Friday, December 19, 2014

No Curmies Here... but...

Curmie hasn’t written in way too long, and with only a week or so of writing time between now and year’s end, there are LOTS of potential Curmie Award contenders to be highlighted (the actual nominations and election will happen in early January, as Curmie is travelling over New Year’s this time ‘round).

As I’ve mentioned before, I keep a file of potential stories to write up at some point in the future. At present, there’s a backlog of some 87 education-related stories that I haven’t yet done anything with. Needless to say, they’re not all going to get even a sentence or two. But in this post, I’d like to highlight some pretty egregious behavior that won’t be nominated for a Curmie.

Remember that the Curmie goes to someone who embarrasses the profession of education. A custodian or secretary who happens to be employed by a school doesn’t really affect the profession per se positively or negatively, although they certainly have an effect on the school experience for everyone involved. Similarly, doing stupid things outside the purview of one’s career doesn’t qualify. Shady “academic” journals aren’t part of the educational system per se, and whereas there is nary a state legislator in the country who doesn’t think s/he knows more about education than lifetime professionals do, the fact is that enforcing stupid decisions by legislatures doesn’t brand anyone actually involved with education with any wrongdoing.

So there will be no Curmie nomination for these folks, but boy howdy, are they deserving of a little shame:

Gregory Beck
Gregory Beck, a newly-elected school board member in the town adjoining Newtown, CT, site of the horrific school shooting two years ago, who proclaimed on his Facebook page his intention to buy his “friends who are gun enthusiasts a box of ammunition on days 1-26” of a proposed “26 Days of Kindness” initiative in memory of the 26 people who were killed. He eventually resigned his school board seat.

Abel Gonzales, a secretary at Dr. Rodriguez Elementary School in Harlingen, TX, who was fired after furor arising from a Huffington Post “caption this” Facebook post showing a little girl chasing President Obama around the Oval Office. Gonzales, from home on his personal computer, wrote “Run Nigger Run.” (If only they’d fired him for leaving out the commas…) This is where Curmie reminds you that he’s no constitutional lawyer, and doesn’t know exactly where the line is drawn between 1st amendment rights and an employer’s ability not to be embarrassed by employees’ behavior. What isn’t in question is that Mr. Gonzales is an asshole.

The Commonwealth of Kentucky, for spending an estimated $18 million over a six-year period to bus students to and from parochial schools, in apparently direct contravention of both the state and federal constitutions.

The Gilbert, AZ school board, who voted in October to remove pages from a textbook being used in an honors biology class because they didn’t conform to a quintessentially anti-intellectual, dishonest, and otherwise inane state law that “no school district or charter school in this state may allow any presentation during instructional time or furnish any materials to pupils as part of any instruction that does not give preference, encouragement and support to childbirth and adoption as preferred options to elective abortion.”

Yes, the board looked ridiculous. But although the Arizona Department of Education agreed that the passages headed “Contraception can prevent unwanted pregnancy” did not violate the censorious mandate, they also passed the buck to the district, who obligingly exercised prior restraint lest the Stalinists conservative parents of the area get their collective skivvies in a twist. The claim that “By redacting, we are not censoring,” apparently uttered with a straight face by one Julie Smith, a Gilbert school board member, has got to be one of the most patently stupid things ever spoken by anyone not named Palin or Bachmann, but the real fault still lies with the idiots in Phoenix, not those in Gilbert.

The school bus driver in East Baton Rouge who prevented a student from exiting her bus in order to spew homophobic drivel at him because she had decided he was gay. [A Curmie nomination may still be in the works for idiot Principal Shalonda Simoneaux, who advised the students to “call transportation because I’m not her boss,” but that’s another matter.

The impressively-titled and utterly bogus journal, the International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology for accepting for publication an essay entitled “Get Me Off Your Fucking Mailing List,” which consists of those same seven words be repeated, with no other text, a few thousand times throughout the ten-page, two-column, article. Actually, that’s not quite true: there were also a couple of charts (including the one at left), also with the same text. Curmiphiles will be pleased to know that the peer reviewer declared the submission excellent… and it will be published as soon as the author sends in a check for $150. I suspect there may be a longish wait.

• Finally, there’s this, which I include in this post because no one really believes that anyone at Bob Jones University is really engaged in anything that could reasonably be called education. Still, that institution’s four-decade-long history of blaming sexual assault victims for their plight (“Did your body respond favorably? If it did, then you need to repent.”) is reprehensible even compared to the conventionally hypocritical pseudo-Christian standards they employ in other arenas. Maybe, just maybe, they’re beginning to figure out that emerging from the 19th century might just be necessary to their long-term survival. Curmie wishes he could believe that their new-found interest in “the love of Jesus Christ” were in fact motivated by religious, ethical, or moral concerns.

So there’s the list of education-related stories that would be Curmie contenders if the perpetrators were actually educators.

Real Curmie contenders will be featured in future posts.

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