the last word (tm)
20/No. 4 - 463rd issue – September 21,
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Our annual Back-to-School issue!
NAZI TAKEOVER OF NEWPORT SCHOOLS COMPLETE
Don't say we didn't warn you!
The Newport "public" school system could be thinking big if it opted to do so. But instead it sounds like it's trying to compete with Brossart. (Not exactly what I call aiming high.) Newport Middle School and Newport High School have now become the latest institutions of lower book-burnin' to implement mandatory uniforms.
Given Newport schools' ways of late, is it surprising? This is the school district that several years ago was sued because it allowed a pair of sisters to be harassed by schoolmates. And, in the state's most recent report on school discipline, Newport is now the only public school system in Northern Kentucky to report using corporal punishment. Plus, the school district closed one of its elementary schools even though it was the district's best-performing school. Furthermore, Newport schools took kids to a rally for Gary Bauer's ill-fated 2000 presidential campaign, and the school system once attempted to brainwash pupils by impaneling a student committee to advocate right-wing causes.
But uniforms??? Really??? (This at a time when other school systems are abolishing uniforms after their failed years-long experiment. More on that later.)
What this means is that Newport schools aren't truly public. Sort of like the Campbell County Schools but for different reasons. How is it any different from a charter school? It isn't. It's publicly funded but otherwise operates like a private school.
Where do kids in Newport go if they want to enjoy their right to a free public education?
What's more is that the schools in question approved the new dress code at a closed meeting – in violation of open meeting laws.
There's been talk that some families are trying to gain a religious exemption to the uniform by citing the Bible verse Romans 12:2, which reads in part, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." But from a strictly secular standpoint, it's my firm belief that the most effective way to fight public school uniforms today is to simply disobey them. Let the school do its worst to enforce uniforms - and end up falling flat on its face. Courts take too long and have been packed with right-wing activist judges, so it's often inefficient and ineffective to sue. Paying to attend out-of-district schools is too costly and inconvenient. When push comes to shove, the public school in your own district cannot legally deprive you of your right to learn.
When we fight, we win. When we don't fight, we lose. It's that simple. I know this from experience. Just ask Pathway Family Center what happened to them when we fought them.
Unquestioning compliance is not character.
MEANWHILE, IN FORT THOMAS...
Long story short: Highlands Middle School in Fort Thomas has now abolished its decade-old uniform requirement.
The right-wing dress code had prompted a lawsuit several years back, but that appears to have nothing to do with its abolition. The school says it's repealing the uniform requirement to save folks money.
Um. Didn't they say 10 years ago that one of the reasons they got uniforms was to save money? That turned out to be a load of shit, didn't it?
The school's former principal also admits that most items that violated the uniform code actually "didn't interrupt the educational process." BINGO! That's what we mean when we say defying the uniform is a victimless "crime."
After uniforms faced such a bruising comedown in Fort Thomas, do you actually think it'll be tolerated in Newport? On the other hand, you'd be shocked at the places that actually put up with it.
Surprisingly, there's one group of peeps who actually seem somewhat chagrined that Highlands Middle has relaxed its dress code: former students who think it's a little inconsistent they had to suffer it while their younger siblings don't have to.
LYING CRYBABY PWNED!
Schools in suburban Campbell County are a tight web of crazy.
It goes something like this: The crazy person who you went to school with turns out to be a close relative of a crazy person who was on the school board, who's the next-door neighbor of a crazy person who was principal at a private school across town, who served on some committee with another crazy person from the public schools, who's the sister-in-law of the crazy person with a law degree who represents the phony "rehab" that once got your girlfriend locked up, and this legal-like crazy person is the uncle of a crazy person who was just hired for a cushy job by another crazy person who happens to be the brother of a crazy person on a nearby school board, whose cousin just married the first crazy person, and now they're spawning yet another crazy person who someday is going to go to work for a different crazy person you went to school with, who once babysat the little sister of yet another crazy person from school, whose name you don't remember because you get him mixed up with all the other crazy people.
But now one of my former schoolmates has fallen down with such a thud that all you can hear is the entire galaxy laughing.
In late August, I noticed somebody using the handle "JB" posted a "review" full of personal attacks on the Amazon page for my first book The Fight That Never Ends. The handle suggested it could be either one of 2 individuals in particular, but I knew it wasn't, because this "review" wasn't in all-capitals and had only one misspelling. I quickly figured out it was the same spoiled brat who posted similar attacks 6 years ago. It was also obvious that she still hasn't read my book. Clearly, she hasn't read my second book A Mind's Smithereens either, because that volume devoted several pages to her first Amazon meltdown.
The new "review" - titled "Incorrect" - was a mishmash of bizarre lies, finger-pointing, veiled classism, and just plain nonsense. She said I "was thrown out of school for throwing a desk." That's a bald-faced lie. I was on the receiving end of quite a few desk-smashing brawls in my day. I don't recall ever throwing a desk back. (Our schools teach you not to fight back, you know.) Even if I did, I was expelled for sillier reasons - not for that. She went on to say this made-up incident "in my opinion never should have happened." That's because it didn't, dummy. Unless she meant the expulsion never should have happened - but if that's what she meant, why is she attacking me?
For her to say, "He is the one who caused all of his problems," was also a lie. I have perhaps hundreds of witnesses - versus this lone moron. Several witnesses have confirmed my side of the story publicly, and others are afraid to come forward because the school system would retaliate against their kids.
I posted this reply to the nasty "review":
"If you think the book is 'incorrect', then either write your own book debunking it - or shut up. We have freedom of the press in this country, and nobody's stopping you from writing your own book.
"I find it interesting that out of several reviews from eyewitnesses to what went on, the only one lying about what went on is you. Not exactly the level of maturity I'd expect from someone over 35."
She won't write a book to counter mine, of course. That's because she has nothing constructive to say, and she knows no publisher will touch her book unless they want to be sued for defamation. (You'll notice I got mine published and haven't been sued in the 6 years it's been out.)
At this point, the only individual I know of who still holds a grudge over what happened in school 30 years ago is her. I don't remember if I even responded to her 6 years ago during her previous conniption fit, but she's still going on about what went on decades before that! What's ironic is that her bad "reviews" of my book accomplish nothing but to prove my book right!
Last I heard, she worked at a private school in Kenton County. (This school admits that it beats children.) The web of crazy people is like a rootkit that poisons the entire community.
Now the best part...
I reported the bad "review" for abusing Amazon's terms of service. The real smackdown came almost immediately when Amazon removed the "review."
I think that at some point - maybe about 5 years ago - we finally crossed a boundary where I gained the upper hand over the Evil Empire. But the recent public spankage of "JB" might be the most thundering ever. For years, these privileged martinets have had their grimy paws in every aspect of community life. And they spent their formative years being told yes to all of their demands. Now people are finally saying no.
They've been a living monument to far-right excess and corruption. You can argue until you're blue in the bunker over whether I was a problem student, but there's no disputing that these were problem schools. When you have idiots who schedule their entire lives around this shit, together with a community power structure that acts like it's normal, that's a problem.
Someday they'll grow up. Right? Won't they?
THE 20-YEAR REUNION I DIDN'T ATTEND
I got invited to my long-awaited 20-year reunion over the summer! Amazing!
The real story for Bandit devotees isn't whether this settles the highly controversial question of which class I'm in - 1991 or 1992. I know civil wars have broken out around the world over that dilemma, but the big story is this: It wasn't a Brossart reunion. Rather, I was invited to Campbell County High School's reunion.
I appreciate the invitation, but...well...um...here's a little secret: I never attended school there.
This raises something very, very, very interesting. How did I end up on Campbell County's class list despite being blackballed by the entire Campbell County "public" school system even before I started high school? I think the answer's pretty clear. I strongly suspect the Campbell County Schools didn't officially divest itself of me when I was in high school because the state gives schools money for each pupil. The school was getting money for a student who they didn't even allow to go to school! NKU did something like this once too, remember?
Being on the class list is almost a smoking gun that proves this is what happened.
I didn't go to my reunion, of course. What do you think the reaction would have been if I'd shown up despite not being a Campbell County alumnus? The reunion was just a couple days after "JB" vandalized my Amazon page, but that wouldn't have been a factor in deciding whether to attend - though I do think the reunion is what inspired her to make such a spectacle of herself. I'm sure she was talking shit about me at the reunion - but I'm sure most of the other class of '91 alumnuses had even less patience for it than I would.
This also has nothing to do with the alumni message board I was on several years ago. This board used to be great, but it turned into a cult when its self-styled "in crowd" took it over and started hounding me to support their goofy ideas on how to run everything. If I'd known that beneath their sickly sweet shell of broad-mindedness lurked the souls of febrile autocrats who had no objection to further marginalizing the county's renegades, I would have kept my distance from the get-go. It's bad enough Campbell County was the area's first dominionist public school system. What's nearly as bad is that confused cultists have become the public face of the community.
I'm proud to represent those in the Campbell County Schools who resisted the forces of conformism and thought control. Those who didn't and continue to blindly follow the schools' orthodoxy are on their own as far as I'm concerned.
SCHOOL SUES ACCIDENT VICTIM'S DAD
Northern Kentuckians know it's bad enough to deal with school districts like Campbell County, where kids regularly get injured at school or at school functions because of the school system's negligence. Every few years, the taxpayers are forced to foot the bill for another lawsuit against the school district.
But in Knox County, Tennessee, schools not only injure students but also sue their family when they try suing.
Last year, a high school student there was permanently injured in a ladder accident at school. He filed a lawsuit asking for $300,000 in damages. But then guess what happened? The school district decided to turn around and sue his father, blaming him for the incident.
The student's family is in disbelief.
Naturally, the comment section on the Knoxville newspaper's website has been freeped by right-wingers defending the school system for "fighting back" against the young man they injured.
Even if his dad somehow caused the accident, wouldn't the school still be responsible for allowing him on school grounds?
The more important point though is that the school system is filing a frivolous countersuit. And the court needs to come down hard. There ought to be a law. There should be tough legislation to limit schools' power to sue students and their family members.
ALEC IN BLUNDERLAND
When you get the far-right American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) together with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, it's like getting the 2-year-old who writes on walls together with his cousin who takes apart Aunt Wilma's 8-tracks.
After being thoroughly humiliated by protesters when they came to Cincinnati, ALEC held a conference in New Orleans where the Chamber(pot) of Commerce presented ALEC with a proposed piece of legislation they wrote. ALEC's Education Task Force apparently approved this bill as part of ALEC's secret, unelected legislature that writes a hefty portion of the state laws that actually pass throughout the land. This bill would require all high school students to pass a "free market" indoctrination class to get their diploma.
Chamber of Commerce head honcho Stanton Anderson boomed, "The time is now for states to look beyond economics and to add free enterprise instruction as a required course for graduation." This mandatory class would highlight the Chamber's fucked-up definition of "private ownership rights" and the effects of regulating Big Business. Their synopsis of the bill might not appear so bad at first, but if you're a cool peep who's read my writings for a while, you can see right through it. What it's really about is imparting a set of stances that's beneficial to Big Business and hurts working Americans.
The bill's intent becomes clearer when we look at Anderson's statement to ALEC. He complained that regulation of Big Business has sent the country down a "statist road."
Some say a good education is a job creator, but I say it's something much more important: It's the tool that allows a free people to make the most of the talents they're endowed with. It's true when they say education is never wasted. But the Chamber of Commerce's bill isn't about education. It's about right-wing brainwashing. They want a majority of our young people to think they're not entitled to anything better than being exploited as spokes in the oppressive capitalist wheel.
Remember the TNT of old? TNT was my personal diary of high school hijinks.
Remember when somebody threw a condom on the floor of the classroom? Or when a substitute teacher flinched when a dictionary sailed towards his head? Or when a student stole a teacher's cigarettes out of her desk (in full view of everybody including the teacher) and walked out of school (resulting in the police being called)?
That's the kind of mischief I once lived for. And now I'm trying to relive my youth with a brand new TNT!
It would be a lot easier if I was still in school, but nobody else has a blog like this - so I must be the invisible hand that creates one. Frankly, I can't believe there isn't already a blog like this. Thirty years ago, people would've eaten this up. I guess that nowadays, people are afraid something bad might happen if they dare to appreciate the lighter side of kids acting up at school. Schools try teaching today's kids to reject our brand of humor. What schools do today is akin to Nazi book-burning.
But TNT is part of my job, and it behooves you to check out this upstart blog while I get it going...
BANDIT KNOWS BROSSART
Much as "Bo knows baseball" in the old Nike ads, I know Brossart. Few things involving Bishop Brossart High School in Alexandria ever end well - at least not with me. Honestly, how did anybody even think me and Brossart would mix?
Not like it wasn't Brossart's fault - except for the fact that I was in denial about...sorry, we're making fun of poor, innocent Brossart again, and that's not nice. Are we even sure the 2011 Brossart is the same as the 1988 Brossart? At the Brossart of old, if you got sick, you toiled anyway. It didn't matter if we had vomit sousing out of our ears. Nothing was ever enough for them.
I still keep an eye on Brossart, and it looks like it's as much of a shithole as ever. Their student handbook only relatively recently began outlawing the wearing of clothing items that "promote a rival school." (Punishment: $2 fine and demerits.) Brossart is so weak and fragile that it feels threatened by people wearing another school's jacket? Actually, I think this is just another indication of Brossart teaching kids not to trust anything outside Brossart. Brossart is a cult, and that's how cults act.
It's like how when I went there, they told us not to trust publications that challenged the mentality they favored. Or how later they told kids not to attend parties after school dances if the parties weren't approved by the school. It really is hard to think for yourself after being molded by Brossart during your formative years. Years later, you still sometimes find yourself drawing a blank when trying to figure out how to fight an adverse situation.
Another relatively recent development is what Brossart's handbook says about drug testing and extracurricular activities. The big story isn't that they suspend students from extracurriculars if they fail a drug test. Northern Kentucky had some of the first schools in America fascist enough to do so. The real story is what it says of the drug tests. It says, "the results of which are legally made available to the school."
What??? So if some kid gets an after-school job and fails a drug test at work, Brossart thinks it has a legal right to see the results? What law says this?
I'm sure ALEC would love to have a law that discloses drug test results to discredited private high schools. But unless Joe Fischer ever becomes President, it looks like they're going to have to make do without one. Maybe liberty will win this round.
TEA PARTY MUST HATE SCHOOL
The Tea Party hates school! Shut 'em down! Send 'em to bed with no TV tonight! Waaah!
For real, folks. The Tea Party must hate school, because they're trying to close schools down.
Some spoiled crybaby who heads a Tea Party chapter in Philadelphia said, "We think public schools should go away." She grumbled that not having enough taxpayer-funded vouchers (bailouts) for private schools "discriminates" against rich families. Later, she told a retired teacher in an e-mail exchange, "Our ultimate goal is to shut down public schools and have private schools only, eventually returning responsibility for payment to parents and private charities."
Come to Campbell County. Then you'd already have private schools only. On second thought, don't come to Campbell County. Our air is toxic enough without the Tea Party stinking it up.
Why do I suspect that the nobody who's saying all this stuff just loved school back in her day? She was probably the type who bullied everybody but was always deputized by the school to carry out its dirty work - i.e., the authoritarian personality type.
AN ARIZONA SCHOOL'S SUMPTUARY LAW
While we report on sumptuary laws like school uniforms locally, the scourge is international in scope. In some regions, it even symbolizes imperialism. And every time its disjointed supporters open their mouths, they dig themselves in deeper.
Now, Knox Elementary School in Chandler, Arizona, has decided that uniforms must be made mandatory for some kids - but not others. Students who are placed in the gifted program don't have to wear them - but all the other children do.
You knew this article would be about a school system fucking up, but you didn't think it would be quite that spectacularly, did you?
COURTS SMACK DOWN EVIL EMPIRE
Not long ago, a public high school in Indiana tried punishing 2 girls because they posted stupid photos of themselves on MySpace that they took during a sleepover while on summer break. The photos had no connection with school whatsoever.
This illustrated schools' authoritarian desire to control off-campus conduct that was unrelated to school. It's like how a graduate of Highlands in the early '90s told me the school tried to prohibit students from attending parties on their own time.
Well, now a federal judge has smacked the school down good and proper.
Outrageously, the school tried arguing that because it's a public entity, the Constitution says it doesn't have to pay damages even if it loses the cases. What? Public entities are supposed to be more accountable that private entities are. (That's not to say a private school can do what it wants - despite what some seem to think.)
But sometimes even schools do the right thing. The forces of tyranny can be embodied in student bullies - who usually get away with everything at school but occasionally face a much-deserved smackdown. Back in 2005, a high school in West Virginia quite properly suspended a girl because she built a website to harass a schoolmate by suggesting she had a sexually transmitted disease. Finally, 6 years later, a federal court has rightly upheld this punishment.
The real story here is that the harasser is no longer a child today. She's now a grown woman who's about 23, yet she was still fighting her punishment just 2 months ago. I bet in another 15 years, she'll be posting Amazon "reviews" full of personal attacks against former schoolmates. The judge was so aghast at her ongoing immaturity that he wrote, "Regretfully, she yet fails to see that such harassment and bullying is inappropriate and hurtful and that it must be taken seriously by school administrators."
That from a student who was named "Queen of Charm"?
Conservaworld is all about "me, me, me." In my view, being a complete person means being about more than just oneself. It's part of what makes us human. But America has become a corporation that's produced a reserve of shallow, selfish, wasteful people who lord it over everybody else.
A timeworn gimmick of schools is to make students retake a college preparatory test or an "important" state standardized test because of some mistake the school, the tester, or somebody else made. For example, every few years, you hear of a truck carrying the test results overturning and losing all the scores, and the school making kids squander a whole Saturday retaking the test.
If I didn't know any better, I'd say it happens often enough that it could only be a conspiracy. Our schools aim to wear kids down and reshape them in their mold, so what other conclusion is there? Maybe it's just the student in me, but I'm suspicious.
This past spring, 33 students who took the SAT at Withrow High School in Cincinnati were forced to retake it because...the testing staff failed to separate students who were taking the standard SAT from those who were testing in only a few sections.
Tough toilets for the testing staff, right? Well, nope. Rectifying somebody else's idiotic mistake is always on your kids' backs, don't ya know.
So the students had to come back to school during the summer to retake the SAT. At least one student almost lost her summer job - which was at an out-of-town summer camp while the test was being given again. The delay also jeopardized the seniors' college plans, as their colleges took longer to get their scores.
Education Testing Service, which administers the SAT, says that each year, hundreds of students are forced to retake the SAT because of dumb errors like this.
Damn, there's excuses for everything these days. No accountability. Only excuses.
ANOTHER SCHOOL SUED FOR HARASSMENT
Locally, folks seem to be fighting back through the courts against school harassment. See, it can be done. Even if you don't win the suit, at least the school gets a nice smudge on its rep - which is what it deserves if it allows harassment.
Now the Walton-Verona school district is being sued by the family of a 13-year-old girl because the school system didn't protect her from an 18-year-old student's sexual advances. The 18-year-old actually pleaded guilty to harassment - but the school didn't do anything to him because he was the son of a school official and because he was a star basketball player.
After he transferred to another school, the school district even lied about the reason for the transfer so he could remain eligible to play sports.
I'm waiting for the "schools are never wrong" thought police to chime in.
THE STATUS OF STATUS OFFENDERS
"Except as otherwise provided in this chapter and KRS Chapter 610, no child alleged to be or adjudicated as a status offender shall be securely detained." --Kentucky Revised Statutes 630.100
Kentucky law is clear and has been for many years: It's illegal to send a juvenile to a detention facility for a status offense. That's the law.
A status offense is an infraction such as truancy or running away that can be committed only by youth. A person who is 18 or older cannot legally be guilty of truancy. State law allows certain penalties for offenses like these - perhaps community service - but it specifically says in plain English that status offenders cannot be placed in detention or any other confinement facility.
The law is the law. It's been this way for decades and decades. I don't see how it can possibly be any clearer than it is.
It's also a fact that some judges don't care what the law says and lock up kids even when the law says they can't. Accordingly, Kentucky has become #2 in the nation in detention of status offenders. And Northern Kentucky leads the state: In the past 8 years, Kenton County has sent more status offenders to detention than any other county in Kentucky. Campbell County is a distant second.
The local situation doesn't sound like a page from 2011. It sounds like something out of the 1940s that you'd read about in an aging person's biography where it says something like, "He was sent to a chain gang at the age of 12 for throwing water balloons at a bus shelter." This isn't exactly Space Age public policy.
When asked about Campbell and Kenton, a director of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice cited "the unusual nature of these counties." I guess it is rather unusual when judges (of all people) don't even follow the law. It was noted that huge Jefferson County didn't send any status offenders to lockup, because of that county's progressive approach - a progressive approach called following the damn statutes. What's worse is that Northern Kentucky status offenders are now housed in a rough regional prison that also includes murderers.
A new bill to curtail these costly, ineffective extralegal detentions passed the Kentucky House this year, but Republicans in the Kentucky Senate killed the bill. Legislators plan to reintroduce the bill in next year's session. Will that even matter, considering judges just ignore the current law?
MONTHLY MORON MOTORIST
Since a lot of you aren't interested in articles that aren't about Honeycomb or TV sets getting smashed, you might want to stop reading here. But I'm obligated to do this feature again, so...
In July, I saw absolutely no bad driving of note. (Better driving always seems to be a good political omen.) But in August, on my trip to Nebraska, I pept an oil tanker driving erratically on US 20 near the town of O'Neill. Every time rainwater had pooled along the road, the tanker made a point of swerving into the puddle to muddy the windshields of all who challenge the forces of doom.
That's very babyfying.
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