19 thoughts on “News/Politics 8-24-17

  1. This is just pathetic. I’m sure they’ll say they just need more money, but let’s face it, the problem isn’t just money.

    http://hotair.com/archives/2017/08/23/baltimore-continues-prep-children-failure/

    “The good news out of Baltimore this week is that this isn’t yet another story about their skyrocketing murder rate and intractable gang violence problems. The bad news is that this story definitely doesn’t qualify as “good news” either. In fact, it’s possibly even worse when looking at the big picture.

    For the past three years, Maryland has been adhering to a new system of metrics where they measure the performance of their public schools based on a system of standardized tests. To put it charitably, the state is not doing well overall. (Baltimore Sun, emphasis added)

    In grades three through eight, 41 percent of students passed the English test, while only a third passed the math assessment. The pass rate for English rose slightly, from 38.7 percent to 40.6 percent. The percentage of students passing math dropped slightly, by less than 1 percentage point, compared to a year ago. The test is called the Partnership for Assessments of Career and College Readiness, or PARCC.

    41% passing English and barely a third passing math across the state is a fairly dismal number to begin with. But it looks like there are probably some school districts which are doing much better than that. How do we know? Because the City of Baltimore is dragging down the average like throwing an anchor to a drowning man.

    Baltimore City and Baltimore County students scored below the state average. In the city, only 15 percent of students passed the English test and 11.9 percent passed the math. The pass rate in Baltimore County went down in elementary and middle school math by 1.6 percentage points, with 30.3 percent of students passing. In English, passing rates improved by 1.4 percentage points to 36.5 percent.

    You’re putting kids through a public school system where 15% of them can pass an English test and only one out of ten can do basic math. A problem like this doesn’t just happen overnight and the solution (if we can ever get there) is going to involve multiple facets. First of all, the schools are never entirely to blame, though a fresh look at how they are being operated is obviously in order. The city government has to control the funding and they actually cut the school budget this year while dealing with many other problems. (Of course, they also slashed the police budget in the middle of a years long murder spree, so what can you do?) The community and the families have to shoulder some of this burden as well. Parents are, in the end, the only ones who can enforce the discipline to make sure the kids make it to school every day, do their homework and understand the material.”

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  2. There’s just so much wrong here I don’t even know where to begin.

    CONTENT WARNING!

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/this-is-not-hazing-this-is-rape-a-texas-towns-football-nightmare

    “In February of this year, a victim went to La Vernia police with claims of sexual assault by the town’s athletes. As the investigation unfolded, police found at least nine more victims of alleged abuse—spanning a period of at least three years—by football, baseball, and basketball stars.

    The varsity players were accused of sodomizing their younger teammates with various instruments, including baseball bats and carbon-dioxide tanks. A total of 13 students so far—six of them adults—have been arrested and charged with either sexual assault or sexual assault of a child.

    All of the suspects who have released public statements or spoken through attorneys have denied their involvement in the alleged crimes. None of them have been indicted.”
    ————————-

    “Since the arrests, all 13 boys are walking free on bail until the investigation makes its way into a courthouse. “What’s bugging me is that these perpetrators are still running around La Vernia,” groaned Michelle. She’d waited outside the school to watch on the day her son’s alleged tormentors were hauled out of class and arrested.

    “They’re still out and about and they’re posting pictures on Instagram and Facebook and having a good old time while they’re out on bond or whatever.”

    Several of the accused seniors even joined in on the prom festivities this past spring, despite being barred from the actual dance. They dressed up, took pictures together, went to a group dinner, and rode in the limo with their friends, according to photos viewed by The Daily Beast.
    “They took pictures and went out to dinner for a night on the town and all that,” Michelle said. “It’s like their parents are rewarding them. If that was my kid who had just sexually assaulted another child, he would not be going to prom.”

    Not everyone in La Vernia is bothered by it, though. A very large section of the community is emphasizing mercy and forgiveness for the accused. “They’re very quick to defend the perpetrators,” said Jennifer. “There’s a sense of entitlement for some of these families, that they deserve ‘innocent until proven guilty.’

    “They’re very quick in our community to quote the Bible,” she continued. “Oh yeah, ‘Do not judge unless you’re without sin.’””

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  3. AJ, You can’t teach a child who is tired, hungry, distracted, or sick. You can’t teach a child whose mother kept him out all night at her boyfriend’s house. You can’t teach a child who left her glasses at the mother’s boyfriend’s house over Thanksgiving and now they have broken up and the jerk won’t give her the child’s glasses. You can’t teach a child when social services came the night before to take the older sister off to the Youth Center for beating up the father. You can’t teach a child whose father is in prison for killing her mother and she lives with her uncle and his girlfriend. (I had this situation in two different schools).
    An older teacher told me once that every year the drugs get worse and every year the children get worse. You can’t teach a child who has brain damage from the parent’s drug abuse.
    You can’t teach these children in an institutionalized setting such as a public school system.

    Mumsee can tell you what you can do with these children and everything it takes to do it. It takes more than 1 teacher can do with 30 other children that are all the same. Oh, and add all the bureacracy , experts who have never been in a real classroom, and reports that have to be filed and it is next to impossible. I am by no means defending bad teachers but I am telling you this is more than a school system problem. It is ALL of our problem. We need more Mumsees and Mikes in the world

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  4. When Becky (oldest GD) finished college, her first job was in an inner city school in Greensboro. She said her major job was to keep order. “Keep them from kilo ling each other.” is the way she put it. .

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  5. It’s not good news if the nation is still divided. Whether it’s called the Benedict Option or the State of Denial, the only way to peace these days is to know the One who gives it. Everything else is up for grabs. :–)

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  6. My friend went from teaching in Catholic school to teaching for LAUSD. She was in shock over all the discipline problems, kids literally just getting out of their seats and sometimes walking out of the classroom! Luckily she had a good mentor and also took some discipline workshops offered by the district so she survived. But not happily. She just retired (‘early’) due to increasing panic attacks that were causing health issues.

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  7. Kim,

    While all that is true, and yes it is a problem for all of us, it doesn’t account for the numbers here. Unless you’re saying that 85-88% of Baltimore households have those anecdotal problems you mentioned. The majority are lacking discipline more than anything else.

    Lack of discipline at home and in schools is the more likely culprit for the majority, as are poor parents, teachers, administrators, unions and govt schools. There’s failure all around in this area.

    While I agree we desperately need more M&M’s, that isn’t a solution. You can’t put 85% of a 80,000 student school district in foster care, and not all of them have issues like you mentioned above.

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  8. My father-in-law was a principal, but he also did his time in the classroom. At one point he was assigned to a classroom of tough children who were proud to have kicked out two or three teachers. I think they had beaten up teachers. Well, armed with that knowledge he went into that classroom and told the students to sit down. He was threatened. He said firmly, “I’d like to see you try it. First one who touches me gets his teeth knocked down his throat.” My father-in-law wasn’t a tall man, but he meant business, and they left him alone and he stayed.

    Today a teacher would be fired for saying such a thing. But the children can say anything they wish; it’s only the adults who are constrained.

    Many, many children don’t learn respect for authority at home, and teachers can’t teach it either. And when you have children who come to school malnourished, sleep deprived, in danger of their lives just walking to school (Kim didn’t mention that one, but it’s a big one), without a stable family, from homes that have no books and no readers . . . a teacher has a real uphill battle. And in a classroom of 20 or 30 children, many of whom don’t want to learn, many of which are active distractions, the child without help at home is unlikely to learn. In addition, he doesn’t go home to an engineer father who tells him, “I know math is hard, but it’s important. Let me help you understand it.” He goes home, plays on the street until his mother gets home, scrounges junk food for his “supper,” and goes to bed hearing his mother’s boyfriend watching porn on the large-screen TV and then enacting his fantasies with his mother, both of them likely drunk or using drugs. This isn’t just some stereotyped image of inner-city America; it’s many children’s realities. They play on fields with broken beer bottles, hearing gunshots, knowing of the violent death of a first cousin, the pregnancy of a teen sister, and the incarceration of an older brother and two uncles. For many, drug dealers are the only ones they know who earn much money; those with honest good jobs don’t live around them.

    School is just somewhere they have to go. It isn’t a place they find success, a place they feel safe (or loved), or a place with relevance to their lives or their futures.

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  9. I refuse to believe kids today are any worse than any other post war generation generation. If anything I’ve been very impressed with their knowledge of issues, research and presentation skills, etc. There are several reasons for dismal test results or any of the other problems.

    1. pedagogy doesn’t match testing method. The math tests suffer the most here. Math is taught with an emphasis on problem solving and collaboration. This is supposed to reflect employer future needs. However, the tests are not much different than textbook problems we may have faced 30 years ago — some of them quite complicated involving two-three steps and two-three different formula choices. When pedagogy emphasizes collaboration its very easy for some people to be under the teacher’s radar. Our math scores were 15% at or above level while the number of As and Bs were about 66%. A far too large discrepancy. In comparision our Reading and Writing scores were 58% and the report cards were 56%. (I was responsible for the latter )

    2. poor leadership. A custodian once told me that a school’s performance academically and discipline turns on the quality of the principal. And after 20 years I can attest to his observation. Unfortunately, the quality of principals is decreasing. Too often the teachers who find they don’t like the classroom become principal. The ability to manage board initiatives, do public relations, and budget have become the most important part of their job with little in the way. Only with older principals have I seen a genuine interest in improving the school. Younger principals have usually one commitment — to become superintendent.

    3. mental illness. Probably one of the few things to get worse over time is student mental health. We can blame the media, digital society, social media, or economic certainty but there’s no denying an increase in anxiety and depression.

    4. Idiocracy – Since the relative easy access to birth control, intelligent people have had less children and the not so bright just keep reproducing. The movie is a comedy but it does point out a real problem.

    5. Late leaving age — Students stay in school until 18. There’s really no reason to keep those in the applied stream or whatever you call the non-academic stream in school after 15-16. At 12 years of age children are criminally responsible, why not make them educationally response. Streaming them at grade seven and force them to pass each subject. If you’re not in the academic stream, job training and placement should start at 14 with a goal for them to leave completely at 16. If students are academically response at 12, middle school will be treated with more seriousness

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  10. AJ, we did some work for a very large school system some years ago. *Most* of the kids (I’ve forgotten the exact percentage, but it was over half) moved and changed their housing several times a year within the city, living in a constant state of churn. Many lived in foster care or with grandparents with one or both parents on drugs or in jail. Very few lived with both parents. Violence was part of life on the city streets where they lived. Added to these problems, that English was not the first language at home (and sometimes not spoken in the home at all), and it was considered a success when the kids showed up for school regularly, were not in jail or on their way there, and were not pregnant.

    I knew of at least one pregnancy program funded by grants and run by pro-life religious organizations that was very successful in helping reduce the teen pregnancy rate in the schools where the program was implemented. But instead of expanding this successful program to other needy schools, the funding was cut.

    Throwing money indiscriminately at the many problems is not a good idea, but maintaining successful programs while assessing future needs is helpful and necessary. All of these needs have a deep spiritual component, and the people who give their lives laboring in this arena are often burned out with the weight of it. Churches and thoughtful, trained or trainable, praying congregations can be a big part of the solution.

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  11. On a personal note, last school year was probably one of the worst years I’ve seen in 20 years. I had several dedicated hard working teachers cry in my room. Four or five took long term stress leave. Swearing, yelling and threatening teachers, walking out, skipping,vandalism, fighting, complete defiance etc were the norm each day. It reached the point that some kids were simply bored of misbehaving all the time. One grade eight boy skipped French everyday — a fact known but ignored by administration who were on their third French teacher by March. The boy eventually got bored and came to my room to do homework. Other students would leave classrooms where they felt unsafe and either hide in washrooms, back halls, or my room. Some girls suffering anxiety would stay home and when they did show up would spend the day with me or the art teacher.

    Throughout this everyone — parents, students, teachers, — knew what the problem was — administration. I think I was too blunt about it, was given an assignment I didn’t like and hence left for an other school. But when students know administration is incompetent — can’t or won’t discipline and has no idea what is going on in school — you know the school will have problems. The students simply stopped listening to her — they ignored her in the hall and during assemblies the students simply ignored her and talk amongst each other. When our student council president gave a presentation you could hear a pin drop, but when she gave the mic back to the principal the noise picked right up.

    Yet the board refused to remove her. Instead they promoted the VP to principal (he was also incompetent but had stopped listening to the principal by the January) and assigned a retired principal to be the new VP. Perhaps they expect the retired principal to babysit and/or mentor the principal but I don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel there. It will take years and someone with energy and motivation to clean this up.

    And thought all of this we have to worry about test scores?????

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  12. It’s can be costly to get rid of bad administrators. Our county school board dismissed a principal and a coach over a 2015 hazing-turned-sexual-abuse and cover-up involving an underage male student, a basketball team, and a pool-cue. These administrators are now suing the county for millions of dollars.

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  13. While so many public schools are faltering in teaching the basics of education because so many children lack the fundamental requirements of learning, others are ignoring those problems entirely to focus on the apparently more urgent work of deconstructing normal gender identities. Rod Dreher shares some insights as well as the sobering story of one family who, until just recently, had 2 young daughters in a Washington DC charter school. Here’s a peek:

    …..The principal replied:
    I am not available until the school year begins as we are feverishly working to train teachers, prepare the building and open school.
    I am copying [my assistant] who can help us set up something for the first week of school.

    To which the father wrote:
    We still want to get together with you, but if we aren’t able to talk before the school year begins, we would at least like to make sure we understood your email correctly.

    [My wife] and I would like our children to be exempt from any classroom discussions or instruction relating to the topics of gender identity, marital norms, or sexuality. We would also like to be informed before any such discussions take place in the classroom. I would like to know if the school will honor that request.

    Thanks in advance for letting us know. We know that these are sensitive topics that require great care, which is why we want to be the first ones to talk to our children about it.

    The principal did not respond. Six days later, the father wrote:
    [Principal], I appreciate how busy you are right now, but if you could please answer the question I emailed last week, I would appreciate it. Good luck with school prep!

    The principal responded:
    Thank you for understanding that this is an extremely busy time. I will not exempt any child from classroom discussions or instruction relating to the topics of gender identity, and ‘marital norms’.

    As it relates to formal instruction regarding sexuality, and sexual reproduction I will ask for your permission before these concepts are introduced in 4th grade. When they are introduced, I can say they are conducted with cultural humility and inclusivity– thoughtful of all our children and all their families.

    The parents removed their two children from this public charter school last week in light of the principal’s refusal to respect their wishes or even to tell them when gender identity is going to be discussed in their elementary school classes.

    I asked the father if he wanted to go public with this, naming the school — in which case I would need to use their names, and call the principal and the teacher for comment. He said no, that they don’t want a public fight over this issue:

    We just want to raise awareness and encourage parents to ask their children direct questions about this kind of stuff. If I hadn’t brought up this topic with my daughter, I would’ve never known what she was exposed to, nor would I have known that the school was systematically indoctrinating kids and doing so behind the backs of parents who had asked them to do otherwise.

    Let this be a lesson to you, reader. Do you know what your child’s school’s policy is? Do you know what your child’s teacher thinks about introducing gender ideology to little children? You had better.

    Note too, per Joy Pullman, that the campaign to institute gender ideology in elementary schools is not stopping at public schools or at public charter schools. Via the accreditation process, they’re going after private schools. Pullman writes:

    The leftists harping on this topic are essentially demanding a religious litmus test — the adoption of the moral belief that every sexual practice must be affirmed — as a precondition for educating children. It is starting with public and private schools, but will eventually encompass “outliers” such as homeschoolers. None of us are safe unless we band together and stop this crazy train in its tracks.

    A key problem is that Republican-led statehouses are the ones guarding school choice programs, and these same statehouses can barely muster the votes to protect children in public schools from being forced into unisex shower and sleeping quarters.

    And this is the part of the equation that I find particularly obnoxious. Big business should have no input in these issues at all, yet, through our legislators they’re front and center, picking the winners and the losers:

    I have been told by people involved in this fight that Republican state legislators are getting hammered hard by the big business lobby, which wants to see liberalization of the schools on the SOGI (sexual orientation and gender identity) front. If these legislators do not hear from their constituents, they will rightly assume that the people they represent don’t care about the issue — and they’ll cave. If this matters to you as a parent, educate yourself — and call your state legislator. If you homeschool or have your kids in a private religious school, do not think that you are safe. (If you don’t belong to the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, join it now.)….

    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/

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  14. I understand parental concerns but the request is to broad to be reasonable and practical. When I teach the health curriculum its easy enough to give notice but issues regarding sexuality, marriage, etc arise at different times often unplanned in class discussions — language, history, — or as a result of behaviour prior to class — bullying, etc. I can’t guarantee prior notification unless I have the parent on speed dial. And once the child has been told to leave, where does he/she go? In elementary, children are supposed to be supervised at all time — you can’t just tell them to leave the room.

    Prior notice for a laundry list of forbidden topics is impractical — especially in middle school.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/court-rejects-hamilton-dad-s-fight-to-get-warnings-from-school-board-over-false-teachings-1.3870555

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  15. I am glad I no longer teach school. My wife and I could see where the gender issues thing would give problems to schools.

    I went to our local high school Freshman Orientation last night.One third of the presentation was devoted to “Sexting” and “Cyber Bullying” by the District Attorney’s office.

    it is apparent that our schools are in deep trouble. All kids have Cell Phones, most are Smart Phones.

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