Saturday, December 18, 2010

Government Schools Continue to Fail Students

In the past month, there have been two incidents in the Public School systems, or Government schools, that show very clearly the failure of the system and those running the schools.

We send our kids to school to learn. One of the ways you learn is to make mistakes. One of the ways you mature is to experience things. My son turned 18 a couple of years ago. Shortly after his birthday, he wanted something or to do something. I don't remember what it was, but he wanted to argue about it. At one point, he said "Dad, I'm an adult now."

My response to him was that he may be legally an adult, but he's not mature. The 18th birthday didn't turn him into a man. His actions and inactions showing his maturity or lack of it, it was determines he's an adult.

Last week, in Florda, there was a high school basketball game. A player pushed an opposing player and was called for a technical foul. He didn't like the call. So he pushed the referee. The referee promptly ejected him from the game which made the kid even madder and he grabbed the ref and threw him over his shoulder and to the floor. The referees then called the game, awarded the win to the other team.

Then punishment was discussed in the press, on the talk shows and just about everywhere else. The kid could be charged with assault. A high school kid charged with assault. A kid that isn't mature, which he made very obvious with his reaction to a call. This is a missed opportunity.

In my perfect world (ahem), this kid would be permanently suspended from playing. He'd still be forced to be on the team, which means that he would sit on the bench in street clothes with the other players for the rest of the season. He'd be forced to watch his teammates play and when he would normally be in the game, he wouldn't be allowed and have to watch as his friends and teammates had to do his work for him that he can't do because of his actions. He'd be forced to meet the refs before each remaining game, and shake hands with them and call the sir, and smile.

When the game is over, he'd be ordered to approach each referee and congratulate them on the job they did refereeing the game. During school hours, he'd be in detention each day for the remainder of the basketball season and for each day he missed, whether due to illness or other absence from school, he'd make up each day following the season until his time was served.

He's a teenage kid. Do we give up on him? Or do we correct his behavior? There is only one reason to prosecute this kid. If the referee was injured, then I can understand involving the law. He has to pay the price for his actions. But, why involve the legal system on a school incident if there is no injury to the referee? To charge this kid with a felony for his actions on the basketball court, removes his chances to better himself and likely improves his chances for more problems later.

The second incident happened in Howell, Michigan at their high school. Apparently, a female student was wearing a belt buckle with the confederate flag symbol on it. A teacher, Jay McDowell, ordered her to remove the belt buckle apparently saying that it was intolerant of gay students and bullying of gay students. Another student criticized the teacher for wearing an anti-bullying gay pride shirt with the gay pride symbol on it. He supposedly said "I don't accept gays, it's against my religion." McDowell ejected him from class.

For ejecting this student from class, McDowell was suspended for one day without pay. Since this happened, it's been an ongoing topic in Howell, Michigan.

A 14 year old student in the Ann Arbor school system came to the board meeting in Howell and sang the praises of this teacher. That student claimed he's gay.

An ACLU attorney for the group Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) group praised McDowell for his support of "gay rights" but also said that he was wrong for taking away the students freedom of speech. McDowell is an economics teacher.

Again, in my perfect world, this was another opportunity lost. Rather than ejecting the student from his class, the teacher could have opened up a discussion on anti-bullying and even anti-gay-bullying. Yes, it's an economics class and probably not within the scope of the class, but the teacher made it a part of his class by telling the one student to remove her belt buckle and also by his own wearing of the gay pride shirt.

Bullying is a problem. Any sort of bullying is a problem. It's been a problem since the beginning of time. But what this teacher did was nothing more than bullying. He took his position of power and forced someone in his charge to either tolerate his position on a topic or leave. However, the student didn't have the same opportunity. He couldn't order the teacher to change his shirt or take the day off work.

Even a discussion on gays probably wouldn't have changed this kids mind on the gay lifestyle. I know that it wouldn't change my mind. But at least each sides positions would be aired out, and the teacher could actually lead by keeping it a civil discussion with open ideas. When intolerance is the answer, the result is a battle with one side or the other moving to a more drastic action to get his/her point across.

Even if the kids didn't learn that there is no moral or legal reason to think the gay lifestyle is wrong, and on the other side, even if the teacher didn't learn that the gay lifestyle is wrong in many religions and should be illegal (if that's the kids position), the free discussion done in a respectful and tolerant way, would have been more towards teaching than anything else.

The kids would have learned that even though people disagree, they can still discuss topics and draw their own conclusions from the discussions on whether the topic is something that they are for or against.

Instead, what the students seem to have been taught is that they must accept a position even if they are against it because someone with power has deemed it so. They've just learned that they are not free to believe as they choose and they are not free to state what they believe.

Maybe, just maybe, had the tolerance been displayed allowing all sides to state their positions, it could end some of the bullying at least in the area of bullying gay students. Although, I have a hard time believing that there are that many students in one high school that are gay. But that tolerance exhibited with a discussion may have also helped in other areas that bullying takes place in.

So in one instance, we have a school system insisting on treating a student like an adult by possibly prosecuting him and in another we have a school system that doesn't allow for a student to learn by treating them as though they have the wrong opinion on a topic.

At home, the kids should be punished. If the basketball player was my son, he'd have been turned over my knee that night when he got home (if that bothers you non-spankers, then don't look). In school, the basketball player should get punishment for his actions in school, but his punishment should be to face what he did not to be tossed out and ignored and given up on.

The student in Howell, if he was my child, if he spoke disrespectfully to the teacher, and there is no indication of that, would also have been given a lesson on speaking respectfully at home by me. But at school the discussion should have taken place because it was a learning experience even if there is no certain outcome on the topic.

It's annoying to see people with their children acting up in public and they try to reason with them, but at the same time, it's annoying to go too far in public in meting out punishment to them. But that's a topic for another time.

There is no wonder to why the Government School Systems are failing our children in this country. These are just two examples.

You're welcome to comment.


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