Friday, March 17, 2006

The Miami-Dade School Board: A 98-Pound Weakling?

Florida sure has been involved in a number of EduControversies lately. In the latest, the school board down in Miami has declined to stand-up to an electronic Bully:
The Miami-Dade School Board unanimously approved a watered-down resolution against Bully, a soon-to-be-released video game that allows players to beat classmates.

''It's violence of the worst kind,'' said board member Frank BolaƱos, who sponsored the resolution.

The original language urged local retailers not to sell the game and parents not to buy it, but amendments weakened the impact. The approved version, which passed shortly after 2 p.m. today, urged retailers not to sell Bully to minors and directed the district to inform parents ``on the potential harmful effects to children of playing interactive video games containing violence.''

The game's producer, Rockstar, has released little information about Bully -- secrecy that typically surrounds unreleased games. But the controversy around Bully has been boosted because Rockstar also created the ultra-popular and ultra-violent Grand Theft Auto games.

Both the current and immediate past presidents of the Dade County Council PTA/PTSA endorsed the resolution. The board's non-voting student advisor, Arielle Maffei, opposed the bill, as did one of her classmates, who said he and his friends are top students, active in clubs and community service and also avid gamers.

''We have never hurt other students,'' said Alexander Robel, a senior at MAST Academy on Virginia Key, comparing the resolution to censorship of sometimes-controversial novels such as Catcher in the Rye. ``It is no surprise to me that the school board in my very own county would fall into the trap of pointing fingers and assigning blame.''
I find it puzzling that the Miami-Dade Board of Education didn't have the guts to stand-up to an electronic bully and call the "game" what it is: Trash. They would have been better-off to say nothing rather than adopting a measure more suited for the proverbial 98 pound weakling getting sand kicked into his face down at the beach.

I'm even more puzzled by the fact that any parent would buy such trash for their children.
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