Interrupting the School Calendar

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Montgomery County School Administrators almost made the right decision by striking the names of religious holidays from the school calendar but then, at the same time, they made no decision at all. They failed to make the point that school is a place of education, not religious observance which they could have done by eliminating at least some of these  holidays from the school calendar. As important as the trappings and beliefs surrounding religious observance are to some families and individuals, certainly even the most devoutly religious parent recognizes on some level (but most likely will not admit) that religion and the days off school that people believe are ‘required’ for religious observances do nothing to improve the quality of a child’s education and, in fact, are distractions that interrupt the learning process. The time and place for religious indoctrination of children is when school is not in session, and in the home or in a religious center.’ There are lots of hours outside school and some of those can certainly be spent carrying out religious ritual.

Is it possible that Christian parents think that increasing their child’s wealth of knowledge and critical thinking abilities will in any way interfere with their understanding and observance of their parent’s religion? Organized religion should readjust it’s priorities by realizing that their holidays would not be harmed in the slightest by rearranging worship services so they don’t conflict with school time or study time.

Quality of Education Measured in OECD countries

There are 34 countries (including the United States) that belong to the OECD (The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). This is an organization of developed countries committed to democracy, the market economy and the education of youth. Every three years, as part of their Educational tracking, students are tested, worldwide, for their academic abilities in three areas: Reading, Mathematics and Science. Until the last few years American students ranked about “average” (about 17th out of the 34 countries) in all three academic areas. A country as wealthy and powerful as the United States being just “Average” among these 34 developed countries in the field of education does not bode well for our countries future and should be considered scandalous, but as bad as it was, it got worse.  In Mathematics, the United States has, in the most recent testing, now plunged into 25th place. Understanding that one fact alone should encourage all intelligent Americans who care about their children’s future, without regard to their religion, to demand more classroom time, higher educational standards and less time away from school.

The OECD’s Secretary-General, Angel Gurría, during the OECD launch in Washington D.C. made the unarguable points: “With high levels of youth unemployment, rising inequality and a pressing need to boost growth in many countries, it’s more urgent than ever that young people learn the skills they need to succeed. In a global economy, competitiveness and future job prospects will depend on what people can do with what they know. Young people are the future, so every country must do everything it can to improve its education system and the prospects of future generations.” He made this statement several years ago and things haven’t changed much, at least in American education, since then.

According to the OCED , “Shanghai-China, and Singapore are top in maths, with students in Shanghai scoring the equivalent of nearly three years of schooling above most OECD countries. Hong Kong-China, Chinese Taipei, Korea, Macao-China, Japan, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and the Netherlands were also in the group of top-performing countries.” What’s different between them and us? You can bet that the children in those countries spend more time in the classroom than they do in their churches or athletic fields, perhaps more importantly, you can bet that bringing home a marginal or failing grade would have more severe repercussions for those students than it does for most of ours.

Religious Conservatives are labeling what happened in the Montgomery schools as a “War on Religion”! The fact of the matter is that Montgomery was engaged in a battle, in a war but it’s a war on education that is in progress as well as a war between religions. What choice did the Montgomery County School Administrators have? They are already sacrificing their ability to provide a quality education to their children to:  parents that are seemingly more interested in religious holidays than they are in their children’s education; parents who just don’t care and to those Liberal activists who value “fairness” far more than quality education and political correctnessness more than logic and truth.

References:

ABC News: Montgomery County Schools remove religious references from calendar

Huffington Post Religion: US Falls in Education Rankings.

TheAtlantic.com: American schools vs the world, Expensive, Unequal, Bad at math 

Salt and Pepper: Religion and Public Education

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The Cheatham County Tennessee School District is being sued by four students who are protesting the District’s position that allows, and apparently encourages, religious activities in the district’s schools. According to an article in the Tennessean:

The lawsuit alleges: a planned prayer took place at graduation last spring; the Gideons International were allowed to speak to classes and distribute Bibles; a cross hangs in a classroom; and a history teacher taught that the United States is a “Christian nation” and decried the separation of church and state. The suit asks the court to stop the activities.

Now this may seem like a frivolous lawsuit to some — to those of you who believe that your own religious beliefs have no borders and should have no limits — as well as those of you who argue that no one forced the kids to pray at the graduation or accept the Bibles or look at the cross on the wall and you would be right — well at least partially right. But when we come to that situation where students in a classroom, some of who may not know better, have to listen to a Christian Evangelistic version of U.S. History and an abstraction of the Constitution we’ve reached an unquestionable limit and have begun to corrupt the educational process.

The broader picture is: The United States is not a “Christian nation”; it is a nation based not on religion but on morality, a basic morality that forms the basis of ‘civilization’ as we understand it and practice it — a morality that exists apart from any religion — a morality that is, by law, the basis of even the most ardent atheist’s behavior.

I realize, of course, that it’s human nature to want to share a good thing and religious people believe that they have not only a good thing to share — they feel that it is their duty to share it. I wish they would also realize that there are many people in this world who have their own “good things” going in their lives (their own religions and/or their own non-religious or quasi-religious belief systems) and that Christian (or other) evangelism is not only an intrusion into these other people’s lives, it is an insult to their intelligence and their choice of life style.

Barack Obama: The Man vs. The President

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ALT TITLE The uproar over President Obama’s proposed “Welcome Back To School” broadcast, is really telling and I hope its telling him something: i.e., ‘People don’t trust me!’

These excerpts from an article in the The Detroit Free Press indicates, there is a lot of concern from parents and the schools over what Obama might say:

“When President Barack Obama gives a televised address to students in schools across the country on Tuesday, some metro Detroit school districts won’t be broadcasting it.

Districts throughout the suburbs have been hit with complaints from parents who are worried about their children hearing a message from Obama that they won’t have a chance to preview.

. . . . .

“Mike Reno, a member of the Rochester Board of Education, said the idea behind the message is noble, but the timing is bad because of the politically charged climate.”

Its a shame really but he did get himself into this “politically charged” situation with all of his flim-flam tactics on healthcare and his ‘economy-destroying-in-the-name-of-Green’ Cap and Trade proposal. How can you trust someone who shows absolutely no regard for American traditions, American institutions, the core of hard-working American taxpayers or the free enterprise system that made this country the riches country on earth.

If our last Democratic president, President Bill Clinton, would have proposed an opening day message to students, there would have been very little fuss by Conservative politicians or Conservative parents. Clinton may have had some different political views from these Conservatives but he was not a radical and no one would even hint at any radical ideas coming from his mouth in a broadcast to school children. President Obama, however, is a different story.

I imagine that Barack Obama, the man, is a very nice person who means well. He seems funny and caring which are great personal attributes but in his current position he is not Barack Obama the man, he is President Barack Obama, a president who only seems to care about the small minority of Americans who have trouble getting through life. Nothing wrong with caring about that minority but it is very wrong to care ONLY about them at a considerable expense to those who are not troubled, those who provide the ‘fuel’ for the ‘engine’ that drives our economy.

Barack Obama the man also cares a great deal about the environment and has become a deciple of Al Gore who believes, like Chicken Little, that the sky is falling (possibly tomorrow). Again, nothing wrong with Barack Obama the man wanting to keep air pollution at a minimum! President Barack Obama, however, needs to exercise some common sense judgement and not try to save the environment all at once and virtually shut down all industry while doing it. He is the president of an industrial society and he needs to understand that any industrial society will do some damage to the environment just by existing. Any problems that manufacturing and industry are causing to the environment, however, are very small and can be adequately addressed over the long term. And that is a big part of President Obama’s problem, he, like some little kid, wants everything NOW! More to the point — he wants credit for everything NOW.

For those who care about America’s “image” in the world, its wonderful having a black man as president — it shows the world just how diverse and open minded our society is; how will it look, however, when this black American president drives our economy into the ground?

Camp Twitch and Shout

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Tourettes

Imagine being a kid with Tourette syndrome; the muscles in your body and your face seem to have minds of their own, you make noises — sometimes alarmingly loud noises — that you do not intend to make. Perhaps worse than the disease you feel alone; people are scared of you because they don’t understand Tourettes; the adults want to shield their children from you and most of the other kids think you’re weird and funny and, in the school yard, they gather around you and laugh at you and imitate your tics.

An article at CNNHealth.com talks about a special summer camp in Georgia for kids with Tourettes and about the camp director Brad Cohen. Here’s what Brad Cohen remembers from his childhood more than 20 years ago:

“I remember eating lunch at school all by myself and the mean kids would parade around me and mock my noises. My teacher made me get up in front of the class and apologize to everybody for the noises I was making.”

For Brad Cohen the nightmare, the uncontrollable barking and squealing noises he could not control, began in the fifth grade and made his life hell; to this day, at the age of 35, Cohen still “barks” occasionally but something happened to Brad while in Middle School, — at that point in his life when his symptoms were the worst they had ever been — the school principle approached him and asked him if he would like to educate the other students about his condition.

“They gave me a standing ovation, and it was on that day that I realized the power of education. I wanted to be that teacher that I never had. And that was my dream. I wanted to be the teacher that focused on kids’ strengths, not weaknesses.”

And he did that and more — thanks mainly to that one middle school principal who understood the power of education.

Today Brad Cohen is an elementary school teacher, the author of a book about Tourette syndrome and the first director of Camp Twitch and Shout, a week-long summer camp in Georgia for kids from ages 7 to 17 who suffer from Tourettes.

Camp Twitch and Shout offers normal summer camp activities: swimming, fishing, music and arts and crafts but the most important thing about Twitch and Shout is it allows a child who has always felt like an outcast to see that there are many other kids just like him or her and to understand that they are not dysfunctional monsters they are just kids who have a special challenge.

“According to experts, Twitch and Shout is one of only five weeklong camps in the country for children with Tourette syndrome. Atlanta-based child neurologist Howard Schub says such camps help children better cope with their condition. Some campers have never met another kid with Tourette syndrome.”

Read the Article: At Camp Twitch and Shout, Tourette kids can be themselves

And understand more about Tourette Syndrome with this Fact Sheet from The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Does “Superstitious Nonsense” Remark Violate Constitution?

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While teaching a High School European History class, James Corbett strayed into a discussion of religion and made several statements that clearly denigrated religion and religious practices.

According to WorldMag.com, Corbett “told his AP European history class that creationism was ‘superstitious nonsense.’ He also told them, ‘When you put on your Jesus glasses, you can’t see the truth’ and he taught a correlation between high religious attendance and high crime in America.”

This kind of speech by a teacher in a highschool classroom is, at least in my opinion, certainly inappropriate: it is pure opinion and speculation on the teachers part in a class that is supposed to be focused on fact (remember this is a European History class) not the teacher’s personal feelings about facts, circumstances or outcomes.

One student, Chad Farnan, certainly thought that Mr. Corbett had crossed a line and he did something about it; he sued his teacher and claimed in that lawsuit that by making these kind of comments his teacher was violating the establishment clause of the Constitution.

Last Friday, a little less than two years after the original lawsuit was filed, U.S. District Judge James Selna, after studying the list of 20 statements that Farnan had included in his suit, agree that one of the 20 statements (calling creationism “superstitious nonsense”) was indeed a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s establishment clause.

Totally Ridiculous

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” THAT is the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. Over the years this simple statement has been twisted, interpreted to death and generally corrupted by Federal Judge after Federal Judge until now, as is apparent by this story, a private citizen can violate the establishment clause by spewing anti-religious rhetoric.

This teacher needs to be retrained, no doubt about that! He is a 20 year veteran of teaching and should know better or should have long ago been “called on the carpet” for straying from fact into his opinion of religion or anything else. Students are in school to learn and not only will students learn nothing from a teacher’s personal opinion, some students may take those opinions as fact.

James Corbett may be a very bad teacher or he may have just gotten off on a rant and lost control — don’t know. But how about U.S. District Judge James Selna? What is his excuse for coming up with the ridiculous opinion that a high school teacher can violate a clause of the Constitution that applies ONLY to the U.S. Congress!

News Links:

Associated Press: ‘Superstitious nonsense’ remark violated rights

WorldMag.com: CA court condemns “improper disapproval of religion”

Blog Links:

The Sensuous Curmudgeon: Corbett Loses “Superstitious Nonsense” Trial

The Legal Satyricon: In the Establishment Clause We Trust: St. John’s County, Flori-duh, Tries to Indoctrinate Students – Gets Sued

Graduation Dilemma in Massachusetts

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You may have heard this tear-jerker on this morning’s news or read about it:

Dateline, Andover, Massachusetts: Sarah Pearson is two credits short of the requirements for graduating with the rest of her Andover High School senior class — she knows this and doesn’t debate that fact. The reason she is short on her credits is partially due to the fact that she transferred to another high school earlier this year — for just a few months — and for whatever reason, did not get credit for her work at that other high school and partially because she was hospitalized sometime this year with a kidney infection. That, however, is not the media headline.

The headline in the Regional Newspaper, The Eagle Tribune, reads: “Short 2 credits, girl denied graduation walk 200 sign petition seeking break for student who lost dad to cancer.”

Only the most cold-hearted among us will not feel sympathy for a child who lost a parent — under any circumstances — but someone is leading Sara Pearson seriously astray by making her think that this should give her special privileges and allow long-established rules to be broken out of sympathy (they, of course, refer to “bending” the rules to make it appear less significant).

There is an entire generation of people who believe that “rules are made to be broken” and, to be honest, I’ve invoked that phrase a few times in my life (in vain) when I wanted rules to be changed for me. While rules do, in fact, get broken under special circumstances, that should not be the expectation.

Now you may believe that the officials in Sarah’s school district are being petty jerks — she is, after all, registered for summer school where she will get her credits so what’s the problem? The problem is the school officials have been “stiffed” in the past by students who “promised” to do the summer school thing, were allowed to participate in graduation ceremonies and then did NOT do the summer school thing; that’s a slap in the face to the kids who did the work and earned that trip across the stage to get their diploma. I would imagine that school officials are also more than a bit annoyed at the media (not just the local newspaper but now the national media) making them out to be cold-hearted Bs & Bs for not ‘giving the poor girl a break when she recently (about a year ago) lost her father to cancer.’

Compassion is, at it’s best, a spontaneous gesture by an individual or group of individuals that shows that they understand a person’s “pain” (for lack of a better word). The situation in Andover is, however, not about compassion or a lack of compassion on the part of the school board — it’s about coercion; the student, her family and friends, and the 200 faceless facebookers who signed her online petition are attempting to coerce an act of compassion from the school board and, morbidly, they are using Sarah’s dead father as a weapon.

On a much broader level, it’s this attitude that dictates ‘compassion at any cost’ that is turning this country into a quasi-socialist state and its that attitude that will, eventually, turn the United States into something our founding fathers would not recognize as their United States. We’re already on that road and it all starts with situations like Sarah’s where one girl has been convinced that she is entitled to something she did not earn.

News Links:

The Eagle-Tribune: Short 2 credits, girl denied graduation walk 200 sign petition seeking break for student who lost dad to cancer

Andover Townsman: Summer school ahead, girl wants to graduate with her class: Against policy, says Andover system

Blog Links:

No other blog posts on this specific subject can be found on the Google Blog Search!

Homeschoolers! Come Out With Your Hands Up!

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When Justice H. Walter Croskey ruled that “California courts have held that … parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children,” he set off a firestorm of protests from homeschooling parents and organizations, not only throughout the state but throughout the country — and rightly so.

What right has any court or government to reach inside of a home and determine how, when or where the children will be educated? They should have have no legal right to do that as long as a child is not being physically or emotionally abused or is not being denied a descent education.

The irony of this situation that has suddenly and almost totally banned homeschooling is that it started because some of the children in this particular case that was under review alleged that they were indeed being physically and emotionally abused.

Read the “Background of the Case” from the February 28th decision issued by the California Court of Appeal:

A Welfare and Institutions Code section 300 petition was filed on behalf of three minor children after the eldest of them reported physical and emotional mistreatment by the children’s father.

The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services investigated the situation and discovered, among other things, that all eight of the children in the family had been home schooled by the mother rather than educated in a public or private school. The attorney representing the younger two children asked the juvenile court to
order that the children be enrolled in a public or private school. The dependency court
declined to make such an order despite the court’s opinion that the home schooling the
children were receiving was ‘lousy,’ ‘meager,’ and ‘bad,’ and despite the court’s
opinion that keeping the children at home deprived them of situations where (1) they
could interact with people outside the family, (2) there are people who could provide
help if something is amiss in the children’s lives, and (3) they could develop
emotionally in a broader world than the parents’ “cloistered” setting.

As noted above, the court ruled that the parents have a constitutional right to home school the children. From that ruling the attorney for the younger children seeks extraordinary writ relief.”

It appears that in this particular situation the intrusion of the court into the homeschooling situation may have been warranted — because of the allegations of abuse. It appears that this situation may have had parents holding their children captives from society for their own purposes.

This ‘throws some water’ on some of the outrage that has resulted from this decision — but the decision as a whole, which states that: “California courts have held that … parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children,” is an outrage.

Had the original court that heard this case acted responsibly and had forced this one family to recify what was apparently an unacceptable homeschooling situation there most likely would have been no appeal and no chance for the Court of Appeal to make this decision that now effects ALL homeschoolers in the state.

Relief, however, may be on the way. Last week the 2nd District Court of Appeal put their decision on hold and granted a rehearing, some time in April after briefs have been filed. This gives homeschooling parents and organizations a chance to have their voices heard.

It may turn out in the end that California law does, indeed, ban homeschooling except by credentialled teachers; to quote the Charles Dicken’s character Mr. Bumble: “If the law supposes that, then the law is an ass.” Laws can, and in this case probably will be, changed. The state certainly has a responsibility to protect children from irresponsible parents, but they certainly have no right to assume that all parents are irresponsible.

News Links:

Philidelphia Evening Bulletin: California Rules Homeschooling Now A Crime

San Jose Mercury News: Court to reconsider home-school ruling

Blog Links:

Digital Diatribes of a Random Idiot: An Update on the Goings-on in the California Home School Controversy of 2008

Just Enough and Nothing More: CA Homeschool Joint Press Release and More

Whymrhymer’s P.O.V. can also be found at the Blogger News Network at the American Chronicle.

SCOTUS Unties the Hands of School Districts

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When the Supreme Court, this week, very narrowly ruled that using race as a criterion for assigning children to schools was unconstitutional, they set off attack after attack claiming that the Supremes have negated the “advances” made under the Brown vs. the Board of Education ruling.

There were essentially two parts of the 1954 Brown v. B.O.E. ruling. One part of Brown declared that states could not continue to create intentionally segregated schools; that part of Brown is “golden” and has not been affected by this weeks decision — nor should it have been. The second part of Brown, however, used flawed logic, needed to be reversed and should have been reversed long ago. This second part of Brown determined that the answer to unequal education was to establish arbitrary racial quotas for schools; all school districts were directed to achieve “racial diversity;” as if sitting children of different races in the same classrooms was, in itself, a solution to the problem of unequal education. This tied the hands of school districts — it gave them no alternative but to move children around like chess pieces so the districts could meet their “quotas.” Viewed from this distance, its easy to see that that accomplished nothing. Oh there were many successes, but any educational advances made by any students of any race under Brown should be attributed to students who had the determination to succeed and the advantage of being raised to believe they could succeed by hard work and proper attitude — to attribute their hard-won successes to a Supreme Court ruling is to deny them the credit they are due.

What Brown should have done, and what must now be done by state governments, is the setting of high educational standards for all schools. The racial make-up of a school should be of no importance; each and every school, however, needs to be a quality school with a fully qualified staff and a budget that allows the educational needs of every student to be met.

Now, with the burden of artificial racial quotas out of the way, school districts can concentrate of improving facilities and staffing levels and can find creative but fair ways to make every school an educational showpiece. If there is to be a Federal mandate it should mandate the quality of the schools and the quality of the education provided, not the racial makeup of the school.

Among the charges flying around in the wake of this weeks SCOTUS decision is an accusation that this is all part of a “Bush administration” plan to create a social system run by “a monied (white) elite”. That particular charge is posed by an activist sociologist by the name of Rowan Wolf in her article at a “progressive” web site called “OpEdNews.com” (linked below). Here is the charge in context:

“What the Bush administration, “conservatives,” and now Bush’s Court, are attempting is the elimination of civil rights and affirmative action advancements over the last 50 years. Why? Is it because they do not want a society with increasing levels of equality and participation? Do they want a society of peasants and patricians? Do they oppose a representative democracy, but support a feudal government run by a monied (white) elite?”

Ms. Wolf is certainly entitled to her opinion but any intelligent reader can tell that this is a lady with a political ax to grind who cares not a whit for logic or truth.

The facts are: institutionalized racism died long ago in the United States but all racism did not die with it. There are still individuals and perhaps entire communities who want no part of anyone who is not of their same race — and this goes for black and oriental and hispanic individuals and communities as well as for white individuals and communities. If Rowan Wolf and other “progressives” like her are expecting the Supreme Court or the Federal government to resolve this situation they are looking in the wrong place. You cannot change opinion or bias with laws, a law will only change what is defined as legal. Attitudes change very slowly and in some individuals they do not change at all. That’s a fact of life that can’t be touched by any government or legal entity.

Links:

Washington Post: Court Ruling Likely to Further Segregate Schools, Educators Say

OpEdNews.com: Race(ing) Backwards With Boost From SCOTUS

Wikipedia: Brown v. Board of Education

What Bloggers are saying:

JD2718: Positive discrimination

PREA Prez: Rotherham Watch

News and commentary by: Whymrhymer can also be found at the Blogger News Network and at The American Chronicle Family of Journals

Free Speech: The Little Phrase That Could!

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By Whymrhymer

Five years ago, Joseph Frederick, then a Juneau, Alaska high school student, pulled a prank that got him in trouble with his school. The Olympic torch was passing through Juneau and, as chance would have it, it was to pass right past Joseph’s high school. The school administration allowed the students to stand across the street from the high school to view the torch as it passed. Just as the torch was passing where Joseph Franklin stood and just as the TV cameras were focused on that area, he unfurled a banner that read “Bong Hits 4 Jesus;” he explained later that he had created that meaningless epithet to get attention, perhaps to get on television. Well he certainly got his wish for attention.

The principal of the school, who was supervising the students on this “field trip” in front of the school to watch the parade, saw Joseph’s banner and, since the school, like virtually all schools, had a policy that forbid students to use illegal drugs or even advocate their use, she told him to take he banner down; he refused so she grabbed it and destroyed it. She also gave Joseph a 10-day suspension from school.

Enter the ACLU!

Franklin appealed his suspension to the school board and lost and then at some point after that it is apparent that some ACLU lawyer convinced Joseph (and presumably his family) that his free speech rights had been violated and that he should sue the school district. Whatever amount of money gained from the adventure was, no doubt, to act as a balm for his wounds.

After a now 5-year long string of decisions stemming from that law suit, decisions that pit the schools right to control “speech” that they feel is illegal and disruptive to the educational system against a student’s supposed right to “say” whatever he or she pleases wherever he or she happens to be, here is where it stands according to an article in the Houston Chronicle:

A federal appeals court called Frederick’s message “vague and nonsensical” in ruling that his civil rights had been violated. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also said Morse (the principal) would have to compensate Frederick for her actions because she should have known they violated the Constitution.

The U.S. government has sided with the schools position and the government’s appeal of that ruling is being heard today in the U.S. Supreme Court.

In my opinion, a school student’s “rights” consist of getting an education and following the rules that apply equally to all students in the school — they do not have the right to turn a classroom or any school sponsored event into a theatre featuring their disrespect for the school or for the rules. Schools, of course, have no right to abuse or in any way damage a student and in this case they did not — they simply applied a common-sense rule to a situation and applied a fair punishment to the infringement of a rule. It’s called maintaining discipline by setting examples. Aside from maintaining discipline it also teaches the students a very valuable lesson: no matter where they go in life after school they will have rules and standards of behavior that will guide their actions and speech, and then as now, ignoring those rules will result in some form of punishment, censure or retribution.

Today’s major media event at the U.S. Supreme Court is nothing more than a frivolous law suit that has taken on a life of its own. In the last five years this nonsense has probably cost the Juneau school district (and consequently the taxpayers in Juneau) hundreds of thousands of dollars in court costs and lawyers fees and, since the U.S. government has taken the school district’s side, that cost is now being spread to taxpayers across the country. Why? Because in the beginning, a lawyer convinced a kid (and that kid’s family) that they could make some money by suing the school district. The free speech issue was, at least in the early stages, just a cover-up for a money-making scheme — now it is a National event with mega-media coverage and every “pundit” in the U.S. is taking a crack at the “free speech” issue when the reality is this case had nothing to do with free speech. As I see it, this is simply a matter of a school principal exerting her authority over one of her students and, when he refused to do what she told him to do he was punished. This doesn’t belong in the Supreme court or in any court.

This, I guess, is the price we pay for living in a free country, there will always be some huckster around trying to make money or get famous by abusing common sense; and there will always be those lacking common sense jumping to their aid and defense.

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Links:

Houston Chronicle: Justices hear arguments in ‘Bong Hits 4 Jesus’ case

ABC News: Students Await Free Speech Ruling

What bloggers are saying:

The Light: US Supreme Court to take up ‘Bong Hits 4 Jesus’ case

Life in Serbian: Fifteen Minutes of Free Speech

News and commentary by: Whymrhymer can also be found at the Blogger News Network and at The American Chronicle Family of Journals

The Tragedy of Youth Drug Abuse

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by Whymrhymer

I’ve been very fortunate to live as many years as I have without developing any major addictions, and that is probably because I’ve met far too many people with dependencies on various chemicals and drugs, and on alcohol, and have seen first hand how those substances can shatter lives.

The greater tragedy is when the victim of substance abuse is a youth or a teenager. A still developing mind and body can be terribly, and possibly permanently damaged by any number of chemicals and drugs. Way back when I was in high school I remember the glue sniffers and remember being amazed at the all too obvious effects of what they considered to be innocent fun. I don’t think any of them realized that their ‘innocent fun’ and that intoxicating high that resulted was actually doing permanent damage and was starting some of them on the road to even more damaging addictions.

The good news is that SAMSA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a division of the U.S Department of Health and Human Services) issued a report late last year that indicated that rates of “illicit drug use” among youths (ages 12 thru 17) has been on the decline since 2002. A bone-chilling report issued by the ONDCP (Office of National Drug Control Policy) last year confirms this downtrend.

The bad news is, even after the downtrend, an estimated 9.9% of children in this 12-17 age range are using some form of illicit drug. The ONDCP report also indicates that 2005 figures show that there were over 2 million youths who needed treatment in a specialized facility, unfortunately the majority of them never receive such help.

One teen drug treatment center that really goes the extra mile for kids in this sort of trouble and their families is Echo Malibu, a beautiful facility located in southern California. The licensed professionals at Echo Malibu not only help their patients ‘get clean,’ they go well beyond rehabilitation by identifying and treating the root causes of the teen’s addiction, rather than merely focusing on the behaviors that result from addiction. Echo Malibu also offers a 24-hour hotline, not just for their patients but for all teens with addictions and their families.

If you or a child you love is being victimized by drugs, get help and get help soon. The longer an addiction runs the harder it is to beat it and the more damage it will do. Contacting a facility like Echo Malibu is a positive first step that may pay big dividends.

This post was kindly sponsored by Echo Malibu