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Student Journals Spark Legal Fight

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/12/02/st....ap/index.html

As a former teacher, this whole story makes me ill on so many levels. First, the threats that the wrote against the teacher. But more than that - that their parents are actually fighting the school about the suspension and possible expulsion!! Anyone else get the feeling that this is because they are highly rated football players? I guess writing such graphic depictions of how they would KILL their teacher shouldn't be taken seriously since she had told them the journals wouldn't be read. ::censor::censor::censor::
post #2 of 16
i had a friend in high school (mind you i was goth) who wrote a poem about very much the same thing although it had nothing to do about any real person he never named a name or anything like that. all his poetry was dark adn twisted (he later commited suicide) and he was kicked out of school for it too. at the time i was mad about it cause i mean gee wiz its just a poem but now i see it as more of a cry for help. i understant the teacher being upset because it named her specifficaly i am sure that if i were in her place i would have turned then in too. i can't really say how i feel about thier punishment though.
post #3 of 16
I don't like the idea of writing journals for school at all unless it is about a specific subject.... writing in a school journal is how other kids found out I have a gay father. That was horrible (the kids finding out... not my dad)
post #4 of 16
THEY say she told them the entries would not be read. But DID she? Unless I misunderstood the article, those journals were handed in for grading -- how do you DO that without reading them?

However, even IF she told them that, violation of privacy takes a back seat to significantly threatening remarks, IMO. Having discovered threats of that sort, you can't just pretend they don't exist. They need at the very least to be investigated, because of the possibility that they are serious, that there is danger to someone, that the writer is in need of intervention of some kind.

And, whether the threats were serious or not, there's at least a teaching moment in this: There's more to be learned in high school than History and English and Biology -- responsibility for one's actions and attitudes comes to mind. They do need to learn that threats of that sort are neither acceptable nor a joking matter. And if it means they can't play football, well my heart bleeds. Better that disappointment than something more serious later in life.
post #5 of 16
They actually turned in the journals to the teacher they were threatning? Were they challenging her? They have sick little minds.
post #6 of 16
Those kids should have been barred from the whole game as well. They seriously need help.
post #7 of 16
I had a patient who gave me an essay he wrote in which he planned to blow up his high school. This was ten yrs pre Columbine et al. I was appalled and while the child (teenager) was very ill - leukemia - I did talk to his parents and hooked him up with a local RCMP Youth worker who became friends with him. He survived leukemia and is now a well rounded adult. I think he wanted me to do something and did not know where to turn and could not say it aloud!
post #8 of 16
That is crazy. Some kid in my town just got arrested for writing about how he was going to blow up Northrup High School. This kid wasn't a popular football player though. I suppose it's ok to write about mutilating your teachers if you have influencial parents.
post #9 of 16
In my high school they used to expell you if you were caught smoking, I wonder what they would have done to him! I laugh when I hear kidshear complaining that they got detention because they were caught smoking, at my school detention was for something minor like speaking in Arabic.
post #10 of 16
I do not think students should be required to keep journals that will be turned in to the teacher, whether that teacher promises not to read them or not. Children are entitled to privacy, and this strikes me as a violation of it.

However, you'd also think these kids wouldn't be boneheaded enough to write death threats in a journal directed at the person who was grading it. I've heard of dumb jocks, but this is ridiculous.
post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
I was required by many of my English classes from High School through College to write in a journal to be turned in. I understand the point of the exercise is to give the students practice in putting their thoughts into writing, even if the topics are not specifically given to them. There were some that were "not" read and only graded by volume (although obviously the teacher would easily be able to tell if you were cheating the 1 page/day (or whatever the requirement) if you wrote super huge or wrote the same sentence over and over). There were others where they were read and commented on, though not "graded" for grammar and spelling and such. Even if you aren't trying to read the student's journals, certain phrases are going to stick out. Like "Kill you" followed by your name. Or just your name in general.

Regardless, what astounds me more than the idiot kids writing this, as a joke or not, is the parents' reaction to it. Their little angels can do no wrong, and certainly shouldn't be punished for it! I saw that when I was a teacher, although in a much less serious situation. I had given my Spanish I class an extra credit opportunity at the end of the year to write a children's book in Spanish (they should have had enough knowledge to write some very basic sentences along the lines of the "See Spot Run" books). One girl handed in her assignment that was very obviously copied letter for letter from a published book, as there was no way she had the knowledge to write in those verb tenses. Suspicion confirmed when I checked with the librarian who told me that this girl had checked out a Spanish children's book which was identical in text to her book, although she had made little drawings herself. I gave it back with a 0. I got an IRATE call from her mother saying that she had worked so hard on it (the drawings, I assume) that I had BETTER give her some extra credit!!! Seriously. Now what exactly did that teach the brat who tried to cheat on extra credit? And what exactly does the parents hiring LAWYERS to fight their punishment in school teach these boys??
post #12 of 16
Oh, I definitely don't agree with their parents siding with their sons when the kids are clearly in the wrong. But I do think the whole problem could have (and should have) been avoided in the first place, by not requiring journals to be written for grades.
post #13 of 16
Writing journals are an effective way of teaching writing skills and comprehension to students. To say that the problem could have been avoided by not requiring the students to turn in such a journal is ridiculous. If the proper authorities hadn't been tipped off, who knows what would have happened to the students' teacher. I think you're confusing a teaching journal with a "Dear Diary" type of journal. Teaching jornals do not require students to write down their very private thoughts and feelings. Instead, teaching journal ask students to react to a book, describe a holiday tradition that they celebrate, answer questions about a specific topic, etc.
post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jillian
Writing journals are an effective way of teaching writing skills and comprehension to students. To say that the problem could have been avoided by not requiring the students to turn in such a journal is ridiculous. If the proper authorities hadn't been tipped off, who knows what would have happened to the students' teacher. I think you're confusing a teaching journal with a "Dear Diary" type of journal. Teaching jornals do not require students to write down their very private thoughts and feelings. Instead, teaching journal ask students to react to a book, describe a holiday tradition that they celebrate, answer questions about a specific topic, etc.
Two things:

1. From the kids' description in the news story, it sounded like the journal was intended to be for private thoughts, although of course, they may have been lying.

2. I am in love with Merton. LOL
post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rockcat
They actually turned in the journals to the teacher they were threatning? Were they challenging her? They have sick little minds.
I get that feeling too.

At any rate, whether it's a screm for attention or something more serious, it sounds like someone needs to reach out to these kids.
post #16 of 16
Thank you, I'm in love with him too. Actually, I'm in love with all my boys

I have a hard time believing that a teacher would require students to write down their private thoughts for grading. Keeping a journal could have been an exercise in writing, and if that is the case, I would assume that the teacher asked the students to put anything in it that came to mind... just to get them writing.

If the journal was a graded assignment, then the teacher would have to read them to give the students a fair grade. The students should have (and I'm guessing, were) made aware of that from the get-go.
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