More T-Shirts and Dress Message Stories, From Stupid to Dead Serious This Time

31 08 2009

Are you ready for the next class discussion in our graduate seminar on public education communications? 😉

I have a surprise for you all today, if you’re good. But first let’s have inspection, everyone properly dressed, clean nails, bare heads? COD, I don’t understand that geeky sy-fy t-shirt message and it offends me to not get it, so you’ll have to turn it inside out before we can start. Nance, go call your mother (or son) and have someone bring you proper shoes instead of those flip-flops. We’ll wait.

[tapping properly shod foot because Nance is dawdling]

Please know the message war is not just about “science” class any more (never really was, you knew that, right?) Now it’s infecting MATH and MUSIC at school too. Fighting to control not just the curriculum of the textbooks but the curriculum of the t-shirts too.

We Thinking Parents have studied school messages from curriculum to t-shirts to “serious hats.” But now Nance — oh, those shoes are better but stop sulking, your face is part of the message and I require a pleasant expression in this class — found a new school t-shirt controversy and THIS time, school authorities are forcibly taking shirts off kids’ backs that the school gave them to wear as a uniform in the first place! Because a few Unthinking Parents demanded it.

Did you know evolution science is actually religion, and therefore doesn’t belong in school?

tshirt controversy sedalia high school band

The band debuted the T-shirts when it marched in the Missouri State Fair parade. . . While the shirts don’t directly violate the district’s dress code, Assistant Superintendent Brad Pollitt said complaints by parents made him take action.

. . .Band parent Sherry Melby, who is a teacher in the district, stands behind Pollitt’s decision. Melby said she associated the image on the T-shirt with Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

“I was disappointed with the image on the shirt.” Melby said. “I don’t think evolution should be associated with our school.”

Say what?? The Missouri state standards for high schools clearly associate evolution with public education. Don’t they? Oh, I see the Discovery Institute message is being taught there as “public education” and “academic freedom” instead, hmmm.

And it’s not just this one sorry excuse for a parent/teacher who got the message but this public official, a school board member. His public message is that Education will avoid the controversy of thinking altogether, if that’s what it takes to “move forward” as School:

Sedalia School District 200 Board of Education member Michael Stees said it was unfortunate the T-shirt design was misconceived and he hopes the band can just move forward.

“This is an exciting time for the band,” Stees said. “They don’t need any negativity.”

They don’t need no thought control either, you sorry appeasing fraud. What does all this “educational authority” say to the students? Here’s how it translated for one kid who just wanted to defend his fun school band shirts and keep playing brass for the public fair, willing to wear and pretend to believe anything the grownups require: the shirt’s okay because um, god isn’t bad and evolution isn’t good and I just want to play my music, please, what did I do wrong?

“It’s not like we are saying God is bad,” sophomore band member Denyel Luke said. “We aren’t promoting evolution.”

Poor kid. So what he’s learning in band has nothing to do with making music. All he can make out is that he’d better be wary of thinking or believing anything at all. Shame on anyone who dares call THAT educated.

It all reminds me of bizarre civic lessons forced on kids by local wackos in the name of school theatre education.

Final insult added to injury in the band t-shirt fiasco was in making School smile as it is punished, using public education tax dollars to pay the full price of the shirts they let be censored, and agreed to confiscate from the kids. At least they could have been “bought out” by the community members who wanted them gone, the way boosters will buy out a coaching contract when they want someone fired.

Pollitt said the district would now have to absorb the cost of the T-shirts — $700 — that would have been paid for by the band parents.

Okay, the seminar is now open. What’s the hidden curriculum, the real lesson to students in all this, do all you Thinking Parents think?

That students are more like pets owned by crazy old cat ladies than thinking young adults pursuing a real education? Mere foot soldiers (whose feet are not their own to dress as they please and take where they will, much less their minds) or even pawns (who have no feet at all!) in a culture war waiting passively to be moved from place to place by tinpot dictators with battle plans that make no academic or social sense as a coherent whole? That their status as students sets them up as early casualties no matter whose “religion” — in science, music, math or sex education — may ultimately declare victory after they are dead and gone, and have lost all as individuals?

That the only choice left to THEM in the heat of battle, is between blind obedience and reflexive rebellion, either path itself irrational but what does it matter when everything else is too?

Ready for your surprise? Read the rest of this entry »





Messages at School From T-Shirts to Serious HATS

29 08 2009

Do you have a serious hat-wearer in your circle of menfolk? Quite unexpectedly (to me) Young Son is such a fellow.

Although he does love literary and theatrical costumes, he also has a serious workaday hat, a medium-brown fedora, that became part of his real-life persona before the Mad Men craze brought serious hats back to serious television.

Young son as Richard III at Summer of Shakespeare camp, Tallahassee Democrat, July 28, 2009

Young Son rehearsing as Richard III, SAIL Summer of Shakespeare

Essay: In Praise of Serious Hats:

The serious hat is not a masquerade, not a goof . . .The serious hat is the opposite of a disguise. It is a working piece of clothes and an adjunct of character. . . a hat does have psychological power.

A man places the thing just on top of his brain, and the one takes emanations from the other.

Now, as a general rule schools do not like hats. I know this not merely from my own school administrator background but more colorfully because when Favorite Daughter took elementary/middle classes at the school system’s gifted resource center here, the female Captain Queeg of a principal reportedly roamed the halls and sidewalks obsessively snatching off any headgear in reach with the memorable message, “Gimme that hat!”

FavD and her friends would tell me these stories chortling over the punchline, and vowing that when they reached the end of their eligibility and were leaving campus for the last time, they would use her own words to send HER a message, presenting her as a group with, yes, a customized T-SHIRT! — emblazoned with her own three word, all-purpose principal-principle message for school.

Gimme that hat, hahahahhahaha. . . . (girls fall in a heap laughing helplessly)

I thought then and still do, that for these smart and culturally savvy girls, this absurdly irrelevant authoritarian message had extra entertainment value due to its temporal context, IOW its real-world incongruity. Consider that their years as students under “Gimme that hat” as prime learning directive, spanned September 11, 2001, when for any Thinking Parent or Principal, deadly serious school security concerns surely would have topped a priority list that if addressed in proper order, could never reach all the way down to hats serious or otherwise.

So let us review what we’ve learned. T-shirt messages at school are powerful enough to disrupt the learning environment. Hats at school are even more powerful; a serious hat can send a disruptive message with no words at all!

But don’t stop there. Let’s put on our serious thinking caps and take it beyond hats and t-shirts to all the serious message wars at school. Read the rest of this entry »





Forget Curriculum, Today’s Lesson Is Education By T-Shirt

27 08 2009

I showed you the t-shirt I’d wear back to school myself this fall, if I were going. It says something about what I believe in. 🙂

But Meg got a huffy comment from an (apparent) Christian creationist, offended and scolding her because ON HER OWN BLOG Meg posted some t-shirts her family found meaningfully fun, like this:

religion-science t-shirt via meg's blog

See Meg’s response here.

Then there’s news from my own old school district, the one for which I literally wrote the policy manual, back in the 80s. The new lawyer when I was working on that two-year project, a fellow I considered not just a colleague but a friend, is the same lawyer now quoted in this national news story about t-shirts at school that teach the wrong lesson.

These blood-red-lettered t-shirts got several Alachua County School students wearing them, including one 10-year-old, removed from the learning environment as not part of what we want kids learning at school:

“ISLAM IS OF THE DEVIL”

religious t-shirt islam is of the devil sept 2009 gainesville

Inquiring minds want to know: why does such a message form the core curriculum of a group calling itself The Dove World Outreach Center? I was taught to think of “peace” in association with “dove” but either I was miseducated or these folks aren’t using words in academically defensible ways.

[UPDATE: or in legally defensible ways? — check out this related Gainesville Sun story about the “Dove Center” in which the hidden curriculum is not about dress codes but tax codes. . .]

And this lesson is meant not just to push itself into public school but to supplant education itself, not just for the t-shirt wearers but for everyone, unless and until the rest of us stand up and say it ain’t so, and offer a different lesson.

OTOH, I suppose their t-shirt teaching should earn some virtue points for honesty at least, if you disregard the sneaky name and take their leader at his um, word:

“Church Senior Pastor Terry Jones tells The Gainesville Sun newspaper that spreading the church’s message is more important than education.”

Finally (I love it when a theme comes together) here’s an honest, factual t-shirt lesson that deals with neither science nor religion nor politics — and yet when worn to “school” it offended and inflamed other students to the point some reportedly threw food at it! Read the rest of this entry »





BuzzFeed’s Top Ten Reasons Not to Advertise with Glenn Beck

25 08 2009

After Glenn Beck called President Obama a racist, 36 companies have pulled their advertisements from his program. UPS has even gone as far as to pull advertising on all Fox networks.

Looking over these highlights, you have to wonder why they didn’t get out sooner.

Personally I like number seven. How about you?





Get It, Get It?

25 08 2009

Tebow T-shit





Open Back-to-School Thread: Let’s Have Show and Tell

24 08 2009

Okay, I know a bunch of Thinking Parents who sent kids including unschooled daughters (looking at Nance and Lynn!) off to campus today. Many others saw kids start a new college term this week, Betty and Meg and I that come to mind as I’m running out the door to see how FavD’s first day went . . .

So let’s hear the stories! Show and Tell. What are the kids doing, how was their day, what happened? I already know that FavD’s poetry teacher got in a car crash on the way to class and had to be checked out at the hospital so no first day for her, but you don’t have to be able to top that. 🙂

I want to hear everything, old teacher and teacher’s pet that I am. So scoot into the circle and let’s share —

p.s. If you school at home or still unschool all day, that’s cool too. You are in the circle and you get your turn! How was today?





Back to School: First Church-State Skirmish Already?

24 08 2009

Do you know the Friendly Atheist, Hemant Mehta? He is a highly evolved thinker and human being imo. 🙂

And he is a high school teacher, which makes him a crazy-parent whipping boy. Crazy is catching — and as we say in the South, he’s catchin’ it right now! It’s as if the current strain of town hall crazy were catching and now spreading like swine flu, into the schools with everything else good and bad about society.

Dale has the whole story, with links at the bottom to the course of the infection as it developed.

Please go read it and ahem, spread the word.