What were they thinking? by Amanda S. Green

What were they thinking? by Amanda S. Green

All too often, I find myself asking just that, especially when it comes to our public school system. No, this isn’t a post condemning public schools and recommending homeschooling. Although, to be honest, I am quickly going in that direction. This is a post about consequences and the need to finally start applying them to school districts and their security forces instead of granting a free pass.

I’ll be one of the first to admit that Dallas ISD has had its problems over the years. There was a time not so long ago when it seemed like there was a revolving door in the superintendent’s office. Then there are the issues so many major cities with a large school district face, issues too many to list in this post. However, there is one premise every parents operates under when she sends her child to school. We expect that child to be kept safe. The last thing we expect is for district employees and contractors to harm our child.

In the past week, two incidents have come to light that must raise questions about not only the training of ISD employees, especially the district police, and the way in which it communicates with the parents of students attending DISD.

The first, on the surface, doesn’t look that different from a lot of situations that arise. A couple of tween/teen girls got into a fight after school and the campus cop stepped in to stop them. So far so good, right? After all, he’s there to keep the peace and make sure no one gets hurt. The problem is that a video, admittedly a poor quality video, shows him picking up a 12-year-old girl and body slamming her to the ground. The girl and her family claim he then pepper sprayed her. The girl suffered a broken clavicle and, duh, had to go to the hospital. Oh, and she was suspended three days for fighting.

As I said, the video is grainy but you can make out the campus cop grabbing the girl and slamming her to the ground. He then makes a move that may or may not confirm the family’s allegations that he pepper sprayed her. That will, in all likelihood, be left to the district and possibly to the courts to determine.

Oh, and the district? It has admitted that “his actions [the officer] do not appear to represent the type of response we want our officers to display.”


In the meantime, the officer has been placed on administrative leave. What is truly disturbing, if true, is the family’s allegation that students who videotaped the encounter were told by the school to delete the videos. CYA or misinformation? I don’t know but, for the moment at least, I can believe someone (with or without approval of the administration) telling them to do just that. If true, it is another chilling indicator that our schools are no longer safe for our children — not only are they punished for protecting themselves but now they are at risk of injury from overzealous employees.

Where is the accountability? I hope DISD makes its investigation into what happened transparent to the public. If not, then perhaps it is time for the superintendent’s office door to open so new leadership can be let in.

That incident is bad enough. But, as noted above, there was another that took place. This instance involved a 7-year-old boy with ADHD. In this case, the boy’s mother was allegedly contacted by the administration at the charter school he attended and told he had been causing problems. This wasn’t anything new, as the school was aware. So, as she had apparently done before, she went to the school to pick him up.

Only to discover he had been taken into custody and transported to a behavioral health care facility. There he was held for close to a week before he was released to his family. The reasoning was he  no longer presented a danger to himself.

Now, if the child was acting out to that degree, the district acted properly. However, its communication with the mother sucked big time. The district, of course, is refusing to release any details of the incident due to privacy laws. The mother is accusing them of not only poor communication but of using excessive force. You see, there are pictures of her son with his hands cuffed behind his back, walking down the school corridor between two uniformed officers. Now, I know it is only a picture and that means there is a lot we aren’t seeing. But, in this shot, we see a kid who is standing still and not acting out. He isn’t fighting the cuffs or the officers. he isn’t trying to get away. So what really happened?

By the way, even though the district claims it can’t say anything more about the incident, in a message to parents asking them “to not continue to spread misinformation.” So, it doesn’t want to give details or release the rest of the photos/video of what happened but it has no problem saying the mother is lying. Riiiiight.

Again, where is the accountability?

I have no doubt both incidents could have been handled much better than they were. Nor do I have any doubt that some of the blame for it lands squarely with the children and/or their parents. the 12-year-old shouldn’t have been fighting. The 7-year-old should not have been acting out. But, especially in his case, we need to know the full circumstances. The school apparently knew he had been classified as a special needs student (if I read the accounts right).

So, is the problem with training, with hiring the wrong employees or is there something else, something systemic within the district that needs to be corrected? Whatever it is, if I had a child of an age to go to public school and I lived in DISD, I’d have second — and third — thoughts about sending him.

New Short Story in the Honor and Duty series out now.


210 thoughts on “What were they thinking? by Amanda S. Green

  1. School districts, school boards, what have you. They are bureaucracies that exist to further their own ends. They act as if parents are their enemies and will do as much as possible to delegitimize parents beliefs. A few years back two parents were ARRESTED by police on suspicion of a handgun in the family home as reported by a TEACHER. No handgun was ever found and the parents were put through hell. The school board head had the audacity to say that schools, teachers, and staff were “co-parents” to the children. That was a news story. I have heard a lot of personal anecdotal stories from friends and families about how principals and teachers will stonewall parents about incidents in schools. Wish I could afford to homeschool. I have about 2 years before schooling becomes a major worry for me.

    1. While I’m no fan of most school boards and think the state and federal governments have caused more harm than good, they aren’t solely responsible for what’s happening now. Too many parents turned over parenting to the schools a generation ago. Too few parents actually get involved in what’s going on, either with their children’s educations or with the elections to determine who sits on the board. The result is what we have now, thanks to a combination of wrongs from all sides. That said, I’d love to see a complete overhaul of the system, starting with doing away with most federal oversight and returning control of the schools to the local level.

      As for the stonewalling, yep, it happens. Had it happen when my son was in elementary school. Back then, he was in the gifted and talented program. One afternoon when I went to pick him up, his school counselor pulled me into her office. It was obvious she had been waiting for me. No, my son had done nothing wrong. She was waiting for me because she knew I was one of the few involved parents at his grade level. The reason she wanted to talk to me was that the principal had done away with the GT classes, as well as recess, replacing them with classes meant to cram test taking techniques into the students’ heads ahead of the mandated state testing. She did so without notifying parents and, while it might have been covertly approved of by district admins, it had not been publicly approved.

      Well, being the nice and even-tempered person that I am — HAH! — I marched to the principal’s office and asked to see her. She was “out”. So I made an appointment. When that day finally arrived, she was also “out”. I waited, something she hadn’t anticipated. Then she tried to deny what she’d done. The fact I had all my son’s assignments for the prior week sort of put the lie to her denial of doing away with GT classes. Fortunately, she was gone the next year. So, yeah, there are cover-ups but, in a way, I can understand them because teachers and admins are graded, and their jobs depend, on how well students do on the frigging standardized tests mandated by state and federal overseers.

      1. Before we pulled The Daughter to home educate she had been in a superb program for profoundly gifted children. She is not only gifted, but has a handicap and was challenged with two disabilities. This lead to my becoming highly involved in the PTA, a parents advocacy group and with our local school board and administration.

        In the end serving on the school board is a rather thankless job. There is no glamour, and much blame is poured out upon those on the board. I sat at meetings and watched people accuse the board of deliberately trying to harm the students in their care. I came to know many of the members of the board them as people — and not one of them intended to harm children. They just had different understandings, priorities and beliefs on some matters.

        None of this is helped when their are parents who only become involved in the process in order to object to academic or discipline standards in the classroom when it comes to their own special little snowflake.

        Nor has it been helped by the manner in which many systems have responded to the mandated testing. The testing was put in place to measure if the students were making necessary progress in core subjects. Instead of working to see that more students mastered the necessary material of the subject in order to prepare them for these tests the schools have opted to train their students in art of test taking.

        1. well, train students in the art of taking *that test*, not tests in general. they literally spend months training to pass the SoL tests.

        2. That’s a problem in programming as well. If you base pay and promotion on productivity metrics, people will work to the metric, instead of working to get the job done.

          Unfortunately, vast numbers of management and consultant types do NOT understand the two goals are not the same.

          1. “If you base pay and promotion on productivity metrics, people will work to the metric, instead of working to get the job done.”
            You get either one big shoe, or a bunch of tiny ones.

      2. “because teachers and admins are graded, and their jobs depend, on how well students do on the frigging standardized tests mandated by state and federal overseers.”

        Which makes sense for the faculty to want the students to perform well on the test. And in theory the test is measuring whether the students have learned what they are supposed to be taught in school. So in theory it all works well. To bad theory and reality don’t jive.

        IF the tests are well designed, they should be able to be passed easily by any students that learned their lessons properly in school; IF the teachers are teaching the proper lessons. Notice there are two big IFs there, and those aren’t the only potential fail points of the system. IF the tests test subjects not taught in the regular class (whether they should be part of the curriculum and the teacher didn’t teach them, or they shouldn’t be, but were put on the test by the overseers anyways) both the easiest and most effective solution is for the teachers to teach the students how to pass that portion of the test. Now you are starting to teach for results on the test rather than to educate the students (you are actually educating them that giving your superiors the answers they are looking for is more important than actually knowing what you’re talking about, which is admittedly at times an effective tool in regular life also, but probably not the first thing most parents desire their children to be taught), that quickly becomes a slippery slope, because it is usually easier to teach the students to pass the test than to teach them the subject and trust that they will not only learn it, but translate the knowledge into good scores on the test (which means the test actually has to test the students knowledge).

        1. *nod*
          My daughter (attending the strict Catholic parochial high school) passed the TASS (the Texas version of ‘pass this to graduate’! with almost insulting ease – because she and the other girls had been taught the basic materiel.
          In fact, she doesn’t remember even taking it at all – it was just one of those minor hurdles in her senior year.
          In a lot of ways, her high school was … pathetic. Lacking in a lot of ways, starting with 1960s-era buildings without air conditioning (yes, in Texas this IS a big handicap), on the sketchy side of town, a working-class level when it came to the families who sent their daughters there, the school library was an absolute joke — no kidding, my daughter did a couple of term papers using the books that I had in my own home … but the teachers were fantastic and dedicated. My daughter says that every girl in her class who wanted seriously to go to college did so – the nuns who ran St. Francis would pull together scholarships from this and that source.

          1. Parents who are involved make sure their kid gets what they need and sail through testing (we were, so our kids did). Back in the day I remember having to take a math test, if you failed you had to take basic math senior year. It was ridiculous for those of us who were taking Calculus our SR year. Every one of us at that level finished the 2 hour test in 15 minutes or less, AND could NOT leave the test area! Nor were we allowed books or other materials … this was 45 years ago; stupid then, stupid now.

        2. But asskissing is exactly what the people paying for school want them to learn. Wait for a better to tell you what to think.

    2. which is why school districts have *more* administrators, even with the advent of computers…

    1. Depending on the state, some find themselves subject to the same problems as public schools. Then there is the cost of such schools. Sure, there are some awesome private or parochial schools. But there aren’t enough of them and they certainly aren’t affordable for most families, especially if that family has more than one child.

      1. You might be surprised. A lot of private/parochials have scholarships, and offer “bulk discounts” (OK, family discounts) for multiple siblings.

        Yes, I’m biased. 🙂

        1. I know, but the competition for those scholarships is a limiting factor. I’m not discounting, just being realistic. It’s a case of more demand than availability.

          1. Usually the archdiocese and parish subsidizes a lot of the tuition for parishioners. Of course, schooling is more expensive these days.

            I do want to plug the parochial schools staffed by the Ann Arbor Dominicans and the Nashville Dominicans. Smart devout sisters.

      2. You are correct that it can depend on the state. Many states exercise a great deal of influence on what a private school may do through licensing and mandated course material along with required scope and sequence.

    2. I’ve worked with private school, and like with public, it’s made or broken by parent involvement and administration competency. I’ve had issues with some students who by all rights should’ve been kicked from the school, but were continually given second and third and fourth chances because the parents had serious pull and the school needed the tuition money.

      1. That’s always been an issue but it seems even worse these days. Of course, it’s hard to tell since it is next to impossible to actually be kicked out of school anymore. The best — or worst, depending on your point of view — that happens in most cases is that the student is sent to alternative ed for a bit and those classes, more often than not, are nothing but babysitting with little to no learning and certainly no sense of consequences being applied.

    3. It helps if the private school refuses to take any government money of any kind for any reason.

      AFAIK, doing so makes it easier to avoid government interference, under the “Who pays the piper, calls the tune” standard.

      1. Absolutely. No federal funds and the “incentive” to do as the government wants falls dramatically because there is no state sword hanging over your head.

        1. It depends on who controls Certification. If you want to go from a non-certified High School to almost any college, it doesn’t matter if you’ve memorized the encyclopedia, nor whether you can honestly assert

          I’ve information vegetable, animal, and mineral,
          I know the kings of England, and I quote the fights historical
          From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical;
          I’m very well acquainted, too, with matters mathematical,
          I understand equations, both the simple and quadratical,
          About binomial theorem I’m teeming with a lot o’ news,
          With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse.
          I’m very good at integral and differential calculus;
          I know the scientific names of beings animalculous:
          In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
          I am the very model of a modern Major-General.
          I know our mythic history, King Arthur’s and Sir Caradoc’s;
          I answer hard acrostics, I’ve a pretty taste for paradox,
          I quote in elegiacs all the crimes of Heliogabalus,
          In conics I can floor peculiarities parabolous;
          I can tell undoubted Raphaels from Gerard Dows and Zoffanies,
          I know the croaking chorus from The Frogs of Aristophanes!
          Then I can hum a fugue of which I’ve heard the music’s din afore,
          And whistle all the airs from that infernal nonsense Pinafore

          you ain’t getting in without you contribute a new building, preferably a gymnasium or football parlor — something directly connected to the core function of the school.

          1. The school I went to solved the certification problem by creating its own accrediting body (which also accredits about 250 other schools of similar type).

            It helped that we regularly had better standardized test scores than all of the government schools in the state.

            1. That accrediting body isn’t doing squat, because if it were actually effective, there would be a racially disparate impact, guaranteed. At which point, your local Al Sharpton would sue and get that body shut down or neutered.

              I saw this way too many times in AL education colleges; the legislature would try to put in standards, the HBCU graduates would produce teacher candidates who couldn’t pass it (as in 25% pass a test written at the 8th grade level), Alvin Holmes would take it to Federal Judge Myron Thompson, who would shut the standards down.

              1. No, what they are doing is accrediting those who aren’t certified. Then it is up to those hiring to decide whether to hired the certified teachers/schools* or not. It is just an end run around the regulations, but it does the important thing, which is provides a benefit for those paying for it.

                *I’m not sure if Feather Blade is talking about certifying individual teachers, or just schools, but either way what he is talking about is providing the certification for competent (and also most likely incompetent) individuals/institutions that are not state certified. Which passes the choice of who to hire based on competence on to the hirer, without them having to worry about certification, they can then concentrate on hiring based on competence.

              2. The accrediting body has nothing to do with the state – like the school, it accepts no government money. And it only accredits Christian schools, teaching in the classical mode.

                ACCS, if you’re curious.

    4. A sibling and several friends’ children went to private or parochial schools. I was peripherally involved.

      While I’m not going to say they were bad… it was made obvious that as long as the child was not a troublemaker… um… expectations would be tailored individually for each child, as long as the parents kept writing checks.

      Unless you’re enrolling your child in some place with both a waiting list and a policy of booting out any kids that don’t meet the minimum standards, you’re not necessarily buying your kid a “better” education than they’d get in good old PS 182.

      1. “Unless you’re enrolling your child in some place with both a waiting list and a policy of booting out any kids that don’t meet the minimum standards, you’re not necessarily buying your kid a “better” education than they’d get in good old PS 182.”

        Actually, you are 100% guaranteed to be buying a better education, simply because the troublemakers can be and will be kicked out. You do’t have to worry about your kid sharing a school with young hoodlums who don’t want to be there, and will find ways to stay entertained.

    5. The problem is that public school is “free”. Meaning of course that not only am I paying for your kid to go to school, but that you are already paying for your kid to go to school, a public school, and if you want your kid to go to a private school you now get to pay for two schools, only one of which your kid actually attends. Not only can a lot of parents not really afford this, but there are even more that say, “I’m already paying for a school, why should I pay more for another school? This one should be just as good.”

      Which is true, it should be just (or possibly if you are comparing to a really expensive private school, which gets more money per student, only as “better” as the difference in price per student) as good. But public schools are funded mandatorily on the Communist principal of, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” I we all know the quality of communist production.

      The cure of course would be to make education the parents responsibility, if the governments weren’t involved and weren’t getting a cut, the parents would be able to decide how much to spend on education and who would do the educating. Of course this wouldn’t mandate that no child was left behind, and some would be left behind due to parental choices or neglect. …so instead we have all but the self-learners left behind, and those are hobbled. But this is superior because it is the all important… Fair.

      1. That, and it taxes “other people.” Like most areas, my local schools are funded by property taxes. If you rent lodging and don’t own a car, your kids go to school on someone else’s dime.

        Exactly why houses and cars are taxed and not the parents has never been clear to me… it gives my blood pressure it’s annual spike when my tax bills come in, though.

        1. If you rent a domicile you are paying property taxes. The landlord has those figured into his rent charges.

          1. There you go using logic again.

            Now you know why logic is no longer taught in public schools.

          2. Also, not that while I own property and pay property taxes, I don’t have any children to send to school. I still get to pay for the kids down the road’s school though.

            1. There is an argument to be made, but I won’t, I won’t, the Hell I won’t … that good schools in a community boost property values and thus property owners receive a benefit.

              I doubt that’s ever been tested, as it seems self-evident that what people believe will boost property values will boost property values. Self-fulfilling prophecies usually are fulfilled.

              1. There is another argument, that boosting property values hurts property owners. The only time it actually helps property owners is when they sell there property. If they don’t want to sell their property the more the value goes up, the more taxes go up, costing the property owner while providing no benefit.

                I know I certainly do all I can to keep my assessed property values down, and I certainly wish my neighbors would do the same.

                1. It also presumably produces a better neighborhood–your neighbors could *afford* to move here.

                  But that’s racisssssss…

        2. Nit: like any business, landlords don’t pay the taxes, they merely pass them on to the renters.

        3. When I went to Flat State U, the school district was funded 60% property taxes and 40% sales taxes, because of the enormous numbers of renters (college and military). It seemed to work, but it is probably a massive exception, and is a small district.

  2. Amanda, if you can home school. The results will be better for both you and your kids. Sending your children to a public school is , IMHO, tantamount to child abuse. Even in Texas, they are nothing but leftist indoctrination centers.

    Emily, private and parochial schools are not much better these days. Most of the teachers they hire come from the same colleges as the public schools. We put all 4 of our sons through the Catholic school system here in Illinoisy, but the diocese, due to heavy pressure from the state, has geeked and adopted common core and has drastically lowered standards. They are ignoring parent complaints and don’t seem to care that they are losing students. Both my wife and I (she subs a lot at the local Catholic schools) have said that if we were starting over with kids today, it would be home school all the way.

    1. Joe, I would have had it been an option when my son was in school. Unfortunately, it would have been difficult not only because my son is a math whiz (I could handle the computer and programming side of it but the math — nope, not gonna happen) but because of other issues I’ll not get into on the blog.

      We were fortunate, in a couple of ways, with his public education. His middle school and high school and JROTC and he thrived with it. His high school also had an excellent math program that helped get him an early admission into TAMU. All that said, if I was doing it all over today, homeschooling all the way.

      1. The high school didn’t want to let me into the ROTC program. ROTC was short of students then, and they were semi-independent of the school system, so I got in anyway.

        Second year in, the instructor said he was surprised I was doing so well, given my long history of “authority issues”. I told him there was a big difference when it was voluntary.

        1. There are people who are called “anti-authoritarian” because they won’t accept any random person who claims to have authority. It isn’t that such people don’t accept authority, though: it’s that they expect authority to be earned, and don’t suffer fools who demand respect merely because of who they are.

      2. As a UT grad, I applaud the fact he is going to A&M. UT has gone completely off the PC edge and made me somewhat ashamed I have a degree from there.

        1. My oldest graduates from UT in psych undergrad. He menntioned today that he managed to keep his mouth shut, which surprised he & I both. But his maturity level, 8 years in the military, taught him a few things. His wife graduated fromTAMU, did graduate work in nursing at UT, but dropped out due to the politics.
          3 ofour 4 kids graduate(d) from charter schools. We are in CO & are fortunate to be in a town with a number of charter schools. Thanks to the charter my middle 2 went to, PSD was ranked very well. Our particular charter school has always been in the top 5 high schools in the nation according to Newsweek. And we do it with less than 95% of the funding regular public schools get.
          The charter our youngest is in also allows her to take college courses at the junior colleges here. Thanks to the solid education she got at the first school, she began taking college courses her freshman year and as a senior next year, she will be taking all coollege courses. She will graduate with an Exceptional HS diplomw and her associate’s degree. She willmstart college as a junior at 18. And yes, she WILL be living at home :).

          1. Charter schools are big in metro Tucson. TUSD has the distinction of being both the largest and the worst school district in the state, so parents flock to charters and a growing number of small private schools.

            Not that they’re necessarily any better, a friend of mine went a small K-12 private that believed in “self-directed learning” through the entire process, he ended up going to Rochester and then coming home after one semester and enrolling at Pima College; in part because he never learned basic things like how to write a basic essay.

            No. 2 son graduates in 8 days from his charter school; it’s undeserved him because they’re in the push everyone into college mode, but he knows what he wants to due – smithing, and a bachelor’s degree isn’t going to make him any better at that.

            1. That’s true — it takes at least a Masters in Metal Studies to impress banks’ loan officers. Unless he is restricting his practice largely to minor decorative pieces he might want that Masters to be in Heavy Metal Studies.

              More seriously, given the right choice of school he might well benefit from courses in chemistry and metallurgy — although he might have great difficulty finding schools offering useful courses in those. Given the amount of academic justice-frosted twaddle he’d have to consume en route he’s probably better just taking a few on line courses.

      3. This is one of the problems that I have seen with the home school movements. Parents don’t always feel competent as teachers, and they don’t know who they can trust to assist them and teach subjects they themselves are not competent to teach.

        1. Once one gets involved in the movement such problems tend to lessen. There is an applicable saying within the community that “Education consists of lighting a fire, not filling a bucket.”

          The proper goal of an education is developing the auto-didactic child, one who has learned how to educate himself and can be his own teacher. Look at Prof’s attitude as described by Manny in The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress. The role of the teacher is to imbue the skill of self-education.

        2. And this is the problem with public schools – the teachers think they are competent to teach anything…. (my apologies to the good teachers who know their limits – but most that I have met do *NOT* know their limits and think they are the smartest around at anything).

          As RES notes below – the best teachers light a fire and don’t fill a bucket. If you are merely filling a bucket – the student can never surpass the teacher – but if you light a fire there is no limit.

    2. For high school, I put my daughter in a Catholic all-girls school, one which I could just barely afford to keep her in for 3 1/2 years. She did k-6th in a DODDS school in Spain which was absolutely splendid. (DODDS schools were and likely still all very good, regarding class size, teacher talent and student discipline because – military. Student acts up? Potential for the parent or parents commander to get involved.)
      I have told my daughter now, that when and if she produces – I will homeschool the little sprogs myself. No other option considered.

      1. I swear a lot of the problems we see now in schools come from three factors: parents abdicating their role as parents to the schools, parents not allowing schools to discipline their kids for breaking the rules and government involvement from on high. Added to that mix is the “No child left behind” mentality and the idea that the little darlings shouldn’t learn early that they can and will fail from time to time.

        1. I have a couple of additional pet theories.

          One is that switching to a school system with teachers specialized by age and subject was a mistake, at least at the primary level. Or at least a response to a tightness in labor that is no longer so, especially considering the harm involved in the current administrative apparatus for the status quo.

          Secondly, I think the status quo organization through the Federal Department of Education has compromised oversight. Teachers and administrators pay the union, the union pays a political faction, the political faction controls funding for DoE, and DoE makes certain rents can be collected through teachers and administrators.

          1. That’s a bit of an oversimplification, especially when it comes to unions. Not every state allows unionization of teachers. Even in some that do, they don’t allow teachers to strike and that takes a lot of the union’s power away.

            The real problem boils down to numbers. Districts need money and money is based on a couple of factors: the number of butts in seats each day and scores on the mandated tests. That is why we see so many districts teaching to the test instead of teaching the subject matter.

            The secondary problem, and I hate using the term secondary because it is as important as what I listed above, is the fact too many parents and “experts” now think we have to worry more about poor Susie’s ego than about preparing her for what she will find in the real world. Hence not understanding that she isn’t the best at everything and not everyone is going to give her a break just because she thinks she deserves one.

            1. I have so little invested in society, seemingly so little to lose, that I’m a bit inclined towards radical changes. So I’ve got all sorts of wild ideas for alternatives. Conservative ideology tells me that I get a bit silly about things, and probably ought to calm down.

              Money does get to the heart of why things are so fubared.

              The ‘self esteem’ experts and the ‘advanced lessons before basic’ experts would not have so much destructive influence if the political factions were not backing them as being a reasonable investment.

            2. I found that if I mastered the material the test rather took care of itself, whereas if I focused on the test none of the material remained long afterward. I knew where my priorities were, and mastered (is that term triggering?) the material.

              As for Susie’s ego, a charging boar is more concerned about your ability to stand your ground and hold the spear steady. Better the ego take a few bruises if that’s what is required to enable you to face life on both feet and without trembling.

            3. Our state, at least while I was involved, assigned numbers for butts in seats according to the recorded attendance for the first ten days of the school year. Now I will admit that I find this very amusing. School starts when hurricane season is in full swing and we have many districts that have had to call school as a result.

            4. Not allowing teachers to strike takes very little power away from the union. A PSU’s power lies in its capability to pass dues from its members to politicians that can put laws and policies that benefit the union through, not in the threat of a strike.

              1. It also used to be the case that teachers were a) very good at getting their vote out and b) perceived as highly credible and altruistic members of the community.

                1. Yeah. I’m thinking of some of the folks I have some contact with, who have done some speaking on behalf of educational funding in my area.

              2. Just passing legislation disallowing teachers to strike does little more to prevent it than laws against entering the country illegally stop illegal immigration. In both cases the laws need to be enforced in order to have any effect, and in all to many cases they are not only not enforced, but the breaking of them is actively condoned and even advocated by those supposed to be doing the enforcing.

        2. Rather, on all points.

          Sadly, like many a government program, “No child left behind” has resulted in the opposite of what was intended.

          1. naah, they really aren’t left behind. Plenty of functional illiterates are getting passed from grade to grade.

            1. The problem isn’t the functional illiterates, I know several who are business owners, and even more that are perfectly productive employees and members of society; it is the nonfuctional, whether literate or illiterate, students that the schools are graduating.

            2. Yes. When my mother was teaching, the entire staff was told flat out that they couldn’t hold a kid back more than a year for each grade, because the school didn’t have room for them and trying to keep someone that much older in the class just meant a discipline problem the teachers weren’t equipped to handle when you have an effective 8th grader in a 4th grade class.

                1. Most of those (all that I can think of off the top of my head) I know of that have been held back in the last ten years, have been held back because their parents requested it.

        3. It should be acknowledged that the schools tend to make it Awfully easy for parents to abdicate their roles in favor of the schools. If you want to sell gift wrap and tsotchkes for school fundraisers, great! If you want to participate in guiding your child’s intellectual and moral development, hey, who’re the experts here?

          Heck, they’ll even save you the effort of providing a good breakfast!

          1. Yes, however, I’ve seen that happen over the years as parents — my generation unfortunately — decided they were more interested in things other than their trophy children. So, again, the blame goes both ways.

            1. To be fair, RES’s point is even worse than he makes it out. Sometimes schools get *angry* when a parent expresses an interest in their children’s education. They demand that a child must learn via the teacher and the curriculum, and will even change the curriculum every few years to make sure that the parents can’t help the child with their homework. I’ve even heard of rumors where children were forbidden from taking textbooks home, lest parents use them to help their children with their homework.

              And then they wonder why parents aren’t so involved in the education of their children.

              For example, I knew a fellow grad student — someone who was working towards a doctorate in math — unable to help her son in *math*. The change in the curriculum didn’t deter her, though: she looked for books that would help her understand how the math was being taught…which is a lesson in itself: no matter how hard one tries to cut the parents out of the loop, there will be parents determined to help their children…

              1. Sometimes schools get *angry* when a parent expresses an interest in their children’s education.

                I am more than old enough to be a grandparent. When I entered kindergarten this was already occurring.

                My parents had chosen their first house in part because the local public school had an excellent reputation.

                When I entered school my parents were informed that they had ‘broken’ me because I came into school reading (using phonics, not the school’s preferred see-and-say method) and doing mathematics in my head. Education, they were told, should be left to trained and licensed experts.

                1. ‘and doing mathematics in my head. ”

                  And I got docked for not “showing my work.” Being a tad bit hardheaded, and not particularly subtle, I informed the teacher that I was showing all the work there was involved. She managed to tick my mother off in parent teacher conferences when she blamed her for it (not my mothers fault, she never taught me how to do math) and my mother told her exactly what she thought of her. This was in grade school and on our report cards we got both a letter grade and a +, – or check for effort. I ended up getting a A with a minus for effort in that class.

                  1. I ran into something similar to that going to school in Tennessee. The teacher bumped my letter grade down to B for a 100% score because I “wasn’t trying.”

                    The rest of the year I turned in no work at all. If I wasn’t going to get full credit for it, why bother?

                    They were already promoting by age group then, so a report card full of Fs wouldn’t keep you from moving to the next grade.

                    1. I had actually had a lower letter grade, but after my teacher made the mistake of informing my mother why I had that lower grade… well after that conversation the letter grade corresponded exactly to the answers on the tests and assignments I turned in, but I don’t think I could have raised my “effort grade” by writing out all my long division while simultaneously do cartwheels.

                  2. Momma told the story of one particular teacher she had in math. She had gotten 100s on all her assignments and tests, which her parents had seen. When the report card arrived she had a 99. Her parents wanted to know what she had done to get docked a point. They finally asked the teacher why Momma had a 99 when all her work had received a perfect score. The teacher replied that while Momma knew the answers to what had been asked the teacher was of the opinion that no one ever knew everything and that she had simply not asked Momma the right question to discern where her weakness was.

                    I think everyone with any level of intelligence has had a run in with a teacher.

                    1. We had a parent/student swap day once.
                      And Dad got in trouble with the same teacher I got in trouble with. I’m rather proud of that.

                    2. I can almost see doing that in an art course, but only for individual assignments, not for the final course grade.

                    3. I had a Mrs. Range in high school, and since my dad and several of his brothers had her when they went to school (in a different school district) I didn’t have to explain her to them. I’m not sure my mother entirely believed us, even when my dads mother (who not only had dealt with her as a teacher of several of her children, but had rented a house to her at one time) backed us up. She was at least prepared to accept that she was not imagining things when she actually met the teacher, however.

                      The white lab coats didn’t show up to remove her while I was in school (they had about fifteen years earlier however, according to my dad’s younger brother) but she did miss a couple months one year, because she “had a nervous breakdown.”

                      When teachers like that continue to teach in public schools, it is more a wonder that students come out with as good an education as they do, than the opposite.

  3. Government is passing too much authority down to lower level minions. They don’t really change the law – they don’t need to. They simply change how they treat you and if they man steps over the line they refuse to bring any charges against them. They literally have a license to kill now. Remember when that was a plot device for James Bond movies because it was outrageous?

    1. I’d change that a little and say government as too much authority in too many areas, but that’s a topic for another day. In these instances, the district screwed the pooch by not having clear standards, not only in their hiring practices but in the way their campus cops were to respond to certain situations.

      It is also a result of the fact that we are living in a time when kids know that can do just about anything at school and not have any real consequences. Instead of getting their asses booted for attacking another student, they get in-school suspension or alternative schools. Parents are all too often not active in their children’s schooling, nor are they in contact with the teachers.

      I’ve been on both sides of the equation, teacher and parent. I know the frustration the good teachers have because their hands are tied when it comes to adapting curriculum, disciplining students or having parents involved with their children’s education. I’ve also been that parent who’s been willing to go all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary when a teacher decided he knew better than his department chair, his principal and so many others and was teaching unapproved curriculum for which the students had no textbooks. Oh, and he couldn’t be bothered to input grades correctly. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers and, worse, homeschooling isn’t always the answer for those who need an alternative to public schools.

      1. In these instances, the district screwed the pooch by not having clear standards, not only in their hiring practices but in the way their campus cops were to respond to certain situations.

        A bit of a bunny trail: Something that has been observed with our local school system, with widespread mandated mainstreaming, there are students in the class room who are highly dysfunctional, often violent. By middle school some of these students can be larger than the adults who are trying to manage them. If we cannot remove those students who either cannot or will not comply with basic behavioral codes from the classroom it should surprise no one that troubles do occur.

        I fully agree that there should be better training on handling situations that may arise. There should be clear policies in place for everyone, students and workers involved in the school, including what consequences for failure to comply will be. While law which mandate restrictions on what can be reported to the public must be respected, the process of review of an incident should be transparent as possible.

        1. The school my kids go to has a number of non-mainstream classes, mostly for behavioral issues. I am very glad to see the staff interact with the kids the way they do—I’ll sometimes see a kid being sulky or crying at drop-off, and there’s an aide next to them, just talking, and they have a goodly number of aides.

          Of course, our school is one that is exceptionally high-rated, and one of the other moms grew up in a family that bounced from school to school, and the high level of good involvement is unfortunately not present in many of the other schools in the district that she saw. If our school were the norm, there wouldn’t be much issue with public schooling, I think, but we’re apparently in an outlier area.

        2. My mother lost her job as a teacher because she *dared* to disarm (without hurting–she’s had martial arts training) a student who was threatening her and other kids with a knife that was being used during their outdoor work project. Said kid was the principle’s precious little snowflake, and his mommy was another teacher at the school who was livid at my mother getting best teacher of the year instead of her. So Mom’s contract was terminated…

          In her earlier days as a Special Ed teacher in Texas–where possibly-violent students were a very real possibility–she used to break a board the first day of class. Most of them got the point almost immediately. (And the budding sociopath in one of her classes who nearly killed the principle and vice principle on two separate occasions–by strangling them with their necktie/scarf–never made a move towards her. Of course, she also wasn’t foolish enough to wear long necklaces or scarves around him and get within arm’s reach. And she had told both her bosses not to do this either, but they ignored her.)

          1. I had a teacher in high school that performed that same demonstration… he also never had any issues with classroom violence.

            1. I gather that a large part f some martial arts training involves learning to identify and defuse potential threats before they manifest. My brother tells of an acquaintance so trained who could sit in a bar and accurately predict how long until various troublemakers made trouble. When he would get up and say it was time to leave, all his friends would do so.

      2. A lot of the problem is both the necessity and function of the campus cops. I was in high school when my school first got a “security guard”. and most of the parents of my acquaintance considered it a ridiculous waste of money, that the teachers should be handling his duties.

        Problem being that the teachers ability to handle such duties has been largely either legislated, regulated, or sued out of existence. The security guard/campus cop has two real functions one is to basically act like a “rent-a-cop” and patrol the schoolgrounds/respond to calls, and keep the peace to the best of their ability. The other is to act as a buffer between the teachers/administrators and public, and if necessary as a scapegoat and take the fall for the education professionals in any disciplinary disputes.

    2. I am acquainted with teachers and principals who would tell you that the various government agencies involved in oversight are taking the authority away from the lower levels.

      Two examples:

      One friend happily took retirement from teaching. Although she had loved teaching and her students had thrived, she was now spending most of her time filling in innumerable required forms and reports.

      A friend who had worked hard to obtain her doctorate and rise to her position as a principal of an elementary school. She had a good working relationship with the teachers and parents were generally happy. She was informed that, due to outside political pressure, as some groups of children in the district were more likely to be disciplined for infractions of behavior, she could no longer hold a position anywhere in the district if she insisted on equal enforcement of rules. She left in order to teach at the college level.

      1. Sigh. “Disparate Impact” evaluations are what rocks point to when they want to say about something is unintelligent. Simultaneously imposing disparate impact evaluations while insisting that “certain groups” have distinct cultures and characters which must be accorded the greatest respect is the intellectual equivalent of squaring the circle.

        Perhaps we ought establish specific “learning culture” model schools, each incubating a particular mode of academic and citizen behaviour but we all know where that would end …

        1. You can square a circle fairly easily, it just involves sawing off all those distracting curves.

  4. “What were they thinking?”

    Answer: They weren’t thinking. 😦

      1. “Sensible? Logical? It’s Policy!

        There’s a reason some folks call certain things “Zero Intelligence Policies.” That’s exactly what they are.

      2. Hilariously enough, this is often the discussion I have with my middle school students when they do something particularly stupid or thoughtless.

    1. I wonder if they were thinking “How can we avoid getting sued? What do The Rules say? We must follow every jot and tittle of The Rules, and if we do that, we can’t be sued.” Plus it is far easier to simply apply The Rules and wave hands and “We were just following procedure. It’s For the Children (TM)” than to actually use personal discretion and risk having your name on the paperwork if something goes [censored]-up.

      I’ve reached the conclusion that for career administrators, the worst thing that can happen is to get in the news. Sort of like what was once said about a Southern Lady: she was in the news only at her birth, her marriage, and her passing. Career administrators want in the news only for hiring, promotion, and retirement.

      1. You left out one thing — they want to be in the news for their schools having high test scores. Everything else falls behind that because that, in all too many districts, determines if they get to keep their jobs or not.

        1. I don’t actually recall HIGH tests scores ever making the news, LOW tests scores do however, and they really don’t want to be in the news for that.

          1. Some local papers did pieces on students who aced the SAT. (Do they still? Is it possible anymore? IIRC they restructured it since my high school days.)

            1. They’ve done a couple in my area that I know of. The local papers also made a big deal of a couple of (homeschooled) students that completed their high school requirements before they became teenagers and have been doing college work. (A friend of mine was the vocal teacher for one of them, and shared the stories.)

              1. Oh, hm… I knew they made it so you don’t actually have to get all the questions right to get a perfect score, and they took away antonyms but it’s not like those were actually harder than the other sections, but I thought I heard they added an essay section or something, one of those “could always be better” types of thing.

    2. At least not fully thinking things through.

      Much is suffered that need not because of the ‘law of unintended consequences’ that could have been avoided with a bit more thought.

      1. Thinking is discriminatory, an exercise of privilege.

        Social-Justice Blog Says ‘Stupid’ Is an ‘Ableist Slur’
        The P.C. crew strikes again.
        By Katherine Timpf — May 16, 2017

        According to a post in the social-justice blog Everyday Feminism, the word “stupid” is not just a kind of mean thing to say, but actually an all-out “ableist slur,” regardless of whether you’re using it to describe things or people.

        “In my view, the fact that this word is a slur is self-evident,” Jenny Crofton writes in a piece titled “Yes, ‘Stupid’ Is an Ableist Slur – Let’s Unpack Your Defensiveness About That.” Crofton explains that not only is stupid “an insult,” which she claims is “reason enough to stop using it,” (something that I, personally, disagree with — we need insults in our language because let’s face it, sometimes people deserve them) but that it’s also an ableist term because “it’s used to insult people with cognitive impairments, autism, Down syndrome, ADD, and other developmental disabilities.”

        Now, of course, I’d completely agree that calling someone with autism “stupid” would be a sick, depraved thing to do. But that’s not where Crofton stops. No, Crofton argues that it is always a huge problem “to describe something or someone as ‘stupid’” because “it harms and triggers disabled people, which can make it a source of mass psychological harm for an already marginalized group” and “creates and enforces systemic and institutional bias.”

        “The history of disability in our society is rife with injustices based on intelligence. . . . Children with intellectual disabilities are at extremely high risk for abuse, including sexual assault,” Crofton writes.

        Look — I completely agree that society is not fair toward people with intellectual disabilities, but trying to connect someone using the word “stupid” to describe an inanimate object to the sexual assault of a child is completely bananas. It’s great to be sensitive, and it’s especially important to be sensitive toward people who are dealing with disabilities. But the truth is, no one sees the word “stupid” as being reserved to describe people of a certain group, or even as being reserved to describe people at all. Are all words in the English language positive? No, and “stupid” is certainly an example of a negative one. But to say that the word “stupid” is so harmful that it is actually contributing to the sexual assault of children and creating “mass psychological harm” is pretty clearly taking things just a bit too far.
        — Katherine Timpf is a National Review Online reporter.

        1. It’s an attempt to remove from the English language all words that could indicate an adverse judgement on some action, event or practice, isn’t it.

          1. Except for those words used to describe and condemn the people who would continue to use the banned words which could indicate an adverse judgement on some action, event or practice.

        2. Sheesh. I tell my kids that things or situations are stupid, not people, because they’re grade-schoolers, and of the age where peer pressure can lead to insulting people. But thinking the word in general is horrible? That’s… well… stupid.

  5. It’s a matter of priorities. The US spends more per K-12 pupil than all but a very few developed countries, yet we have teachers who regularly start the school year by sending home a list of standard classroom supplies the parents are expected to provide. Not for the individual use of their kids, but general class equipment. Where does the money all go? Walk into what used to be called the school office, but is now the administration complex. Generally quite well equipped with furnishings, computers, fresh paint and carpet, and filled with “support staff.” Of course that staff is required to address all the government rules, regulations, and reporting that must be completed on a yearly, monthly, and weekly basis.
    As for the much touted zero tolerance policies, they too serve a very valuable function, to absolve the administration of all accountability, all decision making responsibility. After all, historically speaking, we were just following orders is such a great get out of jail free defense isn’t it.

    1. It’s worse than that, Uncle Lar. Those lists almost always come from the admin, not the teachers. The teachers are buying not only supplies but books, etc., out of pocket just to make sure they have the bare minimum of what they need to be effective in the classroom. Remember all those decorations they used to put up to illustrate the lesson of the day/week/month? Schools used to supply them. It came out of the department/grade level budget. Now the teacher’s buy them. If you want to score points with a teacher, either ask what they need and go to the nearest store and get it or give them a gift card to the teacher’s supply store.

      1. Always hit the sales on school supplies (generally a couple of weeks after school has started, or intermittently at office supply stores.) You can always find fans of paper, pens, whiteboard markers, and glue sticks.

  6. “What is truly disturbing, if true, is the family’s allegation that students who videotaped the encounter were told by the school to delete the videos”. Yes, that would be disturbing. And more: it would be a felony; it’s called “obstruction of justice” and/or “witness intimidation” and/or “tampering with evidence”.
    The problem is that the criminals in this case work for the same government that is supposedly responsible for bringing the criminals to justice. This explains why little or no justice is likely to result.

    1. Add in the limits legislatures have placed on how much liability can be assessed against a governmental agency (and school districts and their employees often fall into this) and you have a complete breakdown in the accountability to the public.

      1. Consider — ‘limits on the amount that can be assessed against a government agency.’

        Here is the problem, when a governmental agency is held against who pays? The actual guilty party or the tax-payers?

        1. … when a governmental agency is held against who pays?

          The government agency, to be repaid by the offending agent(s) through a surtax on salary and pension, increasing as the number of such abuses occur.

          If it is a matter of bad policy, then those responsible for developing, implementing and enforcing that policy would pay the surtax.

          (Yeah, Lois, I’m talkin’ ’bout you.)

          1. Maybe that is how it should be … In reality the tax-payer is the one who is left to carry the entire burden.

        2. The correct answer for “who pays” is of course: the actual guilty party. When someone abuses office, the abuser needs to be personally liable, not the agency he’s hiding behind.
          A good example is the NH law on concealed carry permits (now somewhat obsolete thanks to the adoption of concealed carry). It makes the officials who are supposed to approve the permit personally liable for failure to do so in the manner prescribed by the law. This appears to have had quite a salutary effect.

  7. ” that students who videotaped the encounter were told by the school to delete the videos.”
    Need to have the parents push for an obstruction of justice charge against the school, and the individual(s) who supposedly told them to do so.

    As for the child handcuffed and sent to a behavioral facility without parental consent; that’s kidnapping.

    1. It will be interesting to see what happens with the allegation about erasing the videos. If it happened, I wonder if it was by the teachers/admins or by the school’s cops. I’d also be interested to see how many of the kids might have erased the video from their phones but who had already saved it to the cloud. VBEG

      As for the 7-year-old, not if the officers did it for the good of the child in an attempt to keep him from harming himself. Whether they had grounds for that is something else. Right now, that is the defense they’ve laid, aided by the fact the facility did not deem the child “safe” for almost a week. Without video/photographic evidence or eyewitness testimony to the contrary, that is going to be a hard road for the mother to take.

      1. I work in a hospital. While there may be some variation in patient’s rights from one state to the next; most still allow a patient to leave, even Against Medical Advice.

        In the case of a minor, the parent is the legal guardian who makes that determination. Now a child running around and saying absurdities does not strike me as a child intent on causing harm to himself, or even others. Plus there’s no track record of him offering self harm. What I CAN see is a child subjected to restrain used on violent criminals by the cops, sent without parental notification or intervention to a prison, and held there without charges and subjected to treatment without his or his parents permission. I’d certainly classify this as a violation of his rights as a patient, and as kidnapping.

        As for the behavior that started all of this. I have to wonder if a single swat on the butt and telling him to go sit down in his chair would have been more effective.

        1. If the child was admitted under an emergency order in order to “prevent harm to himself or others”, (and with juvies, that standard might be lowered even more than it is for adults) then nothing the mother and her attorneys did would matter until the admitting doctors and court agreed the child no longer presented a danger. I guarantee you that’s why the district made sure to use the appropriate statutory language when explaining why he had been hospitalized.

  8. Having worked in the education, security and health care fields during my long and varied career in HR, I have seen many cases like this, and some worse.
    What I try to keep in mind is this old adage: “Never credit to malice what can be attributed to stupidity and incompetence.”
    Especially for the second example you cited above.
    It does not minimize the damage that was done, and it does not make either example less wrong. It simply doesn’t apply malicious intent where there may have been none.
    At least for me, when I’ve been on the opposite side, it’s easier for me to deal with when I recognize that. It’s easier to take when I acknowledge that X didn’t happen because the person involved was evil, merely stupid, or unable to do their job correctly.

    1. Fascism and a tendency to over-regulation is malice, regardless of the overt intent of the originator. “It’s for their own good” is a phrase that should be grounds for immediate execution of the politician or bureaucrat.

          1. I now want a gif of Nelson Muntz pounding Milhouse while demanding, “Why are you voting against your best interests?”

  9. Why on earth does the School District have its own police officers? How do they have the experience and skills to manage a police force? In all of the places I have lived (if necessary), the local schools have officers from the local police force, often with additional training, to handle issues in school.
    A separate body with law enforcement duties ‘tacked on’ is going to do them poorly since it isn’t a primary mission and they haven’t taken the time to fully understand all of the implications of supervising law enforcement.
    This can be seen in the problems with federal agencies that have a small number of law enforcement officers that handle a non-core mission. A great example are the problems EPA officers have created and the poor way they interact with the public.
    To me, it would be much better for a school district, or a government agency with a non-law enforcement primary mission to bring in officers from an agency or organization for whom law enforcement is a primary mission when needed instead of doing the function themselves.
    Today, there are too many rules, regulations, training requirements, etc. required of law enforcement for a non-law enforcement agency to keep up with all of them properly.

    1. A number of districts have their own “police” force. Usually, it is made up of either former cops or cops working a second job. Sometimes, they are cops who have been contracted out by their own PD or SO. We started seeing this happen, especially in the larger districts, after classroom discipline was removed from the picture. It increased when zero tolerance became the norm. Now, you will find situations — as in the one with the 12-year-old — where, if there is a fight at school, the child is charged and booked instead of it being handled by the school.

    2. Schools have their own cops because too many parents complain if a teacher applies the board of education to their precious wittle darlings. In my Freshman year, a student went for a teacher, who grabbed a billy club from his desk and laid him out. An older friend told of his shop teacher, a former prize fighter, who took on a student who refused to accept his authority, right there in the classroom. Can you imagine that happening today?

      So they punt. They have their own cops and will call in the police because that takes it out of their hands, and cr*p that they used to deal with in the principal’s office is now handled downtown.

      1. What can you do with a school where you have students who are fighting in the halls make the school to attend. I don’t mean spitball fighting.

        1. First you need to discipline the students, personally I am a fan of physical discipline, because it is effective. But it really isn’t politically feasible most places, currently. So you need to come up with a discipline that works, and discipline those starting the fights rather than those defending themselves.

          Ideally there should be some leeway for the authority (ie teacher, principal, etc.) to practice some common sense, the kid starting a fight in order to steal another kids lunch money should be disciplined more severely than the kid who punches out the guy who is calling his little sister a blankety-blank.

          In my opinion, while they should be punished, fist fights are not a big deal, and should not involve calling the cops and criminal charges.

          My dad talked about when he was in school, if two guys got in a physical argument, the gym teacher would make them put boxing gloves on and mouthpieces, then settle it that way. Obviously this works for two guys both wanting to fight, not in the case of one student bullying another student who is incapable or unwilling to fight back.

          So many solutions involve giving the teachers or administrators the authority and leeway to make judgement calls on how to deal with the problems effectively. Part of the current problem is that said teachers and administrators have proven in the past that their judgement is questionable or utterly lacking. So rules have been instituted that remove that judgement from the equation. Unfortunately all too often those making the iron-clad, no exceptions rules, are the same people whose judgment made such rules necessary in the first place.

          1. First you need to discipline the students, personally I am a fan of physical discipline, because it is effective.

            Usually effective. There are a few children with whom it does not work well. This is just one of the many things where one size doesn’t fit all; children are no more interchangeable cogs than adults.

            Otherwise I agree with you.

            1. I was one of them that it didn’t work well. After a well deserved paddling in the 1st Grade, administered by the Assistant Principal, I refused to cry, even though he told us it was all right to do so: I was not about to let him know the paddling hurt. Once, after a paddling by my father, I looked up at him and said “Do you feel better now?” Got another one for that. Didn’t care.

              What worked was to get creative in punishment, and to clearly let kids know where the boundaries are before they break them, then follow through with the promise (always keep your word, whether it’s for punishment or some sort of special treat). It does not always have to be corporal punishment, but whatever punishment is administered must be immediate.

              This started breaking down in an effort to prevent arbitrary punishment – and some teachers would administer it that way – and to have witnesses, and so forth and so on, and that no longer made it immediate. That undermined the entire process.

              On fist-fights: They weren’t tolerated back in the day, but they weren’t the end of the world. That was the ultimate boundary, and we knew, because our teachers and principals swiftly administered punishment, that it would drop on us like a ton of bricks. As happened in the 6th Grade when a student assaulted our teacher. Teacher only came down harder, then had the principal brought in and he came down hard, and the student got some quality time at home. For a while. The parents were not pleased – with their child, and that was a force multiplier right there. At no time were the cops brought in.

              The cops weren’t even brought in when one student split oven another’s head with a limb, and I had to sit behind them in my mother’s car, applying pressure with a towel to control the bleeding as we headed for the doctor. That was another case where the teacher came down hard, followed by the principal, followed by parents. And such things were rare in school.

              1. And here is another problem – today people do not come down hard on their kids. They want to be “friends” and not “parents”. SO if a teacher or principal comes down hard on the kid, the parents come down hard on the school – thus causing problems.

                Many of our friends are impressed by our kids behavior (and actively want the kids around their kids so the good behavior rubs off on their kids) and we try to tell them that discipline is needed. They are starting to listen – but I have had discussions with my girls that if they start picking up bad habits they won’t see the other kids again. And it has mostly worked – but is a continuing problem.


                1. Heh. About that …

                  ‘Best friends’ parenting yields kids who never grow up
                  Attention parents: The magic number is 28. That’s the age when millennials finally say they’d be embarrassed to be living at home, according to a new survey from TD Ameritrade.

                  It’s no secret, of course, that kids stay with their folks longer. But while many have focused on financial explanations, it may actually have more to do with the connection that young adults have with their parents these days. One 2015 poll found that half of millennials consider one or both of their parents to be their “best friends.” If that’s the case, what’s the incentive to move out?

                  The evidence seems to suggest that this generation has a radically different relationship with their folks than previous ones — but maybe not one that will serve them well in the long run.

                  The origins of the problem are traceable in part to the helicopter approach that many parents take with children at a young age. And parents spend hours volunteering at school and accompanying kids to birthday parties.

                  They intervene with coaches or teachers on behalf of their children. Everything about parents’ behavior tells kids that the world is not divided into adults and kids as it once was. It’s divided into our nuclear family and everyone else.

                  When kids enter adolescence now, there’s little need for rebellion. It’s probably hard for many young adults to believe that the sexual revolution actually required a revolution.

                  Parents increasingly accept questionable behavior and try to accommodate it. Despite warnings by local authorities, they host parties for high-school students with alcohol on the theory that they’re going to drink anyway so they might as well do it at home.

                  When it comes to sex, the thinking seems to go, why not just be realistic about our kids? A couple of years ago The New York Times ran a story about parents who allowed their teenagers’ boyfriends or girlfriends to sleep over or even move in for a couple of months. As one mother explained about her decision, “I didn’t want to think, ‘Where are they tonight?’”

                  Kids needn’t hide their misbehavior because parents, trying to be their friends, tolerate it. Indeed, even when kids do leave for college, they are in constant contact with parents
                  [END EXCERPT]

                  It ought be noted that many of those parents referenced never fully grew up themselves. That is why they opt to be ‘best friends’ with their kids rather than being parents. Rather than raising the kid they lower the adult.

      2. Yeah, but that leads to have teachers with thug-life mentality. I ran into far too many of those in elementary school and junior high.

        They were free with hands and sticks, and gobsmacked when I swung back. If I’d been doing anything, I would have accepted due punishment. Being slapped out of my chair for reading Heinlein or Norton instead of sitting at attention doing nothing… no.

        1. How about getting thumped in the head with a thimble – by your Kindergarten teacher? Been there, felt that.

          OTOH, there was a teacher we ran out of the classroom just by nodding or shaking our head in unison and in contradiction to what she was saying. And the tapes. Oh, we had tapes. Very amusing when a teacher objected and required a student to erase his tape on her desk. She didn’t realize that it had to be recorded over and the tape recorder had a built-in mic. Naturally, we put in extra, and silent, effort to act up while this was going on. There were ways.

    3. You could also say that there are too many rules, regulations, training requirements, etc. required of law enforcement even professionals to keep up with all of them properly. Which leads to biased, discriminatory, selective and subjective enforcement, i.e. tyranny.

    4. Most colleges upgraded their campus security to “police” or “LEO” status long ago. Individual school districts have been jumping on the bandwagon ever since “free” Federal money became available for it, even if they had no use for it. Same reason some school districts got “free” MRAPs and automatic weapons, though I think they had to give those back after people started asking more questions than they wanted to answer.

      Everybody who is anybody, politically, has their own armed goons nowadays. And to boost their numbers and political clout, the police have claimed these “LEOs” as their own, even if they’re just security guards.

  10. School vouchers. They’re far from a cure-all, but I’d support just about anything that would make the public schools accountable to the parents. We have our own horror stories from over twenty years ago; ours ended with school administrators smirking and saying they weren’t accountable to us, and me snatching both kids out and enrolling them in private school. Some other parents who had similar problems told me they were keeping their heads down because they couldn’t afford private school and were afraid the school would take it out on their kids if they made waves.

    Our children are hostages to a smug, stagnant, evil bureaucracy.

    1. Vouchers or making it easier for students to transfer between schools in the district or even out of the district. That’s what my parents did with me years ago. The school I should have gone to wasn’t up to their standard so they transferred me to another. Yes, each year we had to go through that hassle but it worked. It is also what we did with my son his last year and a half in high school because his father moved — we’d been using his address to make sure our son was in the best school for what he needed and for what his college plans were. Fortunately, at that point, the principal interceded on our behalf and we learned she had a certain number of transfers she could approve without having to go through all the hoops with the district.

      Of course, everything would get better if parents would get involved more than most are right now. Too many don’t show their faces or bother talking with their child’s teacher until something happens they don’t like.

      1. No idea how it is now, but there were a couple students that went to my school when I was growing up, but lived in a different school district. Their parents had to pay for them to go to that public school, just like they would have to go to private school, while at the same time still paying via their property taxes for the school district they lived in.

        On a somewhat different note, my cousin went to high school in a neighboring school district for a year, because he was expelled from his school district for year. His parents had to pay for that public school to take him, while still paying for the home school district also. Of course they made my cousin get a job after school and repay them that money, so he at least learned a lesson from it. 🙂

        1. I grew up half a block from the school district border. A friend of mine from the gifted program in the assigned neighborhood schools we both attended for elementary through Junior HS didn’t go to the high school I went to – her parents didn’t like it, so they made a deal with someone to forward them any mail received under their name from the HS and shifted her official home address over the line.

          Her high school commute was maybe a tenth of mine either walking or driving.

          No, it doesn’t bother me, Not any more. Really.

          1. Some school districts have tax sharing agreements instead off requiring tuition. In some places there is a legal issue: It’s easier to refuse problem students under sharing agreements than if they charge and the parents have the money.

  11. To play Devil’s Advocate here (or School District’s Advocate, which is close to the same thing), I can see the point of view of the school district here, particularly in the case of the 7-year-old. Suppose the kid really had done something that might be harmful to himself; there’s a good reason that the district wouldn’t and shouldn’t be allowed to talk about that in the press to the general public. However, everyone else is free to gossip about what happened based on second-hand information, and I could see the officials involved getting frustrated at all these rumors when they can’t defend themselves with the truth. Think of it as similar to Miles Vorkosigan’s situation in “A Civil Campaign”; everyone else is speculating about what really happened between Miles and Tien on Komarr, but because of the ultra-super-double-secret classified nature of the events, Miles can’t set the record straight, so everyone just assumes the worst.

    OTOH, the general point about public schools is an accurate one, and the reason that these stories take hold is because there have been so many situations like this where the stupidity of the school IS at fault. Thus, the public is less likely to extend the benefit of the doubt than perhaps we were in the past.

    1. I agree and I withholding full judgment until we know more. What the district should have done, however, instead of saying “quit spreading wrong info” is go to the mother and ask for a waiver. If she was going to try the case in public, let them release their side of the story. If she refused, they could then say so without violating any privilege about what happened. But that’s me thinking from a legal point of view.

  12. I’ve become radicalized on the issue. Which shocks everyone, because my views on bias in public school history curriculum are so very mainstream.

    Last year, I had the impression that no public school was willing to risk loss of federal funding by challenging the bathroom dictate. In my eyes this was compelling evidence that the primary purpose of public schools is the collection of rents. I saw it as selling access to children for sexual purposes. I have doubts as to whether anyone involved in the public school system during Spring of 2016 should be permitted access to children.

    1. I get where you are coming from but you are overlooking one very important issue — not only are the schools afraid of losing federal funding but they are also afraid of losing not only local funding — districts get a lot of their funding for upkeep, building, etc. from bond elections. Add in the fear of loss in the upcoming elections (most school boards are elected) and the issues are compounded. Plus there is the reality that they face more law suits from those who don’t want their children going into a bathroom that might be used by someone who wasn’t born the same gender as their son or daughter than they are from the other side. At least where the bathroom issue is concerned, districts really are in a lose/lose situation. I don’t blame them for standing back and waiting to see what their state legislatures do.

      1. I’m not stuck with trying to make the system work, and it relates to a hot button issue where I’ve been outside of the cultural mainstream at least since the age of ten. In hindsight, it would not surprise me to discover that my reaction was crazy.

        I don’t have any confidants in the school system, so it is real easy to paint with a broad brush, and make assumptions about the politics of what is going on. This is made worse by a fairly contentious federal political cycle.

        (I think I’ve mentioned before that I thought I may have gotten a wee bit overwrought between May 3 2016 and Nov 8(?) 2016? Forecasting the Clinton administration’s policy on this was part of that.)

  13. The DISD seems to have missed the Public Servant Orientation Course component about the importance of retaining the confidence of the public. It also seems to have learned the lesson (taught by the Obama Administration these last eight years) about using privacy concerns as a shield against public scrutiny.

    One supposes that in both cases provided the family of the child in question can waive privacy issues in pursuit of legal action against DISD policies and the ways in which they’re carried out — after all, they would not wish to impair the defendants’ ability to justify their actions, would they? These days it is easy enough to digitally scramble pixels to protect privacy that there should be no problems retaining such shreds of anonymity that the rumour mills have left remaining.

    1. As I noted in the post, DISD has a history of challenges, especially when it comes from the administration. The current head of the district is also the former head. He was hired after the previous head left under a cloud. I will even admit he has done some good, just as he did in his previous tenure. The problem is that the district is so large and there are so many problems that have been ignored for so long — including pay levels — that he is trying to swim upstream and losing. Frankly, the district and its students would be better served, imo, by splitting the district into two or three smaller districts that would be easier to handle and to meet the challenges thereof.

      1. Do you have any knowledge about the Plano school system you’d be willing to share? Plano is a comparatively wealthy suburb of Dallas. It has a population of about 300,000.

        1. I lived in Frisco, which is across the street from Plano, a number of years ago. (SH 121 is so a street.) I’m not sure how much has changed, but it was a more highly regarded school district than DISD in those days. At the high school level they tended towards large campuses, in that IIRC the juniors and seniors went to a different high school than the freshmen and sophomores. I had three cousins go through PISD and never heard any complaints. They seemed to have had positive experiences. The youngest of the three was held to high academic standards. I visited my uncle one night, and he was helping him with his homework.

          Things may have changed since then, though.

    1. That’s a bit of overkill I think. Firing and revocation of all pensions etc jail time if applicable. I’d reserve crucifixion for heinous crimes like pederasty and prostitution of children and murder of children.

  14. > where’s the accountability?

    “We’re the government, or close enough. We’re not accountable for anything. Accountability is for schmucks and taxpayers who can’t afford to send their kids to private schools. By the way, there’ll be another millage increase to raise our wages, next election. Don’t bother voting against it, the fix is in.”

  15. Bodycams are cheap enough most parents could probably budget one for each kid. The only real defense against perjury and selective video is to have your own video.

    1. And are against school policy in many districts. Very possibly the authorities in the above incident will use as their defense against allegations of evidence suppression the argument that recording video of fellow students is against school policy.

      1. The polices are not about suppression of evidence in cases like this, although they allow for it.

        Do you really want someone with a body cam posting a clip of ‘the geeky kid’ taken while in the gym locker room?

        1. I understand what the policies are implemented for, and like so many things, they have good intentions.

  16. Yeah, but most people frown on doing that to their neighbors. And the toad in question is usually someone who lives in town with you. There is something to be said for settling issues via trial by combat. Kiss a toad, and you might get warts. Kiss a frog, and you might get a prince. Major difference.

  17. If we want to improve the public schools, we need to go back in time. Test scores used to be higher. General literacy used to be higher. Do we want to go back to the fifties? The twenties? Well, with public schools, we’d get better results than the present. (We need to go back to pre-Dewey days.)
    Going back isn’t popular, though, it’s regressive, not progressive. So that’s why I’m a fan of burn them down and salt the ground, no one who currently works in or has previously worked in them is allowed to ever teach kids again. (Yes, we’ll lose good teachers. But we can’t efficiently screen them out from the bad teachers, or we wouldn’t have bad teachers right now.) Start over from scratch.
    Federal involvement in education needs to go away. It’s not an enumerated power. There are 13,500+ school districts. We should have 13,500+ different kinds of public school. At a minimum. Nothing says one district can’t try two things. Since the average cost per child is less at private school than at public school, the school districts could just copy what the private schools do and save money.

    1. I’ve no doubt that if the teachers were directly responsible to the parents, as in if the parents were directly paying the teacher and making the hiring and firing decisions; the parents would be able to effeciently screen out bad teachers.

      1. The problem with that is that far too many parents would define “bad teacher” as “doesn’t hand my child an A even if he fails all the tests and turns in none of the homework.”

        1. Which means they would get exactly what they are paying for, an entitled, uneducated child. But the parents that wanted an actual education for their children, wouldn’t pay those teachers if they had a choice, and in fact would get what they were paying for also, rather than getting what Parent A was paying for.

        2. Yes, and the parents who argue that junior should get an A for the effort he put in. Never mind that the paper he wrote is irrelevant to the assignment, incoherent and not presented in proper form.

          1. Ugh. “But I worked so haaard and spent so much tiiime on the assignment~”

            Yes, I’m sure you did. And it’s still crap. Try again.

            1. Let’s transpose this standard into some real life situations …

              “But I worked, like forever on that brake job!”

              “But I worked really hard and spent so much time on your root canal!”

              “What do you mean the dinner you ordered was inedible? Do you realize how hard the kitchen worked on that meal, and how long it took them?”

              “We’re sorry you didn’t like Jar-Jar, but George worked really hard on that film and spent, like, forever getting it made.”

              1. XD Exactly!

                And I will totally use any or all of those if one of my students (or classmates!) is ever foolish enough whine to me about how hard they worked.

                1. I will confess a number of additional challenges played through my mind in the afterwords of posting that. I think one of the things that most infuriated me during Billy Jeff Clinton’s administration was his repeated plaints of “Ah worked harder on that than ever anything in mah life, but we just couldn’y make it happen …”

                  I don’t give a litany of expletives how hard you tried to end war/boost the economy/deliver healthcare reform/stay faithful to your wife! Try not. Do… or do not. There is no try.

    2. Hmmm. Dr.Pournelle does have a solution that would work without doing a perm-ban on all existing teachers. Just fire the bottom 10% each year and perma-ban THEM. I’d recommend doing the same to the school administration and board. We’d start seeing results in a about 3 years.

      1. Oh, and have the PARENTS be the ones doing the evaluations. No peer review, no school Administration or Board.

  18. More details on the 7 year old: http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/16/us/boy-handcuffs-dallas-school-trnd/

    Yosio Lopez was handcuffed, Tased and bruised by Dallas Independent School District (DISD) Police after the boy started banging his head against a wall in class, the Lopez family lawyer, David Ramirez, told CNN.
    Yosio is a special needs student who suffers from attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and another mood disorder. He has experienced similar outbursts in the past but has always had a trained school aide nearby to help calm him down.
    But last Tuesday, the aide wasn’t there and Yosio didn’t have his “safe place,” Ramirez said.
    The boy told his mother, April Odis, that he was put on a desk with his arms cuffed behind his back while the school principal put her elbow on his neck and choked him to restrain him, the family lawyer said.

    The family is lucky the school didn’t kill him. His mother was not allowed to see him for the first two days; he was kept sedated. This sounds like a coverup. How bad was the bruising around his neck?

    At a minimum, it sounds to me as if the boy needs to be placed into a specialist school with trained teachers who will not put his life at risk.

    I had no idea you could Tase a 7 year old. I would have expected that to run the risk of killing a child.

    1. I’d like to Tase the person who Tased this kid, and the Principal Only I’m not going to target their chests. Heheheh.

    2. You CAN Tase a child, but the entire purpose of a Taser is supposed to be to safely immobilize a potentially violent suspect, that the officer cannot reasonably expect to physically restrain without potential injury to the officer. Unless the seven year old in question had a weapon of some kind (which I assume would be mentioned in the news article) any officer that cannot physically restrain a single seven year old child without resorting to a Taser needs to be dismissed as incapable of performing their job.

      1. The professionals who deal with these kinds of children on a daily basis recommend an enveloping hug holding the child snugly from behind and speaking to them in a calming manner until they get back in control of themselves. Which is probably what this kid’s aide would have done had she been there. And what this kid’s teacher and principal probably already knew but utterly failed to provide. Nope, I hope the teacher, principal, district, rent-a-cops, and behavioral prison in this incident all get nicely roasted.

    3. So…their solution to a child who was possibly harming himself (banging his head on the wall–in frustration, no doubt) was to…harm him even MORE??

      1. I think you missed the point. He was an amateur at harming people; that kind of thing should be left to professionals.

      2. Amputation is a guaranteed cure for a sprained ankle, after all.

        More seriously (sorta) if it was a 180 pound adult male who was physically harming himself, tasing and immobilizing restraints might have been a viable option.

  19. I suppose one thing this points out is the need for parental involvement.
    I have heard from many parents joining PTA or other parent involvement groups that they were unable to make any difference. YMMV.
    But our personal involvement in our children’s education is our only option. Whether it is homeschooling, or just deprogramming when thy get home, we have to be involved. Education is still possible, and even easy from some perspectives. But we must put in the effort.
    What happened at DISD is reprehensible. Whatever the reason, the reaction of the people in charge was neither reasonable nor appropriate.
    And yet, who is honestly surprised?
    Disgusted, yes. But not surprised. We’ve seen this coming for a while. If we extrapolate where we were to where we are, I don’t like where the rest of the path follows for the future.
    Remember, only You can Prevent stupidity, (in your kids at least).

    1. I just make sure to be a walking education wherever we are. They ask questions, I will answer (or tell them that I’ll need to look them up.) As we’re a museum and nature-loving family, this isn’t hard.

  20. As a current homeschooler, and having seen some of the dark underside of how kids are handled – here are some of my advice and observations (in no particular order).

    (1) If you intend to homeschool – get legal advice, join HSLDA would be my advice. Laws vary by state and few actually force the school district to follow the law. Be prepared for them to lie to you, report you to Child Services (ie accuse you of child abuse – but anonymously) as well as initiate a legal truancy action against you (even if you have moved out of the district).
    (2) To the person above who talked about the 7-yr old being kidnapped – that is FUNNY. Once you realize what child services does to kids – and the limited legal rights parents really have – you realize the state can do whatever they want to our kids and we have no recourse. Lets see, there was a kid with a medical issue that her parents were working with the family doctor on – but she had an attack while in a different city – different state. Well, the emergency room doctor there did not agree with the family doctor and had the kid seized by child services. It took over 6 months for the little girl to finally go home – all because two doctors disagreed. And nobody was punished (of course…). Once you start delving into the abuses by child services you start to get an idea of the problem. Basically, they are an arm of the government that can take your kids away without cause and are immune to prosecution.
    (3) When homeschooling – take advantage of all the help that is out there – and there is a huge amount – also keep good records (especially in states that like to review all your records).
    (4) Tell all your neighbors. You would be surprised how many people call child services because they see a kid home during the day on a weekday.
    (5) Know your rights – child services will lie to you and say that you have to give them access to the home (you don’t unless they have a warrant and a police escort (in most places)) – some services have kept investigations open because of “messy homes” – because there was dirty laundry in the laundry room.

    And if I seem to target child services (whatever they are called in your state) – it is because I have run into them and now keep my eyes open where they are concerned.

    1. That’s where we differ. I really AM crazy enough to employ lethal force against the State in those instances.

    2. To make you feel a little better, I had a friend who had CPS called on her (by some nosey parker, no doubt), and after the (scary) evaluation, the CPS person said she seemed to be doing the mothering thing right and that CPS had no cause for complaint. So there are some sane folk involved.

      1. I saw one of those CPS interviews in person. I was painting some lady’s house, and CPS showed up because a neighbor complained. The lady begged me to stay as a witness, so I kept on painting the living room as the CPS person prowled around.

        It turned out the neighbor was a nutcase, the CPS person was the usual bureaucrat who was ticking off the little boxes, and the lady escaped with a warning. A fricking warning, forsooth, and probably because the cheerfully smiling Phantom was looming over the proceedings, a complication CPS dork didn’t want to deal with.

        I told the lady to move the hell out as fast as she could. A crazy person makes one phone call, and the government sends a minion around to take your kid? Wow.

        Welcome to Kanada.

        1. I have had some personal experience with the CAS (CPS here in Canada). I was told bluntly by a CAS investigator that once they are involved in a case they have to stay involved until they are sure the child is in a safe environment. My experience lasted about 18 months, and at the end the worker was just checking boxes and killing time, because they had to not because they needed to.

      2. Maybe, but the one I was involved with the CPS worker told them at the first interview that they had nothing to worry about – then kept the investigation open for the next 90 days (the maximum allowable by law) before finally letting them know the investigation was closed. Was she padding her case workload? Or was she just a lying s**tbag?

        And yes, here they are anonymous (what would happen if everyone kept reporting the politicians until this was changed?) – if you make a report to the cops that is false you can get in trouble for that – but call the CPS hotline? No Problem….

  21. I am convinced that everyone should home school. Everyone!

    In theory, at least. In practice, there’s a lot of societal inertia — we all grew up believing that the government needed to provide an education to everyone, and that’s the only way everyone is going to learn. While government schools are doing their best to disabuse us of this notion, they still have a ways to go. And this doesn’t take into account families where both parents must work, or families with single parents, or other arrangements that make it difficult if not impossible to keep the kids home to teach them.

    I sense a paradox, though, that if pretty much everyone home schooled, then there would be no need for public schools whatsoever. If both parents had to work, for example, then it would generally be easy to find neighbors who would be willing to help with the kids, at least part-time. We aren’t there yet, either, but as home schooling is getting more and more popular, it’s getting easier to find support groups to make such things possible.

    But even if we send our kids to school, we can’t trust our school to teach them, so we need to take active effort to make sure our kids to learn what they need to learn.

    Hence, another paradox: in practice, everyone *needs* to home school their children. Everyone! Even those of us who send our children to school….

    1. What you are expressing is the solution to the problem of a government that has lost the confidence of its citizens. Schools are not safe for kids to attend, and the kids don’t learn anything anyway.

      Pull your kids out of school.

      Two things happen when you do that. First, your child will bloom because you removed them from a toxic environment. If you never teach them any formal lessons and let them draw all day long, they will enter high school better prepared than the kids who attended grades 1-8. This assumes you, the parent, have a clue and spend all day with the kid.

      Second, the schools take a financial hit because they get paid by the head. Lose a kid, lose a budget unit. Lose a bunch of kids, the schools start closing. You don’t have to make a ruckus and march in protest, just pull the kid out of school.

      For those of you in places where CPS may come and get your kid for truancy etc. Move. States suffer when people leave.

  22. Good news! Even in (almost) deepest California, some sense prevails:

    Charter school backers have won a majority of seats on the board of the Los Angeles Unified School District for the first [time].


    According to the Times, unions spent more than $2.5 million on behalf of [incumbent school board president] Zimmer. Support came from labor groups across the county, with teachers unions spending the most.


    [New school board president] Melvoin reportedly received even more financial backing than Zimmerman did. The biggest backer of pro-charter school candidates was Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings. Hastings is a Democrat, as is Melvoin.

    From all that appears, Hastings has nothing to gain financially from the expansion of charter schools. He just thinks they are good for students. For that matter, the same is true of Betsy DeVos and other center-right and conservative backers of charter schools.

    Perhaps Netflix has discovered that the pool of qualified applicants for employment is unduly limited by the need for them to be able to spell applicant.

    1. Another report on the election:

      LA School Board Election Is a Major Loss for Teachers’ Unions

      After the most expensive school-board election in the nation’s history, the LA Unified School District now has a pro-reform majority after years of unwavering support for teachers’ unions. United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) pursued a grossly misleading campaign to tie leading reformer Nick Melvoin to Betsy DeVos and Donald Trump, but Melvoin’s blowout victory over union-backed board president Steve Zimmer demonstrates how that strategy backfired.

      Melvoin and other reform candidates support charter schools, but they have not formed a radical band of market-reform zealots. They simply offered Los Angeles families viable alternatives to the status quo, and that message resonated among voters who don’t have any kind of ideological predisposition toward school choice. Pro-union candidates failed to answer for schools’ lackluster performance, the district’s projected deficit of $1.5 billion, and the looming crisis over unfunded liabilities for retirees.

      Running on a platform of more of the same proved to be a disaster. “Zimmer was defending indefensible status quo,” said Melvoin campaign strategist Bill Burton, who had previously worked in Obama’s press office. The school board had been spending money it didn’t have — in one telling episode, they gave teachers a larger raise than the union even asked for, despite facing a massive deficit.

      More than dollars and cents, school performance moves voters, and in Los Angeles they decided to go with reformers’ pro-charter agenda. Melvoin supports limited charter growth, as well as increasing autonomy for traditional public schools to help them improve in the ways that charters can.

      Residents are coming to support charter access because they see them working. Pacoima Charter Elementary School is one institution that came to thrive outside of district control — even though it does not draw from a socio-economically advantaged population. The school’s success is a testament to the potential of charter schools, but because unions oppose them, the school board hasn’t been friendly toward charters.

      Unions and leftist activists may be exercised by DeVos and her free-market principles and purported religious fanaticism, but UTLA’s focus on her failed to scare voters. Los Angeles voters care more about their schools getting better, as reformers figured out. Now the majority supports reform, and the unions have temporarily lost their power.

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