Guns drawn, police officers raided the crack house, forcing criminals to the floor, handcuffing those slow to obey, searching them and using dogs to sniff out drugs.
Oh, but it wasn’t a crack house. It was Stratford High School in Goose Creek, S.C.. There were no criminals. Just kids who’d made it to school by 6:45 a.m. Police found no drugs, no weapons.
The principal of Goose Step High, as Michael Graham calls it, said students were seen on surveillance cameras acting suspiciously. If suspects were on videotape, why not get warrants to arrest them, rather than treating every student as guilty until proven innocent?
The Charleston Post & Courier (requires registration) reports on the raid:
Shortly after Sam (Ody) sat down in the cafeteria, a coach came up and told the students at his table to put their hands on the table. When the students asked why, they were told it was the principal's orders.
Then a police officer came over and bound Sam's hands behind his back with yellow restraints, took him into the hallway and told him to face the wall as a dog smelled his bag. He watched as his binders and folders were dumped out on the floor.
Then the principal, George McCrackin, patted him down, checked his shoes and took out his wallet, asking him where he got the approximately $100 he was carrying, Sam said. The student said he told McCrackin he had just gotten paid at his job at KFC.
"The people I hang out with are not drug dealers," Sam said. "We play basketball. We have nice clothes because we have jobs."
The school is 80 percent white. But 70 percent of students searched are black, like Sam Ody. It's going to be lawsuit time in Goose Creek.
School vs. Bloggers
On his blog, Wesley Juhl joked about an irritating friend. "Kill Alaina!" he wrote. A month later, he was called to the dean's office at Valley High School in Clark County, Nevada. For the blog post and another making a vulgar comment about a teacher, Juhl was suspended. Then administrators realized Juhl's variance to attend Valley had expired; they forced him to transfer in his senior year to a new high school. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports:
Juhl, 18, is still wondering what authority allowed the Clark County School District to punish him. His journal was not a school assignment and was not posted using a school computer or a school message board.
"The dean told me that what I'd written wasn't school appropriate," said Juhl, who was Valley's homecoming king this year and also was president of its drama club. "He said it wasn't appropriate for a journal. I just feel like I've been violated, like they've punished me for expressing my personal opinion."
The dean didn't notify the police, suggesting the school didn't think Juhl was making a real threat.
Another Valley High blogger, Angie Scaduto, also was questioned by the dean about a blog post which began: "I almost killed everyone today."
The entry went on to explain all the things that had gone wrong that day, she said, and wasn't a threat against anyone. She also was asked about things she'd written about her mother and the fact that she'd said she'd taken cold medicine during lunch one day at school.
The only thing she did at school was take cold medicine. Apparently, Valley High has total tolerance for coughs, sneezes, sniffles and headaches.
If students are making death threats or planning to start an antihistamine ring operating out of the girls' restroom, call the cops. (Preferably not the Goose Creek commandos.) If teen-agers are rude, profane or "inappropriate" on their own time, it's none of the school's business.
But since Columbine, school officials see no limits to their right to police student speech and behavior.
In Brookfield, Wisc., a 15-year-old honor student was suspended for rapping -- on a CD he made at home -- about beating down the principal's ass. The vulgar boast was taken as a violent threat, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Over the course of three months, Sashwat Singh wrote and recorded a 32-minute, 14-track rap compact disc featuring rants that made reference to illegal drug use and explicit sexual acts. He denigrates classmates, his mother and his high school. One track is a rap he used when campaigning to be class treasurer.
I'd love to know more about the class treasurer rap. And he dissed his mom? That Eminem fellow has a lot to answer for.
School administrators called the disc, which includes a song about the principal, Mark Cerutti, and conditions at the school, "gross disobedience or misconduct," an offense on par with making a bomb threat, bringing guns to school and arson.
. . . The vulgar lyrics suggest that if Cerutti doesn't get out of Brookfield, Singh will "beat your ass down." Singh, a Brookfield Central junior, also uses a slew of sexually explicit slurs to describe Cerutti.
In his home on his own time, Singh rhymed rudely about the principal; he gave or sold the disc to a few classmates. The boy's lawyer now says he was expressing his opinion that his school is run like a "police state." No kidding.
A Is For Absent
Lauren Lee, 14, got an A in honors geometry at Sherwood High School in Montgomery County, Maryland. But Lee doesn’t attend Sherwood. She goes to a Catholic high school. This is taking grade inflation to new levels. From the Washington Times:
Two of the four teachers at Sherwood whose classes Lauren never attended gave her A's anyway, according to the Sept. 26 progress report school officials recently mailed home.
She didn't do as well in physics ("incomplete") or art (no credit), but it was an admirable performance for a student with 0 percent attendance.
Jim Hash, U.S. Army, Retired, of Reynolds, Ga., writes:
In regard to the class that built a trench to experience World War I, I thought your idea of knocking off a few students every day and extra credit for creative bayonet techniques was helpful. But I really think there should be mustard gas, so students could really feel what it was like to be a WWI soldier.
If the teacher was truly serious about imparting the grim realities of war to his students, I would suggest the following films be aired in class:
The Lost Battalion: WWI; Band of Brothers, episodes 3, 5, 6 & 7 (or Saving Private Ryan): WWII: We Were Soldiers: Vietnam
Joanne Jacobs writes about education and other issues at JoanneJacobs.com. She’s writing a book, Ride the Carrot Salad, about a start-up charter high school in San Jose.