Tag Archives | Schools

Texas Schools Punishing Students Who Refuse To Wear Microchip Tracking Devices

Via Russia Today, being remotely tracked may become part and parcel of being a teenager:

A school district in Texas came under fire earlier this year when it announced that it would require students to wear microchip-embedded ID cards at all times. Now, students who refuse to be monitored say they are feeling the repercussions.

Students who refuse to walk the school halls with the card in their pocket or around their neck claim they are being tormented by instructors, barred from participating in certain school functions, [and] turned away from common areas like cafeterias and libraries.

Andrea Hernandez, a sophomore at John Jay, said educators have ignored her pleas to respect her privacy and told her she cannot participate in school elections if she refuses to comply with the tracking program.

After Hernandez refused to wear an RFID chip, WND reported that Deputy Superintendent Ray Galindo issued a statement to the girl’s parents: “We are simply asking your daughter to wear an ID badge as every other student and adult on the Jay campus is asked to do.” If she is allowed to forego the tracking now, the repercussions will be harsher than just revoking voting rights for homecoming contests once the school makes location-monitoring mandatory, he argued.

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Swedish Lunch Lady Told Food is Too Good for Students

Picture: Vic Cvut (CC)

Your memories of lunch room cafeterias, like mine,  probably revolve around mass produced “beef” patties, unnatural-looking vegetables in industrial steam trays, and…um….sturdy looking women hefting ladles that could double as truncheons. Lunch time was something you endured rather than enjoyed. (I still remember something that they called a “Mexican Pizza” that would probably be considered a culinary hate crime today…) You’re probably glad those days are long over, but for a group of kids in Falun, Sweden, they are only now beginning.

School cafeteria Head Chef Annika Eriksson is guilty of nothing but making sure that her little customers had the very best meal that she could provide: fresh-made bread, wide selections of vegetables, and meats of all sorts. Sadly, no good deed goes unpunished, and now school district officials have instructed Eriksson to stop cooking her scrumptious spreads in favor of a district-wide meal plan. Officials feel that it’s unfair for the students at Annika’s school to get such great meals while other schools comply with the food plan, and unsurprisingly, they’d rather Eriksson to take her meals down several notches instead of attempting to make the same delicious food for the other children.… Read the rest

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Student Loans On The Rise — For Kindergarten

play and playthingsWell, I suppose this makes sense in that school is supposed to prepare people for the rest of their lives. SmartMoney on a new trend:

It used to be that families first signed up for education loans when their child enrolled in college, but a growing number of parents are seeking tuition assistance as soon as kindergarten. Though data is scarce, private school experts and the small number of lenders who provide loans for kindergarten through 12th grade say pre-college loans are becoming more popular.

The loans can also be expensive. The interest rates — which can be fixed or variable — range from around 4% to roughly 20%. (Lower rates are given to parents with higher credit scores.)

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The Police-ification Of Schools

Male-police-officers-supe-007The Guardian reports on the new public education model in Texas, in which police officers patrol school hallways, giving out hundreds of thousands of tickets to children each year and making arrests for criminal behavior such as leaving crumbs in the cafeteria, wearing inappropriate clothing, spraying perfume, and making sarcastic remarks in class. Poor children whose families are unable to pay the fines may be jailed for the nonpayment once they turn 17:

More and more US schools have police patrolling the corridors. Pupils are being arrested for throwing paper planes and failing to pick up crumbs from the canteen floor. Why is the state criminalising normal childhood behaviour?

The charge on the police docket was “disrupting class”. But that’s not how 12-year-old Sarah Bustamantes saw her arrest for spraying two bursts of perfume on her neck in class because other children were bullying her with taunts of “you smell”.

“I’m weird.

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How The Food Industry Eats Your Kid’s Lunch

fries ketchupLucy Komisar, who contributed the essay “Dirty Money and Global Banking Secrecy” to the disinformation anthology Everything You Know Is Wrong, contributes a major op-ed to this Sunday’s New York Times:

An increasingly cozy alliance between companies that manufacture processed foods and companies that serve the meals is making students — a captive market — fat and sick while pulling in hundreds of millions of dollars in profits. At a time of fiscal austerity, these companies are seducing school administrators with promises to cut costs through privatization. Parents who want healthier meals, meanwhile, are outgunned.

Each day, 32 million children in the United States get lunch at schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program, which uses agricultural surplus to feed children. About 21 million of these students eat free or reduced-price meals, a number that has surged since the recession. The program, which also provides breakfast, costs $13.3 billion a year.

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Why Are Finland’s Schools The World’s Best?

Finland-Kirkkojarvi-School-631The secret seems to be emphasizing art, foreign languages, and physical activity, paying teachers like lawyers and doctors, and doing away with standardized testing. A shame that the United States is trending in the opposite direction regarding all of the above. Yes, it helps that Finland is a small, wealthy country with extremely equal income distribution, but its neighbor Norway follows a more “American” education model and with inferior results. Via Smithsonian Magazine:

Besides Finnish, math and science, first graders take music, art, sports, religion and textile handcrafts. English begins in third grade, Swedish in fourth. By fifth grade the children have added biology, geography, history, physics and chemistry.

Not until sixth grade will kids have the option to sit for a district-wide exam, and then only if the classroom teacher agrees to participate. Most do, out of curiosity. Results are not publicized. Finnish educators have a hard time understanding the United States’ fascination with standardized tests.

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Should Kids Be Taught Safe Drug Use In School?

teen-pot-smoking-methodsFood for thought: is “abstinence only” education as flawed in regard to drugs as it is in regards to sex? (I recommend re-utilizing the slogan “Stop, Drop, and Roll” for purposes of drug education.) This comes on the heels of NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s commendable decision to mandate sex ed in the city’s public school system. Via AlterNet:

I applaud the Mayor’s campaign to teach sex education in school. While many parents may hope that their teenagers won’t be sexually active, the reality is that most teenagers will have sex and it is important that they are educated about the risks.

The same principles and goals of sex education should be applied to drug education. While many schools already provide honest sex education that acknowledges the reality that some teens will have sex, our nation’s drug education programs treat abstinence as the sole measure of success and the only acceptable teaching option.

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Texas Board Of Education Unanimously Rejects Creationist Textbooks

creationism-4In a shocking turn of events, creationism’s great white hope, Texas, has decided to continue teaching basic biology and natural history in its public school system. The National Center for Science Education writes:

The Texas Board of Education has unanimously come down on the side of evolution. In 14-0 vote, the board today approved scientifically accurate high school biology textbook supplements from established mainstream publishers–and did not approve the creationist-backed supplements from International Databases, LLC.

Dr. Eugenie Scott, NCSE’s Executive Director is celebrating the decision. “These supplements reflect the overwhelming scientific consensus that evolution is the core of modern biology, and is a central and vital concept in any biology class. That these supplements were adopted unanimously reflects a long overdue change in the board. I commend the board for its refusal to politicize science education.”

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Crash Rates May Be Higher for Teen Drivers Who Start School Earlier in the Morning

Are we about to witness the foundation of Mothers Against Early Classes? ScienceDaily reports:

A study in the April 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine shows increased automobile crash rates among teen drivers who start school earlier in the morning.

Photo: Jeffrey Beall (CC)

Photo: Jeffrey Beall (CC)

Results indicate that in 2008 the weekday crash rate for 16- to 18-year-olds was about 41 percent higher in Virginia Beach, Va., where high school classes began at 7:20 — 7:25 a.m., than in adjacent Chesapeake, Va., where classes started at 8:40 — 8:45 a.m. There were 65.8 automobile crashes for every 1,000 teen drivers in Virginia Beach, and 46.6 crashes for every 1,000 teen drivers in Chesapeake. Similar results were found for 2007, when the weekday crash rate for Virginia Beach teens (71.2) was 28 percent higher than for Chesapeake teens (55.6). In a secondary analysis that evaluated only the traditional school months of September 2007 through June 2008, the weekday crash rate for teen drivers was 25 percent higher in Virginia Beach (80.0) than in Chesapeake (64.0).

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Inside The Sad World Of Standardized Test Essay-Scoring

6008578.28Minneapolis’s City Paper delves into a dark corner of the education system: the ever-growing test-scoring industry. Every day, armies of underpaid, disenchanted, hungover slacker-temps slave away in private essay-grading mills, slapping on arbitrary scores which determine whether schools across the country will receive funding and whether students will graduate:

Eventually, DiMaggio got used to not asking questions. He got used to skimming the essays as fast as possible, glancing over the responses for about two minutes apiece before clicking a score.

Every so often, though, his thoughts would drift to the school in Arkansas or Ohio or Pennsylvania. If they only knew what was going on behind the scenes. “The legitimacy of testing is being taken for granted,” he says. “It’s a farce.”

DiMaggio had good reason to worry. His score could determine whether the school was deemed adequate or failing—whether it received government funding or got shut down.

Though the efficacy of standardized testing has been hotly debated for decades, one thing has become crystal clear: It’s big business.

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