5 Year Old Boy Denied School Due To Long Hair

A five-year old Native American boy has recently been denied admission to Kindergarten due to his long hair (full story). The boy’s hair is kept long and braided in accordance to his family’s spiritual beliefs. The Needville School District does not allow boys with long hair to attend their schools.

Adriel’s parents want to enroll him at Needville Elementary School. Betenbaugh sent an e-mail to the principal, asking about kindergarten and explaining Adriel’s long hair. The principal replied that the district doesn’t allow long hair on boys.

On June 9, the family met with Curtis Rhodes, the Needville superintendent. Rhodes asked what religion upheld that Adriel could not cut his hair. The family explained there wasn’t a church or doctrine they followed, but they believe that Adriel’s hair is sacred.

Arocha said that his belief is to cut his hair after life-changing events, such as mourning the death of someone he loves.

Rhodes told the family Adriel’s hair would have to go.

I tweeted this story when I saw it a few days ago, and received this reply from Tim Lauer with the School Division’s website and motto “Reaching New Heights of Excellence.”

Here are notable quotations from the site:

We expect our students to exemplify that excellence through self-discipline, character, respect for ones self, and respect for others.

To the full extent of their individual abilities, students will be provided the opportunity to develop the ability to think logically, independently, and creatively and to communicate effectively.

All students will acquire a knowledge of citizenship and economic responsibilities and an appreciation of our common American heritage.

Enough said.

Update: Well maybe not enough. Bill Fitzgerald suggests that the following information may be useful. I will email the link to this blog post to the Superintendent. I also encourage you to pass along your thoughts on the issue.

Needville Independent School District
16227 Highway 36 South
Post Office Box 412
Needville, Texas 77461
Phone: (979)-793-4308
Fax: (979) 793-3823
Superintendent: Curtis Rhodes
Assistant Superintendent: Beth Briscoe

No, THIS Guy Is Edupunk

My friend and colleague Marc (who really needs a blog) alerted me to this story regarding a recent legal ruling in the matter of the University of Ottawa and the Association of Professors of the University of Ottawa (UPUO). The case arose when the U of O charged that Professor Denis Rancourt “had misrepresented his course in a detailed web posting, in such a way as to have described a dramatically different course not compatible with the official course description.” The 65-page ruling the case supported Dr. Rancourt’s actions as within the purview of academic freedom.

But here is the stuff I really like! See these pieces of the ruling that help to describe how Dr. Rancourt led this controversial course.

The ruling establishes that pedagogical innovation and implementation are fully protected under the academic freedom enjoyed by a professor, including the choice of grading system – considered an integral part of the pedagogical method.

In the specific case, the protected pedagogical innovations included:

(a) A large fraction of the class time used to present societal and political material – in a physics course intended to deliver fundamental physics concepts as the only required physics course in an environmental studies program – as a way to motivate student learning and to position the science in the broad societal context. This was achieved using invited scientist and non-scientist speakers that included activists, politicians, community workers, etc. The ruling clarifies that no “exception [was] taken to the use of activism and social and political issues as catalysts to learning.”

(b) Parallel student workgroups with evolving themes and freely changing student memberships and town-hall-style whole-class discussions instead of traditional lectures delivered by the professor.

(c) An open invitation to all community members to freely and fully participate in the class, without necessarily officially registering and paying tuition, as a way to bring in the community to enrich class discussions and strengthen relevance and community connections. This brought in a variety of perspectives and expertises that would otherwise not have been available.

(d) Large latitude in individual student decision making regarding: order in which to learn things (e.g., workgroup membership and topic), depth of treatment, method of study, method of reporting progress, degree of cooperative work, etc. (Sharing was not considered cheating.)

(e) A satisfactory/non-satisfactory (S/NS) grading system rather than the traditional letter grade system (used in all other science courses given that term).

I have been very lucky that my Faculty and University has been supportive of my work in pursuing several similar approaches in my teaching. I am pleased to see the results of this case so positive for Dr. Rancourt as it has the potential to help other professors take risks toward passionate and creative forms of teaching and learning.

Learn more about this story here.

Status of OpenMoko

I will likely pick up an iPhone 3G this week. While I have been wanting to pick up one for some time now, I would be happier if there were an open alternative. I have been watching the OpenMoko project for some time now, but it appears the device still has some major technical issues. See the video below:

OpenMoko Train Wreck from Dave Fayram on Vimeo.

Perhaps by the time my (ugggh) 3 year contract with Rogers runs out, there will be a mature, open alternative. I really hope OpenMoko gets there.

Video Contest: Bill C61 in 61 Seconds

From Michael Geist and FairCopyright4Canada:

Canadian Industry Minister Jim Prentice introduced Bill C-61, which many have dubbed the Canadian DMCA, in June 2008. There was an immediate outcry from thousands of Canadians concerned that the bill would render illegal every day activities and harm both consumers and businesses.

The C-61 in 61 Seconds video competition is one way that you can speak out. Just post your video as a response to this video. We will post the best videos on the FairCopyright4Canada channel. Deadline for submission is September 1st. A great panel of judges that includes the Barenaked Ladies Steven Page and Ontario Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian will select the best of the best. The winners will be announced on September 15th.

To make sure that your voice for fair copyright in Canada is heard, be sure to write to your MP, the Minister, and join the Fair Copyright for Canada Facebook group today.