Wednesday, March 5, 2008

But it's okay to discuss ID

Today we have an edumacation twofer. For starters, here’s a dirty little secret for high school students: All of those high minded things you learned about freedom of speech are fibs. Those freedoms don’t really apply to you until you are clutching that diploma. The school’s discipline tentacles are long and unforgiving.

Exhibit A: Appeals Court Weighs Teen's Web Speech

To sum up the article, a high school girl in Connecticut was barred from serving on her school’s student council for *gasp* using a vulgar word to describe her school administrators. These “douche bags” (her words, not mine) cancelled postponed a concert she helped organize. She posted her comments on her blog. Predictably, the administrators in question were not amused when they discovered that they had been likened to a feminine hygiene product.

The student has sued the school for violations of her civil rights and a lower court has already sided with the school district. Schools do have the right to restrict freedom of expression if it is interfering with school work or discipline. The intent was to give schools the right to break up protests, protect against potential violence, and other disruptive behavior.

This young lady called an unspecified person a bad name on-line from a computer that was nowhere near school grounds. The school is whining that other students might actually read the student’s comments. They really do not specify what sort of impact this might actually have on the process of teaching in the school, though.

Honestly, I think that someone needs to grow a thicker skin and get over a petty insult.

Here’s two pieces of advice for high school students who actually want to criticize their schools.

First: Make it perfectly clear that your voice deserves to be heard. The public school is a government agency and therefore is subject to citizen criticism. Indeed, your voice is the most important because you are the ones most directly impacted by school board and administration decisions.

Second: Come up with a more creative insult. “Soul-crushing censorship-loving jellyfish” comes to mind. (Biology bonus: Jellyfish have no spines.)

Now we move from Connecticut to Florida.

The good folks running education in Florida are lining up for the predictable results that we have already seen in Kansas and Dover, Pa. A state senator has proposed legislation that would protect teachers who choose to ignore a century and a half of scientific study and subject their students to “intelligent design.” Specifically, the bill (called of all things) the “Academic Freedom Act” would protect the right of public school teachers to "objectively present scientific information relevant to the full range of scientific views regarding chemical and biological evolution" according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Basically, if the bill somehow passes and is not challenged in court, every single public school student in Florida is in danger of ending up with a “biology” teacher who refuses to teach evolution because that teacher cannot reconcile the “absolute truth” found in the Bible with a whole body of scientific research. Won’t those students be surprised when they take their first college biology class?

I’m not going to spend a whole lot of effort arguing the evolution point. This video sums it up pretty well.

And if you need to reconcile a belief in the supernatural and solid scientific theory, please look up the definition of “metaphor.”

“We don’t need no education”


1 comment:

Wharf Rat said...

Nothing from Florida surprises me anymore. Drew Curtis' has, amongst other tags like stupid, keen, hero and wtf, a tag that's labled simply "Florida".

Chuck Shepard, the guy who compiles News of the Weird, refers to it as "the F-state" on his blog.