Posts tagged ‘High School’

Schools Increasingly Constitution-Free Zones

Reason rightly highlights this story about a kid in Georgia facing 10 years in jail because his school found his fishing tackle box in his car and in it was, gasp, his fishing knife.

But what the local news story fails to make a point about is the absurdly low bar school officials have to clear to search student's cars.

Williams, a senior at Allatoona High School, became the subject of a warrantless search after a fellow student told a campus police officer that he or she saw smoke rising from Williams’ car in the student parking lot and it smelled like marijuana. An assistant principal searched the car and did not find any marijuana but did find a pocket knife in the center console, enough to get Williams suspended for 10 days and possibly expelled, while facing felony criminal charges.

Smoke was rising from the car?  Really?  Like Spiccoli's van in Fast Times for Ridgemont High?  I am sure glad this kind of administrative lawlessness was not allowed when I was in school.  I wouldn't be surprised if the original student report to the school wasn't a pure fabrication out of spite against this student.

Stupid

Apparently an Arizona Catholic High School forfeited their state finals because the other team was playing *gasp* a girl at second base.  I am not really familiar with this sports league they are in -- it must be made up of smaller schools who choose not to join the AIA, which is the league most high schools (including ours) play in.

These are private schools in a private league, so I guess they can do whatever they want, but this just seems bizarre in the extreme.   I would guess that their players were irate.

My son plays in the smaller division of the AIA, and we run into teams that play girls from time to time in baseball and a bunch of schools that play girls on their soccer team (the rule generally is that girls can play on the boys team if there is no girls' equivalent of that sport at the school).  I have never before heard of another Catholic school having a problem with this, and given that this is Arizona, there are a lot of Catholic schools knocking about.

In fact, I always find it kind of cool to see girls out there.  I remember a few weeks ago we were playing a team who had a girl at third base who the boys thought was pretty attractive.  I laughed pretty hard when my son took a big chance to stretch a double into a triple.  I knew exactly what he was doing --he wanted to be on third base!

I suppose this will be a better object lesson for the Catholic boys than any gender-equality propaganda film.   Adopt Victorian attitudes about women, lose the chance to play for a state championship.

The Wussification of America

From the Arizona Republic, presented without comment:

Phoenix fire vehicles, including some hazardous-materials units,
responded to a small mercury spill at Mountain Pointe High School
Tuesday afternoon. No one "complained of medical problems" or was
transported to a hospital, said Mark Faulkner, Phoenix Fire Department
division chief for the public affairs.

At about 1:30 p.m. a call came to the Fire Department about a
"dime-size spill of mercury" on the campus at 4201 E. Knox Road in
Ahwatukee Foothills, Faulkner said.

The mercury was in a science laboratory but how it spilled is unknown.
It could have been part of an experiment or possibly a thermometer
cracked, Faulkner said.

Like Bill Gates Complaining About Starbucks Prices

I thought this from

At Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, parents fear cuts in
Montgomery County's proposed $2.1 billion budget will threaten the
math-science magnet program.

Schaeffer puts this in perspective:

The desperate schools of Montgomery County will need to find some way
[to] stretch the $15,246 they have to spend on each of the 137,745 students
in their schools.

This is simply hilarious.  Sometimes it is hard to compare per-pupil spending on an apples to apples basis since each grade tends to be progressively more expensive than the last (high school is more expensive than middle school which is more expensive than elementary school).  Recognize that this is only partially because the education per se is more expensive at each step -- it is more because the expectation of extra-curriculars (sports, theater, etc.) go up at each level. 

However, taking 8th grade as a mean, I can say that my 8th-grader's tuition in a for-profit private school that receives no donations or outside scholarship money is less than half $15,246.  And the education he gets is generally considered the best in the city  (though his school is lighter than some rich-suburb public school on extra-curriculars).

If you have any doubt that local media generally act as cheerleaders for increased public spending, look no further than this.  Note the newspaper quote (from the Washington Post) and then Schaeffer's context:

I have saved the most touching story for last . . .

In Loudoun County, School Board members approved a
budget 14 percent higher than last year's to accommodate an expected
3,000 new students. The county faces a projected $250 million
shortfall, and the 54,000 student system will probably have to look for
new places for savings.

My heart goes out to the Loudoun County administrators. I can't see
how anyone can be expected to educate a child with just $15,000 or to
cover a 6 percent enrollment increase with just a 14 percent increase
in the budget.

Mindless Rules Enforcement

So where do government bureaucrats go to learn how to push the frontiers of mindless rules enforcement?   Well, there are certain enclaves of the private sector who are pretty good at strict enforcement of silly rules -- The RIAA comes to mind.  But where do leading brain-dead bureaucracies, like say, school boards, learn to push the frontiers of pettiness?  Perhaps the NCAA can help out:

Just hours after Oklahoma football recruit Herman Mitchell was shot to
death Friday in Houston, Adam Fineberg started raising money for
Mitchell's family.

But after raising $4,500, enough to cover almost half the cost of
Mitchell's funeral, Fineberg stopped. An OU compliance officer told him
his actions would constitute an NCAA rules violation against the
Sooners.

Now, Mitchell's mother likely will never receive that money.

That money is considered illegal financial assistance under NCAA
rules because Mitchell's brother is a sophomore fullback at Westfield
High School in Spring, Texas, and because Fineberg is an OU fan who
attends Sooner football games and solicited donations through an OU fan
Web site. [. . .]

OU spokesman Kenny Mossman said the an official with the
university's compliance office contacted Fineberg on Monday asking to
him halt his fundraising efforts until the OU received a rules
interpretation from the NCAA. That interpretation came Tuesday.

"This is not a permissible expense for OU or someone who could be
construed as an OU supporter," said Mossman, an associate athletic
director for communications. "We're not trying to be the bad guys, but
we have to play by their rules."

Because it's still a recruiting violation, even if the recruit is dead.  The NCAA said the college could apply for a waiver.  They shouldn't even have to -- the NCAA's reaction should have been to issue a waiver without even being asked.  This should have taken a conference call among the key decision-makers about 8 seconds to decide.

Update:  I may have been wrong by putting the NCAA over school boards, as a Colorado Springs school board has banned playing tag.  So I guess smear the queer is out (we actually called it Kill the Man with the Ball, but I am told that Smear the Queer is the more common and even less politically correct name).

A Real Mixed Week for Free Speech

On the positive side, the Supreme Court has struck down portions of the BCRA, also known as McCain-Feingold:

The Court concluded that Wisconsin Right to Life's ads, which urged
people to contact their senators (including one who was up for
re-election) about the confirmation of judicial nominees, did not
constitute either. The majority said "a court should find that an ad is
the functional equivalent of express advocacy only if the ad is
susceptible of no reasonable interpretation other than as an appeal to
vote for or against a specific candidate." To put it another way,
BCRA's pre-election blackout cannot be constitutionally applied to a
spot that reasonably can be viewed as an issue ad, which means interest
groups are once again free to engage in public policy debates on the
air, no matter what time of year it is.

By the way, does anyone on the left feel at all worried that the four liberal judges were on the "limit speech" side of this issue?

But at the same time, the Supreme Court upheld speech limitations against High School students based on the content of the speech.  The rights of non-adults is a complicated issue, but precedent has been set that student speech is generally protected unless it is significantly disruptive of the school's functioning.  Except, it appears, when it is related to drugs.  This is part of a disturbing trend where an increasing number of topics, from "hate" speech to drug legalization speech are considered to be exceptions to the First Amendment.  However, almost everyone on the court seemed to have a different view on this, so it may be hard to generalize here.  Even the concurring opinions ranged the gamut from "this is narrowly aimed only at speech about narcotics" to "there is no free speech right in schools for minors."

And, speaking of hate speech, out in wacky Oakland, the world leader in Ebonics studies,

Marriage is the foundation of the natural family and sustains family
values. That sentence is inflammatory, perhaps even a hate crime.

At least it is in Oakland, Calif. That city's government says those
words, italicized here, constitute something akin to hate speech and
can be proscribed from the government's open e-mail system and employee
bulletin board. ...

Some African American Christian women working for Oakland's
government organized the Good News Employee Association (GNEA), which
they announced with a flier describing their group as "a forum for
people of Faith to express their views on the contemporary issues of
the day. With respect for the Natural Family, Marriage and Family
Values."

The flier was distributed after other employees' groups, including
those advocating gay rights, had advertised their political views and
activities on the city's e-mail system and bulletin board. When the
GNEA asked for equal opportunity to communicate by that system and that
board, it was denied. Furthermore, the flier they posted was taken down
and destroyed by city officials, who declared it "homophobic" and
disruptive.

The city government said the flier was "determined" to promote
harassment based on sexual orientation. The city warned that the flier
and communications like it could result in disciplinary action "up to
and including termination."

We might as well just repeal the First Amendment now and save time if we continue to believe that the government should ban any speech that offends someone.

Oh, and while we were talking about kids and drugs, check out this awesome rant by Mayor Cory Booker of Newark.

He wants to reserve prison cells for those who do violence and
divert the nonviolent drug offenders into treatment programs and
halfway houses.

He wants to change the New Jersey laws that
bar many ex-cons from getting a driver's license. He wants a black kid
from Newark who sells marijuana to clear his record as easily as the
white kid from the suburbs who buys it.

He wants to stop banning ex-cons from such a long list of jobs, including warehouse jobs at the nearby airport.

The scale of the problem is staggering: About 1,500 convicts are
released from state prison to Newark each year, and 1,000 of them will
likely be arrested again within three years -- mostly for drug crimes.

"The drug war is causing crime," Booker says. "It is just chewing up young black men. And it's killing Newark."

Good, its about time.  Not to be misunderstood, I would kick my kid's asses from here to the moon if I found them doing hard drugs.  But I want the responsibility to mold and repair their behavior to be mine, an option that is cut off if they get thrown in jail (which they probably wouldn't, since my kids are well off and white).  It is fine and fairly rational that we have determined as a society that kids can mess up their life doing drugs.  It is insane -- totally insane -- that our response is that we will respond by ... messing their life up even worse by throwing them in jail.