"Just" for CMS

Week of 3/21

A Look Ahead at the Week of 3/28

Well, testing season is upon us. Like it or not, it's here and we are ready. There are some things to be aware of during this time of the year, and I've highlighted them below.

On Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, certain students do not have to report to school until noon (see below). We request that waiver each year so that we can provide our students that are testing with an opportunity to take the STAAR tests in a smaller group. If we didn't have a late arrival for non-testers, we would have fewer teachers to help give the tests and that means larger groups. Since TEA offers this waiver, we try to take advantage of it each year.

Please know that non-testing students do not have to arrive at noon. They can arrive at the regular time. If they choose to do so, they will be required to stay in the gym until testing is over. Buses will only run their normal AM routes. There WILL NOT be a special bus route for those students that come late. Please know that this is not a holiday and that non-testing students are required and expected to come to school. We are able to do this each year because non-testing students are very diligent about coming to school. Please don't jeopardize this opportunity for future testing by not coming to school on those days.

I will send more specific info later this week.

This Friday, 3/25
- Early Dismissal. CMS releases at 12;15
Monday, 3/28 - No School - Bad Weather Make Up Day
Tues, 3/29 - 7th Grade STAAR Writing AND 8th Grade Math
(Because we asked for and received a waiver from TEA, all 6th graders and some 8th grade students that take Algebra do not have to report until noon.)
Wed, 3/30 - 8th grade English STAAR
(Because we asked for and received a waiver from TEA, all 6th and 7th graders do not have to report until noon.)

What is KIK?

More info to help you stay informed about your student's technology.

Kik Messenger, commonly referred to simply as “Kik,” joins Snapchat and Whatsapp as among the biggest and most widely used messaging apps in existence. Also called “chat apps,” messaging apps allow users to exchange text messages, videos, photos and audio messages with other individuals or as part of a group using wifi instead of traditional SMS.

TeenSafe (one of the programs I highlighted a while back) has shown us these kind of apps are wildly with teens and young adults because they can use the app without relying on Mom or Dad for a data plan or, in the case of Kik, even a working phone number.

One third of all young teenagers — 32 percent of 13-14 year olds and 34 percent of 15-17 year olds — use messaging apps, which anyone can download on their phone.

Kik stands out from other mobile messaging apps because its accounts are based on usernames instead of phone numbers, which makes it easy to remain anonymous. It also has a built-in browser, so users can access the Internet and share information without ever leaving the Kik platform.

Users are supposed to be at least 13 years old and have parental permission if they are under 18. But as with all top messaging apps, there is no enforcement mechanism other than the honor system.

Who Uses Kik

As of August 2015, Kik boasts 240 million registered users — up dramatically from 150 million the previous summer.

Unlike the Facebook Messenger, Yahoo Messenger and Skype, which see relatively consistent usage across different age demographics, Kik is wildly popular among young people — and almost no one else.

The concentration among the young is evident in the breakdown of registered users:

  • 27 percent of 13-18 year olds
  • 25 percent of 19-22 year olds
  • 13 percent of 23-29 year olds
  • 8 percent of 30-40 year olds
  • 3 percent of 41-54 year olds

Why Teens Like Kik

KATU News in Portland, Oregon, interviewed students at a local high school in 2015, and when they asked about Kik, here are some of the responses they got:

  • “I love it. It’s actually a lot easier than texting.”
  • “A lot of my friends don’t have phone numbers and in the beginning, I didn’t have a phone number, so it was easy for us to contact each other.”
  • “Just connect to the wifi at your house, and you’re able to text.”

It is absolutely true that millions of average, harmless users find Kik attractive for exactly these reasons — but teens like Kik for reasons that are less innocent, as well.

First of all, Kik is password protected, making it harder for parents to monitor their teen’s communication. Some teens also hide apps like Kik in their clouds, so even vigilant parents can’t see it without legitimate monitoring.

Dangers Teens Face on Kik

It is much easier for predators to establish communication with teens on Kik than it would be if those teens simply used the native text messaging app on their phones.

An adult reporter from the same news organization in Portland opened a Kik account and posed as a 16-year-old girl. Within a short period of time, she was propositioned by older men — sometimes much older men — who began inappropriate conversations even though she made it immediately clear that she was only 16. They asked her to send nude photos. They sent her unsolicited nude photos of themselves. They asked her to “go live” to see each other naked.

When the reporter interviewed students at the high school, the teens were not surprised. They confirmed that they frequently encounter adult content on Kik or are targeted for inappropriate discussions that often lead to requests for pictures.

Among Kik’s most problematic hidden dangers are:

  • Porn Bots: Automated programs that try to disguise themselves as suggestive, personalized messages to trick users into clicking onto porn sites.
  • Chat Now: One of the many apps linked to Kik, which opens doors to users outside of your teen’s trusted circle of friends and contacts on Kik.
  • Anonymity and Selection: A convicted sex offender contacted a news organization to warn them that Kik is a powerful tool for predators. He said that the username-based setup helps predators in two ways. First, it helps them remain anonymous. Second, it lets them look for clues in teens’ usernames regarding personal issues that may leave them vulnerable. Kik also allows users to search for people to chat with by age range.

Hayleigh’s story is a nightmare scenario for parents. She disappeared one day with an ex-con sex offender three times her age who they had no idea she had been talking to online. Fortunately, Hailey and Shook were spotted and authorities were alerted. Shortly after she was returned to her home and family, she gave an interview that seemed to convey that she understands how badly the situation could have ended. Shook is back behind bars facing a litany of charges. She is one of the few stories that turned out to have a happy ending—so many don’t. It’s up to parents to monitor their children with tools like TeenSafe to ensure their child’s safety, both in the real world and online, because, more often than not, teens don’t realize the danger they are in until it’s too late. After all, the whole situation seemed to start harmlessly enough—with just a “hello” on Kik, that her parents never knew was sent.

Here's the plan for the week. Have a great one.

Monday, 3/21
  • My College Monday
  • 1:30pm (girls) and 1:40pm (boys) released for track in Sunnyvale

Tuesday, 3/22

  • 11am - Kona Ice here during lunches

Wednesday, 3/23

  • 8am - Rains County Special Olympics Track Meet
  • 9am - Symphonic Band meets for UIL. Depart after lunch.
  • 2:30 - Drill team to visit 8th grade girls

Thursday, 3/24

  • Spirit Day
  • 7pm - CISD Board of Trustees Meeting

Friday, 3/25
  • Activity Schedule Today
  • 12:15 - Early Dismissal