It'll Be a Beautiful Day When the Pentagon Has All the Money It Needs and Bombs Schools Having Bake Sales

Eric Berlin blogs a fuckin' unbelievable story out of Hartford: The public schools there are fining high schoolers $103 a shot for cursing.

I'm thinking discipline has been something of an issue at this school. Still, if my kid brought home a $103 demand for money because he said "shit," it would not occur to me to be angry at my child.

His whole bit here.

Story on the fines here. The fines do seem to be working--which is yet another way that these kids are lettng us down.

Hartford Police Officer Roger Pearl said the program is working.

"Before, the kids were swearing all the time. It went from many incidents to almost nothing," he said. "It's quiet in the halls."

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  • ||

    That's a fucking crock of shit.

  • ||

    "I believe the children are the future - unless we stop them now!"

  • ||

    At my boarding school, they'd send a letter home to your parents if you said something you weren't supposed to. I once got a letter sent home for saying "Oh my God".

    I once had a phone call interrupted by a faculty member mid-sentence for saying "shit". She demanded that I sign a slip telling my parents what I'd said. ...Never mind that I was talking to my parents when I said it!

    If you were found with a girl in the wrong place at the wrong time, which happened to me quite frequently, they'd put you under "Social Probation" or "SP", which meant you couldn't communicate with or be within fifty feet of the girl in question--or sometimes any girl--for a given period of time. ...Usually a couple of weeks to a month. I complained that they were turning our school into a breeding ground for homosexuality...

    ...they didn't "write me up" for saying "homosexuality".

  • ||

    Beautiful headline.

  • ||

    You guys should also know that Hartford Public School students are almost universally dirt-poor. Chances are $103 is a LOT more money to their families than it is to you or me.

    Kids should be punished for swearing in school, but I don't think taking away the family's grocery money for the week is a fair punishment.

    Damn, this state of mine just gets more and more embarrassing.

  • ||

    When will we start treating teens like they are citizens of a mutherfucking republic?

    (or adults for that matter, but you know what I mean...)

  • ||

    $103 would be more than enough to home-school my son, and fuck them if they thought they could collect.

    What is the penalty for non-payment? Expulsion? I'd tell them to eat shit.

  • ||

    Hm... as a firm believer in the value - necessity, even - of restricted curse words, I can't really dredge up any sympathy for these kids or their parents. It may sound ridiculous to get fined by the cops for swearing at your teacher (what harm is done?), but part of living in "polite society" is learning how to behave like a normal person and to treat people with respect. I know that probably rubs many libertarians the wrong way, but you can't deny that we are social creatures, and that there is a socially accepted way of behaving. This incident is just another instance of the state taking up the slack for parents who aren't doing their job.

  • ||

    "It'll Be a Beautiful Day When the Pentagon Has All the Money It Needs and Bombs Schools Having Bake Sales"

    I smell a t-shirt sales opportunity!

  • ||

    I'm not sure how fining someone $103 teaches them to behave. ...and I'm not sure that treating everyone with respect is such a good thing. Maybe we should teach them to be more selective with their profanity. ...to save it for the fucking idiots!

  • ||

    Of course, if you read between the lines you'll see that swearing isn't this school's only problems:

    Keila Ayala, 17, a Hartford Public sophomore, said she was ticketed for shouting an expletive in an officer's face while handcuffed for taking a swing at him.

    You've got 17-year-old sophomores swinging at cops; maybe some of the students simply don't belong there in the first place?

  • ||

    Rhywun, I don't disagree. I was brought up that there are times and places where one is expected to keep a civil and respectful tone.

    But fining some kid $103 for swearing, a fine that a high school kid is unlikely to be able to afford, only punishes the parents. If they want to make the kid sit in the office or give him in-school suspension, that would be reasonable. But this is ridiculous.

  • ||

    Also it's never good when Enforcers of Rules have financial incentives for catching rule-breakers.

  • ||

    I'm not sure how fining someone $103 teaches them to behave. ...and I'm not sure that treating everyone with respect is such a good thing.

    Well, I see what you mean - we fine people for all sorts of activities that they just go right on doing anyway. I have a feeling that the parents will "see to it" that the fines don't happen again. As for whether everyone deserves respect... obviously not *absolutely everyone* does, but I think respect is the default between two otherwise strangers, and it is the default in a teacher-student relationship. Unless the teacher's a *major* asshole.

  • ||

    Also it's never good when Enforcers of Rules have financial incentives for catching rule-breakers.

    Touch�! I would like to think that this was a "last resort", and that they tried more conventional means. But they way I see kids behave in public makes me think that conventional means don't work anymore.

  • ||

    Interesting. In a system designed to remove parental responsibility for a child, they're now fining the parents for not having lived up to their forcibly vacated responsibility.

    Give the kid detention or make them work off the money. Hell, suspend or expel them if necessary. And why exactly $103? And what is the definition of 'cursing' these days? 'Bitch' and 'ass' are common parlance on TV.

    The problem isn't that these kids don't respect authority...it's that they're stupid about it.

  • ||

    Rhywun, conventional means probably won't work, but fining the kids is not the un-conventional means to use. Especially not Hartford--this is a REALLY poor city. Per capita income is among the lowest in Connecticut, just over $11,000 per year. (And this in a state with a very high cost of living, keep in mind.) $103 dollars is a LOT of money to those people.

    I've complained about the problems in public schools before, and the whole thing with kids swearing is a symptom, not the problem. The actual problem is much, much bigger, and solving it would require HUGE amounts of effort and innovation from the powers that be.

    Which of course means it will never happen.

  • ||

    I don't think I've ever heard you say much about vouchers Jennifer. What do you think of vouchers?

  • ||

    I support them, Ken. I did even when I taught in a public school.

  • ||

    I support them, Ken. I did even when I taught in a public school.

  • ||

    I have a feeling that the parents will "see to it" that the fines don't happen again.

    No they won't. They're not really allowed to spank their children any more, and above a certain age that sort of punishment is ridiculous anyway. In this case, if I've got a beef with my parents I'll just curse up a storm.

  • ||

    Rhywun - Good point. I flipped off a driver going to fast entering the delapidated city of Syracuse. It was on the hottest day of July. We both had our windows down. He pulled back to me *horror* and I was able to shout 'Slow Down, Slow Down.' Fortunately I didn't say 'Slow down you fucking idiot.'

    I was in the wrong because I was being impolite. I could have gotten my face beat being 50 and he being 25. I hope he figured it was wise information from an old man.

  • ||

    Jennifer, the question is not whether this measure works. It's whether or not it's acceptable in a free society. Expelling kids who misbehave would also work, so why don't they do that? The answer, of course, is money. It's also a problem in private schools, but then at least the parents have the money to spend. Again, they're punishing parents who can least afford it and from whom they've taken almost all responsibility.

  • ||

    Stretch, your post seems to imply that you think I disagree with you. I do not.

  • ||

    Jennifer,

    Understood.

    You're right that it's problem, and you're probably right that these sorts of fines are not un-conventional (I believe you, but I don't really know myself). Ultimately, this seems like a money grab to me, regardless of conventionality. Choice is the only answer, and that is something the public school system cannot accept as constituted.

  • ||

    I think school choice is irrelevant to this discussion. The problem starts WAY before these kids get to school.

    Jennifer,

    I see your point about Hartford. I grew up in Rochester - a similar town. But really, what other option is there? I think expulsion or even detention is terrible for kids. The only real solution is to work it out with the parents, and I'm sure they don't want to hear what an awful job they've done raising their kids...

  • ||

    Well, Rhywun, first you have to ask yourself which kids you most want to save--the ones who are swearing and being disruptive, or the ones who actually behave themselves and want to learn (or at least want to get the bullshit piece of paper that you need to do much else in life). Me, I care about the latter group more than the former. So for students like the 17-year-old sophomore who takes a swing at a uniformed cop. . . . well, maybe someday she'll be ready to benefit from schooling but now is not the time.

    But simply "being more of a disciplinarian" isn't enough, either. The whole damned system needs to be reformed.

  • ||

    So for students like the 17-year-old sophomore who takes a swing at a uniformed cop. . . . well, maybe someday she'll be ready to benefit from schooling but now is not the time.

    Fine. But what do we do with her?

  • ||

    Fine. But what do we do with her?

    Send her home where at least she won't disturb the other kids in school. I know that won't do a damned thing for her, but I don't know what can. And at this point I can;t say I very much care. Having been a teacher myself, I am sick of the attitude "Abandon the kids who have a reasonable hope for the future, in a fruitless attempt to save the total fuckups."

    I taught high school, and by the time the kids got to me it was too late for a lot of them, but the school couldn't admit it so the kids would stay there and drag the others down.

    Yes, I know most of these kids have horrendous families, and it's not really their fault how they turned out, but at what point does a person have to start taking responsibility for his or her own choices?

  • ||

    If organ banks were run the way public schools were, we wouldn't give a liver to the guy who will likely live a long and healthy life so long as he gets a new liver; we'll give it to the guy who also needs a new heart and new kidneys and new lungs and is likely to die within the month anyway.

  • ||

    Stretch writes: " Expelling kids who misbehave would also work, so why don't they do that? The answer, of course, is money."

    Because expelling a kid for swearing would be far worse for the kid than a $103 fine? (It's a lot of money for a poor kid, but they'd lose a lot more over their lifetime if they fail to graduate.)

    It would be interesting to know how often the fines are dropped, or cut down, or the kid gets a warning instead of the fine.

    The quote, " It went from many incidents to almost nothing," he said. "It's quiet in the halls." strongly suggests that money is not the motivation. At least, not yet.

    If they were after money, they wouldn't let the # of incidents fall off - they'd be working harder to catch kids, or even pressing false charges.

    Of course, that could happen at some point in the future, but it'd be pretty blatantly shady, especially if incidents shot up without anyone noticing an actual increase in profanity.

  • ||

    Jennifer,

    I can't say I disagree with you, but the schools will never go along with that if they can help it. Pupils = money.

    but at what point does a person have to start taking responsibility for his or her own choices?

    Immediately. Of course, there are exceptions depending on your basic knowledge of society etc., but our system removes all basic responsibilty. Kids are exempt because it's not their fault, parents are exempt because they turn their kids over to the government, and the public school system is exempt from anything that doesn't involve a lawsuit.

  • ||

    Jennifer writes: "I've complained about the problems in public schools before, and the whole thing with kids swearing is a symptom, not the problem"

    True. However, it's a symptom that can lead to other problems. For instance, verbal abuse can escalate to arguments and/or class disruption, or outright fights. Which may lead to students carrying weapons.

    Obviously, you don't need profanity to engage in verbal abuse that could escalate in the same way. But getting the kids to think twice at the verbal stage, in order to avoid the fine, may help prevent the the more serious things.

    Perhaps Hartford should really push the envelope and start teaching students the Buddhist precepts - Right Speech, Right Thinking, Right Action, etc. (And maybe they could have the instruction done by civil unioned gay couples. FOX News would implode in a dudgeon-powered fusion reaction.)

  • ||

    Jennifer, why should kids be punished for swearing in school? If a kid uses words like "shit" and "fuck" but isn't disruptive in any other way, it doesn't seem very serious too me. And if they fling expletives about in the course of more serious disruptions--real acting out--it seems to me like the expletives are the last thing you need to focus on. What am I missing here?

    I don't even agree with you when you say that the swearing isn't the real problem, merely a "symptom." I guess in some cases swearing is a symptom of something worse, but it seems to me in some cases it's not a symptom of anything.

  • ||

    "I support them, Ken. I did even when I taught in a public school."

    ah! that explains your complaint about my spelling.

  • ||

    I wonder how they'll handle improvised profanity. They might fine you for saying "butt pirate", or "cock smoker", but what about the infamous "pirate smoker"?

    Pretty much anything can become profanity, if expressed with the right tone. If you want to swear, just replace the regular term with something random. "motherfucker" == "octopus" today, tomorrow it might be "motherfucker" == "erlenmeyer flask".

  • ||

    Because expelling a kid for swearing would be far worse for the kid than a $103 fine? (It's a lot of money for a poor kid, but they'd lose a lot more over their lifetime if they fail to graduate.)

    You're absolutely right. Which is why I originally wrote "Hell, suspend or expel them if necessary.". The first step is to suspend them, and if they continue to verbally attack the teachers, you then expel them. At 17, if you can't control yourself enough to not curse at teachers, you shouldn't be in the school, period. At 17, you should also be able to get your GED...unless the school itself is to blame.

    Again, you could cut down on bad behaviour in many ways, including beatings. Limitation of undesired behavior by any means necessary is a large problem.

    It would be interesting to know how often the fines are dropped, or cut down, or the kid gets a warning instead of the fine.

    It would be interesting, however, the rule itself is wrong imo. Valid exemptions to an unjust rule don't make it any better.

  • ||

    I am sick of the attitude "Abandon the kids who have a reasonable hope for the future, in a fruitless attempt to save the total fuckups."

    Yeah, I pretty much agree. These discussions always remind me of Harrison Bergeron... I think part of the problem is that too many kids are getting the wrong education. We expect every child to go to college, which is ridiculous.

  • ||

    But getting the kids to think twice at the verbal stage, in order to avoid the fine, may help prevent the the more serious things.

    Yes, but the kids aren't being punished. At least, most kids can't afford $100, and those that can will curse/misbehave with impunity. In addition to suspension and expulsion, you could make them work to pay off their debt. From manning the school store (if there is one) to sweeping the floors, there's a lot of ways you can make the actual kid take responsibility without extorting money from his parents, if they can afford it at all.

    If the sole objective is to reduce unacceptable behavior in children, then there are better, more terrible and various combinations of ways to do it. There is no excuse for a monetary fine except extortion. Really, they could save more money than they make in fines through janitorial work...but that's somehow objectionable, right?

  • ||

    Damn right it's objectionable! That'd be stealin' the wages of a hard workin' janitor!

  • ||

    Parse is right--the problem is kids being disruptive, not kids swearing. Swearing isn't inherently disruptive, it just correlates very well with disruptive behavior, and sometimes provokes disruptive behavior in others.

    The answer is to come down like a sack of shit, er, ton of bricks on disruptive behavior, and leave everything that isn't disruptive behavior alone.

  • ||

    At my school, I'd taser the little potty-mouths and then send them the electric bill.

  • ||

    I have no doubt that this was initiated because the school ran out of ideas to get the parents to notice. Too many parents treat school like it's day care for teens and when the kid gets disciplined by the school, with detention, suspension etc. the response is too often for the parent to bitch at the teacher about how it is such a burden on the parent or that it's unsafe to keep the kids out after dark. But once Johnny Law is involved with a fine system, the school system has covered its ass and complaints from angry parents can go straight to the nice officer with the ability to really make their lives miserable.

    Do we know if the fine is per word or per incident? If it's per incident then there is an incentive to get the most bang for the fuck...err buck.

  • ||

    What if the expletive is technically correct? After all couldn't a mother fucker just be a father? Then again I suppose it depends on whose mother if being fucked and by whom. I'd wager the Hartford schools would think me an asshole for even asking such questions and they would be right but how much would it cost?

  • ||

    That fine's probably unconstitutional without due process. :)

  • Fido||

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  • ||

    "I wonder how they'll handle improvised profanity. They might fine you for saying "butt pirate", or "cock smoker", but what about the infamous "pirate smoker"

    With that in mind, I offer the following:

    Wikipedia entry: List of fictional expletives.

  • ||

    Fines owed:

    thoreau: $206.00 (fucking, shit)

    Ken Schultz: $103.00 ("shit")

    Jennifer: $103.00 (Damn)

    citizengnat: $103.00 (motherfucking)

    ...

    hold on, I've got to compute my running tally so far (for the cursing I just did), so that's:

    ShitFuckCounter:

    $206.00 (ShitFuckCounter)

    $206.00 (fucking, shit)

    $103.00 ("shit")

    $103.00 (Damn)

    $103.00 (motherfucking)

    So that's $718.00 for me so far, but crap (does "crap" count?) I just used them again to compute my fine, so I'll have to add that on, ok:


    ShitFuckCounter:

    $718.00 (previous balance)

    $206.00 (fucking, shit)

    $103.00 ("shit")

    $103.00 (Damn)

    $103.00 (motherfucking)

    So now we're up to $1236.00, and I haven't even gotten to Garry Gunnels yet!

    Goddammit! ($1339.00)

    Would you settle for $666.66?

  • ||

    If you were found with a girl in the wrong place...

    You mean, like, Denny's?

    Hartford Police Officer Roger Pearl said the program is working.

    Well, yeah, a punishment that is ridiculously out of proportion with the offense can "work." But if Officer Pearl's description is accurate the students have stopped talking altogether--is that a positive result? Have they all started blinking at the same time? I love that sound!

  • ||

    You mean, like, Denny's?

    No, this was boarding school, out in the country--central Virginia. There wasn't a Denny's in sight.

    The wrong place could be like the weight room after everyone was gone, or comin' out of the woods behind the school. ...Down by the river, in one of the teacher's offices, where a nice girl might work when classes were out, in one of the barns, off campus anywhere, in the choir loft in the church, behind the curtains in the auditorium, in a neglected stairwell, in the yearbook/student paper dark room, in the pool after dark...

    ...and the wrong time would be like--I dunno--ever.

    I complained that they were turning our school into a breeding ground for homosexuality...

    I should clear up that when I said that, understand, these people were fundmanentalists (as opposed to Evangelicals). That is to say, creating a breeding ground for homosexuality would have seemed a terrible thing to them.

    I was under SP at the time I made the comment, and, as I recall, the response I got from the staff went something like, "...well if you start having those kinds of feelings, you be sure to let us know."

  • ||

    mediageek said, "I smell a t-shirt sales opportunity!"

    I thought of this one yesterday. It'll sell to environmentalists and Christians!

    'SAVE A TREE FOR JESUS'

    All proceeds will go to the Feed the Squirels Fund and also to the workers who make the squirel-hide tote bags.

  • ||

    Ruthless - Get out your Gutenberg-era printing press. We're gonna be rich!

  • ||

    I think what they need is some old fashioned civil disobedience. Honestly, how hard would it be to organize a half of a high school to cut class and yell curses in the hallways? Most of em do it anyway.

  • ||

    The problem isn't the $100 fine, the problem is that it is being done by a public school, using the the police. If a private school fined parents $100 for each offense, but parents had to agree to such a thing before their kids could attend school, then it wouldn't be an issue.

    End the Soviet style government education system, end the problem. How many people complain about the government wanting to be able to spy on their emails, have no problem with the government indoctrinating their children most of the kid's waking hours, 5 days a week, until adulthood.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    When I was a kid they just gave you the boot (or detention) for swearing in school. It didn't stop anyone. My mothers bar of Camay didn't work either. But, we didn't swear in class or around any teachers or administrators, at least not on purpose.

  • ||

    I play golf regularly with a friend who really hates it when people cuss. A mutual friend of ours, when the three of us play together, will shout things like "coitus," "intercourse," and "excrement" when he gets upset to poke fun. After all, all the other four letter words ARE taken.

  • ||

    Around here some of the public schools still use the paddle for misbehaving at school and presumably cussing could earn you licks. Worked when I was at school.

  • ||

    Some of you folks sure were well socialized by that darn public school system; you actually believe that not having a HS diploma will hold you back in life. Other than a few government jobs, how many employers actually check to see if an applicant graduated from the HS listed on their resume or application? I bet it's few.

    Maybe I'm wrong. In California, a HS diploma is not required to attend a junior college. I've known quite a few people without HS diplomas that have training certificates or university degrees. I've also known people that never graduated HS and never attended any institute of higher learning and yet still managed to earn a good living.

  • ||

    The solution is to completely privatize universal K-12 education. Parents, teachers, and principals need to PRIVATELY work out matters of polite speech.

    There is absolutely NO way any government school can resolve the problem of cursing in a manner that respects the First Amendment rights of all students.

    1) If the government school allows the free speech of the profaners, it will, at the same time subject students to an environment that is highly offensive to their religious beliefs.

    2) If the government school forbids profanity, it is establishing culture and religious traditions of the non-profaning students but restricting the free speech of the profaners.

    The following is an excellent essay on why government schools are unconstitutional:

    http://www.newswithviews.com/Stuter/stuter9.htm

    It is my opinion, as a registered Libertarian, that if all K-12 education were privately delivered we would soon see a more polite society. Private schools would have the profanity restrictions seen in poster Ken Shultz's private school.

  • ||

    The solution is to completely privatize universal K-12 education. Parents, teachers, and principals need to PRIVATELY work out matters of polite speech.

    There is absolutely NO way any government school can resolve the problem of cursing in a manner that respects the First Amendment rights of all students.

    1) If the government school allows the free speech of the profaners, it will, at the same time subject students to an environment that is highly offensive to their religious beliefs.

    2) If the government school forbids profanity, it is establishing culture and religious traditions of the non-profaning students but restricting the free speech of the profaners.

    The following is an excellent essay on why government schools are unconstitutional:

    http://www.newswithviews.com/Stuter/stuter9.htm

    It is my opinion, as a registered Libertarian, that if all K-12 education were privately delivered we would soon see a more polite society. Private schools would have the profanity restrictions seen in poster Ken Shultz's private school.

  • ||

    The solution is to completely privatize universal K-12 education. Parents, teachers, and principals need to PRIVATELY work out matters of polite speech.

    There is absolutely NO way any government school can resolve the problem of cursing in a manner that respects the First Amendment rights of all students.

    1) If the government school allows the free speech of the profaners, it will, at the same time subject students to an environment that is highly offensive to their religious beliefs.

    2) If the government school forbids profanity, it is establishing culture and religious traditions of the non-profaning students but restricting the free speech of the profaners.

    The following is an excellent essay on why government schools are unconstitutional:

    http://www.newswithviews.com/Stuter/stuter9.htm

    It is my opinion, as a registered Libertarian, that if all K-12 education were privately delivered we would soon see a more polite society. Private schools would have the profanity restrictions seen in poster Ken Shultz's private school.

  • ||

    Real Bill,

    In the 2 states our family has lived a high school diploma is not needed to be admitted to either our community colleges or our university.

    My 3 homeschooled children never attended school. They were admitted to community college at the ages of 13, 12, and 13. Two of these graduated with B.S. degrees in mathematics. One is an international ranked athlete and also served a 2 year assignment for our church, but at the age of 21 is a mere 13 course shy of a B.S. degree in accounting.

  • ||

    I've also known people that never graduated HS and never attended any institute of higher learning and yet still managed to earn a good living.

    The only people I've known who managed to succeed despite a lack of a diploma were of a much older generation. Don't get me wrong--I'm not saying you inherently need a diploma to make something of yourself (the way you inherently need water or food, for instance); it's just that society has stacked the cards in such a way that you pretty much do. (Same way you do NOT need some bullshit degree in "Education" to be a good teacher, but the law says otherwise.)

    Before long our society will be what Vonnegut described in his book Player Piano--you won't just need a diploma, but a PhD, to get any decent job.

  • ||

    Jennifer,

    You may be right, but there are a lot of jobs that have their own accreditation systems which obviate the need for formal education right now. Actuaries, accountants, and financial analysts spring to mind. I don't know for sure, but does one need to go to law school to practice law, or can one simply pass the bar?

    Although I did eventually finish college, I was able to get a full time job as an actuary without a college degree because I had already passed the first actuarial exam, and I had several friends who were computer programmers and earning upwards of 80k a year when they were 16 and 17 years old. Even after the tech bubble burst, I knew a 16 year old who was pulling down that kind of money as a software engineer. The punk bought a Benz before he know how to drive.

    As far as I can tell, the accreditations offered by the public school system do little more than offer a veil of legitimacy to the mediocre. That is to say, the extraordinarily competent will excel without high school diplomas, but the mediocre can use them to distinguish themselves from the grossly incompetent. It's not clear to me, then, that we are heading inexoriably toward that particular dystopia.

  • ||

    Tim--

    The computer industry was relatively immune from diploma-lust when it was young and fresh, but now as it is aging I think that is becoming less and less true. I know of plenty of jobs where you sure as hell don't need a diploma or degree to do them. . . . but you need a diploma or degree just to get the friggin' interview. (I read of some university offering a degree in something like "Software Game Design." Listen carefully--that ringing in your ears are the funeral bells tolling for the era when a brilliant 16-year-old could get such a job.)

    And as for accountants, doesn't the government meddle in that, too? Aren't they the ones who decide whether or not you can become a CPA, or get an accounting license, or whatever else it is you have to do? Simply being a mathematical genius isn't enough.

    Christ, you can't even sell real estate without going through a fancy government licensing-education program. (And sho'nuff, one of the jokes in Player Piano was about the real-estate agent who had a Doctor of Realty degree.)

  • ||

    "My mothers bar of Camay didn't work either. But, we didn't swear in class or around any teachers or administrators, at least not on purpose."

    Ugh. Lifeboy.

  • ||

    Don't get me wrong--I'm not saying you inherently need a diploma to make something of yourself (the way you inherently need water or food, for instance); it's just that society has stacked the cards in such a way that you pretty much do.

    It helps if you go entrepreneurial. I was never much interested in being a doctor or a lawyer or having any other union job. ...I sure as hell didn't want to work for the government, and I didn't want to work for anybody else either. I guess I was a born entrepreneur.

    ...I think Jennifer's right about the older generation. The most successful entrepreneur I know didn't graduate from high school, but he was from the tail end of the Boomers, not Gen X.

  • ||

    You're right about entrepreneurs, Ken, but while that might help a few individuals, for the majority of people who will NOT be entrepreneurs it's tragic that simply having skills and abilities to do a task are not enough--you must have Official Government Recognition of your skills. Furthermore, you generally don't acquire this Official Recognition by, say, demonstrating said skills and abilities; no, you have to sit through a bunch of classes being lectured about said skills and abilities.

  • ||

    I agree it's tough. I still think you can't keep a good man (or woman) down.

    I ran a department in a hospital that's supposed to require AMA certificiation; the certified person at one of our sister hospitals was always available on the phone, and was always present for scheduled inspections. I don't remember calling for help.

    I leveraged that job into a quality control gig at a hospital software company, but I didn't know much about programming, and I'd never worked in Unix. I was supposed to be certified in both.

    I took a job in a commercial real estate investment company as a number cruncher; they told me I had to have an MBA if I wanted a percentage of the deals I did. So when the acquisitions guy left to form his own company, I incorporated and got a contract.

    ...Those certification requirements merely served to deprive the companies in question of my talents--they didn't hurt me. In fact, they made it easier for me to make the decision to jump, which is so much harder for people in safe union/certified jobs.

    To the larger question of schooling, I think we sometimes project our own expectations on other people when we talk about failure. Some of those inner city kids have what I suspect you think of as pretty low expectations. I know I think of them as low, but who am I to judge? Many, many people think that working in low wage jobs and living in what I think of as a slum is just fine, so long as they can get married and have kids and watch TV and take a vacation every once in a while.

    I sometimes feel the same way about people who live in suburban tract homes.

    I worked my way through the boarding school I attended. I took odd jobs when I was young--local farms, etc.--and made the most of entrepenerial opportunities when they arose. When I hit 16, I took a job in a saw mill. I spent my summers woking at summer camps or riding shotgun in a big rig all over the country, and what I got in return was as good a high school education as money can buy--and room and board too. Those opportunities are still available to any 14 year old kid that wants it and can get his or her parents to sign a permission slip.

    So what do we do with the rest of the kids? ...the ones with the low expectations and parents with low expectations? I see this is as something like the Wal-Mart discussions we've had lately. That is, the reason Wal-Mart doesn't pay more attention to the working conditions of its subcontractors is because its customers either don't know about those people or--let's face it--they just don't care. Similarly, most people don't know about or don't care about the quality of inner city education.

    How do we get people to care more?

  • dhex||

    "How do we get people to care more?"

    therein lies the meeting at the crossroads of the progressives and the libertarians.

    it's the "what should they care about?" where things fall apart.

  • ||

    Fines = "Incentives" in M1EKland.

  • ||

    a breeding ground for homosexuality

    Isn't that a bit of an oxymoron?

  • ||

    There's a major due process issue here.

    When did police officers obtain the authority to levy fines without a trial?

    -jcr

  • Rich Ard||

    Well, the students imply consent by showing up for class.

  • ||

    In regards to levying fees without a trial, I'd bet it works like a speeding ticket.

  • VariousRednecksInSouthparkCO||

    IBSW Guy said: Damn right it's objectionable! That'd be stealin' the wages of a hard workin' janitor!

    'EY 'OOK 'UR' YOBS!!!

  • ||

    The joint effort by school and police officials targets students who swear while defying teachers and administrators.


    Ummmm...O.K. I guess this means that defying teachers and administrators is O.K. as long as you don't swear in the process. Apparently defiance isn't the problem - it's the language used to express the defiance.

    Does it also mean that swearing when you're NOT defying teachers or administrators is fine? "Shit yeah, Ms. Frizzel, That's a fuckin' excellent idea. I'm prepared to give my fuckin' oral report right now. Let's do it!"

    That's pretty fucked up.

  • ||

    "It'll Be a Beautiful Day When the Pentagon Has All the Money It Needs and Bombs Schools Having Bake Sales"

    I smell a t-shirt sales opportunity!

    Sniff, sniff...

    I smell brownies...and...is that napalm?


    But really, what other option is there? I think expulsion or even detention is terrible for kids. The only real solution is to work it out with the parents, and I'm sure they don't want to hear what an awful job they've done raising their kids...

    What I don't understand is how so many parents don't have a sense of personal shame for their spoiled little ignorant children. What parents these days need is a sense of shame, so that they can figure out their own means of disciplining their little brats. I have no doubt that shame is what drove my father to punish me when I did stupid things in highschool. Perhaps it was because he was only second generation American, who knows...regardless, he wasn't about to have his surname dragged through the mud for any incidents of misbehavior on my account.

    first you have to ask yourself which kids you most want to save--the ones who are swearing and being disruptive, or the ones who actually behave themselves and want to learn (or at least want to get the bullshit piece of paper that you need to do much else in life). Me, I care about the latter group more than the former.

    Oh, Jennifer, where were all of the teachers like you when I was in school? I can think of possibly 2 or 3...
    ...almost all of the other teachers in my school acted like they wanted to be the hero in "Lean On Me". Yes, let's try and make a difference for the stupid ADD-riddled rich children of doctors and lawyers who are practically illiterate by choice. Good idea, coach.

    That's probably what pissed me off most about my high school education: Many of the disruptive kids in my district no doubt came from families much wealthier than mine, so that I consider them to have no excuse for being disruptive. (I guess I somewhat equate ignorance with poverty, in that poverty begets ignorance, and ignorance, poverty...). Of course, I'm sure other disruptive kids would fall under the "white trash" category, to be fair. (My town was approximately 50/50 - 50% children of wealthy professionals, and 50% lower middle class or poorer).

  • ||

    Ken:

    "as I recall, the response I got from the staff went something like, '...well if you start having those kinds of feelings, you be sure to let us know.'"

    Thanks for my first out-loud laugh of the week.

  • ||

    What about the poor kids with tourette's, I smell an Americans with Disabilities act lawsuit brewing.

  • ||

    Well the original case was kids cursing in the hallway. It's not their hallway? Their school? They are on "break" not sitting in classroom talking to teachers.
    Wouldn't some of those conversations be private in a way?
    Don't adults use different language in different places?

    A quite different situation with the girl cursing and taking a swing at the officer.

  • Kevin Carson||

    John H,

    Ah, improvised profanity. When I was in high school, it was sort of a game using improvised profanity in front of one of my teachers and seeing how close we could come to the real thing. Ex.: "Got dandruff and some of it itches!"

  • ||

    Time to eliminate the dept of education get the NEA away from our kids and go back to home schooling and give that whinning 70s peace pansie a kick i his rear

  • Graham Wellington||

    …So, like, threaded comments are gone, or what?

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