Friday Open Thread

In one Nebraska high school, students are being granted the right to pose with their firearms for senior pictures.  (No, it's not the Onion.)  From Mother Jones:

“The board, I believe, felt they wanted to give students who are involved in those kinds of things the opportunity to take a senior picture with their hobby, with their sport, just like anybody with any other hobby or sport,” Superintendent Mark Sievering explained to local paper, the Omaha World-Herald. 
As for the "tasteful" requirement, that means classy poses only folks: no photos with weapons pointed at the camera, no brandishing of weapons, and no "scantily clad girls."

Can't they just take a photo?  In the yearbooks I was in, it was a simple head and shoulders shot. has a petition up for saving recess in Seattle Schools. 

I may have put this up before but it's worth showing again. Long ago, there was a girl singer named Lesley Gore who sang a brilliant song, "You Don't Own Me." It was about a girl telling her boyfriend what NOT to do and it truly is an anthem for girls and women who may be with a controlling person.  (I actually think a modern-day singer - see Beyonce, Gwen Steffani - could really blow this one out.)

Speaking of women role models, great interview with Michelle Munson, CEO of Aspera from the NY Times.

What career and life advice do you give to college seniors?
No. 1: competence. Nothing, nothing, nothing replaces being competent in what you’re doing, and that comes with respect for opportunity. 
I do not subscribe to the idea that young people should emphasize people skills. The world is not just a social network.  
The second thing is critical thinking, which leads to independent thinking, and that comes from a diverse education and stretching yourself with independent-study internships and outside projects and activities.

Community meetings tomorrow:
Director Patu from 10 am-11:30 am at Cafe Vita.
Director Peters from 2:30-4:00 pm at Queen Anne Library

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said…
Diane Ravitch talks back to Time magazine for their incredibly offensive cover story against teachers and how the tech guys are (once again)going to solve all our problems:

TIME Magazine has a cover story called “Rotten Apples,” in which it falsely asserts (on the cover) that “It’s Nearly Impossible to Fire a Bad Teacher. Some Tech Millionaires May Have Found a Way to Change That.” Here is a link to the cover and a petition denouncing this slander. (more)

Anonymous said…
Guns in Senior portraits! They may be sorry they opened the door on that one. I can only imagine some of the props the more creative kids will use.

Anonymous said…
Darn those gun nuts and their school photos.

-urban socialist marksman
Anonymous said…
Amid the jokes about yearbook guns there has been a shooting and possible multiple deaths at Marysville HS.

Please say a prayer or your choice of cosmic intervention for the families in that community and for school kids here and throughout the U.S.

The baseline at any school is that a student can be safe. These incidents....why must our society have multiple incidents...break my heart.

Anonymous said…

School shooting in Marysville this morning.
RE: "You DOn't Own Me"

I saw Leslie Gore sing this in an old clip on PBS a few months ago and thought the same thing. It was a powerful anthem and one we need as much, if not more, than ever.
Anonymous said…
I just want my kids to go to high school in another country. Only in America do we have these school shootings and only in America do we have a school permitting student to take guns in for their yearbook photos. "opportunity to pose with their hobby" - Do the horse riders get to take their horse to school to pose ? That's just a BS excuse- It's just another misguided American way of worshipping guns above all else. Riduculous beyond belief. How many kids need to die before America will get some brains and some balls and stand up to the NRA and their political henchmen who have manipulated and scared (brainwashed, even) people into believing they need guns to be safe when ALL evidence points to the contrary.

Anonymous said…
OK MDA, what are you proposing?

Guns have been around long before these school shootings started, the guns are not the driver it's something else. I received a 22 rifle at 8 and still have it today, never thought of shooting anyone with it.

Maybe the gun owners should be held accountable if there guns are not secured?

Eric B said…
@MDA, in many places the seniors provide their own senior pictures to Yearbook. I don't know if that's the case in Seattle. So yes, in that case a student could submit a picture on horseback (or with a gun, or on horseback with a gun) without ever bringing the gun and/or horse to school.

Still don't think it's a good idea, because tastelessness is virtually impossible to enforce.
Anonymous said…
I propose just the same thing as every other developed western country - think the UK, Scandinavia, Europe, Australia, NZ, Canada etc etc- all of whom have much tighter restrictions on gun ownership for example restrictions on the number and types of guns that can be owned, universal background checks etc, all of whom still do permit ownership of guns for legitimate reasons e.g. sporting, farming, hunting, collecting antique models but do not have a culture of gun worship (2nd amendment rah rah rah ), and do not encourage the ownership of guns for personal protection or stockpiling of weapons in case the government collapses or parading around wearing weapons public. In other words other countries treat guns as a dangerous tool or piece of sporting equipment that in useful in certain situations and permissible with certain safeguards and restrictions, not as 'god-given' right, an enhancement to ones masculinity, a political pawn, a plaything, or a problem- solver. The citizens of these other countries realize are on board with these restrictions because they realize that a small inconvenience to them (if they have legitimate requirement for a gun) exists for the benefit of society as a whole - in the same way that requiring drivers licenses, having drink-driving laws etc do.
These kids have easy access to guns and live in a culture that glorifies them and have grown up being exposed to the fact that shooting up a bunch of people is the American way to resolve a dispute or express mental distress. Where people in other countries have equal rates of mental illness, or acute distress, or bullying etc -they very rarely respond in this way. Yes, they may commit suicide but rarely do they ever take a bunch of co-workers or fellow students, or random strangers with them as people do here. I don't know how Americans can break that cycle but if guns were less readily available it would make it harder for kids to do these things - and sometimes having to wait, and think, or plan some other way out might give them an opportunity to realize it doesn't have to come to that. We all get upset about these school shootings because innocent bystanders are killed, but lose sight of the fact these acts are also a suicide. Suicide deaths by guns are huge in the US, and suicide deaths are lower when there is reduced access to firearms simply because most other methods are less immediate (suicide is often impulsive and the urge may pass if there isn't an immediate means at hand), and less effective (something like 97% of people that attempt suicide and fail never try again). In another country with fewer guns, more restrictions or gun ownership, and a non-gun glorifying culture - these kids would likely be alive/uninjured.

The least we can do is pass I -594. It is just the smallest baby step to sanity.

Anonymous said…
Eric B - Sorry I misunderstood. I thought they were being granted permission to take the guns to school to pose with. Sure I'd think its fine to bring their own pictures in of whatever is important to them - I still think its sad that for so many of them that would be guns. That is something I just will never understand.
Maybe the gun owners should be held accountable if there guns are not secured?"

I have advocated this for years. And you don't even have to send anyone to jail.

If you own a gun and it is used (but not stolen and no, your kids taking it is not stealing), you will pay costs.

Bottom line, to get people's attention, go to their wallets.

This is one thing O.J.'s case taught us; can't get someone criminally, you can in civil court.
Anonymous said…
that was MDA above
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous, thanks for the info. Next time, give yourself a name please.

Here is the information from APP@Lincoln regarding the programs located at Lincoln this year.

-info sharing

"Programs located at Lincoln:

For more than 15 years, the Lincoln High School building has served as the interim home to a number of schools and programs in transition. The principals of the programs located at Lincoln work closely with each other to ensure that their programs appropriately share the spaces.

Here are the programs currently located in different parts of the Lincoln campus;

Main Building: APP@ Lincoln program has been housed at this site since 2010. They will move to the Wilson-Pacific site once their elementary school building is completed.

Grade 1 63
Grade 2 142
Grade 3 136
Grade 4 167
Grade 5 179
Total 687

North Wing: Native American Education program is located in rooms N1 and N2, where it has a resource library and after school program. The program also provides services for all Native American students. Its enrollment count is included in the Licton Springs K-8 enrollment table below.

South Wing: Licton Springs K-8 program, formerly known as the Pinehurst K-8 program, began this school year at Lincoln and is combining with the Native American Education program. They will move to the Wilson Pacific site once the new middle school building is completed. Below is the current enrollment for both programs.

K 15
Grade 1 19
Grade 2 13
Grade 3 11
Grade 4 8
Grade 5 12
Grade 6 12
Grade 7 9
Grade 8 17
Total 116

South Wing: Special Education Medically Fragile program 6 and 3 adults class of 6 students, ages 18- 21, and 3 adult supervisors. The students have very limited and often no physical mobility. This class focuses on the vocational and leisure needs of the students and began at Lincoln in the 2013-14 school year.

Auditorium: CTE Nursing Program will move from the Wilson-Pacific site to the south wing due to the upcoming demolition of that building.

Auditorium Building: Special Education 18-21 transition programs includes a total of 19 students and 10 supervising adults housed at Lincoln in the separate auditorium building. One of the programs provides work settings-both pay and internship level experiences-for a wide range of students and is in its sixth year at Lincoln. The second program has just moved to the Lincoln campus from Wilson Pacific and focuses on life skills and behavior for students with moderate to severe disabilities. Some of the students have vocational internships, while others stay in the classroom, continuing to learn life and self-care skills."
Anonymous said…
Sorry, Melissa, I did use a name. I called myself "Info sharing." Was that not ok?

-info sharing
Anonymous said…
MDA a couple of things.

God does not exist and its the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution that gives us the right.

You are correct that most gun deaths are suicide. We need to bring back the mental heath services cut back in the 80s.

If we want to get super extra specific, the actual gun itself very rarely kills, it's the bullet.

Are bullets "arms" or are guns the "arms" Maybe there's a way of limiting or controlling bullets?

I can tell you "gun nuts or collectors" are not the types going out and perpetrating the mass shootings. You do know there are 100s of events each year where a vulnerable person is saved by either killing, wounding or scaring off a wood-be murderer using a gun.

I would guess love ones of those and of the not so fortunate would disagree with your opinion.

Lynn said…
Here's some information on district and state assessments. (The document includes a list of tests required for high school graduation.)

I see that Garfield has more late start days for testing than any other school (nine). That seems excessive given that they just added another six late starts for freshman family engagement. These should be district-level decisions rather than being left up to each principal.
Eric B said…
DNA, for everyone saved by a gun, there are orders of magnitude more people harmed by guns. As long as we're talking data, firearms killed 32,000 people and injured 73,000 in 2010. Assuming your "100s" is accurate and rounding that up to a thousand just to be charitable, 1% of gun use saves someone's life or property. Heck, lottery scratch tickets have better odds than that!

And you're just off base with the statement that gun nuts/collectors aren't the ones who cause mass shootings. The Sandy Hook shootings were by someone who collected guns.

Melissa, I've been kicking around a "just like cars" initiative in my head. Treat guns exactly like cars. They have to be licensed, insured, and registered. I think you'd see a lot of the irresponsible use go away if people had financial penalties.
David said…
DNA - do not try to pull that crap of "people saved by people with guns" and "it's the bullets" here. Please. We are more intelligent than that.

MDA - I am in total agreement with you. But it will never ever ever happen in the USA. People are completely in love with weapons here. Remember the bumper stickers:

My wife, yes
My dog, maybe
My gun, never

And remember Charlton Heston and his "you will have to pry my gun from my cold dead hands" comment. That is what we're up against and it will never go away.
Info, if you make it hard for me to see it, yes, it's a problem. Please be clearer in your typing, thanks.

DNA, I do know you'll need to write more coherently if we are to have a discussion. I'm not sure I understand your point.

Eric, great idea. Never happen but great idea.
Anonymous said…

The majority of gun deaths are suicides and the man boy in Sandy hook was mentally ill and far from a collector. Read his profile. He could have as well ran over the kids with a car or other hideous things. What about cops using guns to save lives, or what about cops that kill? Should cops not have guns because there have been cops who murdered with their issued guns. Far less than 1% maybe .0025%

RosieReader said…
For a long time the Stranger Slog was linking to the weekly "Gun Fail" which counts the number of kids killed by guns. Most of these get counted as "accidents" with no punishment. If the irresponsible gun owners who left their gun out, or used it themselves ina way that injured someone else, were regularly punished when these "accidents" occur, I believe we'd see a lot fewer of them.
Eric B said…
DNA, You bring up an excellent point. Having a gun makes you several times more likely to be a victim of gun violence than not having a gun. QED, you are safer without a gun than with one.

For cops, I would expect that the number of offensive/defensive uses of guns far outweighs the number of cops killed by their own guns. That's the nature of their jobs.

But yes, I do think that we as a society would be far better off if cops didn't have to routinely carry guns, just like they don't in most other developed countries. Why do they have to? Because there are so many people out there with guns.

You know, there was a company that developed a workable smart gun that could only be fired by its owner. You know why it didn't come to market? The manufacturer got death threats from "gun enthusiasts". You see, several states have laws that if anyone comes up with a workable smart gun solution, all guns sold in the state have to be smart. The "gun rights/gun safety" crowd couldn't abide that.

I can tell I'm not going to convince you, and you're not going to convince me. We live in separate realities. So I'm done now.

Melissa, let's see how 594 turns out before saying it'll never happen. There is a huge amount of NRA propaganda that runs something like "cars kill lots of people, and they don't require background checks for cars, do they?" Naturally, the people making that argument forget that there are far higher standards for car safety than gun safety.
Anonymous said…
Amen, Eric B
There is no conceivable reason why guns should not be held to the same standards are vehicles in terms of licensing to use, registration of vehicle, laws regarding safe use and who is allowed to use, requirement for insurance, vehicle safety standards etc. Why does not one complain that the government is trying to take away their cars or god-given right to drive and so on - we all just buck up and get a license, register our car, don't speed, don't drink and drive etc. We don't complain that it is too restrictive or burdensome to own a car. Sure some bad apples will still break those laws - drive while disqualified, drive drunk, steal cars etc but that doesn't mean there's not point in having those laws in the first place.
Anonymous said…

Your idea leaves out a pesky little thing called the Constitution. Car ownership is a privilege but gun ownership is a civil right. I do not need to obtain the government's permission to exercise a civil right.

If you don't like the 2nd Amendment, there is a process for changing it. Until you do, my rights to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Melon Labe
Eric B said…
"A well-regulated militia..."
Yes, but the government CAN impose regulations to said right.

Sorry, as Eric shows, it's in the Constitution.

Again, make it about money and you'll see people become more careful with guns they own.
Anonymous said…
Yeah I get it…. out of your cold dead hands and all that.
The constitution is overrated. Just because something was relevant hundreds of years ago does not make it so today.
Can you imagine how difficult it would be to change the constitution with regard to guns …… think 13th amendment difficult. That took a civil war, and a large part of the US clings to their 2nd amendment rights today the way Southerns hung onto slavery.
But yeah, I will keep pressing for change because to go on the way we currently do in the US is lunacy, and to believe we should do so on the basis of an antiquated entitlement to keep a musket and be part of a militia is also lunacy.
Anonymous said…
Curious...does Pinehurst/the Native American program have grade grouping? Those are some seriously small grade sizes, especially when some early elementary classes have been around 28-29 kids recently.

NE parent
Ragweed said…
Yes, Licton Springs K-8 does multi-age classes.
Anonymous said…
Your right to keep and bear arms is not infringed by regulations pertaining to the PURCHASE of an arm. PURCHASING comes before keeping & bear.

- 2A but w/sense
info sharing said…
It looks like the SPS website for Licton Spring shares the multi-age classroom information:

Licton Springs Core Teachers:
Paul Ogle (Rm. 11) K
Lauryn Cook (Rm. 4) 1-2
Maggie Staveley (Rm. 16) 3-4
Carolyn E. Kyle (Rm. 7) 5-6
Chris Sommarstrom/Jo Cripps 7-8
Charlie Mas said…
The easy access to guns isn't so much the problem as a culture that relies on violence to resolve conflicts.

I have no solution for changing that element of our culture. It's everywhere and in all things American.

I don't hate guns nor do I have strong feelings about gun ownership. I think that gun owners should be responsible gun owners and I think that we, as a society, have an interest in enforcing that responsible gun ownership with laws.

Such laws should require gun owners to do what responsible gun owners already do: acquire their firearms legally, use them safely and responsibly, secure them, and transfer them only to other responsible gun owners.

My brother owns a couple of pistols that he uses exclusively at a gun range for target shooting. That's a legitimate use and I wouldn't think of impeding it.

I know people who hunt and they have rifles for hunting. That's a legitimate use and I wouldn't think of impeding it.

There are other folks, none whom I know personally, who collect guns. That's a legitimate hobby and I wouldn't think of impeding it.

Finally there are those who believe that the world is a dangerous place and they are convinced that they need a firearm for their self-defense. While I don't share their fears or find them reasonable (except in those cases in which their work or some other extraordinary circumstance makes the fear reasonable) I don't want to impede their access to a gun either.

All I want is for all of these folks to acquire, use, store, and transfer their firearms responsibly. And I want the force of law to require it of them because it has been shown that we cannot rely on voluntary action.

When I read of people accidentally discharging weapons or when I read about people keeping them in their car glovebox - and we see these stories nearly every day - that's how I know that we need a law to enforce responsible gun ownership.
cmj said…

I didn't read the TIME article (because of the paywall), but there are some bad teachers. Trust me, I had a few of them. Ravitch's post, unfortunately, didn't address that. Nor did the petition by Weingarten (head of one of the major national teacher union) address that.

As I understand it, it's also pretty hard and quite expensive to fire bad teachers. NYC's rubber rooms are famous. Someone made a flowchart of actions necessary to fire a bad teacher in NYC.

Teachers need due process, but due process shouldn't make it incredibly different or impossible to fire bad teachers.
It may be true that in some places it is hard to get rid of bad teachers. Seattle has a process and, if a principal follows that process, a teacher can be exited in a year. That seems a fair amount of time to review the teacher's performance, create a performance plan, give it to the teacher to enact and, if not, exit him or her.

I know it can be done because it was done at Roosevelt.

I agree there are poor-performing teachers but as a teacher at a private school (a very good one) told me this weekend, bad teachers are everywhere.
Eric B said…
Based on my experience, it takes a private sector company the size of SPS (ie one big enough to be really concerned about wrongful-termination lawsuits) will take a year plus to exit a bad employee. For some things like a workplace violence threat, the process can be very fast, but I suspect the same is true of a school.

I would bet money that it takes a year for Time to fire a reporter who isn't performing. So another case of what's good for thee not being good for me.
n said…
There are bad everything in every occupation. I've had bad doctors - yes, more than one who failed to diagnose a serious-and-fairly-evident-to-knowledgeable-eyes benign tumor that was crippling. The doc who found it actually wrote letters to those who did not. I've had poor attorneys. And I fired an accountant. Can't tell you how many plumbers I used until I found a good one. And while I could fire these people, I was still stuck with the crummy waste of time and poor work!

Not saying we shouldn't try to find and keep good teachers. However, our schools of education aren't very good at identifying those who will be good teachers either. I had an intern from a reputable school who could not write. Poor handwriting, poor conventions and poor content. Many schools think if a student is going into primary it is not such a big deal. It is. And often teachers end up in grade levels for which they are not really suited. That is one difference between Finland and the US. They have stringent standards for becoming a teacher.

Having said that, the other problem is that schools become communities including principals and no one feels good about firing a poor teacher esp. since often "poor" in a school really is not that poor. Remember, these people have degrees and have gone through a lot of training. Smart principals know that a poor teacher at one grade level may do very well at another. I saw a teacher fired and it did take a year who would have done extremely well with older kids. Another teacher left the profession when riffed down to a primary grade but who had been very successful at fifth grade.

We expect teachers to be everything to everybody. There are few of us who are up to that challenge.

I think smaller classes would help all teachers. With the diversity of student populations - even in north-end so-called white schools, diversity in culture, economics, and values is pretty large. And those schools (the north-end white schools) have many fewer dollars to support their at-risk kids.

Schools require large numbers of teachers. More money at the teacher level and less spread among the administrative level would help motivate more good people to come into teaching without having as their goal moving into higher-paying admin positions.

Also, I've noticed quite a few old people who are changing careers for whatever reason and entering the teaching field. Many are excellent but many are not. Seems like education is a default for people who aren't as successful in their chosen professions or have been displaced from those professions for some reason.

Sorry for the long discourse. I really came to post my response to Tim Burgess at the end of the 1a and 1b preschool measure on TV today (which may have been a rerun?): He certainly captured his targeted group of voters when he ended by informing them that they might be able to send their kids to "free preschool" incomes are less that $71,000. income.
n said…
Uh-oh! I meant to say "older" and not "old." Sorry!
"Free" preschool? No, it's not. It's paid for by our taxes (including those who are low-income).

It covers just under 6% of 3&4 year olds in the city.

The teachers would get between $30-60K and the administrators (downtown) would get between $100-200k. I want my tax dollars in the classroom.

Tim, nothing is "free."

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