Kiera Wilmot’s Asterix* | VALID | #TWIBnation

Kiera Wilmot’s Asterix*

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It’s nice to report some good news every once in a while: Kiera Wilmot, the teenage girl who was expelled, arrested, and charged with two felonies in April for conducting an unauthorized science experiment on school grounds, will not face any criminal charges after all, according to a report in the The Orlando Sentinel. Her story went viral within hours of hitting the media, sparking considerable outrage across the country, as well as a national petition that seems to have done its job rather well. But the courts did get their pound of flesh from the young lady, as explained by The Sentinel:

The State Attorney said that it extended “an offer of diversion of prosecution to the child,” typically a probationary program that allows the youngster to perform community service and avoid a criminal record. Kiera and her guardian signed the agreement, it said.

While they’re not calling it as such, it seems as if the court essentially offered her a plea bargain: we’ll drop the charges and give you community service, or you can fight us in the courts where you’ll probably lose. Either way, you’re still getting punished; we will not be denied. C’est la vie, I suppose. At least they gave her a choice, and she clearly made the wise one.

All in all, this is good news for aspiring bomb-throwers curious kids all over the nation, but like so many other things in life, the news does come with an asterix: while Ms. Wilmot no longer faces criminal charges, the expulsion verdict has stuck, and she will no longer be allowed to attend Bartow High School. Instead, she is required to attend classes at an alternative high school in order to complete her degree.

As someone who graduated from one of these so-called ‘alternative’ high schools, I can tell you right now that whatever kind of education she was getting at her current school is going to be halved, if not quartered, from here on out. ‘Alternative’ schools are for the following types of kids: those with severe learning disabilities, those who are too socially/behaviorally disruptive and/or violent to attend regular school, or some combination of both. What they aren’t for is bright, yet incredibly bored and mildly rebellious students who are expelled for minor drug offenses under a zero-tolerance district policy (like myself), or for bright, inquisitive teenagers who are interested in pursuing extracurricular activities and, I don’t know … forgot to ask for permission. Ms. Wilmot will be entering into the heart of darkness, the dark underbelly of our public education system: a place where the teachers are often as apathetic and disillusioned as the students, where the budgets are practically nil and educational ‘packets’ are considered an acceptable substitute for books and lectures, and where expressing a genuine desire to learn just might get your ass kicked.

‘Alternative’ schools are not designed for kids to actually learn anything; they’re de facto institutions designed to shuffle ‘problem’ kids out the back door with something approximating a diploma, so that the district can wash their hands of them. The mentality of these schools is as pervasive as it is pernicious, and I know that my experiences in ‘alternative’ education had a dramatic effect on my desire and ability to learn and grow for years afterward. I sincerely hope that, while the educational system has turned its back on Kiera Wilmot, that she does not turn her back on education itself as a result.

Randle Aubrey

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7 Comments

  1. Awake Black Woman May 16, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    There is some good news on the horizon. Homer Hickman has offered Kiera a scholarship to the Advanced Space Academy, and she has accepted. There is also a fundraising drive also started by Mr. Hickman to raise money for Kayla, Kiera’s twin sister to attend as well:

    https://www.crowdtilt.com/campaigns/kayla-wilmot-space-academy-scholarship

    The main thing I did want to see happen with Kiera was accomplished. She will not have felony charges permanently on her record. The rest of the nonsense levied on her, she will go through, overcome and never look back.

    She has an incredible support system.

    • Arrogant Demon May 16, 2013 at 6:16 pm

      That is great to hear, what turned from being ruined for life becomes a greater opprotunity for Keira and her sister to start a newer life exploring their curiosity.

      Thankfully, Mr Hickman was able to see this though the viral publicity it has gotten, at least it ends on a good note, thanks for bringing this up

  2. Randle Aubrey May 16, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    What wonderful news to wake up to. In a world with so few happy endings, it’s nice to see a story wrap up on such a positive note, albeit it a bittersweet one. Let’s face it: Kiera got lucky, and there are far too many kids that end up in this position who don’t have the same level of support, if any at all. It reminds me of a quote I stumbled across on Facebook this morning, from the scientist Stephen Jay Gould:

    “I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops.”

    We lose a lot of good kids as a result of stuff like this, and it is my sincere hope that Kiera Wilmot’s story brings even a modicum of consciousness to the fact that you can’t judge children (or anyone else, for that matter) by a blanket set of standards. But I’m not betting on it. ;)

  3. rikyrah May 16, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    glad they didn’t get to ruin this child’s life

  4. RobM May 19, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    Thank you for the correct update. Measures have been taken.

  5. Randle Aubrey May 23, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    I just want to offer a bit of an addendum to this article, having to do with a blog post that Ms. Wilmot recently wrote for the ACLU. First things first, the scholarship program she was offered and accepted is only for the summer, and while this is a fantastic opportunity for her indeed, once it’s done she will return back to the ‘alternative’ school that, in her own words, sounds very much like what I’ve described in my article above:

    “Right now I’m at Bill Duncan Opportunity Center, which is for students who were kicked out of school. People are teasing me and calling me a terrorist. And the school is actually quite easy. I’m not getting the challenge that I used to have. I don’t have homework. There is no German class, and there is no orchestra. I probably couldn’t even bring my cello because I was told the students would steal it.”

    This will be Ms. Wilmot’s life until she graduates, IF she graduates. These centers have a way of fostering apathy like a poison among students, and do much to reinforce the school-to-prison pipeline. While she may not actually become a criminal, Ms. Wilmot’s future aspirations are still very much in jeopardy, especially once the lights go out on this story and the rest of us return to the toil of our everyday lives. Her public support system will eventually dry up, leaving only her family to help keep her motivated and on task. Don’t count on the teachers in her school to give a shit; it’s not really their job to do so. They’re little more than zookeepers of the malcontents. Furthermore, the third-rate education and lack of discipline in these establishments will leave her poorly prepared for college, despite a free ride to summer space camp.

    So really, this story doesn’t have a happy ending, even though Ms. Wilmot won’t be considered a felon or even an suspected one. Her coming years will be full of great struggle, and I sincerely hope that she’s able to walk through them with her head held high, and into the bright future she truly deserves.

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