Sunday, September 29, 2013

Just when you think ‘zero tolerance’ can’t get any dumber

So-called “zero tolerance” rules have been in schools for quite a while.  In theory, they are supposed to reduce school violence.  Instead, what they often do is create a nightmare for administrators who often are forced to inflict serious punishments on good kids who make a fairly minor mistake.

However, here lately it seems that some administrators are competing to see who can be the dumbest about the rule.  In Virginia Beach, Virginia, it looks as if an administrator is going for first place:

Two seventh-grade students in Virginia Beach, Va., were handed long-term suspensions Tuesday that will last until the end of the school year for playing with an airsoft gun in one of their front yards while waiting for the school bus.

WAVY-TV reports that 13-year-old Khalid Caraballo and Aidan Clark will face an additional hearing in January to determine if they will be expelled for “possession, handling and use of a firearm” because the guns were fired at two others playing in Caraballo’s yard.

For the record, airsoft guns fire small, plastic projectiles designed to be fired at people with property safety equipment.  In fact, airsoft is a pretty big hobby with millions of people spending money on guns and equipment to go out into the woods and “play war”.  Now, clearly, Caraballo and Clark weren’t in the woods at an organized function, but they were clearly on private property.

A parent of one of the kids playing with the two boys called the police because she had safety concerns.  Local law is a bit contradictory, but part of it does say that airsoft guns can be fired on private property.

Wouldn’t this be a more appropriate matter for the police and the parents of the children involved?

Yesterday, the decision was made to expel the two boys:

The decision was made unanimously by a disciplinary committee consisting of three members of the Virginia Beach City Public Schools board, according to local news.

Khalid Caraballo and Aidan Clark are banned from Larkspur Middle School until at least January, when a new hearing will be convened to determine whether the boys can come back to school early.

In a statement, the disciplinary committee said, “This is not an example of a public educator overreaching,” they claimed. “This was not zero tolerance at all. This was a measured response to a threat to student safety.”

Well, actually, it was overreaching.  After all, this was not on school property.  This was a case of kids horsing around on private property.  The committee was quick to point out that one of the boys had been in trouble several time previously.  None of that skips the fact that this took place in the yard of one of the kids, on private property and therefore is none of the school’s business.

Unfortunately, schools aren’t really keen on recognizing when they aren’t in charge any longer:

The school’s so-called “zero-tolerance” policy on guns extends to private property, according to the report.

Khalid’s mother, Solangel Caraballo, said it’s ridiculous that her son and his friends were suspended because they were firing the airsoft gun on private property.

“My son is my private property. He does not become the school’s property until he goes to the bus stop, gets on the bus, and goes to school,” Caraballo told the station.

I’m going to assume that Caraballo’s mother meant to say that her son was her “responsibility” rather than “private property” because to mean otherwise would mean her son is a slave or something.  One person can not be the property of another.  Period.  End of that discussion.

Now, as to the meat of this section, there is clearly some disagreement on when a student falls under a school’s jurisdiction.  Frankly, schools are trying to claim more and more of a child’s day under their rules, often without any input from parents.  For example, a middle school girl in Washington state was forced to open up her Facebook page for a principle so he could check up on her friends.  At least one student was suspended based on what the principle saw.  The school justified it by claiming it was investigating bullying…bullying that apparently didn’t happen on school grounds.  So, unfortunately it’s no surprise that schools would extend their draconian “zero tolerance” rules to the moment a child sets foot outside of his house before school…even if he’s not actually getting on the bus.

Folks, I understand the theory behind “zero tolerance”.  I understand it, but I think it’s total bull.  We’ve had kids suspended from school for nibbling his pop tart into the shape of a gun.  We’ve had kids suspended because of the itty bitty gun for a Lego figure.  We’ve even seen a kid disarm a gunman while protecting another student and get suspended (another candidate for dumbest administrator award).

The idea behind “zero tolerance” is that by showing no mercy, you will intimidate students into not bringing weapons to school.  I hate to break it to you, but the kids you need to worry about aren’t the ones who care about being suspended or expelled.  Just like anywhere else, the only people punished by such rules are the kids who actually give a flying flip about being good kids.

Until the powers that be understand that simple fact, more and more kids are going to find themselves suspended under these idiotic and draconian rules while the kids you have to worry about will still have weapons in school.

Hmmmm….dracionain weapons restrictions only impact those who want to follow the rules.  Sounds kind of familiar, doesn’t it?

SOURCE.  The more you look into it, the worse the school looks.  See here

Yes, There’s a War on Boys in Schools

What’s happened to The New Republic? YesterdayOn Tuesday, it published a mistake-ridden piece by Alice Robb that sought to trash a recent event hosted by National Review and the Independent Women’s Forum. Most of Robb’s efforts focused on disputing Christina Hoff Sommers’s claim that boys are neglected in the nation’s schools.

According to Robb, high-school boys “study science, engineering and math at much higher rates than girls.” Her source was a news story about students – in Australia. Here is what she would have found, had she thought to look at U.S. Department of Education research.

See original for graphics    

Robb also says that “high school boys participate more actively in class discussion.” To prove this, she links to a 1992 AAUW report that says boys are eight times more likely to call out answers than girls. This claim about the “call-out gap” has been refuted over and over again. As Sommers showed in the first edition of the War Against Boys – and other journalists and scholars have confirmed (see here and here) – the research backing up this claim is nowhere to be found.

In one of her more trivial accusations, Robb suggests that a game Sommers mentions called “Circle of Friends” might not be real. Sommers, says Robb, is baselessly “winding people up” with misleading stories about intolerance of competitive games.

Circle of Friends, a non-competitive version of tag, is featured in an anti-bullying guidebook called “Quit it!,” published by the National Education Association and the Wellesley Center for Research on Women (funded by the Department Education.) The Quit it! curriculum is alive and well, and  according to its academic authors “has been implemented in schools in Connecticut, Manhattan, and New Jersey.” This popular handbook contains many activities designed to render rambunctious children K-3 — especially boys — less volatile, less competitive, and less aggressive.

Robb rashly concludes, “Tag is not under threat.” Wrong again. As a practitioner of Google-search journalism, Robb could have typed “tag banned” in the search box. She would have yielded numerous examples:  Franklin Elementary School in Santa Monica, Calif.; Willett Elementary School in Attleboro, Mass.; Van Buren Elementary School in Placentia, Calif.; Marengo Elementary School in South Pasadena, Calif.; Discovery Canyon Campus, Evans International, and Meridian Ranch Elementary Schools, all in Colorado Springs, Calif.; and McLean Elementary Schools in McLean, Va. – to name only a few.

For this dazzling feat of investigative journalism, Alice Robb’s piece was selected by the Atlantic Wire as one of this week’s “five best Monday columns.” At Slate, Amanda Hess was so exhilarated by Robb’s “Circle of Friends” revelation that she decided to write her own drawn-out analysis of the merits of freeze tag. (For what it’s worth: Amanda Hess says that schools aren’t hostile to boys because she thinks that freeze tag is more fun than regular tag. Good for her.)

True, the campaign against tag is not evidence alone that our playgrounds and schools have become hostile environments for boys. But this is just one telling example of an increasing intolerance for boys’ play preferences and interests. Rather than debunking the boy gap with “ms.information” or challenging the popularity of Circle of Friends, critics should fix their eyes on a relentless problem in urgent need of solution – the academic plight of millions of boys and young men.


British sixth formers being targeted by U.S. universities as more students look to study abroad because of rising tuition fees

Record numbers of young people are choosing to study in the U.S. as American universities ramp up UK recruitment in the wake of tuition fee rises.

Jumping on the opportunity to attract the UK's brightest youngsters, U.S. institutions are increasingly targetting British sixth formers via recruitment fairs.

In the last four years, there has been an 84 per cent rise in the number of US universities exhibiting at 'USA College Day' - the largest American university fair in the UK.

And last year, 9,000 students jetted off to the United States to embark on higher education courses; it is believed that figure is set to be even higher this year, according to The Telegraph.

Experts claim students are considering U.S. courses since UK university tuition fees have dramatically risen. Many of the country's leading institutions are now charging students £9,000-a year for to courses - three times the previous cost.

Launching tomorrow, the USA College Day fair, at Kensington Town Hall, London, will host a record number of exhibitors, including eight of the top 10 U.S. institutions and 42 first-timers.

The event, held in partnership with University of South Florida (USF) is free and now in its 36th year.

Dr Roger Brindley, vice provost and USF system associate vice president said: 'Given the changes in UK university tuition recently, the University of South Florida represents a tremendous value proposition for UK students.'

This academic year (2012-13) was the first where UK institutions had the freedom to impose far higher fees, and according to the government's Office for Fair Access, prices are set to rise still next year.

Data shows that 64 out of 122 UK institutions plan to increase fees next year. The maximum annual fee for any course is £9,000.

Commenting on the interest in College Day, Lauren Welch, director advising and marketing at the U.S.-UK Fulbright Commission, which organises the event said: 'After several years of rising interest in US study amongst British students, American universities are eager to connect with UK pupils.

'What’s more, it is not just the usual suspects attending this year. We are seeing universities of all shapes and sizes come over the pond this autumn, including many newcomers.'

Ms Welch said that many institutions go above and beyond simply attending the exhibition, and schedule talks at schools 'to fully take advantage of their visit'.


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