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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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  • 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.
  • 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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 20, 2014 @06:26PM (#46801719)

    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]

  • 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.
  • 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.

  • by Nidi62 (1525137) on Sunday April 20, 2014 @06:42PM (#46801793)

    Perhaps teaching kids that use of guns and violence in schools will not be tolerated is a good thing? Do we want to teach out kids how to use fake guns now, then careless use of real guns once in the real world? Schools need to keep zero tolerance on anything gun related if we want to see our crime rate go down (hint: Only a few countries have worse gun violence than the US... and they either have unstable governments, or no governments.)

    The better thing is to actually educate children about the dangers of firearms, and how to tell the difference between real guns and toys/replicas/marshmellow shooters. I grew up playing with toy guns, but my grandfather had several real firearms that he kept in a wood and glass gun cabinet. I was taught that they were dangerous and to only touch them with my grandfather or father. Keeping children from getting exposure to guns other than in video games or on TV means that if they are over at their friend Timmy's house and find his dad's gun they start playing with it and blow little Timmy's head off. If the child knows what to do when they find a gun (don't touch it, leave the area, and find and tell the nearest adult) little Timmy gets to go to school the next day. Abolition won't stop gun violence or even get rid of guns (out of the 6 guns that I own only 3 have any documentation of me purchasing them, and one of those is a hunting rifle). But education will reduce gun deaths significantly.

  • 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.

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr@nOspAm.mac.com> on Sunday April 20, 2014 @06:46PM (#46801825) Journal

    Perhaps teaching kids that use of guns and violence in schools will not be tolerated is a good thing?

    Perhaps you're a blithering idiot. Oh, wait: there's no question about that.

    -jcr

  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Sunday April 20, 2014 @06:50PM (#46801845)

    Gun safety is something every parent owes their children. Along with power tools, basic electrical wiring, plumbing, plant a grape vine, how to build a computer, tune an engine, build a computer and compile a Linux kernel.

  • 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:Sick Society (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Sunday April 20, 2014 @06:56PM (#46801863) Homepage Journal

    This is not about science, it is about tje progressive anti-gun stance.

    Seriously - stop spreading their propaganda. They explicitly want those in power to have all the guns they need. They just want the People to be disarmed and figure their friends will be in power.

    This is not at all an anti-gun stance, it's a central-control stance. This gives them a sense of security, like those living under Mao or Pol Pot.

  • 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.

  • Re:Sick Society (Score:1, Insightful)

    by thegarbz (1787294) on Sunday April 20, 2014 @07:35PM (#46802043)

    No it's not anti-gun, you're talking about a country who believe their right to own guns trumps all other rights thanks to a document written many years ago.

    This is all about thinking of the children. It would have been no different if they made little mini bombs, or used fire, or anything else that they should be teaching in chemistry these days. I wonder what it would be like if they distilled alcohol at the science fair. God forbid they use little magnet toys for something.

    After all we're talking about a country where toy magents are banned even from adults because it killed 2 kids, but rifles are available off the shelf to suit kids. [crickett.com]

  • by drnb (2434720) on Sunday April 20, 2014 @08:40PM (#46802313)

    ... it's a stupid policy created by people that don't own guns ...

    There is nothing wrong with not owning guns. Its a personal choice, OK for some, not for others.

    However creating policy and regulations when you are completely ignorant and misinformed about firearms, that is something else. Some non-owners are quite well informed and not hysterical. Some owners are quite ignorant and in dire need of instructions and education.

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 20, 2014 @09:33PM (#46802475)

    Nonsense. If that's the case, they should be going after actual guns

    there are over 100,000,000 gun owners in the united states, owning more than 300,000,000 guns.

    you cannot "go after guns" and expect to accompish anything in one year or even ten years. you have to play the long game, and that includes any number of tactics, including conditioning kids into being so scared of even talking about anything remotely related to firearms, so that 50-100 years from now, gun owners are a tiny minority, at which point there's no real opposition to your idiotic control schemes, because really, gun control is people control.

    british history lesson: http://www.guncite.com/journals/okslip.html

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 20, 2014 @09:52PM (#46802537)

    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.

    cite [latimes.com]
    Its not about safety, its about removing the union rep from negotiations at the expensive of his students who are preparing for their AP exams.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 20, 2014 @11:06PM (#46802803)
    Y'know, I was wondering why they suspended the teacher instead of the students. Now it all makes sense.
  • Re:Sick Society (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Euler (31942) on Sunday April 20, 2014 @11:33PM (#46802913) Journal

    "The US is tops of the list of gun violence for any country with a stable government."
    Yes, we all have heard this statistic. Basically, it is cherry-picking by various ambiguous qualifiers: "stable", "developed", etc. Usually these are just keywords for "..as compared primarily to the UK, Western Europe, and Canada.."

    Russia and Mexico both have stable governments. They also have strict gun control (at least according to the written laws.) Guess what, both have a much higher gun homicide rate compared to the USA.

    Don't get me wrong, the homicide rate in the USA is embarrassingly high. There are many honest discussions to be had. But for now, both sides continue to dig in and not look for any real solutions that would fit with the culture and political setting of the USA.

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

    by Aristos Mazer (181252) on Sunday April 20, 2014 @11:43PM (#46802943)

    The administrator wasn't doing the teacher's job by disciplining the kids because the kids did nothing wrong. It was completely correct what they did. But the administrator disagreed. And that kind of disagreement is *exactly* why we have tenure: to protect teachers who actually teach something controversial.

  • by aepervius (535155) on Monday April 21, 2014 @06:22AM (#46803813)
    The reason western europe and canada is compared to USA, rather than say mexico and russia, is because they are the one which ressemble much the cultural, economical environment but also far more important political environment of the USA. Mexico and russia may fullfil one or two of those, but not all 3.
  • Re:Sick Society (Score:5, Insightful)

    by luis_a_espinal (1810296) on Monday April 21, 2014 @09:18AM (#46804663) Homepage

    It is a people problem. Studies have shown that the vast majority of first time murders already had extensive violent criminal records. Clearly the justice system is not doing these people or society justice, since there were ample opportunities to intervene before they took a human life.

    15% of murders are committed by a domestic partner. 56% of murders are committed by friends or acquaintances. The notion that murders are committed against random people by some set of hardened, life-long criminals is not supported by data. Perhaps all the more so, given that convicted felons are generally prohibited from owning firearms.

    Likewise, given that 65% of gun deaths (as distinguished from murders) are suicides, I have to say I consider it highly unlikely that the vast majority of gun violence is committed by people with extensive criminal records

    There is data collected by the FBI and local state agencies if you'd like to check. For starters not all homicides are gun-related. Secondly, the question is not whether it is strangers murdering strangers, but whether 1) poverty and drug-related crimes/drug-related environments are fueling the bulk of homicides (and gun-related homicides in particular) and 2) the typical perpetrator has already a crime record.

    The data I alluded, collected by various law enforcement agencies and 3rd party organizations/analysts points into that direction. African Americans and Hispanics (my community) are dis-proportionally represented in gun-related homicides. When you break down gun-related homicide by race, we find that among non-Hispanic Whites, the murder rates are comparable (slightly higher but still comparable) to those in Western Europe.

    Furthermore, 80% of gun-related homicides are committed by hand guns, not the ZOMG assault weapons politicians like to ban. I cannot find the link to the FBI study where it showed the type of handguns used the most in homicides, but it clearly mentioned the majority of them were on the cheap end, 2nd-hand saturday night special type of hand guns, not the $500+ firearms the typical law-abiding gun-owner possess.

    So, clearly, race and income are a factor. Since race and income are (still) tightly correlated in the US, we can generalize this by simply saying it is a class-related phenomenon. Add to the fact that drug-related crimes significantly affect African Americans (where there has been a marked breakdown in families and an increase in single-parent families), Hispanics and to a lesser extend Caucasians in the South due to the "meth" belt, we see a strong correlation with the war on drugs.

    Now, I'm not saying we should not have tighter controls with firearms. I own firearms, and I conceal carry wherever it is legal. But I also acknowledge we should have much better ways to track who buys or sells what. Illegally acquired firearms and straw sales are a major factor in gun-related crime. So we have to deal with it.

    But the primordial factors here are race/economics, poverty, even health ([a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexknapp/2013/01/03/how-lead-caused-americas-violent-crime-epidemic/" target="new"]refer to lead poisoning as a possible cause in the spike of crime from the late 60's to the 80s[/a]). Most importantly, it is culture.

    Fins and Swiss have significant %s of gun-ownership, and the Swiss can open carry, and yet you do not see the significant murder rates as in the US (though there are rates of spousal murder where alcohol is involved, but that is a universal.)

    Honduras is the capital murder of the world, and although gun laws are flexible, most people simply do not own a piece legally (prices are out of reach to most - ownership is for the well-to-do). Poverty is rampant, the police is ill-equipped to deal with gang/drug related violence, and the country lacks institutions to deal with recidivism.

    Nicaragua, adjacent to Honduras is the poorer of the two, with gun laws and legal private own

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