Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Bible in Texas Schools

15 April 2007

Texas may become the first state to require an elective Bible course in a school if 15 students sign up, according to the Los Angeles Times. Religion is a major force in the world, and something the religious and non-religious should both have an understanding of, so in some ways this does make sense. Even with teacher training aside however, I see two major problems.

1. All major religions are a major force in world events, so any reasoning that applies to the Bible applies to the Koran, Rigveda, etc. Either there should be electives for other world religions equally available, or it should be an elective that covers religions as a whole.

2. The primary textbook for the course would apparently be the Bible. According to Represenative Warren Chisum, “It just makes sense to use the Bible if that’s the course that you’re talking about, it’s the most available book in the world.” Firstly, availability is not an issue, that’s what FedEx is for. More importantly, learning about the Bible primarily from the Bible is obviously going to be biased. In high school, I read only excerpts from the Communist Manifesto for school, we learned about communism primarily from the textbook.  Primary sources are great, they should not be, so to speak, the primary source in a public classroom.

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No, You May Not Discuss Polar Bears

3 April 2007

You can, actually, but not certain things about them, like why they might start eating Russians. According to the St. Louis Dispatch, their possible hunting of Russians is because polar bears might have to change their food source, which is because of global warming, which you can’t discuss, which is because the White House says so.

Two scientists from the Fish and Wildlife Service going to a conference had to promise not to discuss sea ice, global warming or climate change, which has a major impact on their ability to discuss polar bears, since global warming is a major issue in the arctic.

In addition, according to PEER, scientists will face restrictions on what they can say in private as well. Any discussion of anything deemed of “official interest” will have to go through the chain of command, whether on- or off-duty.

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Morse v. Frederick

19 March 2007

The Supreme Court is ruling soon on Morse v. Frederick, according to the ACLU (also here). The case involved an incident in 2002 in which Joseph Frederick was suspended for 10 days after holding up a sign that read “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” at a rally (not a school rally or otherwise sponsored by the school). Frederick is now 23, and teaches English to Chinese high-schoolers.

The Frederick ruling will also determine if Tinker v. Des Moines is still a good law. In 1969, after two students protested the Vietnam War by wearing black armbands to school, the court ruled that students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

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Penguin Book Returns Pending Further Protest

13 January 2007

A non-fiction book about a pair of penguins in New York City’s Central Park Zoo who raised an adopted egg together will return to the library in schools in Charlotte-Mecklenburg (North Carolina), according to Banned books and other forms of censorship. After some parents had protested it, it was removed from shelves in four elementary schools there.

Apparently the issue was that the adoptive parent penguins were both male.

The superintendent said that the procedure was not followed correctly by the protesting parents, so until there is further protest the book will be allowed in the libraries.

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Students have Fingers Scanned

8 January 2007

Middle-schoolers in Martin County now pay for lunch by having their finger scanned, according to Aftermath News. The system has obviously created privacy concerns, but the school district says that it might be expanded to include buses and other places.

Parents can send in a form to allow the student to continue using the keypad system that had been used previously.

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USGS Reports to be Screened

21 December 2006

All USGS reports will now be screened, according to LiveScience, by agency scientists. USGS studies a wide variety of things, including, as LiveScience notes, global warming and caribou mating. Both are of course essential to our national security, which is why absolutely everything must be screened.

Officials have said that the new rules are only to standardize the work and give a heads-up to the public relations staff at the agency.

However, the agency’s director and communications office are to be notified, prior to publication, “of findings or data that may be especially newsworthy, have an impact on government policy, or contradict previous public understanding to ensure that proper officials are notified and that communication strategies are developed.”

Both the Bush administration and Clinton administration have been criticized regarding science.

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Armbands Prohibited

12 October 2006

Watson Chapel school district recently suspended several students for wearing armbands in opposition to the school uniform policy, according to the ACLU. Not only are these armbands disruptive to the learning environment, it has been found theoretically possible to strangle someone with such an armband.

One student who entered school property with his armband was taken to the library to wait with all of the other students who were threatening their classmates with their outrageous clothing. In the library were two police officers and a sheriff’s deputy.

“How do we explain the meaning of the American Revolution to students when we tell them they can’t disagree with authorities in a peaceful, lawful and constitutionally protected way?” asked the Arkansas ACLU Executive Director Rita Sklar.

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The Evolution of the Kansas Board of Education

3 August 2006

The Kansas Board of Education has come a long way since removing almost all mention of evolution from the high school biology curriculum in 1999. Voters in Kansas voted for moderates that favored evolution in Republican primaries last week, according to the The New York Times.

The First Amendment requires a separation between church and state, thus, religious views cannot be taught in public schools. Intelligent Design is not supported by any actual facts or believed in by anyone not religious, and its connection to religious beliefs is not disputed. One wonders what went wrong in 1999.

When it comes to boards of education, the best curriculums survive to next September, and the Biblical biology classes mandated by the religious right were killed off by Kansas voters.

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