the hope of becoming a tycoon. I’m sure as soon as states realize that their legislators don’t have the guts to make the wealthy and powerful pay for lousy schools, more and more of them will get into the drug dealing business, like Colorado, and let the lives, families and businesses destroyed by the inevitable results of legal pot and cocaine become collateral damage.

Somewhere in between those irresponsible and cynical policy decisions way come ideas like this one, from the Prince George’s County Board of Education (in Maryland.) There is a new proposed policy in the perpetually corrupt Washington D.C. neighbor to make all work products created by teachers or students the intellectual property of the County, not the individual who created it: Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: Developing A School Anti-Violence No-Tolerance Insanity Scale

More deadly than a spit-ball? Less threatening than a pizza?

More deadly than a spit-ball? Less threatening than a pizza?

The latest example of mind-numbing school no-tolerance hysteria comes from rural Pennsylvania, where a kindergarten student has been suspended for threatening to shoot another student with a pink Hello Kitty bubble gun. I confess that I have nothing new to say about this idiotic and cruel incident that I haven’t said before about, say, the school principal who attempted to punish a 4th grader in 2010 for playing with a LEGO figure who was carrying a two-inch LEGO “gun”:

“The ethical duty being violated here, along with the ethical values of fairness, prudence, proportion and respect, is competence. A school administrator who does something like this is not competent, and any school system that gives such a person responsibility for the education of young children is also incompetent.”

…Or about the school administrators that punished a 10-year-old who had bitten a slice of pizza into the shape of a gun, an incident that admittedly sent me over the edge when I wrote:

“This is the Apocalypse, the bottom of the barrel. This disgraces teachers, schools, administrators, the U.S. educational system, America and the human race. Incompetence, unfairness, abuse of power, irresponsible behavior and stupidity, all flowing from a system that has lost its way and is in despair. We are officially in the Twilight Zone, Bizarro World, Cloud Cuckoo Land, and Oz, all to the detriment of our poor students, needing an education, and encountering only rigidity, cowardice and foolishness.”

In the wake of Newtown, however, with supposedly responsible elected officials running around making absurd statements about how we have to choose between the Second Amendment and “saving our children,” the entrenched no-tolerance fanaticism in the schools has become more virulent and widespread, though it could not have become more damaging, irresponsible or stupid than the pizza episode. Continue reading

Is Ronald Miller An Ethics Dunce? How Unethical Is Really, Really Stupid?

Is stupidity a defense for unethical conduct?

Is stupidity a defense for unethical conduct?

The news report from Texas about a father posing as an armed intruder to test the security of his son’s school once again raises the thorny problem of how to distinguish ethically obtuse and dumb as a brick. From U.S. News and NBC:

Officials say Ronald Miller was unarmed Wednesday when he told a school greeter outside Celina (Texas) Elementary School that he had a gun… The greeter froze in panic when Miller said he was a gunman and his target was inside, Celina Independent School District Superintendent Donny O’Dell told Miller was then able to walk into the school and entered the office. “He told them that he is a shooter and ‘you’re dead, and you’re dead,'” O’Dell [said.] Never showing a weapon, Miller then reportedly revealed his stunt was a test of school safety and he wanted to talk to the principal. School staffers knew Miller, who was a father of a student, and police were not called until he left the school, The Dallas Morning News reported. He was arrested Wednesday evening and is being held in lieu of $75,000 bail…”

Is Miller so stupid he doesn’t know why this is wrong? It is “the ends justifies the means” thinking personified: he was willing to risk a panic, scare school workers sick, possibly set off a violent incident (what if, as the NRA fervently wishes were the case in all schools, someone in the principal’s office was carrying a gun and decided the safest thing was to shoot Miller before he started his rampage?), and undermine what little rational trust there is left in schools these days, all to prove absolutely nothing, other than the fact that parents aren’t high on the list of suspected school shooters, since no parent has ever been one. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: Censoring a First Grader’s Poem

No-GodThis is a different kind of ethics quiz, because the question is where the blame for an unethical result lies. The result is clearly wrong, but I am uncertain who or what should be blamed for it.

A first-grade student in North Carolina wrote a Veterans Day poem honoring her grandfather, a Vietnam veteran. She had been selected to read the poem at a November 8 Veterans Day ceremony.   One of the lines was, “He prayed to God for peace, he prayed to God for strength.”

The Horror.

The school forced her to remove the line. Continue reading

The American Family Association Snaps

Oh-oh. The American Family Association  is losing it….

The American Family Association, which holds that it supports “traditional values,” has been feuding with the liberal, diversity and civil rights-minded Southern Poverty Law Center, which designated it a “hate group.” In turn, the AFA has called the SPLC some other nasty things. They really don’t like each other.

Not liking an adversary group is hardly unusual, but detesting one so much that it robs you of whatever common sense, rationality and proportion you have is both self-destructive and unprofessional, and a clear sign that the group’s judgment is poisoned by emotion and non-ethical considerations. This is what the American Family Association is demonstrating now.

It is difficult to imagine a school program less sinister than “Mix It Up at Lunch Day.” One of the efforts sponsored by Teaching Tolerance, the October 30 nationwide effort has encouraged schools for eleven years to urge students  to sit with kids they don’t normally eat lunch with, giving members of different groups and cliques an opportunity to branch out, and to get to know students who are different from themselves. The phenomenon of high school gradually sorting itself into exclusive groups of various levels of social status was neatly captured in “Mean Girls,” where the school’s lunch table cliques were divided into “freshmen, ROTC guys
preps, J.V. jocks, Asian nerds, Cool Asians, Varsity jocks, Unfriendly black hotties, Girls who eat their feelings, Girls who don’t eat anything, Desperate wannabes, Burnouts, Sexually active band geeks,” and, of course, the dreaded Plastics, the social queens, and the Outcasts. “Mix It Up at Lunch Day,” properly handled, is a splendid idea.

But, you see, it is the inspiration of the dreaded Southern Poverty Law Center, so the AFA has decided that it must be evil. Pointing out that the Southern Poverty Law Center is a “fanatical pro-homosexual group, ” the association is urging parents to block their children’s schools’ efforts to hold “Mix It Up” day, by complaining, protesting and, if necessary, keeping their children home. Continue reading

The Eventual Firing of Daniel Picca: Why Our Children Are Not Safe In Public School

Wait…is that a CHILD’S hand?

Today, in a scathing editorial, the Washington Post related the shocking story of the firing of Daniel Picca, a Montgomery County, Maryland  elementary school teacher who was suspected by school officials of having inappropriate relations with male students since at least 1995. This was, said the Post, ” a stinging indictment of a school bureaucracy that for almost two decades believed it had a problem but reacted with a seemingly endless flow of ineffective warnings, letters, reprimands and — most appalling — reassignments of the teacher to other schools and other students.” Montgomery County, it should be noted, boasts of one of the finest public school systems in the nation….or so we have been told.

Picca, as was detailed by a hearing examiner  in 2010 and by an administrative law judge this year, had been warned for 17 years about his conduct with young boys, including inappropriate touching, having students sit on his lap, “wrestling” with the boys and inviting some to an extracurricular “Strong Boys Club” of his own invention, where he encouraged male students to remove their shirts, according to student testimony. In 1995, county child protective services  said that Picca was responsible for “indicated child abuse.”The school system now says it missed this, somehow—not that it didn’t have plenty of evidence already. Continue reading

An Ethics Riddle: What Do You Get When You Cross The Oklahoma Valedictorian Flap With The Delta T-Shirt Controversy?

Give up?

Pure evil.

The answer is that you get kindergarten student Cooper Barton of Oklahoma City being forced by his teacher and principal to turn his T-shirt inside out under threat of discipline because it celebrated the University of Michigan, and the city’s Soviet dress code requires that school children may only wear apparel supporting Oklahoma colleges, such as Oklahoma University or Oklahoma State University.  Cooper’s mother told the news media that her son had to hide behind a tree to turn his shirt inside-out, and that he was embarrassed by the affair. “They should really worry about academics. It wasn’t offensive. He’s five,” she said.

Gee, ya think? Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “The Weeping Bus Monitor: A Half-Million Dollars For Incompetence”

Some critical threads on posts here depress me, and there have been two examples recently. The first is the parade of out-of-work or underemployed lawyers of recent vintage who identify with the unemployed lawyer in the Occupy Wall Street throng of last fall whose response to job-hunting frustration was to give up, hand-letter a sign and blame his law school. These commenters take special umbrage at my hardly original observation that a law degree is good for pursuits other than practicing law, and continue to insist that the degree is suddenly a handicap, as two JDs run for President of the United States for the first time since Dewey challenged FDR in 1944.

The other thread, if less vociferous and bizarre, is even more depressing. These are the tender souls who believe that Karen Klein, the inert school bus monitor shown in a viral video weeping and cringing at the taunts of the 12-year-olds she was supposed to supervise, deserves anything but scorn for stealing taxpayer money and disgracing adulthood in front of impressionable youngsters. Maybe I’ve been reading the comments for two many days, but they seem to have a theme in common, which is the avoidance of personal responsibility and accountability for setbacks and failure, and the eager acceptance of victim status in order to avoid blame and attract sympathy.

Thus I was in the perfect mood to read this spunky post from dkatt, who scored the Comment of the Day on the essay, “The Weeping Bus Monitor: A Half-Million For Incompetence”: Continue reading