Thursday, October 03, 2013

RI: 7th-grader suspended for having gun keychain

A 12-year-old boy was suspended from a Coventry middle school after his parents said he brought a small gun keychain to school.

Joseph Lyssikatos said the keychain was in his backpack at Alan Shawn Feinstein Middle School on Thursday when it fell out. A classmate picked it up and started showing it to other students.

A teacher confiscated it and before Joseph knew it, he was suspended.

"This boy was the one waving it or showing it to other kids. Not Joseph. Joseph wasn't doing that so why weren't both of them reprimanded," said Bonnie Bonanno, Joseph's mother.

The keychain in question is slightly larger than a quarter. Joseph told NBC 10 he bought it for 25 tickets at an arcade.

School officials released a statement that said, "Because this is a student discipline issue, we cannot comment on any specifics."

The school's zero tolerance policy states that suspensions are determined by the principal.

However, Joseph and his parents said he was told of the suspension by the school's behavioral specialist, and the principal and superintendent won't return their calls.

The school also informed Joseph's family that he would not be allowed to attend a class field trip to Salem at the end of the month.

"That's disgraceful because, OK, being suspended for three days, and this big punishment is enough for him mentally," Bonanno said.

Said Joseph: "I'm missing the NECAP testing and I'm in advanced math so I'm going to have to re-do all the homework I'm going to miss for advanced math."


Am I a 'social leper’ for caring about my kids?

By James Delingpole

If you believe some Left-wing commentators, I should be locked up for child abuse. The former Labour schools minister, Lord Adonis, thinks I’m guilty of “seriously disabling” my kids by segregating them from society. George Monbiot reckons I’m condemning them to join a “repressed, traumatised elite, unable to connect emotionally with others”. David Aaronovitch maintains that I’m trying to steal an “immoral advantage” over the nation’s poorer children.

My crime? Sending my children to private school, of course. I could have done the decent thing and used my earnings to help drive up property prices in a good state-school catchment area; or I could be splurging the same amount of dosh on an annual skiing holiday, a safari and a lease on that nice, chunky Range Rover I’ve always coveted.

But instead, miserable, selfish bastard that I am, I’ve chosen to squander my money on my children’s education. What kind of monster must I be? Well, in my modest opinion, a loving, caring sort of monster, actually. In fact, the way I see it, parents like me shouldn’t be treated like pariahs – or “social lepers” as Tim Hands, chairman of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC) lamentingly described us this week. We should all be given medals in recognition of our stoicism, our courage and our self-sacrifice for the greater good of the nation.

Every penny we spend on schooling our children privately is money that doesn’t have to be taken from the taxpayer for our creaking state education system. Moreover, we actively subsidise the state sector: every private school I know now lends out its games pitches, sports hall, swimming pool, and sometimes its specialist staff to less privileged schools. And it isn’t just because they’re bullied into it by the Charities Commission; the private sector, in my experience, is agonisingly conscious of its responsibilities to the wider society.

Partly, this is an understandable response to the kind of chippy, class-war comments we have seen. Mainly, though, it’s because this social responsibility is at the heart of our public schools’ ethos. Many of our older institutions – such as Eton – were established as charitable foundations to educate poor scholars; many of the more recent ones – such as my alma mater, Malvern College – were created in the Victorian era to train young men to administer responsibly and die bravely in fly-blown corners of our empire.

It’s easy now – modish too – to mock the “Play up! Play up! And play the game!” attitude which our public schools (and even more so, our prep schools) continue to inculcate in their pupils. But it’s also lazy and wrong-headed. In what way, exactly, can it be construed as undesirable to teach children the virtues of sportsmanship, pluck, self-confidence, teamwork and leadership? Are these qualities any less valuable in the modern age than they were in the days when half the world’s map was coloured pink?

Well, it goes without saying that I don’t think so. You often hear it said of privately educated children that they are burdened with a false sense of entitlement. But you can only consider it “false” if you believe that a child that has had a first-class liberal arts education, who is as well versed in the classics, history and foreign languages as he or she is comfortable yomping over mountains on Duke of Edinburgh courses, or speaking in a debate, or being hacked to bits in a scrum, is somehow less suited to the real world than a child that has had its self-esteem lovingly nurtured by the state on a diet of non-competitive sports days and institutionalised anti-elitism.

And if the values of the private sector are so pernicious, how come every half-way ambitious foreigner from China and Russia to Jordan and India is prepared to pay hand over fist for what they all know is the finest education in the world? Isn’t it a sign that something is working when, in a free market, consumers are clamouring to buy it?

Yes, I’m well aware that thanks to Michael Gove there are parts of the state sector which are improving. But if a teacher were to describe this on a report, the phrase they’d use would be “could do better” – and I’m sorry, call me selfish, call me socially divisive, but I love my children so very much that this just isn’t good enough for them. I want “excellent” and I want it now.

Oh – and by the way, I’m not a rich person. If it weren’t for the generous bursaries I receive from my children’s schools, there’s no way I could afford the fees. And there are lots of parents in the same boat: at Eton, 20 per cent of the children are on bursaries; at Christ’s Hospital, 88 per cent. It’s still a struggle, though; but one I’ll never regret. My kids will go into the world confident, happy and imbued with an intimate knowledge of the best that has ever been thought or written. And if that makes me a “social leper”, it’s a stigma I’ll wear with pride.


British Education Secretary blasts school militants: Striking teachers are attacked for putting ideology before pupils

Michael Gove accused teaching unions of adopting a ‘twisted, militant logic’ to justify strikes that closed nearly 3,000 schools yesterday.

The Education Secretary said it was bizarre that the NUT and NASUWT were striking against plans for performance-related pay that will see the best teachers paid more.

Speaking at the Conservative Party conference, Mr Gove angrily hit out at the unions as the  ‘enemies of promise’, saying they had selfishly ‘put their ideology before pupils’ interests’.

He added: ‘While we gather here today, the leaders of the militant teaching unions have gone out on strike.  'And the reason that they have gone out on strike, in a new example of a twisted militant logic, is that they want to stop good teachers being paid more money.

‘They are striking against... the growth and potential of poor children.’

His comments came as 2,703 schools were closed as a result of industrial action. Tens of thousands of children missed classes after 49 local authorities in the east of England, the East Midlands, West Midlands and Yorkshire and Humberside, were affected.

Mr Gove savaged claims by union leaders that they were implementing ‘child-friendly industrial action’, saying: ‘There is nothing child-friendly about industrial action.

‘Children lose a day of education, parents have to scrabble to pay more for expensive child care and the prestige of the teaching profession, which we all want to see reinforced and built up, takes a knock.

‘I have a simple message for the leaders of the teaching unions: Please, please, please don’t put your ideology before our children’s interests.’

The Department for Education said only 29 per cent of schools in the affected regions were closed. Figures for partially closed schools were not available.

A spokesman said: ‘The NUT and NASUWT have tried to create as much disruption for pupils and parents today as possible.

‘In spite of this, thanks to many hard-working teachers and heads, only a third of schools in the targeted regions were closed today.’

Thousands of chanting members of the NUT and NASUWT took to the streets of Sheffield, Birmingham and Cambridge to voice their anger over changes to pay, pensions and work conditions.
Among them were children carrying banners with slogans, including ‘Save my future’, ‘Protect my teachers’ and ‘Gove out’.

But angry parents said they had been forced to alter plans or pay for child care. Lisa Chambers, a councillor in charge of education at Tory-led Suffolk County Council, said she had to take her 13-year-old son Alex to meetings.

‘Unfortunately we don’t have any grandparents close to us and friends have got to make arrangements for their own children,’ she said. ‘I have a diary of commitments to people and I really don’t feel I can let people down because of this strike.’

The strike was the third of four one-day regional walk-outs, which will be followed by nationwide industrial action before Christmas. The next will affect London, the North East, South East and South West on October 17.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT, said she was sorry for the disruption but added: ‘The Government’s refusal to engage in meaningful talks has led to the NUT and NASUWT taking strike action.’

Low turn-out meant that less than a quarter of the unions’ members originally voted for industrial action.

It came as a former American teachers’ union leader from Washington DC urged his British counterparts to think again about opposing reforms.

George Parker said unions spent too much time trying to defend bad teachers and opposing reforms that would help children.

Mr Parker, who received a standing ovation at the Tory conference yesterday, said: ‘Performance pay can work. It’s working in Washington DC.’

Praising the free schools and academies programmes, he said: ‘The concept of removing the bureaucracy that schools have to go through is an excellent idea. I am going to go back to America and get into trouble with my union buddies by talking about these things.’


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