Tuesday, November 08, 2005

If I, were the king, of the forrrrest!

If I were in a position of leadership in District 186 - a position that I neither aspire to or am qualified for but why should that keep me from piping up - here is the statement that I would have released to the media upon announcing the expulsion of 13 students for their role in a gang-related fight outside of Lanphier High School:

Lanphier
High School
will not allow disruptive students to poison the academic environment of our school or jeopardize the academic progress of our students, the majority of whom come to school each day with the desire to learn. Every effort will be made to impress upon these expelled students the importance of education to their future. If and when we are satisfied that they understand and are ready to abide by the rules set forth for every student, they will be allowed to return after fulfilling the requirements set forth in their punishment. Until that time, our teachers will continue to focus on teaching, our students will continue to focus on learning, and anyone else who would see fit to disrupt the vital pursuit of education with their barbaric behavior will expelled as well.

I would think that most parents of LHS students would be comforted by these words amid fears that their children’s school is turning into a cross between the Jerry Springer Show and Girlz N the Hood. They would be reassured that their child’s pursuit of an education isn’t being impeded to ensure that no delinquent gets left behind. And they would know that the school’s leaders have their children’s best interests at heart.

Instead, we get this from Superintendent Rutledge as reported in today's SJ-R: “It was a very sad day for us. We are not proud of that kind of thing.”

It’s a compassionate statement to be sure, and I don’t doubt her sincerity. However it’s incredibly weak-kneed and if the threat of an expulsion is going to serve in anyway as a deterrent then it should not be conveyed publicly that such things are entered into reluctantly and with a heavy heart.
Kids sense weakness and are quite adept at exploiting the wishy-washiness of their elders. There are times when being a bit ironhanded is the proper way to go. In other words, when dealing with street fighters, it’s better to sound a little more like Judge Roy Bean and little less like Oprah.

What’s even more troubling is that one school board member was given to wringing her hands over the situation, wondering if the school’s new curriculum might be to blame for these secondary school insurgents turning their backs on scholarship in favor of brawling. An increased emphasis on math, writing, and science has reduced the opportunities for electives and this, she concludes, could be causing students to lose interest in school and “act out.” Euclid, Shakespeare, and Newton aren’t to blame for anti-social behavior, more visual arts classes aren’t going to solve gang problems, and displacing blame only serves to exasperate the ordeal.

Age 14 is much too young to write-off a person’s future, and I don’t expect that District 186 will do so. But it isn’t too young for them to get the message that they need school more than school needs them. Statistics show that not finishing high school is a one way ticket to a life of poverty (Andrew Carnegie aside) with all of the pain and suffering that goes with it. It's a lesson every student should be made to learn.

1 comment:

Monkey Boy said...

I am not sure if you know this but someone I know forwarded this blog to the District 186 office.

Thanks for all that you do.

Your blogs help to fight ignorance and injustice. You are kind of a "superhero" in a non-muscular, out in the open sort of way.

Carry on fearless one! and watch the papers for your sign to spring into action.