Schoolmates describe Joe as an impressionable 15-year-old New York kid with a heightened sense of social justice. So nobody was surprised at his yesterday's attempt to take his own life. "We live in the worst country of the world, ever!" says Joe's best friend Michael. "We kill, steal, enslave, and torture everybody! The ozone hole is growing and the rainforest is dwindling. If we don't suffocate and die of skin cancer by the age of thirty, global warming will finish us up anyway. The Western civilization did it, man. There's no point in anything anymore. When I come home from school I often want to kill myself too. I once tried to eat some deadly pills in my mom's medicine cabinet like I saw in a movie, but I couldn't read the labels."
Joel Klein, Schools Chancellor: "We prepare our children for puberty years in advance. So it's not school that causes stress and depression in our kids."
Untreated depression and academic stress admittedly remain to be the leading causes in high school suicides. "I don't understand where the stress is coming from," says Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein . "Our students are no longer required to do any homework; we've already stripped the curriculum of any frills. There's nothing left except social awareness programs. The students are being taught at an early age how to protect themselves from sexual molestation, pregnancy, AIDS, how to sue their abusive parents, and not be afraid to experiment with their same-sex friends. Everyone is prepared for puberty years in advance. So it's hardly school that causes stress and depression in our kids. I think we should take a closer look at their social environment, and where our country is headed under the Bush administration."
"Joe has a heart of gold," the boy's mother told our correspondent. "He once cried all night after the teacher told him that human activities have caused the extinction of tens of thousands of species. He refuses to celebrate Columbus Day because the man stole land from the poor Indians. He feels guilty just about everything - that he's white, male, heterosexual, and has an Anglo-Saxon name. He wanted to change his name to Wafa Idris, the first Palestinian female suicide bomber , but couldn't find Palestine on the map and gave up in frustration. If I supported his decision, maybe he'd have a little more confidence in life now. He's so inept."
"This kid is a dumbass!" complains Joe's father. "I'm busting my ass at the union picketing rallies all days, so I was hoping at least school would teach him something useful. But he can't even tie a noose! What kind of teachers are they anyway? Don't they have a union or something?"
UFT President Randi Weingarten and PSC President Barbara Bowen. Says Weingarten: "Funding is the answer to all life's problems. That and the return of the old Board of Ed. But funding first."
"Blame the lack of funding," says teachers-union president Randi Weingarten. "The only source of stress in education that I can see is the lack of funding. We're not going to teach the kids anything unless there's enough funding.
"Only a heartless person would disagree that we need a safety net for future young adults like Joe, who can't do even basic tasks," a prominent New York Democratic Senator Chuck Shumer summed up Joe's suicide story. "We can't afford to eliminate any of the welfare programs. In fact, we need more! But how can we sustain a growing population of people like Joe, if Bush keeps cutting taxes? It's a humanitarian disaster of cosmic proportions waiting to happen."
But the future for Joe may not be so bleak, after all. "We admit students to Brooklyn College School of Education based on their sense of social justice rather than skills and intellect," says Professor Deborah Shanley. "Even if his grades aren't great, a conscientious student like Joe will easily beat selfish overachievers who care mostly about their own grades. It's a lesson of social justice for everyone involved. We believe that an education centered on social justice prepares the highest quality of teachers. Joe is perfect material for our program and we hope he will make an excellent teacher who will actively shape our social, cultural, and political future.
GRIEVING MOMWhat a disgusting picture you have on your site...There are many parents who have lost their children by hanging to suicide...I hope you have the "cujones" to remove this offensive picture!!
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