Archive for schools

Republicans Traumatize School Children By Starving Them, Forcing Them To Watch As Their Lunch Is Tossed Into The Garbage

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Republicans Congress

Republicans in Congress

They cut back food stamps. They drop long term unemployment benefits. They trim millions from the SNAP program. To Republicans, that's not cutting aid  to the needy. It's austerity. That's just taking freeloaders off the rosters. Those poor will find another way.

Really? How about in Utah? Or the rest of the country?  CNN:

(CNN) -- Dozens of children at a Utah elementary school had their lunch trays snatched away from them before they could take a bite this week.

Salt Lake City School District officials say the trays were taken away at Uintah Elementary School Tuesday because some students had negative balances in the accounts used to pay for lunches. But they admit the situation should have been handled differently.

Elementary school kids are being punished by the Republicans because their parents can't find work and don't have the money or wherewithal to cover the essentials. Is this the face of the GOP's austerity program -- starving kids?

starving kids

So the GOP takes the food out of students' mouths, embarrasses and stigmatizes adolescent kids in front of their peers by actually going over and taking back the food they've already been handed. And what do they do with the confiscated food these starving young kids need to keep going?

What else-- they make the kids dump their food into garbage cans in front of the rest of the students. Talk about traumatizing young people.

And how about the school's public ridicule of the kids, stamping their hand or foreheads, making them wear a Hester Prynne scarlet letter so everone else can laugh and ridicule the poor kids? That's what the Republicans have done. But lets not blame just them. The Democrats let this happen with their approval of a farm bill that cut SNAP. There's blame to go around. And here's a clip from the Ed Show where Shultz goes off the charts over this tragedy.

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Nine Year Old Gives Beatdown To ChiTown Mayor Emanuel, Saves His School

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Asean Johnson

For years preceding Obama's presidential first term, the man who was the power behind Barack Obama, the guy who wielded the big stick was Rahm Emanuel.  If there was a tough or dirty job that had to be done, you called on Rahm. He'd fall on his sword if need be to protect the once and future president. It was no surprise that when PBO was sworn in, his chief of staff, the man once again with the power, was the same Rahm Emanuel.

After a successful launch of the presidency (as successful as could be expected under the circumstances), Emanuel took his bat and ball and went home to stake out a larger personal power base -- the mayor's seat in his hometown Chicago. He wasn't a carpetbagger like Scott Brown moving from Massachusetts to New Hampshire. No, in this case, Rahm is a real Chicagoan.  And he had enough of Washington. He yearned to go back home to Chitown and toss his hat into the political arena there. As a native son, he knew the problems of the city and politics. He also knew where many of the bodies were buried -- even those that were still warm. He waltzed to a very large victory.

So it's no surprise that at the midway point of his first term, the Mayor would be feeling some heat. Even the best intentioned politician in the country's third largest city can't please all the people all the time. But who would have predicted his biggest, loudest and most outspoken opposition would come from a nine year old black boy from the ghetto? The issue that could bring down the mayor was going to be the closing of schools. Republicans take note. Here's a Democrat who wants to tamper with education and might very well lose his job. If the GOP insists on education cuts, this could happen to you.

The Grio:

With just hours until the fate of school closings is known in the third-largest district in the nation, students have joined their parents and teachers in protest and raised their voices in opposition to the mass shutter.

Heralded as the future mayor of Chicago in the year 2025, 9-year-old Asean Johnson, has spoken at school board meetings and hearings, and fired up a crowd of hundreds in a protest against school closings Monday that concluded three days of marches on the city’s South and West sides.

“I wanted to be there to support my school and for the other schools that are closing, because really, I think that no school should be closing,” he told the Grio.

If this kid, Asean Johnson is any indication of both the potential of students in this school district and the need to keep the Chicago schools open, it's never been more evident. Emanuel not only has a financial problem on his hands, he has a budding opposition candidate (Asean Johnson) for his political office when he becomes of legal age.

The largest criteria for closing the targeted schools is test performance. And Asean's school rates lower than the average. Yet look at the product of that test result driven policy. Because this boy's school doesn't make the test driven grade, students like him are going to be forced from their neighborhood and crowded into already burgeoning schools, risking safety and their home life.

Not surprisingly, after this public speech, his school has been spared. But there's still a major problem everywhere else that uses test scores as the main basis for keeping schools open. Maybe it's time to look at the way kids are taught and provide the proper funding to raise education levels. The answers are not is closing schools or raising test scores. It's in finding out how to motivate, cultivate and produce more Asean Johnson's in all of our neighborhoods.

Asean Johnson certainly put it succinctly to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel:

“We are not toys. We are not going down without a fight.”

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Cartoons of the Day- America's Gun Problem

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UN Intervention

Rob Rogers

americagun1

Steve Sack

americagun2

Dave Granlund

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Cyber-bullying Claims Another Victim.

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Rebecca Ann Sedwick

I consider every life lost sad. When something could have been done to save that life, it's a tragedy.

The following is a story that sadly has been told about others before and will tragically be told over again, until we take steps to help. Rebecca Ann Sedwick is dead. She was 12 years old and she took her own life. Why? She was a victim of bullying.

I know, you've heard it before. Unless we do something about it, we'll hear about it more and more.

According to CBS News:

(CBS) LAKELAND, Fla. - The family of a 12-year-old Lakeland, Fla. girl says the teen was driven to commit suicide after she was continuously bullied, and that school officials knew about it, according to CBS affiliate WTSP.

The station reports Rebecca Ann Sedwick's family had notified officials at the Crystal Lake Middle School about the bullying and that they handed over the complaints to police for investigation.

I guess the Lakeland officers didn't take this seriously enough or maybe they just didn't have time. Rebecca was being cyberbullied with messages including "Go kill your­self" and "Why are you still alive?"

Evidently this wasn't a priority for the Lakeland police officers. It sure was for Rebecca and her family. Now they're planning a funeral.

The statistics on bullying and suicide are alarming:

    • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year, according to the CDC. For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Over 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 percent have attempted it.
    • Bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University
    • A study in Britain found that at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying
    • 10 to 14 year old girls may be at even higher risk for suicide, according to the study above
    • According to statistics reported by ABC News, nearly 30 percent of students are either bullies or victims of bullying, and 160,000 kids stay home from school every day because of fear of bullying

Bullying has been around for ages. Cyber bullying is now an epidemic. And we have some possible tools that we should think about. Among them is one I'd be remiss if I didn't bring up yet I'd feel guilty if I didn't. I want to be part of a solution, not a guilty bystander.

We have given the NSA open field to use monitoring of meta data on our social networks. Warrant-less collection and dissemination of our emails, texts and calls. Keywords are flagged. Face it, we're all being spied on. But we've given carte-blanche to the NSA, at least so far. They hide behind one of the worst pieces of legislation ever passed, the Patriot Act.

We lose far more lives in teen suicides than in organized acts of terror on our soil. The largest act of terrorism on US soil in the past three years is April 15, 2013: Boston Marathon bombings: Two bombs detonated within seconds of each other near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing 3 and injuring more than 180 people.

Maybe the dearth of attacks is the NSA's stellar cyber work preventing them. And if it is, then this goes to the point I'm about to propose.

Could we utilize the same type of keyword monitoring that might foil a future Rebecca's demise? Could metadata mining of bullying terms, determined by Psychologists, experts in this area, be used to single out upcoming or potential bullying threats?

I'm only thinking out loud here, But I'd love to see the thousands of abuses be monitored with the same vigor as the monitoring of on-line sexual predators. I'm not picking one over the other. I'm saying they both have a place in our electronic age.

Am I thinking this is a little bit of "big brother?" Yes. it absolutely is. But what we justify to prevent one evil is no less or more harmful than what we may gain from it's usage in another epidemic.

I'd prefer no electronic eavesdropping at all. Not because I have something to hide, but because I just don't like government having so much power. That said, I also believe in the sanctity of life. And if we allow the NSA to spy, and the police to spy on potential terrorist acts or sexual internet crimes, why not for child suicide risks?

Slippery slope? Yes, for sure. But we're already on that slope.

Slam me for putting this out there, but we need less Rebecca suicides out there. We have the technology. And Lord knows, we're better off preventing crimes and deaths, than random stop and frisk or marijuana busts of individuals.

Love to hear your thoughts.

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Minnesota Catholic school fires second teacher this year... for being gay

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silence not always golden

ostendorf fired for being gayVia Facebook

Back in August I wrote a piece about a California teacher being fired after marrying his partner. He got booted because he dared to legally marry the man he'd been with for ten years, and school officials happened to see photos of the wedding in a local newspaper.

The lesson that taught his students was that it's okay to be gay as long as you don't audibly express feelings for your loved one or commit to him/her in public. That's wrong. Being honest and proud of your monogamous relationship is wrong. You can only be a certain amount of gay, the private kind of gay.

Or as John Oliver put it:

So you can have gay desires, you just can't take gay action. Which I guess means you can listen to "YMCA," but you may not under any circumstances do the hand gestures.

Gay men can have sex, as long as it's with lesbian women, within the confines of a loveless marriage. Just as God nearly intended.

In that post, I wrote the following:

Dear School Officials:

Being gay is not a "lifestyle choice," and getting married is not a "public display of behavior that is directly contrary to church teachings that are inconsistent with these values." Getting married is one of those family values you're so fond of espousing (no pun). But, darn! You happened to spot a photo of a ceremony in which two men made their devotion to each other legal, and that made you feel all queasy and icky inside, so you fired a well-qualified, popular teacher.

It's 2013 and marriage equality is here to stay, so try living in the present instead of your very intolerant, unaccepting past. Consensual love is a good thing, remember?

"Nothing can bring a real sense of security into the home except true love." Author: Billy Graham

Here we go again, this time in Minnesota, and this time the teacher had worked at the school for 18 years. Then she came out. It only took one day to fire her. Via MinnPost:

After enduring the Catholic school version of “don’t ask/don’t tell” for several years, Totino-Grace High School English/religion teacher Kristen Ostendorf unexpectedly came out to her colleagues at the 47–year-old Catholic school in Fridley on Aug. 21. “I’m gay, I’m in a relationship with a woman, and I’m happy,” Ostendorf blurted out to a roomful of 120 fellow teachers at a workshop. She was asked to resign the next day.

She didn’t, the school terminated her, and in a matter of moments the 43-year-old Ostendorf had become the second Totino-Grace educator to part ways with the school over sexual identity this summer (president Bill Hudson resigned in July after acknowledging he is in a committed same-sex relationship).

Ostendorf said, "Growing up, I never knew anyone who was gay. ... So I think that maybe, just maybe, kids, adults, and whoever can say, 'OK, there’s a real human being who really means to be herself and live her life and does it with integrity. She’s gay.' That’s a big deal. Instead of, 'That person’s a criminal.' I’m not a big fan of silence.... And the sad story is, I’d like to be the last person to be fired for who I loved, or for the gender of the person I love. But I won’t be, probably, and the silence around it terrifies me."

Silence is not always golden, and nobody deserves to be terrified of revealing their devotion to a loved one. Nobody.

family values my assMuch more at the link.

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CA teacher fired after marrying his partner

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steam out of ears

I tried and tried to add the video to this post, but it was one of those auto-plays that I couldn't de-auto. Please watch it, it's short and paints a clearer, even more infuriating picture. Here it is at the Los Angeles Times, along with the story.

And what a story it is. I currently have steam shooting out of both ears, and here's why:

Ken Bencomo, a gay teacher at an all-girl Catholic high school in the Los Angeles area got fired because he dared to legally marry his partner and school officials happened to see photos of the wedding in a local newspaper.

So they booted him. They already knew he was gay, he never hid that fact. So now he no longer works at St. Lucy’s Priory High School as of a few days after he married his partner of 10 years.

He and his partner, Christopher Persky, 32, were among the first couples married at the San Bernardino County Assessor-Recorder’s Office following a U.S. Supreme Court decision that allowed gay couples to marry in California.

Photos of the ceremony were published in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.

School officials had been aware of his sexual orientation for about 10 of the 17 years Bencomo has been employed by the high school, said Patrick McGarrigle, Bencomo’s attorney.

School officials specifically mentioned the wedding and the publicity it received during a meeting at which Bencomo was informed that he had been fired, McGarrigle said.

Is steam coming out of your ears yet?

It didn't seem to matter that Bencomo had previously introduced his partner to administrators at school events and that they clearly knew about his relationship. It. Was. No. Secret.

The school released a statement:

“[We are] a community of faith for those who wish to express, practice and adhere to values in education based on the Roman Catholic tradition.”

While the school does not discriminate against teachers or other school employees based on their private lifestyle choices, public displays of behavior that are directly contrary to church teachings are inconsistent with these values. These values are incorporated into the contractual obligations of each of our instructors and other employees.”

So it's okay to be gay, just don't express your feelings for your loved one or commit to him/her in public:

John Oliver:

Okay.

So you can have gay desires, you just can't take gay action. Which I guess means you can listen to "YMCA," but you may not under any circumstances do the hand gestures.

Gay men can have sex, as long as it's with lesbian women, within the confines of a loveless marriage. Just as God nearly intended.

Dear School Officials:

Being gay is not a "lifestyle choice," and getting married is not a "public display of behavior that is directly contrary to church teachings that are inconsistent with these values." Getting married is one of those family values you're so fond of espousing (no pun). But, darn! You happened to spot a photo of a ceremony in which two men made their devotion to each other legal, and that made you feel all queasy and icky inside, so you fired a well-qualified, popular teacher.

It's 2013 and marriage equality is here to stay, so try living in the present instead of your very intolerant, unaccepting past. Consensual love is a good thing, remember?

"Nothing can bring a real sense of security into the home except true love." Author: Billy Graham

Love, Laffy

You can sign a petition to reinstate Bencomo. It already had about 10,000 signatures as of a few days ago. Think of it as a wedding present.

gay couple teacher fired CA

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VIDEO: Cartoonists Demand Action to End Gun Violence

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cartoonists against gun violence

Being a cartoonist myself, I truly appreciate this video and maintain that some of the most effective messaging can be presented in a simple, minimalistic form.

cartoonists against gun violence shoe

You can't get clearer than this, and for those with short attention spans, it's hard to take your eyes off the screen:

cartoonists against gun violence finger in dike

Dear Congress:

cartoonists against gun violence Congress asleep(Check out the "Congress for Dummies" book on the sofa.)

Some of the nation's best loved cartoonists are calling on Congress to not back down and take action to enact common sense gun laws that will prevent violence and save lives.
Sincerely,
cartoonists against gun violence signatures
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