Hours after University of Missouri president resigns, Chancellor also steps down

The Twitter profile photo for U. of Missouri Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin [@bowtieger]

“Hours after a wave of student and faculty protests over racial tensions led to the resignation of the president of the University of Missouri system on Monday, the chancellor of the campus here also stepped aside,” reports the New York Times.

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Terrorists torch five black Ferguson-area churches, nation yawns


St. Louis Fire Department captain Garon Mosby calls the fires "arson," but despite the shocking string of racist attacks, major media have hardly breathed a word about the fires. Read the rest

Teacher forced into retirement for showing archival queer-scare movie

Archivist Rick Prelinger sez, "Ken Simon, a high school teacher and coach for 47 years near Kansas City was retired early and ushered from the school after he showed showed Boys Beware, an infamous 1961 movie about homosexuality, to his class as a way of illuminating how attitudes toward gay and lesbian people have changed." Read the rest

Judge who invented Ferguson's debtor's prisons owes $170K in tax

Judge Ronald J Brockmeyer -- who filled Ferguson's coffers by fining its poorest residents and sent them to inhumane, overcrowded prisons when they couldn't pay a few hundred dollars -- stands accused of fixing fines for his cronies, and owes $170K in unpaid taxes. Read the rest

Family fake-kidnapped 6-year-old to teach him to mistrust strangers

The Troy, MO family of a six-year-old boy staged a kidnapping in which they terrorized him and made him believe that he would be sold into sex slavery, because they wanted to convince him not to be so "nice" to strangers. Read the rest

Ferguson's no-fly zone created to ground news-choppers

Freedom of Information Act requests from the Associated Press reveal that St Louis police requested the no-fly zone to prevent the press from getting overhead footage of the crackdown on demonstrations, and that the FAA was complicit in crafting an illegal ban that allowed commercial aircraft to land at the airport while still grounding the news-birds. Read the rest

St Louis police offer to fingerprint all the children in #Ferguson

The free fingerprinting kits are part of the long-running national push to fingerprint children in the name of public safety, and are a new tone-deaf low from the region's cops. Read the rest

Missouri police greet Nobel Peace Prize nominee with traditional shield-banging dance

Here we see the traditional dance of the Missouri riot police, performed for three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee Kathy Kelly and her friends as they gathered at the Whiteman Air Force Base to protest the escalation of drone warfare. The rhythmic shuffle and banging makes for an impressive display, especially when accompanied by the dancers' ancestral garb and clubs.

Trifecta Resista at Whiteman AFB.m4v (Thanks, kcmiccheck!) Read the rest

Book-shaped travelling libraries

Joplin, MO librarian April Roy, bookseller Pete Cowdin and members of the Kansas City Woodworkers’ Guild are building 22 mobile libraries -- book-shaped travelling bookcases that can be brought to poor, tornado-struck schools in the area. They're working with donated labor and cash donations for materials.
Roy and book store owner Pete Cowdin hit upon a “modest” proposal to bring new books to young readers in Joplin — individual 50-book “libraries” for a number of needy classrooms.

No question about the need. A tornado in May wiped out 54 percent of the school district’s square footage. Irving Elementary, home to 280 students, was destroyed. Emerson Elementary, an older building with 230 students, wasn’t demolished but also wasn’t practical to repair.

Volunteers write the first chapter for Joplin books (via Bookshelf)

(Image: JILL TOYOSHIBA/Kansas City Star) Read the rest

Missouri State business-school professor leads successful campaign to ban Slaughterhouse-Five from local schools

Wesley Scroggins, a business school professor at Missouri State University, wrote an editorial for Gannett's News-Leader condemning the teaching of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five in Republic, MO curriculum. He said that the Vonnegut novel (considered one of the best novels of the twentieth century and widely taught in schools across the English-speaking world) contained too much cussing for children. He also condemned Sarah Ockler's Twenty Boy Summer, a book about a girl who experiments with sex during summer holidays because it contained sex.

In response, the Republic school board has banned Slaughterhouse-Five and Twenty Boy Summer, removing them from both its classrooms and school libraries. Scroggins is disappointed that they didn't ban another book, Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak.

Scroggins's research specializes in international business and entrepreneurship (he teaches dull intro to management classes, apparently without much flair), and given those specialties, you'd think that he'd realize that, in most of the world, the material in all three of the books he's picked on wouldn't raise an eyebrow. It's also bizarre to see someone who worships entrepreneurship simultaneously embrace a color-inside-the-lines, nothing-objectionable-allowed approach to education: Scroggins apparently wants to raise a generation of local children who never meet a challenging idea or experience an uncomfortable discussion. As an actual entrepreneur (and not just someone who researches entrepreneurship), I'm here to tell you that this is not how you teach people the imagination and creativity necessary to the process.

As for the Republic school board, there is no sufficient shaming for education administrators who lack the courage to stand up for children's intellectual freedom. Read the rest