Displays of Confederate flags usually happen in Southern states, but two high school seniors in South Huntington, N.Y. are in hot water after bringing a Confederate flag to St. Anthony’s High School.
According to Brother Gary Cregan, principal of the school, the two seniors walked onto campus with a Confederate flag during a handball event a week ago.
“The African-American students who immediately saw it really exercised heroic restraint and fortunately a teacher immediately confiscated the flag and took the students out of the gym,” Cregan told CBS New York (video below).
“I find it just very hard to even imagine why any student in 2014 would even consider or think that a Confederate flag would be anything other than a symbol of hate,” added Cregan.
According to Newsday, last Friday, Cregan wrote a letter to parents that stated:
The use of any symbol, either historic or current, which carries a meaning designed to revive past injustices or to inflame discrimination or racial intolerance, is completely unacceptable and profoundly offensive.
As a Catholic and Franciscan school, Saint Anthony's will always demand acceptance and respect for all races, religions and cultures.
On Monday, the seniors were suspended for 10 days, but Cregan decided on Tuesday that the students won’t be allowed back because of security concerns.
The students have not said why they brought the flag to school. St. Anthony’s is a private Catholic school so it legally doesn't have to allow unbridled free speech by students.
Western Washington University (WWU) recently circulated an unusual question about race in their school newsletter.
WWU asked, “How do we make sure that in future years, we are not as white as we are today?’”
According to Campus Reform, the question was written by the school's marketing department and seems to echo WWU President Bruce Shepard's speech in 2012 about how the school is failing because "we are as white as we are today."
“Every year, from this stage and at this time, you have heard me say that, if in decades ahead, we are as white as we are today, we will have failed as university to meet the critical needs of our state,” Shepard said (video below).
Shepard did give the Bellingham, Wash. school a pat on the back by noting that, of recent hires, 58 percent were women and 17 percent were people of color.
Shepard addressed his "white" statements in a blog posting in January, in which he wrote:
But, I’m going to bring it down to where we live. We need to attract numbers of students (diverse or otherwise) sufficient to pay our bills. Over 80% of our operating budget is made up of salaries – yours and mine. With tuition now making up 70% of our costs of instruction, fewer students mean fewer of us.
And, to be even more direct: not fewer presidents, fewer faculty. If enrollment size goes down, then it is the variable costs that are reduced, not the largely fixed administrative costs. For "variable costs" read mostly "faculty."
That means fewer curricular choices, more generic curricula, a much different and much weaker Western.
Some students at Blue Springs High School displayed the Confederate flag, raising the ire of parents and students in Missouri last week.
“This boy was in the lunch room and put the Confederate flag on his back as if he was Superman or something,” student Sapphire Ray told KSHB (video below).
“[An assistant principal] took the flag from him and when he walked away, the kid said an inappropriate word and he said, 'I still have it on my hat,'” added Sapphire.
A Confederate flag was also draped over a balcony inside the high school.
Confederate flag-waving students claim they're celebrating history, but most students see the flag as a symbol of racism.
“They said that it doesn’t represent racism to them but you know the controversy over the flag," an unidentified student told KSHB. "It’s okay for you to put it on your truck or whatever, but keep it at home for you to show it and bring it to school is inappropriate."
According to Examiner.com, school principal Dave Adams sent an email to parents that read:
A student displayed a Confederate Flag at school yesterday. That incident was addressed immediately. Rumors, which we have not found to be credible, have swirled around social media regarding the possibility of conflict related to this incident. We plan to have a normal day of school tomorrow with a heightened awareness of potential issues related to this situation and wanted you to be aware.
Last Friday was the "Day of Silence," which is supposed to raise awareness about how gay students are silenced and bullied in schools.
However, some students at Oregon City High School in Oregon City, Ore., decided to protest gay students with their T-shirts.
Student Alex Borho and a few of his friends wore T-shirts that said, "Gay Is Not Ok" and "Gay Day Is Not OK" (video below).
"I'm not comfortable with you guys making a whole day about what you believe," Borho told KATU. "So if you're going to make a whole day out of it and not talk and a have a 'moment of silence,' then I can wear my T-shirt."
Borho told KPTV that he doesn't have a beef with gay people, despite the shirt he wears.
"I don't have a big problem with gay people," added Borho. "It's just when they start parading around the school about how we have a day of silence for gays, lesbians and transvestites. We don't have a straight day."
However, most of the students do not support the anti-gay T-shirts.
"I was just really sad because I take pride in this school," said student Justin Low. "We're all students here and we're all trying to accomplish the same things: get through the four years, graduate and hopefully set ourselves for a bright future."
A school administrator told KATU that the anti-gay T-shirts will not be allowed.
The students must either take off the shirts or turn them inside out while on campus.
An unidentified 12-year-old female student was reportedly called a "sassy slut" by a life science teacher at Evangel Christian Academy School in Shreveport, La. last Thursday.
The girl's parents claim other students in class also heard the remark, but say the teacher was only given a six-day paid suspension, notes WGNO.
"I'm just still numb about what happened and the disciplinary action that the school had taken," the girl's mom, Marteen Mitchell, told KTBS.
Mitchell doesn't want the unidentified teacher fired, but is upset that she has not received an apology from the teacher or the Christian school.
Jackie Landsdale, President of Red River Teacher's United Federation (a teacher's union), claims that paid administrative leave is not a vacation.
"I want to tell you any teacher or school employee that I've ever dealt with, who has been put out on paid administrative leave is very upset about it, they are very upset about the fact that they have been accused of something," stated Landsdale.
Lansdale also claims that paid administrative leave is the normal action for public schools.
In Louisiana public schools, if a student makes a false accusation against a teacher, the student is suspended.
A science teacher at Ramón C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts in Los Angeles was suspended because another teacher thought some of his students’ projects were dangerous.
Greg Schiller was suspended from the school because the other teacher believed that two projects looked like weapons. Schiller says that the one project was an air cannon and another was an electromagnetic coil gun, and by the time he was suspended, he hadn’t even gotten a chance to grade or look them over.
“I discussed with them scientific principals but the projects were removed before I had an opportunity to fully examine them,” said Schiller to KTLA.
Student Asa Ferguson, whose electromagnetic coil gun got Schiller in trouble, explains the function behind his project and why he believed it caused issues.
“It has appliances in roller coasters and spaceships. It’s been theorized to be able to launch spaceships in space for cheaper,” said Ferguson. “I think that if I had said it was an electromagnetic propulsion system it would not have been taken out.”
Now, Schiller’s students are protesting at the school, demanding that their beloved teacher be allowed back.
“We want Mr. Schiller back. We want him out of ‘teacher jail.’ We want him reinstated,” said Samantha Healey. “No one got hurt, no one was going to get hurt. He’s a really great teacher, and he really cares, he really wants to teach and he loves teaching.”
Most of the students placed duct tape on their mouths and wore signs that read, “I will not talk until Mr. Schiller is reinstated.”
While the school isn’t really commenting on the issue, they did say that they are simply following protocol.
“There is an ongoing investigation, therefore, we cannot comment,” said Tom Waldman, director of media and communication for the Los Angeles Unified School District, in a recent statement. “It is the practice of the Los Angeles Unified School District to reassign an employee to a non-classroom setting when there are allegations related to student safety.”
A Facebook page made by some of Schiller’s students has already garnered over 700 likes.
Some students at the University of Utah want to change the college's fight song "Utah Man" because they consider it to be "sexist" and gender specific.
"Utah Man" was written in 1904 and includes the lyrics "Utah man am I" and "Our coeds are the fairest and each one’s a shining star."
"Utah Man Am I" also appears on the school's T-shirt (pictured).
"The idea that man means both female and male is a little antiquated," Sam Ortiz, president of the Associated Students of the University of Utah (ASUU), told The Salt Lake City Tribune (video below).
"This, in my opinion, is really just a small thing we can do to make campus more inclusive and just let students know their voices are being heard," stated Ortiz.
The ASUU assembly approved a public discussion about changing the song in March. Some have suggested changing "Utah Man" to "Utah Fan."
“Many people have worried that this language is offensive to women,” Mark Pittman, College of Law representative for the ASUU assembly, told KSL.com. “Others have argued that many women don’t find it offensive. But in my perspective, especially, if some group of women finds it offensive, it’s at least worth considering whether or not we should make changes to it.”
“There are older generations that feel very strongly that the song shouldn’t be changed for the sake of history and tradition,” added Pittman. “But we feel very strongly that this in an enduring tradition that will continue and a legacy that will build on the future. And it’s important for us to evaluate that and to ensure that it’s inclusive of students in the future and not just in the present.”
Third and fourth grade students Steven and Patrick Peterson have reportedly passed out fake coins with biblical messages at Desert Knolls Elementary School in Apple Valley, Calif. for over a year.
On one side of the coins is the Bible verse "John 3:16," while the other side says: "Where will you spend eternity?"
The San Bernardino Sun reports that Allen and Kelly Peterson, the boys' parents, instructed their children not to distribute the coins during class time, but during recess.
“The kids would take four, five, six of them to school,” Allen said. “A lot of [their friends] will ask them to bring more coins because they’ll take them home to give them out to family and friends.”
According to Patrick, a teacher allegedly told him in January, "I hate them and they’re a distraction to my class. I don’t want to see them anymore."
In another alleged incident on Valentine’s Day, the Peterson boys made homemade valentines, which included candy and the Bible verse coins for their classmates, but another teacher went through the Valentine’s bags and took out all the coins, claiming they were a violation of California law.
Allen Peterson contacted the school principal, but claims he was told that nothing could happen on the school's campus without the principal's permission.
In response, the Christian law firm Freedom X, sent a letter to the Apple Valley Unified School District demanding an apology.
William Becker, Jr., an attorney and CEO of Freedom X, told CBS Los Angeles, "Public school teachers in this day and age can't play dumb anymore. They know the law prevents religious discrimination, yet they can't help but act on their bigoted instincts. That has to stop."
Freedom X recently claimed victory on its website based on a letter it received from Apple Valley Unified School District Superintendent Thomas Hoegerman who said his investigation made "it clear that although no violation of the children's rights was intended, a teacher was mistaken as to obligations under the law."
"I can assure the Petersons that corrective actions are underway," wrote Hoegerman.
Carol Thebarge, a 79-year-old substitute teacher, was recently fired because she refused to "unfriend" her students on Facebook.
“They gave me an ultimatum, either take them all off or you are terminated,” Thebarge told CBS Boston. “And I decided that I would not comply and so I was terminated. And it’s caused a firestorm across the entire area.”
Thebarge, who was a teacher for nine years at Stevens High School in Claremont, N. H., had over 250 student friends on her Facebook page (video below).
Stevens High School administrators told Thebarge to "unfriend" the students, but she refused and lost her job.
“Facebook is a wonderful communication tool among friends,” said Superintendent Dr. Middleton McGoodwin. “But teachers are not students’ friends. She’s a wonderful lady and she’s loved by many but that doesn’t give you allowance to ignore a protocol designed to protect all.”
However, Thebarge tells a different version of her meeting with Dr. McGoodwin on her Facebook page:
You sat in your office with me last Wednesday and were perplexed as to "why the deletion was requested of me." After all, you stated, "You are in the privacy of your own home, with your own computer.. I see nothing wrong with this."
You said you would investigate it and get back to me. You never did. Yet in an interview that you gave to the press, you stated, "I sat with her and asked her to reconsider." This never happened. This is a dishonest statement.
Thebarge recalled to WMUR how school administrators told her four years ago about deleting her student friends on Facebook, but issued its ultimatum after a fellow teacher, Christopher LeBlanc, was accused of sexually assaulting a student.
Apparently students, not the administration, are able to differentiate between the two teachers and have been protesting outside the school for Thebarge.
“She wasn’t harming anybody,” said student Kayla Jennison. “She was a great person and always helps us.”
“She was like a second mom to all of us,” added student Elizieh Sheppard.
Eighth-grader Seirra Olivero says she was suspended from Orange-Ulster BOCES school in Goshen, N.Y. because she told other students that they didn't have to take the Common Core English test.
The incident reportedly happened last Tuesday. The 13 year old was suspended for two days.
"She walked away!" Olivero's mother Carin Beauchesne told RecordOnline.com. "She felt she was being treated like a criminal. She's a 13-year-old girl. What would you do?"
Orange-Ulster BOCES's superintendent William Hecht said Olivero's complaint was being taken seriously and students should not be disciplined for refusing a Common Core test.
Hecht claims Olivero was suspended for refusing to obey the school's administrators.
Olivero recalled her meeting with the principal who asked why she told other kids not to take the test: "I replied and said, 'I did some research and it said they don't have to.'"
When Olivero asked to call her mother, the principal refused.
"Then [the principal] started to ask other questions and that's when she started to interrogate me and I felt like I was being treated like a criminal," added Olivero.
Olivero said she left the principal's office, slammed the door behind her and refused to stop when a school administrator called to her.
Olivero claims the administrator told her, "I had no business telling the kids that they don't have to take the test and if I wanted to tell them I [could] out of school."
"Then I said, 'I can tell them whatever I want [and] to mind his business' and he said 'No, it is his business,'" recalled Olivero.
It's not clear, however, what exactly Olivero objected to on the Common Core test, which has been demonized by the home schooling industry and conservatives, reported Politico.com.
Fox News reports that mom Heidi Indilecato recently pulled her fourth-grade son out of a Common Core testing in Lancaster, N.Y.
“We respectfully refuse to participate in the test,” Indelicato told her son's teacher.
While other kids took the test, Indelicato and her son Benjamin wore T-shirts that read: "Keep calm and and refuse the NYS tests."
“The children should not be punished because of our fundamental right to want what’s best for their educational development,” Indelicato told Fox News. “I feel that the district is trying to use the powers of persuasion to get parents to have their kids participate in the testing.”
However, Indelicato did not say exactly why she opposes Common Core testing.