Does Suspension Make Any Sense?


 

Cast from the garden?
Cast from the garden?

Does Suspension Make Any Sense?

Why do we suspend children from school? – Slate Magazine

Several schools have suspended children for joking about guns in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings. A 7-year-old in Maryland was suspended for chewing a breakfast pastry into the shape of a gun, while others have received the same punishment for pointing their fingers like guns or using toy guns that blow bubbles. Suspension seems like a counterintuitive disciplinary tool, since many children would prefer to stay home from school, anyway. Why is suspension such a common punishment?

Because it’s familiar, cheap, and convenient. It’s also demonstrably ineffective. Its deterrent value is low: A 2011 study showed that Texas students who were suspended or expelled at least once during middle school and high school averaged four such disciplinary actions during their academic careers. Fourteen percent of them were suspended 11 times or more. Suspensions don’t even seem to benefit the school as a whole. In recent years, while Baltimore city schools have dramatically reduced suspensions, the dropout rate has been cut nearly in half.

Still, surveys consistently show that parents support suspension, because it keeps those students perceived as bad apples away from their peers. Principals continue to rely on suspension, in part because it creates the appearance of toughness. Parents can’t complain about inaction when a principal regularly suspends or expels bad actors. Administrators may also favor suspension because it edges problem students out of school: Students who have been suspended are three times more likely to drop out. Some researchers refer to a student who gives up on school after repeated suspension as a “push out” rather than a dropout.

Why do we suspend children from school? – Slate Magazine

 

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Teaching with Purpose


Francis Bacon - Teaching with Purpose
Francis Bacon – Teaching with Purpose
Teaching with purpose

I’m one of the NRA’s “bad guys” – Salon.com

Why do I do this? I teach creative nonfiction. More importantly, I teach critical thinking skills, which, if Wayne LaPierre is any example, are in short supply in this country. I insist that students read books about difficult topics precisely because I want students to understand how to pick apart a difficult argument and how to see through the eyes of someone else, or because I simply want to see if my students’ vision of life squares up with those that they read. Sometimes, they are able to see themselves depicted in those pages, and sometimes they are able to examine their own prejudices (be they class, gender, race or education level) by being forced to look at the world through the eyes of the other.

I’m one of the NRA’s “bad guys” – Salon.com

I, too, teach critical thinking skills. It’s an uphill battle. My students having endured years of NCLB testing are superb factual test takers but have little experience with expressing an informed opinion. Quite often, a request for an opinion results not in an informed opinion based on any kind of fact or thinking but a reiteration of the worst elements of talk radio and 24 hours “news.” Simple tests where opinions and facts are listed and the student asked to identify which is which are routinely failed even by good students.

Business ethics and business law both demand higher level thinking skills. Deciding what should be done when there are ethical questions can well depend on religious beliefs, philosophical perceptions, life experience and practical considerations all at once. Critical thinking is key to making intelligent business decisions both routine and ethical.

James Pilant

From across the web –

From, http://izygekev.wordpress.com/

Critical thinking refers to a process of judgment taken after an analytical evaluation of a problem. It can be developed through the practice of intentional analyzing of every situation in life. Critical thinking skills can be developed by inculcating a habit of analytical and strategic thinking. If you can get yourself into the habit of analyzing every situation critically, you will gradually acquire critical thinking skills.

Your educational background plays a major role in the development of your thinking skills. Education that requires you to think analytically, the education that instills in you the principles of analytical thinking and reasoning leads you to become a critical thinker. The development of problem solving and reasoning skills since an early age is an excellent way of developing critical thinking skills. Fields that require you to acquire and evaluate information before reaching a conclusion indeed help in the development of critical thinking skills. Exposing yourself to questions that stimulate thinking can develop critical thinking skills.

From the web site, vive la internet

No one always acts purely objectively and rationally. We connive for selfish interests. We gossip, boast, exaggerate, and equivocate. It is “only human” to wish to validate our prior knowledge, to vindicate our prior decisions, or to sustain our earlier beliefs. In the process of satisfying our ego, however, we can often deny ourselves intellectual growth and opportunity. We may not always want to apply critical thinking skills, but we should have those skills available to be employed when needed.
Critical thinking includes a complex combination of skills. Among the main characteristics are the following:

Rationality
We are thinking critically when we
• rely on reason rather than emotion,
• require evidence, ignore no known evidence, and follow evidence where it leads, and
• are concerned more with finding the best explanation than being right analyzing apparent confusion and asking questions.

From the web site, Rliberni’s Blog, Radical Language

How do we focus on the teaching of Critical Thinking skills in a standardized test focused curriculum?
What a fun topic for me this week (per usual for edchat).  I actually almost missed it as I was running late from a meeting.  Don’t tell my superintendent, but I may have pushed the speed limit a bit in a school vehicle to get to my computer.  
As an administrator for the past 9 years, I have wrestled with this question often.  I feel horrible about focusing so much on the test when I know that focusing on the test probably isn’t what is what our kids need for being better thinkers.   

Many strong opinions were shared during this amazing fast paced hour of learning.  It is hard to argue that critical thinking skills are vital to be taught and what we SHOULD be teaching.  However, it is scary for teachers and administrators to deviate from not teaching to the tests when the system is currently set up with sanctions and penalties for those schools that do not do well on the tests.  It was agreed by many, including me, that great teaching that includes teaching students how to think, rather than what to think, while ultimately produce strong results. 

 

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Students United, the International Student Movement


international student movement

International Joint Statement | International Student Movement

International Joint Statement

Around the world over the past decade students, pupils, teachers, parents and employees have been protesting against the increasing commercialization and privatization of public education, and fighting for free and emancipatory education.

Many of us use the International Student Movement as a self-managed platform initiated to exchange information, to network and to co-ordinate protests at both the international and the global levels. Since the ISM platform was initiated in November 2008 various global days and weeks of action were coordinated.
We strive for structures based on direct participation and non-hierarchical organization through collective discussion and action. Anyone who identifies with the struggle against the privatization of public education, and for free and emancipatory education can join and participate on as well as shape the platform!

The following aims unite us worldwide:

What are we struggling against?

  • The effects of the current economic system on people and education systems:
    → tuition fees or any form of fees which exclude people from accessing and equally participating in education
    → student debt
    → public education aligned to serve the (labour) market;

    The so called Bologna-Process (as with its counterparts around the world) is aimed at implementing education systems that primarily train people in skills serving the labour market. It promotes the reduction of costs for training a person, shortens the length of time spent studying, and produces underqualified workforces.

    → turning education into a commodity as part of the commodification of all aspects of life
    → the significant and increasing influence of business interests on basic budgets for public education
    → the significant and increasing budget cuts on public education worldwide
    → the privatisation of public funds through the subsidisation of private educational institutions
    → the commodification and exploitation of labor within educational institutions

  • We stand against discrimination and exclusion within any educational institution based on:
    → socio-economic background, for instance by charging fees so that people with less money can’t participate equally
    → nationality
    → performance and academic record
    → political ideologies and activities
    → gender
    → sexual orientation
    → religion
    → ethnic background
    → skin colour
  • We stand against the prioritisation of research towards commercially valuable patents rather than open knowledge freely available to all
    → Public educational institutions are increasingly forced to compete for private sponsorships to do (basic) research; at the same time private funds tend to be invested into research promising to be profitable, leading to a decline in funding for areas of research which may be important but not deemed economically lucrative. Educational institutions and participants are evaluated on the basis of economic profitability and often compete to receive additional public funding based on this criteria.
  • We stand against the prioritisation of income-generating research grants ahead of education and basic research
  • Activities for the army within educational institutions:
    → no research specifically for military purposes
    → no recruiting and advertising activities for the army

What are we struggling for?

  • CONTENT:
    → free and emancipatory education as a human right. Education should primarily work for the emancipation of the individual, which means: being enabled to critically reflect and understand the power structures and environment surrounding him-/herself. Education must not only enable the emancipation of the individual but society as a whole
    → education as a public good serving public interests
    → academic freedom and choice: freedom to pursue any educational discipline
  • ACCESS:
    → free from monetary mechanisms of payment by participants and any kind of discrimination and exclusion and therefore freely accessible to all individuals
    → sufficient funding for all public educational institutions, whether they are deemed profitable or not
  • STRUCTURE:
    → all educational entities/institutions should be democratically structured, meaning direct participation from below as a basis for decision making processes

Why on the local and global level?

The impacts of the current global economic system create struggles worldwide. While applying local pressure to influence our individual local/regional politics and legislation, we must always be aware of the global and structural nature of our problems and learn from each other’s tactics, experiences in organizing, and theoretical knowledge. Short-term changes may be achieved on the local level, but great change will only happen if we unite globally.

Education systems worldwide do what they are intended to do within the economic and state system(s): select for, train and create ignorance and submission. We unite for a different education system and a different life.

We stand united against any sort of repression by governments worldwide directed at people involved in the struggle for free and emancipatory education.

The following groups and individuals support this statement, pledge to spread it, and to get actively involved in efforts to network and unite education activist groups worldwide in the future.

Wish to support this statement by having your (group) name listed below? Just send an e-mail to: united.for.education@gmail.com

~ one world – one struggle ~

International Joint Statement | International Student Movement

Students around the world have many common interests. In many nations, austerity policies are damaging the social fabric including education. That kind of investment in a nation’s future is the last place one should look for broad cuts.

I have watched in horror as our college students are priced out of many educational options, saddled with enormous debts when they do go to college and in a poorly regulated market are often overcharged for degrees with little use.

I believe that education is the bedrock value for a civilized society with a view toward future generations. We must look to our children’s future.

Financing education on the backs of our students is an American innovation. We transfer what used to be a common burden, a common investment, into personal debt. It is a national tragedy.

But also we see a constant drumbeat for an education suited only for the job market. That is only one element of the educational process. We who teach are also in the business of creating critical thinkers, good citizens and human beings who can live full lives with an appreciation of art, culture and history.

In 1841, European student went to the barricades and fought for a more just society. Ever since students have been in the forefront of challenging society to live up to its highest values.

I believe in the future. I believe in it not because of the continuing horror of American politics but because I teach students that I believe in, that I have faith in, and that I am willing to trust the future of this nation with.

James Alan Pilant

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Does Teaching Business Ethics Matter? From the Ethics Sage


Are Ethics Courses Failing to Produce Ethical Business People? – Ethics Sage

The bottom line is there is no way of knowing whether business ethics education has made a difference. A graduate of a prestigious school might commit fraud in the future, but it doesn’t mean business ethics has failed them or even all students. Organizational pressures and the culture of a firm can create barriers to ethical behavior. The key is to find a way to work through the obstacles and voice your values.

I’m asked all the time why I teach ethics and am challenged whether it is even possible to change one’s ethics by a college course. After all, some argue, ethics is formed at a very early age. I don’t dispute that but do point out that my goal is to get students to reflect on their actions in a safe setting so they can better develop the tools to deal with ethical challenges in the workplace. I am not a guarantor of ethical action.

Teaching ethics should not rely on having one college course in business ethics and that is it. I see the failure of business ethics education to be one of not integrating ethics into each course and each decision in business. When colleges rely on one course to teach ethics, they are not sending the message that ethics counts.  If they cover it in all courses and in the context of functional courses, then they send a completely opposite signal that it is an important part of every business decision.

I can teach business ethics – I know it from past experiences including grading papers, exams, and student presentations and papers on the topics. What I don’t know is whether students will really learn the lesson. Similarly, I can teach Intermediate Accounting to my students but I don’t know if they have truly learned the material and will be successful on the CPA Exam or in their accounting careers.

There is old African proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child”. It is quite appropriate to say that it takes an organization to raise an ethical employee.

Are Ethics Courses Failing to Produce Ethical Business People? – Ethics Sage

(I should mention that a great deal of this posting dealt with the “Giving Voice to Values” curriculum and the work of Mary C. Gentile. I have visited the web site for this curriculum and liked what I saw.)

I guess you could ask if classes in art, history or music are effective? It’s hard to measure the results once you wander even a little distance from the hard sciences, and even they have trouble coming up with hard data at times. Many of the most important subjects like leadership are difficult to teach and have results hard to measure. Ethics is no different. We “cast our bread on the water” and hope for it to return.

James Pilant

“What, no measurable results!”

 

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Is Teaching Business Ethics a Waste of Time?


English: , Prussian philosopher. Português: , ...

English: , Prussian philosopher. Português: , filósofo alemão. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Business school and ethics: Can we train MBAs to do the right thing? – Slate Magazine

The only way we’ll get our students to integrate their moral compasses with the practical tools of business we teach them is to incorporate the topic of ethics throughout the curriculum. This will require the accounting and finance and marketing professors to grasp the ethical blind spots inherent in their respective areas, and to appreciate and recognize approaches to lessening them. Professors, in other words, need to be moral architects themselves.

When you stop and ask students whether they’d like their dying words to be “I maximized profits,” a wave of laughter ripples through the class, as all but the most callous have higher aspirations for themselves. When we ask MBA students why they might want to be a CEO, the first two responses are “I want to make a difference” and “I enjoy a challenge”; “Making gobs of money” always comes in third. We need to work harder to equip students to live up to those aspirations. And if we’re not going to make a better-faith effort in this endeavor, perhaps we should remove discussion of ethics from business schools altogether. Otherwise, it serves merely as empty PR for MBA programs and to appease the consciences of those who teach in them.

Business school and ethics: Can we train MBAs to do the right thing? – Slate Magazine

Maybe, but I don’t think so. I do think the way like the article says that the way business ethics is taught now is a failure and a disaster. The article recommends embedding ethics in every part of the business curriculum. That would be nice, but it is neither necessary or likely that will happen.

I recommend that business ethics be taught the way I do it. (I know, everybody does – however, hear me out.) I believe in giving business students the opportunity to develop their own moral landscape. I use moral problems, big ones, airline crashes, economic disasters, fires, murders, etc., as examples. Then I ask students the big questions: Who’s responsible and what should be done? They decide within a set of guidelines. I tell them that for every big open ended question, that there are usually around five or so really good answers, eleven to fifteen mediocre answers and an infinity of bad inadequate poorly thought out answers. I tell them to look for the five.

By providing the students with broad guidelines and by refusing to tell them the “right” answers, I engage their judgment. They write brief essays justifying their choices, and then we do it again and again. By the end of the semester, they have created a moral framework, that I hope lasts for their lifetimes certainly for many years. My perception is that self education, self creations in a real sense is the most effective means of education.

James Pilant

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What Do Our College Students Learn?


I wrote a three part series (part 1) (part 2) (part 3) on the latest study showing that college students are not learning critical thinking skills. I pointed out that the study was another in a series of little publicized media events. In truth, the public, the colleges and the business world have little desire for critical thinking.

But what do students learn in college?

A faculty member once had a class of students who were not wealthy, not even close. Not all of the students in his class were able to afford textbooks. So, given a choice of textbooks for the next year’s class, he chose one that cost about seventy dollars. The next year, all of his students had the textbook. The very next semester the price of the textbook rose to one hundred and ten dollars. And then two more years slid by and it went up to one hundred and fifty dollars.

This is not an unusual situation with textbook prices. It is, in fact, the common, everyday experience of teachers and students in colleges and universities all over the United States.

Students may not be learning as much critical thinking as some would like, they may not get that much cultural literacy, and they may have only the vaguest concept of the term “civic duty”, but they do know about pricing. I get it in class essays, “You charge as much as you can get.” To them, it is an ethical rule – You must pursue the highest return possible under any circumstance. The students don’t know any other rule. The deeper philosophical concepts of just price and two thousand years of contrary philosophy are not factors here.

I believe I am a good teacher but there is no amount of teaching skill that can equal the cutting edge of another textbook price increase every year. They may not grasp the “statute of frauds” in my business law class but they understand the phrase, “what the market will bear” with perfect clarity.

What are we teaching our students?  Is there any lesson more naked about the nature of the American idea of free enterprise than what students endure each year at the bookstore?

James Pilant

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Penn State Students Riot on Behalf of Morally Disgraced Coach


A number of students at Penn State have rioted over the firing of legendary football coach, Joe Paterno. I am very disappointed in their behavior. From the grand jury report alone without any other media report, it is obvious that Paterno breached his moral duty by not reporting a cruel act of pedophilia and allowing the culprit to go free and possibly continue his criminal career for nine more years. Apparently some are arguing that since Paterno told his superiors, he had fulfilled his duty!

There was never any doubt in my mind that he and the college president had to be removed. The issues here are not grey, they are not indistinct; we are looking at a clear issue of right and wrong. These rioting Penn State students are making a statement here, that they do not understand the basic responsibilities of a citizen in our society.

From the New York Times

After top Penn State officials announced that they had fired Joe Paterno on Wednesday night, thousands of students stormed the downtown area to display their anger and frustration, chanting the former coach’s name, tearing down light poles and overturning a television news van parked along College Avenue.

Now, let’s hear at least one person’s argument on behalf of the fired coach –

Again, from the New York Times story

“I think the point people are trying to make is the media is responsible for JoePa going down,” said a freshman, Mike Clark, 18, adding that he believed that Mr. Paterno had met his legal and moral responsibilities by telling university authorities about an accusation that Mr. Sandusky assaulted a boy in a university shower in 2002.

Run this phrase from the paragraph above across your mind – “met his legal and moral responsibilities” Say it out loud and see if there is any way you can mean it.

There are those who believe when they have met the very least of their legal responsibilities, their moral duties are also fulfilled. I do not hold to that. My perception is that our moral responsibilities only begin there at the moral minimum of obedience to the law. We have duties to our fellow citizens and our nation. You could add duties to religion and civilization with no argument on my part.

I teach law enforcement courses. One of the principles of American law enforcement is public support. With the public’s active participation, law enforcement is not possible. The police do not cover enough ground that they can know about any worthwhile percentage of crime. So, the bedrock of American law enforcement is the willingness of citizens to provide information and sometime testify in criminal matters. Without that cooperation, we descend into chaos.

Did Joe Paterno violate the law? Here is the relevant portion of Pennsylvania statute in question –

§ 42.42. Suspected child abuse—mandated reporting requirements.

 (a)  General rule. Under 23 Pa.C.S. §  6311 (relating to persons required to report suspected child abuse), licensees who, in the course of the employment, occupation or practice of their profession, come into contact with children shall report or cause a report to be made to the Department of Public Welfare when they have reasonable cause to suspect on the basis of their professional or other training or experience, that a child coming before them in their professional or official capacity is a victim of child abuse.

 (b)  Staff members of public or private agencies, institutions and facilities. Licensees who are staff members of a medical or other public or private institution, school, facility or agency, and who, in the course of their employment, occupation or practice of their profession, come into contact with children shall immediately notify the person in charge of the institution, school facility or agency or the designated agent of the person in charge when they have reasonable cause to suspect on the basis of their professional or other training or experience, that a child coming before them in their professional or official capacity is a victim of child abuse. Upon notification by the licensee, the person in charge or the designated agent shall assume the responsibility and have the legal obligation to report or cause a report to be made …

Now I am definitely no expert in Pennsylvania law and there can be other statutes that may apply that I am unaware of. But based on what I have here I think it is pretty clear that under this disclosure law, Paterno fulfilled the state required minimum by reporting the incident to his superiors. Now be aware, the question as to whether or not a college football coach comes into contact with children so regularly that he has a reporting responsibility is a separate issue.

So he fulfilled his legal requirement based on a very simple layman’s interpretation of the law of the State of Pennsylvania. But did he fulfill his moral responsibility?

Let’s just make that second question as simple as possible? –

Do you call the police when you have discovered someone was anally assaulting a small boy in the locker room of your team?

If you can truthfully answer that with a “no,” I guess you have reason to riot.

James Pilant

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Manufacturing Enemies


“Pleas hellp,” Tudor Ureche, a college student who was participating in the U.S. government’s J-1 visa program, wrote in the email. He added that he was suffering from severe back pain from the work, and that his bosses said his temporary visa would be revoked if he complained.

Ureche never received a response. But two months later, at least 200 foreign exchange students walked out of the Pennsylvania factory in protest, saying they spent thousands of dollars to pay for their cultural exchange visa only to end up in grueling factory jobs. (The factory packed Hershey’s candy, but was operated by a subcontractor.)

You can find all this here from today’s Yahoo News.

The J-1 visa program was designed to give students from overseas a taste of the American way of life during the Cold War. Presumably, our honored guests would go home with a new appreciation of the wonders of manufacturing in this great nation. Well, times have changed. Now, we give students a taste of our current corporate decision making process. Our new welcome for these foreign students is a semi-minimum wage job from which room and board are deducted so they have even less money than when they came!

Don’t believe me? Here’s a quote from Yahoo News

The J-1 visa program brings foreign students to the country to work for two months and learn English, and was designed in part to fill seasonal tourism jobs at resorts and seaside towns. The 400 students employed at a Pennsylvania factory that packages Hershey’s candies told The New York Times that even though they make $8.35 an hour, their rent and program fees are deducted from their paychecks, leaving them with less money than they spent to get the visas and travel to the country in the first place.

So, our brilliant, innovative and thoroughly patriotic corporate leaders using subcontractors take idealistic, impressionable youth from foreign cultures, uses them for cheap labor, bullying and abusing them in the process, and then sends them home. Wow, so it seems we Americans don’t have enough enemies in the world, we have to manufacture more of them?

Let’s be blunt. If bringing foreign youth here at their own expense and using them for semi-slave labor isn’t illegal, it should be. If this is in anyway, some weird throwback program to the Cold War, it needs to end now.

We Americans have a responsibility to treat our guests with a modicum of respect. Letting corporations, in particular, Hersheys’ sub-contractors do these things is wrong. It’s vile.

It’s bad enough that Americans have to deal with soulless corporate minions on a regular basis. Subjecting would be friends to these people is more than cruel, it is counterproductive.

James Pilant

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JOUR 4470 – Blog #1: Ethical Standards in Business (via Lindsay’s Thought Corner)


This is a student looking at ethics from a journalistic/public relations point of view. I like it because it’s honest and it recognizes the corrosive influence of money on the process. Of course, as a teacher, I am always delighted to discover another student of ethics. Give it a read and maybe give some sign of appreciation. Ethics is not a hardy plant. It needs good soil, in other words, a lot of encouragement.

James Pilant

Ethics can be defined as the study of what constitutes right and wrong in our society. In 2010 American media outlets and businesses continue to fail at being seen as ethical institutions. Why is it so hard for businesses and the media to be honest, and trustworthy? The bottom-line in business is money. What is going to make the most money? When it comes right down to it, each media channel is a business. It is time that businesses introduce ethi … Read More

via Lindsay's Thought Corner

What Do I Hope to Get Out of an Ethics Class? (#1) (via Suzysushi’s Blog)


I discovered this thoughtful and personal reflection on ethics. This is ethics from a student perspective from one whose life is in turmoil and wants the class to apply to that turmoil. I like what the writer has to say and want to encourage her to say more. So, please give it a read, and if you are in a generous mood make a comment if only to say, “Good Writing.” Beginning bloggers need to feel some contact out there. Help them along.

I am a little behind in getting my blog going. I have a bunch of unpleasant personal stuff going on, including being laid off a few weeks ago. I think, therefore, my first blog entries are going to be based on more of a personal bent than might be expected. I am in a very strange place emotionally at the moment, and I have been riding a roller coaster of feelings since the start of this year. At this moment, I am both cynical and hopeful — an in … Read More

via Suzysushi's Blog