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Wed Mar 7, 2012, 12:16 AM

LAUSD Bans Blindfolding and Eating in Class

Last week I compared the situation in Los Angeles Unified School District to the Satanic Child Care Abuse hysteria of the 1980s and 90s, suggesting that a few high profile abuse cases could lead to excessive and absurd responses by the district. Of course the most obvious and egregious example of this was the mass firing of all staff at Miramonte Elementary School, even though there was only evidence linking two of the teachers to abuse.

Now LAUSD is banning the blindfolding of students, the Los Angeles Times reported this week. The reason for this new rule is that it "may be perceived negatively," Deputy Sup. of Instruction Jaime Aquino wrote in a Feb. 23 memo to principals, in light of the accusation that one of the accused teachers, Berndt, blindfolded his students before feeding them his semen.

The image of blindfolded children being spoon fed semen is certainly disturbing and one that the district would understandably want to go away. It could also reasonably be argued that blindfolding children, particularly younger children, is unnecessary, risky and inappropriate. Yet the district’s new rule seems rather superficial and silly in light of the fact that it allowed a supposed monster to slip through its fingers for years and was incapable of dismissing him despite at least four prior abuse accusations. The new rule does nothing to improve the districts’ ability to monitor or discipline abusive teachers, nor does it make schools any safer for children.

One might ask what justification could there be for blindfolding students in the first place? There are, however, numerous situations in which a “blind” test would be reasonable and appropriate, including for K-5 children. Most of these can be done simply by asking students to close their eyes. For example, during a unit on the nervous system, I have students taste jicama and apple with their eyes closed and noses plugged, to demonstrate how other senses, like olfaction, contribute to our sense of taste. Apparently a fourth-grade reading activity that is part of the new California Treasures curriculum also involves making sensory observations and suggests that students be blindfolded. This would be forbidden under the new rule.

While many “blind” activities can be done without blindfolds, LAUSD’s response to the hysteria goes so far as to entirely ban the consumption of foods prepared in class, even without blindfolds. The Times says that substitute teacher Prentiss Moore teaches elementary-school students how to make butter, which they later eat on crackers. According to Moore, "It is a standards-based lesson with elements of science, social studies, language arts and art." However, in the wake of allegations that Miramonte’s Berndt served students tainted cookies, Moore’s butter lesson is now prohibited.

Keeping children safe should be the first priority of schools. This is not what LAUSD is doing. They are looking for cheap PR victories to mollify anxious and frightened parents and cover up their own incompetence.

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2012/03/lausd-bans-blindfolding-and-eating-in.html

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Reply LAUSD Bans Blindfolding and Eating in Class (Original post)
Modern School Mar 2012 OP
FBaggins Mar 2012 #1
Modern School Mar 2012 #2
FBaggins Mar 2012 #3
Modern School Mar 2012 #4
FBaggins Mar 2012 #5
proud2BlibKansan Mar 2012 #6
FBaggins Mar 2012 #7
Modern School Mar 2012 #8
NYC_SKP Mar 2012 #9
NYC_SKP Mar 2012 #10

Response to Modern School (Original post)

Wed Mar 7, 2012, 10:43 AM

1. You do your position a disservice with too-frequent hyperbole.

You were corrected on this same issue the last time. There was no "mass firing" as a result of the scandal(s).

Yet the district’s new rule seems rather superficial and silly

Yep... but so is making that decision an issue. Is defending the option of blindfolding students or feeding them in-class really worthy of public debate? Elementary school teachers deal with dozens of ridiculous rules and regulations that handcuff their creativity and often make little sense. Why not pick some that aren't directly associated in local parents' minds with recent abuse?

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Response to Modern School (Original post)

Thu Mar 8, 2012, 12:42 AM

2. They were fired and repression is still repression

Every teacher was let go. That is in effect a mass firing. Whether or not they got their jobs back eventually is a separate issue. They were all treated as if they were guilty, when they were not and it was done in order to distract public attention from the district's culpability.

Blind tests and food in class are perfectly legitimate and have pedagogical value. Banning them because of hysteria is absurd and does nothing to solve the problem: LAUSD has done a terrible job of preventing and catching abusers. This argument is like saying that hamburgers should be banned in the wake of an E. coli outbreak. It's not the food that is the problem. It is the system that permits (or encourages) E. coli.

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Response to Modern School (Reply #2)

Thu Mar 8, 2012, 01:02 AM

3. Please back that up

"Fired" means that the lost their job and will no longer be paid.

Being transfered to another school without knowing whether you will return to this school or not sucks... but it isn't the same thing as "fired". They were not "fired" or "let go". They still work for the county and still receive their full paycheck unless something has changed since the story came out. In addition, while this is going on there are scores of previously laid-off teachers who now have jobs again.

This is very much like the time a union voted to take an action that you disagreed with so you called them "scabs" (usually an offensive term to a union member). If a union takes a vote and the member teachers act in concert with that vote, they don't become "scabs" just because you wouldn't have voted the same way.

This kind of "hyperbole by making up your own meanings for words" does your position no service.

Blind tests and food in class are perfectly legitimate and have pedagogical value.

Yep... but there are LOTS of things that are perfectly legitimate educational tools that are nevertheless forbidden in one school or another. Teachers deal with that all the time. Why make an issue out of something that is so obviously a pain point in these particular schools?

And what's your rationale this time for not replying directly to a post?

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Response to Modern School (Original post)

Fri Mar 9, 2012, 01:06 AM

4. A scab is a scab, even if a union member supports it

The Workers on the S. P. line to strike sent out a call;
But Casey Jones, the engineer, he wouldn't strike at all;
His boiler it was leaking, and its drivers on the bum,
And his engine and its bearings, they were all out of plumb.

Casey Jones kept his junk pile running;
Casey Jones was working double time;
Casey Jones got a wooden medal,
For being good and faithful on the S. P. line.

The workers said to Casey: "Won't you help us win this strike?"
But Casey said: "Let me alone, you'd better take a hike."
Then some one put a bunch of railroad ties across the track,
And Casey hit the river bottom with an awful crack.

Casey Jones hit the river bottom;
Casey Jones broke his blessed spine;
Casey Jones was an Angelino,
He took a trip to heaven on the S. P. line.

When Casey Jones got up to heaven, to the Pearly Gate,
He said: "I'm Casey Jones, the guy that pulled the S. P. freight."
"You're just the man," said Peter, "our musicians went on strike;
You can get a job a-scabbing any time you like."

Casey Jones got up to heaven;
Casey Jones was doing mighty fine;
Casey Jones went scabbing on the angels,
Just like he did to workers of the S. P. line.

They got together, and they said it wasn't fair,
For Casey Jones to go around a-scabbing everywhere.
The Angels' Union No. 23, they sure were there,
And they promptly fired Casey down the Golden Stairs.

Casey Jones went to Hell a-flying;
"Casey Jones," the Devil said, "Oh fine:
Casey Jones, get busy shovelling sulphur;
That's what you get for scabbing on the S. P. Line."

Joe Hill, 1911

Just because people support or vote for something, doesn't make it legitimate, right or acceptable. Teachers are notorious for being doormats, martyrs and otherwise accepting working conditions that are otherwise deplorable, so long as someone asserts that is all for the well being of the kids.

A union member can be a scab, like Casey Jones, or Mr. Block, when they vote for or engage in actions that undermine the working conditions or solidarity of other workers.

Happens all the time, far too often, unfortunately.

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Response to Modern School (Reply #4)

Fri Mar 9, 2012, 07:46 AM

5. Wrong.

Just because people support or vote for something, doesn't make it legitimate, right or acceptable.

Actually, that's exactly what it does. A "scab" is someone who acts in opposition to the will of the union, not in concert with it. That's what "solidarity" actually means.

While we're on the subject, you also falsely described the situation as them agreeing to "work for free"

Which raises the obvious question... if you have to so regularly make up your own facts, how confident must you be in your position?

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Response to FBaggins (Reply #5)

Fri Mar 9, 2012, 10:22 AM

6. That's not fair

To accuse MS of making up his own facts is the same thing as calling him a liar.

Just because you disagree doesn't make either one of you a liar. You are disagreeing - that doesn't mean either one of you is lying.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Reply #6)

Fri Mar 9, 2012, 10:31 AM

7. Lying requires a knowing falsehood

I have no reason to believe that this is the case. It could be ignorance of the facts or a poor use of hyperbole, but this isn't simply a "disagreement"... the statements are objectively false.

When a union takes a vote on a job action and the teachers act in accordance with that overwhelming vote, you can't call them "scabs". "Scab" is an offensive term to a union member and is falsely applied in such a case. You can't say that someone is agreeing to "work for free" when no such event happened... and you most certainly can't talk about "mass firings" when the subjects of the statement were not fired.

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Response to FBaggins (Reply #7)

Fri Mar 9, 2012, 09:08 PM

8. Offense Intended

Teachers have agreed to work for free in PA, in this case to bailout their incompetent district and rich people's unwillingness to pay taxes. By working for free they undermine the strength and solidarity of other teachers who want to be paid fairly for their labor; thus they are acting like scabs.

Furthermore, just because a union votes for something or supports something, doesn't mean that it is in the best interests of their members. I posted the Joe Hill song because it highlights this, as does the famous IWW cartoon strip Mr. Block. In fact, unions sell out their members all the time.

By the way, voting to work for free is not a job action. It's a scab action.

A job action is a strike, work to rule, picket, etc., done with the intention of pressuring the bosses to accept workers' demands. Working for free is the opposite. It is the capitulation of workers to the false claims of pundits and the wealthy that they are the cause student's suffering by not working hard enough.

Lastly, why are you so indignant and argumentative? You don't even acknowledge my points, which are valid even if you think I'm being bombastic. In the case of Miramonte, the teachers were collectively punished by being fired, let go, laid off, transferred, or whatever you want to call it. They lost their jobs at the school they were working at. They lost their relationships with their colleagues, students and community. And the PA teachers working for free to keep their school open have seen their working conditions deteriorate, regardless of whether you want to call it scabbing with the consequence of the wealthy being let off the hook for not paying their share of taxes.

Frodo, take a chill pill, relax, eat a hobbit feast or go back to Middle Earth.

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Response to Modern School (Reply #8)

Mon Mar 12, 2012, 11:07 PM

9. By the same dynamic, teachers who work weekends and evenings are like scabs.

 

I'm not disagreeing, the profession as a whole, by accepting unacceptable working conditions makes them acceptable.

Only in education does our love of our clientele thus become a burden to members of the profession.

Now, sir, I am glad to see you out on the boards engaging in discussions.

However, I do wish you would be a bit more civil in your exchanges.

To say, "eat a hobbit feast or go back to Middle Earth." puts you on the loser end of the argument quite readily, just as a matter of comparative capacity for reasoned discourse.

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Response to Modern School (Original post)

Mon Mar 12, 2012, 11:19 PM

10. LAUSD and some other districts need to be broken into smaller parts.

 

It's hard to think of a large school district that doesn't suffer from these same autocratic dictatorial bureaucratic stupidities.

People at the top are out of touch with parents and students, everyone is feeling stress, success is the exception, not the rule.

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