Thursday, November 26, 2009

Gun paranoia: California student expelled for having unloaded shotguns in truck … off campus

They can't stop kids who really want to hurt others so they penalize peaceful kids. Apparently that makes sense to them

The Willows Unified School District board of trustees has expelled a 16-year-old for having unloaded shotguns in his pickup parked just off the Willows High School campus. The board voted 4-0 Thursday to expel junior Gary Tudesko after the weapons were discovered via scent-sniffing dogs on Oct. 26. Board Vice President Alex Parisio abstained from the discussion and vote because he is related to Tudesko's family.

Expulsion hearings are normally held in closed sessions, but affected students and their parents can request a public hearing. Susan Parisio defended her son during the 105-minute public hearing at Willows Civic Center. She acknowledged that Tudesko was lazy for not storing the shotguns at home after a morning of bird hunting, but she questioned the district's ability to enforce its policies off Willows High School property. "My son was not even parked on school property," Parisio said.

Willows High Principal Mort Geivett and other district officials did not appear to dispute that the parking space was off school property, but they cited several justifications. One of them was the legal doctrine of in loco parentis — where school officials may act in place of a parent for school functions.

Geivett said the school was responsible for students traveling to and from school as well as during lunch. He said he believed that students should not possess weapons within 1,000 feet of campus. Geivett said he believed off-campus parking around the school was under the school's jurisdiction, in part because it is primarily used by students. "I'm erring on the safe side of protecting staff and kids," he said.

The incident began on Oct. 26 when scent-sniffing dogs detected something in a pickup on the street north of the tennis courts on West Willow Street. A Willows police officer did a search of the license plate and traced the pickup to Tudesko.

Tudesko came out to the vehicle and said there were two shotguns and shells in the pickup. He opened his vehicle for a search, which revealed the guns on the rear seat as well as a knife with a 3-inch blade. The police held the weapons and the school suspended Tudesko for five days, which was later extended indefinitely until Thursday's hearing.

Geivett said the Education Code requires the school pursue expulsion, when a student is in possession of a firearm, knife or explosive without written permission from the school. He said he was concerned for the safety of students and staff. "Gary should've known better than to come to campus with guns in his truck," Geivett said.

In addition to the Education Code, the Gun-Free School Zone Act of 1995 bars possession of firearms within 1,000 feet of a school, but there are exceptions for private property and for lawful transportation of non-concealable weapons.

Parisio said her son was raised in a family that has always owned guns. "We have always, always stressed that safety is important," she said. Parisio revisited the searches that uncovered the guns. She noted the canine search found two additional vehicles that resulted in the discovery of live ammunition. Parisio compared the ammo to explosives — which is also covered by the mandatory expulsion law — and asked why there weren't expulsion hearings for those students.

In addition, one of the shotguns in Tudesko's pickup belonged to a friend who rode to school with Tudesko. Parisio asked why the school didn't punish this student as well. "Selective enforcement in of itself is wrong," Parisio said.

Before the end of the session, Tudesko spoke briefly. He apologized for his actions and said he wanted to be on time for school. Tudesko said he believed it was all right to park on a public street with the unloaded weapons. After the hearing, several school board members declined to comment on their decision.

Parisio said she will appeal the district's decision to the Glenn County Board of Education. If the decision is upheld and her son is sent to a continuation school, Parisio said she would likely home-school Tudesko.


School leavers are not fit for work, says British retail chief

Millions of school and college leavers are 'not fit for work', the boss of Marks & Spencer warned yesterday. Chairman Sir Stuart Rose said too many didn't even have a basic grasp of the three Rs. His company is one of the country's biggest employers, with a 65,000-strong regular workforce as well as 20,000 Christmas temps. It comes weeks after Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy called the education system 'woeful' and said employers were too often 'left to pick up the pieces.'

In an outspoken attack in London yesterday, Sir Stuart, 60, said: 'They cannot do reading. They cannot do arithmetic. They cannot do writing.' He said his work as chairman of the Business in the Community charity had highlighted the skills crisis. A major poll by the charity of around 2,000 business leaders over 18 months found the education black hole was their second biggest headache after the recession. Many young people simply do not have the ' employability', lacking skills from reading and writing to punctuality, presentation and communication, it found.

Yesterday business lobby groups also weighed in. Stephen Alambritis, from the Federation of Small Businesses, said many bosses spend 'two to four weeks' helping to educate young people when they join the firm. This is before they can start teaching them about the job they have been hired to do.

Phil Orford, chief executive of the Forum of Private Business, added: 'There is a clear gap between what businesses need and what businesses get when it comes to the ability of the education system to produce viable employees for small businesses.' Around 750,000 small firms have been forced to hire recruits 'with fewer skills than they had hoped for', according to its latest research. About one in five ranked the skills in the workforce as 'poor' or 'very poor'.

Appearing alongside Sir Stuart during a question and answer session at the Confederation of British Industry's annual conference yesterday was Chris Hyman, chief executive of the services giant Serco. He added that Britain suffers from a 'paranoia about qualifications, rather than skills.'

Recent figures show that nearly one in five pupils - 19 per cent - finished 11 years of compulsory education without achieving a single C grade in any subject.

There is also a widening gulf between private and state schools, with many parents feeling forced into paying to educate their children.

And the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed that there are nearly one million young people aged 16 to 24 who cannot get a job. A record 19.8 per cent of young people are unemployed, which means they are actively looking for work but are having no success.

Sir Stuart was educated in Tanzania followed by a Quaker school in York before starting his career in 1971 as an M&S trainee.

Last night Schools Minister Iain Wright hit back at his claims, saying: 'Employers rightly have higher expectations of workers because there are fewer low-skill jobs in the economy - but it's unfair and wrong to make sweeping generalisations that distort the true picture. 'Our school leavers work hard for their qualifications and are better equipped for the world of work than they have ever been - with English and maths results at their highest ever levels [according to dumbed-down tests] and the consistency of those standards rigorously scrutinised by our independent exam regulator.'


A lesson in incompetence: How 1 in 3 British schools fails to provide adequate teaching

More than two million children are being taught in schools that are mediocre or failing, inspectors said yesterday. A 'stubborn core' of incompetent teachers is holding pupils back and fuelling indiscipline and truancy, Ofsted warned. Despite a raft of national initiatives, a third of schools still fail to offer a good education. The watchdog said the life chances of too many children were limited because they left school without basic mastery of the three Rs.

The withering verdict, which came in Ofsted's last annual report to Parliament before next year's general election, will be seen as an indictment of Labour's 12 years in power. 'Across the range of Ofsted's remit, there remains too much that is mediocre and persistently so,' said Christine Gilbert, the chief inspector. Her report warned that many pupils were being failed by teaching that is dull and confused and leads to disruption and absenteeism. Some 2.3million pupils were being let down.

Inspectors found that nearly half of academy schools - set up by Labour to raise standards through private sponsorship - were failing to provide a good education.

And a separate inquiry has found that ministers have wasted £5billion running education classes for adults in factories and offices.

Launching her report on the state of education in 2008/09, Miss Gilbert hailed improvements over the previous year but warned that progress has been too slow. She reserved some of her harshest criticism for poor teaching, warning that in some schools, pupils are being held back by their teachers' poor grasp of maths and science.

In science, children are being turned off the subject by lessons that are routine or paper-based. In English, some teachers are failing to extend children's vocabularies or encourage them to develop writing skills. Some trainee teachers leave college without understanding the importance of traditional 'phonics' reading techniques.

The report goes on to warn that the impact of millions of pounds being spent on computers in the classroom was being 'diminished' because the technology was too often used in pedestrian ways. 'There is a stubborn core of inadequate teaching and teaching that is only satisfactory - teaching that fails to inspire, challenge or extend children and learners,' Miss Gilbert said. 'If children are not taught well, they will not rise above low expectations.'

She revealed that substandard teachers face a crackdown under a revamped inspection regime that will see a doubling in the number of lessons observed by inspectors. 'The new inspection framework focuses more sharply on this issue,' she said. Children are more likely to play truant in schools where teaching is weak, her report added.

Pupils are also less likely to lose concentration and disrupt lessons if teaching is lively and engaging. 'As in the case of attendance, standards of behaviour are linked with the quality of teaching,' the report said. 'Improvements in behaviour are brought about through strengthening the quality of teaching.'

A hard core of more than 30 secondary schools is battling serious discipline problems, the report added.

Meanwhile one in five secondaries is struggling to get a grip on persistent low-level disruption which has a direct impact on the education of other children in the class. 'The challenge now is to get more teachers to teach consistently well and, in particular, to reduce the variation in teaching within providers and to tackle the teaching that is dull, lacking in challenge and failing to engage learners,' the report said.

Teaching in 2 per cent of schools - about 400 - was rated 'inadequate'. It was merely satisfactory in a further 28 per cent.

Miss Gilbert went on to lend weight to complaints from a string of business leaders that youngsters are leaving school without the basic skills they need in the workplace. The most recent intervention came from Sir Stuart Rose, the chairman of Marks & Spencer, who said this week: 'They cannot do reading. They cannot do arithmetic. They cannot do writing.' Miss Gilbert appeared to agree, saying: 'Too many young people leave school without adequate basic skills and this can have a limiting effect on their whole lives.' Problems begin at primary school, her report warned. Nearly 30 per cent of 11-year-olds fail to reach basic standards in both English and maths, she said.

Ministers want to scrap the national literacy and numeracy hours without putting in place a proper replacement system, she warned. Her fourth annual report was published as Ofsted fights for survival amid an unprecedented crisis of confidence over its own effectiveness. The watchdog found itself disastrously exposed over its role in the Baby P scandal and is coming under growing criticism from local authorities, schools and MPs.

Delivering her report at Ofsted's headquarters in London, Miss Gilbert said she would not be cowed by vested interests. Her report concluded that, overall, 32 per cent of schools are failing to give children a good education. Just 19 per cent are outstanding, while 50 per cent are rated good. Some schools inspected last year had declined in quality since their previous inspection three years before. One in five schools previously given a good or outstanding rating have slumped to merely ' satisfactory' or even 'inadequate'.

The report drew a furious response from teachers. Martin Freedman, head of pay, conditions and pensions at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: 'This attempt to scapegoat teachers who, the report says, are doing a good job even in sometimes challenging circumstances, smacks of political expediency. 'Quite why Ofsted thinks insulting and demoralising those working in education is the best way to improve young people's education is puzzling.'

But Nick Gibb, Tory schools spokesman, said: 'There are still far too many children being let down by the quality of education on offer.'

Schools Minister Vernon Coaker said: 'We want every school to be a good school and we are clearly heading in that direction.'

The Ofsted report also revealed that thousands of children are at risk from inadequate nurseries and childminders. Weaknesses at substandard providers included a failure to check that staff were suitable to work with children. Five per cent of nurseries and childminders inspected in 2008/09 were judged to be inadequate - no improvement on last year. But Ofsted said the large majority of early education and childcare providers offered a good service, and parents should be reassured.


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