All Articles Tagged "schools"
I think that as long as people have gone to school, bullies have been a problem. However, it seems that today, kids are dealing with a whole new kind of bully. Almost like a super bully. One whose parents are blind to an issue, or better yet, in denial, and one whose violent and reckless behavior slides past school administrators far too easily. So how are you supposed to watch out for your kids in the hours that make up a school day (and they’re out of your hands) when everyone who is supposed to is not?
I remember when I first heard that my nephew had a bully. He’s one of my youngest nephews, and for his age, he’s a bit small (which makes him a prime target). This bully wasn’t just one of those a**holes I dealt with every once and a while as a kid who would poke fun at you and try and embarrass you in front of your peers. This snot-nosed kid had already put his hands on my nephew. In fact, he pushed my nephew down so hard in the bathroom that he hit his head on the ground and came home with a big knot. I was enraged, and of course, so was his mother–my sister-in-law.
You see, I’ve had nieces and nephews since I was a 4-year-old, and the oldest ones I have are, and have always been major athletes (it’s in our genes actually). Because they could bounce a basketball and get recognition from their peers for swinging a bat, they were deemed pretty popular. Therefore, they didn’t seem to have the burden of dealing with bullies too often (except for a niece who beat up a girl who tried to push her around…). But to finally hear that my little nephew was dealing with one, especially in a time when bullies are, as I stated earlier, super bullies (and more and more kids are committing suicide because of the harassment), I was worried. But my sister-in-law wasn’t having it. After not being able to get through to the mother of my nephew’s bully after telling the school, she went up to the young’n during lunch time, caught him while he was eating and let him know the real deal: “If you put your hands on my son again, you’re going to have to deal with me!” When I heard that she did this, I was kind of embarrassed for my nephew and thought she made the wrong move (what if his mother started coming around throwing threats?)…but that was until I saw the documentary Bully.
The recently released and much talked about film was so jarring because it put faces and names to the issue of bullying, aside from what we already know through school shootings, suicides, and our own personal experiences. They followed every kind of child, from a gay teenager struggling to get an education in peace, a boy with Asperger’s who was literally getting terrorized on the bus every day, to the families of young men who committed suicide, and even a teen who pulled a gun on her bullies while riding the school bus. While their experiences were haunting, nothing was probably more scary than watching a school administrator in the documentary blow off a family’s claim of abuse on their son (“They’re really just angels”), and try to solve a bully-victim issue by having two students shake hands. SHAKE HANDS!? I wanted to shake her. I realized that she was part of the problem and that in schools all across the country, there are many administrators just like her. Blind as bats and living like the society we’re living is a scene from “Happy Days.”
As much as I wanted to say that my sister-in-law had acted crazy a few months ago, while watching the documentary, I realized that there really isn’t a right move to keeping your kids safe when others aren’t stepping up and doing so when it’s their job–as both an administrator and parent. Was she supposed to wait until the bully broke my nephew’s nose or beat him like a mule? The boy’s mother clearly wasn’t going to wake up and smell the coffee (that her child is a heathen), so while I don’t agree with my sister-in-law’s actions 100 percent, sometimes a parent has to do what a parent has to do. Seriously, when you have people turning a blind eye to the bullying, saying it’s kids being kids and thinking things will be solved by having the bully and victim shake hands, it seems as though you really don’t have a choice.
In the end, if you were wondering, beef between my nephew and his bully seemed to calm down; not because my sister-in-law intervened, but because my nephew found a way to put him in his place. While in school minding his business, the bully pushed my nephew and called him a “baby.” Much to the bully’s surprise, my nephew must have downed his Wheaties in the morning, because he pushed him back pretty hard and said, “I’m not a baby!” That troublemaker somehow received the message, and for the most part, he isn’t terrorizing my nephew anymore (or sadly, maybe my nephew just isn’t saying anything anymore…).
In this day and age, it seems that the best way to get a bully off your back is to just stand up to them on your own; but it’s pretty sad to think that it’s left to a cornered kid by his or herself to deal with a bully situation these days.
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It seems like parenting is getting a whole lot tougher these days. Not only do you have to make sure the youngins’ are fed, clean and clothed properly but you also have to worry about going to jail over getting your child an education. Glad I have pets.
First is the story of a homeless Black mother in Connecticut, who was found guilty of stealing $15,000 in educational services. Tanya McDowell, who was living between her van and homeless shelters, was charged with felony larceny last year after she lied about her address to make her six-year-old son eligible to attend kindergarten in a better district. McDowell pled guilty to the accusation and was sentenced to twelve years in prison. While the sentence also includes a seven year bid for four charges of drug possession McDowell is also required to pay a $6,200 fine in restitution.
McDowell’s case has attracted lots of support from education and civil rights advocates who argued for compassion for a homeless mother. However the school district, the prosecutor of the case and finally the juror believe that she should have been required to send him to school in the city of her last permanent address. The case is also reminiscent of Kelley Williams-Bolar, who too was convicted last year of lying about her residency to get her daughters into a better school district in Ohio. Williams-Bolar was sentenced to two consecutive five-year prison bids. However after public pressure, that sentence was reduced and William-Bolar only spent 10 days in jail, five years of probation and was ordered to perform 80 hours of community service.
Both cases involved the so-called illegal falsification of residence in order to obtain thousands of dollars in educational benefits. However both stories also illustrate how increasingly hostile our public school system is, which presumably is supposed to be free for all American children (paid for by federal funds through our taxes dollars).
More and more, we are seeing stories about how Black and low income parents have been criminalized. Like how last year, more than 400 Baltimore parents had received notification that they would face a District Court judge as a result of charges filed by the school system’s Office of Attendance and Truancy. And in my home state of Pennsylvania, where the NAACP and the Public Inter Law Center of Philadelphia filed a federal lawsuit against the Lebanon School District for imposing excessive and illegal fines of up to $300 per incident on truant children or their families. One parent in particular was ordered to pay $27,000 and a 17-year-old student was fined more than $12,000.
(Wall Street Journal) — The Obama administration announced a new $185 million competition Friday that would reward colleges for producing teachers whose students perform well on standardized tests. The competition would require states to provide data linking collegiate teaching programs inside their borders to the test scores of their graduates’ students. Under the proposal, to be eligible for the money, states would have to ratchet up teacher-licensing exams and close persistently low-performing teacher-training programs. The competition is part of the administration’s planned broad overhaul of teachers’ colleges of education, which have come under attack recently for failing to properly train teachers.
By Charlotte Young
A new Alabama immigration law has some parents afraid to send their children to school. According to the Christian Science Monitor, a judge upheld several parts of Alabama’s strict new immigration law, which includes a section on public school enrollment.
Starting on Thursday, schools must check the birth certificates of students who enroll in Alabama schools for the first time. If no birth certificate is presented or if officials decide that the child is not in the US legally, then the parent or guardian must produce other documentation or sign an affidavit which deals with the citizenship status of the student. If no document is produced, school records will then mark a student as “enrolled without birth certificate.”
“This will have an incredibly chilling effect on children and on parents,” Mary Bauer, a key opponent and the legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, told the CS Monitor.
As the law will require government officials to report illegal immigrants, Bauer believes that it will also force school and government officials to play the role of immigration agents as well.
While Alabama’s interim superintendent of Education Larry Craven assures that “no student should be denied enrollment for not providing a birth certificate,” illegal-immigrant parents have already declared they plan to leave.
Dawn DuPress Kelley, the principal of Greenwood Elementary Schools told the CS Monitor that the new regulations make her uncomfortable, as they put pressure on her to report student immigration status and destroy the trust she’s established with parents.
“We’ve been having to troubleshoot today to offer encouragement…and let them know that the best place is to have their child in school,” she said to the CS Monitor.
Opponents have tried to use the 1982 Supreme Court case Plyler v. Doe to challenge the constitutional merit of the Alabama law. In the case, the Supreme Court ruled that all children in the US have the right to a free public elementary and secondary education, regardless of their citizenship status. However the judge ruled Wednesday that the plaintiff’s stance did not show that Alabama’s new immigration law “posed a concrete threat of injury to them.”
“If the federal government had done its job by enforcing its own immigration laws, there would be no need for Alabama – or other states – to pass a law such as this,” Robert Brentle, the governer of Alabama said in a statement. “I will continue to fight at every turn to defend this law against any and all challenges.”
(AJC) — Atlanta school board members say they have made the necessary progress to salvage the district’s accreditation, but this week they have to prove it. A team from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), the accrediting agency that put the district’s high schools on probation in January, is visiting Monday and today to see what has been done to improve poor governance and infighting among board members. The team’s findings will be released in a written report before the end of October.
(Washington Post) – Alice Deal Middle School in Northwest Washington is bursting at the seams, and with good reason. For foreign language, students can choose French, Spanish or Mandarin Chinese. The school offers football, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, track, baseball, softball, volleyball and fencing. The list of after-school clubs includes international cooking, African drumming, gardening, Scrabble and Gay-Straight Alliance. This fall, the school has 1,014 students in a building designed for 980. At Brookland Educational Campus at Bunker Hill, serving preschool to eighth grade in Northeast’s Ward 5, the menu of offerings for middle-grade students is quite different. There is one part-time Spanish teacher. Students are offered basketball, track, cheerleading and chorus. And there are parents who say the situation in their community is untenable.
(Chicago Tribune) — After another round of cuts at Chicago Public Schools, the teachers union contends African-American teachers in some of the city’s most impoverished schools have been unfairly targeted. The Chicago Teachers Union says that while fewer than 30 percent of teachers in CPS are African-American, they represent more than 40 percent of those getting pink slips this year, either for budgetary reasons or because of enrollment declines. Latino teachers, who represent 15 percent of teachers in CPS, make up about 12 percent of layoffs, union officials said.
(Chicago Sun Times) — At least 200 jobs are being trimmed out of the Chicago Public School bureaucracy, for a savings of $16 million — leaving only $44 million in promised cuts to go, CPS officials said Thursday. The job reductions are part of a reorganization of the office of chief education officer, which once employed 750 people. By the time the dust clears, it will be down to 550 people, CPS officials say. New Chief Education Officer Noemi Donoso said she is still planning an additional $34 million in “programmatic” cuts out of her office, many involving outside vendors, that were promised to help fill a $712 million budget deficit.
(NNPA) — A Chicago mother recently filed a lawsuit against the Chicago Board of Education alleging a Chicago Public School security guard handcuffed her young son while he was a student at George Washington Carver Primary School on the city’s far south side. In the lawsuit, filed Aug. 29, LaShanda Smith says the guard handcuffed her son March 17, 2010 which resulted in “sustained injuries of a permanent, personal and pecuniary nature.” According to media reports, Michael A. Carin, the attorney representing Smith says the youngster was among several six and seven year olds that were handcuffed by the guard for allegedly “talking in class”. The students were also allegedly told they would never see their parents again and were going to prison.
(AJC) — Between 1996 and 2001, Atlanta Public Schools raked in more than $82 million from a federal program designed to help schools and libraries get Internet access and maintain their electronic and telecommunications infrastructure. But a damning investigation nearly a decade ago, which revealed that APS squandered millions of dollars in the program and led to a three-year jail term on bribery charges for a school official, stopped Atlanta’s money flow from the program. Now, APS officials want the pipeline re-opened. Since 2001, APS has submitted more than $50 million worth of expenses they believe qualify for “E-rate” reimbursement, to the Universal Services Administrative Company, which administers a $2.25 billion fund to reimburse school and library districts for expenditures associated with Internet infrastructure.