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schools

National Post via Free-Range Kids:

A Hamilton, Ont., mother has filed a human rights complaint against her daughter’s elementary school, claiming it discriminated against the six-year-old for failing to accommodate her life-threatening allergy to eggs and dairy. The case … seeks to ban milk products and eggs from her daughter’s school.” …

Ms. Glover wants the allergens removed from the school, and school and board staff get human rights training. She wants to “bring to light the fact that children have the right to a barrier free education.”

“Anything short of that is discrimination,” she says.

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After the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary a year ago, “the president appeared comparatively restrained next to the National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre, who breathlessly demanded ‘an active national database of the mentally ill’ and federally funded ‘armed police officers in every school’ or Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who proposed legislation encouraging governors to call out the National Guard for school shootings.” Fortunately cooler heads have prevailed [Gene Healy, Washington Examiner]

Schools roundup

by Walter Olson on December 27, 2013

  • Following outcry, Ohio lawmaker drops proposal to license homeschool parents [Jason Bedrick/Cato, sequel]
  • In Colorado U. crackdown on professor’s deviance course, university retracts claim that professor needed to clear controversial teaching with institutional review board [Inside Higher Ed, Zachary Schrag and sequel, background on IRBs]
  • The purely fictional, entirely bloodless “assassin” game — which I remember was played in my own high school years ago without anyone worrying — now seems to be controversial in suburban D.C. because School Violence and Think of the Children. [Washington Post; Bedrick, Cato on pretend "arrow" zero-tolerance case]
  • After son’s death, Ontario mom urges schools to let asthmatic kids carry inhalers [CBC, Bedrick]
  • Cathy Young on how the forces of unanimity police discussions of “rape culture” [Minding the Campus]
  • Kansas regents forbid faculty/staff to post social media content contrary to best interest of university [WaPo]
  • Don’t forget to stop home some time: more public schools serving dinner as well as breakfast and lunch [Future of Capitalism]

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Two of my enduring interests — excessive government regulation and the quest for truly scrumptious cinnamon buns — intersect here in a single story from Denmark. [Guardian]:

…scientists have now discovered that too much of the most commonly used type of cinnamon, cassia, can cause liver damage thanks to high levels of coumarin, a natural ingredient found in the spice.

The EU has accordingly decreed that coumarin levels must be kept below 50 mg per kg in “traditional” or “seasonal” foodstuffs eaten only occasionally, and 15 mg per kg in everyday “fine baked goods.”

Last month, the Danish food authority ruled that the nation’s famous cinnamon swirls were neither traditional nor seasonal, thus limiting the quantity of cinnamon that bakers are allowed to use, placing the pastry at risk – and sparking a national outcry that could be dubbed the great Danish bake strop.

The president of the Danish Bakers’ Association, Hardy Christensen, said: “We’ve been making bread and cakes with cinnamon for 200 years. Then suddenly the government says these pastries are not traditional? I have been a baker for 43 years and never come across anything like this – it’s crazy. Using lower amounts of the spice will change the distinctive flavour and produce less tasty pastries. Normally, we do as we’re told by the government and say OK, but now it’s time to take a stand. Enough is enough.”

Meanwhile: Anonymous informant shuts down school bus cookie lady in Minneapolis suburb of Chanhassen, Minn. [MPR, AP]

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#LifeUnderDeBlasio

by Walter Olson on November 6, 2013

Enjoying the genre of #LifeUnderDeBlasio satire tweets from New Yorkers, such as: “I remember when the screens in the back of taxis showed light entertainment, not statistics about iron production.” [@tomgara] “I thought de Blasio gave a good speech but am just not sure how the Five Year Plan for the Park Slope roof gardens will turn out.” [@stuartpstevens] And the one about considering teachers’ union head Randi Weingarten as schools chief.

Wait a minute. That one’s real!

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Ken at Popehat offers some perspective [link fixed now, thanks Hans] on the events at Aledo High School in Texas:

It’s important to point out that the report is from one angry father, not from an entire culture. The systemic issue, if there is one, is the series of laws that requires a formal investigative process no matter how facially ridiculous a complaint. Another systemic issue, if there is one, is the malleability of words like “bullying,” which can be used to pursue any sort of grievance, whether or not it is actually related to the well-being of children.

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Sending fake gunmen into schools as an exercise? Have authorities lost their mind? [Jennifer Abel, Anorak via Brian Doherty]

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It’s being litigated contentiously in a Florida courtroom. After the lad got a D in an Honors algebra class and his family filed extensive protests, the school transferred him to an easier class. That generated a new grievance in turn: “He’s just not being challenged,” the “mathlete”‘s lawyer-father says now. [Orlando Sentinel]

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Schools roundup

by Walter Olson on October 17, 2013

  • Opponents, including U.S. Department of Justice, go after school choice programs in court [Jason Bedrick, more]
  • Study finds bullying programs may have opposite from intended effect. Why, next they’ll tell us D.A.R.E. is a flop at curbing drug use. Oh wait [CBS Dallas]
  • National Association of the Deaf files lawsuit against Maryland, seeking captioning at sporting events [WaPo]
  • “NYC will spend $29 million on salaries, benefits of educators it can’t fire” [NY Daily News] [NY Times]
  • Gotta-cover-yourself incident and accident reports clog the classroom day with paper [Ted Frank, Point of Law]
  • “IRBs and mission creep” [Dave Hoffman, Prawfs, earlier]
  • Boy who drew cartoonish bomb at home suspended, reinstated [Fox Carolina, Free-Range Kids]

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Webster, N.Y.: “The family of a former Webster Thomas hockey player has sued the school district and hockey coach for keeping him at the junior varsity level for four years ‘in spite of his advanced skills.’” [Justin Murphy, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle]

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“Officials at Weber Middle School in Port Washington are worried that students are getting hurt during recess. Thus, they have instituted a ban on footballs, baseballs, lacrosse balls, or anything that might hurt someone on school grounds. … some parents said it is really about liability and lawsuits.” [CBS New York] More: Lowering the Bar.

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“Security is a legitimate concern — especially where children are concerned. And parents naturally slip into terror mode whenever a possible threat to their child arises. But Canadian schools now take the cake when it comes to hitting DEFCON 1 whenever a kid gets off at the wrong stop or spots a peanut in the lunch room.” [National Post]

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Some students in Oregon apparently thought it would be funny to create Facebook and Twitter accounts posing as an assistant principal at the middle school, and “allegedly posted materials, including some which were obscene, that caused his reputation to be diminished. He brought suit against defendants and their parents, alleging claims under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and for defamation and negligent supervision.” Dismissing the lawsuit, the court cited precedent that violation of websites’ terms of use does not constitute a CFAA violation, and added as to the racketeering charge: “Congress did not intend to target the misguided attempts at retribution by juvenile middle school students against an assistant principal in enacting RICO.” [Venkat Balasubramani, Eric Goldman's Technology & Marketing Law Blog; Matot v. CH (PDF), U.S. District Court, Oregon]

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Guns roundup

by Walter Olson on September 16, 2013

  • On Tuesday, Sen. Dick Durbin convenes hearing intended to bash “Stand Your Ground,” ALEC, and anyone associated with either; keep an eye on the testimony of my Cato colleague Ilya Shapiro who may prove more than a match [Sun-Times, Tuccille, Keating; background; hearing now postponed] Accuracy problems dog Coalition to Stop Gun Violence on SYG [John Hinderaker, PowerLine] Demagoguing Lane, Belton slayings is no way to “balance” media skew on Martin/Zimmerman [Ann Althouse]
  • Following “finger-gun” episode at another Maryland school: “Gun gesture leads to suspension for Calvert sixth-grader” [WaPo, earlier] Why a mom changed her mind on letting kid play with toy guns [C. Gross-Loh, The Atlantic]
  • Advocacy play-by-play: “A how-to book on inciting a moral panic” [James Taranto]
  • If you think gun liberties are shrinking overall in America, check out this map [Volokh] “Illinois Supreme Court: Second Amendment Protects Carrying Outside the Home” [Volokh] “Chicago abolishes gun registry in place since 1968″ [Reuters]
  • Forthcoming Nicholas Johnson book “Negroes and the Gun: The Black Tradition of Arms” [Law and Liberty]
  • Database cross-checks put California on slippery slope confiscation-wise [Steven Greenhut]
  • Cato amicus brief: Supreme Court should clarify that the Second Amendment “protects more than the right to keep a gun in one’s home.” [Shapiro, Cato; Woollard v. Gallagher, Maryland]

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Allison Benedikt is a bad person. Not bad like murderer bad — but bad like asking-actual-families-to-ignore-their-love-of-their-children-in-pursuit-of-her-ideology bad. So, pretty bad. I’m just judgmental.

Explanation here. To avoid sending more traffic to what is already shaping up as one of the year’s prime troll linkbait articles, here’s Benedikt’s already-notorious leadoff paragraph:

You are a bad person if you send your children to private school. Not bad like murderer bad—but bad like ruining-one-of-our-nation’s-most-essential-institutions-in-order-to-get-what’s-best-for-your-kid bad. So, pretty bad.

It has been proposed that this is all actually a brilliant Swiftian satire. I doubt it, though, since Benedikt is the managing editor of Slate’s DoubleX, which is to humorless leftism what rural Australia is to bauxite. As far as whether the view outlined here is on some unheard-of fringe, few contemporary writers on education have been as widely praised or assigned as Jonathan Kozol, whose views Benedikt appears to track pretty closely. See Alex Tabarrok’s very pertinent comparison to the question of whether it was moral to escape from the former East Germany.

My guess: all the mirthless laughs are unintended. More: Ken at Popehat, Jason Bedrick/Cato, Ross Douthat (“Everything for the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.”).

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August 29 roundup

by Walter Olson on August 29, 2013

If a private employer tried to pull this kind of thing I expect there’d be an outcry:

Glendale school officials have hired a Hermosa Beach company to monitor and analyze public social media posts, saying the service will help them step in when students are in danger of harming themselves or others.

And with a private employer, you’d be there by your own choice.

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People can’t stop gawking at this Manhattan couple’s lawsuit against a $39,000/year private school. The lad in question was in kindergarten: “On one occasion, plaintiffs’ 5-year-old son was relegated to the role of ‘door-holder’ and ordered to hold the door for all of the other students.” Mr. and Mrs. Heinemann also say they got stuck with an unplanned $50,000 winning “bid” for a finger painting at a charity auction, and are additionally suing for the cost of continuing to employ their child’s $60,000/year chauffeur, “whose job they want to save.” [New York Post]

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