Archive for elementary school

Seventh grade student spoke out, got kicked out. "My school is run by fear."

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Maia Wu student speaks out, kicked out of school

Having taught all grade levels in a couple of school districts, and having been a huge student advocate at those schools, when I hear about a story that starts out with this, I listen:

"My name is Maia Wu. I am 13 years old, in the 8th grade and I'm student body president of my school carrying a 4.0 GPA.... As a 7th grade student, I couldn't understand what there was to fear. ... I stood up for I believed was right... I decided to step up and help students shake off their fear and find their voices. The administration didn't seem to like this too much. I guess you could say this is where things fell apart."

That sure got my attention.

Now it's time for you to give Maia Wu some attention. (Added: She was "too outspoken" about a decision to build a fence around the school without parents and students being told first. The video explains everything, please watch, you won't be sorry.)

What happened here is an outrage and it's time to publicize her story as widely as possible. The district is all that really mattered to the district, certainly not the students, not the parents, not fairness, not open, honest, civil discourse.

Please share this post.

Via Maia Wu:

On January 17, 2014, my mom received a letter informing her that our permit to attend school has been revoked. My brother, sister, and I were kicked out of school. This is my open letter in response to the letter we received.

I was kicked out because my mom asked questions that needed to be asked.

I was kicked out because I am a free-thinker and can think for myself.

I was kicked out because I am not afraid to be heard.

I have a vision of a school that will embrace student voice and student participation in civic matters. I want to learn in an environment that welcomes free-thinkers and welcomes opposing view points as a positive means to perpetuate the democratic process.

If this is the current environment, we will produce children who live in fear of authority and not have the ability to think for themselves and will only use ideals given by higher authorities rather than trying to formalize their own.

This is the number one threat to democracy in our country. I am 13 years old, not afraid to let my voice be heard and all I wish is to return back to my school.

Wow.

But come on, Maia, protest? Peacefully? Moms attempting to communicate? Kids "think for themselves"? Don't you realize this is today's America? We are no longer encouraged to do those things here. Oh, but I kid. Sort of.

Here are a few excerpts. Transcript via EdWeek.org:

I decided to step up and help students shake off their fear and find their voices. The administration didn't seem to like this too much. I guess you could say this is where things fell apart....

Based on these flimsy, weak and ridiculous points, my brother, sister and I had our permits revoked, which essentially meant we were kicked out of our school. When we first found out, we had an overwhelming amount of support from teachers, students, friends, and family. We also immediately set up a meeting in order to organize our appeal. We were told to wait five days. The fifth day rolled along and there was no letter. My mother called the district at 4:00pm but was told the specific person we were looking for was in a meeting. She then called again at 4:40, that person was still in the meeting. Finally, at 4: 58 she called, and was told that that person had gone home. On Chinese New Year's Eve, we finally received the letter denying our permit, and our last day being the following day, Chinese New Year's. Not only had we been strung along until the last minute, but kicked out on Chinese New Year Day. That's comparable to kicking a child out on Christmas.

The letter they wrote and their revocation can easily be seen as childish retaliation to a parent standing up for her first amendment rights. My mother is a responsible, caring responsible adult who the principal and the school district is trying to paint as a deranged woman who doesn't seem to have a clue about anything. If my mother and I are guilty of fighting for our rights as American citizens and guilty of wanting America to be America, so be it. Monterey Highlands and Alhambra Unified School District are obsessed with control and are no longer thinking about students when they make choices such as revoking permits from children like my siblings and I.

I have a vision of a school that will embrace student voice and student participation in civic matters.  I want to learn in an environment that welcomes free-thinkers and welcomes opposing view points as a positive means to perpetuate the democratic process.  If this is the current environment, we will produce children who live in fear of authority and not have the ability to think for themselves and will only use ideals given by higher authorities rather than trying to formalize their own. This is the number one threat to democracy in our country. I am 13 years old, not afraid to let my voice be heard and wish to return back to my school.

These words were spoken by one remarkable seventh grader. Maia is clearly brilliant, reasonable, and rational, certainly more reasonable and rational than the "adults" in charge. You'd think any school would be honored to support and encourage Maia, her voice, and her family.

Those so-called educators could learn a lot from that 13-year-old.

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What I will not write about today: News stories, links, and snarkitude

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frustrated35Sometimes I get so frustrated and/or disheartened and/or annoyed by some of the news stories of the day that I can’t bring myself to write about them. Here are a few recent reports that made my blood pressure hit the roof. I am avoiding delving into them at length out of concern for my physical and mental health.

UPDATE: Yessss!

sandra fluke run for Congress tweetLink

See what I mean? So who’s up for a couple of Margs or a trough of wine?

drunk 3 wine cartoon

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12-year-old girl dies of asthma; father blames school staff cuts

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philadelphia student dies of asthma

I worked at public schools for years, and a common sight would be a student stepping away to use an inhaler. Occasionally, a kid would forget to bring one, or they would lose theirs, and I would notice them sitting on the floor gasping for breath as school staff scrambled to track down family members or the school nurse who could quickly provide one.

It was always a disturbing and tense scenario, one that I could never shake off, one that is stuck in my memory forever, one that made adults and students alike feel helpless as we tried to comfort the panicky, choking child trying to cope until help arrived.

Twelve-year-old Philadelphia sixth-grader Laporshia Massey had an asthma attack at school and died later that day.

Unfortunately, because of budget cuts, there was no nurse on campus, nor was there a trained medical professional to recognize how serious her symptoms were. So they did what we found ourselves doing, they told her to try to remain calm. The difference was, we were fully staffed and could respond quickly and efficiently.

Laporshia was denied the attention and care she needed, so by the time she was taken to the hospital, it was too late. She lost her life.

Via Philadelphia City Paper:

Sixth-grader Laporshia Massey died from asthma complications, according to her father, who says he rushed her to the emergency room soon after she got home from school on the afternoon of Sept. 25. He says Laporshia had begun to feel ill earlier that day at Bryant Elementary School, where a nurse is on staff only two days a week. This day was not one of those days. 

Daniel Burch, Laporshia’s father, is angry and wants to know whether Philadelphia’s resource-starved school district failed to save his daughter’s life.

“If she had problems throughout the day, why … didn’t [the school] call me sooner?” asks Burch... “Why,” he asks, “didn’t [the school] take her to the hospital?”

Burch's fianceé, Sherri Mitchell, got a call from school during which Laporshia told her, “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.” Neither Burch nor Mitchell realized how serious the situation was, thinking that a trained professional at the elementary school would diagnose her.

When Laporshia went to the teacher, she was told that there was "no nurse and just to be calm.” Once school let out, a school staff member drove Laporshia home.

When she got there, her father immediately gave her medication and rushed her to the hospital.

She collapsed in the car, at which point Burch flagged down a passing ambulance in the middle of traffic. Burch says his daughter later died at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. [...]

The District source believes that Laporshia’s life could have been saved if the school had responded appropriately to her illness. “If they had called rescue, she would still be here today,” the source said.

The Philadelphia school district has been underfunded; Gov. Tom Corbett's budget cuts have let 3,000 staff members go since June. Per the City Paper article, after the initial cuts, a nurse specifically warned that "other staff were not competent to deal with asthmatic students in her absence."

Sadly, the nurse was right.

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VIDEO: Fathers' Day message from a Newtown dad. His daughter, a teacher, was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary.

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newtown dad father's day

"My first Father's Day without my daughter..."

"For the rest of my life, I will not have a daughter."

"... Do something now."

Gun nuts' idea of doing something: Arm the kids. Arm the teachers. Arm everyone! The more people that die at the point of a gun, the better. To hell with common sense measures that might, you know, prevent deaths.

Via a Mayors Against Illegal Guns email:

Today is Gilles Rousseau's first Father’s Day since his daughter Lauren was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary, where she was a substitute teacher.

This Father's Day, share Gilles' story and help make sure fewer fathers ever have to bury their own children.

guns demand action to end gun violence

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