Monday Morning Thoughts: The Story Behind the Girl in South Carolina

southcarolina-studentThose quick to jump on parents and the school might be interested to learn that, according to a story in the New York Daily News, State Rep. Todd Rutherford, an influential Democrat, said that the teen recently lost her mother and is living in a foster home.

But even more interesting is an interview that Chris Hayes had with Niya Kenny, who was one of the people who shot a video.

According to Ms. Kenny, before the video starts, “she was asked to leave the classroom. She refused to leave the classroom, and our teacher then called an administrator in the class, and she still refused to leave, then Deputy Ben Fields was called in.”

Ms. Kenny confirmed “she was looking at her phone,” but “she’s a quiet girl. She doesn’t do anything to anyone in the class, it was really because she wouldn’t give up her phone.

Ms. Kenny claims that the teacher demanded the phone, the girl didn’t turn it over, so the administrator was called and asked her to leave. When she refused, Deputy Fields was called.

Another student, Tony Robinson, was interviewed. He explained, “We were doing an assignment on the computer and I believe the girl had her phone out. And so our teacher, Mr. Long, came over, asked for the phone, she denied, she said ‘No’. Then shortly after that he threatened to call an administrator, he did, he came, when he came the administrator tried to get her to move, and pled with her to get out of the seat, she still denied, because y’know she hadn’t done anything wrong.”

He continued, “She said she had took her phone out, but it was only for a quick second, she was kinda begging, kinda apologetic about what happened and everything.  Next the administrator called the resource officer, Deputy Fields, and when he came in the first thing that he said was he asked my friend to move the desk.  And to me, that was a sign off, he could already tell what he was about to do. As far as the precaution he was gonna take for that student.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Rutherford said that he intends to change the state law allowing police to arrest students for being disruptive in case.

“He weighs about 300 pounds,” Mr. Rutherford would tell a local TV station. “She is a student who is 16 years old, who now has a cast on her arm, a band aid on her neck, and neck and back problems. There’s something wrong here.”

While some students evidently backed up Officer Fields, others said he had a reputation for violence among students.

“I’ve heard about him, so I wasn’t really surprised, because I’ve heard so much about him,” Niya Kenny told Chris Hayes. “Before he came to the class, I was actually telling [classmates], ‘Take out your cameras because I feel like this is gonna go downhill because I’ve heard so much about him.’”

“He’s known as ‘Officer Slam’ around our school,” Ms. Kenny replied. “I’ve heard he’s in the past slammed pregnant women, teenage girls. He’s known for slamming.”

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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69 Comments

    1. Davis Progressive

      the key question is not whether she’s a good person, it’s whether the teacher, administrator and officer handled it correctly.

      start with the teacher – it seems like he turned a minor incident where she may have checked her phone and blew it out of proportions.  he compounded it by not being able to bring the situation under control.

      administrator – he failed to gain control of the situation and then exacerbated the problem by involving the police.

      police officer – let’s take a disruptive student and throw her out of her desk and across the room.  wow.

    2. Matt Williams

      Sam, your comment reminds me of the Wallace Stegner eulogy for Benny DeVoto …

      “I have tried to recreate Benny DeVoto as he was — flawed, brilliant, provocative, outrageous, running scared all his life, often wrong, often spectacularly right, always stimulating, sometimes infuriating, and never never dull.”

      A friend couldn’t have said it any nicer.

  1. Napoleon Pig IV

    All students above the age of 13 need to be instructed in the most decisive methods of neutralizing the threat when under physical assault, including the use of empty-hand techniques, some of which are not allowed in MMA competition, as well as effective use of improvised weapons. After the threat is neutralized, then if the assault was initiated and perpetrated by someone with a badge, then our esteemed, cost effective, and time efficient justice system can sort things out.

    1. Miwok

      Are you advocating her fighting the officer? While he was the third line of authority, he seems to have acted more like a bouncer than an officer.

      When I have had problems with people in public, the officers don’t remove someone at my word, they always make their own determination of what to do. I would expect no less, and learned that long ago.

      1. Napoleon Pig IV

        Whether or not to fight is a judgement that has to be made on a case by case basis. My comments were intended to stimulate thought rather than provide specific advice.

        In general, I advocate peaceful resolution of disputes. In general, I also advocate avoiding a fight even at the “loss of face,” since mere words are of less immediate importance than potential injury or death. However, I do not advocate cowering before a bully simply because the bully has a badge, especially once the bully has initiated physical violence. Whether to fight or not at that point becomes a function of instinct, training, and circumstances, just as it would in any other circumstance in which a girl is attacked by a large, violent man.

        Does it matter that the girl under attack was a student in a classroom with a teacher and administrator looking on in passive and mindless support of the attack? Maybe and maybe not. There is a pragmatic answer, and then there is a moral answer, and the two are not the same.

  2. Frankly

    The root cause of this is the strong arm of the powerful Orwellian collective.

    It is what caused Eric Garner’s death.

    It is what Democrats strive to maintain and grow.

    It is what Republicans more recently are striving to reform and shrink.

    Copious rules to live by, and officials given the job and authority to enforce them.

    That girl was probably learning more from her cell phone than she was from the droning lecture robot in front of the class.  Yet rules are rules.  Don’t get out of line or the regime will put it’s boot upon your neck to force you to comply.

    But the supreme leaders of the regime and their supporters have come up with a brilliant media-supported propaganda strategy to help prevent a justified revolt of the people.  By blaming their paid enforcers for over-zealous actions against the people they deflect from the truth and maintain their brand as benevolent keepers of the peace and savers of the oppressed and downtrodden.

    They rule the people; but who rules them?   Certainly not the people… anymore.

      1. Frankly

        Think about it.  This all occurred because of rule for no cell phones.  Without that rule there would be no enforcement and no conflict.

        Frankly (because I am) I see this as connected to the crappy education system.  A prehistoric construct that resist significant change and reform.  And because of this it falls farther and further behind society and the economy.

        These kids on their smart devices are rocket powered sponges with the world of information at their thumbs 24×7, 365 days a year.   This is a threat to the old teaching regime that benefits from the status quo monopoly of molasses-slow, book-lecture information delivery.

        Instead of attempting to eliminate the smart device, the education establishment should have long ago adapted to include them in the learning process.

        Smart phones are an extension of the humanity of young people these days.  The visceral reaction of some students resisting having their devices shutdown or confiscated is in fact a reasonable fight or flight response similar to what they would feel having tape put on their mouth, or their hands tied behind their backs.   I think we would be better off taping and tying up the school rule-makers and then facilitate student learning where these devices replace the way-too-slow and un-engaging teacher-lecture model.

        1. Napoleon Pig IV

          Well said!

          In addition, since when should someone hand over a multi-hundred dollar piece of private property simply because it is demanded?

          When laws and regulations cease to make sense they deserve no respect.

        2. tribeUSA

          Frankly,

           

          I partially agree with your points; except

          (1) Too much screen time outside class as it is now

          (2) I think the live human teacher model is still a long ways from being obsolete

          (though I take your point that gizmos can be incorporated into learning; but they will learn to be expert button-pushers on their own by the time they are in their late teens and looking for a job; most of which require button-pushing skills these days).

          (3) Teachers are under pressure now to produce students who will perform at least passably on a standardized test. Therefor they must focus on those lessons that will help the students to perform best on such tests, and gain their students focused attention to do so. I believe you have advocated such a performance-based criteria for teacher evaluation. I anticipate that you would say, “well, lets change the lesson objectives to incorporate more tech (and google?) knowledge; and test for those skills”, which I would partially agree with. But there is still the conundrum of reconciling such a broad tech/google knowledge that includes a near-infinite amount of information with the mandate to test for a certain standard of acquired knowledge–the freedom vs. the focusing; and what should be given focus in the lessons, including those that incorporate gizmos and googling/exploring for information.

      2. Miwok

        There is no LAW for use of cell phones, just rules. This is how far it has gone, that breaking a RULE gets you arrested. I am amazed every time a new RULE is implemented, because we had to make rules to encourage good behavior and manners. I am appalled when they make it a law.

        This is largely because of the old generation who didn’t teach their children how to behave in public. What was okay for a two year old becomes bad for a twenty year old to do the same thing? We have this “frat boy” attitude all over, dare you to say something to them because they are misbehaving. Sad.

    1. theotherside

      I could not disagree with this more.  The root cause of this has absolutely nothing to do with ” the strong arm of the powerful Orwellian collective”.  That is often a claim of someone who has no concept of structure or rules. The root cause of this simply a collective lack of respect.  Respect for a teacher who is working to educate students, respect for other students who are in the process of learning and are being distracted.  And that learning is not just what is on the next test, but a preparation for adulthood.  I would imagine the no phones in class rule was created for a very good reason and it was known what would happen if that rule is violated.  The student’s response?  Refusal to 3 different people who are trusted with maintaining order.

      What caused Eric Garner’s death is in line with what happened here, agreed.  A person was in violation and verbally and physically refused to take responsibility for it.  Had either of them taken said responsibility, we would not be here discussing this.  So their actions led to what became a huge mess.  Yet you continuously excuse their bad behavior because it led to an altercation and shift the blame to someone else.

      Copious rules?  Can we not agree that that a cell phone in the classroom is distracting?  Distracting her from an education she is likely in dire need of.  Or maybe it is just plain rude and discourteous and a reflection of today’s youth?

      I would absolutely contend that she was not learning more from her cell phone than the lecture.  I doubt she was Googling the string theory or doing advanced calculations.  It is more likely she was on Kik, Instragram, or texting a friend.  She no, it is not likely she was advancing her education in that moment.

      Get back to work on your bunker bud, this argument is done.

      1. Napoleon Pig IV

        No, theotherside, this argument is not done. I’m sure Frankly can easily defend his astute observations, but since he might not notice your post this late in the life if this thread, I’ll just observe, in case it’s not already obvious, that the SC girl did not deserve physical assault over disobeying a cell phone rule, and Eric Garner did not deserve to be executed over whatever transgression he may have committed.

        1. theotherside

          And I would argue Eric Garner was not executed.  He committed a crime and resisted arrest culminating in his death.  Had he either chosen to not commit the crime or not to resist, taken responsibility for his transgression, he would be alive today.  His actions led tot he events not those that responded.

          I agree the girl did not deserve to be physical assaulted over a cell phone rule.  She chose to have her phone out in class, chose to refuse to put it away, chose to not surrender it to the teacher, chose to refuse the Deputy’s lawful commands.  The Deputy did not deserve to be physically assaulted by the student either, for simply performing his duties of maintaining order in a school setting.  He used bad tactics and his discipline was just, but my argument is he did not need to be put in that situation.  She had a majority of the responsibility in what occurred.

          But too many here fail to put any measure of responsibility on the ones that start these encounters.  That is why we have these events to begin with .. failure to take responsibility for one’s own actions

  3. Anon

    The girl did not follow the school rules, regardless of her home life or situation, which is irrelevant here.  She instigated the entire mess.  Nevertheless, she is a minor, and as such has to be given some latitude as to how she is treated by law enforcement and the schools.  Secondly, Fields clearly did NOT follow proper police procedure, and is the reason he was fired from his job, and rightly so.

    So the question really becomes, how do schools handle difficult students?  I can tell you from personal teaching experience, that is not an easy question to answer.   Every teacher has has to deal with at least one or more chronically disruptive students every year.  The schools are required to offer an education to every child, but not every child belongs in the public school setting.  I am going to give you an example.  We had a 6th grade student that the elementary school could not handle, so he was moved up to our junior high school.  The little tyrant was constantly suspended from school.  One day, even though he was suspended that day, he brought three of his “friends” back onto school property, entered one of the portable classrooms, and literally took over the class from the teacher.  The teacher made the mistake of sending a student to get help, and the student was beaten by the little tyrant’s three hooligan friends.  The principal of the school did not want to admit this little tyrant could not be handled in the regular school system, so chose to do nothing other than to increase the little tyrant’s suspension to a week.  I could not sit by and let the untenable situation continue, but because of school politics had my hands tied.  I contacted the parents of the assaulted students, and urged them to contact the Superintendent of Schools, and explain what happened, then demand that something be done.  Shortly thereafter, the little tyrant was expelled from the public school system, and we never had a problem like that again.

    In short, teachers are not equipped to handle all students.  Chronic troublemakers need to be placed in alternative settings that are more suitable for their needs, where they don’t disrupt and detract from the learning environment of the other 99.9% of students who do want to get an education.

    1. MrsW

      Thank you.  I am struck by how hard a public school teacher’s job can be and how random it is, whether or not he or she has the kind of experience you are describing.  It seems that there should be a faster pathway to get chronic troublemakers out of regular classrooms.  I would think, there should be a pathway for them to return and a welcoming place for them, when they’ve learned how to behave.  Would that be possible?

    2. ryankelly

      Assault, trespassing … these are broken laws.  However, being late to school, violating the dress code, refusing to participate in class, looking at a phone, are not broken laws.  These are no where near the same.

      My son was repeatedly physically bullied by another student in Jr. High, so I’m aware that there are problem children like you describe.  However, nothing excuses the physical assault by a police officer.  It is just not a consequence that can be allowed.

       

      1. Napoleon Pig IV

        “However, nothing excuses the physical assault by a police officer.  It is just not a consequence that can be allowed.”

        The key bottom line. And, the basis of a solid guiding principle going forward.

        1. Anon

          Also agree, and said so in the first paragraph of my comment – the policeman used excessive force and deserved to be fired.  We are dealing with minors, who don’t always use good judgment.  That is the nature of being a child.  Children have to be treated with greater understanding than a grown adult.

          That said, a student using a cell phone during class would generally be viewed as a minor offense – until the student refuses to cooperate, which raises it to a whole other level.  Because then it becomes open defiance of the teacher’s authority.  Just to throw out a hypothetical, to show you how difficult it can be discern how to deal with problem students, let’s take the following example:

          A student repeatedly uses the cell phone during class.  She refuses to obey the teacher’s direction to put her cell phone away.  Other students see that this girl is getting away with the rules, so start pulling out their cell phones and ignoring the teacher’s demands to put all cell phones away.  What now?

    3. Miwok

      It is interesting the other kids are not heard on the video, or the girl herself.  OR the previous requests to put the thing away. I am only asking because it does not seem to exist as testimony or video. I am curious. DID the teacher know her mother had died, she was in foster care? Why wasn’t the school counselor contacted instead of the School Officer? Seems like the school did not have a plan?

      I assume this will all come out with time, but for now, we have half the story…

  4. Davis Progressive

    i think ryan kelly’s view here most clearly mirros mine – the problem is the criminalization of rules infractions that should not be crimes.  are we next going to arrest a girl whose skirt is too short if she refuses to change?

    while i agree with anon that teachers aren’t equipped to handle all students, this is not a case where i would think it should be a problem.  first, from the disciption it was a minor violation.  second, the teacher actually caused a bigger distraction by attempting to confiscate her phone after she merely looked at it.  had the teacher handled this better, we would not be here.

    i still don’t understand why you need a cop there.  if she is as bad a distraction as they let on, bring in a counselor to talk to her – clear out the class if you have to.

    1. Miwok

      I used to get booted from a class because I read a book under my desk (Trig), and the teacher would be apoplectic with rage because I seemed to not be listening to him. I think he would have hit me if I said anything to him, but I only left the class or stood in the hall. If he had taken the book, I might have been in the same situation?

  5. Anon

    For those of you who consider using a cell phone a minor offense, what should the teacher do if the student refuses to put their cell phone away and will not leave the classroom?

    1. Do nothing – then other students will follow suit and use their cell phones and the teacher will be ignored by the class – class discipline is shot.

    2. Try and wrestle the cell phone from the student – a teacher is not permitted to manhandle students, and it could invite an assault on the teacher.

    3. Tell the girl to go to the office, suspending class until she does – but she refuses, so no learning goes on that day.

    4. Call in outside help – inviting overreaction by school officials for a minor infraction.

    5. Other – what would you suggest?

    Teachers face this kind of crap from students on a daily basis, and have to pretty much fly by the seat of their pants.  They don’t always get the support of the school administration.  More experienced teachers are usually better at handling problem students, but not always.

    1. Adam Smith

      I was thinking about the same thing Anon.   What should the school do when this person defies authority (different than questioning) and flaunts breaking the rules of the school?

      I agree with others who have posted that this student should not have a criminal record, and she should not have deemed to be a criminal.  However, there has to be a way to deal with students and people who are not respecting the simple, necessary rules of the school

       

       

    2. Napoleon Pig IV

      Maintaining discipline and a constructive learning environment is a challenge as old as schools themselves.

      As for cell phones, I see no reason to ban their use as learning tools and as communication devices. In the specific case of the SC girl, she was not talking on her phone; she was looking at it. The teacher is the person who disturbed the class, not the student.

      “Simple and necessary rules” are fine. It’s the ones that are unnecessary or complex enough to play into the selective enforcement game that need to be eliminated or ignored.

      1. Adam Smith

        I understand your thought about phones in schools, but this school system has a different idea.  As long as the rules are consistently applied to all students, then this and all students should comply, and there should be ways for the school to enforce the rule.  If parents and/or students believe it is an unnecessary rule, they should go through appropriate routes to change it.

    3. MrsW

      Teachers need administrative support.  Actually, anyone who works with children needs support from other adults.  My husband and I would spot each other, when one of us was at our wits end with one of our children.  There should be enough adults on campus to allow a temporary pass-off, as well as a pathway for the student and teacher to restore their relationship.

      In my department, I would help other teachers this way, when I was on my prep.

      As long as everyone knows the rules and they are consistently applied, most people/students cooperate.  One year, our elementary school had a substitute janitor, who would nab students who had been unruly on the playground and put them to work beautifying the school.  The students earned back good grace and had something to show for their time!  I realize this is a different age group, but I think it can be made age-appropriate.  Fostering a community that acknowledges people mess up and here are the specific achievable steps on how you can fix  your mess up, would be a good start for many.

      In addition to experienced teachers, there are certain personalities that are better at handling problem students than others, such as bigger-than-life, no-nonsense types.  How can we better attract them to the profession?

    4. Tia Will

      Anon

      For those of you who consider using a cell phone a minor offense, what should the teacher do if the student refuses to put their cell phone away and will not leave the classroom?”

      One problem with the question as you are asking it is that this is not my understanding of what happened in this instance. I believe that the problem was not that she refused to put the phone away, but rather that she refused to give it to the teacher. I see the first problem in the teacher’s handling of the situation was to demand that she give him the phone rather than just putting it away.

      1. hpierce

        There is no problem with the question… the word “if” is used… theoretical.  It was a “fair question”, the answer to which would neither justify/excuse nor further condemn events that are demonstrable (as you seem want to do, even questioning as ‘disturbing’ the students who protested the firing).

        You weren’t there.  Neither was I.

        1. Tia Will

          hpierce

          You weren’t there.  Neither was I.”

          Wow, sorry to have offended. I was using the articles that I have read about the incident as my source of information. One can, of course, ask any question that they like. However, if we choose to speak about an instance without at least trying to adhere to the information as presented, then we are addressing a completely different situation. Which is also fine. But then, I believe we need to be open to the suggestions of others that the question is not applicable ( just as I am not offended when someone tells me that my medical analogy is not applicable) or does not support their inferences about this particular situation.

      2. Matt Williams

        Tia, why is that a meaningful difference? How does surrendering your phone before you enter classroom (by not bringing it into the classroom) differ from surrendering your phone after you have already entered the classroom?

        1. Tia Will

          Matt

          I must not have been clear. The issue for me is that the there should have been no demand to surrender the cell phone. Request that it not be used in class, fine. Surrender, with this I disagree. Many of us have information or items on our cell phones that we consider private. I would not “surrender” my cell phone to anyone whom I did not trust completely to not “sneak a peak” at the contents.

          1. Matt Williams

            Interesting Tia. Every time I go to Davis Athletic Club for water aerobics class, I put my clothes into a locker outside the pool. I wouldn’t consider bringing my phone into the pool with me. How is going into a pool for a class any different than going into a classroom for a class? I’m going to make an assumption that each student has a school locker somewhere in the hallways of their school, probably outside their homeroom. Is it not appropriate to leave the telephone locked in the locker during class time?

        2. Barack Palin

          Who’s to say the teacher didn’t ask her to get off the phone but she repeatedly kept sneaking back on it to the point where the teacher wanted her to hand it over?  

          WE DON’T KNOW !!!!!!!

  6. Misanthrop

    If they knew about her mother and the foster care situation they should have called for a counselor. If they didn’t know, and I’m guessing they didn’t know because they didn’t call a counselor, the policeman could have used less force to compel the student. I was once in a class where the same kind of thing happened and the student refused to leave when directed to do so by both the teacher and a vice principal. Eventually a police officer was called who removed the student without an incident. This was clearly a case of excessive force by the officer and he was fired for it. I imagine there will be a civil case and a payout to the girl if she was injured.

    I think the question of whether the adults involved knew of the emotional trauma is the most important aspect of the story. The girl’s cell phone was probably her personal safety net. Taking it away may have been a threat to her. It may not seem rational but when someone is dealing with trauma like this story claims she was experiencing acting in a manner that non-traumatized people would in the same situation can’t be guaranteed. The system may have failed this girl twice, once through the use of excessive force but before that the question of whether these adults understood her emotional state is equally important. i think the bigger lesson for schools in general is about informing the teacher as to the students emotional state and training the teacher in how to deal with traumatized students. Most often teachers are not informed of the emotional problems of the students in their classes. This is a common failure of schools.

  7. tribeUSA

    Today at school I learned that if I refuse to put my cell phone away during lessons, they’re going to sic officer SLAM on me. I learned that officer SLAM knows some very effective ways to entice students to cooperate, he makes some arguments that are tough to refute. Respect to SLAM, the cell-phone adjustment man!

  8. Anon

    Napoleon Pig IV: “As for cell phones, I see no reason to ban their use as learning tools and as communication devices…

    If the student is using the cell phone to play games, surf the net on nonclass material, watch porn, take pictures of fellow students?  There is good reason to ban the use of cell phones while teaching is going on in the classroom.  Allow one student to “play” on their phone, before you know it many more students follow suit, and classroom discipline is shot.

    Tia: “I believe that the problem was not that she refused to put the phone away, but rather that she refused to give it to the teacher. I see the first problem in the teacher’s handling of the situation was to demand that she give him the phone rather than just putting it away.

    How do you know the teacher did not ask the student to put it away first, before the teacher demanded the phone from the student?  You were not there, and neither were the reporters.  Secondly, let’s assume the teacher did ask the student to put the cell phone away, she ignored the teacher and kept on using it.  Then what should the teacher have done?

    Misanthrope: “I think the question of whether the adults involved knew of the emotional trauma is the most important aspect of the story. The girl’s cell phone was probably her personal safety net. Taking it away may have been a threat to her.

    Whether the girl was emotionally traumatized or not is irrelevant.  She still has to follow school rules, else class discipline is shot to h_ll.  I agree with an earlier point you made, that this girl should have been referred to counseling, but we don’t know that she wasn’t offered those services.  Having a bad home life does not absolve her of the responsibility to follow school rules, just as having a difficult life does not absolve adult citizens from following the law.

    1. Napoleon Pig IV

      A high priority of education should be to teach that life’s highest calling is not to merely follow rules and laws. In fact, a reasonably high calling might just be to resist and challenge poorly thought out or unfairly applied rules and laws.

        1. Napoleon Pig IV

          By virtue of the complexity of human interactions (as well as those of sheep and swine) a meaningful answer to your question cannot be simplistic, nor simply a rote recitation of the advantages of democracy over other forms of government.

          Ultimately, each individual either consciously decides to take action or not take action, reacts out of instinct, or acts out of habit without conscious thought. Nonetheless, each individual is responsible for following or ignoring laws and rules of all types – ranging from the ludicrous to the rational to the dangerous. Ludicrous might include the law supposedly still on the books in Eureka making it illegal for a man with a mustache to kiss a woman. Rational might be the law requiring us to drive on the right side of a two lane road. Dangerous includes laws that have historically legalized all sorts of immoral behavior (the keeping of slaves, for example; or the legal mandate to follow the officer’s stupid order that led to the writing of the poem entitled “The Charge of the Light Brigade”), Some would argue this category (dangerous) includes the Patriot Act and its derivatives.

          However, given the obvious chaos that would result from the absence of all laws, or the absence of any incentive for groups of people to obey even rational laws, it becomes imperative upon those who would govern to establish efficient and fair means to challenge bad laws (not the case in the U.S. as of now due to cost, complexity and protracted time frames) and to write laws in clear and unambiguous language (not the case in the U.S. as of now – just check out the federal tax code).

          As for school rules, what better place for kids to gain broad insight into the moral and the practical with respect to the intent of rules and laws and the positive or negative consequences of ignoring or obeying them. And, what a good time and place to learn that neither rules nor laws are conceived by superior or supernatural beings nor endowed with sacred status to be mindlessly obeyed by mere mortals.

          Any kid who becomes an adult without ever having broken a school rule is missing something important, some part of the essence of being a free-thinking individual.

        2. Davis Progressive

          bp – that’s probably a more complicated question than you intended.  there are laws that we stop enforcing because they are either antiquated or unenforceable.  there are other laws that the public simply stops supporting and they often don’t get enforced either.

    2. Tia Will

      How do you know the teacher did not ask the student to put it away first, before the teacher demanded the phone from the student?  You were not there, and neither were the reporters.  Secondly, let’s assume the teacher did ask the student to put the cell phone away, she ignored the teacher and kept on using it.  Then what should the teacher have done?”

      I don’t know. I am using as my source the same news article that everyone else has access to as I stated in my earlier post. I am not claiming any information that all the rest of you do not have as well. I think it is valid to question what might be appropriate under other circumstances as long as we are clear that we are hypothesizing about other circumstances, not using them as justification for the actions of anyone in this situation.

    3. Tia Will

      Whether the girl was emotionally traumatized or not is irrelevant”

      I disagree with this point. While I agree that emotional trauma does not completely absolve her from having to follow the rules, I do believe that it should be considered as a mitigating factor in how she responds to the usual rules. To state that enforcement of the rules cannot in anyway be tempered to meet the individual emotional needs of a student is equivalent to me to stating that it doesn’t matter what the child’s learning needs are, everyone should be taught exactly the same way. I am fairly sure as a teacher than you would not agree with this latter statement.

      1. hpierce

        Ok, crossing ‘threads’, I’ll put you down as an advocate for “differentiated instruction”… which I agree with on the academic side, somewhat less so on the behavioral side.

    4. Misanthrop

      “Whether the girl was emotionally traumatized or not is irrelevant.”

      Wrong. You want to address the behavior but you can’t address the behavior without understanding its cause. Students who deal with trauma in their lives suffer PTSD. Ignoring the individual needs of any student is in opposition to everything we know about teaching. Yes order must be maintained or a school will descend into chaos. Still understanding the personal needs of each individual can allow for order without a mindless adherence to one size fits all discipline that this debacle illustrates beyond all reason.

  9. Anon

    To Napoleon: Should the girl have been allowed to continue surfing the net on her cell phone?  Simple question.

    To Tia: So should the girl have been allowed to continue to surf the net on her cell pone because she had a traumatizing home life?  Simple question.

      1. hpierce

        Actually, most likely she was checking her e-mail, twitter, other social media rather than “surfing”, per se.  But does it really matter what terms are used?  Sounds like she was more ‘engaged’ in some form, in her phone, than the classroom… and, if her friends know all this, isn’t that an indication that her behavior was distractive?

    1. Tia Will

      Anon

      It may be a simple question, but it is setting up a straw man. I never once said anything about allowing her to “surf the net” if that is indeed what she was doing. Perhaps she was checking for an anticipated message from a foster parent, or checking a date on her calendar. This is yet another thing we don’t know. I think it is one thing to ask her to put her phone away, and quite another to demand that she hand it over. Also we seem to know that there was a rule against using your phone in class. We do not know if there was a rule stating that you could not take it into the class with you and we do not know if the school has a rule that a phone  must be surrendered.

      I will also stand by my point that her personal circumstances do matter. Now I will ask you a simple question.

      Presumably sleeping in class could be considered disruptive and is probably against the rules. Should the student who falls asleep in class because they have been up playing video games until 2 in the morning be treated the same as the student who falls asleep in class because his dad came home at 2 am drunk and started beating up his mother ? I would say that personal circumstances should certainly be taken into account.

       

  10. theotherside

    “Presumably sleeping in class could be considered disruptive and is probably against the rules. Should the student who falls asleep in class because they have been up playing video games until 2 in the morning be treated the same as the student who falls asleep in class because his dad came home at 2 am drunk and started beating up his mother ? I would say that personal circumstances should certainly be taken into account.”

    The answer is yes.  If a student violates rules and policy and refuses to correct the behavior, each student in your extreme example should be asked to leave the classroom.  An assessment that led to the behavior can then be done to determine a proper outcome.  For example, getting resources to the student in need or discipline to the one screwing off.

    I suppose you could leave each of them in the classroom to continue sleeping, an example to other students that the behavior is now accepted.  Then no one is helped and the teacher has lost all credibility from everyone.

    1. Miwok

      For all the child Protective Services people and psychology people who pretend to care, they are not in schools where they could do some good. they are sitting in some cubicle in an office miles away.

      Both of the children sleeping in your example should be counseled, and rightly for different reasons. But who is there to identify it? People hired to do these jobs need to be deployed where they are most useful.

      1. Tia Will

        Miwok

        For all the child Protective Services people and psychology people who pretend to care,”

        “Pretend to care” ! Really. Are you asserting that CPS and psychologist do not care ? Or do you hold them directly responsible when they are not even called or notified ?

    2. Napoleon Pig IV

      Laws, rules, policies, and practices. . . ah, the essentials of life!

      Clearly the solution is to add a ritual, just after the pledge of allegiance to the flag, in which all students properly bow before the Great Book of Rules, and recite a pledge of unthinking obedience.

      1. Tia Will

        Napoleon

        just after the pledge of allegiance to the flag, in which all students properly bow before the Great Book of Rules, and recite a pledge of unthinking obedience.”

        Is there any difference between the two ?

         

        1. theotherside

          No Tia, I referred to Pig 4 as an anarchist. Apparently there are too many responses and I am offending the wrong person.  I do disagree with you but not at that level

      2. theotherside

        So is your assertion that the classroom have no rules? Phones? Talking? General not paying attention and disruption? With no consequences?  I would imagine students there to actually learn would disagree with you.  I get it, you’re an anarchist .. good luck with that.  Rules and laws are what bind together our society, feel free to eject from it.

        Most kids are happy with the Pledge of Allegiance, makes them feel proud

        1. Tia Will

          theotherside

          Allowed to leave the classroom to sleep”

          Where did you get that ?  I agree with your wording almost verbatim and you say that we have differing ideas of school.

          So is your assertion that the classroom have no rules? Phones? Talking? General not paying attention and disruption? “

          No that is not my assertion. That is your assertion of what I am saying, that I have in no way ever said, so that you will have something to argue with me about.

          So Frankly says that I want to impose too many rules based on his version of things that I have a never said, and you call me an “anarchist” based on your version of things that I have never said. You two would probably build a better case if you would only agree on which version of things that I have never said to attack.

           

    3. Tia Will

      each student in your extreme example should be asked to leave the classroom.”

      Agreed, I have no problem with them being asked to leave the classroom to sleep. My point was that the circumstances surrounding the behavior are relevant. Anon had opined that the reason for the rule breaking was irrelevant. It was that statement, and that statement only that I was disputing.

  11. Tia Will

    theotherside

    No Tia, I referred to Pig 4 as an anarchist. Apparently there are too many responses and I am offending the wrong person.  I do disagree with you but not at that level”

    Got it. Pardon my confusion.

     

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