Friday, January 14, 2005

Civics Lesson 

Courtesy of our esteemed colleagues at PSoTD: The administration of J.E.B. Stuart High in Falls Church, VA -- a school named after what we would now term an "enemy combatant" -- is hard at work preparing the Citizens of Tomorrow for their future roles in our vibrant post-democracy:
A J.E.B. Stuart High School student was "informally suspended" yesterday for circulating a flier protesting the exclusion of over 1,400 of his classmates from a speech delivered by President George Bush in the school's gym.

The gym was packed yesterday morning with mostly adult political supporters of the president, who had received tickets to attend the speech, and local politicians. Many were adorned with "GOP" or "Bush" lapel buttons and cuff links. Only 75 students from the school were invited, carefully pre-selected based on recommendations by the school's teachers. The president, ironically, spoke on the subject of his "No Child Left Behind" educational initiative.

To Stuart High student Arash Almasi, he and his 1,400 excluded classmates were left behind yesterday, and he said so in his flier. What riled him was that the entire student body had originally been told it would be invited to see the president.

When Almasi learned of his suspension Tuesday night, news of the development was reported on National Public Radio. He was told he would not be allowed on school grounds yesterday, and that if his call for a 10 a.m. walkout from Bush's speech materialized more a more serious suspension would ensue.

Prior to Bush's speech yesterday, Fairfax County School Board member Kaye Kory spoke sympathetically about Almasi's protest. "He wanted this experience for all the kids," she told the News-Press as the event was about to begin. "As it is, only 75 of the highest achievers have been invited here." Kory's daughter, Caroline, is a senior at the school and was among those invited.

Perhaps unaware of the makeup of the crowd, President Bush opened his remarks by saying, "I want to thank all the students here today."

He went on to heap praise on recent years' achievements at Stuart High under the direction of Principal Mel Riddile. Among the school's teachers he also singled out by name were Sandy Sweitzer, the reading coach, and Stuart Singer a 32-year veteran math teacher. Stuart has gained national notoriety for its effectiveness in dealing with the fact it is perhaps the most racially and ethnically diverse school in the U.S. Bush acknowledged the school's efforts in rebounding from the lowest test scores in the county in 1997, and its focus on college preparatory Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs . . . .

Bush's speech was riddled with comments on the importance of testing and measuring results. The federal government's role, he said, is as a funding source for education and "as an instigator for accountability systems." While its role is to require accountability, he said the measurement instruments are left to locales to develop.
We are reliably told that Mr. Bush waived the standard $240,000 fee for plugging his "No Child Left Behind" program, which the students of Stuart High have since redubbed "Only 1400 Underachievers Left Behind."

UPDATE: While the 75 best minds of J.E.B. Stuart High were being narcotized by Mr. Bush's musings on the need to instigate accountability systems, eighth-graders in Palo Alto were receiving solid, practical advice about the career tools they will need to succeed in tomorrow's modern a-go-go workplace:
Students at a Palo Alto middle school learned more than school officials ever expected when a recent "career day" speaker extolled the merits of stripping and expounded on the financial benefits of a larger bust.

The hubbub began Tuesday at Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School's third annual career day when a student asked Foster City salesman William Fried to explain why he listed "exotic dancer" and "stripper" on a handout of potential careers. Fried, who spoke to about 45 eighth-grade students during two separate 55-minute sessions, spent about a minute explaining that the profession is viable and potentially lucrative for those blessed with the physique and talent for the job.

According to Fried and students who attended the talk, Fried told one group of about 16 students that strippers can earn as much as $250,000 a year and that a larger bust -- whether natural or augmented -- has a direct relationship to a dancer's salary.

He told the students, "For every two inches up there, it's another $50,000," according to Jason Garcia, 14 . . . .

Reached at his home, Fried said he understands that some may have felt he crossed the line, but he stood by his overall conduct. His remarks were part of a larger presentation entitled, "The Secret of a Happy Life," which he's given at the last two career days. The talk is aimed at inspiring kids to find happiness by settling on careers that they love to do and are especially equipped to perform.
After receiving complaints from two parents, Principal Joseph di Salvo (no relation to Albert) said that Fried would "most likely not" be invited back next year. If he does return, however, the school will also invite seventies porn icon Ron "Hedgehog" Jeremy to discuss lucrative career options for especially equipped boys.

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