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Student Teaches School About Constitution

by TChris

A New Jersey school tried to teach Ryan Dwyer the wrong lesson: if you criticize your principal or teachers, even in your own home, writing on your own website, you will be punished. A federal judge taught the school the correct lesson: kids, like adults, are protected by the First Amendment.

On his Web site in the spring of 2003, Ryan noted that the Maple Place School didn't live up to its vaunted reputation and that he really hated it. He also discussed the disciplinary methods of the principal. He took note of some teachers he didn't like. And, it must be noted, he lauded some teachers he looked up to.

Offended by Dwyer's ideas and language, school district administrators ordered Dwyer to shut down his website. Then it suspended him, kicked him off the baseball team, and refused to let him take a class trip. Dwyer responded appropriately: he sued the school for violating his right to freedom of expression. Judge Stanley Chesler ruled in Dwyer's favor, vindicating Dwyer's right to be free from governmental retaliation for engaging in private speech, even if it offends school administrators. That's a lesson the school needed to learn.

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  • Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 08:05:29 AM EST
    Good for Ryan!

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#2)
    by roy on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 08:09:21 AM EST
    Funny how the 1st Amendment covers silly things like criticising teachers, but not important things like criticizing political candidates around election time.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#3)
    by Che's Lounge on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 08:13:33 AM EST
    cc: Colorado University.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#4)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 08:25:38 AM EST
    Roy: People can criticize a politician any time they want. It appears your problem is that you want monied interest to buy elections. We live in a democracy, not a plutocracy, at least for now. - k

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 08:36:50 AM EST
    karl - Does that mean moveon should shut down?? BTW - Good for Ryan. Can anybody tell me why the educational system seems to be eat up in stuff like this?

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#6)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 08:42:58 AM EST
    Che - Not the same. The kid is a student. His speech is protected. Churchill is an employee. As an employee he is subject to the rules and regulations of his employer. So his actions and words have consquences.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#7)
    by pigwiggle on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 08:48:24 AM EST
    ďWe live in a democracy, not a plutocracy, at least for now.Ē Wrong; we live in a constitutional democratic republic. For example, a simple majority cannot decide to grant protection of the law only to a specific racial/ethnic group. Likewise a simple majority cannot arbitrarily revoke the protection of speech. How you translate endorsement of a candidate through purchase of advertisement into purchasing an election result is beyond me.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#8)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 08:57:31 AM EST
    God! We have a great Constitution. To bad it's wasted on so many wingnuts!Think about it, this came from our childrens educators.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#9)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 08:58:39 AM EST
    Said Student Report Card: American Civics: A+ Plays well with others: D- Has anyone told Cornyn about this - he may have some admonishment for the student activist!

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#10)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 09:30:56 AM EST
    Good for Ryan. And good for us all. A valuable lesson driven home for those who think they are above the laws that affect the rest of us.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#11)
    by kdog on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 09:33:48 AM EST
    The nerve of that school district...did they somehow forget what country this is? Looks to me like this kid's criticisms were warranted.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#13)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 09:52:52 AM EST
    I thought we were an autonomous collective. ... Listen. Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.
    Sorry, my head spins when I hear people talking about the republico-democratic federal constitutional republic representative democracy. Obviously they know little about it, or at least they have their own idea of it, because it comes out differently every time.
    You can't expect to wield supreme executive power just 'cause some watery tart threw a sword at you! I mean, if I went 'round saying I was an emperor just because some moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me, they'd put me away!
    (Monty Python and the Holy Grail if you were wondering)

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#14)
    by Adept Havelock on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 09:56:35 AM EST
    I thought we were an autonomous collective.
    Your fooling yourself! BTW, cograts to Ryan. I do wonder if this schools efforts against him came from his teachers, or the schools administration.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#15)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 10:44:21 AM EST
    DA - If I understand, spending is limited X days before the electiuon. Certain organizations - 507's?? - aren't. I don't like the law. But, if we have one, groups like moveon, and there are ones on the right, must be under the same rule, because they are obviously part of that particular group. So yes. Sorors shouldn't be able to waste his money. mfox - What's your point? Croyn was spaking out. You think he will attack the kid for speaking out? If we believe the Senator's comments, he'll applaud hum. Sometimes snarky comments just don't work.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#16)
    by Sailor on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 10:48:17 AM EST
    Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach. Those who can't teach, administrate. Good on Ryan, and especially good on his parents who backed him. BTW, it's hardly an isolated instance.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#17)
    by kdog on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 10:56:54 AM EST
    The kid got his first taste of the jackboot. He better get used to it, but I hope he never gives up fighting.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#19)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 12:09:13 PM EST
    Wtg Ryan! And now why doesn't this apply to bloggers who talk about work from their home computer? (yeah yeah, fire at will, but still!)

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#20)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 12:19:07 PM EST
    There was a student at a high school here in Houston who was disciplined for writing on a personal website that he hated attending school "with all these homos", or some such. Which complicates matters, it seems to me, since it's safe to assume that everyone at school would read the site ("OMG! did you see what Jamie posted last night?"). Basically, I see three possible opinions: 1. Principals, in loco parentis, can discipline students who, by either disrespecting school authority or making hateful remarks about classmates, disrupt or distract from the work of the school. 2. Students have an absolute right of free expression, which includes homophobic or racist remarks about their classmates. 3. There's a big enough difference in the 2 cases to allow principals to prohibit racist/homophobic web posting, but not criticism of school admins. I don't have a strong opinion here, except a suspicion that (3) won't hunt.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#21)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 12:43:23 PM EST
    Good for the kid. Sometimes people need to be reminded what the 1st Amendment is.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#22)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 12:53:30 PM EST
    let me assure the good people of the sovereign space of TalkLeft that this is not over!

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#23)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 01:01:16 PM EST
    kdog - Jackboot? He got a taste of how our constitution works. Good grief. ktheintz - Churchill also made what many people feel is hate speech, and everyone on the left defended his right of free speech. I see no difference in two.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#24)
    by Sailor on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 01:36:56 PM EST
    I kept wondering why all the soros bashing on different threads. Then I read that the rnc is targeting moveon and soros as a strategy to defeat Byrd. Man, that kool-aid must be addictive if all the trolls drink from the same fount.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#25)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 03:32:24 PM EST
    Churchill might be an employee, but he's an employee of a government-funded institution. Hence he gets 1st Amendment protections. And that begs the next question: should speech on your own time carry over to your employment/education? We've had instances of people getting tossed from their jobs over bumper stickers, kids getting removed from schools based on personal website postings... What right should any empployer or instution have in retaliating for speeches made on your own time?

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#26)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 04:22:50 PM EST
    ktheintz, I think you might be recalling the case of James Barnett, who was kicked out of school and home after a classmate outed him to administrators, who then outed him to his parents.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#27)
    by Dadler on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 04:42:08 PM EST
    anyone who can't tell the difference between criticizing teachers and administrators and, say, writing that a certain classmate you hate is a fag, well, i just don't know what to do. one if for the purpose of expression, the other is for the purpose of targeting. how many openly gay high school students are proudly and safely walking our campuses? Uh, three? Point is, being openly vice-principal isn't seen -- by those aforementioned worthless men -- as some sort of abmonidation deserving of violent attack.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#30)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 05:29:33 PM EST
    As a student at an upstate New York highschool I also faced this. Several friends and myself ran an alternative newspaper at our highschool. We were threatened with suspension, and a plethora of other disciplinary action. The next day, I came back with court and constitutional citations. The school backed down right away. However, a week later when I made a speech at a school board meeting in support of the teachers union and their contract fight, I was quickly admonished by the school board. Schools are afraid of their students asserting themselves and their rights. Also, just because someone is an employee does not remove complete rights, specifically when they are the employee of a public institution.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#29)
    by Richard Aubrey on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 07:34:11 PM EST
    Susan, and others. When you call those with whom you disagree the equivalent of Nazis or Hitler, a thought occurs to me. Communists (and we can use Stalin as the Hitler of the commies, although Mao might do) killed 'way more people than the Nazis. How come you don't call rightwingers communists, or equivalent to Stalin? Is it because we're not as bad as communists? Nazis, maybe, huh? But not commies. What, may I ask, are you saving the "communist" accusation for? [This commenter is now limited to four comments a day. All in excess will be deleted.]

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#31)
    by Johnny on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 07:47:48 PM EST
    Well, if they were to commit a murder, a lot of people would have no trouble ascribing adult status to these kids. As long as the disagreeable behaviour they are presenting is not a capital offense, we treat them like kids. Guess this whole treat them like adults thing backfires on occasion. I for one feel that anyone who criticizes the institution of compulsory indoctrination should be cheered.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#32)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 10:07:23 PM EST
    Phoenix - Churchill isn't "might." He is. And no one says that he can't say what he pleases, just that he has a contract, and must live to it. How would feel if you owned a car dealership, and your TV spokesman suddenly started bad mouthing you and the cars? sailor - Bashing? Heck. I just defended his right to waste his money. I just want all the so-called non-political whatever sites to follow the time limit rule, or let's get rid of the obnoxious unconstitutional rule.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#33)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 03:33:27 AM EST
    Sailor: Be kind to teachers. I come from a long line of school teachers who taught not because they were unqualified to do anything else, but because they saw it as a noble profession. It's a lot harder than it looks to make college-bound young adults out of the undisciplined, mouthy, lazy kids that parents keep churning out. That's why I'm not a school teacher--there are tons of other professions where I don't have to be lambasted by people who have no idea what they are talking about. Teachers are expected to be alchemists--turning lead into gold--and do it for the same starting pay as a construction day-laborer or a bag boy at the grocery store. Teachers are saintly creatures for putting up with what they do. The same goes for administrators. My cousin went back to school and got his PhD in education so that he could become the principle of a poor inner-city elementary school. Now he's having his job threatened by the federal government because he has failed to turn a school where 80% of the kids don't speak English, and where 60% of the population turns over every year, and where 100% of the students qualify for free lunch tickets into whatever the federal government considers to be a good school. In fact, if his school doesn't have the same CSAP scores as a white, suburban, affluent school by the end of the year, he's out on his ass and his 20-year career is over. If his kids didn't ace the CSAPs, which of course they didn't, his school gets turned into a charter school. The people frothing at the mouth to get a hold of his school, just because they like the building, are from a group of Seventh-Day Adventist home-school parents who want to turn it into a Christian madrassa at taxpayer expense. And that's probably what will happen. So yeah, I think we need to refrain from the "those who can't, teach" slurs, even when it's apparent that one school district is being asinine. USNYS: Good for you, getting out there and making yourself heard! When I was in school (in the 80's--that decade before you were born), I regularly went to the weekly book-banning meetings at the administration building, where groups of uber-conservative parents did everything in their power to remove anything they didn't like from the classroom and the library. Liberal parents were completely missing in action, letting the little Jerry Falwell clones run roughshod over their kids' education and, meanwhile, the rest of the students at my school sat around like bumps on logs. Maddening.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#34)
    by Richard Aubrey on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 05:27:00 AM EST
    Ditto. I'm surrounded by teachers, as well. However, I have a different take on the school situation. From the kid's point of view, why should the kid be punished by being forced to attend a clearly failing school? Now, once we take steps to allow the choice (realistically not expecting inner-city folks to pony up $4k or whatever for private schools), the failing school is out of business. That's a fact. But that's the result of not forcing kids whose parents are interested in their education to attend schools which are failing. It takes, oh, I don't know, maybe a couple of hundred years to improve a public school. You can put a kid behind the power curve in two. The reasons--demographics, location, whatever--that the school is failing are irrelevant to the question of what do we do with the kid who wants to learn but is in a school which fails to teach.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#35)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 08:56:15 AM EST
    I take issue with the notion that you can determine if an entire school is failing by calculating the sum of the test scores divided by the number of students and comparing the result with that of another school across town, or to the same school's previous years' results. My cousin certainly has individual students who perform very well. They are in the set that speaks English, have a stable family life, and parents who get involved. The rest of the students are either kids of migrant undocumented workers, kids of parents with substance abuse problems, victims of domestic violence, etc. I spoke to him this morning. He has had seven kids this year whose total enrollment for the school year was less than 5 days. 30 kids whose total enrollment was less than 2 months, and 120 kids who had not complete a full semester at his school. He has just under 300 kids in his school. And as I said before, 60% of the kids who took the CSAP this year were not students of his school last year. With that kind of turnover, how can the average test score of all the entire school have any relationship with whether or not his teachers are doing a good job? The only way you could possibly measure the effectiveness of the entire school is to assess individual students on a weekly basis and track their progress from week to week. Tracking the average test score of the entire school from year to year is a completely meaningless metric, because it assumes that the preponderance of students are actually present from year to year. Anyway, this is fairly off-topic for this thread, so I'll shut up now.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#36)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 11:28:10 AM EST
    M Ditto May I ask you to consider the fact that most primary/secondary school teachers are caring, good-hearted people who try to educate their class as best as they can? That being said; when a large majority of their class is absent for most of the year, teachers oftentimes have no choice but to teach down to these under-performing students. This, while good for some students (maybe even the majority in some cases), comes at the expense of Johnny SmartGuy; who goes to school, studies, does his HW, aces his tests, etc... So if Johnny happens to live in a school district where, due to whatever reason, the bigotry of soft-expectations exists, what is he to do to maximize his education? I say enable private-school vouchers for children like Johnny, and let them get the education needed to maximize their full potential. It's better for Johnny, its better for the under-performers, its better for society.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#37)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 12:21:09 PM EST
    Administrators in schools often squelch free speech because they are afraid of school boards. School boards are made up of parents and community members. Teachers do what the administrators want. Free speech is squelched because the community might react badly if it were allowed. That's the basics. Don't blame the teachers, they're squelched too. Those that aren't generally find themselves in the unemployment line.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#38)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 12:37:19 PM EST
    Yeah I'm totally with you on that. But the solution can be managed in that case within the school by offering more challenging material for the students who are up to the task. We call them AP classes. They've been around for years. They're great. There is very little evidence that parochial school Is going to provide any more intellectual rigor than public school, and that's the only private school option most people could afford. $4000 or whatever a voucher might provide barely makes a dent in the tuition cost for Graland Country Day School or any of Denver's other non-sectarian private schools. Interesting that you would call teachers caring bigots. I'm not sure I follow the reasoning there. I'm not opposed to public school reform. Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#39)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 12:46:24 PM EST
    Michelle, you are totally right--but as I indicated before, at least several years ago, the liberal parents were totally absent when it came to things like the parental advisory committee on book banning that I used to be at loggerheads with. They could make a big difference by being as loud and obnoxious as the Christian right. But they don't.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#40)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 01:11:39 PM EST
    Micheal "Smartguy" Ditto What if Johnny's school has no AP Classes? What if Johnny is smarter than even the best AP class his school offers? What if Johnny's school district is corrupt and mismanages money at the expense of his education? The correct answer is: You get Johnny the heck out of there and into a real school. And you stop p*ssing away taxpayer money on a ineffective or corrupt school (not that all public schools are - but some definately are. You get the point). By opposing vouchers, you enforce the status-quo of low-expectations. Not all of "Johnny Smartguy"'s parents have the money - or the choice - to send Johnny to a different, better school. Why do you refuse to give them that choice? Bigot, indeed. Perhaps you prefer to have smart kids 'indoctrinated' - ie Force Fed Education from a source you approve of. Hmmm... why might I get that idea? Smart you may be (I've not seen sufficient evicence ;-) but cover the bases you do not!

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#41)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 01:42:37 PM EST
    'evidence'... and stop editing my posts! ;-)

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#42)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 06:52:35 PM EST
    No name: In my state kids can take college classes while still in high school, and get simultaneous college and high school credit. The high school pays the fees, and it still costs the state less than vouchers do.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#43)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 07:37:37 PM EST
    "What if Johnny is smarter than even the best AP class his school offers?" Then he is in the wrong grade and should be bumped up a year or two. Or he should take advantage of the community college system as Michelle alluded to. And if a school district is corrupt, there are lots of ways to fix that. Run for the school board. Sue the district. Call your state school board rep. Write an editorial. Call Dateline NBC. The cheapest non-religious private school in Denver is $12,500 per year. You willing to pony up the tax money to send every kid to one of these schools? Maybe if the Republicans had actually taken over the school boards in the 80's and 90's with the intention of fixing public education, rather than as a stepping stone for advancing a political agenda and taking over the Congress, they might have been able to claim a victory for public education. But they've done a fairly miserable job nationwide for well over a decade, so I don't think their advice carries a lot of weight. And if you think Republicans don't control the schools, you're deluding yourself. In a 1997 survey of 95,000 school board members nationwide, published in the American School Board Journal (Jan. 97), 65% self-identified as political conservatives, and 54% as religious conservatives. Only 28% self-identified as political liberals, and 36% as religious liberals.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#44)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 07:44:18 PM EST
    Michelle Those would be the AP classes Mr. Ditto was addressing. Unfortunately, not all HighSchools offer them, and they do nothing to solve the problem of those K-8 graders that are not being educated to their potential. If you had a child who was not recieving proper, adequate education in school (or even if he/she was), I would hope that you at least had the opportunity to explore other options, and not be financially (or otherwise) locked into a deadbeat, failing, albatross of a school system. Vouchers would give you the chance to exercise that opportunity.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#45)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 08:03:19 PM EST
    Ditto The idea of vouchers is to allow parents to take their 'education tax money' (or a portion thereof), and use it to send their kids to a school of their choice. As a result, schools that under-perform will tend to lose students, and those that teach well will gain students. Therefore, the public education monopoly is broken, competition is encouraged (always good for results), and all students get the best education possible. Vouchers would be a wonderful opportunity, when you consider that the public school system has undeniably failed many times in many ways. Classes are overcrowded. Tests are dumbed-down. Students are out of control. Underperforming teachers hide behind the Teacher's Union. You might have unlimited time to fix everything, but I don't. I want my kids to have a decent education NOW, whether I have to send them somewhere else or not! And I don't want to finance a failing school system, and neither should you!

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#46)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 08:16:41 PM EST
    I have yet to see any real proof that private schools (the ones available to the majority of the public, not the ones for the rich) are any better than public schools. In fact, I've seen plenty of evidence they perform worse. Besides, they all have political and religious agendas to push, and should not be supported by public funds.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#47)
    by Johnny on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 08:47:08 PM EST
    Well, everyone can rant and rave about this or that, but there is nothing wrong with our school system-it does exactly what it is supposed to. It teaches children how to be workers. It teaches them the concept of strict heirarchy and theory of upper and lower class. It gives them the tools to deal with boring repetitious tasks. It keeps them out of the workforce until a certain age. Both private and public schools accomplish this. So when a student has the gall to show he might be someone who challenges authority in any way, they want him gone. Good worker drones do not question their bosses.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#48)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 08:49:23 PM EST
    Michelle hit the nail on the head. The free market party line doesn't work for schools. Getting into Graland or Kent Denver is almost as hard as getting into Harvard or Princeton. Unless you get legacy admission privileges of course. The apparent glut of people seeking private education (who can afford it without vouchers) hasn't triggered a bunch of new private schools being built. At the same time the Republicans preach accountability in the public schools they have consistently fought standardized testing requirements at private schools. So we don;t really have a way of proving that private schools are better than public schools, and the Republicans want to keep it that way. It's time to come out of the closet with your conservative ideals. You just don't want government to have anything to do with education (or retirement, or health care). That's fine, though I disagree with it; but stop hiding behind your voucher/reform facade and just admit that you don't want public schools to exist.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#49)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 09:21:43 PM EST
    Michelle I have yet to see any real proof that private schools Ö are any better than public schools. Well, Iíve seen proof that they are. A lot of proof. In fact, itís well known that private schools are generally better than public schools. Not vice-versa. Besides, they all have political and religious agendas to push Well, if a schoolís agenda plays a part in your decision, so be it. Vouchers do not force you to send your child somewhere you donít want them to be, but they do give you the option to pursue a better education for your child. In the case where a schoolís agenda conflicts with your own Ė donít send them there.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#50)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 09:30:55 PM EST
    Ditto All Iím after is quality education for everyone. Without competition, the system is prone to corruption. Introduce competition, and everyone wins. Those who desire a better education win, as they can now attend a better school. Society wins, since those students will be receiving a better education. And students within the Public Schools will win, since competition will force their schools to produce better results. So why such fierce resistance to better education? Thats a rhetorical question, I already know the answer ;-)

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#51)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 10:06:53 PM EST
    The free market claptrap makes the erroneous assumption that there's all this free capacity at all these great private schools, and that if the government lifted its onerous prohibition on competition that kids everywhere could just go to the great school of their choice on a lark. That's just not the case. Private schools are full, and they have very competitive admissions requirements. Most "failing school" kids wouldn't have a snowball's chance in hell of getting into one of these schools even if money were no object. Denver's nonsectarian private schools have capacity for maybe 5,000 on the outside (5 schools, current average of 550 students each) if they all did significant expansion. Even if you include all of the religious schools, we're talking capacity for maybe 100,000 kids on the extreme end, and this is a city with almost a million kids.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#52)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 10:28:03 PM EST
    Ditto The availability of private schools may or may not be an issue, depending on your geographical locale. But it really doesn't matter, since supply of quality education would eventually meet the demand of people seeking quality education. Voila, Free Market. But vouchers need not be restricted to private school enrollment. I've heard proposals where parents could choose to send their children to neighboring (presumably higher quality) public schools. In this scenario (as with private schools), competition is encouraged, and public schools are once again forced to perform. This forces Public Schools to adopt a focus-on-results policy, which is what their policy should have been all along. Again, everyone wins. Public schools compete, which forces them to perform and better educate our children. The children get a better education, and the tax-payer gets the best result his dollar can buy. Again, a win/win situation all around.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#53)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 12:13:32 AM EST
    Richard Aubrey--though you may be heading in a different direction with your comment, please know that "Communists" was in an earlier version of my comment, which was even longer at one point and I just deleted it, since I thought the point was pretty clear:
    From my own perspective, and that of millions of others, the conservative-reactionary right wing of the Republican Party seems to be the mainstream of intolerance and itself productive of hate speech and hate crimes, more in keeping with fascism and Nazism [and Communism]--[each -ism] another "prevailing mainstream" at one time--a direction toward which many of us liberal progressive subscribers to MoveOn fear our current "leader" is taking our country, as he tries to enact policies, and legislation, and load the Supreme Court with judges that will make him and his "successors" more dictators than a democratically-elected presidents of a free republic.
    So, yes, historically-speaking, authoritarianism and totalitarianism make "strange bedfellows" of the extreme far left and and extreme far right. Extreme abuses of power and disrespect for universal human rights are what they have in common, it seems to me. George W. Bush's "aw shucks" demeanor and liberals' initial underestimation of his ability to know what he wants and to put it in policy and practice make him all the more formidable as an opponent of a just democracy. The kind of global "democracy" that President Bush seems to be advocating strikes people abroad as the U.S.'s attempt at hegemony. The use of the word "democracy" in his mouth belies all kinds of dirty tricks that he and his cronies have been using to catapult themselves in power, both in this country (e.g., his "selection" by the SCOTUS in 2000 and his "re-election" via strange voting anomalies in 2004) and in other countries, esp. if those other countries produce a lot of oil. This "disconnect" between word and deed does not escape the Europeans and civilian citizens of Iraq dying from the ongoing battle of "Operation Freedom" "Coalition" forces against the "insurgency." War is war. It's not peace, no matter how much GWB would like to convince us in the U.S. and the rest of the world it is. This is Orwellian doublespeak. (Just as it is when other members of the right wing claim that critical speech is "hate speech.")

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#54)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 12:34:02 AM EST
    As a footnote to the above: "Insurgency has killed 6,000 civilians, Iraq says" (Reuters Apr. 5, 2005 07:30 AM). These are the fruits of the overthrow of the dictator Saddam Hussein and the ensuing "democracy" so far. What will Iraq be like in the next, say, ten years? Will it be a place where "critical dissent" of the kind that the student Ryan is practicing is tolerated, or not? It's anybody's guess. Right now, it doesn't look very likely.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#55)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 01:01:20 AM EST
    Horse, you don't need vouchers for that. It's called open enrollment, and people have been doing it here for years. When I was in school it was a $100 transfer fee. It's commonly used just in terms of convenience, when a family lives close to the county line and there's a school just across the line in the neighboring district that's closer then the nearest one in their own district. I was open enrolled 20 years ago, so it's been around at least that long. No huge revolution in education has happened here as a result.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#56)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 06:25:06 AM EST
    Ditto You keep using local, anecdotal examples, so I'm getting the impression that you are not aware that not all areas offer 'open enrollment'. Furthermore, in some of the areas that do have it, it is limited by arbitrary factors such as distance from county line, etc... Public Education is badly in need of reform, its too bad people like you resist the idea (oftentimes for rather selfish reasons). Our kids are going to suffer for it.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#57)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 06:54:52 AM EST
    I wanted to post this yesterday but couldn't get the references. I saw an unspeakably fantastic documentary series on PBS Wednesday night called "The College Track" which follows individual kids in failing schools, in migrant communities, in urban "wastelands" and underemployed farming communities as they struggle with their academic and personal challenges. Anyone who is REALLY interested in kid's education and what "choice" means should absolutely check out the show/website. The College Track Another great resource is a Frontline episode about "school choice" with the relevant players weighing in. The Politics of School Choice I'd love to have this discussion at a higher more informed level (You're exempted SH Merrit :) )

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#58)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 11:49:16 AM EST
    For those who want a fuller view of these issues pertaining to American education, in order to have "a higher more informed discussion" (apparently without me!), I would encourage accessing the more "fair and balanced" presentation of the second program linked by mfox: here is the home page of the Frontline program that I am so generously "exempted" from discussing. (The article that mfox linked is only one of several interviews from many points of view.) The context of that 2000 Frontline program is rather dated, as it's tied to the 2000 Presidential election positions of then candidates GWB and AG. But if one explores all sides of the issues, one will probably find that many of the same concerns still relate to the current state of primary and secondary-school education in America. Any college or university professor worth her or his degrees needs to be interested in these concerns--not just as a parent of a school-aged or college-bound child, which I am not--but as a teacher and advisor of post-secondary level students, who arrive in colleges and universities as the products of their earlier education. It's essential to reaching an understanding of those students in one's classrooms and offices. So, mfox: thank you for posting the link leading to the home page of the Frontline program. :) A very special thank you also to mfox for the link to the related PBS documentary series of programs The College Track, which premiered in fall 2004. I will bookmark it too, as it offers considerable resources, particularly with regard to "first-generation" college students, who are really a very special college-student population. For those who haven't visited the site:
    The three-part series examines how low expectations and lack of rigorous preparation limit students' choices and hamper their chances for success. The series illustrates how innovative programs designed to bridge gaps can make all the difference. This Web site will help parents, students and concerned members of the community to find answers to questions raised by the program.
    [I would consider myself as among the "concerned members of the community" who teach some of those students from time to time. It appears that mfox is not interested in my perspective on these issues, however.]

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#59)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 11:57:15 AM EST
    Just to update mfox's 2000 link--in the interest of "higher more informed discussion" of these issues--people may want to visit the U.S. Department of Education site, featuring the current "No Child Left Behind" section, resulting from the "selection" and "re-election" of George W. Bush.

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#60)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 12:31:23 PM EST
    For those who missed seeing the 3-part series first broadcast on PBS in fall 2004, as mentioned by mfox (who watched a part of it on Wed.), but who are interested in the issues covered in it, there are some video clips available from the educational-program vendor for the documentary series (VHS/DVD), Films for the Humanities and Sciences (film.com) here. [NB: Some direct product links on the PBS "about" page for The College Track have been changed apparently since it was first established. If the direct link that I give above to films.com doesn't load right away, try hitting "refresh"; that should do it.] People can check their own local PBS TV station schedules to see if any of them are offering the program too. (Maybe mfox will identify which part he/she saw, on which PBS channel it was shown, and whether the other parts are still upcoming.)

    SHM, I'm sure mfox can speak for herself, but I think think her point was that she wanted the level of discourse raised, and that because she felt your discourse was already "raised" you were "exempted" from having to do so. I think it was a compliment to you. Why am I getting involved in this...

    Re: Student Teaches School About Constitution (none / 0) (#62)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 02:13:54 PM EST
    Hi, sarcastic unnamed one (!). Thanks for that clarification on behalf of mfox. [Assuming that you're not being "sarcastic," which I don't believe you are! ;)] I thought mfox might have meant something not offensive (since there was a ":)"), but I wasn't quite sure what she intended! (Tone is hard to convey in this medium.) Given the "free speech" issues in this particular thread--back to Ryan's dissent--I was struck by an irony of being "exempted"--excluded, as it were--from a discussion here at all! :lol ;) Before your comment, I had thought that perhaps mfox thought that someone who teaches college/univ.- level students wouldn't be interested in the program about vouchers and choice in schools and primary/secondary-school levels of education. Now I see that that's probably not the case; plus I like your construction better anyway!! ;) I suppose mfox will return to discuss further the actual subject of her comment (as opposed to me!) when she has a chance. In the meantime, as I'm a member, I checked my program guide and online listings for one of my local PBS TV stations, WXXI (Rochester, NY), and sadly learned that the third part of the program aired at 1 a.m. on Tuesday, Apr. 5 and that I had missed it entirely. From my conversation with TV programming at WXXI a little while ago, I just learned that they schedule these programs only during "the school year" (Sept.-May), and won't show them again until the next school year begins. I'm sorry to have missed it. Our conversation reminded me that many schools/colleges & univs. do time their overnight taping of such shows from television via their audio-visual depts., so it may be that some people's local schools (and public or academic libraries) have this particular Films for the Humanities & Sciences documentary for viewing for those in their communities. I'm really sorry to have missed seeing and taping this documentary, hope to see it eventually when it's re-broadcast or before that somehow, and, once again, thank mfox for bringing it to our attention.