Thursday, April 10, 2014

CA: School wrestling coach gets wave of support as video of him taking pupil down goes viral

The mobile phone video from inside a classroom at Santa Monica High School went viral late last week.

It showed Mark Black, a longtime teacher and wrestling coach, swatting at a student with his arms, grabbing the teenager by the thigh and then crashing into desks and the classroom wall as he tried to execute a takedown. Moments later, Black had the young man pinned to the ground.

District Superintendent Sandra Lyon called the incident "utterly alarming" and acted swiftly, placing the teacher on leave pending the outcome of an investigation. In a statement released hours after the fight, she called the teacher's use of physical restraint "unacceptable" and pledged that the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District would offer support to the student's family.

But over the weekend, the tide changed.

Irate parents flooded Lyon and school board members with letters, castigating the superintendent for pre-judging the popular teacher and fiercely defending Black, 60, for what some saw as an act of bravery. Thousands of people liked a "We Support Coach Black of Samohi" page on Facebook and signed a petition calling for the coach's reinstatement.

So Lyon issued a second statement over the weekend, acknowledging that her remarks about Black had "caused great anger" and apologising to the community.

On Monday, Santa Monica police announced the arrest of an 18-year-old and a 16-year-old in connection with the classroom scuffle and said they would seek battery charges against both students.

The investigation casts a different light on Black's physical altercation, which some supporters say was necessary to keep other students safe. One school board member said the incident arose from a conflict over drug use, which raises complicated questions about when and how school staffers should intervene when students pose a threat or break a rule.

"It's a huge controversy when teachers put their hands on students," school board member Oscar de la Torre said. "From me knowing Mr Black personally — he was a former teacher of mine — I know him to be a fair person. The school board is committed to conducting a thorough and fair investigation."

Police and jail records identified the 18-year-old as Blair Moore. He is due in court on Tuesday for arraignment, and police are asking that he be charged with threatening a school official, possession of a weapon — a box cutter — on a school campus and possession of marijuana on school grounds, in addition to the battery charge.

Police did not identify the 16-year-old.

De la Torre said other staffers were injured trying to break up the melee and at least one person sought medical attention.

Lyon did not return multiple phone messages seeking comment, but in a third statement Monday she defended her decision to place Black on paid administrative leave as "standard procedure." Black did not reply to an email seeking comment.

Darrell Goode, president of the Santa Monica-Venice branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, voiced support for the superintendent's action. He said the recent event was particularly sensitive because of an incident about a year and a half ago in which an African American wrestler at the school was hazed by white teammates.

"They have security, so I'm not sure why a teacher would need to grab a student under any condition," Goode said. "It's just judgment. You call security and security calls police."

But Daniel Jacobs, 32, a 1999 Santa Monica High School graduate who runs a Silicon Valley start-up, was so upset by Lyon's initial statement that he started his own petition, which asks Lyon to apologise.

Jacobs said that when he saw the video, his reaction was that it captured Black "trying to neutralise a threat."

Jacobs said that whenever he returns to Santa Monica, he makes a point of visiting Black. "I've never met a better or more kindhearted man in my life."


Forget tiger moms! Study says Asian American children succeed because of socioeconomic factors

Which is as near as they can get to mentioning IQ

Asian American students tend to succeed because their parents invest time researching their education and encouraging their children into traditional jobs and not because of tough rules or habits introduced at home by so-called Tiger Moms, a new study claims.

Sociology professors Jennifer Lee and Min Zhou interviewed 82 adult children of Chinese and Vietnamese immigrants from Los Angeles to better understand Asian Americans' success.

They wanted to explore the impact of Tiger Mom parenting – strict advice made famous by Amy Chua in a 2011 column where she claimed Asian American children succeed because of parenting rules among the community, including limiting free time, avoiding TV and subjects like gym and drama and ‘insulting’ her children until they reach top grades.

The two academics said what they discovered was a departure from Chua’s theory. Though Asian parents aid their children, it comes from their determined research into the best schools and living in a community that prides traditional jobs and academic success above other achievement.

This explains why Asian Americans from poor families often succeed just as well as their richer counterparts, whose parents like Chua can invest heavily in extra-curricular activities like encouraging musical instruments and foreign languages.

To do this, parents use the 'Chinese Yellow Pages': a whopping 1,500-page directory that lists both Asian businesses in California as well as top high schools and universities.

'Doing well in school' translates to 'getting straight A’s, graduating as valedictorian or salutatorian, getting into one of the top UC (University of California) schools or an Ivy, and pursuing some type of graduate education in order [to] work in one of the ‘four professions’: doctor, lawyer, pharmacist, or engineer,' the researchers say.

‘So exacting is the frame for "doing well in school" that our Asian respondents described the value of grades on an Asian scale as "A is for average, and B is an Asian fail,"' they add.

It is not down to direct parent coercion but because as a member of the community they have their own measures of success and failure and tend to accord to them.

These measures, though, may cause Asian American students to feel alienated when they fail to meet them. Separating ethnicity from achievement, the authors argue, would give Asian Americans space to achieve success on their own terms.

'That Asian Americans are increasingly departing from the success frame, choosing alternate pathways, and achieving success on their own terms, should give Asian immigrant parents and their children confidence that broadening the success frame is not a route to failure,' Lee said.


Sixth Graders' Common Core Homework: Remove Two Rights from Bill of Rights

An Arkansas mom was disturbed to learn her sixth grade daughter's homework was to "prioritize, revise, prune two and add two" amendments in the Bill of Rights. The homework, part of the controversial Common Core curriculum, said that the Bill of Rights is "outdated and may not remain in its current form any longer."

Lela Spears was particularly disturbed because her daughter's Sixth Grade History class "had received no prior training in civics or how to amend the Constitution, which may lead those children to incorrectly believe that it can be changed by a 'special committee' as suggested by the assignment," Digital Journal reported:

    "After she brought it home and explained her assignment to me, it made me question exactly what she was being taught. Where I can see a class using critical thinking skills to modernize the words, as to help them better understand the Amendments, giving an assignment to remove two then add two with little explanation as to why is upsetting," Lela Spears said.

The first ten amendments to the Constitution, also known as the Bill of Rights, contain amendments that guarantee the right to free speech, assembly, the right to bear arms, due process, trial by jury, no cruel or unusual punishment, and limits to Federal power.

This homework was part of the Common Core curriculum which parents have been clamoring to replace in several states. Jeb Bush and Hilary Clinton are very public fans of the curriculum.


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