Category Archives: education news

Student gets diploma after breaking the rules

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Ever Lopez has his high school diploma.

He got it today after a weekend story raised a ruckus over the North Carolina high school’s decision to keep the diploma from going to the student who violated a dress code policy during the commencement ceremony.

The story grew some wings. From my standpoint, Lopez made a mistake and he should have been sanctioned by the school.

Lopez sought to walk across a commencement stage at Asheboro, N.C., wearing a Mexican flag draped over his graduation gown. He wanted to express his pride in his heritage, as he and his parents emigrated to the United States from Mexico. Fine … except for this little thing: School policy prohibits students from covering their gowns in that manner.

Lopez could have honored his birth nation with a emblem plastered on his mortar board; Asheboro school district policy allows that. Lopez, though, sought to take it a step further.

Student gets diploma after controversy erupts over wearing Mexican flag at graduation – ABC News (go.com)

He walked across the stage, reached for his diploma but an assistant principal pulled it back.

Lopez and his parents have demanded an apology from the school district. Mom and Dad want to get to the bottom of the kerfuffle. My question is this: What the heck for?

The kid flouted a longstanding school district policy that didn’t have anything to do with the Mexican flag. It had everything to do with a policy that required all the graduating students to present a  uniform appearance during their commencement ceremony.

Why is that so difficult to understand?

Well, it’s not difficult. Ever Lopez sought to make some sort of statement. Maybe he just wanted to defy authority.

Memo to Ever Lopez: That kind of strategy ain’t gonna work when he launches his career in whatever field of employment he chooses. Someone sets the rules; you follow them or you’re out.

GOP can’t face truth?

(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The TV cameras didn’t allow us to watch the members of the U.S. Senate jury that heard the arguments presented by the House of Reps’ managers prosecuting the case against Donald J. Trump.

The managers wrapped up their presentation today in the second impeachment trial of Trump, who is accused of inciting an insurrection. It occurred on Jan. 6. The mob stormed Capitol Hill seeking to prevent Congress from certifying the 2020 presidential election results.

Some reporting from the Senate, though, takes me back to something I witnessed in early 2019 in Amarillo, while covering a school board meeting. I’ll get to that in a second.

The Senate reporting tells us how Republican senators looked away from the hideous video of the riot presented by the House managers. They were seen doodling on note pads, leaving the Senate altogether, looking away, not paying attention to what senators were asked to watch. Why is that? They appear to be hiding from the reality of the ghastly insurrection for which Donald Trump stands accused of inciting.

In January 2019, my wife and I traveled back to Amarillo — where we lived for 23 years — to visit our son. The Amarillo public school district’s board was meeting one night. The board had just received a resignation letter from a high school girls volleyball coach, Kori Clements, who accused one of the school trustees of bullying her and of interfering in her coaching decisions. The trustee’s daughter played on the high school team and she believed the coach wasn’t giving her little darlin’ enough playing time.

The school board had a public hearing one evening. Residents were invited to speak to the board about the coach’s resignation, which caused quite an uproar in the community.

Every one of the residents who spoke to the board scolded them for the way the coach was treated. They admonished the trustee in question — Renee McCown, who has since resigned — for her conduct in pressuring the coach, forcing her to resign from a vaunted high school athletic program.

Where am I going with this? McCown never looked up from whatever she was looking at while her bosses — the taxpayers — were scolding her; nor did her board colleagues. They all should have looked them in the eye. I thought at the time it was a disgraceful display of arrogance. And I said so.

Trustees should have looked at those who scolded them | High Plains Blogger

The same sort of arrogance played out in the Senate as GOP senators didn’t bother to look at the horror that an ex-president wrought with his inciteful rhetoric.

Bill takes aim at in-state tuition

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

A couple of North Texas freshmen legislators don’t like the idea of allowing undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities.

I believe they are mistaken if they think the state is going to reap a reward by making it difficult for young Texas residents to achieve higher education degrees.

State Reps. Bryan Slaton of Royse City and Jeff Cason of Bedford — both Republicans — have proposed a bill that would allow colleges to determine a student’s residence and decide whether they qualify for in-state tuition.

I will interject that two other Texas Republican politicians of considerable note — Govs. George W. Bush and Rick Perry — endorsed the idea of allowing undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition. Why? Because both of them recognized the value that college educations bring to the state, even when some of its residents lack the necessary immigration documents.

Bush, Perry are right about in-state tuition issue | High Plains Blogger

I don’t know what Gov. Greg Abbott would do with a bill if it reaches his desk. I am wishing he would veto it.

This legislation falls into the “heartless” category of lawmaking. It seeks to target Texas residents who are seeking to improve their circumstance by attending higher education institutions. Given that they do reside in Texas, they have — in my humble estimation — earned the right to attend these schools as Texas residents.

The Texas Tribune reported: “Texans’ tax dollars should not be used to reward and encourage illegal immigration to our state and nation,” Cason said in a statement.

Texas lawmakers want to block in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants | The Texas Tribune

Maybe I am slow on the uptake, but I am having a bit of difficulty understanding how allowing these students to pay in-state tuition constitutes a Texas taxpayer subsidy, or how it encourages “illegal immigration to our state and nation.”

President Biden already has restored the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program for those undocumented immigrants who were brought here by their parents. Many of those DACA recipients are enrolled in Texas public colleges and universities. They might be deemed unable to continue their education if Slaton and Cason’s bill becomes law.

This law deserves the fate that a 2019 effort met. It failed to come out of the House Higher Education Committee. I hope this notion withers and dies, too.

An ed secretary with knowledge of public schools!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Imagine that, if you dare.

President-elect Joe Biden has presented to the nation a nominee for education secretary with actual knowledge, experience and appreciation for public education. Let this soak in for a moment.

Connecticut education commissioner Miguel Cardona is Biden’s pick to lead the U.S. Department of Education. Cardona would replace Betsy DeVos, who — to be charitable — knows nothing about the public school system she was nominated to lead in 2017.

Betsy DeVos for ed secretary? No way! | High Plains Blogger

DeVos was a do-nothing education secretary who was educated herself in private schools, who sent her own children to private schools and who has been a champion of the movement to take public money out of our public school system and directing it to private schools.

Cardona at the very least has hands-on experience as a public school student, as a public school educator and as head of a statewide public education system.

I welcome this nomination.

Still stewing over the ‘Dr. Biden’ dust-up

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I admit to being a bit miffed over an essay that appeared in the Wall Street Journal that takes Jill Biden to task for her generous use of the honorific term “Dr.” in front of her name.

The author of the piece refers to her as “Jill” and “Kiddo,” the latter term I cannot imagine him ever using while referring to a man. But the future first lady was fair game, I suppose, for the writer and for the editors of what I consider to be one of America’s great newspapers.

I watched Biden and her husband, the president-elect, last night on “The Late Show” with Stephen Colbert. Colbert asked her about the controversy and she brought up the “Kiddo” comment with something of a pained expression on her face. She didn’t belabor the content of the op-ed column, other than to take offense at the sexist nature of the criticism.

She kept her day job as an educator while serving as second lady during Joe Biden’s vice presidency and hinted that she will do so again once she becomes the nation’s first lady. Jill Biden once said that teaching young people isn’t just what she does, it is “who I am.”

She is well-educated, having earned a doctorate in education from the University of Delaware. Suffice to say, moreover, that she is far from the first doctorate-level academician to use the “Dr.” term in front of his or her name.

If she wants to call herself “Dr. Biden,” well … that’s OK with me.

School board betrays its constituents

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

A North Texas public school board of trustees that is charged with setting policy for educating public school students has just failed an exam that truly doesn’t pass the so-called “smell test.”

The Lancaster Independent School District board is offering an abject lesson on how not to conduct public business. Other local governing boards need to listen up and pay close attention.

The Lancaster ISD board offered Superintendent Elijah Granger a new five-year contract worth $1.6 million and then bought him out five days later. That’s not the worst of it.

Oh, no. The worst is that the board, which bought him out with a 4-3 vote, isn’t disclosing the details of the maneuver. The three trustees don’t know the details. Nor does the public. No one knows how much money the public school district is shelling out to buy Granger’s contract.

I emphasize the word “public” because the public deserves to know the details, not to mention the three board members who dissented from the buyout vote.

As the Dallas Morning News said in an editorial published Wednesday, “There is no other way to look at this than a betrayal of parents, taxpayers and the trustees who were shut out from access to relevant information.”

One of the dissenting trustees, Marion Hamilton, sought to see the separation agreement, but was denied. That is outrageous!

School board members have declined to discuss the details of the buyout. There hasn’t been an explanation of why they voted essentially to fire the superintendent … not to mention explain why it would buy him out so soon after agreeing to the expensive contract. What in the world did he do from the contract signing and the separation? The public needs to know the details.

There’s a serious lesson to be learned here. I would hope all school districts, city councils or other governing bodies entrusted with the power to hire and fire government administrators would take notice of the clusterfu** being played out in Lancaster, Texas.

This ain’t good, folks. You have failed a key test of leadership … and to think you still set policy that establishes the education of public school students.

Shameful.

Cancel the RNC, but send kids to school?

The Stable Genius continues to baffle me.

Donald J. Trump insists that our children must attend school in classrooms. It’s better to put the students in classrooms than to require them to study at home via online instruction.

What, then, shall we do about the scheduled Republican National Convention that will nominate Trump for a second term as president? He cancelled the RNC in Jacksonville, Fla., citing health concerns. “It’s not the right time” to have a convention with delegates crammed into the same arena, he said.

Mixed messaging anyone? Anyone?

This is part of a much larger problem associated with the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. At one level, Trump says one thing. At another level, he says something quite different.

He scoffed at masks. Now he’s all for them … more or less. He called the pandemic a “Democrat hoax.” Now he says the worst of the pandemic is yet to come before it gets better.

Trump ignores advice from medical experts. Then listens to talk show hosts and acts on their “advice.”

Trump says he’s doing a “fantastic” job, but the rate of infection is accelerating, not slowing down.

The latest bit of news involves the GOP nominating convention. Trump is concerned about potential health hazard to politicians and delegates. I applaud his decision to forgo the in-person gathering in Jacksonville.

If only, though, he would express as much concern about the health and safety of our children, their friends and families and the teachers who educate them.

This guy confuses the daylights out of me.

What is White House hiding now?

The White House is playing a stupid game of keep-away with the U.S. Congress.

What it is keeping away from Congress happens to be information vital to the public — you know, the folks who pay the bills in Washington — on the best way to resume public education for our children.

The White House has decided to block Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Robert Redfield from testifying to the House Education and Labor Committee. The panel wants to know about the strategies being developed to allow schools to reopen eventually in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Let me see. What might be the White House be fearing? Oh, might it fear that Redfield is going to say something that contradicts Donald J. Trump’s desire to reopen the schools this fall without little or no regard to the effects of the pandemic that still is raging across the country? That’s what it looks like to me. And to others, I should add.

According to CNN.com“Dr. Redfield has testified on the Hill at least four times over the last three months. We need our doctors focused on the pandemic response,” a White House official said, confirming the decision to block the CDC’s participation in the hearing. But a spokesman for the House Education and Labor Committee said the panel had requested testimony from any CDC official, not necessarily Redfield.

The CDC is one of the go-to agencies in this fight against the pandemic. It seems to me that hearing from the head of this critical agency is, shall we say, critical to understanding what’s at stake and what the government is doing to protect our lives.

What in the name of government transparency are trying to hide within the West Wing?

Happy to report sanity in our local school system

I am delighted to report some good news — if you allow me to call it that — regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is that our granddaughter and her brother are going to be kept out of their classrooms for at least the first semester of the upcoming academic year. We got the word from our son and daughter-in-law that the Allen (Texas) Independent School District, absent any guarantee that it can prevent spread of the virus in schools, has decided to give parents the option of online schooling at home.

Our son and daughter-in-law have exercised that option.

Thus, the Allen ISD will not follow Donald Trump’s blind and stupid call to reopen our classrooms despite the surge in coronavirus infection in states such as ours.

For the president to insist on school reopening is beyond irresponsible. He exhibits no outward interest in protecting the lives of our precious children and the teachers who expose themselves to potential illness or worse.

So local school districts here in North Texas are calling their own shots. Princeton ISD, where my wife and I live, isn’t going along with the president’s urging. Neither are the Amarillo and Canyon ISDs, from where we moved two years ago. They are going to online teaching, giving students materials they can study at home.

Our granddaughter and her brother — who is entering his senior year in high school — did well in the second half of the preceding school year learning at home. They will do so again once the new year begins in August.

Meanwhile, the search for vaccines continues. May the brainiacs assigned to find them hit pay dirt sooner rather than later.

Trump shows his ignorance yet again

Donald John “Ignoramus in Chief” Trump threatens to pull federal funds from public schools if they don’t reopen this fall, per his edict.

Sigh …

No, he is not going to do that. He has no authority to do anything of the sort. Donald Trump once again is showing us what he doesn’t know about the job to which he was elected … and from which I hope he gets booted out in about 120 days.

Fox News’ Chris Wallace challenged an assertion delivered by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Sunday. DeVos repeated Trump’s threat, to which Wallace told her that Congress appropriates federal funds for public schools. Wallace asked “Under what authority are you and the president going to unilaterally cut off funding, funding that’s been approved from Congress and most of the money goes to disadvantaged students or students with disabilities?” “You can’t do that,” he continued.

That means that Trump is out of the game.

DeVos didn’t answer the question directly. She couldn’t answer. Because she is as ignorant about government as Donald Trump. She did say, “Look, American investment in education is a promise to students and their families. If schools aren’t going to reopen and not fulfill that promise, they shouldn’t get the funds, and give it to the families to decide to go to a school that is going to meet that promise.”

Americans are getting sick from the COVID-19 pandemic in increasing numbers. That poses threats to students, teachers and their loved ones. Donald Trump’s demand that schools reopen this fall runs directly counter to the medical advice he is getting from the infectious disease experts with whom he has surrounded himself.

Oh, wait! He knows more than they do. Isn’t that what he has inferred … about anything?