Saturday, January 23, 2016

Announcing the Winner of the 5th Annual Curmie Award

Yes, there is a Curmie winner this year, and I apologize for the delay in the announcement. It’s been a crazy few days since voting closed, highlighted—if that’s the word—by a ridiculous wait at the airport for DHS, or INS, or CPB, or whatever acronymic monstrosity it was, to remove its thumb from its ass, and by the opportunity to watch a pissing match between Curmie’s university’s lawyers and a playwright’s agents over which state would have jurisdiction in the 1 in 10,000 chance of a problem (a dispute in which everyone lost, of course… well, everyone but a different playwright and a different agency).

There were fewer votes this year than in the past, a function in part of Facebook’s greed newest algorithms, which limit viewership of posts in the absence of payola. Curmie posted daily reminders on the Facebook page after voting started; none of them were seen by as many as 10 of the 460+ fans of the page. Thus, despite the usual assistance from netpal Jack Marshall (thanks, Jack!), viewership of the nominations post was down by more than 50% from last year. Really, though, the problem was that barely 10% of those who visited the page actually voted. Still, elections are decided by those who vote, and we have a worthy recipient of the 5th Annual Curmie Award for most embarrassing the profession of education.

School officials would have us believe that this isn’t a disruption
for students trying to get to class.
Without further ado, it is with considerable pleasure that Curmie announces that the 5th Annual Curmie Award is presented to… Florence (CO) High School; its Principal, Brian Schipper; and its Superintendent, Rhonda Vendetti. The school’s outrageously evangelical approach is frankly a little much even for a Christian school, which theirs isn’t. It’s a public high school that operates solely (apparently) as a recruitment apparatus for a local church, The Cowboy Church at the Crossroads, and its pastor, Randy Pfaff.

Pfaff may be paranoid or a charlatan (Curmie’s pretty certain he’s both), but he’s not the problem. The problem is a public school administration which allows a local minister to be the de facto advisor to a student organization, to hold prayer meetings on school property that are so large that non-participants literally can’t maneuver past them, to hold all-school assemblies based on Christian gospel, to promote obviously sectarian events over the school’s PA system and by distributing flyers on school property. You get the idea.

Our runners-up… In 2nd place was the State Department of Education in Florida for a scheme which literally punished schools and teachers even if students got perfect scores on standardized tests if those same students also got perfect scores last year: no improvement, you see.

3rd place went to Principal Alan Luker of an elementary school in Gustine, TX, who decided that the way to solve the mystery of the gym floor pooper was to make literally every kid in the 4th and 5th grades to drop their pants. Apart from the outrageousness of the act itself, what the hell was he looking for?

Bedford (VA) Middle School and its representatives Assistant Principal Brian Wilson and School Operations Chief Frederick “Mac” Duis claimed 4th place. They punished an 11-year-old boy for marijuana possession, even though they knew—or damned well should have known—that their alleged evidence had tested negative more than once.

5th place was shared by the Cypress-Fairbanks School District in greater Houston and Marquette University. Cy-Fair copped its nomination for punishing a student for wearing a spaghetti-strap dress: bare shoulders distract the boys, you know. She was five at the time, by the way. Marquette revoked the tenure of a professor who posted a blog post the administration didn’t like. Curmie didn’t expect this one to win, but as a tenured professor who occasionally posts blog essays that those in power might not like, he’s kind of sensitive to this stuff.

In 7th place was the (ahem) brain trust at Glen Oak Elementary School in Lewis Center, Ohio. They became a finalist by punishing a teacher by treating a bully exactly the way the experts say she should.

Rounding out the finalists is the administration of Harrisburg (PA) Sci-Tech High School, who threatened one of their seniors with suspension for wearing a too-revealing dress to prom, three full days after the event, for reasons that were simultaneously sexist, inconsistent, and creepy.

Curiously enough, Curmiphiles don’t seem to be entirely convinced
that scenes like this belong in public high schools.
But the day and the Curmie belong to the good folks of Florence, for whom the notion that a public school ought to be a secular institution is apparently an alien concept. Funny, Curmie voters thought it was pretty obvious. Maybe it’s the phrasing. Let’s tell them that they shalt not privilege a single religion over the U.S. Constitution. Curmie would say that we should translate the 1st amendment into Ancient Greek so it might actually get read, but he’s pretty sure that everyone in Florence thinks the New Testament was originally written in English.

Thanks to all who voted. We’ll have a Curmie II post up before long. I hope.

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