the last word (tm)
16/No. 8 - 441st issue - August 16,
firstname.lastname@example.org - http://members.iglou.com/bandit - Bellevue, Kentucky
Blog blogga blogs at http://bandit73.pitas.com and http://www.myspace.com/bandit41073
Remember the good old days of burnin' gum and helmet hair? Those days are back, as we at The Last Word are reviving one of our proudest traditions of yesterdecade: our annual back-to-school special issue!
This yearly showcase first appeared in September 1993. In later years it gradually drifted earlier into August, because school started earlier (and ended later) every year. (The right-wing global greed merchants don't think 190 days of school a year is enough now, so you know they didn't think 180 was enough.) Eventually the custom withered and died, but now it's back with a vengeance!
So read it and peep!
BIG BROSSART IS WATCHING YOU
Aug. 6 - If you were tottering on the brink of your chair for a reason to pull your kids out of Kentucky's slaughterhouse schools at once and homeschool them, the suspense ended with the announcement of a first-of-its-kind spy camera network that's being inaugurated at none other than (drum roll please) Bishop Brossart High School.
Brossart, a small Catholic school in Alexandria, has been a continual target of ours since we began publishing 14 years ago. Make no mistake about it: The school is wretched. We know it's wretched. You know it's wretched. And you love to see us lampoon the school to no end, as you keep coming back for more (as Ratt would say)! But seriously, Brossart is truly a miserable school and a known bullying mill. In our high school years, we had literally thousands of run-ins with the virulent bullies that seem so drawn to Brossart. The only thing surer than getting violently attacked at Bro$$art was that the school would openly encourage the assailants to keep at it.
Feel the love, man.
We can say from experience that it has to stop, and it has to stop now. If you haven't seen Brossart yet, you'd be astonished at the amount of student harassment at this school - and we can guarantee you'd be as adamant as we are in wanting nothing less than a quick halt to the school's evil ways.
This piece, however, deals not just with private schools like Brossart but also local public schools that inexplicably copy every stunning failure that Brossart has been plagued by.
Brossart's a trendsetter for everything bad. If you hear of some idiotic new policy afflicting your child's school, chances are Bro$$art was doing it 20 (even 50) years ago. In American schools in general, progress has become a dirty word. If a student of the average school of the '80s fell asleep after graduation and just now woke up, they'd be shocked at the current condition of their alma mater. We can't stress this enough.
Every time you think the school system can't get any worse, it always does. And now it's done so again.
The nation's first
Bishop Brossart High School has become the first school to try a new system that features live camera feeds that link directly to police cruisers. This is said to be the only system like this anywhere in the nation. Under this program, Brossart is placing numerous surveillance cameras around the exterior of the school as well as on the inside of the school - including hallways, the cafeteria, and the gym. The video from these 16 cameras will be transmitted directly to the computers in Alexandria police cars. The system comes at no cost to the school (though the school should at least chip in, after it looted our bank account) and very little cost to the police. It's basically being paid for by other wireless customers.
Hey, can somebody buy us a free wireless video feed too? What??? No??? Aw, shucky-darn!
What prompted Brossart to blaze the treacherous surveillance trail? There's been loads of paintballing and other vandalism outside the school, and someone shot a gun through the building years ago. Last Halloween, gangs of Brossart students were caught firing BB guns (which were designed to resemble Glock pistols) at local residents - but that wasn't actually at school. (The teens tried to make the guns look even more real by coloring the orange tips with a black marker.) But you'd think somebody had to have done something major at school recently to get the school interested in police-linked cameras.
It's not like the cameras will actually prevent violence. Any school shooter would just shoot the cameras out before the cameras even caught them. Besides that, school massacres wouldn't be a problem in the first place if schools didn't go out of their way to treat students like criminals, which breeds violent behavior.
We're guessing there was a violent incident at Brossart recently. We're sure nobody died, but somebody probably was seriously injured. We can assume this, because it happened over and over again 20 years ago. But we're sure that's not what prompted the cameras. And we doubt Brossart is that concerned about uninvited guests on campus, because back in the late '80s the school allowed a grown man to pick up his 15-year-old girlfriend who attended school there. (This makes the school guilty of aiding and abetting an illicit relationship.) If the surveillance system is such a valuable tool against crime, why did it take the school this long to install it? (Gotcha!)
Regarding the new cameras, a Brossart staff member was quoted by the media as saying, "Here at Brossart, we're very fortunate that we've never concerned ourselves with internal security, hallway disruptions." He's right: The school has never concerned itself with disruptions because it's always just denied it has any responsibility for disruptions when they do happen.
So what's the real reason for the cameras? More so than any other school we attended, Bro$$art treated students like stackable potato chips. We were machines to feed the administration's desire for control. Its unwritten social code was unusual, in that those of us known to have a rebellious streak were quickly shoved to the bottom of the student hierarchy (the opposite of what would happen at many other schools), and that there were enough students at the top of the pecking order who were cozy with the administration to effectively enforce this exclusionary plan. It was unwritten, but still the rule - like common law for a parallel universe. Another unwritten bylaw was that the students at the top of this totem pole (who were all spoiled babies to begin with) were exempt from punishment no matter how much they violated written rules. We saw this scheme in action nonstop during our 3 years there.
The primary purpose of the cameras is to remind students (the ones at the bottom of the food chain, at least) who's the boss. The administration and the spoiled brats who cozy up to it can use this new spy system to lord it over everyone else. Anyone who's ever had the misfortune of dealing with Brossart probably knows damn well the cameras are going to be used to go after minor infractions, while major incidents go unpunished. It's been that way even when administrators witness an incident firsthand. The school didn't do anything to real troublemakers when it caught them red-handed, so why would it do anything to them if it catches them on camera?
The school will never admit why they want the cameras. Why should they admit it? The school wasn't exactly honest when it accused us of losing a book we never had, so why should the truth suddenly start mattering now?
(Reminding students of their subservience is also a main reason some schools have harsh dress codes. That plus the fact that many of these schools have deals with uniform stores to force students to buy their wares. Brossart of course is big on dress codes, but they'll never admit it's because they want to knock people down a few pegs. Another footnote: Brossart already had cameras outside the building before being linked up to the police cruisers. Supposedly these were used to catch those who committed the capital crime of vandalizing the fancy electronic marquee the school wasted all that money on. Ooh, vandalism. Big wow.)
Camera debacle spreads
Inexplicably, Alexandria police think Brossart's camera fiasco is the greatest invention since road maps, so they're getting other schools in their city - private as well as public - to copy this system.
We have experiences with Campbell County's public schools too, and we know how gimmicky and miserable they are, although they don't approach the level of horridity found at Brossart. Calling them Brossart Lite would be too harsh; Brossart Zero might be more accurate. The county's public schools that are within Alexandria are also getting the cameras. They'll be misused there too. Trust us on that.
Nice to know that if Brossart does something, every other school follows in lockstep.
If you don't want to be treated like a hardened thug or be schooled in a prison-like environment, don't go to Kentucky schools. Schools' oppressive policies have coincided with the rise of their prison-style construction. Older school buildings seem quaint today, but they were ahead of their time: Their huge windows and spacious classrooms adorned with sturdy coathooks and colorful maps were invitations to learn! The stirring fragrance of oaptag hovered in the air, and friendly teachers with apples on their desks could teach, because less time was wasted on all the gimmickry. Cline Middle School and Northern Kentucky University were among the first institutions locally to eschew this timeless appearance and use the new, boxy, prison-like architecture. (In NKU's case it was because of right-wing paranoia in an era when conservatives were having to explain themselves.) Especially in the new prison schools, the stereotypical apple often rests atop directions to call the police over minor disruptions. (That's "procedure", you know.)
These prisony trappings make newer schools look like something you'd expect to see on a grim black-and-white newsreel of the Soviet bloc from the 1950s.
Why does everyone think the cameras so great? Wait, they don't. But the media does. (Now there's a surprise!) A headline from the right-wing Clear Channel syndicate blares, "High-Tech Surveillance System Protects Students."
Except it doesn't. We guarantee the cameras won't deter serious crime. Every spike in school shootings or terrorist activity always comes after some intrusive new gimmick. The vicious cycle continues when the crisis is used as an excuse for yet more tyranny.
The spy cameras are such an obvious mark of a police state that they seem to fit in pretty well at Brossart. Hideous look-alike attire is about the only thing the cameras are missing.
The cameras spreading from private schools like Brossart into public schools pretty much renders the entire local school system an embarrassing ruin. This spy network sounds like it's straight out of CPH or Orwell's 1984. It's a superhighway to disaster.
At least if the cameras ever do catch any serious misbehavior at Brossart, they'll also catch the administrators standing around and not doing anything about it.
DRESS CODES SHOVED BACK INTO CLOTHESDRAWER
Aug. 6 - Ya know, it's kind of baffling.
In America - as in a majority of modern nations - most folks believe deeply in democracy.
Free expression. Rule of law. Equality and fairness. It's the American way!
But these days, when push comes to shove, Americans have become conditioned to accept one right at a time being nibbled away. One of the most far-reaching monstrances of this is mandatory uniforms in public schools. Twenty years ago, probably no American public school required uniforms. Today this fetid trend has one-fifth of the nation's public schools in its clamp-like grip.
It doesn't have to be this way, because your right to be free of uniforms is surprisingly easy to win back - if you know what to do.
With so many young people living under the thumb of suck-alike dress, it astonishes us that so few fight back. As we've said before, the best course of action would be to simply ignore the uniform policy and let the school do its worst to enforce it.
Just let 'em try to enforce it. Just let 'em! They can't!
School is compulsory. Thus, making uniforms a rigid requirement robs you of the option of not subjecting yourself to the setting where the uniform applies. Requiring uniforms in public schools amounts to compelling someone to accept restrictions on legitimate expression - which they can't do!
This view is fundamental to a democratic republic.
Can your school suspend you for disobeying the uniform? What if you rack up one suspension after another for returning out of uniform each time a suspension ends? That's what we call a conflict of laws. It's a paradox in which you're barred from attending school, despite being required to attend. But in this case the compulsory education laws trump the school's legal power to suspend - so the school has to let you back!
What if the penalty is after-school detention or Saturday school? We'd just ignore the punishment. A school can hardly justify making any rash moves over that.
Arkansas school smacked down
The suburb of Watson Chapel, Arkansas, is known for having one of the nation's worst public school systems. Although the district is tiny, we've actually had cause to discuss the school system's fascism at length before. It's one of these systems like Campbell County that shoves all these right-wing gimmicks in everyone's faces, which immunizes it from media scrutiny. The press thinks that's "progress", you know.
The school district uses corporal punishment, a fact that it proudly proclaims in its student handbook (which is rife with questionable policies). Doesn't sound too "progressive", does it?
Our original piece on Watson Chapel's fascism occurred when the right-wing press fawned over its pioneering of school uniforms in 1999. Media accounts were beyond creepy.
Watson Chapel's mandatory uniform policy applies not only at school but also at school bus stops. It also includes a mandatory ID that must be displayed on a rope around the neck. Furthermore, the policy states that "any attempt to defeat the uniformity intended by this policy is prohibited", which arrogantly covers anything that might come up.
Like Brossart, the Watson Chapel schools became so preoccupied with enforcing the uniform that overall discipline deteriorated. Fights have been reported daily. Students have been suspended for having 4 buttons on their uniform shirts - even though the policy explicitly allows 2 to 4 buttons. Suspensions have also been issued over pants whose pockets are sewn on the outside (because the seam is visible) or because the thread on the seam of their pants was (get this) too shiny - even though nothing in the written policy prohibits these things. Others were suspended for wearing belts that had stitching that was a different color from than rest of the belt. (Only black or brown belts are allowed.) There were reportedly 200 suspensions issued in one week. Some of those who were suspended had a perfect grade point average.
When dozens of parents showed up at a school board meeting to protest the capricious suspensions, the school board turned the air conditioner off to try to get people to leave. Later the school board director had the sheriff's department cart uniform opponents away.
Students decided to wear black armbands to school in protest of the uniforms. Because the Watson Chapel system school system is run by yapping neanderthals, school officials then decreed that anyone who wore an armband would be suspended for 3 days.
During this scandal, school officials freeped school review sites by posting positive comments about the school. One of them declared that "if your child has a problem at this school, there is a big chance that your child is doing something wrong." (Reminds us of all the troglodytes who e-mail us about how we were doing something wrong because we had problems at Bro$$art.) Several of these phony reviews (which were full of misspellings) bragged of the school district's bounteous use of the paddle.
The schools' ban of the armbands was too much. Now they weren't just policing expression, but also thought. A federal judge then issued a preliminary ruling that said the school had to at least allow the armbands.
But it shouldn't have even gone this far, because even if you set aside the usual constitutional questions, Watson Chapel's uniform policy is still illegal: For one thing, the school system violated the Arkansas law on the initial implementation of the policy. For another, state law says schools "shall provide for individual students to make application to opt out of the uniform requirements with parental consent." Watson Chapel refused to allow anyone to opt out.
This isn't over, because the school is self-important enough to keep defending its preposterous policies. In fact, it was later revealed that a student was suspended for distributing fliers that opposed the uniform. This caused the plaintiffs to amend their case, as the school violated this student's First Amendment rights by punishing him for the fliers.
The entire sorry affair earned the school system a humiliating Muzzle Award from the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression. The superintendent was presented with a t-shirt depicting Thomas Jefferson with a black rectangle over his mouth.
Supremes finally sing right note
Something similar happened in a Vermont case. This time it wasn't a uniform, but a dress code that simply censored views the school disagreed with.
In 2004 (when fascism abounded), school officials in Williamstown, Vermont, suspended a 7th-grader because he wore a t-shirt that ridiculed dictator Bush. To give you an idea of the reactionary pulse of that town, the spittle crowd had previously put together a right-wing demonstration there in which one of the local activist conservative types complained to Howard Dean, "You people are forcing us to teach tolerance and diversity!" (Heaven forfend!) The demonstrator subsequently asked Dean, "Are you bisexual?"
Obviously nobody had forced the school system to teach tolerance of views that disagreed with its own. The school banned the anti-Bush shirt after some crybaby complained that the shirt hurt their pwecious widdle feewings.
At first, a federal judge issued a ruling that was generally in favor of the school's dress code except that words on the shirt could not be censored. Later, however, a federal appeals court correctly ruled that the entire shirt was protected as free speech.
Of course, the school was none too pleased about that. So they wasted taxpayers' money appealing that decision all the way to the Supreme Court. And now the Supremes have let the appeals court's ruling against the school stand.
At long last, a constitutionally proper Supreme Court ruling! The irony is that this makes the court's decision just a few days earlier that allowed schools to censor "pro-drug" messages on banners displayed by students outside of school appear even sillier. Maybe the Supreme Court got tired of being a laughingstock, so they ruled against the Vermont school just for balance.
Aaahh! Now we can all sit back and relax with the assurance that America's schools will pay heed to this ruling. (Long pause.) BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Do you really expect schools to obey the law? We don't.
(Breaking news: Now the Anderson, Indiana, school system is also being sued over uniforms. The plaintiffs correctly point out that the uniforms not only violate the First Amendment but also the right to a free public education. That's because the uniforms cost over $600.)
PRO-BULLYING LAW RETURNS
Aug. 12 - Are you a spoiled brat who's had everything handed to you your whole life - including a mental disorder that causes you to subject your peers to your own inner turmoil?
If you also happen to live in Kentucky, this is your lucky decade! (Just like the previous 2 decades!) A law that punishes the innocent and mollycoddles privileged bullies has made its unasked-for return!
"No pass, no drive" penalizes innocent students who have poor grades - but rewards troublemakers who have good grades. If you're asking how that can possibly be, here's the skinny.
Ever since the hated "no pass, no drive" concept debuted, we've held it to be unsound on several fronts. "No pass, no drive" is a law in some states that revokes the driver's licenses of teenagers who fail classes at school or quit school altogether - even if they have no disciplinary problems. Even at first glance, the idea seems questionable because driving isn't directly related to school. But it was the expansion of a troublesome trend to stigmatize innocent people for having a bad school record.
You could be the smartest, most hard-working, most ethical, and least bullying person ever to inhabit the universe - but if it's discovered you had to quit school or got an F in religion 20 years ago, you're forced to bear this scarlet letter for the rest of your life. As a perennial F student, I know this. Be prepared to be treated like a second-class citizen - even though the bully who slugged you back in high school (who coasted through school) is set for life with a high-paying job he got through his Republican political connections. (Don't laugh. We know quite a few asshats from school who got good patronage jobs they don't deserve.)
In the 1980s, Kentucky became very self-conscious of the fact that it ranked low in education attainment statistics. This feeling resulted from the right-wing media's hateful typecasting of us Kentuckians. (The Nabisco Shredded Wheat commersh jumps immediately to mind.) However, Kentucky's seemingly poor standing wasn't because there was something wrong with the state's people. It was because Kentucky had relatively few jobs that needed a college education. (Jobs that didn't require it were often better than jobs today that do.)
But the sentiment was easily exploited, and Kentucky became a "no pass, no drive" groundbreaker. The state could then claim it was preventing students from quitting school, even though the law didn't improve schools to encourage staying in school.
From the beginning, we were never fooled by it. Our experience was that serial bullies usually got pretty good grades, because they had a lot of clout with schools. These terrorists rarely dropped out of school, because - living a life of privilege and all - schools bent over backwards to accommodate them. Their victims were far more likely to have bad grades and to quit school. Being assaulted by violent thugs daily, and seeing the school conjure every imaginable excuse for not cracking down, is exactly the sort of the thing that encourages dropping out. It also contributes to academic failure: How can anyone learn when the school allows these attacks?
With few exceptions, what we saw when "no pass, no drive" first passed was that whenever one blameless teenager lost their license, it seemed like some hooligan (whose daddy was a bank president or local politician) gained theirs. Frustration mounted as one license after another ended up in the wrong hands. Instructively, the beneficiaries of this scheme created problems at school and on our highways - after getting their driver's license, even though their victims weren't allowed to get a license!
Did the serial harassers deserve a license? Everything they did proved how irresponsible they were in a car. In addition to the harassment (which they often carried out from their vehicle), they were reckless show-offs. As they bragged of their expensive new cars, they squealed the tires, purposely induced high-speed stalls, and drag-raced on public roads. They knew they could get away with it, because they never had discipline in their lives. If I had done something so heedless, my folks would have taken the car keys away until I turned 18 - and they would have been right to do so. But the meanies from school were special. Rules didn't apply to them - at school, on the roads, or anywhere.
Legislators who wrote the original "no pass, no drive" law knew what they were doing. The naive might just dismiss their actions as a noble program gone awry. But nope. It was malice. For starts, the law didn't revoke licenses for bullying. Further, it was often right-wing politicians' own offspring who were lording it over everyone else at school!
Even minus the favoritism towards bullies, there were other problems with "no pass, no drive." It was classist even in cases where serial harassment wasn't a factor: Economically disadvantaged students are more likely to live in school districts that have fewer amenities to encourage them to stay in school. Also, conservative school systems deliberately stack the deck against the poor. And if a teacher dares to dissent from this scheme, many of these school systems refuse to hire them as a principal. So there are some principals who make sure the richest students receive a gentleman's A while other pupils flunk (despite putting in just as much effort to pass).
Also, unless one lives on a bus line, how is one supposed to hold a job if they lose their license?
The law also discouraged students from signing up for advanced placement classes for fear they'd fail them. Ironically, this didn't exactly promote good attendance: Many of these students later got bored because school wasn't meeting their needs.
Law ruled unconstitutional but returns anyway
"No pass, no drive" was later tossed out by a Calloway County court. That's because the policy violated the Constitution's due process clause and because it ran afoul of the federal Buckley Amendment, which bars student records from being released. (Ironically, Sen. James Buckley of New York was one of the most conservative U.S. senators in the '70s, yet the law that bears his name is a thorn in the side of today's conservatives. However, the sensible Buckley Amendment was actually introduced by the late Rep. Carl D. Perkins, a highly respected Kentucky Democrat.)
The ruling against "no pass, no drive" was a reasonable ruling, but we knew it was about as likely to stick as Hubba Bubba in the old Gum Fighter ads.
Later, in a lesser known ruling, the Kentucky Supreme Court threw out "no pass, no drive" because it only applied in districts with alternative education programs and thus was being selectively enforced. (The irony here isn't lost on us.)
Now the Kentucky legislature thinks it can solve the pesky issues about the Constitution and federalism by bringing back "no pass, no drive" in only slightly different form. As an end-run around the Buckley Amendment, the revised law includes a new clause that says young drivers must consent to the release of their school records in order to get a license. Nice try, geniuses.
Believe it or not, the new version of "no pass, no drive" passed both houses of the Kentucky legislature unanimously. Um??? What was this we hear about two-party systems existing somewhere???
It gets worse. What the legislature defines as dropping out isn't necessarily what most folks would define it as. If someone has 9 unexcused absences in 5 months, legislators call that "dropping out." That's tricky, because state law also defines absences caused by suspensions as unexcused. Other states have variants of this ghastly meme. Louisiana, for instance, has seen a bill that would revoke licenses of students who get expelled from school. Principals would be required to notify the state if a student gets expelled. Because this policy would also apply to private schools, there'd be almost no limit as to what offenses someone may lose their license for.
Now there's an opening to crack down on bullying, right? Guess again! If you really think harassment is treated as a serious offense in today's schools, you haven't been reading us for very long. Almost everything except harassment is.
Other states have (quite smartly) passed laws that explicitly deal with school harassment. Bills like this have been introduced in Kentucky. In Kentucky, however, these bills always get defeated because stupid right-wing pricks like State Sen. Dan Kelly stall them. Republican fartpipes like Kelly get to be so powerful largely because the exurbs - the places where school harassment is most prevalent - have too much representation in government. Kelly said he stalled the bill because he thinks school harassment is strictly a family matter and schools don't have a right to interfere. This despite the fact he supports requiring schools to teach creationism, which interferes with the family matter of religion. And he supports schools interfering with driving privileges. If harassment is a family matter, why should the community be forced to suffer because harassers' parents raise such spoiled, undisciplined kids?
The world of "no pass, no drive" is one where the ogres rule and nobody questions it. Tying licenses to school absences is a perfect example of the "gotcha!" attitude the school system relishes so much: Schools today suspend at the drop of a pin. We know school administrators are rubbing their hands together in excitement at each suspension, just because it raises the unexcused absence tally. It's a great illustration of the system purposely setting people up for trouble. (It's kind of like when a county forces people who are jailed for minor crimes to pay for their own incarceration, then sentences them to serve additional penalties when they can't pay.)
If lawmakers were genuinely interested in reducing the dropout rate, they'd fix the schools instead of punishing people for not wanting to be subjected to the schools' horseshit.
End special rights for harassers
Memories are long, and the frustration never fades.
"No pass, no drive" means special rights for school harassers, because they're not the ones who get their licenses revoked. What we need to do is pass a law to revoke the licenses of bullies. Such a law would pass the Buckley Amendment test, and it would respect due process, because serial harassment is as much of a criminal problem or a motor vehicle problem as a school problem. Not all incidents happen at school. More and more have happened apart from school and have involved the assailants' misuse of their vehicles.
Controlling harassers might be a tough sell in some circles. Whenever someone makes an Internet post about confiscatory car insurance rates making it too expensive for the poor to travel, conservatives swoop in with a ready-to-wear harangue about how "DRIVEING IS A PRIVLIJ NOT A RITE LOLOLOLOL." But when someone suggests cracking down on violent harassers, these same conservatives suddenly abandon their apparent love of law and order.
Harassment is bad enough at 16 - but it's outrageous at 18. While we support revoking the driver's licenses of aggressors who are under 18, and not reinstating the license until they turn 18, we need to revoke their licenses forever if they're already at least 18. Nothing less is satisfactory. Anyone who's 18 and still engages in this type of behavior shouldn't be anywhere near a motor vehicle - unless it's to be pushed in front of one.
School harassers as old as 18 shouldn't even be an issue (let alone ones who are over 30 who still make the same harassing phone call they've made for 20 years). But they are. Look at the schools we've got around here. Any questions?
(Humorous footnote: The motor vehicle bureau in Campbell County has announced its intent to ignore the new "no pass, no drive" law because the state refuses to provide schools with the paperwork to enforce it in a timely manner.)
WHEN A SCHOOLBOOK GOT TOILETY
"When a schoolbook got toilety..." (Sung to the tune of "When A Man Loves A Woman.")
The Last Word has got to be the toiletymost publication ever to people the planet. It's fun to talk toilets, especially when stuff gets plopped. Let's take you back 20 years to the very first plopping I ever saw in high school.
In 1987-88, I was a freshman at the disastrous Bishop Brossart High School in Alexandria. Now, dialogue in this narrative is only approximate. Unless the school hid tape recorders in the walls (judging by the camera boondoggle, it's possible that it did), the exact words are losted in the fog of time.
Gym was and is a state requirement. And at Bro$$art, it was a high priority.
As you know, Brossart wasn't exactly known for effective discipline, because so much effort was squandered enforcing the dress code and other minor rules. To give you an idea of how bad the discipline situation was getting, our phys ed teacher once lectured the class that we were the most ill-behaved class she had ever taught.
On the day of the great textbook plopping, our gym teacher was particularly angry at the heightening misbehavior by students. So when we showed up for phys ed, we had to change into our gym clothes in the locker room one at a time, instead of all at once.
The boys' locker room was treacherous, smelly, bug-infested, and dark. It doubled as a restroom, complete with foreboding johnnypots. The lockers didn't lock, so students' belongings were frequently stolen.
Because we had to change clothes one at a time, when we were all done changing into our gym clothes, it was already time to change back out of them (which we also had to do one by one). In the meantime, all the students who weren't in the locker room changing had to sit on the floor of the gym as the teacher lectured the class about its hijinks. Throughout this boring spiel, one student (not me) kept making fart noises with his hands over his mouth.
When I returned to the locker room to change back into the abhorrent garb that was required for the rest of the school day, I noticed there were bubble gum wrappers all over the floor! Since the wrappers weren't there before, and I didn't see anyone chewing bubble gum in gym, it was obvious someone had stockpiled bubble gum wrappers just so they could scatter them all over the locker room floor later. (Either that, or somebody suddenly decided they didn't want to win a Richard Marx concert after all, after saving up all those wrappers for it.)
As if this sight wasn't amusing enough, it was about to get even more comical. The locker rooms had urinals that were designed to contain a shallow pool of water that was maybe 4 inches deep. And people rarely flushed the urinals, so the water quickly evolved from clear and colorless to a robust amber.
I walked past the urinals and, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something amiss.
Brossart was big on book covers. The school distributed book covers for our textbooks that featured ads for the Army or powerful local businesses. Failing to use a book cover carried a hefty fine. There was an unwritten rule against turning the book cover inside-out so only the blank side was exposed. Doing so risked an ass-kicking by preps and a shrill lecture from faculty about how we were wasting the Army's money by having it pay for an advertisement nobody could see. (Seems to me that the government starting pointless wars in Iraq wastes more of the Army's money than turning a 5-cent book cover inside-out.)
Anyhow, I did a double-take at one of the urinals. I saw a student's English book basking in the shallow waters of this commode. The book was about 6 by 8 inches and featured a school-issued cover that had ads for local firms printed in blue ink. I couldn't see whose book it was. It was corner-down in the yellow agua, which covered it some 4 inches deep.
The book cover was not enough to save the volume from being totally, completely, utterly ru! Yep, it was roodledy-doodledy!
I was convulsed with laughter. But I said nothing about the ruined textbook to my schoolmates.
Later, I saw one student from that class approaching another. He said to him, "You put my book in the toilet."
The reply: "No I never." This student then made his signature gesture in which he wiggled his hands and made a funny sound.
Victim: "Yes you did, stupid."
Perp: "You left your book in the locker, so it's your fault. So blame it on me." (Isn't the purpose of putting things in lockers to prevent them from getting put in the urinal? Also, the regular lockers, which actually locked, were all the way across campus, and running to those lockers and back would have risked a tardy and a heavy demeriting.)
Victim: "At least I wasn't born a half-mental case like you were."
Perp (lapsing into an indignant high-pitched voice that approached a Cartman-like rasp): "You put your damn book in the locker! You have the nerve to blame me because you won't take care of your shit!"
Personally I was no fan of the victim but was even less of a fan of the perp. So you know who I was rooting for.
You'd think the victim wouldn't have been so appalled at finding his book in the tinkletorium, because the books belonged to the school, not the students. But the school probably made him pay for it, because that's what always happened at Brossart when someone's books got destroyed by somebody else.
Within a few days, the shit hit the fan! At lunch in the cafeteria, a teacher who was filling in for the principal approached me and asked me where the perpetrator of the urinal caper was. I told him.
"I hear you've been having problems in gym," the respected instructor sternly said to the perp, amidst the din of the lunchroom, and about 10 feet away from where I was sitting. "Putting books in the urinal is not something civilized young men do."
The student denied any involvement.
The teacher said there'd be demerits - and at least a detention to boot! At the end of the chitchat, I heard the teacher firmly tell the youngster, "It's not too late to get your act together." (Except in his case, it was.)
The thing is, the culprit in the incident was pretty chummy with the school administration, so when the principal returned, the punishment was rescinded. They had to pamper the little baby, didn't they?
The school was likely more concerned about who put gum wrappers on the floor than in who plopped the schoolbook. Brossart was probably reimbursed for the book by sending a bogus bill to the student who had the book that year, but the indignity of a messy floor was priceless.
However, knowing Brossart, it's surprising they haven't gone to America's Most Wanted to try to catch who was responsible for the countless other acts of toilet vandalism that took place in those years - as well as whoever placed the gum wrappers on the floor. The school obviously considers "crimes" against itself to be worse than murder.
COPS SUED OVER LAB REPORT
Aug. 14 - Our friends in Kenton County have been subjected to loads of fascism lately. Loads of it!
Now an 18-year-old county resident is suing 3 police officers over an incident that happened in March when she was a student at Simon Kenton High School, a public school. During this grim episode, cops conducted a surprise drug sweep of students' cars parked at school, and the plaintiff was arrested for alleged possession of marijuana. The lawsuit contends that the Independence and Kenton County police made a fraudulent lab report and fabricated evidence in an effort to justify the arrest.
As a result of the arrest, the student was suspended for 10 days and was barred from her prom and her graduation - despite the fact the charges were dropped.
Ya know somethin'? Even if the lab report is perfectly accurate and if none of the evidence is faked, there'd still be grounds for a lawsuit. It's that nifty little thing called the Fourth Amendment, ya know. You can't conduct a search of students' cars without a warrant and probable cause. According to the Kentucky Post, this was a full sweep (with drug dogs and all), not just a raid against one person. And we know they didn't have probable cause to suspect every student parked in the lot.
In other words, it's an illegal search. Period. End of discussion.
The school ought to be sued too for violating due process, because the school refused to lift the punishment even after the charges were dropped. Even the penalty itself should have caused a lawsuit: If someone has toiled all those years to get their diploma, a school has no right to change the rules in the middle of the game by barring someone from their own graduation. We didn't think a law was needed to protect students in cases like this. We thought it was just common sense that a school can't just come up with a self-serving new rule to let one little slip-up completely negate a student's years of hard work. The right to attend one's own graduation is something people earn through their hard work, and a school shouldn't be able to just arbitrarily take it away.
The system's credibility is shot. We strongly suspect the lab report and evidence were faked by someone. (This is the county where we almost got arrested for trying to defend Ralph Nader supporters from a violent attack by a Bush thug, and where the corrupt Republican county machine was such a bunch of sore losers about its congressional candidate losing an election that the county website falsely claimed for months that he had won.) We're not saying all the individual defendants faked something, or that we know the items were faked. We've learned we can't jump to conclusions. (We remember rewriting an article about an incident in another local school district in our early years, after the piece raveled because of our judgments that resulted from it being such a bad school system.) But we're 99% sure somebody faked something. We're pretty confident we'll never have to eat crow on this.
Because why in the hell else would they end up having to drop the charges altogether???
If the system is willing to blatantly violate the constitutional rights of the plaintiff and so many other people, and go to amazing lengths to try to legitimize its stance, what's to stop it from outright lying?
Schools of course are part of this system. And many American schools today are run by ultraconservative clods who actually think there's too much freedom. A right-wing school board member in a neighboring state recently whined, "This individual rights business has gone too far.” Believe it or not, they actually say this bullshit with a straight face!
It always seems like the corrupt few who govern right-wing private schools are catatonically engaged in a long-running complain-a-thon that whooshes across the nation's injured landscape. The hypocrisy of this endeavor is overpowering. The main purpose seems to be to try to show just how perfect the school supposedly is, while exposing everyone else's faults.
We touched on this topic in the mid-'90s when we talked about how a Catholic high school in Little Rock, Arkansas, banned a student from her own graduation because she was pregnant. (We know this happens a lot, but the school was so arrogant about it that it became a national story.) The school's excuse was that the ceremony was for the school, not the students. Even if the school's action was legal (on account of being a private school), it was morally indefensible.
That being the era of violent kooks and all (before they started channeling their indignation through Freak Rethuglic), we received e-mail that actually attacked our stance and praised the school.
Something else like this happened not too long ago. Actually this story is from 2005, but it's just now arriving here. (This delay reminds us of the days when the radio stations in Cincinnati added songs 2 years late. Of course now the whole country is like this.)
At a Catholic high school in Montgomery, Alabama, a pregnant student who was barred from her own graduation decided to announce her own name at the end of the ceremony and walk across the stage - resulting in thunderous applause from her classmates.
When this happened, however, the student's mother and aunt were dragged out of the church building by the cops who were on duty there.
Well, that's just royal, huh?
The student's family members weren't creating any disturbance. The school basically just deputized the police to carry out its wishes.
Now get this: The father of the student's baby happened to be in the same graduating class - and he was allowed to participate in the graduation!
The few blogs where we've seen this story mentioned pretty much agree there's grounds for a gender discrimination suit against the school, despite it being a private institution. The school got public police officers to enforce the school's will at the graduation (against people who weren't doing anything illegal), so it can't very well claim the laws don't apply. Lawsuit or not, we wonder what the school's excuse is for punishing a female student who became pregnant more severely than the male student who got her pregnant. It sure doesn't teach a very good lesson about fatherly responsibility.
It's hard to see how anyone can't see that the school bureaucracies in these cases have fallen squarely on their faces trying to make people think they're so moral.
Though this level of arrogance seems to be pretty much limited to private schools, it's not limited to Catholic schools. Other private schools also do stuff that's at least somewhat similar to this nonsense (as we've discussed before).
We've researched some of the doings of private schools in our region. Our activity was in part prompted by a series of hostile (and defamatory) Internet posts about us made by a childhood acquaintance of ours who now happens to be employed by one such school. Suffice it to say, some of these schools have some craaaaazy crap in their student handbooks. Often they try misusing Bible verses to justify their policies. (They even use the Bible to try to justify uniforms. However, they ignore Romans 12:2, a passage that's pretty much against school uniforms.)
One of these manuals for a self-described Christian school contains a politically charged but unintentionally hilarious harangue complaining about the government preventing religion from being required in public schools. This tirade wrongly claims that Christian schools are immune to all state laws.
The handbook for another private school was just as bizarre. Unlike the school in the above paragraph, this institution is a Catholic school. The manual for this high school contained a thinly veiled provision that appears to be designed to ban students from voicing support for the "wrong" political candidates (even if they express this support somewhere other than school, such as on a personal website). Now that's something that ought to jeopardize the school's IRS tax-exempt status right there.
Even more grotesque, the handbook for this school proudly proclaimed its intent to force male students to wear bobby pins in their hair if it is found to be too long. The school's excuse for this is that long hair is too distracting. As if the school's remedy for it isn't?
We wouldn't have been too shocked if the school's policy was to simply send the student home and not let him return until he gets a haircut. But nope. That's not good enough for the educrats. Instead the school has to make a big scene and detract from other students' educational experience.
On the school's website, the school's main disciplinarians' photos were vaingloriously posted for the whole wide world to see. These are the peeps responsible for making and enforcing school rules. A swaggering smirk of a 12-year-old bully becomes a wicked hangman's grin when it splices itself onto the faces of grown men who are probably over 60. Just looking at their photos, you can see their glee in humiliating those who dare to show up at school with the wrong kind of hairstyle.
When we perused the website, an old lesson was reinforced anew: There is something truly wrong with a lot of the people who run schools. It's not true of all of them, but it's true of some. It's much worse in private schools than in public schools.
There must be some deep-seated basis for it. Maybe the smug hypocrisy and judgmentalism of these school bureaucrats is caused by their own self-loathing and confusion. Maybe they have a secret fetish for bobby pins, and every night they fantasize about the cast of Buck Rogers In The 25th Century coming into their bedroom, placing bobby pins on their genitalia, and massaging boysenberry syrup into their scalp. But who knows?
Individuals who have such shitty coping skills that they feel they can't keep order without humiliating students just for its own sake really shouldn't be educators. Let this be a stern warning to the public about the level of incompetence and hypocrisy that exists out there.
REGISTRY MAY TRACK DRUG COMPANY BRIBES
Aug. 15 - One of the worst trends in modern American education is schools' insistence on drugging children with toxins like Ritalin to control supposed conditions like ADHD.
We believe ADHD is a spindrome, a condition invented by right-wing schools and drug makers to control our young people and sell more poison. If anybody has a right to say this, we do. That's because after the Campbell County Schools used ADHD as an excuse to keep us out of "their" school system for 10 years (nonconsecutive), we know this is so. (The school system's actions violated IDEA and later the Americans with Disabilities Act, but what do you think this is supposed to be? A nation of laws?) Kids are usually diagnosed with ADHD as a punishment for being smarter than the idiots who run the school.
It isn't only methylphenidate, and it isn't even only ADHD anymore.
But the New York Times reports that action is now being taken against drug company bribery. To quote Bonnie Tyler: It's about time!
The irony is that calls for controlling this scam come from Iowa's Sen. Charles Grassley, a Republican. Republicans usually support everything the pharmaceutical racket does, but Grassley's action is a rare and welcome exception.
The senator says he wants a federal law to make drug companies disclose payments that they make to doctors for things like lectures and consulting. As an example of drug firm bribery, Grassley says that one child spychiatrist in Cincinnati got over $180,000 in 2 years from the maker of a children's "antipsychotic" drug.
America needs the type of federal registry Grassley proposes. (It's hard to believe this is the same Chuck Grassley who got a Conservative Fool Of The Day entry after he launched an absurd partisan tirade.) Maine, Minnesota, and Vermont already have their own registries, but the other states aren't so lucky.
You see, the drug companies' payments to doctors encourage them to prescribe their products, when they otherwise wouldn't. It puts money ahead of patients' health. Similarly, this bribery affects doctors' own studies of drugs. If an influential medical professional writes favorably of a drug, it leads other doctors to believe the drug is suitable. Plus, Big Medicine's bribes drive up America's already outrageous health care costs.
Some argue that a registry of drug racket payments will effectively legalize this bribery. But it's not like it's illegal to begin with - although it should be. The United States really needs to do what Italy has done: Italian police arrested pharmaceutical executives for bribery and went after almost 5,000 doctors for accepting bribes.
Until that happens in America, bribe-accepting medical professionals may just have to be exposed using the registry!
'C' IS FOR CPH, THAT BAD ENOUGH FOR ME...
The Last Word prides itself in being an opponent of the CPH order.
What is CPH? That's a question any child may ask you, but it is not a childish question.
CPH was a gulag in Covington that everyone hated. In an attempt to fool the public, it's not called CPH anymore, but it's still there. It's along a street that runs east off Kyles Lane, and you wouldn't even suspect it's there if you didn't know about it already, because the building looks so deceptively innocent.
The more you think about CPH, the bigger joke it is. When I was a teenager back in 1990, this is where your school system might put you if you got expelled from school or had the "wrong" political views (or both). And it was a massive, money-grubbing fraud, if I dare to say so myself. They disguise themselves as a medical facility, but it's a concentration camp.
Let's put it this way: Spoiled babies who start crap at school generally aren't the kids who get sent there. I don't think I met more than one detainee at this internment camp who genuinely belonged in a detention facility.
Since this is a back-to-school issue of The Last Word, CPH fits the theme of this ish.
During the bitter months I was confined at CPH, something funny happened once. I don't think I've ever told this story publicly in 17 years, and I can no longer wait to tell it!
Anyhow, the guards at this miniature Guantánamo Bay enjoyed making inmates sit on the chair in the hall just outside the lounge as a punishment for minor infractions. This penalty was mild by CPH standards, because quite often they'd tie them down and assault them instead. One of my fellow detainees was often penalized by being ordered to sit on the chair.
One day I was returning to the lounge from some mandatory event, and this particular inmate was again serving time on the chair. Now, I don't remember the exact words he said. The staff there did have microphones in the ceiling to listen to everything prisoners said, but (as with the book plopping at Brossart) the exact words are probably lost forever.
Anyway, the detainee was angry at being punished, so he launched an uproarious speech protesting the penalty. One of the guards was sitting right there, so he heard this hilarious address too.
The speech was ushered in with a lengthy series of fake fart noises and then went something like this: "The staff here are such jerks. Man, I can't stand the staff. Fuckin' staff. They sit here and fart all day. Then if you have a pen in your room, they're like, 'Hey! Two demerits!' And they smell too. Such assholes. They don't do anything. They just sit there collecting B.O. Everything is 'feeding in' and 'inappropriate' to them. And they don't do shit. What are they here for?"
The drawn-out tone of this address (along with the funny voice used to imitate the guards) made it sound much funnier than it looks in print.
After maybe 5 or 10 minutes of going on like this, the youngster said of the staff, "They sit around all day and watch Sesame Street." (I'm quoting that line verbatim!)
This line is all the funnier because it was actually true! One afternoon prior to this, we returned from some useless activity, and one of the guards was watching TV in the lounge. Sesame Street was just getting over, and the show had reached the funky musical score that always used to play at the end (the one with the tiny white letters on a black background).
Anyhoo, the same inmate who launched that speech quoted above knew what to do when the music began. He promptly ran into the lounge, right under where the TV was, faced the guard who was viewing it, and performed a hilarious dance in which he shook his limbs wildly. Although he wasn't blocking the TV, since the set was placed so high (because the staff didn't trust 17-year-olds to change the channels), the guard who was viewing the TV angrily craned his neck as if to get a better view of the action-packed copyright and trademark information that flashed on the screen. He scowled as the youngster continued dancing.
Because this uproarious dance failed to cease, the guard (being the ugly doofus he was) proceeded to launch a typical screaming tirade about the inmate's "inappropriateness."
Guess it's a really big crime to distract a guard at CPH while he's trying to watch the exciting text that comes on after Sesame Street. (Notice how CPH never called them guards. They called them "techs." But we've always called them guards.) Then again, breathing was a really big crime there too.
THIS JUST IN! SCHOOLS CAN BE SUED!
Did you know schools really aren't above the law like they think they are?
You probably think they are, because they keep saying they are, and therefore they are. And when they are, that means they are, because they say they are. And because they are, that means they must've said they are, which in turn means they are. Schools are never wrong, ya know, because they say they're never wrong, and therefore they're never wrong.
Except the Vermont Supreme Court says schools can be wrong.
(Hear time standing still because someone dared to publicly disagree with a school.)
Vermont's high court says a school can be sued if it violates state civil rights laws by allowing harassment that is prohibited by these statutes.
Well, isn't that a novel idea?
Weird that now (with phony legal "reform" and all) you have to go all the way to a state's highest court just to get permission to sue someone. Not just to win a suit, but even to file a suit.
It takes a high court ruling just to tell the public that schools can be sued?
If the school doesn't know about the harassment, it can't be sued - but if the school does know about it, then it sure as shit can!
We don't want to dwell constantly on schools being wrong, because it, like, gets old. But this is a back-to-school ish, so it just goes with the territory!
The Vermont lawsuit resulted from a pattern of racist harassment that plagued an exurban school (although the school claims to have not known about the problem). It's hard to believe a relatively sane state like Vermont allows such Nazism, but this school was in the exurbs, where bigotry tends to be normalized. (Then again, it's hard to believe a relatively sane state like Vermont allows exurbs.)
Raw racists are as bad as the union-busting greed merchants of Corporate America. Wait, raw racists usually are the union-busting greed merchants of Corporate America!
VOUCHERS FAIL (SURPRISE, SURPRISE)
Aug. 16 - School voucher programs are a perennial cause celebre of the Far Right.
The programs we're referring to take taxpayer money and give it to folks in the form of vouchers to cover the cost of sending their children to private schools. The entire idea is odious for many reasons. Because most private schools are affiliated with religious organizations, these vouchers violate the constitutional guarantee of separation of religion and state. Vouchers also weaken public schools. And they serve to advance a sweeping political agenda.
But what you never hear about is just what a truly cheap and condescending idea it is.
Every right-wing blog entry or manufactured story supporting vouchers is all about how great vouchers are for the poor. Yet these articles are always written by individuals who were never poor themselves! Conservative commentators seem to share a privileged upbringing.
Worse than these phony Potemkin populists claiming to speak for the poor despite their own spoiled existence is that the policies they support are directly harmful to Americans living in poverty. For starts, they're against raising the minimum wage. Even more instructively, they've been the most vocal advocates of welfare "reform" that cuts off assistance to the poorest families. During the welfare "reform" movement of the '90s, their meanness was so sharp and serrated that it could split a kidney stone.
They're no friends of the poor and no friends of us. My family was below the poverty line by the time I finished high school. By that time, we had become quite poor, and I knew it. I heard of vouchers then, and I personally thought it was the most chintzy scheme ever to be conceived. The way I saw it (and still see it), people who were fairly poor (as I was) were being exploited to promote a particular social outlook.
It was as if the ruling regime was saying, "Hey, here's some money for you to use exactly the way we say for you to use it." There's The School, you see. That's the place where "good" conservative ideas are spread. "So take this voucher, dammit!" Since then, however, all other government benefits have been getting slashed.
There are some much-needed public assistance programs that are meant to be used for specified purposes. Medicaid, for instance, can't be used to buy that $900 Gone With The Wind backgammon set they advertise in those 2-minute TV ads. Nor should it be used for that. Anybody poor enough to get government benefits is probably satisfied without such luxuries. Conservatives cry about poor people squandering money on this and that, but this is a Big Lie.
Vouchers for private schools are different from these other programs though, because these voucher schemes are just so plainly political and exploitive.
Furthermore, many private schools were designed to be exclusive. If someone receives $1,000 to put towards tuition, many of these schools will just raise tuition by $1,000.
The poorest voters see this bunk for what it is. Vouchers are hailed as a cure-all for economically disadvantaged school districts, but - whenever any state has a voucher-related referendum - voters in poor areas have rejected vouchers by much wider margins than those in rich areas.
Then again, some of these programs aren't limited to the poor. Some apply in specific districts that happen to have quite a few wealthy families. We look very dimly upon the ruling party having a privileged few become the spokespeople for us commoners, and when they ratchet up the vitriol, it's only fair to respond in kind.
D.C. program a bust
Now the Washington Post reports on the failure of vouchers in an article titled "Voucher Students Show Few Gains in First Year." "Few" in this case means...zero. (How's that for a vague headline?)
Students in Washington, D.C., are the first to be subjected to a clearly unconstitutional federal voucher program that uses taxpayer money on private schools. We don't remember voting for this, do you? In fact, we don't even remember hearing anything about it until now. That's because if Congress was willing to spend $14,000,000 a year on this social engineering malarkey, it was probably doing so many other preposterous things that we didn't have time to read about everything it was doing.
A U.S. Education Department report says schoolchildren who were given vouchers under this program didn't do any better on reading and math tests than their public school counterparts. The results of the program were so stunningly bad that the city's Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton commented, "Vouchers have received a failing grade."
Surprised? We're not. We don't claim to be experts on economics or poverty, but we sure know a lot about school. I went to private or church-run schools for 9 years, and public schools for 9 years (not counting the later semester at Gateway). I can tell you firsthand that most private schools don't even give you as good of an education as public schools do - despite public schools being sort of like, uh, free.
The scores from Washington, D.C., are among the few we'll ever be allowed to see. (Ooh, an Allowed Cloud!) Test results from a state-funded voucher program in Florida were not reported anywhere, and the private schools in this program don't even have to meet the same standards as public schools. However, Paul Peterson of Harvard University says researchers have also found almost no improvements resulting from voucher programs in other regions.
It's shocking that Congress would be so self-assured as to waste millions of taxpayer dollars on the D.C. program, but remember, this was created when Congress was in Republican hands in 2004, during the 12-year partisan cloud that loomed over that body. Throughout those years, Congress was ideologically driven and nearly worthless. During the Contract With America, the oleaginous liars in Congress (despite claiming to support states' rights) awarded itself control over Washington, D.C.'s local affairs. Because most of America's inner-city public school systems were at least adequate up until that time (despite the image created by the media), it's obvious Congress toyed with the D.C. schools just so they would fall apart enough to provide an excuse for vouchers.
There's much irony in the unfeeling, peaky spirit of exurbia governing one of America's largest cities (while that city is denied a voting member of Congress, the very body that granted itself control over the city's business). On the other hand, it's not much different from what happens to big cities in states where the exurbs have disproportionate control of the state legislature: Cleveland and Milwaukee have also been targets of infamous voucher "experiments." (Using schoolchildren for experimentation isn't exactly the most moral concept.) Republican state governments often seized control of major cities' schools away from elected school boards and transfered this control to state-appointed commissions, who then proceeded to ruin the cities' schools. The fix was in: When these changes proved a failure, vouchers were trotted out as a panacea.
The new report on the D.C. voucher system also unearthed no evidence that pupils in this program were actually safer than those in public schools.
Failure no deterrent!
But devotees of taxpayer-funded vouchers remain undeterred even in the face of failure. They put their own positive spin on the bad news out of D.C. by claiming the report was an indication that vouchers were actually working.
School doesn't have to be a disaster, kids. A well-run school system can be a young person's ticket to a lifetime of success and ennoblement. In America, the concept of a public school is supposed to be just that: a school open to the public. Private schools simply aren't bound to be as inclusive. Good public schools can be one of society's great guarantors of equality and personal empowerment.
Why sabotage public schools by weakening them with unlawful voucher schemes? Because it bips. No, seriously, voucher proponents want to subject your children to the thoughts, ideas, social arrangements, and economic vagaries that private schools often propagate. Conservatives can't win in the marketplace of ideas, so they try using taxpayers' money to lure a captive audience.
SCHOOL HARASSES STUDENT BECAUSE OF NAME
Aug. 16 - In New York City recently, one of the most hateful series of acts ever to be perpetrated by public school employees unfolded.
According to WCBS-TV, a student at Tottenville High School on Staten Island began encountering trouble with faculty a couple years ago because his first name happens to be Osama.
Haw haw haw. Get it? Yeah, we get it, and it ain't funny.
There's nothing comical at all about the pattern of abuse that ensued. It wasn't other students who issued the harassment. It was the teachers, for crying out loud!
The school's intolerance is astounding. The Jordanian-born student says that one day, during an assembly in the gym, a teacher asked, "Where's Osama?" The student replied, "Right here." The instructor then responded, "I thought you'd be in back of a cave somewhere."
Wow, how adult.
In another incident, a teacher told the teenager not to come to class anymore because he was going to flunk anyway.
The harassment continued for 2 years and got to be so bad that the student later attempted suicide and quit school. The school had refused to do anything about the problem despite numerous complaints by his parents.
Now the teenager is suing the school system because of all the abuse dished out by faculty. He later reentered school but had to travel across town because Tottenville High was so deplorable.
Maybe some of that "no pass, no drive" business needs to be extended to school officials who don't do their jobs right.
"OKAY" NOT OK WITH CRYBABY EDUCRATS
How babyish do school officials have to be?
Recently a 13-year-old girl in New York City was arrested and gained a permanent criminal record that will last her for the rest of her life because (we caution you, dear readers, that what we're about to say is very graphic) she wrote the word "Okay" on a desk.
The scribbling wasn't anything that couldn't be removed with a little soapy water and a Brillo pad - but of course Brillo pads are practically illegal now, judging by how on Cops some guy got busted for drugs just for having a loose fiber from a Brillo pad in his car. The word on the desk was easier to remove than sidewalk chalk. But try telling that to the "zero tolerance" loudmouths who rule American schools these days.
The student in the New York case had been inadvertently sent to the wrong class, where other pupils kept sticking stickers all over items in the classroom. When the "vandalism" to her desk was discovered, the school promptly called the police. The cops forced her to empty her pockets and remove her belt in front of the class. Then they handcuffed her, took her to the police station, and charged her with criminal mischief. She was handcuffed to a pole at the station for 3 hours.
Meanwhile, war criminals still stroll the halls of the White House unencumbered.
If there isn't a lawsuit over this, then we'll just eat our hats.
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