Penalty Flag: So much for “rally ’round the flag”; at Dutch high school Groene Hart, displaying the national pennant is a punishable offense. In an effort to prevent discrimination and bad behavior, administrators have forbidden any symbol that identifies a specific group, the Telegraaf reports, and students can be expelled if they show up with the flag on their clothing or backpacks. A second school also has enacted a ban because the emblem could offend students of other nationalities. Local parents have widely criticized the action, but Groene Hart stands by its decision. “Everything happens at school after serious discussion only, and ‘ban’ is a big word,” a representative said.
Bye-Bye Beauty: Bouquets and tiaras may no longer have a place in Chinese schools. Education authorities recently banned all student beauty pageants, asking schools to focus instead on “healthy and invigorating” activities, according to the Agence France-Presse. “Such contests were sometimes sponsored by a small number of students who had misunderstandings in aesthetic judgment,” a Ministry of Education spokesman said. “We should positively guide students to improve their taste.” Although beauty contests were banned nationwide until 2004, citizens secretly conducted the popular competitions and more recently crowned Miss Ugly and Miss Plastic Surgery, among others.
Tag Team: Supervisors at a Swansea school are alarmed—literally— about being short-staffed. According to the Western Mail, Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Lonlas Primary School may soon require its 350 students to wear electronic tags, which would trigger an alarm if they left the premises. Head teacher Dyfrig Elis said he talked with a Dutch company about developing the sensors because the school didn’t have enough assistants to monitor the children at lunch time, as required by law. “On one hand, the tagging system does appear extreme,” Elis said, “but I believe that it’s an option I have to consider when the safety of pupils is in question.”
Covert Operations: Gloria Ng didn’t smile for the cameras in her classroom because she didn’t know they were there. The Herald Sun reports that a video surveillance system, installed to discourage vandalism and theft, caught the teacher failing to control unruly students. She was subsequently dismissed for incompetence from Box Hill Senior Secondary College. Ng said the cameras made her feel like a criminal, but her former students told the newspaper they approved of the observation. And though national education department guidelines forbid employing surveillance cameras to monitor teacher performance, principal Wayne Craig said his use of the footage was “unusual but appropriate.” “My job is to make sure kids have an environment that is conducive to study and is safe,” he added. “The video part shows that just wasn’t the case.”
A version of this article appeared in the May 01, 2005 edition of Teacher as Dispatches