Texas high school chivalry assignment an exercise in misogyny

In an age of cancel culture, where anything can be deemed offensive and virtually erased from the public consciousness, one wonders how this assignment ever made it past the initial idea phase of one high school English teacher in Texas.

Even if this assignment (seen below, originally posted by @BrandiDAddison via Twitter) had any actual aim other than to shock and entertain, one would expect to see it in a History classroom, and not an English one. Perhaps even more surprising, the tone-deaf teacher apparently had used this assignment in at least one year previous, allowing students the option to refuse participation, if they objected to the content.

More than a class project at Shallowater High School, the “rules” contained in this assignment were to be strictly followed all day, throughout school, and even at home. Members of the opposite sex could essentially grade them on their success. Oddly enough, this assignment was designed by a female English teacher.

While male students are expected to open doors, pull out chairs, and compose themselves cleanly and respectfully, with no foul language, female students are told to “obey any reasonable request of a male” and also to dress enticingly, clean up after the boys, and bring them treats. The disparity is apparent if these students are following these rules throughout the school day: while the boys may just be seen as nice and well-behaved, the girls would undoubtedly be judged in a very different light.

After Addison posted the offending documents on Twitter the assignment was removed from the school due to public outcry, though some critics still insist, “How else will we learn about how life was like for women in the 1300’s?” I guess we should remember that next time a History class begins a unit on slavery, then?

Shallowater High School in Shallowater, Texas, serves approximately 450 students in grades 9-12. Sixty-six percent of students are white, with the remainder mostly Hispanic. It boasts a 100% 4-year graduation rate and excellent college readiness scores.

Brandi D Addison (Twitter)

Texas school scraps chivalry assignment that had girls ‘obey any reasonable request of a male’ (NBC News)

Shallowater High School (GreatSchools)

Chicago high school students not showing up to virtual classes

There exists perhaps no greater example of the disparity between socioeconomic classes than the ability of some to “lock down” for the past year, and the necessity of getting back to work as soon as possible for others. For many families, especially in large cities, staying home just wasn’t an option. The concept of virtual schooling wasn’t even on the radar, when bills had to be paid and groceries had to be purchased.

Enter Chicago Public School district, where a recent attendance review found that nearly 20 percent of high schoolers are not attending virtual classes. Jamey Makowski of BUILD Chicago says, “Some of our young people are caring for younger siblings so they are trying to do their work and also care for siblings while parents are not in the home.” In lower-income neighborhoods, perhaps where every adult in the household must work, there is no one standing over these students, making sure they attend virtual classes and complete assignments. At some schools, the numbers were far worse than the city’s average of 20 percent, with more than half of students not showing up for remote learning. A breakdown of some of the worst is below. Race and socioeconomic status are mentioned in order to highlight the overwhelming inequality present when it comes to virtual learning and its “success.”

Austin College and Career Academy High School, with just 43.8% of students attending virtual classes, has overwhelmingly low-income students: 95.4 percent. Most are black, as well: 96.6 percent. More than 16 percent of the students attending ACCA are homeless.

Manley Career Academy High School has 57.3 percent of its students attending online programming, with 93.7 percent of students qualifying as low-income. Black students make up 91.1 percent of the student body. More than 7 percent are homeless.

Douglass Academy High School has a student body that is 93 percent black and 98.2 percent low-income. Fourteen percent of the students at Douglass are homeless. Of enrolled students, only about 60 percent are attending virtual classes.

Some of the worst attendance records (as low as 35 percent attending), sadly, come from Ombudsman schools in Chicago, namely, Rosebud, South, and West High Schools, which are designed with rolling admission for those who have dropped out of traditional public high schools in the area and are looking for an alternative path to graduation. Other low-attendance schools include Youth Connection Charter Schools, which were also designed for drop-outs and at-risk youth. There’s also York High School, which is located within a prison and provides an alternative educational experience for incarcerated people wishing to earn a diploma.

Conversely, schools with high virtual attendance records tend to skew higher-income, like Payton College Preparatory Academy with attendance of 93.8. percent. This school has a majority white and Asian student body, and only 29 percent of students are low-income. Less than a percent of students are reported to be homeless.

Some CPS high schools report nearly half of students absent during remote learning (ABC 7 Chicago)

York High School

Youth Connection Charter School

Chicago Ombudsman Schools

Austin College and Career Academy High School (Illinois Report Card)

Manley Career Academy High School (Illinois Report Card)

Douglass Academy High School (Illinois Report Card)

Payton College Preparatory High School (Illinois Report Card)

Failing Students Still Outperforming Half of Their Classmates

Social promotion has been a concern for parents and educators alike for along as institutionalized education has existed, but it’s difficult to believe it can exist on a level as extreme as what Project Baltimore discovered this year.

A high school senior, it’s reported, has passed just three classes in his 4 years at Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Design in Batimore, Maryland, with nearly 300 absences, and was then informed that he would need to repeat all four years in order to obtain a diploma. His GPA: just 0.13. His mother, a single parent working three jobs to support three children, is beside herself. She obviously relied on the school to prepare her son for graduation, and had no idea that he was performing poorly enough to be held back, especially as he was consistently promoted to the next grade. It’s easy to blame her – after all, parents should have some idea that their child is failing – but this mother is like most public school parents today: conditioned to depend on schools for everything, and as she asserts that direct communication with her was never initiated by the school, she assumed “no news was good news.”

Perhaps even more concerning is the rank shown on the teen’s most recent report card: 62 out of 150, which leads one to infer that there are 58 students at Augusta Fells with a GPA lower than 0.13.

Questions posed to the mayor of Batimore only yielded a call to protect the privacy of these failing students, as well as a promise to improve school quality now that they’ve received the funding they apparently weren’t getting before. (Augusta Fells is a charter school.)

While there is a push to shut down the school, citing the large amount of the student body performing well below the city, state, and national averages, most social media comments seem to focus on vilifying the mother for her ignorance and negligence. It bears reminding that the school system as a rule undermines all parental authority, convincing families that they will do the job of raising children (sex education and character education programs are evidence of this). This woman, likely overworked and undereducated herself, is only a product of what she herself was taught by a very broken system.

Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Design serves over 400 students in grades 9-12 in the Baltimore area, and has a dismal grade of 1/10 on Greatschools, citing a low graduation rate of 56% (the state average is 87%) and poor standardized test results. Ninety-seven percent of the students are black, and 56% qualify as low-income. Students are admitted through a lottery. It first opened in 2004.

City student passes 3 classes in four years, ranks near top half of class with 0.13 GPA (Fox Baltimore)

Calls to Shut Down City School Where 0.13 GPA Ranks Near Top Half of Class (Fox Baltimore)

Augusta Fells Savage Institute Of Visual Arts (GreatSchools)

Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts (Baltimore City Public Schools)

Who benefits from online classes?

emptyschooldark

New York City entered and remained (and to some degree, still remains) in a strict lockdown earlier this year in an effort to “flatten the curve” of the huge COVID-19 outbreak there. Mayor Bill DeBlasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo have already released plans for the reopening of schools in the fall, which include alternate-day schooling to minimize the number of students in the city’s already-overcrowded buildings. “Make no mistake,” the district website assures parents: “New York City students will still be learning 5 days a week.” Sure, they will.

But in the struggle to transition to online learning during the 2020 Spring Semester, when lockdowns were quickly put into place and schools shuttered for months on end, many students fell behind, making it necessary to attend virtual summer school, which, unsurprisingly enough, they are also failing. Rachel Forsyth, a director at Good Shepherd Services, a nonprofit helping such students attempt to succeed, said, ““For our students who have already been at the margins of education … education is not really happening.” I’d argue that’s the case for more than just those at the “margins of education.”

Many students blame their lack of achievement in summer school courses on their lack of rapport with teachers they’ve never met before. Teachers will say the same, also citing difficulties with communication and the provided curriculum. Technology issues have further complicated the situation.

The problem with stories like these are that they convince many families that the only way to get back to “real,” “effective” learning is to bring teachers and students back to the classroom. But when COVID-19 safety protocols mandate social distancing, mask wearing, contact tracing, and regular disinfections, one wonders how much time is left for learning, especially on top of the already-existing standardized testing, “character education” disguised as indoctrination, and other nonsensical intrusions into the day.

NYC students already behind in class struggling in virtual summer school