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Mary Jane for Pain

Discussion in 'Issues Around the World' started by ethics, Jan 28, 2003.

  1. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    13-year-old Veronica Mouser spent months preparing her 8th Grade science project for Ralston Intermediate School in Belmont, California.

    That was literally hour upon hour of researching her topic on the internet, in libraries, and from newspaper articles. Add to that the substantial amount of time she spent in assembling the information and making it presentable and Veronica thought she had a winner.

    <a href="http://www.bayarea.com/mld/mercurynews/news/local/5047263.htm">Not so</a> was essentially the news delivered by Ralston Intermediate principal Deborah Ferguson.

    Ferguson told Mouser that her project would be barred from presentation in the science fair. The reason being that Mousers project was titled Mary Jane for Pain and deals with the medical uses of marijuana. According to Ferguson, all projects must be hands on and marijuana is still considered an illegal substance by federal law.

    Getting over her initial shock at being rejected, Mouser quickly got her Dad to help out and he quickly filed a complaint with the school district. The district is expected to render a decision upholding the banning by Ferguson and the American Civil Liberties Union stands in the wings, ready to support Mousers intentions to file a law suit against the school.

    During her work on the project, Mouser says that she didnt handle or use any weed herself. It involved her monitoring the progress of three cancer patients who were using medicinal marijuana and Mousers visit to an Oakland cannabis club.

    I am pro legalization but the substance if illegal. ACLU, once again, does not have a legal leg to stand on. Or do they?

    Edit: Fixed link
  2. Misu

    Misu Hey, I saw that.

    Is pot illegal for all uses, or just recreational.

    And ethics, are you enrolled on my Bio psychology class??? This is the topic on my next forum submission, due this friday. How'd you know! ;)
  3. Jedi Writer

    Jedi Writer Guest

    Sigh. What should be a simple internal school issue to be resolved without seeing the public light will become a big deal because of special interests, hard-heads, and a ME, ME, ME, and I, I, I, point of view.

    Whether the ACLU has a case or not in this specific matter will be based solely upon what court or judge(s) hears it.
  4. mikeky

    mikeky Member

    I thought marijuana for medicinal uses was legal in CA?
  5. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    I believe it was in and out of court and recently out. I could be wrong. Anyone know 100%?
  6. midranger4

    midranger4 Banned

    What's the problem if the student is not using an illegal substance as part of the presentation?

    I see no problem allowing a presentation based on case studies of people using marijuana for medicinal purposes. Such activity is allowed by law in CA is it not?

    Murder, rape, etc is illegal in ALL forms...is she prohibited from discussing that too?

  7. Stiofan

    Stiofan Master Po

    State law yes, Feds no. But a science fair isn't medical use.
  8. midranger4

    midranger4 Banned


    The student does not propose to posses the substance for demonstrative purposes.

    The school is attempting to mute discussion of the issue in whole.
  9. mikepd

    mikepd Veteran Member

    A discussion of case studies of people using marijuana for medicinal purposes is perfectly fine as far as I'm concerned. Now whether it is allowed under the school project, I can't tell as the link does not work for me. However, school is supposed to be about where you learn the skills for critical analysis, independent thought, desire for knowledge for its own sake and not to be struck down for not meeting some artificial requirement. We wonder why we bemoan the state of schools and the apathy of our children.
  10. Misu

    Misu Hey, I saw that.

    I think it's scary that 1 person could declare what is and is not acceptable in a science fair. But I guess it's one little man's way of exceeding his 'power' over others...

    I wonder, though. Didn't this kid have to present the idea to a teacher first? Most big projects must have the topic approved by the teacher, first. And then as one progresses with their research, you tough base with your teacher to make sure you're doing it right. My science fair project was like that....
  11. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    Ooooh, good question, Misu. I wonder if there's more than meets the article there?
  12. Stiofan

    Stiofan Master Po

    I have no problem with discussion. I couldn't get into the link. I assumed she was going to demostrate it.

    That said, sometimes you just can't do everything you want. There are limits, and in this case the school sets them. Move on and pick another subject. For the parents to sue, is stupid in my book. For every perceived wrong, must there be a lawsuit?
  13. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    Sorry, just fixed link in the original article. :)
  14. yazdzik

    yazdzik Veteran Member

    No, but for every tort, possibly.

    For every impingement upon academic freedom, without question.

    Academia may not allow politics or social convention to influence any facet of her existence. She may have no ties to the community, nor fetters under civil law.

    In short, a school which creates limits to exploration is no school at all, and those who made the decision are anti-intellectual.

    I hope they lose their jobs, licences, and homes. Anyone limiting academic exploration, or making a kid feel as were his research unworthy is evil, and has no more place around the young than a kiddie pornographer.

    A school is by nature a place where the very basis of law and society is questioned on a daily basis.

    That is the difference between a trade school or a seminary, and a university. Bob Jones University is a misnomer. They are a seminary, and a fine one, and the quality of teaching there, as I have seen it, is very high. But they not a university.

    Likewise, the school in question.

    Legal or illegal matters not in the school; every thesis may be explored, as were there no beginning.

    That is a basic difference between open and parochial education. A religious school may demand conformity to a culture, an open or public school may not. A seminary is what it is, a university what it is.

    A catholic school may teach in its health class that sex is unhealthy outside of a realtionship.

    A public school sees all theses as equally valid for exploration, until, by induction, deduction, or scientific demonstration, the thesis is held untenable. Two different kettles of fish, equally nourishing, equally tasty, but not at all the same flavour.

    All good wishes,
  15. Stiofan

    Stiofan Master Po

    Oh Martin, not so melodramatic please.....I feel positively chastened.

    Nothing is stopping this poor, aggrieved child from studying this on her own, you know. But there are rules in our world, even if some feel themselves so special that they don't apply.

    Let's look at her reported attitude.
    Yes, quite the tort, indeed.

    We shall have to disagree on this one, I'm afraid. :)
  16. Coriolis

    Coriolis Bob's your uncle

    From the article: "<i>Veronica did get the approval of her science teacher Mark Jorgensen in December to do the project, Harter said. Jorgensen did not return calls seeking comment.</i>

    It appears that, after the girl had put a fair amount of work into the project, her stepfather decided she should also get the approval of the principle. That's when the shit hit the fan.

    Although I side with the student, and I would support my own kid to the end if they wanted to do a project on this topic, I also sympathize (given what I know about the case, which ain't much) with the position the principle found herself in. It's a touchy topic, and I can just imagine the principle's initial reaction of fear of ensuing headlines, "scandal in the public school, prinicple condones pot smoking". Who in their right mind wouldn't stop to question this. Teachers are not lawyers, and they are not experts on the constitution and 1st ammendment rights -- this is why there are cases against teachers who have forbade students from reading bibles on the bus, because they simply misunderstood what rights are protected.

    Although Martin would have the principle, or teacher, or whomever, lose their jobs over this, I think it might be more constructive to provide better education to our educators on constitutionally protected rights.

    No doubt this could have been handled much better, without it having to end up in the courts. However, again, the article doesn't offer enough information to make such a judgement. Maybe the principle did try to handle it by discussing a compromise that suited the school's policies and protected the child's right to present her chosen topic, and it was the father who got all pigheaded.
  17. Stiofan

    Stiofan Master Po

    No fair bringing common sense into the argument!
  18. yazdzik

    yazdzik Veteran Member

    Dear Friends,

    There appear to be two conflicting postulates.

    Let us presume, for the time being, that both InsAgt and I are both right.

    I am proceeding from the postulate that the schools purpose is education,
    Ins, apparently from the purpose being skills training for entry into the economy.

    The history of education, and its philosophy, in this country may shed some light on the divergence of opinion.

    Let us look at the Jeffersonian ideals, without prejudice. The concept of universal literacy was unheard of at the time of the writing of the constitution, and the world was divided, among other ways, into those who could read and those who could not. There was, of course, by this time, the idea that universal education would produce better citizens, that is, persons who could use critical thinking to make wiser political and social decisions.

    There was little application of this to the crafts, as, before the industrial revolution, handicrafts were taught by apprenticeship. Few wrote Unix programming manuals.

    The drive to universal literacy became a need when industry required for almost all gainful employment at least marginal literacy. Modern society without it is inconceivable. Thus, the concept of free public education, borne before the constitution as a primary vehicle for induction into christianity, became an economic necessity by the mid nineteenth century for employment in a work force.

    Thus, from an historical view, Ins Agt(apparently, and I hope in using his logic as a starting point, I am not putting words in his mouth, as I admire him) , and all those who hold public schooling as primarily a skills training to allow better participation in the economic life of the community has a persuasiveness all its own. There are many judges, particularly on the sixth circuit, who view all rights as basically economic in origin and function, by the way. Thus, the use of the word public education in a non-etymological sense is current and understood by many.

    As a quick sidelight, we can see the atrocious reasoning by modern educators in attempting to teach perceptual mathematics. In the skills model, the school must teach the multiplication table, as eventually, one must know how many things are in another, or how to derive 6.5% tax on a purchase of $X. In the socratic, or critical thinking model, one must memorise the table to observe the behaviour of integers to provide the postulate for mathematical reasoning. Note, both models require much rote learning. The hypocrisy model, the one we have today, is that, political correctness requiring all children being equally smart, those who cannot memorise the table will be given perceptual help, and those that can will not gain advantages by being able to think more clearly.
    It is ironic that our current model offends both those who want skills taught for employment, and those who believe in education as the liberation of critical thinking, while providing minimum benefit to all.

    Let us then see that in a world where the vast masses were not even literate, and the elite read Plato and Cicero as easily as a blue collar worker of today the Post, that a Bill of Rights, protecting the reasonable flow of government from the mad passion of the mob was necessary in a world of such extremes of level of education.

    We could theorise that the modern construction of education derives not from desire for excellence at all, but from the democratisation of universal literacy, leading to universal suffrage. Let us suppose then, that the primary need of education is social and economic, rather than spiritual. There are reasons for this as well. No one denies that at least a modicum of physical comfort is a necessary component of happiness for most people. The function of schooling must, as a matter of sheer logic, be to provide at least the ability to earn a decent living.

    Therein lies the initial conflict, as that which will allow the most people to function the best in an industrial society is not that which will probably result in the deepest critical thinking.

    A simple example: I teach my kids that teachers and principals are not authorities, but fellows on a quest for self-knowledge. They are not like bosses at work, and the function of the student is to question each and every word the teacher says. Now, neither child would do well in a public school setting for long. My daughter is, in fact, in private school, and will have to stay there. Fortunately, she is bright enough so to do without any financial help from us. My son is just, in third grade, beginning to see that his school, a public elementary school, is no place for him. His current teacher is great, but the principal herself sees her school as a way to get yuppy kids into good colleges and good jobs, i e, induction into political and social conformity to achieve success. We do not get along at all. She wonders what kind of a father does not care if his kid gets a job, and I wonder what kind of a principal worries about a kid in the 99th percentile. Or as InsAgt would say, he is above the rules. In a privileged world, such as the end of the eighteenth century, it was so. Domhains agrarian world had plenty of place for intellectuals, whose only job was to think.

    One of the purposes, avowed or not, of the public schools is to inculcate a conformist attitude toward work, rules, bosses, and so forth. Not consistent with a liberal education, but so, nonetheless.

    Look at law - lawyers of the early years of America were paid to think. Now, observe any courtroom; they are paid to perform. Different systems entirely.

    Would a Jefferson, Madison, or Marshall be useful in todays politics, or courtrooms?

    The exegesis of the older, renaissance philosophy of education was about preparing those of intellectual ability to think. It seems strange to us now, but there was no economic purpose, even to natural philosophy(what we now, inaptly, call science). There was a belief that self-knowledge, gained through exploration of the inner world of man, and the outer world of nature, was the primary component of human happiness, and its achievement through spiritual discipline was a pursuit worth the effort.

    Of course, the economics were different, and, as the church, more than anyone, supported learning, to create a class of educated priests, who could use learning to inspire faith, there became a disjoining of academe from mundane. It is this conflict we are observing, here and now.

    If the purpose of the school is skills training, then the science fair has naught to do with scire, but applied science. The scots call it worthwhile tinkering.

    If the purpose of school is education, then the tenets of academic freedom, to wit the challenge of each and every thesis, apply, irrespective of social law.

    We can see a silly, but clear and simple difference between postulate and thesis in the difference between courtroom and law school. A prosecutor must not prove murder wrong, it is postulated at the trial that it is illegal, and the trier of facts may not approach the postulate. The statute creates an action, a movement in the physical world. In law school, murder is wrong, or asocial, or evil, or somehow bad, is a thesis, to be argued from all sides. It cannot be presumed, that because social convention says 2*2=4, that it is so.

    Thus, both systems require the raw material, the multiplication table, or murder violates statute. One as a tool for work, the other as a tool for thought. For a cashier to question the calcule limits of sales tax application in a fractions based system is, even in California, impractical, although the ninth circuit will probably require it at some point. For a student in a educational institute, after memorising the table, the first question must be, Why do integers behave this way?

    Therefore, I praise and admire the girl. It is her job to question, it is the purpose of school to question, and never to accept, because someone said so. One of the greatest assets of GA is the ability of someone like Moore to deflate anything with a simple fact that was overlooked. Thus, we all learn.

    The simple sentence of ins agt about common sense led me to rethink my own postulate about what public schools are supposed to do.

    Now I am left not with a postulate, to wit, they are supposed to educate, but a question: is education the function of public schools?

    I believe that it ought to be felonious to allow a class of more than fifteen, and that before any other government function, education ought to be funded, at any cost whatsoever. That belief is no more reasonable than that of the moslem demanding submission to the will of allah. These are philosophical musings based upon the attican questions, why do we suffer, what is happiness, why are we here. However, without asking these questions, the seeking of economic well-being may in itself be chimerical, both as to content and achievement. It is, therefore, regardless of belief in the practicality of education rather than job training, necessary to educate at least some, or social order will have no foundation, and society will dissolve into a chaos of selfishness. Therein is the danger of skills based schooling.

    We must choose whether we can live with this danger, whether real education is worth its enormous cost, and, finally, if there is any purpose to spiritual betterment and the attainment of happiness.

    In short, without the basis for happiness founded in an educational system based upon philosophical principles, even if training were efficacious in producing economic benefit, that benefit would lead, untrained by spiritual discipline, to social collapse.

    Thus, the girls passion for debate is the sole purpose of real education, and to deny real education under the pretext of the common sense application of social rules , whether or not lawful statute, will eventually, ultimately, and inexorably lead to the foreordained dissolution of the society those very rules were intended to cohere.

    All good wishes,
  19. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    God, I love threads like this! :)
  20. yazdzik

    yazdzik Veteran Member

    Where is Moore when we need him?

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