Nel's New Day

September 24, 2013

School in the 21st Century

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:56 PM

Seventh-grader Miranda Washinawatok speaks two languages, Menominee and English. Sacred Heart Catholic Academy in Shawano (WI), a school over 60 percent American Indian, suspended her from playing a basketball game because she said “I love you” in the Menominee to another student. Her assistant coach told her she was being benched because two teachers said she had a bad attitude. Miranda’s mother, Tanaes Washinawotok, went to the school early next morning to find out what the problem was.

The principal explained that her “attitude problem” was saying “posoh,” meaning hello, and “ketapanen,” meaning I love you. Miranda’s grandmother is the director of the Language and Culture Commission of the Menominee Tribe and has a degree in linguistics from the University of Arizona’s College of Education-AILDI American Indian Language Development Institute. She has also been a tribal chair.

The school is operated by the Diocese of Green Bay. It has an option on its answering machine for Spanish but not Menominee.

Constitution Day, a day each week when schools that accept public funding must teach about the U.S. Constitution was a week ago. To commemorate that day, Robert Van Tuinen stood outside the student resource center at Modesto Junior College (CA) and handed out copies of the constitution. Ten minutes after he started doing this, campus police told him that he had to stop because he could hand out materials only in the designated “free speech zone.” It seems that free speech is allowed in only one spot at the school. Even there, he would have had to schedule his “free speech” in advance. According to a letter from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE):

“Modesto Junior College is hardly alone in its fear of free speech. In fact, one in six of America’s 400 largest and most prestigious colleges have ‘free speech zones’ limiting where speech can take place. This video brings to life the deeply depressing reality of the climate for free speech on campus.”

Tuinen hoped to start a chapter of the Young Americans for Liberty, a conservative libertarian organization, at his school.

A few weeks ago, a seven-year-old girl was banned from her Tulsa (OK) charter school for wearing her hair in dreadlocks. After a protest, she was readmitted. This week, Neices Houston was banned from her seventh-grade classes for two days at Seagraves Junior High School (TX) because her hair had been dyed blonde. Houston had won permission to do this after two years of straight A grades. The school said that they were trying to prepare their students for the business world and would suspend students who didn’t conform to their necessary fashion etiquette. Houston has transferred to the nearby Loop Independent School.

Gay Alex Worthley, a freshman at the University of Central Missouri, was assigned to a homophobic roommate who had requested that he not be put in a room with an openly gay person. Although Worthley  asked to be assigned a different roommate, the school refused because, it claimed, that would be discrimination.  After the two young men got in an argument over Alex’s music, the roommate said, according to Alex, “I do have a knife and I’ll use it if I have to.”  Worthley reported the violent incident to school authorities, and the two were given separate rooms. Then the school sent Worthley a disciplinary letter that stated, in part:

“There seems to be a strong possibility that some of your own actions and comments were part of the reason this situation escalated from jesting to threatening.”

Schools have gone beyond brainwashing students in religion to forcing politics on them. An example is Illinois where teachers are legally required to teach students that coal is a safe, affordable source of energy. The propaganda mandate,  the Illinois Coal Technology Development Assistance Act, inserts pro-coal content into all parts of the curriculum from math to art and essay contests. Teachers are kept from telling students that air pollution from coal-fired power kills thousands of people in the U.S. every year as countless more suffer illness and health problems.

This isn’t the first time coal companies have entered the curriculum: in 2011, American Coal Foundation-funded fourth-grade curriculum materials were promoted by Scholastic; a pro-fracking coloring book from Talisman Energy used a cartoon called “Terry the Fracosaurus” who taught kids that natural gas is “one of the cleanest, safest, and most useful of all energy sources.” Fortunately, the Illinois Commerce Department, which oversees the coal education program, recently released a 400-page evaluation that recommends a reevaluation of the curriculum because of its outdated, biased nature.

This is the country espousing freedom and creativity.

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