THE TIMES THEY AREN’T A-CHANGIN’

“If we teach the children how to play and encourage them in their sports…instead of shutting them in badly ventilated schoolrooms, the next generation will be more joyous and will be healthier than the present one.”

Does the quote above sound like something from a recent editorial about what sad little shut-ins kids have become because of the influence of internet and social media? In fact, it’s taken from Public Opinion: A Comprehensive Summary of the Press Throughout the World, Volume 18, published in 1895. This nugget of wisdom and worry is but one of many available at The Pace of Modern Life, a section from the web comic xkcd. You can also read many more in BAD FOR YOU’s timeline titled FEAR OF THE NEW. At least you can when it comes out in November.

 

STANDARDIZED MESS

“With Fifth-Grade Test Now Revealed, New York’s Tougher New Reading Exams Set Students Up to Fail, Critics Warn”

One of those “critics” in the Daily News article (a teacher who wanted to remain anonymous for fear she would be fired) asked: “Have these students had an opportunity to build up to that complexity?”  “No,” was her answer. “This test is coming at them like an anvil to their face.” Ouch.

In a recent Youtube video, one teacher’s face did go public. She explains in the video why she quit her profession and standardized testing was a major factor. It’s reasonable that teachers are concerned about testing. In Kentucky, one year after the arrival of the new, harder tests, “students’ scores fell across the board by roughly a third in reading and math.” The upgrade is grading is called “Common Core,” a government program to bring nationwide standards to education (45 states by 2014-15). Standardized testing is essential to create this average…from C-to-shining-C.

But how “average” are these new standards if, as an editorial in the New York Times, points out: “More affluent students…will have parental support. Private tutoring, already a growth industry, will become more important if passing scores on the Common Core are required for graduation. Despite worthy aims, the new standards may well deepen the nation’s social divide.”

There’s another danger with testing. But to learn what it is, you’ll have to answer the question below from BAD FOR YOU’s “Standardized Cheating” exam:

QUESTION 6. WHAT DID NEARLY 9,000 NEW YORK CITY PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS HAVE TO DO WHEN A COMPANY THAT MAKES STANDARDIZED TESTS MARKED THEIR CORRECT ANSWERS WRONG?

___ Lots of push-ups

___ Nine months hard labor

___ Worst of all, summer school.

Give up? The correct answer is the last one. Even though the testing company had been alerted about the problem eight months earlier, they said nothing at first when students’ scores dropped dramatically and the New York City School Chancellor was fired. Formerly a big fan of standardized testing, today that same ex-Chancellor sounds a little testy when he says that what the company did was “lie.”

Or, you could say, cheat…both him out of a job and the kids out of their summer.

SCHOOLS OUT…OF CONTROL

Since school will be ending soon, let’s bid farewell with a collection of some recent “War on Fun” stories from the front lines of education:

School officials “grilled” a kindergartener for bringing his “cowboy-style cap gun” to show a friend. During the two hour interrogation, the culprit peed his pants. In addition to wet underwear, he received a 10-day suspension for “possession of a look-alike gun.”

A 6-year-old Massachusetts student caused “quite a disturbance” on the school bus with his “tiny plastic toy gun.”

Accused of “brandishing a weapon” at school, one 10-year-old in Virginia wound up fingerprinted and photographed by police, then sent before a judge twice. “How can you go from a toy gun to a criminal charge…?” asked Tina Hone, founder of the Coalition of The Silence, a pro-student advocacy group in Northern Virginia.

A Nerf gun which fired foam “bullets” was responsible for the lockdown of two high schools in the Bronx, N.Y.

Drawing “what appeared to be weapons” in a notebook lead to the arrest of one New Jersey high school student.

Another high school student was suspended for using a photo of a gun as his school-issued computer background photo.

And the list goes on…

Local Student Suspended for Gun Gesture”

“Kindergarten Student Suspended for Pink Bubble Gun Threat in Pennsylvania”

“School Confiscates Third-Grader’s Cupcakes Topped with Toy Soldiers”

“Philadelphia Girl Scolded, Searched for Pulling Out Paper Gun at School”

“Virginia 2nd-Grader Suspended for Pretending His Pencil was a Gun”

“Maryland First-Grader Suspended for Making Gun Gesture with Hand”

“Tamaqua 7th Grader Suspended for Pointing Finger ‘Gun’ at Classmates”

“6-Year-Old Expelled for Bringing Plastic Gun to School”

This last one has a happy ending. After giving “careful thought and consideration for the safety of the school community,” the South Carolina school superintendent allowed the expelled girl to return to class.

A Maryland boy also got some good news…maybe. It depends on your opinion about the pro-gun group the National Rifle Association, who gave 8-year-old Joshua Welch a lifetime membership to their organization. Josh had been suspended earlier in the school year for unintentionally biting his Pop-Tart into the shape of a gun. The NRA, seeing all the media attention the story was getting, thought it was a great idea to honor Josh (though he’s still unsure of exactly what the group is). Along with the membership came a $550 certificate, which the boy handed to his parents “and returned to playing games on a cellphone.”

Another response to the Pop Tart incident came from Maryland Senator J. B. Jennings, who introduced a bill in Congress to try to bring the public school system’s Zero Tolerance polices under control. Readers not familiar with the term “Zero Tolerance” can take a look at the explanation from BAD FOR YOU (lavishly illustrated in the comic below).

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While the actual book won’t be out until November, you can see the original BAD FOR YOU map by clicking on “The Book” section above this website’s banner; the map is the first image at top left. Everything listed above has happened after the map was completed.

You can expect more Zero Tolerance roundups in the future.

 

TEN-YEAR-OLD TURNS THE TABLES ON CRAPPY SCHOOL LUNCHES

This story is a few weeks old but too juicy (the opposite of over-cooked and dry) not to post. It seems that no one believed Zachary Maxwell when he pointed out a depressing difference between the  “delicious meals, full of whole grains and fresh vegetables, some even designed by celebrity chefs” on his lunchroom menu and what was actually showing up on his plate. So he snuck a video camera into school and gathered evidence.

“When I came back home and showed them the footage, they were like, ugh!”
The resulting film “Yuck: A 4th Grader’s Short Documentary About School Lunch” will be screened at the Manhattan Film Festival next month. Click here to read all the gruesome details. In the meantime, here’s a graphic from BAD FOR YOU showing how the average school lunch stacks up to what they serve in prison!
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