Robert Winner


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New school guidelines by the federal government.

On the 21st of March Eric Holder said schools must use "principals of fairness and equality in student discipline or face strong action."

He blames Zero Tolerance policies that have uniform punishments for offenses such as truancy, smoking, drugs, and weapons that lead to more blacks being expelled than other races.

As a recommendation he says the administration should confront the weapons, drugs, gang fights and not security personnel who would report and charge the suspects. They would then be able to stay in school and not go to jail .... his theory not mine. So maybe there is a good reason to push drugs and carry weapons to school ??????

So teachers get current in your hand to hand combat .... by order of the Secretary of Education or your school could "face strong action" ... what ever that means ... normally associated with funding and government aid to your state.

So if this occurs ... you know that X has a gun ... you ignore it .... he kills Y ... you are now a acccessory to murder and facing life in prison ... kids will rat you out ... drugs are still illegal .... so don't tell security ... a deal goes bad and X with the gun shoots Y .... again your going to jail because the kids will rat you out. Some kids might just drag you into this mess because they can with these new rules .... and you are guily until proven innocent.

So the question is Why have police / security at school at all if teachers and admin are the enforcers .... wait until it is completely out of control before calling them. Thus ensuring that the kids can remain in class. With little regard to the danger this puts students, teachers, and administration in.


  • Mar 30 2014: Firearms on school grounds are easy. You bring a gun, you get expelled. That is, if you don't get shot by the police for brandishing a firearm at school. Doesn't matter your ethnic background.

    The Zero Tolerance laws have been radically abused in their understanding and application. But to say that they are racist or target students of color is not accurate. In most cases, common sense has been thrown out the window.

    One issue I saw in schools, and I worked with a principal that was able to support this with data, most often, the numbers of students in trouble is wrong. The incidents are what is reported, not the number of times one student gets in trouble. If one student gets in trouble say 10 times, then the report for the school says 10 incidents with students of color, not one student of color in trouble 10 times. Very different when you parse the data.

    Also, schools have to react strongly. If they do nothing, and something happens and people get hurt, they get sued. If they react strongly, and no one gets hurt, they may still get sued or called racist. It is a no win situation for most schools.

    That being said, good administrators still react with common sense and do the right thing in most cases. But they are getting few and far between.
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      Apr 23 2014: Everett, The military has a formula for determining racial incidents ... if it is nine on one then it is a fight ... if it is ten on one then it is racial. So if 50 green beat up 7 oranges ... no issues here.

      The absolute worst thing that can happen is for the government to get involved in anything.

      The sample you brought up was noteworthy ... one kid in trouble ten times is reprted as ten incidents.

      As I have stated many times I once worked in analysis and can make the numbers say what I want them to say.

      I may be missing something here but how is this going to help and/or change anything? Is this just political noise? How will this effect staffing at inner city schools? How do you read "Face strong action"?

      I post the article for you to read and respond to.

      Thanks for your reply. Be well. Bob.
  • Mar 29 2014: No link to support anything you posted?

    I googled this quote in your post " principals of fairness and equality in student discipline or face strong action." and it does not show up anywhere and you provided no link to show that is an actual quote or the context and you added YOUR opinion of what he was saying as if it was his opinion.

    That is very dishonest in my opinion and not worthy of a TED conversation as it is obviously biased political rhetoric and manipulation of the facts.
  • Mar 27 2014: Robert

    The Federal Government has no business in education. It is State function, with local authority. Zero Tolerance programs however, are an exercise in (excuse the street talk) stupidity. It is an exercise in control without reference to common sense or individual situations. It is where victims become perpetrators, and childhood innocence become sexual predators, and gun totten right wing extremist who make lethal weapons from fingers, paper and pastry.
    I would agree with your opening premise..
    Who protects the children from the ravages of teacher sexual misconduct, teacher and administration incompetence? Are the students a reflection of what they see in teachers? I, believe that would be true.
    What we have in our schools today is by virtue of the government and unions. Shall we go to the source of the problem, those who created the problem for help?
    To your question; Our educational system has failed. It is akin to fixing that, which is unfixable. Let us reassemble the molecules of wood set afire. Let it burn and grow another tree and in the process take care the dirt in which it is planted.
    I don't think I answered the question.
    • Mar 30 2014: Students are far more a reflection of what they see in their parents and their personal lives than in the education system. The education system has far less influence on their long - term life than that of the family dynamic or setting they grow up in.
      • Mar 30 2014: Everett

        Your comment has merit, but does not mitigate the influence of a failed educational system. It is the teacher, the NEA, that boosts of its influence on our children. The televised teacher union demonstrations of misspelled placards, vulgarities,slovenly dress and absolute disrespect for authority and disagreement do not mode to the positive in young minds. I believe it to be a compounding of elements that shape our children and the educational system is a main component. As the family structure fades from our society; education is an assertion of a collectivist and corrupted mindset, media paints a picture of a failed America with a loss of pride, ethics and decorum, where promiscuity, bed hoping and drugs are a new normal; please tell me of a positive.
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    Mar 25 2014: I wonder whether he means something different from your scenario.

    For example, lots of guys I know occasionally carry Swiss Army knives. If I saw one of my students with a Swiss army knife at school not doing anything threatening with it, I am sure I would walk over with by palm open and say, "Honey, we can't have those at school. Give it to me and I can give it back to you or your mom later." The same if I saw a kid using a table knife to cut something in her lunch.

    To expel kids for these violations wouldn't make a lot of sense, I think.

    I once walked with a Swiss army knife into the USDepartment of Justice in DC. I just wasn't thinking about having it in my bag. They took it, of course, but they didn't arrest me or anything. They could tell it was in my stuff just like a stapler or a scissors might have been.

    Fights between kids- I am sure many of us, both male and female, have walked over to intervene, even though teachers are advised to stay out of it for their own safety. You are a coach. Do you not ever have to break up something that looks too rough to you?

    Guns are a totally different story. That is a definite security issue!
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      Mar 26 2014: The thing they keep mentioning is the zero tolerance policies that carry automatic suspension that all schools have printed for all violations in their handbooks ... 1st offense, 2nd, 3rd,

      They use the term racist but the rules are the same for everyone. The article I read was titled America is still racist ... Here is a Washington Post artice on the same subject.

      We, at one time, had options but the handbook clearly defines the infraction and the punishment. The one I always thought was silly is that the cheerleaders outfits violate the school dress policy ... zero tolerance ... no exceptions ... and yet ...

      Your right of course that boys will be boys and sometime get to rough ... since football is a contact sport I have a little sway there but not much. The rules cover anything on school property.

      Guess we will be hearing what all the new rules are in the very near future ...

      Paragraph four he calls this racial discrimination (zero tolerance I think). I don't understand ... the rules are the same for everyone ... if one group violates the rules more than another that is not discrimination that is disregard .... Sorry for the soap box .... I do not like discrimination but I am confused that this is it.

      Thanks for the reply. Bob.
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        Mar 26 2014: I can tell you what I think happens. I think schools with more unruly kids stick to harsh rules more than schools with fewer unruly kids. So even if one school is even-handed in how it handles discipline, when you take schools in the aggregate the rules may be applied more strictly in some places than others.

        Schools in poorer areas tend to have less experienced teachers and more turnover, so that the teachers are often less equipped to hand disciplinary issues than more experienced teachers are. If a teacher cannot manage the behavioral issues in her class, administration needs to step in and everything escalates.
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          Mar 26 2014: One of the comments was that admin and teachers should handle issues so that security and police do not charge students with felonies.

          Your argument is logical .... the need for police at schools speaks for itself ... having a teacher or administrator address the issue will not lessen the need for security or the acts of felony ... my fear would be that it will send the wrong message. The students who bring weapons and drugs to school are only there because the law mandates it until they are old enough to quit.

          I am not comfortable with Washington mandating change ... schools should be allowed to determine their own fates that is why there are school boards ... as you say some schools would have more and some less incidents. I do think that there should be zero tolerance for some issues.

          Thanks for your reply .... Bob.
      • Mar 30 2014: After reading this article I must say, I have several questions.

        First, where is the data? The information here is vague at best. And really doesn't say much.

        Second, what are they basing this on? The article paints a detailed picture with a very broad brush and doesn't really explain much of anything. Just that African Americans are discriminated against based on data. But the data is not supported well.

        Finally, he lumps weapons expulsions together with suspension for disrespect and others. Not even in the same league. If you get suspended for disrespect or other issues, you are a repeat offender so to speak. If you bring a weapon, it could be a one off issue. Waste of journalism honestly.

        Poor writing, poor argument, and poor leadership at the top attempting to solve a difficult issue with simplistic responses.
  • Apr 23 2014: Boy, I forgot about this thread as it has been some reply.

    The article is interesting. For me, it boils down to a few points. The first being, "schools should use common sense". Of course the school should handle discipline. That is their job. They should do it in a way that is fair and appropriate for all students meaning, what good schools should do anyways, and good school still use common sense. The issue of racial discrimination is something that needs to be looked at which is true. But in real terms, not in a "schools are racially profiling crimes" sense. True there are issues with racial discrimination that must be addressed, but this sounds like it is far worse than it is.

    Students usually don't get expelled or suspended for nothing. Look to see where there are issues and address them, don't pass sweeping recommendations because you think something is wrong. Do the hard work and go to the school to deal with the issues. Any time I see stuff like this, it tells me someone has an axe to grind.

    As with other recent legislation for schools, they will probably put numbers on it and tell schools they are "failing" if they do not fix the issues. Then the school has to defend itself as to why it has a higher rate of suspension for some, not all, minority groups. The guilty until innocent issue that is prevalent in schools right now.

    At the end, this really does nothing except make someone happy at the government level. It does not solve the issue at the school level in any way. Only hard work, training, and dealing with these difficult kids in a positive way will make a difference. The government can't mandate that.

    Thanks for the thoughtful reply. Everett
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    Apr 23 2014: Robert,
    I feel bad that you felt the need to make comments and not provide links. I for one am all for the regurgitation of other people's thoughts and unfortunately I have no link for my comment.

    Having said that, recent history has shown that all the attention brought onto disturbed young people going into schools with guns has had an effect. The last couple of school attacks were done with knives.
    About the rulings of the Department of Education, It has been proven so many times before that bureaucrats usually have solutions for two problems ago. You may quote me on that as I just made it up and again I have no link.

    I am sorry about the lack of links, I have one to a YouTube video on how to make buffalo meat tacos if you're interested.
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      Apr 23 2014: Mike as usual I bow to superior logic and a valid request ....

      Funny you should mention buffalo meat. My neighbor raises buffalo and we get meat quite often ... yum yum ... but then again I am a meat and taters guy ....
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        Apr 23 2014: Buffalo meat is good eats. The saying around here is that the Original Americans had a good
        thing going following the great herds. The town I live in is named after the buffalo in a take on the original name.
        But, I digress.
        It is getting tough out here. I am getting lost in the confusion of it all

        (Added:.... Got a call.... so now I can resume my comment.)

        I have to think that to educate future adults to become functional as adults is a most noble achievement. In the old days, children learned from their parents. Today, that boat has sailed.
        So, most of us rely on public education to do the job....
        So, today:

        We have public schools that are teaching all children regardless of educational needs to a national standard that maybe effective for a small number. I am not sure about the children who fail to meet these standards, I guess they are discarded. Considering all the street gangs that need repopulation and the employment demands of Mc Donald's restaurants, the fall off of the national standards are suited to the realities of our current social and economic demands.

        We have public schools that are so rigid in their construct... God help a 6 year old that points his finger at his buddy. However, bullies can continue their torture and the victims are held responsible for their victimization.

        We have public schools that have been attacked by crazed murderers and the best defense is to lock the classroom door? OK, it that the best we can do?

        Thank you for your kind words, I do try to think things out.... a characteristic that was instilled in our education all those years ago. Why can't we do for our grandchildren what our grandparents thought was important for us.
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          Apr 23 2014: Mike, Agreed. After you have had a chance to read the article .... what is your take?

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        Apr 23 2014: There is probably enough truth in the DOJ statement to give it some validity. But, let's discuss minority students. There are a few schools where students from minority neighborhoods are given the opportunity to excel and excel they do. I have come to the conclusion that race, creed or national original.... let's add: sex and weight have nothing to do with skills and abilities.... although height is an advantage in pro basketball.... anyway, a bright kid is a bright kid. That has pretty much been proven.
        Where Holder may have a point and I see it in our local school systems, minority kids seem to take the disciplinarian hits.
        This is the interesting thing. When I look at the successful high school graduates, those numbers seem to reflect the racial and ethnic balances of the communities. When I look at the alternative schools... (that's where the trouble makers are sent, often before going to the juvenile hall) I see more of the "minorities from the poorer neighborhoods".... why?
        Because I see the numbers of the successful minority students, I am not sure that there is a "racist' component to the public schools at least to a measurable degree. When I talked to alternative school teachers, I am told that most of the students tell them that " they are there because the "man" has it in for them and they are not taking this s**t from the "man"...they don't have to study and they can smoke pot all they want"
        I know that this is all anecdotal but, has anyone really looked at this as a cause for minorities being so numerically higher in school discipline? Holder seems to think the burden is on the schools. I am not sure that there is not a bigger social problem to be addressed.

        There I am defending public education.... what has become of me???
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          Apr 23 2014: Mike, Could all be true ... however, during an discussion a lady told me that the rates of black and Mexicans going to jail in Watts was dramitically higher than any other race. When I looked up Watts, a suburb of LA, I found that the areas is 98% Blacks and Mexicans. I told her it made sense that they were the majority of arrests ... I was informed how racist that was.

          I ask a boy why he brought a knife to school ... Because I want to. Did you know it was wrong and you could get in trouble? He said ... Yeah it says so in the book .. but that don't make it wrong ... not my rules ... your rules.

          My point here is that the government and the bleeding hearts are enabeling and encouraging these failures and attitudes. Life ain't fair .. work to get over it. We see it in school, and in government. As you said the "man" is to blame ... in government for the last six years it was Bush's fault. I hear it all the time at jails and prison ... drugs should not be illegal ... I'm a victim

          Most of the kids getting detention/expelled are not there for a education ... they have police records ,,, push drugs ... take drugs ... gang members .... and repeat offenders at each of those areas. I wonder if you could look at the records and find 20 kids in a school with 90% of the disciplinaries. If one kid gets ten detentions it is reported as 10 incidents ... Until we see real numbers and facts ... it will be hard to define let alone resolve the issues.

          Until we isolate and define a problem .. the AG and Sec of Education should not be making mandates for the nation and proclaiming that everything is racist ... that just fuels more fires and that is not necessary.

          Thanks for the reply. Bob.
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    Apr 2 2014: This is what happens when the baby boomers take control.
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      Apr 2 2014: Perhaps ... However it would not appear so as the baby boomers have been in control for a long time. The new kid on the block that has inspired these changes are the socialist / liberals that have a agenda.

      Baby boomers come in all shades and bents.

      Thanks for the reply. Bob.
  • Mar 29 2014: I think this is badly misplaced ideology.

    I understand not wanting to just throw away some children. They have a gun at school. You expel them. Now what? They are destined for a life of ignorance, poverty, disaffection and crime? There has to be something better.

    I understand that this effects children of poor neighborhoods disproportionately, and those neighborhoods are disproportionately non-white. I understand not wanting to throw away non-whites are a rate greater than whites. In fact, I understand not wanting to throw away ANY child, regardless of color.

    I believe that at its root, this is an economic issue. If we fixed the economy for all, not just a few, the problem of poverty and crime associated with it, especially effecting children would decline greatly.

    Then, once the economy is fixed, we need alternatives to standard education, that will help get children that are headed on a track of dropping out, onto a track of learning a marketable skill and being able to earn a decent wage.
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    Mar 28 2014: I am thinking that our school systems are being run.... not by teachers, but by educational facilitators who are politically inspired or at least sensitive and somewhat lacking in what could be called common sense, but that could all be forgiven, if they were more concerned about the education of future adults.... but I could be wrong.
  • Mar 28 2014: The problem is that school administrations are scared of being sued. So they enforce the rules to the letter, even when it does not make sense. As Fritzie indicated, each case should be judged separately.
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    Mar 26 2014: In my opinion every class shall be composed of very different students/characters, ethnically, physically, mixing kids with different backgrounds and talents, who would be bringing in different problems, from family or some bad 'hood".

    Therefore, every class will learn how to be and grow up as a Small Society of very different individuals, where any majority of characters would never prevail, whether it is good or bad. Everyone will be involved and learn. It is the most basic learning about how to peacefully co-exist, it cannot be replaced by any theory.
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      Mar 26 2014: Many urban schools have precisely this character.
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        Mar 30 2014: Fritzie, we Cannot Teach anyone to co-exist with others, co-existence is about life in whole. In case I try to describe we all have to participate in new learning: students, teachers, and families.
        Life itself is the Teacher.

        I try to say that it is important to PRACTICE to solve problems as individuals within their Small group.

        When we try to do some project together with many others - it is not yet the best practicing and we have more problems than sound results.

        Small groups are immensely more effective when we learn to closely recognize one another as important unique participants, not just "some people".

        Do you mean it is possible in overcrowded urban schools? Is it ever possible to create small classes in public schools?
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          Mar 30 2014: Oh, yes. This is what many of us now do and have for many years, build learning communities. Projects are usually done in small groups rather than large. It really is beautiful and gratifying to see how nicely it works, bringing out different ideas and interesting work.
    • Mar 30 2014: I worked in a school where this was the model. Not all students peacefully coexisted.
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        Mar 30 2014: Everett,
        May I ask for some details, and about the strategies used in your school?

        I beleve that this sort of education involves families as well, often prejudice and opinionated.

        I also mean PRACTICING to co-exist in real life, as a group of very different charachters and backgrounds while creating ideas and realizing useful for everyone projects together.

        This is very challenging but eventually highly rewarding for students, teachers and families - everyone is practicing something very new in their life.