Teacher dies protecting students

A Marine veteran, Michael Landsberry survived two tours in Afghanistan with the Nevada Air National Guard. The Sparks (Nevada) middle school math teacher died trying to disarm a student yesterday. The 12-year-old shooter also wounded two boys, who are in stable condition, before killing himself.

“Mr. Landsberry’s heroic actions, by stepping toward the shooter, allowed time for other students in the playground area to flee,” said Washoe County School District Police Chief Mike Mieras.

Before opening fire, the boy said, “Why you people making fun of me, why you laughing at me?,” according to student Michelle Hernandez.

The boy used a Ruger 9 mm semiautomatic handgun that belonged to his parents, police said.

“The relentless, inflexible and unyielding focus on ‘test-taking’ and school rankings and scores” is to blame, writes Debra Feemster, a former Sparks principal, on Diane Ravitch’s blog. “If one teacher, counselor or administrator had had a few extra minutes to look into this student’s eyes and possibly connected with him in a meaningful way, maybe this catastrophe could have been averted.”

“Think of the children whose social and emotional needs are ignored in pursuit of test scores,” Ravitch writes.

Feemster and Ravitch are accusing Sparks Middle School staffers of ignoring students’ “social and emotional needs” and failing to prevent the shooting.

Let’s honor Mr. Landsberry’s courage and decency. Let’s not politicize a tragedy.

Helping kids for 56 years

Warren Popp can’t stop helping kids,” reports the Sacramento Bee.

Popp, 80, retired as an educator in 1993. Just three months later, he returned to school as a counselor after a call for help from Campos Verdes Adult School.

These days – 56 years after he started teaching – Popp can be found in the lab at Keema High School, his head of curly white hair bobbing up and down as he patiently explains math to teenagers in jeans, hooded sweatshirts and tennis shoes.

The 580 students attending the alternative high school at McClellan Park meet with teachers once a week, spending the other days working independently at home. Some are behind on their credits or have jobs. Others are pregnant, and a few are caretakers for an ill parent. More than a handful have suffered bullying at traditional schools or come from traumatic family situations.

Popp started as a math teacher in 1957, then became a counselor. In retirement, he’s worked as a counselor and math tutor.

“Mr. Popp is one of the most decent, genuinely kindhearted people that there is,” said Darren Miller, Foothill High class of 1983, who blogs here.

When Miller became a math teacher – he now works at Rio Americano High School – Popp and former Foothill High principal Richard Nelson took Miller to a Denny’s restaurant one day and “told me how to be a good math teacher. Seventeen years later and I’m still using their guidance.”

Popp was honored as high school counselor of the year in August.

Teacher suspended for profane outburst

A high school English teacher was suspended by Los Angeles Unified for a “profanity-laden outburst” that was recorded by a student. It went viral.

In the clip, which was recorded by a student on Sept. 26, the teacher yells “I know my f–ing s–t. Don’t f— with that. I’m tired of trying to educate you, and you guys resist every step of the f—ing way. Get the f— out of here.”

“You know, I had a weak moment,” the suspended teacher told the Daily Breeze.

The outburst occurred at new school for performing arts, HArts Academy, located on the campus of Narbonne High.

The teacher added that the clip was recorded by a student who had been heckling her in front of the 12th-grade class. That student then allegedly brought the recording to a Narbonne High faculty member with whom the teacher has had an adversarial relationship. The HArts Academy teacher contends the Narbonne teacher began disseminating the recording to others on campus.

Narbonne has refused to let 90 students transfer to HArts, which forced the smaller school to lay off four teachers and let the comprehensive high school hire three teachers, reports the Breeze. Bad blood between the two faculties explains why Narbonne teachers publicized the sound clip, the English teacher said. “These are people who used to be my friends.”

Students are not allowed to have cell phone in class, much less to record their teachers.

Finding a future for autistic students

At Newark’s JFK High, teacher Janet Mino prepares six autistic young men to cope with life once they age out of the public schools at 21. Best Kept Secret will air on PBS today.

Student-teacher sex: Is it always a crime?

A Montana teacher will serve 30 days in jail for involuntary sex with a 14-year-old student, who later committed suicide. Stacey Dean Rambold, who was 49 when he started a sexual relationship with Cherice Morales. The troubled girl killed herself a few weeks before her 17th birthday.
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Judge G. Todd Baugh said the girl was older than her chronological age and “as much in control of the situation” as her teacher. In response to protests, Baugh apologized.

Rambold had a chance to get the charges dismissed, but failed to complete a sexual offender treatment program.

Thirty days was too long a sentence, argues Betsy Karasik, a writer and former lawyer, in the Washington Post. Sex between students and teachers shouldn’t be a crime, she believes.

“Teachers who engage in sex with students, no matter how consensual, should be removed from their jobs and barred from teaching unless they prove that they have completed rehabilitation,” Karasik concedes. But let’s not get “hysterical.”

When I was growing up in the 1960s and ’70s, the sexual boundaries between teachers and students were much fuzzier. Throughout high school, college and law school, I knew students who had sexual relations with teachers. To the best of my knowledge, these situations were all consensual in every honest meaning of the word, even if society would like to embrace the fantasy that a high school student can’t consent to sex. Although some feelings probably got bruised, no one I knew was horribly damaged and certainly no one died.

No harm, no foul? That’s hard to argue when Cherice Morales killed herself, but Karasik blames the criminal case against Rambold for his victim’s suicide.

If someone wants to argue that it’s OK for teachers to have sex with their underage students, I’d look for a 23-year-old teacher who falls for an 17-year-old student. This was a 49-year-old preying on a 14-year-old girl who was hurt so badly she killed herself. If she was mature, consenting and in control, she wouldn’t have killed herself. 

How low can we go? asksWesley J. Smith, who links to articles “normalizing” what used to be called pedophilia and is now “cross-generational sex.”

Preschool teacher rebounds

Erika Brannock, 29, is back with her preschool students in Maryland after losing part of her leg in the Boston Marathon bombing.  


erika brannock

Erika Brannock, right, kisses the hand of Henry Smith, 3, pictured with his mother Jessica Smith, left, before a ceremony for the newly opened Davenport Preschool.

‘Burka Avenger’ fights for girls, schooling

Mild-mannered teacher by day, masked superhero by night, the Burka Avenger fights corruption and oppression, and aims to empower the girls of Pakistan.Enlarge image

Mild-mannered teacher by day, masked superhero by night, the Burka Avenger fights corruption and oppression, and aims to empower the girls of Pakistan.

 

Pakistan’s newest caped crusader, “Burka Avenger” fights corrupt politicians and religious zealots using pens and books, reports NPR. A schoolteacher by day, she dons a burqa to fight for girls’ education.

Burka Avenger, which made its debut on Pakistani TV this week, aims to empower young women in a country where attacks on girls’ schools and repression of women remain enduring problems. It’s the brainchild of Pakistani entrepreneur and pop star Haroon Rashid . . .

“She is a schoolteacher named Jiya. She is a warm, bubbly, intelligent young woman who’s concerned about education, and concerned about the city and the people of Halwapur [the fictional city where the show is set]. … And then of course, to fight the bad guys, and to hide her identity the way superheroes do, she puts on the burqa. And it’s a really cool, sleek burqa, and she can leap off buildings and glide from, almost like a flying squirrel … and she only fights with pens and books, because I wanted a nonviolent message. Her message is, ‘Justice, Peace and Education for All.’ “

Jiva doesn’t wear a scarf or a hijab as a teacher, Rashid tells NPR. She chooses to wear the burqa to mask her identity like other superheroes.

 

Motivation

After confiscating a student’s phone, teacher changed the lock code to the answer to this math question.

Via Reddit user Dimetri and The Quick and the Ed.

Consistency creates ‘safe haven’

One of the ways to combat the effects of living in poverty is to provide children with a really stable force,” teacher Rafe Esquith told Valerie Strauss. “I dress the same way. I have the same mood every day. I want to be the safe haven where the child knows he can go every day.”

Esquith has taught at the same Los Angeles elementary school for 28 years, notes PDQ Blog. “In a day and age where the most common level of experience for a teacher is one year, this is unfortunately remarkable.”

Dale Irby, who recently retired after 40 years as a gym teacher in a district near Dallas, shares Esquith’s philosophy. In 40 years of school pictures, Irby wore the same sweater vest.

Gay-unfriendly student wins speech case

In a teacher-initiated discussion on anti-gay bullying, a Michigan high school student said he “couldn’t accept gays” because of his Catholic faith. The economics teacher equated the statement to saying he “couldn’t accept blacks” and kicked him out of class, writing up a referral for “unacceptable behavior.”

In a June 19 ruling in Glowacki v. Howell Public School District, a federal district judge ruled that the teacher violated the student’s right to free expression, reports Ed Week.

U.S. District Judge Patrick J. Duggan of Detroit awarded damages of $1 to Daniel Glowacki, who was a junior at Howell High School in the fall of 2010.  Howell Public School District, which took no action against the student and reprimanded the teacher, was not liable, the judge ruled.

“Public schools must strive to provide a safe atmosphere conducive to learning for all students while fostering an environment that tolerates the expression of different viewpoints, even if unpopular, so as to equip students with the tools necessary for participation in a democratic society,” Judge Duggan said.

Glowacki did not disrupt the class, the judge ruled. McDowell engaged in viewpoint discrimination.

When asked about the move by the remaining students, McDowell said a student could not voice an opinion that “creates an uncomfortable learning environment for another student,” according to court papers.

Imagine how lively class discussion would be if no student was allowed to make another student feel uncomfortable.

Glowacki transferred to another economics class.