Monday, November 28, 2005

Students miss first Period

The Principal at Oak Ridge High School searched teacher's desks after hours and confiscated copies of the high school newspaper from kids that had gotten one already. Then the kide were ordered to bring them back from home and turn them in as if these pieces of paper were contraband.


Is this what information has become? When did the Taliban take over?

The offending articles involved tattoos and birth control information. Here's what the Director of schools said about the tattoo(from the Oak Ridger newspaper):

"Bailey said the feature about tattoos and body piercing featured a photo of an unnamed student baring a tattoo that her parents didn't know about, and that was the only concern.

"I have a problem with the idea of putting something in the paper that makes us a part of hiding something from the parents,'' he said. "

I simply must point out the stupidity of that statement...mainly because it indicates to me that Director Bailey might have been sleeping through the class on Critical Thinking. If you put it in the is no longer being hidden, I would think. Let me make this easy:

Tattoo...Photograph...Newspaper...DUH!!!...Bull Poopie, Mr. Bailey.

Now the real reason...An article in the student paper had information that was definitely useful to nearly all students...It concerned birth control:

"The article says many Oak Ridge High students may be having sex. It lists success rates of different birth control methods and reports that contraceptives are available from doctors and the local health department. "

And in the American spirit of freedom of information...

..."Administrators late Tuesday searched through teachers' rooms and desks and seized copies, they said. "

Score another one for the forces of ignorance. I mean everybody knows that if you don't tell kids about birth control they won't have sex, right? And schools aren't supposed to give you the knowlege you need for life itself, right? And students don't have first amendment rights anyway, right?

Oak Ridge High School is in Anderson County in Tennessee. It is a good school in most respects. The teen pregnancy rate for Anderson county is about average in the state of Tennessee, and that is not good.If you were to walk into a freshman English class and look around at the girls, you would see about 14 of them. Odds are, one of them will get pregnant before she graduates.

(I checked and that's correct. Do the math. Each year in your county, out of each one hundred teenaged girls, 3.24 of them get pregnant. In the four years of high school that works out to 13 out of a hundred)

Principal Erwin, whatever you are doing now...It's not working. ...Here is some information you should know:

* Three in 10 (27 percent) 13- to 16-year-olds are sexually active.

* 33 percent of teen pregnancies end in abortion

* Three out of four teen births are out of wedlock

* 65 million people in the U.S. have an incurable STD like HPV, HIV and herpes

* 80 percent of mothers who are under 18 years old will raise their children in poverty and will receive $39 billion in government support.

Ignorance doen't seem to be working for us, Principal Erwin. AS an educator, why don't we try a little knowlege? Everyone knows information is the answer. Everyone except for the ignorants among us. And as I am fond of saying,

..."Ignorance is curable...Not so, Stupidity!"

Courage, Pricipal Erwin. The good news is that you are now in the running for the "Barefoot and Pregnant" award.


Here are links to the info...Other Tennessee counties are included. There's tons of info and it aint exactly flattering:

County Data

Knox News article

And as a public service, all the information that was kept from the kids can be found here. (The Scarborough household donates to these fine people):

Planned Parenthood

Update: My dislexic self corrected a few names...Thanks to the the comment from Insider. Check that comment for additional info.


  1. Anonymous9:28 AM

    Steve, I'm no statistics guy, but if most of the 3.24 teenagers getting preggers were 18 or 19 yrs old, as I reasonably assume, your numbers aren't quite so damning. But I agree, sex ed must be early and often.


  2. I understand your take, but I'm not sure I agree. I read an analysis of the data that thinks teen pegnancy is under reported if anything. There are also areas where the younger girls have higher rates than the older ones. This is attributed to more access to birth control, greater awareness etc. but I can't tell about our area from the data they give us.

    I do think the school's role should be as an information provider, only. Moral issues should be left to the parents. The abstinence programs are offensive in some respects and are definite failures. The least you can say about them is that they are a waste of time and resources when presented alone.

    I plan to add Planned Parenthood as a link under do gooder groups.


  3. Anonymous12:16 PM

    I agree with your arguments regarding the censorship that occurred. You should know that the Principal's name is Becky Urvan and the Superintendent is Bailey. He recently hired the new principal and is placed in the position of supporting his new hire.

    Also, the paper is paid for with paid public ads and student funds and not the school. The work is done on school property. It should be moved to private property for more freedom.

    The behind-the-scenes issue here is not censorship, birth control or pregnancy. It is about a new principal with middle school principal experience in a war with the school's faculty that is raging behind the scenes. The paper's faculty sponsor was asked to submit the paper for review to the principal she refused to do so. This is the opportunity for the principal to seize control of the paper.

    This is one of multiple incidents that have occured so far this academic year between the principal and numerous other faculty. One faculty has resigned and left because of her. Others are reported to be planning to leave also. Confirmed sources report this. The community is aware of these issues and concerned.

    Oak Ridge High School is one of the top 5 high schools in TN academically with a who's who alumni. It is not a part of rural Anderson County intellectually. The student's parents largely are employed at the Oak Ridge National Lab.

    The Insider

  4. Anonymous1:51 PM

    Your story and posters have a great attitude when it comes to plan parenthood...another great blog I visit has a story on this, disturbing to know many people out there oppose change and promote ignorance. Its a insert foot in mouth aristocracy siege mentality
    that stifles growth.

  5. Anonymous5:13 PM


  6. Anonymous8:54 PM

    Many moons ago I was the editor of the Oak Leaf at Oak Ridge High School so this story has greatly disappointed me. Who cares about sex details in a newspapaer article when kids can read it all in Seventeen magazine for gosh sakes. Someone needs to tell Oak Ridgers that they are headed down the slippery slope of actually being part of backwards East Tennessee. How did one of the best high schools in Tennesee become a place where the misplaced "christian values" of one mishired principal tromp all over ciritical thinking? Oak Ridgers, do somthing about this.