All things excellent are as difficult as they are rare.


12 April 2014

It *WILL* Happen To Someone You Know

Someone once asked me back in the day (when I blogged a lot more than I do in my current incarnation) why I spent so much time and energy writing blog posts and essays attacking Zero Tolerance policies.  Even now, my wife sometimes chides me at wasting my emotional energy getting upset about cornercase situations happening in other states.

But the reason I get upset about stuff like this is that if you don't get upset enough, if you don't take enough action, if you don't stop the waves of stupidity and evil that course through society on a regular basis... eventually the insane madness stops happening to other people in other states.  Eventually, it happens to someone you know.  (I don't want to go all Godwin here, but first they came for the gun-shaped Pop Tarts...)

A popular Los Angeles high school science teacher has been suspended after students turned in projects that appeared dangerous to administrators, spurring a campaign calling for his return to the classroom.

Students and parents have rallied around Greg Schiller after his suspension in February from the downtown Cortines School of Visual & Performing Arts. Supporters have organized a rally on his behalf at the campus for Thursday, gathered hundreds of signatures on a petition calling for his reinstatement and set up a social media page.

Schiller was ordered to report daily to a district administrative office pending an investigation after two students turned in science-fair projects that were designed to shoot small projectiles.

One project used compressed air to propel a small object but it was not connected to a source of air pressure, so it could not have been fired. (In 2012, President Obama tried out a more powerful air-pressure device at a White House Science Fair that could launch a marshmallow 175 feet.)

Another project used the power from an AA battery to charge a tube surrounded by a coil. When the ninth-grader proposed it, Schiller told him to be more scientific, to construct and test different coils and to draw graphs and conduct additional analysis, said his parents, who also are Los Angeles teachers.

A school employee saw the air-pressure project and raised concerns about what looked to her like a weapon, according to the teachers union and supporters. Schiller, who said he never saw the completed projects except in photos, was summoned and sent home. Both projects were confiscated as "evidence," said Susan Ferguson, whose son did the coil project.

Greg Schiller was my fencing coach when I was at UCLA Law School.  He is my fencing-father, and the fencing grandfather of my student.  I invited him to my wedding.  (He couldn't make it in time because of Friday afternoon traffic...)   Though I haven't spoken with him in some time, he's my friend.

So that's my answer as to why I get worked up about this crap that happens to total strangers.  If it's not stopped, eventually, it will happen to someone you know.  It may even happen to you.

And so as they said in the 80's: Stop The Madness!

I'm urging you to support Greg Schiller, and anyone else subjected to the mindless asshattery that passes for school policy these days.  Support them by noticing what goes on in schools these days under the guise of "protecting" students.  Talk about the egregious instances that show up in the news.  Remember that zero tolerance doesn't exist to protect kids, but to protect school administrators from having to exercise discretion and thus open themselves up to criticism. 

If you're into such things (I tend not to be, but it works for some people), you can sign a Petition at Change.Org directed to Dr. Richard Vladovic, President of the LAUSD Board. 

If you feel like making more of a pest of yourself, you can email the Principal of Schiller's school, Kim Bruno, from this page.

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