Friday, March 02, 2007

School Daze

The principal of Jefferson High School in Rockford, Illinois – not far from where I live – got himself into the news yesterday with a story about how he changed the grades of a number of students from F to D.

Students interviewed on television were predictably outraged, claiming that it demeaned the student body and was unfair to students who had to work for their grades. Interestingly, one teacher interviewed by telephone, was chagrined because, as he said, “some of our students have to work very, very hard to earn a D.”

Although the principal of the school refused to be interviewed, the superintendent of schools backed him up citing school board policy and that sort of thing.

The reason for the changes? Apparently teachers had neglected to inform the failing students’ parents that they were, in fact, failing. Thus, because the parents didn’t know about the poor work and couldn’t, ostensibly, intervene, the students were not allowed to fail.

Meanwhile, closer to home in DeKalb, a fight and stabbing on the street near a church led police to order a lockdown of the high school and an elementary school. Parents were summoned to pick up their children, and school was let out early for the day.

The stabbing victim was in his twenties and long past high school, while the attacker was from another town. Exactly what the reasoning was behind the lockdown has not yet been made public, but apparently the schools are increasingly being governed by fear: fear of parental reactions; fear of external events; fears that have led to the installation of video cameras in the schools; fears that have led to regular police presence in the schools.

In a final, recent, incident, a high school girl was recently suspended from school because, in reaction to some pithy comments from friends, she uttered the phrase, “That’s so gay.”


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