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.
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.
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
Fax: (979) 793-3823
Superintendent: Curtis Rhodes
Assistant Superintendent: Beth Briscoe
I remember reading about the Mosquito a few years ago, a device which was designed to prevent teens from loitering in private places by emitting high frequency noises only audible to youth. I now just noticed free Mosquito Ringtones, ringtones that teens can download and use which cannot be heard by their teachers.
This is likely old news, but very interesting.
I just read a story about the business practices of Zappos, an online shoe retailer. The company seems incredibly focused on customer relationships through the hiring and nurturing of engaged employees. The following paragraph reports a very interesting and unique approach to their initial training and hiring process.
It’s a hard job, answering phones and talking to customers for hours at a time. So when Zappos hires new employees, it provides a four-week training period that immerses them in the company’s strategy, culture, and obsession with customers. People get paid their full salary during this period.
After a week or so in this immersive experience, though, it’s time for what Zappos calls “The Offer.” The fast-growing company, which works hard to recruit people to join, says to its newest employees: “If you quit today, we will pay you for the amount of time you’ve worked, plus we will offer you a $1,000 bonus.” Zappos actually bribes its new employees to quit!
While this is interesting in itself, I am also drawn to the larger policies and philosophies apparent in the management of this company. Take some time to listen to the following video, an interview with Bill Taylor who has recently studied the company. In your mind, try to replace customers/employees with students/teachers. There is something powerful that education can learn within this framework.
Last week, I noticed the somewhat comical, but very scary story of Kentucky lawmaker, Tim Couch, who filed a bill this week to make anonymous postings to the Internet illegal. The bill would target website providers who allowed anonymous postings, not those that submit anonymous postings.
If the bill becomes law, the website operator would have to pay if someone was allowed to post anonymously on their site. The fine would be five-hundred dollars for a first offense and one-thousand dollars for each offense after that.
Today, I noticed a post from Fresh Creation highlighting a panel discussion on “Sexual Privacy Online”. The key question, “do you have a right to be anonymous”, is one I have posed to my students in the past. It is a tricky question, and even with a discussion of real problems posed by anonymity, I have yet to be convinced that the right to be anonymous is something we should easily give up. Watch the video and see what you think.
So after watching this, what are your thoughts about anonymity as a right? Are there places that you feel that this should not apply? And if so, how do you decide? Who decides? Watch out for the slippery slope.
This is an interesting story that brings up important questions around school jurisdiction on student activities and on the rights and responsibilities of students. This American student writes that he is facing possible suspension from his school for creating a web proxy service (as part of his job/business) that was used by other students at his school to get around school network restrictions. He is allegedly accused of “violating (his) rights as a student, and intentionally attempting to disturb the learning environment of students in (his) school.”
Worst part is that now I’m tagged as being a ‘computer hacker’ and a ‘potential threat’ to the school system. A mass email was sent out from the administrator who accused me of this to all the teachers, administrators, librarians, etc in the entire school, which basically says I’m a criminal and I need to be watched when getting within a 10-foot radius of a computer.
I find it unfair that Fairfax County Public Schools feels they can impose this kind of totalitarianism on me, I’m now a criminal for making proxies. For making a website. A legal website. On my private server. Outside of school. Great.
Read the article to get a better sense of this situation. Thoughts?
On his recent speech to the Canadian Federation of Students, Michael Geist writes,
After highlighting the remarkable array of new developments for content creation, content sharing, and knowledge sharing, I have emphasized the need for copyright laws that look ahead, rather than behind. In particular, I have pointed to the dangers associated with anti-circumvention legislation, to the need for more flexible fair dealing, to the desirability of eliminating crown copyright, and to the benefits of open access and open licensing. I typically conclude by stating that this can be Canada’s choice and that we must choose wisely.
In case you are unaware, anti-circumvention legislation would mean that a if the manufacturer has implemented a copy protection scheme, any attempt to bypass such a copy prevention scheme may be actionable. This could mean just about anything, simply creating backups for your music (ripping to .mp3) or making your purchased music playable on other devices, could be against the law. If you missed Lessig’s “How Creativity is Strangled By The Law“, this would be a good time to review this important message.
Then Geist warns,
Sometime over the next two or three weeks, Industry Minister Jim Prentice will rise in the House of Commons and introduce copyright reform legislation. We can no longer speak of choices because those choices have already been made. There is every indication (see the Globe’s latest coverage) this legislation will be a complete sell-out to U.S. government and lobbyist demands. The industry may be abandoning DRM, the evidence may show a correlation between file sharing and music purchasing, Statistics Canada may say that music industry profits are doing fine, Canadian musicians, filmmakers, and artists may warn against this copyright approach, and the reality may be that Canadian copyright law is stronger in some areas than U.S. law, yet none of that seems to matter. In the current environment and with the current Ministers, politics trumps policy.
I just noticed Cory Doctorow of BoingBoing is also covering this story. He warns,
If this law passes, it will mean that as soon as a device has any anti-copying stuff in it (say, a Vista PC, a set-top cable box, a console, an iPod, a Kindle, etc), it will be illegal for Canadians to modify it, improve it, or make products that interact with it unless they have permission from the (almost always US-based) manufacturer. This puts the whole Canadian tech industry at the mercy of the US industry, unable to innovate or start new businesses that interact with the existing pool of devices and media without getting a license from the States.
If this law passes, it will render all of the made-in-Canada exceptions to copyright for education, archiving, free speech and personal use will be irrelevant: if a technology has a lock that prohibits a use, your right to make that use falls by the wayside. Nevermind that you’ve got the right to record a show to watch later — or to record a politician’s speech so you can hold him to account later — the policeman in the device can take that right away with no appeal.
If this law passes, it will make Canada into a backwards nation, lagging behind the UK, Israel and other countries that are passing new copyright laws that dismantle the idea of maximum copyright forever and in all things.
What can you do about this? Last year Geist wrote a letter listing 30 things you could do to stop the former bil from passing. The specifics may be a bit different now, but the strategies are the same. Geist stresses that the most important of these is to write a letter (not an email) to your Member of Parliament, the Ministers of Industry and Canadian Heritage, and the Prime Minister. I know I will be.
Fight for these freedoms while we still have them.
Two hugs = two days of detention in some schools.
See full story at MSNBC.
I just finished watching the “Let’s Fight It Together” cyberbullying video found at Digizen.org. The video is of great technical quality, and is well done. It demonstrates several ways that cyberbullying can occur (e.g., via text messaging, webpages, telephone, etc.) which is important information for students, parents, teachers and administrators.
However, the video leaves me with two (related) assumptions that I don’t entirely agree with, and I want to touch on these briefly.
1) Cyberbullying is simple to deal with.
2) Policing is a solution for cyberbullying.
The overall picture this video paints is a bit too rosy. A responsible parents acts, goes to school, talks to administrators and teachers, police are involved and then we assume that the bullies are dealt with, and other students are aware of the consequences of cyberbullying. In reality, even if these processes are put into place, cyberbullying may continue and the bullied student may become even more alienated. I’d like to see a video that places emphasis on creating a learning environment where cyberbullying is unlikely to happen, rather than focusing on what to do after the fact. Maybe I am just an idealist.