SF Students Suspended & Barred From Walking At Graduation Because They Joked About Teachers On A Blog

from the what-are-we-teaching-students dept

We just recently talked about the famous Tinker v. Des Moines Supreme Court ruling that establishes that students have First Amendment rights. Apparently some schools still don’t realize this. Thankfully, there are some organizations willing to step in and remind them when they get confused. The ACLU of Northern California and the Asian Law Caucus were apparently able to successfully convince a San Francisco high school to reverse a previous ruling in which three students were suspended for posting some parody/joking blogs about some teachers:

In March, after students at a San Francisco high school posted parodies and irreverent memes from their home computers about teachers and school administrators on a Tumblr blog (“Teaches Pink Floyd for 3 Weeks; Makes Final Project Due In 3 Days”; “Nags Student Govt About Being On Task; Lags On Everything”), the principal dragged three students she suspected of creating the blog posts into her office and interrogated them at length. (The blog has since been taken down.) The principal then immediately suspended the students for three days, accusing them of bullying and disrupting school activities. The students were also barred from attending a school dance and prom, and even from walking with their classmates at graduation. In addition, the principal did not provide the students with an opportunity to resolve the concerns through a restorative justice approach prior to imposing the punishments, which disregards the School District’s prioritization of restorative justice as an alternative, when possible, to suspension and expulsion.

That seems like a pretty extreme reaction. When I was in high school, I actually remember doing something similar — parodying the teacher — in a paper for that teacher. Thankfully, he had a sense of humor. But either way, this is something that tons of high school kids do all the time. And it’s clearly protected speech. Once these groups contacted the school and explained the law, the school backed down:

After we contacted the San Francisco Unified School District, they took prompt action to investigate the matter and reverse the discipline. Although the students already missed three days of school, the suspensions have been removed from their records, and they’ll be dancing at prom, and walking with their classmates at graduation.

It’s too bad it even needed to go that far. What’s really disturbing in all of this is what the school officials are teaching kids. Joking and parody are key forms of education and creativity. It’s too bad some schools still don’t recognize that (or what the law actually says).

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Comments on “SF Students Suspended & Barred From Walking At Graduation Because They Joked About Teachers On A Blog”

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MonkeyFracasJr (profile) says:

Re: Re: its not the 'isms'

The ‘isms’ by them selves cannot be good or bad (or evil) they have to be seized upon by some petty tyrant or regime who then uses them in name as a cover for their despotic suppression of any poor souls who ind them selves in the tyrant’s ‘jurisdiction’. You know full well that this can be true of ANY political or religious ideology.

Ideological constructs don’t kill people, tyrants do.

Pwdrskir (profile) says:

Re: Wow! I guess the government schools don't want free speech.

This is about the Teacher?s Union, not the students. The above mentioned forms of organizing are centrally planned and executed. With central control, tyranny is inevitable. History tells the full story.

For all you “more govt” people, Europe is in a self-fulfilling death spiral due to ?more govt?. When the Spanish bond starts trading above 6%, the rest of the EU will start cannibalizing the system to save themselves.

Capitalism has some bad things, but nothing more competition can?t fix. Tesla, the Wright Brothers, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are all products of the creative destruction of Capitalism. Greed is good as far as true competition is fostered, unlike centrally located Govt pukes who take bribes to slant the playing field. I know, the US has always had Crony Capitalism, so why do the useful idiots want more govt control?

Sports are a perfect example of competitive greed to win as long as the rules are fair to all and the Ref is not bribed to give an unfair advantage.

Pwdrskir (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Wow! I guess the government schools don't want free speech.

So you think spending more money you don’t have will help? Crazed Keynesian Socialist alert!

The bond market is telling Spain to stop spending until it can get its economy growing to handle the amount of spending, just like millions of American households do everyday by balancing their budgets.

Austerity measures are taken if there is a threat that a government cannot honor its debt liabilities. Spain can’t pay their future debts, so they need to stop spending.

Jonathan says:

Re: Re: Wow! I guess the government schools don't want free speech.

In the game of life, the winners write the rules for their own benefit and then ignore them as much as they think they can get away with (and usually are right).

Nice little fantasy though. You may return to your Randian wanking now.

Pwdrskir (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Wow! I guess the government schools don't want free speech.

Typical personal, troll-like attack with a non-argument rebuttal from the lame.

People take control of their destiny and rewrite rules. Steve Jobs is a perfect example and says it better than I or anyone of your limited understanding of what winning means.

“You have to be run by ideas, not hierarchy. The best ideas have to win.” ? Steve Jobs / Strong believer in Capitalism.

Jamie (profile) says:

Re: Re: Wow! I guess the government schools don't want free speech.

Capitalism works to some extent, but as with anything else, once you get past a certain point it all starts to break down.

The problem with pure Capitalism is that it’s about the expansion of personal wealth above all else. It ignores the fact that what may be good for the self is often counter-productive for the economy as a whole.

Take environmental laws as an example. While they push up the cost of doing business, they’re needed to ensure that the earth is not polluted to the point where it fails to sustain life. If it was not for those laws, can you imagine how polluted various parts of the world would be?

The only way to have a sustainable economy is to find a balance between all of the ideologies. Encourage free-market capitalism, but don’t let it run rampant. Socialise anything that’s used by the populace as a whole, but keep watch to make sure that it doesn’t become inefficient. Let people have the liberty to run their own lives, but with sufficient boundaries to prevent anarchy.

Pwdrskir (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Wow! I guess the government schools don't want free speech.

The main problem with your argument is that Capitalism requires creative destruction and greed(competition to win), as Steve Jobs stated “You have to be run by ideas, not hierarchy. The best ideas have to win.” His strong belief in Capitalism has done more to change the world than any Socialist/Communist program ever. He wanted to win and did.

As more Govt becomes involved, Capitalism breaks down and steals wealth from the likes of Steve Jobs. Capitalism can exist without Govt and does every day on Craigslist, but Socialism is dependent on Monopolies of Govt to work.

Eileen (profile) says:

Re: Wow! I guess the government schools don't want free speech.

Fascism yes, the others, it depends. You can have a “Communist” regime that is fascist in nature (in which case the communism is usually window dressing), or you could have one that is not. Same with socialism. I wish people would understand this. YES Stalin, etc. were horrible times but it doesn’t mean that e.g., a socialist democracy (where people vote for socialist policies) will be horribly fascist by rule.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Wow! I guess the government schools don't want free speech.

yet every attempt at Communism has ended in Centralized Fascism… Cambodia, Soviet Union, China (who is now trending to Capitalism), in all the Communism is window dressing used to cover up mass murder and alot of other crap.. but they all started at Communism and all have created mass terror and death (Stalin killed an estimated 60 million, Mao killed even more, Pol Pot wiped out half of his civilian population).

AzureSky (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Wow! I guess the government schools don't want free speech.

human nature to blame, its much like the problems we have in this nation(USA), greed and corruption are rampant, this was true for every “communist” country I have read about.

the problem is, those who seek power in any system tend to be those least suited to have power.

Honestly I have come to think that a lottery system that randomly picks people from the whole nations population would be better then what we have now, 4 year cycle 3 years then the lotto is held and for the next year the new person shadows the one before them to learn the basics, classes in the issues they will be dealing with in their jobs(no voting on stuff you cant understand…you know, for example most of our reps today wouldn’t be able to vote on Internet issues)

I have no problem with socialist programs, Infact Im for a system like the NHS here in the states, its not perfect but its better then what we have now.

If thats what the tax paying public wants, we should get it….we are the ones who would be paying for it after all….

hegemon13 says:

Re: Re: Wow! I guess the government schools don't want free speech.

The problem is that socialism at the government level requires government enforcement. A socialist democracy sounds great until you realize it is really just a tyranny of the majority: 51% of the people extracting whatever they desire from the other 49%. Or even 90/10. It is a use of force to compel individuals to conform and contribute to a system they oppose. That is why the US was founded as a republic, and more importantly, a republic limited by inalienable human rights. In other words, if 95% of the people voted against the human rights of the 5%, the 5% would still be protected.

All attempts at socialist governments have become oppressive simply because the oppressiveness of a government is in direct correlation with the power it is given. A socialist government is necessarily very centralized and very powerful.

But you are right, in a sense. Socialism is not evil. Socialism paired with government is evil. Voluntary socialist societies exist, and are generally perfectly functional. Communes or monasteries would be one example of voluntary socialism, where the members join by choice because of their personal desire, not because the are compelled by the force of government. Voluntary socialism would most likely look like a lot of smaller territories providing varying levels of cost and service, which individuals could choose to join or leave at will. Oh, wait a minute. That sounds a lot like state or local government. Too bad they’ve all been overridden by the federal government.

E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:

The problem is not that the students were disruptive, it was that they exhibited independent thought and were questioning authority. We cannot have that in this country and especially not in this education system. The ability to reason and think for one’s self is a danger to those that hold power and it must be punished at all cost.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I agree. We should be teaching students to question authority and to think for themselves.

“The younger generation is supposed to rage against the machine, not for it. They’re supposed to question authority, not question those who question authority.”
– Bill Maher

“Think for yourself and question authority.”
– Timothy Leary

“My parents are both college professors, and it made me want to question authority, standards and traditions.”
– Maya Lin

“It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.”
– Benjamin Franklin

“The ultimate authority must always rest with the individual’s own reason and critical analysis.”
– Dalai Lama

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

EXACTLY. And as I’ve said for years, the conditioning inherent to the system starts at an early age through stressing the importance of grades and diplomas/degrees over knowledge and application. Add to that the fact that many public schools are now requiring even Pre-K kids to wear school uniforms. We don’t teach people to think for themselves and question all that they see. We teach them to believe what you are fed, regurgitate it when ask and conform to do what you are told. It’s a veritable lemming factory.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

We need to start by removing the empty grades from the system that makes the diplomas and degrees almost meaningless. The current system of regurgitation in order to receive a passing grade needs to be replaced one where you DEMONSTRATE mastery through application of a concept before you are allowed to proceed to the next concept. There would be no grade system. You simply go to school for the time required and the faster you learn and demonstrate that you can apply, the more you learn. You then would leave school with whatever knowledge you were able to attain while you were there.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

The poor adults... bullied by children...

One would like to see what records the school is able to provide about incidents of bullying against their students, versus the the actual climate of bullying.

So many people in power now see bullying as something that is a catch-all to solve problems.
Wisecracking kids?! Call them bullys and toss them out.
Kids with behavior issues you don’t want to pay to accommodate? Call them bullys and toss them out.

Short of a real clear threat of physical harm from a student to a teacher, to suggest that a child can bully a teacher is silly. If an adult, who makes their living handling children, can’t handle children making jokes about them they are in the wrong profession.

Prisoners have more rights and are treated better than students in many districts. There is a serious disconnect in this country, people seem to think if your “in charge” over someone you need to exercise that power at every chance and squash any thought you dislike.

Lowestofthekeys (profile) says:

Bullying? That seems like an extreme interpretation of what they were actually doing, which is using irony to accentuate the humor of the situation.

Either way, those meme sound like the advice animals (i.e. bachelor frog, advice dog, courage wolf) that are pretty hilarious. So then it begs the question of whether or not they were attempting to incite laughter not mock the teachers for their ability.

Machin Shin (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: idiots in charge always have been

I’m no fan of our current school system. I long ago gave up on it and won’t bother boring everyone with details of what I encountered.

I will say though that it does hurt someones credibility when they admit to lighting their shirt on fire and going to school without noticing. Sure the administration at most schools are staffed with idiots but least they are not flaming idiots.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: idiots in charge always have been

You shouldn’t have cigarettes in school because schools have drug free laws. And if you were listening in health class, cigarettes are drugs. You should get suspended because not only are you violating the drug free law, you are also causing other people to inhale second hand smoke that they do not wish to inhale.

ZombieBotsFromMars says:

The kids were off the school’s clock and at home when the posts were made; they did something that every generation of public-school inmates have done: mocked their teachers. Boo-hoo for the school.

The public school system in America is a f**king joke. A tool to insure that the next generation continues the molded and outdated thinking and traditions of the previous one. Where free thought and innovation is punished as “bullying” and “disruptive”.

And really, “bullying” is getting to be a word that is tossed about way to much. Partly for shock-value, partly cause we’ve a whole generation of kids that have all the backbone of an amoeba and think that is the world isn’t kissing their ass and telling ’em their shit don’t stink that they’re being “bullied”.

AzureSky (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I have read more then one author I respect and heard more then one person I respect say that formal education is only intended to make sure we dont question athority or think outside the box/for our selves, its DESIGNED by its nature to ensure we think the way THEY want us to, they being those in power.

its sad but, it is what it is, I once had a computer sciences prof get so mad at me he said I would never pass his class so i may as well give up my goal to get a computer related degree(he taught classes i would need to pass for any tech related field)

why did he do this, because I proved he was wrong when he challenged his class to fix an “UN-fixable” computer, took me less then 10 min to get it back to fully functional from bsod loop…..he was enraged that i made him look bad in front of the class….

no matter that I have been fixing computers since the apple IIe and had seen far worse then what he did to his system, that didnt matter because in his opinion it wasnt fixable without a full reinstall…..

Mike C. (profile) says:

Stories like this...

Stories like this one really make me appreciate my oldest son’s teachers this year. He can be a wise-ass at times, but always with respect. About a month ago in English class, they were directed to write a short letter to someone or something that annoyed them. He asked for permission to write a letter to the assignment itself…

“Dear English Letter Assignment,”

/He got a 95 on the paper

V (profile) says:

So typical...

So typical of the heavy handed policies of so many wannabe tyrants in schools.

Schools need an overall. Throw out tenure. Throw out the unions. They serve no one but themselves.

Let teachers and principles all be judged on MERIT. If I did as poor a job as some teachers, I’d be out of a job. In the school system, it takes an act of God to get rid of a teacher, unless they (God forbid) friend one of their students on Facebook… oh wait, an intelligent Judge threw that out.

F da Gubmint says:

Re: So typical...

Good job! You saw a post that was tangentially related to a pet topic of yours and you went for it. You didn’t let the topic distract you from the point you wanted to make, and didn’t let yourself get sidetracked with facts and evidence supporting your position. For this, I salute you. You’re an inspiration to trolls everywhere.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: So typical...

The reason there are so many bad teachers is that resources are so strapped for the entire education system and all of the problems ultimately come down to money as all of the solutions to any of the problems ultimately have a monetary cost. The salaries offered to teachers are not nearly high enough to attract and retain quality educators. Of the educators that are there, most are overburdened with having to be surrogate parents to many that haven’t had the benefit of proper guidance at home. Furthermore having to try to do more, with less for less is hardly an incentive for excellence.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re: So typical...

Throwing money at a system only works if the people in that system are not hopelessly corrupt and/or incompetent.

A bad apple teacher or two is one thing. But when you have principals whose attitudes towards civil rights and American values would be perfectly at home in North Korea, the system is obviously broken, if not rotten to the core. Someone like that has no business being promoted even once, let alone being in charge of a school.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: So typical...

I agree that throwing money at it isn’t the solution and those in charge should be replaced. However, overcrowded classrooms mean the need for more teachers which means increased expense. Poor teacher pay means the number high quality teachers available are limited and little incentive for any of them to improve. Programs to address the issues caused by the lack of parenting also require additional funding to be affective. So increased funding has to be part of the equation. Personally, I think it should come directly from the private sector that directly benefits from the availability of highly educated individuals entering the workforce once they depart the educational system.

PRMan (profile) says:

Senior Production

When I was in school, we had an assembly the seniors would put on for the other classes called the “Senior Production”. We actually made fun of the foibles of the teachers in a fashion similar to what the titles here look like and got applause and laughs from students and teachers alike.

Almost 20 years later, I had nothing to do and heard that it was our homecoming game, so I went on a whim. The teachers still remembered my name all that time later, recognized me through facial hair and were genuinely happy to see me, even the same ones that I had made fun of in the assembly.

ZombieBotsFromMars says:

Re: Senior Production

In my highschool (even 20 years later) I’m simply known as “You *point finger*” by my teachers that are still there.

But I know what you’re getting at. We made fun of our teachers, and the MOST they did was look at us and say “Go f**k yourself, and by the way you failed your last test have fun in summerschool” and usually then that was only if we went to far with it. I’ve seen a 60+ year old science teacher slam a junior-year science student with the talent, verbage and grace of George Carlin. And not one of us was carrying on about being “bullied” or “harassed”, we just made fun of the a-hole that got his a%% handed to him by a teacher.

ZombieBotsFromMars says:

Re: Re:

I wouldn’t be surprised if they outlaws teaching the constitution or started describing it as a “terrorist manifesto”. So many people on both sides have forgotten it’s basic importance, don’t see its relevance, and think it’s something that they can cut and paste to fit their own political agendas.

Spaceman Spiff (profile) says:

Punish those responsible

If the school system wants to teach these kids a good lesson, it is that one should be responsible for one’s own actions. To that end, the teachers and administrators responsible for this incomprehensible action in suspending the students, should be suspended themselves for 3 days without pay, and be demoted in position and seniority. Let the punishment fit the crime! The students committed no crime here, other than being smart-assed teenagers (a normal state of affairs). The teachers and administrators on the other hand violated the students due Constitutional rights under color of authority. In many situations, that is a felony!

Kathy Jeacoma (profile) says:

Here's an idea...

I agree, the term ‘bullying’ is thrown around way too often to be meaningful-and this situation could have handled way better with a sense of humor-but for those who feel that teachers deserve to be rallied against for trying to assert authority in a system where kids, parents and school admins are against them- why not keep your little darlings at home for the next semester and see how THAT goes? I think every parent who complains about a district’s policy should be mandated to serve as a classroom aide before opening their mouths. Teachers have to deal with your kids, you, the state’s ridiculous demands of your kid and then MAYBE get signed for another year…I say more parents belong in the school system-in the same classroom with their kid!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Here's an idea...

I agree that bad parenting (or rather the lack of parenting) is to blame but it’s a vicious cycle. Today’s bad parents are a product of a school system that conditioned them to conform and regurgitate instead of think and apply. It’s afterall easier to conform than it is to go against the grain. It’s also easier to blame the media, the schools and everything else your kids come in contact with than it is to take the responsibility for raising your children. The cycle can be broken but it takes effort and is best attacked on both fronts.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I'm outraged!

You obviously don’t get it. High School students should be ENCOURAGED to THINK FOR THEMSELVES, openly QUESTION EVERYTHING (including authority), and EXPRESS THEMSELVES CREATIVELY and EFFECTIVELY. That is a major problem we have in this country. We don’t teach people to think anymore. Our educational system is designed to condition children to accept what is fed to them through the media by the government and the huge corporations that run it without question.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: I'm outraged!

Actions have consequences, yes. But those consequences must be in accordance with the law, especially when those consequences are imposed by a government agency, such as a public school.

When those consequences exceed the limits set by law, or are even outright illegal, that’s when any right thinking individual feels, as you put it, Oh horrors!

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Obvious troll is obvious.

If you have to stretch THAT far to make an irrelevant point, you have to reconsider whether it’s worth trying at all.

But on the off-chance you’re just an idiot: What the school did was illegal. A federal crime. We don’t execute jaywalkers by burning at the stake, and we don’t punish people for exercising rights. We’re at least theoretically a country ruled by laws, not tyrants.

Anonymous Coward says:

Yeah sure free speech, it’s a spectacular tool that I think all people have a right to have. But as a teacher, I do not get the right to free speech. If I posted something about a student on a blog or facebook, I would be FIRED. That is the real world. In reality some people in society DO NOT have the same rights as other people. That is life, and yes I do not believe that America is the “free” nation that we proclaim to be. Freedom in totality cannot exist because the world is not perfect. So if the students learned that in the real world you can only speak “satirically” or “ironically” about certain people in certain situations, then the students learned a good lesson. If they want to go be writers, the so be it, get published and have someone pay you money for you satire.

The Infamous Joe (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You should be fired for your attitude. What kind of ass-backwards thought process brings you to the conclusion that one has to be a “writer” to use satire? Ignoring the fact that you’re not making any sense, let’s say that only writers can use satire; wouldn’t a good place to learn to be a writer be in school?

If you really are a teacher, and I really hope you’re not, the last thing you should be doing is discouraging harmless creativity.

Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences; you somehow managed to get that right, but last I checked, making fun of someone wasn’t illegal.

If an adult can’t handle a harmless meme joke by a few children, then we should be investigating the mental stability of the adult, not punishing the children.

weneedhelp (profile) says:

idiots in charge always have been

First off, when I was in school, the USA had tough skin and weren’t pussies insulted by everything.

“you are also causing other people to inhale second hand smoke that they do not wish to inhale.”
You want smoke free air outside, carry an oxygen tank. I was not smoking inside fool.

“You should get suspended because not only are you violating the drug” Nicotine is not a controlled substance, nor is it illegal. You should get smacked for being such an idiot.

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