"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance

 and a people who mean to be their own governors

 must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

Thursday, March 02, 2006

What Did Your Child Learn At School Today?

Joseph Kyle, 37, a Parsippany High School teacher is having President Bush tried for "crimes against civilian populations" and "inhumane treatment of prisoners" in his senior advanced placement government class. Students are arguing both sides before a five-teacher "international court of justice" during the weeklong trial. The panel's verdict could come as soon as Friday.

Kyle declined to discuss his opinion of Bush, the war in Iraq or the U.S. response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He said he isn't trying to show up the president. "President Bush is often tried in absentia all around the world," Kyle said. "All we hear in the papers is, war crimes this, war crimes that -- without even hearing a defense. It would be irresponsible for a teacher to pretend that isn't happening," Kyle said.
Yep, that’s all we hear too and it’s certainly worth at least one week of students’ time in an advanced placement government class. Why, the topic is so important that not only are the students spending a minimum of one week on this essential subject, five other teachers are assisting with lesson. All with the blessing of High school Principal Anthony Sciaino. When you think about it, it's darn near irresponsible not to include the entire school.

"I think that the way he's [Kyle] doing it, in that it's more of a debate, makes it ideal and connects perfectly with the AP government curriculum," Sciaino said.
That’s what we assumed – a curriculum of non-stop America bashing. After all what else is there left for kids to learn about their government? No doubt all of Kyle’s students will pass the AP exam with flying colors.

Kyle is no stranger to controversial topics. Starting on Tuesday, his sophomore class will put former President Andrew Jackson on trial for alleged abuses against Native Americans. Kyle insisted that he doesn't have a partisan agenda. While teaching at Montclair High School, he conducted an impeachment trial of President Clinton while he was in office. "There's nothing bad with exploring evidence on both sides," Kyle said.
No, there’s nothing wrong with exploring evidence on both sides. How else do we expect to groom little Ramsey Clarks? Who really cares if the students actually learn the recommended AP curriculum?

I. Constitutional Underpinnings of United States Government (5-15%)
II. Political Beliefs and Behaviors (10-20%)
III. Political Parties, Interest Groups, and Mass Media (10-20%)
IV. Institutions of National Government: The Congress, the Presidency, the bureaucracy, and the Federal Courts (35-45%)
V. Public Policy (5-15%)
VI. Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (5-15%)
Just thinking of how well our property taxes are being spent on education makes us want to rethink our objection to the ridiculously high amounts we pay. And imaging how hard these six teachers have to work to pull off this lesson, we can understand the need for higher pay and better benefits for teachers.

But we are worried. Does high school teacher Joseph Kyle know anything about kids?

One thing that Kyle said he would like to keep private is the verdict. "That decision is going to be sealed," he said, explaining that students will be told the outcome but asked not to tell others.

What does play acting before an "international court of justice" have to do with a course on U.S. government? Absolutely nothing. It’s not in keeping with U.S. law or the Constitution. So how in the world could this stunt “connect perfectly with the AP government curriculum”? The school’s principal and the teacher clearly lack even a rudimentary understanding of U.S. government. Bad enough, but now they are passing their ignorance on to their students.

Update: Rant about Kyle removed. Although it should be noted Kyle is the union negotiator for Parsippany High School.

Upadate II: With e-mails and phone calls running 10-to-1 against this "lesson" Kyle decided “that rendering a decision would undermine the academic purpose of the exercise for the seniors in his advanced placement government class”. Kyle said the decision, "was not handed down" by administrators, and reasoned that "no verdict could be genuine because it wasn't a real trial anyway". We'll bet Kyle came to this decision without any direction from the school’s administration and board.



16 Comments:

At 5:17 AM, Blogger Redhand said...

'But really, what does play acting before an "international court of justice" have to do with a course on U.S. government? Absolutely nothing. It’s not in keeping with U.S. law or the Constitution. So how in the world could this stunt “connect perfectly with the AP government curriculum”?'

Right on target. This is a disgrace. Reminds me of Rep. Conyers absurd, faux "impeachment" trial of Bush on the basement of the House.

 
At 9:56 PM, Anonymous Jim - PRS said...

The more I thought about this today, the angrier I became. I could see how a debate of President Bush's policies, with the teacher acting as moderator could be valuable (even better when the participants have to switch sides). But a "trial" is pure, political grandstanding to a captive audience.

 
At 11:46 AM, Blogger njgalaxie73 said...

Teachers like Joseph Kyle know full well what they're doing when they pull a stunt like this. He's a product of far left teachers' unions and feels that the best way to instill left-wing values in young teenagers who have brains like sponges,(some like mush), is to do it in a way he can desguise it as a, "healthy debate", to his students and when questioned on it by parents and media he can play Devil's Advocate and say, "What did I do? It's just healthy debate!"

I've had both good and bad history teachers over the years and in all fairness to Mr. Kyle I know nothing about him to say that he's a bad teacher. With that being said, it's been my experience that only a bad teacher would do something like this.

Any smart political idealogue liberal or conservative knows that in order for their agenda to work they need to soak the minds of energetic and impressionable youth with their belief system. Being that liberals have total control of the public education system, they feel that this is their, "liberal training camp", and it is their duty to indoctrinate youth with their socialist psychobabble. This is because in my humble opinion, most if not all children who actually receieve a proper and unbiased education are NOT going become liberals!

It may be slow and steady but parents are finally beginning to wise up to the public education system. Better late than never.

 
At 3:15 PM, Blogger Joe said...

My thoughts? This guy sounds like an incredible teacher, the kind who really inspires his kids. Let's look at the facts:

1. When Clinton was in office, he had his students conduct a trial of Clinton. The point isn't who's in office for him, the point is what his students learn via debate.

2. He's making sure both sides are being presented fairly and equally.

3. He's not injecting his own personal opinions into the process.

4. He checked with the administration first and cleared it through them before doing it.

5. He seems to really, genuinely be about his students and their learning. The students are defending him, and the students unanimously agreed to do this before it began.

Is Bush an impeachable war crminal? Jesus Christ, no. Of course not.

But is there a valuable learning experience for the kids in being able to talk this out, debate it, take roles, and test their ideas analytically? Yes, definitely.

This teacher is inspiring his students to think, and he's not trying to guide them to a specific conclusion.

Hell, he may be a conservative.

 
At 4:17 PM, Blogger Enlighten said...

Hell, you might even be Joe Kyle. If you are we have a few questions for you.

 
At 5:44 PM, Blogger njgalaxie73 said...

HA!!! LOL! Good one!! Perhaps Mr. Kyle conducted a mock trial for Bill Clinton because Bill Clinton was actually on trial for lying under oath. He was ACTUALLY on trial!

The only kind people who conduct these mock trials are far left idealogues who don't believe war is justified under any means and don't even believe that the United States should have a millitary, i.e San Francisco Commisioner Gerardo Sandoval.(what an idiot!!).

It is only the far left that wants the president to be charged with war crimes and is a non-issue in mainstream politics and America.

Mr. Kyle could've very easily made this a conventional and lively debate and whether it was his intention or not, he crossed the line as an educator. Hopefully this message gets across to other teachers across the state and the country

 
At 8:23 PM, Anonymous Jim - PRS said...

Such a "trial" would necessarily have been preceded by an indictment, which means that a grand jury has decided that: (a) there is probably cause to believe that a crime was committed, and (b) probably cause to believe that the defendant committed the crime.

Mr. Kyle served as his own grand jury in order to cast this "debate" in the form of a trial and casting the President in the role of the defendant.

 
At 5:13 PM, Anonymous adam said...

Enlighten misses a few things, aside from basic logic:

1.) A discussion of foreign affairs related to the United States ties in perfectly with such an open-ended course.

2.) These kids are seniors who are of voting age in a college-level course, not "sponges" as you call them. As a student, I'm offended.

3.) There is a defense, you know.

4.) Mr. Kyle hasn't presented his own views at all, nor did he initiate this; the trial was the idea of the students.

 
At 7:35 PM, Blogger Enlighten said...

Adam,

We were missing a few things, aside from basic logic? What logical reasons have you presented for defending this “lesson” in an AP U.S. government class? Specifically, what was this purpose of this lesson and what where Kyle’s students supposed to learn about U.S. government from this exercise? You failed to address the crux of the discussion.

If you are under the impression Kyle’s exercise was at all relevant to his course you have proven out point – students are woefully ignorant about U.S. government. So let’s review:

1. Kyle’s concept for the lesson is biased from the start. He builds his “lesson” around a false indictment of Bush and places the President on trial for ”crimes against civilian populations" and "inhumane treatment of prisoners”.

Are people tried in the U.S. without evidence a crime was committed and without a reasonable belief the person on trial committed the crime? Kyle telegraphed his views when he presented the charges for the class to consider.

2. Kyle’s premise of trying Bush in an international court of justice has no basis under U.S. law or the Constitution. He’s supposed to be teaching U.S. government. How is a proceeding in an international court relevant to a course in U.S. government? It isn’t.

3. The fact that Kyle admits no verdict should be reached as he originally planed because he as now says "no verdict could be genuine because it wasn't a real trial anyway". In keeping with Kyle’s newly discovered logic, the entire exercise was bogus – the charges weren’t “genuine”, the prosecution wasn’t “genuine”, the witnesses weren’t “genuine” , etc. The only thing “genuine” was Kyle’s obvious bias and his wasting of student and teacher time.

4. A course in U.S. government isn’t supposed to “open-ended, it is supposed to teach students specific material. What a ridiculous statement to make in defense of teaching anything that pops into someone’s head.

5. Press accounts indicate students went along with the idea for a trial. Nowhere has it been documented Kyle’s students came up with the idea. Whatever the genesis of the exercise, Kyle’s the teacher. He displayed a lack of judgmentby wasting his student’s time with this nonsense

6, Your quip: “These kids are seniors who are of voting age in a college-level course, not "sponges" as you call them. As a student, I'm offended.” Take you mock offense someplace else – we never referred to students as "sponges.” And we don’t care how old Kyle’s students are or whether or not they are of voting age. It’s beside the point.

 
At 11:42 AM, Blogger njgalaxie73 said...

First of all Adam, let me start off by saying that I am offended that you wrongfullly gave Enlighten credit for my comparison of your peers to sponges.

I have to say however, that I'm glad that you responded because you perfectly illustrated my point. Students like you have no comprehension of political bias in anything because you're young and you don't know any better. As a result, a teacher can come along and feed you chicken s%@t, tell you it's chicken salad and you'd be none the wiser. Know what that makes you whether you're in the third grade or a college freshman Adam? It makes you a sponge!! It isn't neccesarily through any fault of your own and that's the problem.

Teachers on ALL levels are mixing political bias into their cirriculum in attempt to liberalize future generations of Americans and the fact that you not only don't see but are offended illustrates that point perfectly. God, I love this blog!!

 
At 6:09 PM, Anonymous Adam said...

Enlighten:

1. Serious questions have been raised about Bush's responsibility in bombings of civilians (we have yet to see accurate body counts of civilian deaths in Iraq) and his responsibility in the Abu Ghraib scandal (for a good read, I suggest Seymour Hersh's "Chain of Command," which features very good coverage of how far responsibility may go).

Kyle did not come up with the charges. His students did. They presented the idea for the trial, came up with the charges, and have carried most of this through.

2. While this is a US government course, there is no defined method of teaching this course, as the College Board states on their website. Thus, foreign affairs issues (see: European governments trying Bush in absentia) are perfectly acceptable. The students decided collectively that the procedural rules, in the words of one of the "defense lawyers" for Bush, were easier in an international court.

3. When Kyle said that, he referred to the fact that people were taking a mock trial so seriously. His logic doesn't mean that everything was false. Yet again you show your own bias by quoting out of context.

4. Again, this is an AP course with no defined structure or curriculum. This is all information available from the College Board website. Before you make assumptions, it would be wise to do some research.

5. Who says the press is always right? Take a look at some other blogs; students IN THESE CLASSES are saying they came up with the idea for the trial. What better source than that? And since none of the kids, their parents, or the administration were angered by this mock trial, and they acknowledge the educational benefits of this exercise, I think it's safe to say this isn't a waste of time. It seems the only people offended by this are those far-right politicians looking to appeal to voters and taxpayers (and the bloggers, of course, who will post about anything hoping to make the news).

6. You may not have called them sponges, but to suggest that they should be subjected to mindless droning and lecturing, as opposed to a hands-on experience that demonstrates the importance of analysis in all aspects of government is equally as bad, if not worse. Thus, I don't see how their age, maturity, and abilities are "beside the point," as these are all important things to take into consideration.

Njgalaxie73:

I am now even more offended that you presume so much about me, my politics, my educational abilities, and my world awareness.

Thanks to teachers such as Mr. Kyle, I'm able to take a more objective look at the world. Do I think teachers are liberalizing the world with their "cirriculum" (HA!)? No. In fact, most of my teachers are or have been conservatives, if they've ever expressed their opinions at all. Does that bother me? No. I prefer to hear both sides of the story, and draw my own conclusions, as these students have been doing, rather than draw a hasty conclusion from one source.

But when bloggers with knee-jerk reactions to everything that they read insult my intelligence and my abilities directly (when they are, as in your case, only a little older than I am), I have to scoff. It's quite clear to me that the strongest biased opinion is coming directly from political bloggers such as this one, and you, those so indoctrinated by conservatism that you refuse to see anything from a different point of view. I think you'd need to be in a New Jersey high school to be able to assess the situation, not as a taxpayer reading flawed news sources.

We are the next generation of leadership. I would think you'd prefer we be able to think clearly and conscientiously, noting all viewpoints, as opposed to responding impulsively and without much thought or rationality.

Or am I wrong?

 
At 10:40 AM, Blogger njgalaxie73 said...

Wow! I just LOVE it when I hit a nerve!! It just adds more fun to the blogging experience. I will however split the credit 50/50 with you Enlighten.;-)

Adam, how many are times you going to prove my point until I get bored with you? First of all getting offended on a conservative blog isn't going to get you anywhere. Nobody here is going to go out of their way to e-mail you a Kleenex. Second, what else am I supposed to assume about your politics? You don't have to stick your hand out of an open window during a storm to know that water is wet! You are on a conservative blog criticizing conservatives for voicing their displeasure at a teacher who exhibited poor taste in his style of political debate. Who cares if it was the students' idea? Is it the students' responsibility to pick what and how they learn?

You also further illustrate my point that children from a young age are spoonfed liberal propoganda from a young age in school. If this trial was the students' idea, where else are they going to get a stupid idea like this? It sounds to me that Mr. Kyle is a teacher who has relegated the running of his classroom to his students.

Like you said, you have to be in a high school classroom to assess the situation and like you also said, I'm not much older than you. It wasn't that long ago Adam that I myself was in a high school classroom and as I've said before, I've had my share of goog and bad teachers over the years in both high school and grammar school. I am well awawre of the issues that affect New Jerseys' public schools as I ran for seats on my local school board in the past. I find it funny Adam that you can blatantly wear your political heart out on your sleeve and criticize me for being a, "brainwashed conservative", when you are so easily moved to tears when either I or Enlighten criticizes you! In all fairness Adam, I am very up to snuff when it comes to the public edcation system and you made a, "knee jerk" judgement about me. Do you see me crying?

Last but certainly not least, I am so tired of this whole, "sponges", analogy being a major issue with you. I also said that some students had brains like mush yet you didn't seem to mind that for some weird reason! Let us put this analogy to rest once and for all. ALL young people HAVE BRAINS LIKE SPONGES! That's why it's easier to learn things and absorb new information. That what enables them to learn in school!! That's why educators with liberal and even conservative agendas are so eager to get to them. That's also why parents need to be highly involved in what their children are learning to be sure that THEIR values, no matter what they may be, take precedent over whatever they learn in school. That way as they get older and go through life they can take a more objective look and life in general and decide for themselves what's best.

Teachers' unions with socialist agendas know full well that the American family structure as a whole is fragmented at best and are shamelessly attempting to exploit it for their personal gain. Are you going to tell me Adam with a straight face that the public education system isn't dominated by liberals? If that's the case then yes, you are wrong. Get off the blog you big dope!!

 
At 9:19 PM, Anonymous Adam said...

NJGalaxie73:

Wow, I just LOVE when people make assumptions! Look at me crying! Waaah!

That said, you raise some interesting thoughts in my mind. First, while I agree it is not the students' responsibility to decide upon the curriculum, there is no law that prevents them from helping to decide what to do in a class. Don't kid yourself: these are seniors, many of whom are legal adults, and can make decisions for themselves.

The idea for a trial such as this can come from many different sources, not just a teacher; it can come from the media, parents, or friends. These are seniors with a very strong worldview; they're not going to listen exclusively to what is discussed within the confines of school.

I wish you would explain to me how I am an example of a child spoonfed propaganda. I have a good nose for it; to be honest, I haven't encountered much, if any, in school.

I also wish you would explain how I am "crying," unless you find rational thought to be a true tearjerker. Maybe it's something so moving because it's seen rarely in conservatives.

I am tired of the "sponge" analogy because it is condescending and illogical. To claim that an 18-year-old in an advanced placement class is unable to think for themselves, or shouldn't be able to until much later in their life, goes against the essence of free thought. I'd prefer, instead of generalizing that "ALL young people HAVE BRAINS LIKE SPONGES," to think of the brain as a bucket. You fill it with shells while you're at the beach (life), and as you walk along you decide which shells have more value (i.e., which views you agree with). To suggest that "young people" who are only a few years younger than you are incapable of thought makes little rational sense, as from my viewpoint I would place you within their age group. Honestly, is there a firm dividing line between "young people" and "educated person"? Is there someone who says, "oh, now you're 19, okay, you're able to think?" I don't believe so.

Additionally, why should parents have the final say in shaping their childrens' views and values? What makes them any different from teachers? I don't necessarily agree with my parents on a number of issues, but that does not matter in my household. And while they may have been an influence in my views, they do not restrict my thoughts on issues, and respect my opinions no matter what they may be. Plus, if children are shaped at an early age (indoctrinated would be a good synonym) and taught to only see things one way, how will they be able to view things objectively and decide for themselves, as you suggest?

Again, you fail to provide any proof of a crumbling family structure, or of how teacher's unions are responsible for anything. And yet again, I will reiterate that I have had a fairly politically balanced education. There are plenty of conservatives on school boards, or at least those who want to be, such as yourself.

If anyone should "get off the blog" for being a "big dope," it should be you for your inane rhetoric which once again confirms in my mind that preventing a future generation of leadership from learning to think critically is the most un-American thing today.

 
At 9:10 AM, Blogger njgalaxie73 said...

What makes parents different from teachers? Are you kidding me? What kind of twisted logic is that?

The time has come where I have grown very tired of you Adam so I'll make this short and sweet. You want proof that the family structure is splintered do a little research into the divorce rate in America. Do a little reasearch into how many children, predominately in inner cities, grow up without fathers. And do I believe an eighteen year old is capable of intelligent thought Adam? Absolutely, if he is given the proper learning environment which many in America don't have which is why American school children are always at the bottom of the barrel in math and science compared to the rest of the world.
If the teachers' unions weren't so self serving and cared about higher learning they wouldn't keep incompitent or unqualified teachers who compare President Bush to Adolph Hitler or put the President, "on trial", for war crimes in the classroom.

I could go on and on but I really don't see the point. You're a lost cause and I don't waste my time casting pearls before swine. Good luck letting teachers raise your kids someday Adam.

 
At 5:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

fucking faggots. "conservative blog" might as well say "we hate niggers, jews, faggots and mexicans...unless they work for us" blog.

 
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