Archive for the ‘Social lives’ Category

A charter school mandates pregnancy tests for students suspected of being pregnant. Is that going too far?

Should a public charter school be able to demand that teens undergo pregnancy tests? (AP Images)

Should a public charter school be able to demand that its students undergo pregnancy tests? (AP Images)

UPDATE Wednesday: The school is changing its policy. The Associated Press reports that the school chairman said no one at the school realized there was anything wrong with the policy until the American Civil Liberties Union’s state chapter threatened to sue.

Original post:

A Louisiana charter school is in the news this week for its policy of mandating pregnancy tests for female students if there are any suspicions that the girls are pregnant. And then kicks out anyone who is pregnant.

Dehli Charter School in Dehli, La., has 600 students in grades k-12 and presents its pregnancy policy as an effort to maintain its high standard for student character.

In its policy book, Dehli Charter School states: “The school reserves the right to require any female student to take a pregnancy test to confirm whether or not the suspected student is in fact pregnant. The school further …

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Truancy and tardiness: Does going after parents work?

Most people who work with truants say the parents are part of the problem. But is criminal action against the parents the right solution?

Yes, according to districts that are getting more aggressive in criminally prosecuting parents whose children rack up unexcused absences or show up late repeatedly.

Nationwide, more systems are resorting to punitive measures to command the attention of parents and make a point.

Earlier this year, parents in Loudoun County, Va., were stunned to find sheriff’s deputies at their front doors with court summons. The parents faced Class 3 misdemeanors because their children had been late too many times.

In a story on the summons, the Washington Post focused on one peeved couple whose three children had glowing report cards, but the parents were still summoned to court because of how often the kids were tardy. An attorney, the father argued that the summons represented an out-of-control nanny state. The Post story drew 868 comments.

Many posters …

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ZOMG: Text-speak and tweens: Notso gr8 4 riting skillz

A new study in New Media & Society suggests that texting — with its abbreviations and grammatical shortcuts — undermines students’ writing skills.

The “Texting, Techspeak, and Tweens” study by S. Shyam Sundar, founding director of Penn State’s Media Effects Research Laboratory, and Drew P. Cingel, a doctoral student at Northwestern University, examined “whether increased use of text messaging engender greater reliance on such ‘textual adaptations’ to the point of altering one’s sense of written grammar.”

The pair tested students in a Pennsylvania middle school. Their conclusion: “Results show broad support for a general negative relationship between the use of tech-speak in text messages and scores on a grammar assessment, with implications for Social Cognitive Theory and Low-Road/High-Road Theory of Transfer of Learning.”

According to Education Week:

Moreover, the more often a student received text messages using tech-speak, the more likely he or she was to send messages …

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Plastic surgery to deflect bullying: What does it teach kids?

Georgia teen Nadia Isle underwent plastic surgery to pin back her ears counter bullying. (CNN)

Georgia teen Nadia Ilse underwent plastic surgery to pin back her ears to repel bullying. (CNN)

One of the most memorable books I ever read on parenting was “The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do” by Judith Rich Harris.

When the book came out in 1998, it created a stir because of Harris’ contention that parents matter little; peers and biology matter more. “Parenting matters zilch, ” said Harris.

Harris proposed that the most significant environmental influence comes from outside the home, in the playgrounds and the schoolrooms and the places where children teach each other how to live. Her work ties together phenomena that argue against parental influence — evidence that twins reared together are no more alike than those reared apart, for example, and that the children of immigrants speak the language of their peers, not their parents.

In fact, she suggested in her book that parents consider plastic surgery for their children if they had …

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Single gender schools: Was racism a factor in the South?

The AJC has a good story today on the trend in single-gender public schools.

I attended a single-gender Catholic high school and enjoyed it, but wouldn’t argue strongly for the practice as I didn’t see any academic benefits. In the Northeast, it was very common for Catholic schools to become single gender at the high school level. There were co-ed parish schools through eighth grade, and then girls and boys went in different directions, only to meet up at school dances on weekends.

This piece attributes the rise of single gender schools in the South to an effort to prevent black boys from attending classes with white girls in the wake of the 1954 Supreme Court ruling that it was unconstitutional to establish separate public schools for black and white students.

The story states:

But Galen Sherwin, staff attorney with the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, said its history in public schools is much darker and has roots in the South, where it was broadly instituted in an effort …

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Taunting of school bus monitor earns boys one year suspension

The four middle school students  whose crude taunting of an elderly school bus monitor went viral have been handed year-long suspensions from their Rochester New York, school.

(We discussed this nine days ago. You can view the vile video here.)

The monitor, Karen Klein, has received support from around the world, along with $650,000 in donations. (A day after I posted the video, I received a note from a Hilton Head resort offering her a week’s stay; I forwarded the invitation to the school spokeswoman who promised to get it to Mrs. Klein.)

According to the New York Times:

The four boys who taunted a 68-year-old school bus monitor from Rochester, N.Y., prompting outcry over bullying when a video of their insults went viral, have been suspended from their middle school for one year, school officials said on Friday.

The video of the boys’ heaping insults onto the bus monitor, Karen Klein, also generated more than $650,000 in online donations for her to take “a …

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One in six high school students on overnight stays at prospective colleges drinks alcohol during the visit

Many colleges urge prospective students to make overnight visits to their campuses, even arranging for them to spend the night in the dorms. But a new survey finds that one in six high school students on such overnight visits reports drinking during their stay.

(This may explain why so many high school students have told me over the years that that they somehow missed the official college tour while visiting campuses.)

A survey by the Center for Adolescent Research and Education at Susquehanna University (CARE) and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) found that about 16 percent of surveyed teens who had been on an overnight visit reported drinking alcohol during the visit.

The results don’t surprise me as going to college parties is often a highlight of a campus overnight, especially during informal visits where two high school juniors bunk in the dorm room of an older sibling or cousin. I would love to see this survey extended to find out whether the teens drank …

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Today’s teens: Plugged in and pleased about it

Folks, I am on vacation starting today but will be posting a bit and monitoring. I found this study on teens and social media interesting:

Nine out of 10 teenagers in America have used social media, and the majority of them perceive it to be a more positive than negative influence in their lives. But in spite of their widespread use of today’s technology, teens prefer talking in person over texting, tweeting, or connecting on Facebook, and many describe themselves as “addicted” to their digital devices.

“Social Media, Social Life: How Teens View Their Digital Lives,” a new report from Common Sense Media’s Program for the Study of Children and Media, provides the latest insights on teens’ use of media and technology and how they think it affects their relationships and feelings about themselves. This large-scale, nationally representative quantitative survey of more than 1,000 13- to 17-year-olds reveals that most teens think that social media has had a more positive …

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Finalist named for presidency of Georgia College & State University

Georgia College & State University has a likely new president, Steve Michael Dorman from the University of Florida. The Regents must approve his selection at its next meeting, but it is safe to assume that, as sole finalist, he has the job.

A few years ago, Erroll Davis, then chancellor of the University System of Georgia, told me that his goal was to turn Georgia College into a liberal arts “jewel.”

Has that happened? I know several metro students who attend Georgia College, and their lament is the same: Too many classmates go home on weekends. While the weekend social scene should not be a major factor in choosing a college, many students are very concerned about it.

It is important to elevate the status of Georgia College as there should be a strong liberal arts alternative for students who  find UGA, GSU or Georgia Southern too large. Milledgeville has a lot of charm, but not sure it has a lot of the amenities that 20-year-olds want.

Anyone have a child at Georgia …

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Schools wonder about how to deal with the growing tradition and headache of senior pranks

A school truck was among the property vandalized by East Paulding High students in a senior prank gone bad. (Channel 2 Action News)

A school truck was among the property vandalized by East Paulding High students in a senior prank gone bad. (Channel 2 Action News)

AJC.com has a great story this evening on senior pranks, which are now apparently a national rite of passage for graduating high school students.

(Check out this brand new story on the AJC.com site about a Connecticut high school that discovered pygmy goats on its roof this morning, assumed to be the work of pranksters. Schools are still in session in the Northeast so their prank season is still in progress.)

When I moved South, I was surprised at two things related to pranks: Kids didn’t do them on the night before Halloween. In New Jersey, Mischief Night, as it is called, has escalated into a dangerous evening of fires and vandalism so I was delighted to find that the unfortunate tradition had not crossed the Mason-Dixon line.

However, teens here engaged in graduation pranks, something I had not seen as a high schooler. I was well aware of …

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