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Apr 16, 2010 10:14am

College Violence Study Only First Step

Today, three years after the deadly Virginia Tech shootings, the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation jointly released a study of targeted violence incidents on U.S. college campuses. The study shows that IHE (Institutes of Higher Education) targeted violence has taken place for more than 100 years and is only increasing.

The study offers a review of 272 incidents of violence that affected higher IHE in the United States from 1900 to 2008.  Some of the statistics presented are frightening:

  • 174 murders on college campuses from 2005-2008.
  • 13,842 “forcible sex offenses” from 2005-2008.

The study found that the first incident identified as an act of targeted violence at an IHE occurred on April 29, 1909, when a man visiting a campus to persuade his former girlfriend to marry him shot and killed his former girlfriend on her college campus.

The study also made some startling general observations including:

  • Incidents of violence happen year round, not just during the academic year.
  • 20 percent of incidents took place off-campus against targeted IHE members.
  • Of the weapons most used, 75 percent were firearms and knives.

This report is only the first step. As we examine these findings, it’s essential that action be taken to decrease these acts of violence. Like all educational locations, IHE should be safe areas in which learning occurs, not violence!

Apr 8, 2010 5:29pm

Charter school attacts bullying at the roots

Check out this article from my alma mater about one school’s fight against bullying.

The Chicago school, Muchin College Prep, suspended two students earlier this year after they cut off a piece of a classmate’s hair. Along with suspension, the girls were made to write a research paper about the effects of bullying, a report on an anti-bullying book, and a letter of apology to the victim. This quick response has been addressed in response to a 15-year-old Massachusetts student’s suicide who underwent three months of verbal abuse and physical threats on school grounds.

For those of us that have matured in the wake of Columbine, school bullying has been of constant discussion and has been researched in depth. In fact, it’s estimated that almost 30 percent of teens (more than 5.7 million) in the U.S. are either a bully, a target of a teen bully, or both.

But there are schools, like Muchin College Prep, that are fighting back. And this, it gives me hope! We can all be a part of this fight, and need all of the information possible on the subject. If you want to read more, check out this site.

Apr 2, 2010 6:26pm
Apr 2, 2010 6:23pm

A Change Coming to Colorado’s Teacher Tenure Program?

Next week Colorado State Sen. Michael Johnston, D-Denver, will introduce a bill that will attempt to change the state’s teacher tenure laws, and I hope it passes.

Currently, after three years of instruction teachers achieve “tenure.” This means he or she is no longer on probation, and any attempt to remove the teacher must go through due process.

This policy allows bad teachers to stay as teachers. In fact, if a school does not have a place for a tenured teacher, he or she is “involuntary transferred” to another district school with an opening. Because of tenure, a district must keep these ineffective teachers unless it takes the due process to fire the teacher.

Johnston’s bill would grant teachers tenure if they run a “highly effective” classroom for three years, and would also allow teachers deemed “ineffective” for two years to lose tenure.

Through this policy good teachers would still achieve tenure, but it would not set the tenure for life. That way if an instructor looses his or her “spark,” a district can find a more inspired teacher to step into the classroom.

I think the option of tenure is essential in retaining fantastic teachers; however, tenure should not be the means keeping poor teachers in positions. Johnston’s bill would create a more student-friendly tenure policy, and allow good teachers to keep teaching and bad teachers to find a new career.

Read the Denver Post’s education blog on this subject: http://bit.ly/agIQ7z

Mar 31, 2010 6:15pm

"I don’t need to know how to write"

Last night while teaching college composition at the University of Phoenix in Colorado Springs a student told me he didn’t need to learn how to write properly.

"I’m going to be a software engineer," he said. (As if that explained it!)

Since I have spent my adult life working as a professional writer, editor, and now English teacher, this statement shocked me. After thinking for a few seconds, I responded:

In today’s technologically advanced world, written communication is often the first line of contact with someone. People write emails, tweets, blogs, and Facebook status updates multiple time daily. These tools are used to network, apply for jobs, and keep in contact with coworkers and supervisors.  And being such, this communication needs to be nicely written, and above that, correctly written.

Would you go into a job interview with a stained shirt and no tie? Would you chew gum or forget to brush your teeth? Of course not, you would want to be looking your best. How about after you get the job? Do you make a good impression with your boss by wearing sweat pants or torn jeans? Again, of course not.

Whether one likes it or not, people are judged by appearance – especially first impressions. And just like one’s appearance can make or break a first impression, so can proper or improper writing destroy the initial conversation. Missing commas, misplaced modifiers, and misspelled words can ruin a short email or Facebook update. One must learn the rules of the English language, like one must learn proper personal hygiene. Without either a first impression can easily be the last.

Jun 2, 2009 1:24pm
My daughter paying her respects to her grandfather, Gary Ogrin. He passed away when Gina’s father was 3 years old.

My daughter paying her respects to her grandfather, Gary Ogrin. He passed away when Gina’s father was 3 years old.

May 10, 2009 1:29pm
Apr 20, 2009 3:15pm

"Murderers only ones deserving blame" — Column I wrote for my high school newspaper, April 23, 1999

My high school newspaper, the Rocky Mountain High School Highlighter, produced a special edition paper three days after the shooting at Columbine. This was the column I wrote and published in the edition: “The parents were never home and didn’t know what was going on.” “The teachers didn’t pay enough attention to the signs.” “Society desensitizes the youth to violence with movies and video games.” It always seems to be someone else’s fault. The teachers, the parents, the school administration, or the society as a whole. When are individuals going to be forced to take responsibility for their own actions? It seems that of late, especially in the recent Columbine incident, minors get away with every negative action they choose to take. All of their mistakes, screw-ups and huge social wrong-doings are blamed on someone other than on the perpetrators themselves. By doing this, we are letting the youth get away with too much. Ever since children are elementary-school age, they are able to get away with not taking responsibility for anything. No longer are children responsible for their actions. Parents blame bad grades on bad teachers, the teachers blame the bad grades on rough home lives. This is even the case when younger children are “out of control.” Not very often is the child blamed and punished, but the parents are blamed by others for not having enough control over their children. How can parents, no matter how horrible or “not in control” they are, force their child into a life where shooting 50 or so of his or her classmates is socially acceptable? How can one say that a teacher should constantly be watching for warning signs? Is it no longer the teacher’s main job to educate his or her student? How can society be blamed when not every youth raised has gone on a shooting spree at his or her high school? Each one of us has been raised with the same movies and same video games. Everyone, from a very young age, can begin to know what he or she is doing, and there is never a question about killing being right or wrong. Why are the two young men responsible for this killing spree not really considered responsible? Sure, maybe both of their parents work. Maybe they felt left out of the “popular” groups at school. Maybe the teachers didn’t notice their warning signs. But thousands of teens’ parents work. Hundreds of teens feel left out of the “in” group, and teachers do not have every second of every day not look for “warning signs.” But not all of these youth go psycho and kill their peers. The problem isn’t bad parenting, being excluded, or teachers not paying much attention. The fault lies with the individual and no one else. Stop trying to find an outside source of blame and start placing the blame on those committing the actions. They know right from wrong.

Feb 3, 2009 10:53pm

Can the New York Times save itself?

It works for the Wall Street Journal, but will charging for online news content save the New York Times—I don’t know.

The NYT, the nation’s third-largest paper, posted a 48 percent decline in forth-quarter profits. In fact, the newspaper is drowning so fast it’s unloading employees and assets as quick as it can. The paper is also trying to figure out how to make money from its online news offerings.

Two years ago, the NYT charged for some of its online content and generated about $10 million every year in revenue. The paper, however, stopped using this method because it limited the number of readers available to advertisers. This is the catch-22 of charging for online news content.

If any newspaper other than the Wall Street Journal can make this revenue model work, it would be the NYT. Most newspapers could not use this model because why pay for news you can get somewhere else for free.

The NYT is the leader of U.S. newspapers, but its news is also something special. As the paper’s Executive Editor Bill Keller said in an online Q and A, the paper offers “Really good information, often extracted from reluctant sources, truth-tested, organized and explained – that stuff wants to be paid for.”

Because of its high-standard and superior content, the NYT offers content that can not be found for free somewhere else. This almost guarantees the subscribers, but even if it gets the readers to pay, will the NYT get advertisers to buy into the new model?

Only time will tell…..

Feb 2, 2009 10:18pm
My daughter and I at Christmas time.

My daughter and I at Christmas time.

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