Saturday, March 31, 2007

In the news - March 30, 2007

HAMPTON, N.H. (AP) _ Some parents are protesting the ''sex'' edition of the student newspaper at Winnacunnet High School.

Several said they were especially offended by a photograph of two women kissing under the headline, ''Why men love women who love women,'' a quiz question about anal sex, and an interview with an unnamed custodian who said he had found a vibrator in the girls' shower.

Principal Randy Zito said the Winnachronicle had crossed the line of responsible reporting and that he had dealt with the problem privately. He also said he had pulled copies of the paper that normally would have been sent to middle schools in the cooperative school district.

Well, at least they didn't send copies to the middle school.

The newspaper's faculty adviser defended the editors' decisions and said the February edition of the paper was intended to inform students, not shock people _ although they knew it would stir controversy.

''The kids wrote the articles and came up with the topic,'' said adviser Carol Downer. ''They didn't go out to cause controversy, but the Winnachronicle is also not a P.R. piece for the high school. This is a place for students to express their view and talk about issues that are troubling the student body.''

The editors use the justification that ''Being in a high school, it's something I've seen and something other kids have seen in the hallways.''

If that is indeed true (which I don't doubt), why would any responsible parent send their child to that school? If you wouldn't send your child to hang out at a strip club or an X-rated movie theater, why would you send them to high school?

I've heard the argument that such things are "real life." I question that claim. I don't see provocative behavior in the halls at my husband's work place. They don't hang out in the break room swearing and discussing their sex life. The employee newsletter only discusses topics which are work related.

I've never seen my doctor, banker, gardener, grocery store checker, mechanic, or newpaper delivery person in a trashy outfit. The postman who delivers my mail has never showed up at my door with a radio blasting explicit lyrics. I've never seen my next door neighbors making out on their front lawn, nor do they brawl on the sidewalk. I'm never forced to sit in a room with people who are drunk or stoned. On occasion, I have seen this type of thing at a near by park, but, of course, it involved students from the local high school.

This story, as well as the recent teacher-student sex scandals, highlights a weakness of educating children in large institutions. The certification of teachers and advisers can not certify character and good judgment. And, let's be fair to the staff. They can not adequately compensate for parental deficiencies.

I skimmed the student paper. For lack of a better word, I found the whole thing "a downer." It was written from the perspective of a petulant child with an exagerated sense of entitlement. A picture of student life emerged that was devoid of love and purpose, but obsessed with self-gratification.

Parental complaints after the fact are too little-too late. If the responsible parents revolted and pulled their children from offending schools, maybe something would change. Even if it didn't change that school, the child would benefit from learning in a more wholesome setting, whether it be homeschool, private school, independent study program, distance learning program or charter school.

As a side note, Winnacunnet High School was in the national news in 1990, when Pamela Smart, a media services coordinator at Winnacunnet seduced 15-year old sophomore student William Flynn and convinced him to murder her husband. Smart who was convicted of first degree murder was sentenced to life imprisonment without possibility of parole. Flynn will be eligible for parole in 2018.

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nada said...

This kind of education is unfortunate. Kids can learn almost anything with a few clicks of the mouse, most of which probably isn't anything they need to know in depth. This type of sex education is damaging. I believe in teaching about sex in schools but allowing that type of thing to be published is uncalled for. Teens are overexposed to sex on TV and on the internet. When is enough enough?

Janine Cate said...

>Teens are overexposed....

I agree.