Saturday, April 29, 2017

Education

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After being accused of sexual misconduct and facing punishment by the university without fair trial, Thomas Klocke committed suicide, according to a lawsuit by his father.

Thomas Klocke, a student at the University of Texas at Arlington, killed himself on June 2, a few days after the university punished him for allegedly making anti-gay comments to a fellow gay student. 24-year-old Klocke repeatedly denied the accusations at that time and claimed he was the one being harassed but never received a fair hearing.

“This is a case that highlights the really epidemic problem that we’re seeing across the country about what happens when a college violates the legal rights of a student who’s been accused of misconduct,” said Kenneth Chaiken, an attorney for the deceased’s father, Wayne Klocke. “The accused student can really suffer life-altering consequences — in this case of the most tragic form, which was the decision to take his own life.”

Under the pretext of Title IX, the Obama administration forced universities to deny male students their due process rights when they’re accused of sexual misconduct.

The lawsuit was reported by Watchdog.org and alleges that UT-Arlington was unsuccessful in complying with the watered-down due process protections ensured by Title IX and judged on its own policies. It also claims that Thomas was the one discriminated against on the basis of his sex.

A spokesperson for the university, Teresa Schnyder said the university “followed its policies and procedures.” However, she refused to give any details regarding the lawsuit.

“This is a tragic situation and we express our deepest condolences to the family for their loss,” Ms. Schnyder said. “The welfare of our students is our highest priority. Any loss is a heartbreaking one for our entire community.”

Thomas was only one credit short of graduating at the time of the incident. Fellow student Nicholas Watson accused him of typing “gays should die” on the web browser of his laptop in the middle of a May 19 class. Mr. Watson then responded on his own laptop, typing, “I’m gay.” To this, Mr. Watson says, Thomas faked a yawn and said, “Well then you’re a f—t.”

Following this exchange of words, Mr. Watson says he asked Thomas to leave the classroom, to which Thomas allegedly replied, “You should consider killing yourself.”

Thomas refuted these claims in a meeting with a university administrator on May 23. He explained that Mr. Watson made sexual advances, stared at him continuously and called him beautiful, even after he typed into his laptop, “stop ­– I’m straight.” Thomas says he had a hard time concentrating after that and moved to the opposite side of the classroom.

He rejected Mr. Watson’s allegations that he ever typed “gays should die.”

The lawsuit alleges that the rejected sexual advances may have compelled Mr. Watson to make up the story, possibly fearing the university’s policy against sexual harassment. In addition to the lawsuit against the university, Nicholas Watson is also being sued for defamatory statements.

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Really?

As punishment for possessing a water pistol, a 16 year old student in Alabama was expelled from her school for an entire year.

The Montgomery Advertiser reported that student of Prattville High School, Sara Allena “Laney” Nichols, was given a water pistol by another student. The toy pistol was black and may have looked like a real weapon at first glance. Apparently, Nichols put the water gun in her backpack and then placed it in the backseat of her car.

After seeing the exchange between Nichols and the other student, a bystander student reported the incident to authorities at PHS. Cameras at the school campus captured the exchange footage quite clearly. Nichols was then called to the office where she admitted to possession of the toy and told authorities it was in the back seat of her car.

Initially, Nichols was handed a ten-day suspension for possessing the toy. However, the Autauga County Board of Education later expelled her from all schools in the county, and prohibited from entering the school or participating in any school extra-curricular activities for that time period.

Nichol’s parents appear to be quite displeased with the harsh decision of the board.

“She’s 16 and doesn’t know what it means when you hear ‘gun’ on campus,” says mother Tara Herring. “We admit what she did was wrong. I was hoping this could be a teachable moment for her. We’re not saying she should not have been punished. But she took a 10-day suspension. And then the board expelled her. We feel the expulsion is excessive.”

The family has decide to pursue legal recourse with the help of attorney Julian McPhillips. He has currently written a letter to Superintendent Spence Agee, interim PHS principal Brock Dunn, Alabama State Board of Education member Ella Bell and state BOE attorneys James Ward and Juliana Dean.

In his letter, McPhillips argues that none of the other students who brought the toy gun to school have received any punishment beyond suspension. He asked that Nichols’ record of expulsion from the school be changed from expulsion to voluntary withdrawal, because her mother claims she was able to get her daughter out of the school before she could be expelled.

“Young Sara Allena Nichols now, at the age of only 16, has a “scarlet letter E” attached to her forehead, figuratively speaking, because the EXPULSION now attached to her name will follow her to other schools and quite possibly to job applications,” the March 10 letter to Bell, Ward and Dean reads. “The potential damage for this young lady is enormous … I trust, hope and believe that you three have a great power of persuasion and actual legal authority to convince the Autauga County School Board and its Superintendent to retract the expulsion and change it to “voluntary withdrawal.” After all, that is what my client, Ms. Herring, says actually occurred. She actually withdrew her child from Prattville High School before there was a ruling of expulsion.”

However, if the school board fails to comply with the family’s requests, they will move forward with legal proceedings against the board.

“It has become such a source of insatiable chagrin, seeing her daughter Sara Nichols, innocent of bringing a toy/replica gun to school the first time, and yet receiving a far more serious disciplinary action than those responsible for both occurrence, that Ms. Herring is very seriously considering a Title IV sex discrimination case against Prattville High School,” the April 10 letter reads.

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Virginia’s Accomack County Public Schools have banned “Huckleberry Finn” and “To Kill A Mockingbird” for a shocking reason. Bad parenting.

Let me explain why.

Growing up in the south, there was always racism around, but being white, I didn’t really notice it until other classmates verbally assaulted my black friends. I wasn’t sure what racism was, but I didn’t like it. My heroes growing up were Michael Jordan, Michael Jackson, Martin Luther King Jr. and Eddie Murphy, so the idea of being racist never connected to me.

I also didn’t really understand it until I read “To Kill A Mockingbird” in middle school. I didn’t really learn how hard black people had it in America until I read Harper Lee’s classic.

Atticus Finch’s defense of Tom Robinson is honorable and his strength to stand up against racism defined my own personal sense of justice for all. We are all equal in the eyes of God, but we have to deal with the hands of man.

A parent is the reason that “To Kill A Mockingbird” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” were temporarily banned. She said her bi-racial son couldn’t handle the racist language used in the books.

“So what are we teaching our children? We’re validating that these words are acceptable, and they are not acceptable by (any) means. There is other literature they can use.”

In “To Kill A Mockingbird”, the N-word appears 48 times, and that seems to be what the parent is most upset about. The use of the word in historical context is still bad in her eyes.

I disagree 100%. We can tell our kids not to do things and not to be racist, but at the end of the day we have to teach them why it is wrong. Teaching kids and helping them understand racism and the history of this country is difficult. Harper Lee does that for us. She did it for me.

My parents stressed to me that we are all equal and to treat everyone one the same, but it wasn’t until I read “To Kill A Mockingbird” that I understood how bad it was and how wrong racism really is.

One of the beautiful parts about “To Kill A Mockingbird” is that all the evil portrayed and the search for righteous justice were done by white characters. The book shows the best and the worst of how white people handled racism during that time. We would still have slaves today if it wasn’t for white people fighting with black people to end slavery.

Harper Lee’s classic shows race does not define us, but our actions do. That is a message that is needed right now. Maybe it is needed now more than ever.

I feel for the parent that stood up in the school board meeting to fight for what they think is right, but in my opinion, she is the problem. –

She is trying to remove a piece of American literature that explains why racism is bad and what people, just a 100 years ago had to do to fight against racism. After all, if Atticus Finch can stand up against a mob of armed men then we can have the courage to stand up to it today.

Should we ban American classics from schools just, because they have the N-word in them?

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Battle of the Bayou

In Louisiana, the state’s teachers union, Louisiana Educators Association, is suing the state to shut down funding for 33 privately run charter schools that serve over 13,000 students.

The schools, run by a boards of director, not school boards, apply performance-based criteria to teachers and evaluate performance regularly.

Charter Schools are known to fire teachers who fail to perform to standards. One such school in Massachusetts fired 43 teachers at the end of one school year.

Actionable performance metrics do not mix well with teachers unions nationwide who look to lock in tenure, high salaries and extraordinary benefits for public employees who teach.

The preferred employment securities of unions lead to nearly guaranteed employment for teachers regardless of performance or even outrageous actions.

In 2010, an educator in New Jersey was caught on hidden camera admitting, “It’s really hard to fire a tenured teacher . . . It’s really hard — like you seriously have to be in the hallway [blank-ing] somebody.”

The teacher of the candid statement was suspended for nine days.

In the event that funding is pulled for charter schools in the state, the public teachers benefit by larger school budgets and a lack of competition in the education arena.

While public teachers and their union are optimistic about piling on to their job security, parents of students are outraged.

Jennette Franklin and Christin Kaiser, both mothers of charter school students took the step of petitioning the court to allow them to join the lawsuit to represent the interests of their children.

In response to the legal filing, both the Louisiana Educators Association and the Iberville School District argued against the parents’ petition saying parents should not “be allowed to be heard as a party” in the case.

At stake in the legal battle is $3.8 million that is scheduled to be sent to the charter schools from state funds.

The school district’s and union’s objection to parents and taxpayers join the suit that is directly related to the allocation of $3.8 million in tax dollars was met with fury from charter school parents.

Parent Christin Kaiser stated, “The union and Iberville district wants to deny parents a voice in the fight for their children’s schools…the same parents who’s tax dollars fund these schools and the union members’ salaries. The fact that they’re trying to shut the school down was a shock to me. Now, the fact that they don’t even want us to have a say in the matter makes it even worse.”

In the event the district and union wins the legal battle, 13,000 children may be faced with enrolling in the Louisiana public school system which was ranked as the 49th worst state for public education by U.S. News and World Report in 2014.

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US History

If you thought mastering basic knowledge of American history, the Founding Documents and our form of government would be a requirement of graduation from high schools across the country, you would be wrong.

This week, Arizona became the first state in the nation to enact a law requiring high school students to pass the U.S. citizenship test on civics before graduation – the same test immigrants must take and pass to attain citizenship.

The measure received bipartisan support and was among the first acts undertaken by the Arizona state legislature and Republican Gov. Doug Ducey who signed it into law yesterday.

Under the new statute, all students must take the test and score at least 60 out of 100, beginning in the 2016-2017 school year – a requirement that the Arizona-based Joe Foss Institute says 15 other states are actively considering this year. The institute’s goal is to have all 50 states adopt the civics education measure by 2017, the 230th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution.

Institute president Frank Riggs said the testing initiative seeks “to ensure the delivery the very basics civics education that every high school graduate should have.” The Arizona law requires students pass the civics test before earning a high school or GED diploma.

Republican Arizona Senate Majority Leader Steve Yarbrough – who fast-tracked the legislation said “requiring that students pass this test is not by any means a silver bullet, but I think is a step, a small step forward”… adding that “we need to encourage the people of America to become more aware of the values of America.”

Here are just a few of the questions that appear on the immigrant test and will appear on Arizona’s civics test (correct answers in bold):

The idea of self-government is in the first three words of the Constitution. What are these words?

  • I have a dream
  • We the People
  • Fourscore and seven years ago
  • Ask not what your country can do for you
  • The only thing we have to fear is fear itself

What do we call the first 10 amendments to the Constitution?

  • The Bill of Rights
  • The 10 Commandments
  • The Law of the Land
  • The Supreme Laws
  • The Executive Laws

How many amendments does the Constitution have?

  • 17
  • 10
  • 27
  • 20
  • 37

How many U.S. senators are there?

  • 200
  • 150
  • 100
  • 50

How long is the term of the president of the United States?

  • 2 years
  • 4 years
  • 6 years
  • 8 years

If both the president and the vice president are incapacitated and can no longer serve, who becomes president of the United States?

  • The Secretary of Homeland Security
  • The Speaker of the House
  • The Secretary of State
  • The Secretary of Defense
  • The Attorney General

How many justices are on the Supreme Court?

  • 5
  • 7
  • 9
  • 11
  • 13

Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?

  • Thomas Jefferson
  • George Washington
  • Benedict Arnold
  • John Hancock
  • Benjamin Franklin

During the Cold War, what was the main concern of the United States?

  • Fascism
  • Communism
  • Commercialism
  • Terrorism
  • Nazism

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