Omaha school district to split along racial lines
April 14, 2006

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — In a move decried by some as state-sponsored segregation, the Legislature voted Thursday to divide the Omaha school system into three districts — one mostly black, one predominantly white and one largely Hispanic.

Supporters said the plan would give minorities control over their own school board and ensure that their children are not shortchanged in favor of white youngsters.

Republican Gov. Dave Heineman signed the measure into law.

Omaha Sen. Pat Bourne decried the bill, saying, “We will go down in history as one of the first states in 20 years to set race relations back.”

“History will not, and should not, judge us kindly,” said Sen. Gwen Howard of Omaha.

Attorney General Jon Bruning sent a letter to one of the measure’s opponents saying that the bill could be in violation of the Constitution’s equal-protection clause and that lawsuits almost certainly will be filed.

But its backers said that at the very least, its passage will force policymakers to negotiate seriously about the future of schools in the Omaha area.

The breakup would not occur until July 2008, leaving time for lawmakers to come up with another idea.

“There is no intent to create segregation,” said Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers, the Legislature’s only black senator and a longtime critic of the school system.

He argued that the district is already segregated, because it no longer buses students for integration and instead requires them to attend their neighborhood school.

Chambers said the schools attended largely by minorities lack the resources and quality teachers provided others in the district. He said the black students he represents in north Omaha would receive a better education if they had more control over their district.

Coming from Chambers, the argument was especially persuasive to the rest of the Legislature, which voted three times this week in favor of the bill before it won final passage on the last day of the session.

Omaha Public Schools Superintendent John Mackiel said the law is unconstitutional and will not stand.

“There simply has never been an anti-city school victory anywhere in this nation,” Mackiel said. “This law will be no exception.”

The 45,000-student Omaha school system is 46 percent white, 31 percent black, 20 percent Hispanic, and 3 percent Asian or American Indian.

Boundaries for the newly created districts would be drawn using current high school attendance areas. That would result in four possible scenarios; in every scenario, two districts would end up with a majority of students who are racial minorities.

School Makes Kids Use Buckets for Toilets
Apr 17

NGLEWOOD, Calif. – A principal trying to prevent walkouts during immigration rallies inadvertently introduced a lockdown so strict that children weren’t allowed to go to the bathroom, and instead had to use buckets in the classroom, an official said.

Worthington Elementary School Principal Angie Marquez imposed the lockdown March 27 as nearly 40,000 students across Southern California left classes that morning to attend immigrants’ rights demonstrations. The lockdown continued into the following morning.

Marquez apparently misread the district handbook and ordered a lockdown designed for nuclear attacks.

Tim Brown, the district’s director of operations, confirmed some students used buckets but said the principal’s order to impose the most severe type of lockdown was an “honest mistake.”

“When there’s a nuclear attack, that’s when buckets are used,” Brown told the Los Angeles Times. The principal “followed procedure. She made a decision to follow the handbook. She just misread it.”

In some cases teachers escorted classmates to regular restroom facilities, students said.

Telephones rang unanswered Monday at Worthington Elementary School because of spring break and messages left for Marquez and Brown at school district headquarters were not returned.

Appalled parents have complained to the school board. Brown said the school district planned to update its emergency preparedness instructions to give more explicit directions.

Parents and community activists asked the school board at its April 5 meeting to explain the principal’s decision. They also sought promises that the lockdown wouldn’t be repeated.

“There was no violence at the protests, so this was based on what?” activist Diane Sambrano asked. “It was unsanitary, unnecessary and absolutely unacceptable.”

Guidelines for Abstinence Curricula from the Administration for Children & Families – scroll down until you find the heading “Additional Guidance Regarding Curriculum Content” and peruse that section… “choosing not to engage in sexual activity until marriage” and “marriage” being defined as “only a legal union between one man and one woman” stick out in my mind as aggravating and contentious terms…

and, for my “friend” , who seems to be taking a goth holiday recently,
Goth Youths Prone to Suicide Attempts and Self-Mutilation
By Jeff Minerd
April 14, 2006

GLASGOW, Scotland, April 14 – The rate of suicide attempts and self-mutilation-is high among those in the Goth youth subculture, researchers here reported.

More than half of 19-year-olds who self-identified as Goth reported self-harming behavior, and nearly half reported a suicide attempt, said Robert Young, a research associate at the University of Glasgow.

But whether participation in Goth culture leads to self-destructive behavior or whether adolescents with those tendencies gravitate to Goth is not clear, Young and colleagues said online today in BMJ, formerly the British Medical Journal.

Goth is a subgenre of punk culture characterized by “a dark and sinister aesthetic, with aficionados conspicuous by their range of distinctive clothing and makeup and tastes in music,” the investigators said. There is a Goth subculture in the U.S., reportedly inspired by fantasy games such as Dungeons and Dragon.

Self-harming behavior is “a maladaptive coping strategy intended to relieve negative emotions such as anger, anxiety, frustration, or guilt,” the investigators said. “It is usually unrelated to an immediate suicide attempt.”

The researchers surveyed 1,258 young people during their final year of primary school (age 11) and again at ages 13, 15, and 19. The study participants were asked about self-harm and identification with a variety of youth subcultures.

The study found that belonging to the Goth subculture was strongly associated with a lifetime prevalence of self harm (53%) and attempted suicide (47%). For comparison, the rate of self-harming behavior among the general youth population in the United Kingdom is 7% to 14%, and the rate of suicide attempts is about 6%, the authors said.

Furthermore, identifying oneself as Goth was associated with a 14-fold increase in risk for self harming behavior (odds ratio=14.16; 95% confidence interval=4.42-45.39) and a 16-fold increase in risk for suicide attempt (OR=16.37; 95% CI=4.93-54.35) compared with non-Goth youth, the study found.

Even after adjusting for other known predictors such as being female, having divorced or separated parents, smoking, drug use, and depression, Goth identification remained the single strongest predictor of self-harm or suicide attempt, the study found.

Some other youth subcultures, such as Punk and Mosher, were also associated with self-harm, but the association was strongest for Goth.

“Although only fairly small numbers of young people identify as belonging to the Goth subculture, rates of self-harm and attempted suicide are very high among this group,” Young said.

“One common suggestion is they may be copying subcultural icons or peers,” he said. “But since our study found that more reported self-harm before, rather than after, becoming a Goth, this suggests that young people with a tendency to self-harm are attracted to the Goth subculture.”

“Rather than posing a risk, it’s also possible that by belonging to this subculture young people are gaining valuable social and emotional support from their peers,” he suggested. “However, the study was based on small numbers and replication is needed to confirm our results.”