Sunday, August 31, 2014

TX: Some teachers packing heat, school district signs alert visitors

A school district outside Dallas will reportedly continue to allow some teachers to carry guns in school, and posted signs on school campuses warning that teachers "may use whatever force is necessary to protect our students."

NewFix's CW33 reported that Argyle teachers will continue to be allowed to be armed on campus under the state's Protection of Texas Children Act.

The report said these gun-toting teachers are required to have a handgun license, pass a psychological test and go through emergency response training.

"I trust that the administrators of this school district will put my kid's best interest at heart," one parent told the station.

The district policy was passed in January. Telena Wright, the district superintendent, said at the time that "armed staff answers the question. What about the first 1 to 2 minutes in [a] crisis situation where there’s an armed shooter? That seems to be a horrific situation that all schools across the nation are attempting to address," The Denton Record-Chronicle reported.


Authority Unlimited

Authority today, and by that I mean mostly those invested with political power, the government, its elected officials, agents, bureaucrats, and employees, seem to be, in many instances, just making up the rules as they go along, without regard to the law, the constitution and the fundamental rights of the people.

So we have Authority run amok; Authority unlimited.

Nowhere is this phenomenon more apparent, in my opinion, that in America’s public schools. Today’s school boards, superintendants, principals, administrators and teachers believe that they have the power and the authority, irrespective of the law, to run their institutions like penitentiaries.

Students and parents, the hapless victims of the system, enjoy no rights. They are compelled by law to participate and when they participate they’re expected shed their fundamental constitutional rights at the school house door.

Last week, high school freshman, Alex Stone, was actually arrested by the police and punished by school administrators for the “crime” of handing in class writing assignment in which he used the word “gun.”

Mind you, this kid didn’t bring a loaded gun to school. He didn’t threaten anyone with a gun. No one at the school was in any kind of danger because of a gun. There was absolutely no harm done; no potential harm; no reason for any concern on the part of his teacher or principal; no reason to call the cops; to have him arrested; to punish him – no reason whatsoever to exercise malevolent authority over him.

All he did was use the word “gun” in his class writing assignment. He wrote an imaginary tale about buying a gun to kill a dinosaur. It was supposed to be an amusing fantasy. It was a joke. There was no dinosaur. Dinosaurs don’t exist nowadays. He doesn’t own a gun, doesn’t have a gun. He simply wrote about an imaginary gun. He put the word “gun” on a sheet of paper and for that the police came swooping down upon him at school; he’s arrested and punished like a common criminal.

Now all of that is bad enough, but I’m left wondering in this matter about where in the world the school found the legal authority to do what they did to this innocent kid. Where in the world did the cops find the legal authority to arrest this innocent kid?

As far as I know there is no law on the books anywhere in the United States of America that calls what this kid did as a crime. There is no law that says the writing of the word “gun” on a sheet of paper is a crime.

Even if there were such a law it would be patently unconstitutional since everyone in America, including school children enjoys the fundamental First Amendment constitutional right of freedom of speech, and freedom of speech includes the right to write the word “gun” a sheet of paper; to write a fictional story about using a gun to “take care of” an imaginary dinosaur.

Guns are legal products in the United States of America. The Second Amendment confers upon Americans the right to bear arms and that means the right to own, use, and yes, even talk about using guns. No school administrator has the authority to punish a student for talking about a “gun.”

That school and those cops deliberately, and totally without justification, violated this kid’s fundamental constitutional rights. They’re just making up the rules as they go along without any regard to their actual legal authority. After cops were called they searched Alex's locker and book bag. The school suspended Alex for three days.

 “I regret it because they put it on my record, but I don’t see the harm in it,” Alex told reporters. “I think there might have been a better way of putting it, but I think me writing like that, it shouldn’t matter unless I put it out toward a person.” The boy’s lawyer declared in a statement that this “is a perfect example of ‘political correctness’ that has exceeded the boundaries of common sense.”

The Police Department defended the arrest. Of course they did. They said Alex was charged with disorderly conduct when he became disruptive after school officials confronted him about what he wrote. “The charges do not stem from anything involving a dinosaur or writing assignment, but the student’s conduct,” Capt. Jon Rogers said. 

The cops knew they had no legal authority to arrest this kid for the “crime” of writing about a gun. So they found a pretext to arrest him – and search his locker and book bag -- for another “crime” – the “crime” of asserting his constitutional rights to the “Authority.” Those cops should have known as well that school authorities had no justification to confront this innocent kid.

This is all about Authority run amok; Authority unlimited.


Classes of 70, four-year-olds forced to commute for three hours and a roof turned into a playground: Why no one will admit immigration is the reason Britain's primary schools are bursting at the seams

Next Tuesday at 6.50am, Olivia will leave home to begin the first leg of her three-hour daily commute. The journey will cost £35 a week and involve no less than three buses each way — assuming, of course, that everything runs smoothly.

Even for the most dedicated employee, it’s not the best way to start and finish a busy day. But for a four-year-old beginning school for the first time, it could hardly be less appropriate.

Due to over-crowding at her local primary school, that is the situation Olivia finds herself in — a situation that her mother, Melissa Stowe, is understandably furious about.

‘The first day at school is meant to be one you are excited about, but we are dreading it,’ says 22-year-old Melissa, who together with her eight-month-old daughter Daisy will accompany Olivia on the daily trip to and from school.

‘I am really worried that she will be exhausted and that she will hate the journey and not want to go.’

Melissa had wanted to send her older child to a primary school in the village of Methley, West Yorkshire, a ten-minute walk from home. But in April she was informed by the local council that Olivia could not go there because it was over-subscribed.

The same applied to two other nearby schools, meaning that in the end she was allocated a place at a school that she has to travel to via a complicated five-mile bus journey.

This year, one in eight — more than 76,000 children — were turned away by their first-choice school while 22,500 did not get a place at any of their preferred schools. In some areas the situation was much worse — in London’s Kensington and Chelsea, four out of ten missed out on first-choice schools.

The reason is simple — in these areas there are too many children applying for too few places.

And it is not just those forced to accept second-best who will feel hard done-by. As schools re-open across the country next week, pupils will find themselves crammed into temporary classrooms erected on playgrounds or shoe-horned into converted gyms and rented office space.

One school in Merseyside is now so short of room it has even had to create a roof-top playground, while another is considering teaching the children in shifts — one half in the morning, the other in the afternoon.

It all means that instead of entering a small, intimate learning environment, for many four and five-year-olds their first taste of formal education will be in establishments with more than 100 pupils in each school year.

Indeed, in the past 12 months, the number of so-called ‘supersize’ primaries with more than 800 pupils has risen from 58 to 77.

At the same time the total number of infant classes exceeding the supposed top limit of 30 pupils has more than doubled to 549.

It emerged this month from the Department for Education’s statistics that six primary schools had pupils crammed into classes of over 70.

How, then, is it that the provision of places continues to fall so badly short of demand?

The answer is that successive governments have singularly failed to react to the baby boom that is now convulsing the education system. While this spike in the birth-rate is partly due to women born in the late-Sixties and early-Seventies delaying motherhood, the main driver has been the decade of open-door immigration overseen by New Labour.

Between 2000 and 2010, the numbers attending English state nursery and primary schools actually fell — from 4.3 million to 3.9 million a year. During this time, 1,000 primary schools were closed.

But at the same time, official government statistics clearly indicated that the decline in numbers would soon be dramatically reversed.

Over the course of that decade, the number of births in England and Wales increased by 22 per cent. The Total Fertility Rate (TFR) — the number of children born per woman — steadily increased from 1.63 in 2001 to 2.0 in 2010. Again, immigration was one of the main drivers of this.

In 2000, 15 per cent of all births in the UK were to mothers born outside the country — in 2010, it had risen to more than 25 per cent. This is because the number of foreign-born women living here has increased, and also because they have more children than British-born women, since they are more likely to be aged 25 to 34, when fertility is at its highest.

Research by the Office of National Statistics has revealed that in 2011 the TFR was 1.84 for UK-born women and 2.21 for women born outside the UK. Women born in Romania had a TFR of 2.93, the highest of any EU country, while Polish women contributed the largest number of babies.

And it is not a trend that is likely to reverse any time soon. On Thursday, the ONS released figures that showed net migration to Britain has surged by 68,000 in the past year to 243,000.

That means that projections about future demand could already be too low.

The Department for Education has predicted that the number of pupils at primary schools will rise this decade from 4,305,000 to 4,684,000 — a growth of 8.8 per cent. The rise is equal to another 1,440 average–sized primary schools.

Much of the pressure is being felt in urban areas up and down the country, where migrants are more likely to settle.

In Sheffield, the annual birth rate has increased from 5,500 to 7,000 in the past decade. In Peterborough, the reception intake has increased from 2,100 in 2007 to 3,000 last year.

And in Bournemouth the number of children starting school leapt from 1,347 in 2006 to 1,924 last year.

The figures for London are particularly revealing as to the nature of the changing school population. While nationally, one in five primary school pupils have a first language other than English, in inner-London the figure now exceeds 50 per cent.

No clearer demonstration of all these trends — and their consequences — is to be found than at Gascoigne Primary School in Barking, East London, a borough that has seen a 60 per cent rise in the birth rate and a doubling of the foreign-born population in the past decade.

To cope with demand, in the past six years the school has had to create 13 new classrooms after pupil numbers soared by 50 per cent from 800 to 1,200.

Eight mobile classrooms have been placed in the playground, with a further five permanently built. One of these is placed on ‘stilts’ above the main entrance to save space.

The primary, the biggest in the country, has lost all its playing fields and at times has had to sacrifice its music-room and library for extra teaching space.

The latest casualty is the school’s IT suite, which has had to make way for an extra dining room to accommodate Nick Clegg’s new free school meals initiative for pupils under seven. The 1,200 children are split into 39 classes, and the school, which has 150 staff, runs with military precision on a rota of lunchtimes, lessons and play.

There are three assemblies a day — two in the morning and one after lunch — because the children cannot all fit into the school hall at once.

As for the playground, it is rationed into six shifts, while lunchtime is staggered from 11.45am to 1.20pm.

Sixty different languages are spoken at Gascoigne and more than 90 per cent of pupils have English as an additional language.

One third are Eastern European and a third are African.

‘I’m not going to pretend there aren’t difficulties, but you have to overcome them,’ admits head-teacher Bob Barton, 61. ‘There is no doubt that we are overcrowded. There is no way we can take any more children.’

And there are plans for Bristol Cathedral Choir Primary School, the city’s most over-subscribed primary, to move from its temporary base into several unused floors at the city’s central library.

That mirrors steps taken in Brighton, East Sussex, where the former Hove police station has been converted into a satellite school to accommodate 500 pupils.

For parents, of course, the main worry is that as more and more children are packed into ever-larger schools, their offspring’s education and well-being will suffer.

A survey this week by online parenting forum Netmums found that one in five parents think schools are squeezing too many children into classes.

Similar numbers told of their unease that their child might get ‘lost’ in the school system and not get the individual attention they needed.

Because while the Government may claim that it is giving unprecedented sums of money to councils to cope with growing demand (£5 billion over the course of this Parliament), on the ground, parents simply cannot understand why more was not done sooner to cope with an entirely predictable problem.

Nor why four-year-old Olivia, and tens of thousands of children like her, can’t begin their school life at their local school — and in primaries that are nurturing, rather than plain enormous.


No comments: