Thursday, March 08, 2012

CO: 11-year-old girl handcuffed for being “rude” at school

Sounds like a pompous and inept assistant principal might have been a large part of the problem

An 11-year-old Colorado girl was handcuffed and taken to a holding facility at her school for disobeying orders and being "argumentative and extremely rude," reports.

An Adams County Sheriff's Office incident report said Yajira Quezada, a sixth-grader at Shaw Heights Middle School, was found walking in a hallway during lunch by the school's assistant principal, according to the station. The child reportedly claimed she was in the hallway because she was cold and needed a sweater from her locker.

The report said that when the principal began speaking to the child, she "turned and walked away saying, 'I don't have time for this,'" the station reported.

After a counselor tried unsuccessfully to mediate, the girl was reportedly handcuffed and taken to a juvenile holding facility called "The Link."

While the Adams County Sheriff's Office claims handcuffing students in such a manner is standard procedure, the girl's mother blasted officials for treating her daughter like a "criminal."

"They're treating them like criminals. And they're not, they're kids," the girl's mother, Mireya Gaytan, told the station.


A better way of learning

One problem with the usual approach to education at all levels is that it mostly consists of having someone learn something not because he at the moment has any need to know it but because someone else told him to learn it, possibly on the grounds that the knowledge or skill will be useful at some time in the future. It is much easier to get someone to actually learn something if it is of immediate use to him. The best way of learning a computer language, in my view, is not to start by working your way through the manual but to start with a program you want to write. You then have an immediate incentive to learn what you need to write it, and immediate feedback as to whether you have succeeded.

That approach works in a wide variety of other contexts. When my home schooled son was about eleven or twelve, he was running a weekly D&D game for a group of other home schooled kids. It was good training in responsibility. Each week, when the other players showed up, he had to have already done all of the work of preparing that week's session—otherwise the game, his project, would fail. Each week he did. It was, I think, better training than if he had been a student with homework due on a regular schedule. The homework would have been someone else's requirement, with no justification other than someone else's orders. This was his project—and it was obvious what he had to do to make it work.

Suppose you are a comfortably well off parent. Almost everything your child wants—toys, books, games—is available to be bought at what is, in terms of your income, a trivial cost. That makes it hard to do a believable job of teaching your child the importance of saving, of deciding which things he really wants and which he can do without, skills that he will need, as an adult, to function in a world of limited resources.

If your child plays World of Warcraft, he will learn the relevant lesson with no need for you to impose arbitrary limits. He will have a limited amount of gold and a considerable variety of things he would like to spend it on. Increasing that amount will require him to spend time doing daily quests, figuring out what he can craft and sell at a profit and crafting and selling it, or perhaps, if he is a mage, running a magical taxi service teleporting other characters hither and yon for pay. Whatever his effort, he will probably not end up with enough gold to buy everything he wants. Here again, the lesson works because it is, in its own odd way, real. These are the things he has to do in order to achieve the objectives he has himself chosen.

I was reminded of the same point today in a very different context. At lunch there was a talk on the Northern California Innocence Project, which is run out of, and largely staffed by, the law school I teach at. The purpose of the project is to identify people who have been convicted of crimes they did not commit and get their verdicts reversed and them released. While the project involves some lawyers and at least one faculty member, a lot of the work is done by law school students. Seen from one side, the purpose is to get innocents out of prison. Seen from the other, it is to help educate our students.

Considered as education, it is a strikingly successful example of the approach I have been discussing. The students are learning legal skills, how to interview witnesses, convince judges, prosecutors, juries, file the right paperwork, make the right legal arguments. They are learning those skills not because someone else has told them they will need them five years from now to do the work someone then will pay them to do, but because they need the skills now to do something they very much want to do, to right a wrong, to rescue someone unjustly imprisoned.


Britain's Faith schools 'using covert selection to reject the poor'

Children from poor families are more often poorly behaved and that could quite rightly lead to their rejection by schools trying to inculcate high behavioral standards

Faith schools were accused of covert selection today as it emerged they are more likely to be dominated by children from middle-class families than ordinary state schools.

Figures show that schools backed by the Church of England and Roman Catholic Church take a smaller share of poor pupils than other primaries and secondaries nearby.

Data from the Department for Education reveals that three-quarters of Catholic schools had a lower proportion of children from the most deprived backgrounds – those eligible for free meals – than the average for their local authority last year.

At the same time, some three-quarters of Anglican primaries and two-thirds of secondaries also took a smaller share of poor pupils.

Church leaders defended the figures saying that schools often had wider catchment areas than other schools.

But the disclosure prompted claims from secular groups that middle-class families were allowed to cheat often complex selection criteria to make sure their children secured places.

Richy Thompson, from the British Humanist Association, said: “Repeated academic studies have shown that, in state schools that select on religious grounds, there end up being fewer pupils from poorer backgrounds and that any selection favours more affluent parents who know how to play the system.”

Currently, faith schools make up around a third of state-funded schools in England.

In the latest study, the Guardian analysed data from recent school-by-school league tables to assess the extent to which they reflect their local communities.

According to figures, some 73 per cent of Catholic primaries and 72 per cent of Catholic secondaries have a lower proportion of pupils eligible for free meals – those with parents earning less than £16,000 – than the average for the local authority.

It was also revealed that 74 per cent of Anglican primaries and 65.5 per cent of secondaries failed to properly represent the local area.

By contrast, just 51 per cent of non-religious primaries and 45 per cent of secondaries had a smaller proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals.

The Catholic Education Service insisted that schools often failed to reflect their communities because catchment areas were much wider than those for other schools, with religious children often travelling from miles around to attend.

It pointed to separate DfE data that showed 18.6 per cent of children at Catholic primary schools lived in the most deprived 10 per cent of areas of England, compared with only 14.3 per cent of primary pupils nationally.

A spokesman for the CofE rejected claims of backdoor selection, saying local authorities controlled the admissions of more than half its schools.


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