The principal of Lafayette Elementary School in Washington DC has apologized after a fifth grade lesson on the Civil War and Reconstruction had some children of color role-playing "a person of color drinking from a segregated water fountain and an enslaved person." From CNN:
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During classroom circles and small group discussions, (principal Carrie) Broquard said, some students said they were uncomfortable with the roles their peers had asked them to play. Others, she said, had been unsure how to respond or stand up for their peers who were uncomfortable.
"We deeply regret that we did not foresee this as a potential challenge in role playing so we could set appropriate parameters to protect students," the fifth grade team said...
Broquard outlined a number of steps the school is taking in response to the lesson.
In her letter, she said students who were directly affected have been meeting with the school's social emotional learning team and members of the administration to "process and talk through" the incident. The social emotional learning team and a racial equity committee at the school will work to ensure all assignments are "culturally sensitive and appropriate," she wrote.
The staff will participate in a full day of training on equity and race in January, and the school plans to create a diversity and inclusion committee, the letter stated.
On Thursday, the Oxbow Prairie Horizons School in Saskatchewan, Canada staged their annual student Christmas concert. The show, "Santa Goes Green," pissed off parents in the town where oil is one of the major industries. Here's a description from the Santa Goes Green sheet music:
Melting ice caps, global warming, surfing reindeer! The North Pole is going green this year and everyone is excited – everyone, that is, except Santa who likes things just the way they are. Solar panels, LED light bulbs, new power sources? It all sounds a bit inconvenient to him. Mrs. Claus, the elves, toys and reindeer have their hands full!
(Mike Gunderman, whose daughter was in the show,) said the concerns raised were not directed at the children. He said they did a great job singing and performing, but he felt it was "the wrong message to send at the wrong time of the season.
"Especially when our industry is suffering right now," he said. "It's a tough time for everybody."
Audrey Trombley, chair of the South East Cornerstone Public School Division where Oxbow Prairie is located, apologized to anyone who was offended by the concert, saying there was never any intention to make the show political.
"There was no political agenda," said Audrey Trombley, chair of the division's Board of Trustees. "The teacher chose the song because of the rhythm and the beat, and thought the kids would like it."
image: cover detail of Santa Goes Green sheet music book (Hal Leonard)
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In Roswell, New Mexico, a six-year-old elementary school student carried a loaded revolver to class. According to police, the student had "no malicious intent" but rather brought in the gun for show-and-tell. According to KOB4, the police confiscated the weapon, notified the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department, and "escorted the parent and student to their home for further follow up and investigation."
You'd think it goes without saying, but apparently not: If you have children in your house and insist on keeping firearms around, lock them the fuck up. The guns, that is. Read the rest
Last week, students at Haveri, Karnataka, India's Bhagat Pre-University College wore boxes on their heads to prevent cheating on exams. Apparently the front of the boxes were cut away so the students could see their papers while not allowing for peripheral vision. According to school officials, this was a trial of the anti-cheating measure and that parents had approved. In fact, the students brought the boxes from home. From CNN:
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Before long, the school was facing widespread criticism on social media. Even government officials weighed in -- S. Suresh Kumar, the state education minister, said in a tweet that the school's practice was "unacceptable."
"Nobody has any right to treat anybody more so students like animals," Kumar wrote. "This (perversion) will be dealt with aptly."
The school has provided authorities with a written explanation of the trial and an apology, Sateesh said.
St. Paul Public Schools in Minnesota found bedbugs infesting iPads issued to students. As of now, only a few of iPads were found to be buggy. From WCCO:
...The district encouraged students to take their tablets out of their cases to thoroughly clean the case and keyboard with a window cleaner to kill any bacteria...
In a statement to WCCO a spokesperson for St Paul Public Schools said in part:
“There is no indication of the presence of any additional pests in any other iPads. However, as the health and safety of our students are our highest priorities, we felt it was responsible and prudent to ask families to maintain the cleanliness of the devices.”
image: Piotr Naskrecki (public domain)
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Oregon governor Kate Brown signed a bill that excuses public school students for taking "mental health days" just as they are excused for other illnesses. The bill was spearheaded by youth activists. From the Associated Press:
(Eighteen-year-old Hailey) Hardcastle, who plans to attend the University of Oregon in the fall, said she and fellow youth leaders drafted the measure to respond to a mental health crisis in schools and to “encourage kids to admit when they’re struggling.”
Debbie Plotnik, vice president of the nonprofit advocacy group Mental Health America, said implementing the idea in schools was important step in challenging the way society approaches mental health issues.
“We need to say it’s just as OK to take care for mental health reasons as it is to care for a broken bone or a physical illness,” she said.
(Image: "Conceptual illustration of mental health" by Quince Media, (CC BY-SA 4.0))
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Next year, New York City public schools will initiate "Meatless Mondays" as part of their lunch program. Students will be served all vegetarian food for breakfast and lunch. (Note: photo above for illustrative purposes only. Not representative of actual school cafeteria menu.) From CNN:
"Cutting back on meat a little will improve New Yorkers' health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions," de Blasio said at a news conference. "We're expanding Meatless Mondays to all public schools to keep our lunch and planet green for generations to come..."
School leaders in New York said doing this just makes good sense.
"For those who scoff at this notion, I have some simple advice: Look at the science," Staten Island Borough President James Oddo said. "Look at the data. Look at the childhood obesity. Look at pre-diabetes diagnoses. Look at the fact that 65% of American kids age 12 to14 shows signs of early cholesterol disease. Then, perhaps you will embrace the fact that we can't keep doing things the same way, including welcoming the idea of Meatless Mondays."
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Last weekend, a video surfaced showing students from Alabama's Spain Park and Hoover high schools making horrible anti-Semitic and racist comments. Yesterday, Spain Park help assemblies and small group discussions about the video so students and staff could openly address the issue. And apparently they, um, did speak openly. According to a student interviewed by Al.com, a Spain Park teacher "told her class that everyone uses the n-word, so she could use it, too." And so she did. From Al.com:
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The teacher was allegedly sent home for the day by administrators. Students confirmed she is not in class today.
"This alleged matter is being investigated," Murphy said in a brief statement to AL.com. Students told AL.com they were stunned to learn of the alleged incident.
When I was in high school, it always felt very uncomfortable speaking a teacher's first name aloud, almost like they couldn't really have a first name beyond Ms., Mr., or Mrs. (In fact, it was an odd transition to university when many of my professors preferred to be called by their first names.)
In the fun video below, Adam Lamberti walks through his high school greeting teachers by their first names. Some of them couldn't care less. Others are clearly discombobulated by the experience.
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Students at Mackie Academy secondary school in Aberdeenshire, Scotland created a piece of high art on the playing field. While the act occurred last year, its documentation -- which was actually the real prank -- apparently lives on in Google Earth.
“I’m sure there is lots of penises drawn in lots of places around the school and many other schools across the country, but this really is impressive," said one former student.
(The Scottish Sun)
Of course, they weren't the first students to play this particular, er, long game. For example: "Suspected high school prank goes unnoticed by APS for years" Read the rest
At Jefferson K-8 School in Warren, Ohio, school police officer Adam Chinchik noticed that a car kept parking in the no-parking zone between two disabled spaces in front of the school. Turns out that it was the school principal's car. Chinchik apparently warned the principal and then finally issued a citation.
"Within one hour (of the citation), the superintendent had ordered two administrators to go to Jefferson and escort the SRO off the property," Warren police union spokesperson Michael Stabile told WCMH-TV.
(In defense of the principal), a school spokesperson said the district employee moved the vehicle when asked.
Chinchik may be assigned as a resource officer at a different school.
"At this point, he doesn't want to go back to that school because of how the situation unfolded," Stabile said. Read the rest
A kindergarten and first grade football time in Morrow, Ohio is holding a gun raffle to raise travel money for tournaments. They've already sold 500 tickets. The winners, 21 years or older, will receive either a handgun or HM Guardian F5 Elite. Apparently, gun raffles to support kids sports and schools
isn't uncommon. From WLWT:
Gina Pennycuff is a mother and a substitute teacher. She happened to be working when she got a Facebook message about the gun raffle.
"It was disturbing to me because gun raffles for a youth organization just doesn't mix," she said.
She shared the flyer on Facebook and the comment section took off, some in favor and some opposed...
"I can't imagine being a parent of a kindergartener and them worrying and doing lockdown drills, but them also knowing they're raffling off guns," she said.
"Youth football team gun raffle sparks debate" (Thanks, Charles Pescovitz!)
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“Every classroom has been equipped with a five-gallon bucket of river stone," says David Helsel, superintendent of the Blue Mountain School District, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. "If an armed intruder attempts to gain entrance into any of our classrooms, they will face a classroom full students armed with rocks and they will be stoned."
“At one time I just had the idea of river stone, they`re the right size for hands, you can throw them very hard and they will create or cause pain, which can distract,” said Helsel.
Helsel says teachers, staff and students were given active shooter training through a program known as ALICE which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate and they routinely hold evacuation drills for active shooter simulations.
But if a teacher decides to lockdown a classroom, there are rocks in a five-gallon bucket kept in every classroom closet that students could throw if shooters get inside.
Apparently the school also has an electronic system to lock down the school and they "train kids and talk about barricading the doors," he adds.
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Last month, Renee Thole, a white middle school teacher in Mason, Ohio, told 13-year-old black student Nathan Agee-Bell, in front of the entire class, that if he didn't pay more attention to his work, his friends would form a mob and lynch him. Apparently Nathan told the teacher the comment was racist and she questioned why he would think such a thing. Nathan waited a month to report the incident to his mother because of fear of retribution. From Cincinnati.com
Mason Schools spokeswoman Tracey Carson confirmed the incident occurred in teacher Renee Thole's classroom.
"As educators, sometimes we mess up. And clearly that happened here," Carson said.
The spokeswoman declined to say if the teacher was disciplined, but said the district "investigated, documented, and set expectations for (the) future...."
Agee-Bell asked officials to remove her son from the social studies class, which they did.
Thole would apologize in class for offending Nathan and said she didn't have harmful intentions. But (Nathan's mom Tanisha) Agee-Bell said she never explained to the largely white class why she was wrong.
Carson said the teacher misspoke and felt awful...
Agee-Bell said she planned to speak during a school board meeting Tuesday night, but was asked by officials to talk privately afterward instead. She said that conversation lasted five minutes.
In it, Agee-Bell said officials thanked her for coming and said they take race issues seriously.
"I don't believe them," she said afterward.
"A Mason teacher told this 13-year-old he might be lynched. The child didn't tell his mom for a week. Read the rest
Diana Smith, principal of Washington Latin Public Charter School in Washington DC, offered rising 8th and 9th graders $100 each to stay entirely off their screens one day each week this summer.
“Kids have these phones under their pillows at night — they’re going to bed, they’re texting each other at 3, 4 in the morning,” Smith told WTOP. "I challenge them to stay off of any screens — so television, games, phones, tablets, everything — for the 11 Tuesdays that we have of summer break."
The students must provide two signed letters from adult witnesses to be eligible for the cash price.
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This month's Mother Jones examines a shocking statistic: "According to the Albert Shanker Institute, which is funded in part by the American Federation of Teachers, the number of black educators has declined sharply in some of the largest urban school districts in the nation. In Philadelphia, the number of black teachers declined by 18.5 percent between 2001 and 2012. In Chicago, the black teacher population dropped by nearly 40 percent. And in New Orleans, there was a 62 percent drop in the number of black teachers." Read the rest
Nationally the High School graduation rate has been on the rise. NPR reports the rise is due to a combination of hard work that benefits students, and some states simply lowering standards so they earn passing grades.
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While the graduation rate continues to climb, the improvement comes at a time when the scores of high school students on the test known as the "Nation's Report Card," are essentially flat, and average scores on the ACT and SAT are down.
As we've reported, the rising graduation rate reflects genuine progress, such as closing high schools termed "dropout factories," but also questionable strategies by states and localities to increase their numbers.
"For many students, a high school diploma is not a passport to opportunity, it's a ticket to nowhere," says Michael Cohen, president of Achieve, a national nonprofit that's long advocated for higher standards and graduation requirements.
Cohen points out that roughly half of states now offer multiple diplomas. Some of those credentials are rigorous, some aren't. "You don't know how many students who were in that graduation rate actually completed a rigorous course of study. We're not transparent about that. We're concealing a problem."
In many places, the high school graduation exam is also a low bar, Cohen says, while some states have dropped it altogether.
Just last month, in a major school funding ruling, Connecticut Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher excoriated his state for watered down graduation standards that, he says, have already resulted "in unready children being sent to high school, handed degrees, and left, if they can scrape together the money, to buy basic skills at a community college."