Sunday, August 07, 2011

Queer student taunted the wrong guy

A teacher testified Thursday that a gay student at a Southern California junior high school paraded around in makeup and high heels in front of a classmate who is accused of killing him the next day.

Arthur Saenz said he saw defendant Brandon McInerney sitting on a bench looking angry and upset while 15-year-old Larry King walked back and forth in front of him as other students laughed. "I saw a lot of anger and rage," the history teacher said about McInerney.

He said he did nothing about the situation because the school administrator walked up and saw the same scene. He said he assumed she would take care of it.

Saenz said that in hindsight, he thought the encounter "appeared to be sexual harassment."

McInerney, who was 14 at the time of the 2008 shooting at E.O. Green School in Oxnard, is being tried as an adult on first-degree murder and hate crime charges.

The defense is arguing that McInerney had a troubled childhood and had reached an emotional breaking point over unwanted sexual advances by King when he shot his fellow student in a computer classroom. The prosecution contends McInerney was driven by white supremacist anti-gay beliefs.

Saenz's testimony came after McInerney's aunt testified that she saw the young man's father physically and verbally abuse him.

Megan Csorba said she saw her brother sit on his son until he couldn't breathe, pull his thumb back until he screamed and punch him in the face, the Ventura County Star reported.

In cross-examination, a prosecutor asked Csorba why she didn't report the abuse to police. "I was going through my own abuse, and I wasn't going to do that to my brother," Csorba said.

She said that books on Nazi youth and videos on shooting at McInerney's home belonged to the defendant's older brother. She also testified, as did McInerney's half-brother, that the defendant had been molested by a cousin.

The cousin was scheduled to testify Friday. The trial was moved to Los Angeles County because of extensive media coverage in Ventura County.


Must not laugh at blacks

A former student is taking Red Wing High School to court. Quera Pruitt, a 19-year-old who graduated from the Minnesota school last year, is suing for allowing what she sees as an offensive, racially-charged homecoming event to go on without punishing the offending students.

The event, called “Wigger Day,” was celebrated by students who commemorated it by coming to school in oversized jerseys, baggy and sagging pants, side-cocked baseball caps and, perhaps most indicative of the racial nature of the celebration, doo rags.

To opponents like Pruitt, the premise (not to mention the name) of the event was a play off of the infamous “n-word,” which is highly offensive to African Americans.

Pruitt is charging that Red Wing High School officials, including the principal, were well aware of the offensive nature of the event and that they simply ignored it. She is seeking $75,000 in damages, citing emotional distress, depression, stress, crying, humiliation and a plethora of other emotions.

As a result of the event, she claims she dropped out of cheerleading and student council; she even considered leaving the school.

Time’s NewsFeed provides more background about how the situation has devolved:

"Homecoming typically involves a flurry of themed events that lead up to the big game. In 2009, the student body designated Sept. 30 as “Tropical Day,” but according to the federal class action suit, about 70 students declared it “Wednesday Wigger Day” instead. Pruitt says the high school, where 3% of the 900 students are black, celebrated “Wigger Day,“ also known as ”Wangsta Day,” between 2007 and 2009.

The offensive nature of the event was captured when it first happened back in 2009. In an interview published on, Pruitt explained her take on the event as follows: ”They hurt my feelings. No one asked me how I felt about it.”

Another student, Alissia Humphreys, explained, “I have a right to be comfortable at school, and I don’t appreciate that being taken away from me and making me feel uncomfortable.” But, back in 2009, at least according to, school officials seemed like they were taking control of the situation:

Red Wing Superintendent Stan Slessor says the district is disappointed with the students actions and words — whether or not they were intended to be offensive. Officials did require the students to change their clothes immediately. No more punishment has followed, but the district does plan to use the incident to teach tolerance.

Interestingly, reports a fact that didn’t make its way into some other outlets: The principal did tell students to change their offensive clothing. Regardless of whether this is true with certainty, the news site corroborated the fact that no one was punished for participating in “Wigger Wednesday.”

There’s another element here, though, that further complicates the situation. Following the incident, it appears as though a Facebook group called “Wigger Wednesday” (which has now been removed) was used to potentially cyber-bully Pruitt. Apparently, it read, “let’s keep wigger wednesday goin til that [derogatory term] quits.” One wonders: Was this “quitting” in reference to Pruitt’s cheerleading? If so, the students’ efforts were successful.


British Teenagers can earn university entrance by by going trekking, diving and whale-watching

Teenagers on gap years are being given university entrance points for adventures abroad. They can put experiences such as whale watching, trekking and diving towards a Certificate of Personal Effectiveness – equivalent to an A grade at AS-level.

Those who gain a level three in the CoPE receive 70 Ucas points, which could help them secure a university place. An A* at A-level is worth 140 Ucas points. Gap-year companies are promoting the certificate as a way for teenagers to secure university places.

But critics say the inclusion of such qualifications in the Ucas tariff system is ‘crazy’ and warn that the CoPE could give students a false sense of security when applying for courses.

There are also concerns that the extra points awarded for gap-year activities could see wealthier students edging out rivals who have the same grades but cannot afford to spend a year out travelling and volunteering.

The CoPE requires students to choose challenges from six modules: global awareness, enrichment activities, work-related activities, active citizenship, career planning and extended project.

They gain five credits for 50 hours’ activity, with at least 15 credits from three different modules required to complete the qualification.

The Frontier website, which provides gap-year advice, says the CoPE ‘will appeal to potential employers or university applications’. It adds: ‘If you just missed out on a university place or just want to boost your score, a CoPE would be a good way to do it.’

Holly Taylor, from Camps International, which specialises in expeditions to Africa and Asia, said acquiring Ucas points for overseas trips was a convenient way for ‘gappers’ to kill two birds with one stone. She said: ‘As well as doing a gap year they are able to come back and better themselves at university here.’

She added that the first two students from Camps International to achieve the CoPE secured their university places with the extra Ucas points they gained.

But Professor Alison Wolf, who led a government inquiry into education qualifications, said: ‘It underlines the craziness of trying to put points on everything that moves. ‘There is a danger that people will believe that universities will treat all points as equal and a terrible danger that the most vulnerable people will be misled and make choices they shouldn’t make.’

Professor Alan Smithers, director of Buckingham University’s Centre for Education and Employment Research, said: ‘To get into Oxford or Cambridge, I’m not sure these gap-year A-level points will make any difference. They are not going to rate very highly among A*s in physics, maths and chemistry.’

Overseas volunteering is a multi-billion-pound industry, with the average gap-year traveller, aged 18 to 24, spending £3,000-£4,000 on the trip, according to analysts Mintel. But the economic downturn and next year’s tripling of the limit on tuition fees have seen the numbers planning gap years fall from 20,000 in 2010 to 6,000 this year, Ucas figures show. And students who defer their places for gap years face paying fees of up to £9,000 next September.

A spokesman for The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said it was up to universities whether they wanted to charge those students under the current fee regime or at 2012 levels.

However, students can complete the CoPE without taking a year out or going abroad. It is aimed at anyone aged over 16 and some study for it by doing voluntary work during their A-levels.

A Ucas spokesman said it was possible to use activities gained ‘from a wide variety of experiences to inform a course of study’ and to attract tariff points.


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