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Education Censorship

L.A. Science Teacher Suspended Over Student Science Fair Projects 253

Posted by timothy
from the science-is-sometimes-dangerous dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A high school science teacher at Grand Arts High School in Los Angeles was suspended from the classroom in February, after two of his science fair students turned in projects deemed dangerous by the administrators. "One project was a marshmallow shooter — which uses air pressure to launch projectiles. The other was an AA battery-powered coil gun — which uses electromagnetism to launch small objects. Similar projects have been honored in past LA County Science Fairs and even demonstrated at the White House."
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L.A. Science Teacher Suspended Over Student Science Fair Projects

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  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Sunday April 20, 2014 @06:13PM (#46801631) Homepage Journal

    Imagine if these things fell into the hands of tairsts, or pediofiddlers? Someone could lose an eye.

  • Sick Society (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jim Sadler (3430529) on Sunday April 20, 2014 @06:15PM (#46801651)
    Suspending a teacher over such nonsense borders on drooling idiocy or insanity. Any decent science class unavoidably teaches students to build devices that might be used to do harm. If you teach a kid in chemistry class how not to make an explosion you are also telling him exactly how to create an explosion. That does not imply that teachers should not teach chemistry.
    • Re:Sick Society (Score:5, Insightful)

      by litehacksaur111 (2895607) on Sunday April 20, 2014 @06:35PM (#46801753)
      This is exactly what is wrong with the schools here. Stupid administrators making decisions on what should and should not be taught in the classroom and disciplining teachers for actually inspiring their students to think and build things. All administrators want nowadays are kids who are only capable of mindlessly following a given set of instructions.
    • I looked at this as the administrator was fine combing and looking for a reason to fire him/her.

      It is hard to fire tenured teachers and many have resorted to doing things like complaining on their credential to professional boards as an example to find something to fire them etc.

      Get rid of tenure and the problem goes away and they do not have to make up excuses. My exwife was a teacher and you wouldn't believe the crap they tried to pull to make her quit. Of course she is very opinion oriented which didn't

      • Re:Sick Society (Score:5, Insightful)

        by GrumpySteen (1250194) on Sunday April 20, 2014 @06:53PM (#46801857)

        So you think that schools would be better if it was easy to fire teachers who had opinions that differed from the administrations, leaving only the mindlessly obedient ones to teach the nations children how to also be mindlessly obedient?

        • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

          by Billly Gates (198444)

          So you think that schools would be better if it was easy to fire teachers who had opinions that differed from the administrations, leaving only the mindlessly obedient ones to teach the nations children how to also be mindlessly obedient?

          Lets turn the tables?

          Do you and I have the right to piss off management and our bosses? What makes them so special? Do we need to be mindlessly obedient at work? Yes. Do not like the door is right there etc!

          Yes this sucks in life, however it is setup that way for a reason. Shit needs to get done and bosses need to discipline and control their employees to make sure things are running smoothly. If not then their jobs are on the line. Sucks worse for them than it does for us if you think about it?

          There are ba

          • Re:Sick Society (Score:5, Interesting)

            by GrumpySteen (1250194) on Sunday April 20, 2014 @08:09PM (#46802193)

            Do you and I have the right to piss off management and our bosses? What makes them so special?

            You don't seem to understand what tenure is. Tenure doesn't protect teachers from being fired if they act irresponsibly or do not do their job. Tenure only protects the teacher from being fired without just cause.

            The case here is really the question of whether allowing a student to build a marshmallow gun powered by compressed air represents just cause. The administration says it is, but they have an axe to grind with the teacher in question because he's also a union representative, etc. (as detailed in other comments)

            The suggest that the solution is to just give the administrators the right to fire all teachers without any justification for the firing is idiotic.

            • Do you and I have the right to piss off management and our bosses? What makes them so special?

              You don't seem to understand what tenure is. Tenure doesn't protect teachers from being fired if they act irresponsibly or do not do their job. Tenure only protects the teacher from being fired without just cause.

              The case here is really the question of whether allowing a student to build a marshmallow gun powered by compressed air represents just cause. The administration says it is, but they have an axe to grind with the teacher in question because he's also a union representative, etc. (as detailed in other comments)

              The suggest that the solution is to just give the administrators the right to fire all teachers without any justification for the firing is idiotic.

              My exwife and I worked at school districts. Trust me if administrators want a 1 and 1 they get a stiff rebuke email from the union rep threatening job termination without the union there! What the hell?

              Do I get this at my job? No. I am employed at will. So you are stumpy. It is in good taste and for fear of liability that we have an HR representative due the threatening and a humiliating letter 3 times in a row and then a box and boot out the door after time# 3.

              Yes some may want to mod me down after reading

          • Do you and I have the right to piss off management and our bosses?

            Yep.

            Do we need to be mindlessly obedient at work?

            You seriously need to pull your head out of your ass ASAP. Even soldiers who can be sent to prison for NOT following orders are not required to mindlessly following orders. In fact they're required not to follow illegal orders.

            The rest of life is no different. Apart from in your rather odd fantasy world, bosses are not absolute rulers. There are whole piles of law in fact about what they canno

      • by lgw (121541)

        Got it in one. He was the union negotiator in an ongoing dispute. Now he's not.

    • Re:Sick Society (Score:5, Interesting)

      by meerling (1487879) on Sunday April 20, 2014 @06:46PM (#46801827)
      Go to the article source and read the comments.
      There are a number of them by the locals involved with that school.
      It looks like this is a not uncommon tactic variation certain higher ups use to punish those they don't like, as well as those peoples supporters.
      All very questionable and completely unethical. Hopefully this time it backfires in a big way.
    • by Nidi62 (1525137)
      These days my high school physics instructor would probably have gotten in trouble or us students would have gotten arrested for bringing weapons to school when we had to design and build trebuchets and catapaults to launch tennis balls.
    • Grand Arts High School was formerly known as Ramon C. Cortines School for Visual and Performing Arts . . . apparently, lowly science is not a "Grand Art". It doesn't sound like the place you would send your kid to prepare to study Physics at Princeton or Electrical Engineering at MIT. I pity the poor teacher of science or math in a school full of kids from "pushy" parents, determined that their offspring is destined for stardom.

      Kinda weird . . . normally we expect the anti-science crowd to come from the

    • It's not society this time. The sickness here is all in the government schools.

      But remember this: even though government schools do a bad job of teaching children in poor neighborhoods, we can't have non-government schools. Because poor kids wouldn't get a good education with non-government schools.

    • by gweihir (88907)

      Or teaching them Physics! They may -gasp- figure out that rocks can be thrown!

  • by Billly Gates (198444) on Sunday April 20, 2014 @06:15PM (#46801657) Journal

    Then Chemistry labs.

    Now this. Sigh.

    Lets burn the lawyers offices down. Everyone is so freaking terrified of a lawsuit that nothing happens. We have to give everyone a medal for participating, not discipline kids who tell teachers to go f**ck themselves, can't teach controversial subjects requiring critical thinking skills, can't flunk them, etc.

    We are not doing them any favors when they get out in the real world afraid to take risks or wonder why their boss fired them instead of giving a raise for participation?

    • by drnb (2434720) on Sunday April 20, 2014 @06:38PM (#46801763)

      Lets burn the lawyers offices down. Everyone is so freaking terrified of a lawsuit that nothing happens.

      Its not fear of lawyers, its an anti-gun agenda. I'm not kidding, from the article:
      “supervising the building, research and development of imitation weapons.”

      Things that look or function remotely similarly to a gun are not to be tolerated. If you let kids shoot marshmallows at stacked plastic cups they might have fun, take pride in their mastery of ballistic trajectories, and you never know where that might lead ... nerf ... airsoft ... a .22.

      • imitation weapons ... again fear of a lawsuit from a disgruntled ambulance parent.

        Anything that can use force can be a weapon. Ban pencils next!

      • by ShakaUVM (157947)

        > Things that look or function remotely similarly to a gun are not to be tolerated. If you let kids shoot marshmallows at stacked plastic cups they might have fun, take pride in their mastery of ballistic trajectories, and you never know where that might lead ... nerf ... airsoft ... a .22.

        Clearly it is the result of too many people watching Ghostbusters in the 80s.

        We need to ban dangerous marshmellow-based violence from our television and movie-screens.

      • by Splab (574204)

        No, it's not anti gun propaganda. I'm from a country where guns are banned and people are wholeheartedly against guns, but we aren't fucking stupid! We enjoy science and experiments like these are allowed; but under proper supervision.

        This smells a lot like someone wanting an excuse for firing this particular teacher.

      • by thsths (31372)

        Better not let them play any ball games either, just to be sure. And no contact sports either.

    • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Sunday April 20, 2014 @07:28PM (#46801999) Homepage Journal

      Lets burn the lawyers offices down.

      The lawyers are powerless without the courts. It's the Court orders, backed by ... wait for it ... men with guns that make this environment possible.

      Do you know why everybody is so jumpy and the cops are doing summary executions [csmonitor.com] now? Because everybody is a criminal [amazon.com], everybody is a suspect, and the cops and the courts enforce these absurd laws rather than than defend the Constitution [cato.org] as a co-equal branch.

      Hell, the Constitution didn't even make it past 1803 [wikipedia.org] intact in design, and FDR accepted the Supreme Court's final surrender in 1937 from Chief Justice Hughes as a settlement to his plan to expand the Court with its cronies. Overnight, SCOTUS began finding all of Roosevelt's programs suddenly Constitutional even concluding that growing wheat for your family farm [wikipedia.org] is part of "Interstate Commerce" and suddenly of Federal providence.

      The problem now is that it's impossible for the People to know what the Constitution says because (supposedly) it doesn't mean anything until SCOTUS tells us what it means, which might well be the opposite of what we "think" it means (that is, the plain English meaning). The catch is that the Constitution is what authorizes the government in the first place. If the People aren't competent to understand their agreement with that government, then they weren't competent to create it in the first place and the grant of power is void.

      • The courts typically back the schools. My exwife was a teacher and took education law class.

        The problem is it costs money to prove you are innocent. Schools included spent as much money paying off bad parents and lawyers as budgets for freaking books in a given year! How is that for fair?

        All to prove that the judge says, well gee the school has a right to create a learning environment based on such and such in 1934 bla bla. NEXT ... oh the lawyer bill will be $380,000 etc.

    • by rainmaestro (996549) on Sunday April 20, 2014 @08:08PM (#46802191)

      My 8th grade elective (in 1998) was rocketry. We spent the semester building and launching model rockets. Something tells me that elective is no longer being offered.

      You can still find sanity in a few holdouts. My high school (a magnet program, not a regular public school) had a well-stocked research lab and all students performed research. Mine involved cellulolysis and a strain of bacteria that I forget the name of now. The lab (and the research) is still ongoing, though I suspect the program's status gives it more freedom than a regular school would have. They even still had shop courses, or at least they did when I was there. No dodgeball, though, that was forbidden.

    • Lets burn the lawyers offices down

      can't. don't know how.

      they canceled arson shop, too.

    • by jxander (2605655)

      We have to give everyone a medal for participating

      Should we really be giving students metal? It could be ferrous, and people are already in trouble for experimenting with magnetic acceleration!

      Oh, wait .. you said ... nevermind.

  • Yeah, sure. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drolli (522659) on Sunday April 20, 2014 @06:19PM (#46801677) Journal

    I am lucky I grew up in the 80s I guess.

    • Re:Yeah, sure. (Score:5, Informative)

      by cultiv8 (1660093) on Sunday April 20, 2014 @06:42PM (#46801799) Homepage
      I suspect there is a secondary motive here, the science teacher was also the teachers' union representative and had been dealing with disagreements with administrators over updating the employment agreement. His suspension removed him from those discussion. Source [latimes.com] and quote:

      Schiller, 43, also was the teachers union representative on the campus and had been dealing with disagreements with administrators over updating the employment agreement under which the faculty works. His suspension, with pay, removed him from those discussions.

      • Mod parent up.

        I mentioned this already and as someone who worked at a school district I can vouch. If they get rid of tenure and go to what regular folks have a 3 write up and you are out this wouldn't happen.

        • Wait. Did you just admit that he's being targeted improperly because he is the union rep . . . and then say that if we got rid of tenure and let them fire whoever they want for whatever reason it wouldn't be a problem anymore?

          • Wait. Did you just admit that he's being targeted improperly because he is the union rep . . . and then say that if we got rid of tenure and let them fire whoever they want for whatever reason it wouldn't be a problem anymore?

            I sure did.

            This guy prevented bad teachers from being fired. I know call the lawyers bla bla. But if he is the problem why LA school districts are failing he needs to have some leighway and let the administrators do the write ups and terminations. Yes some is political. Welcome to work. Most though needs to be documented and finished.

            Walmart does this all the time to keep prices low.

            The American Teachers Association needs to go back to it's roots to advance the career just like the state bar does with lawye

    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      Based on all the supposedly really dangerous crap we did in the 80s I think we should be lucky we grew up at all. When I was a kid our Chemistry set had chemicals in it. Could you imagine? Nothing like today's "safer" alternatives. [slashdot.org]

      And remember if you every feel like questioning anything or applying logic, just stop and think of the children.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 20, 2014 @06:23PM (#46801699)

    if you cross the streams.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is part of the war on pretend violence which is really a war on boys who enjoy war and fighting fiction. It shouldn't surprise any man that if we give an assignment of write anything you want. That young men might write about what it would be like to be a sniper or hunt down a fish. But yet if they do that their must be something wrong with them. [whitehouseboysmen.org]

    • by Nidi62 (1525137)
      Growing up all through school, I would often get bored in class and draw pages and pages of stick-figure battles, anyhting ranging from medieval battles to Star Wars to WWII. I'm talking body parts flying everywhere, blood spraying, and explosions. I feel like if I was in school now and did stuff like that, I would be expelled on the spot. And the sad thing is it's been less than 10 years since I graduated high school.
      • What really got them on my case was the stick figure flip porn on the edges of classroom copy text books. I figured everybody was a bored as me.

  • by wickerprints (1094741) on Sunday April 20, 2014 @06:42PM (#46801797)

    This is about office politics. The administration at his school has decided to make an example out of him, and they're using these science experiments as an excuse to make his life miserable. That's what this is really about. He doesn't toe the line, so someone with power has decided to exert their authority.

    To make this about gun politics is as equally absurd as to say that we should stop kids from eating any food because there's an obesity epidemic. These science projects are no more related to actual firearms than the gas stove in your kitchen is related to a nuclear bomb. The only plausible explanation for this situation is that Schiller dared to butt heads with some administrator, and this is payback.

    • Exactly. Even though the administration said the science experiments were the reason for the suspension, it is likely the true reason was something else.

    • This pretty much sums up what I was thinking too. This guy is a union rep and somebody in charge at the school has butted heads with him.

      Plus, you get extra point for not saying "tow the line."

  • Electricity (Score:4, Funny)

    by edibobb (113989) on Sunday April 20, 2014 @06:44PM (#46801807) Homepage
    They should ban electricity in science fair projects. Electricity is highly dangerous. People die from electrocution every year, some of whom are not even enjoying capital punishment.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Electricity is nothing compared to the dangers of Dihydrogen Monoxide! http://www.dhmo.org/facts.html

  • Fire the administrators immediately and vote the school board out of office.

  • what is next basic computer skills = hacking

    time to suspended the tech teaches

  • by spiritplumber (1944222) on Sunday April 20, 2014 @06:56PM (#46801869)
    http://spiritplumber.deviantar... [deviantart.com] This is a SLIGHT fictionalization of what happened to me when faced with a derpy administrator -- the dates and names have been changes but you can probably guess my age by the stuff referenced in. Ultimately, teachers and administrators operate in loco parentis; the parents have to get mad.
  • by Elyjah (108222) on Sunday April 20, 2014 @06:59PM (#46801881)

    I approve of this decision. Someone finally thought of the children; just think how many lives were saved! Science is dangerous, and definitely has no place in our schools. Clearly, the children that built these have some severe mental problems, and all right-thinking people know their parents must be fat, conservative tea-baggers. The kind of violence exhibited by these devices cannot be tolerated. This is exactly why children should not be allowed to think for themselves in school; they are too unpredictable.

    I'm glad we were able to stop these domestic terrorists before they killed anyone.

  • After shutting down all science projects that involve projectiles, we need to move against other deadly militaristic skills.

    1) stop all activities that train for grenade throwing.
    For example, one so-called sport has a group of five taking turns attempting to throw a projectile through a 'hoop', where it should be obvious to anyone that this is training terrorists to hurl molotov cocktails through the windows of our leaders homes as well as elementary schools.

    2) stop all activities that train for Hoplite sty

    • You misunderstand, they want kids taught the transferable skills. So athleticism and mindless team-patriotism that can be steered towards being a good foot-soldier. Debate to identify useful propagandists for recruitment. ("Oh, since you're good at debate, have you considered doing Pol.Sci or Law?" "Oh, you're doing Law with a minor in Pol.Sci, have you considered doing an internship with Senator Snot's office?" "Oh, you interned with the Senator? Here at Snot, Booger and Loogie we do a lot of work for clie

  • "An Illinois federal court has ruled that Chicago school officials did not violate the rights of a second-grade teacher who was charged with possessing weapons on school grounds after he displayed garden-variety tools such as wrenches, pliers and screwdrivers in his classroom as part of his second grade teaching curriculum that required a “tool discussion.”"

    http://www.prisonplanet.com/fe... [prisonplanet.com]

  • "We will always err on the side of protecting students."

    Emphasis on "err".

Computers are unreliable, but humans are even more unreliable. Any system which depends on human reliability is unreliable. -- Gilb

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