sam's notes

notes on government, sports and popular culture

Friday, December 10, 2004

I've loved watching the two blondes go at it in the boardroom on 'The Apprentice.' It's the corporate version of a Miller Lite commercial. Last night, Trump just let them go at it for a while before firing the one on the right.

I didn't miss it because the N&R's forum on school discipline let out on time. Was anything accomplished there? I don't know.

In a way, it was like a glorified school board meeting, because Terry Grier and Alan Duncan did most of the talking. The issue was also discussed in the abstract. Still, the views of the other speakers, which included a principal, a teacher, a couple of students, not to mention N&R editor Allen Johnson, were valuable.

In fact, Johnson spoke very straightforwardly about the discipline problem:

"We're sending problems to the schools, and we're expecting the schools to deal with them."

That was basically the theme of the night: Discipline problems in schools reflect the "coarseness of society," as Duncan put it.

Questions were taken from the audience and , in my opinion, each questionner took too much time telling the panel how much they knew before asking the question. So each question and its response took on a philosophical tone.

But probably the question that seemed to draw a buzz from the audience was this one, which was e-mailed:

"Do you see a correlation between a lack of discipline and a lack of faith-based activity?"

Debbie Gamble, the teacher from Southeast, was the only one weughed in seriously. She definitely saw the connection.

"When we don't know what our morals and values are, we can't teach them to our children."

Gamble, who was featured in the N&R's series on school violence. She said the photo and caption of her presented imagery of school as a police state. she was photographed talking to two students, and the picture was shot from behind the bleachers, making it look like they were behind bars or something.

The caption read, "Debbie Gamble corners two students at Southeast Middle...."

"I've never cornered a student anywhere," Gamble replied. "I don't like that issue being portrayed as what we do at Southeast Middle."

Grier had problems with a coule of headlines, saying they "seemed to be more sensational than the content."

He's got a point. I was a little surprised at the N&R's front-page, above-the-fold headline after Tuesday's meeting: "Discipline big concern, parents say." Technically true, except there were all of four parents speaking out.

In fact, it was pretty funny because all the TV media was at the meeting waiting for the board to address school violence. They got pretty impatient when the board slogged through attendance policy, new attendance zones and magnet school assignments.

Then, when they finally got around to it, the board discussed it for maybe 30 minutes.

Anyway, just a few highlights. It seems to me that the schools are now challenged with reforming society from the inside out, instead of the individual coming in from the outside and being reformed by school.

One last quote from N&R editor Johnson:

"If I got in trouble in school, I was the one who had to prove my case."


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