Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Amero Whitewash at the Norwich Bulletin

A few days ago I reported the peculiar circumstance that the Norwich Bulletin Search for porn brings up the Bulletin's own vendor recommendations when shopping for "porn".

Considering their simple recipe that Julie Amero should have just "pulled the plug" or "turned it off" one cannot help but wonder why the Norwich Bulletin hasn't followed their own advice.

But what has happened at the Bulletin is far more troubling. A search of the newspaper for "Amero", "porn", and "teacher" cannot find a single one of the vociferous articles penned at the Bulletin that condemned her in the eyes of the community.

You see as a parent, a technologist, and a Board of Education member I believe our schools are on the wrong track. For thirty years conservative commentators and columnists have so poisoned our understanding of children, teens and learning that our schools have become radical social experiments in intellectual torture schemes.

Our schools no longer honor the student's interests or their well-being. Schools are run to pass tests that are almost exclusively fact oriented. In a subject such as math this is less consequential.

But in discussions with about our science curriculum, I am discovering that the mandatory and punishing Connecticut Aptitude tests (CAPT) place no value on an understanding of the human body or the study of animal life. Science teachers who use valuable class time for subjects such as this risk seeing their students perform poorly on perfunctory state tests.

We are growing a generation of young adults who cannot understand the relationship of one body part or function to another. The religious fanatics who oppose science have so twisted our educational imperatives that schools can no longer teach the relationship between stem cells and the greater body, of what cells mean to each other, of the wonders of life. All they are taught is the memorization of labels and endless, dreary factoids that drain all joy out of learning.

And society's criminal neglect of our children's education does not stop there. In a world of exponentially accelerating complexity our kids are not allowed to use computers to get and process information.

And teachers use computers as though they were little more than fancy grade books, email devices, and occasional internet browsers. Their training is menial and their ability to apply computers in class is too often pathetic. Schools fall prey to all kinds of cyber-charlatans who misguide administrators and curriculum developers often resulting in the wasteful purchase of unnecessary hardware, software, or process.

The schools are not failing America, America is failing our schools.

Every student needs a dedicated computer equipped with internet access. Period. This is not a debate it is a necessity.

And a social contract must be honored. It is that the school will provide every responsible firewall and filter it can afford to avoid unfortunate access to inappropriate materials but in the end students must act responsibly and deal with unfortunate events as responsible individuals not as victims or drama award winners.

No matter what anyone does, unfortunate access to inappropriate material will happen - nothing is absolutely safe. But our mission in schools is to learn, to process the best information we can, to explore, and to think boldly and without fear. And this goes for teachers as well. They should be able to surf professionally and personally. There is nothing wrong with this as long as their historic behavior isn't deviant of the school or the community.

Information processing is the future and schools are devoid of it today. But even if our children were to surf the web freely they'd never find Julie Amero on the Norwich Bulletin site. And that's an injustice that must never be allowed to be covered up.

If the Bulletin is embarrassed by their past journalistic coverage they should admit their mistake and advocate that Julie be free on her own recognizance until this nightmarish trial is thrown out.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Besides a few comments on some forums and blogs, I haven't heard of any solidarity provided by other teachers. Man, there would be walkouts and a protest at the local legislature in a flash if that happened around here on the left coast.
Teachers, please speak up, speak out! Bring on those T-shirts and bumper stickers, raise some cash for a better defense, raise awareness, demand a meaningful restitution for this poor woman. Impeach the judge, demand the prosecutor's resignation, fire the lame school administrators. Such appalling travesties should not and cannot go unnoticed.