Tech Industry Stands With Ahmed - InformationWeek

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9/16/2015
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Tech Industry Stands With Ahmed

The Texas student detained for bringing a homemade clock to his high school has won the support of technology and political leaders.

NASA's New Horizons Transmits New Pluto, Charon Images
NASA's New Horizons Transmits New Pluto, Charon Images
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Technology industry executives and President Obama made it clear that they don't support the arrest of a Texas teen for tinkering, an activity they view as key to improving science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.

On Monday, Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old Muslim student at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas, was detained for bringing a "suspicious-looking device" to school.

The suspicious-looking device turned out to be a science project: A handmade digital clock. According to local ABC affiliate WFAA, the Dallas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said Ahmed was arrested because of his religious and racial identity.

(Image: Irving Police Department)

(Image: Irving Police Department)

A letter sent out on Tuesday by Principal Dan Cummings acknowledged the arrest and, despite finding no cause for alarm, cautioned parents to review school policies. "We will always take necessary precautions to protect our students," wrote Cummings.

Such protection amounts to guns at institutions of higher education. Over the summer, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott expanded local gun laws to allow concealed handguns on college campuses.

The clock did not, as school officials initially feared, explode. But social media did.

A press conference was held by the school district and the Irving Police Department to justify their actions. Afterward, President Barack Obama, via Twitter, invited the Texas student, since released, to Washington. "Cool clock, Ahmed," President Obama said in a tweet. "Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It's what makes America great."

NASA added its voice, tweeting that it supports STEM education and kids like Ahmed.

[ See what happens when technology meets forest fires. Read Using Data To Fight Wildfires: An Inside Look. ]

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, the world's largest social media network, condemned the arrest. "Having the skill and ambition to build something cool should lead to applause, not arrest," he wrote in a Facebook post. "The future belongs to people like Ahmed."

Zuckerberg added that if Mohamed ever wants to stop by Facebook, he'd be happy to meet.

Box CEO Aaron Levie chimed in with an invitation to visit his company. And many others, like Anil Dash, an early supporter of Ahmed's cause, voiced similar expressions of support.

Hillary Clinton, Democratic candidate for president, in a tweet said, "Assumptions and fear don't keep us safe -- they hold us back. Ahmed, stay curious and keep building."

The Irving Independent School District acknowledged the arrest on its website but offered few details, citing privacy laws. On Wednesday, the district said it felt media reports were unfair. The district said it will provide further information to the media if the family consents.

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful ... View Full Bio

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mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
9/24/2015 | 11:18:45 PM
Re: Wild Wild West
@SachinEE I couldn't agree with you more. They (the Supreme Court and Congress) should reinterpret the 2nd amendment all together actually.
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
9/24/2015 | 1:03:44 PM
Re: If Secret Service OKs Ahmed, maybe, Irving School officials should

@tjgkg I am surprised to hear that Ahmed was going to show the clock to his science teacher for appreciation. I am confused here that what kind of teacher was that who cannot differentiate between a clock and a bomb. I am still confused?

nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
9/24/2015 | 1:00:53 PM
Re: If Secret Service OKs Ahmed, maybe, Irving School officials should

@Nasimson true but you can feel the fear  at every place. A simple clock can turn the tables and an innocent boy is compared to being a terrorist because of his name. Whatever the cover story US is doing, the news has already done the damage. I am sure its only because of the protection of community but the you can feel the mental state of the community after these incidents. I think it will take much longer to recover than initially anticipated. What do you say?

SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
9/24/2015 | 10:35:44 AM
Re: Wild Wild West
I wish there was gun control in US. If certain things can kill, they should impose heavy taxes and laws on it. 
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
9/22/2015 | 9:29:28 AM
Re: If Secret Service OKs Ahmed, maybe, Irving School officials should
My point is that we have already done this, it's not a matter of Ahmed being the first to suffer from these zero tolerance rules he's just the latest that has made the national news.  I can't send my kids to school with a cough drop in their pocket,  I can't send a plastic knife in their lunchbox, if they chew a pop tart into a shape that someone somewhere might think remotely looks like a gun or write a story about shooting a dinosaur they can be suspended (all reasons other kids have been suspended from public schools).  This isn't a profiling issue, it is a lack of common sense decision making that has been removed from public schools.  A teacher who was unaware of the conversation between Ahmed and another teacher saw the clock and worried about what it might be.  At that point there was no turning back, zero tolerance trumps any rational thinking.  We ask students to be creative inside a very specific set of guidelines, there will always be kids who fall outside of those lines so until we rethink the removal of decision making from teachers and school staff we're going to keep having this problem.   
impactnow
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impactnow,
User Rank: Author
9/21/2015 | 2:03:03 PM
Re: If Secret Service OKs Ahmed, maybe, Irving School officials should

I completely understand that as Americans are on edge because of the events of the past but profiling a student without just cause and accusing them of a malicious act with no evidence is unconscionable. At the very least tis student deserves an apology from the entire district. If we encourage this type of behavior we will frighten any student from trying anything. We are already creating such limited boxes for our students that make creativity difficult. Issues such as this only exacerbate the educational challenges we face.

mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
9/21/2015 | 2:00:23 PM
Wild Wild West
Texas Gov... expanded local gun laws to allow concealed handguns on college campuses.
I wonder how many years that law is taking us back. More than a hundred for sure.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
9/21/2015 | 8:31:28 AM
Re: If Secret Service OKs Ahmed, maybe, Irving School officials should
I don't think the school had any idea that he was going to pass any secret service background checks when they suspended him.  I think from the angle of what the kid was more likely to do, the first thing he said he was going to do was transfer schools.  A kid with a lot of friends doesn't jump at the chance to leave them when something like this happens.  I get the feeling the kid is a little nerdy, has few friends and feels like a bit of an outsider.  As for the school's reaction, this really doesn't surprise me, kids are being suspended and police called in for fingers shaped like guns, sticks pointed at other kids and plastic ware knives. This isn't a school vs clock building nerds issue this is a good example of why zero tolerance rules that schools have adopted are setup to fail.
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
9/19/2015 | 2:01:11 PM
Re: Great, but...
Yes schools are under seige. There are all sorts of Federal and State regulations with regard to security at schools that make them almost repressive thanks to all the incidents over the last 20 years. But as i have written before there should be some room for common sense here. Perhaps arrangements could have been made before hand to find out what was being created and even inspecting it before it was brought to school. But people reacted heavy handed first which is a shame. Kids can't be kids anymore.
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
9/19/2015 | 1:57:48 PM
Re: If Secret Service OKs Ahmed, maybe, Irving School officials should
Very well said. Mistakes are going to be made-and that is what they are mistakes. The school environment is very much on edge because of shootings and other horrible events so they tend to make strict laws that do not make provisions for investigating first. That however does not excuse the fact that the teachers should have known that Ahmed was a gifted engineer and that this kind of product would have been produced by someone like him. Perhaps they should have given him the benefit of the doubt.
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