Michael on Bureaucracy: I didn’t read much this week. Actually, that’s not true. Despite trying to distract myself with a friend’s new book, I read the same thing over and over and over again. This week, I found myself having to get familiar with the discipline code in New York City, especially as it applies to kids in grades K–5. Something needs to change! While details vary on how situations are handled from grade-to-grade, there are only a few instances that are exclusive to grades four and five:
- Gang-related Behavior
- Sexually-related comments and conduct
It’s assumed children in grades K–3 have a limited understanding of these concepts, so they are treated differently. In fact, the phrasing used to “protect” K–3 students is “engaging in inappropriate or unwanted physical contact or touching someone in a private part of body.” Of the five infraction levels (level one being the lowest and level five the highest), this is only a level two infraction, regardless of the severity. This puts contact, that would otherwise be considered sexual at any other age, on par with “leaving class or school premises without permission [...]” or “violating the Department’s Internet Use Policy.”
The bureaucracy put in place to protect some kids and get others the help they need nearly prevent the best possible decisions from getting made. If you read one thing this week, read this…because it needs to change.
Howie on Google: So much is made about some of the privacy blunders by Google, but they do some good, too. Google Earth allowed us to see refugee camps in the Darfur bringing a closeness from far away. Now Google Earth plus Maps plus Street allows someone to fight back against the hate group ( my opinion) Westboro Baptist Church in literally a very colorful way.
Gini on the Art of Writing: Late last year, my dear friend Abbie Fink told me I had to read Stephen King’s latest novel, 11/22/63. Look, I’m a book snob. My creative writer professor and college advisor drilled it into our heads that King is not a great writer. In fact, critics dismissed him for nearly 30 years until he finally won a National Book Foundation award in 2003. So I’d never read him and was reticent to pick up this book. But I did, because I trust Abbie’s opinion greatly, and I was more than pleasantly surprised. I LOVED the book (so much so, in fact, I’m reading The Stand right now).
That’s why I was happy to see one of my favorite magazines, The Paris Review, do an in-depth interview with King, which is 12 years in the making. They cover everything from Carrie and Cujo to how he got his start as a six-year-old and why he began to write about writing. It’s long, but very well worth the read.