Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Time for a quick follow-up

If one has already been to my wife's blog, or saw my of a Kool & the Gang video "Celebration," then one can surmise that things went well at the Monday night school board meeting. That is indeed the case. As of this writing, there is no longer mention of hair length or facial hair in the handbook. It's official. The administration and board did the right thing on that issue by backing down. Yes, the thought of actually respecting students' Constitutional rights must have seemed distasteful in this day and age to some at the meeting, but the Constitution prevailed.

Since I know there are some local folks now reading this blog, I wish to give a few shout-outs. To the parents and students who were willing to stand and be counted, whether it was by signing a petition and/or by showing up at Monday's meeting, you have my undying gratitude. The same goes also to those who've expressed support in person, phone or email. It definitely takes a load off to head into a battle for one's kids' rights when there is some solidarity, as opposed to having to stand alone. I'd prepared initially to stand alone if needed once I realized just how important this was for my son - those who know me well enough know that I'd go to whatever lengths necessary to protect his and his sisters' well-being. In recent days, we've made some connections with members of this community that I hope will be long-lasting: there are some incredibly cool parents and kids here.

Since I have gathered that there are some school board and administrators reading this blog these days (when a couple of y'all make reference to the term "culture warriors" which I have only used here, let's just say it's pretty obvious), I have just a couple quick words. First, I wish to allay your concerns that the door has now been opened to an endless array of challenges to any and all rules at the school. That was never the plan. My wife and I have taught our kids that, as a general principle, their job in school is to get decent grades and give the educators and school officials their due respect (those are thankless jobs under the best of circumstances, whether in the k-12 system or in higher education). We've also been inspired by the words and deeds of many (e.g., Socrates, Mohandas Gandhi, Cesar Chavez, etc.) to challenge rules when they are unjust or are enforced unjustly, and have likewise passed that on to our kids. That's all that's going on here.

I gathered from some of the discussion that a few of y'all perceive the community as "divided" and naturally credit those of us who were cast into the role of dissidents as those responsible for all the divisiveness. On the contrary, it was those in authority who overstepped their bounds who bear the burden for whatever dissent was unleashed. Thankfully, the situation has been largely resolved, and there are a fair number of us who are relieved, rather than angry at this point in time. Of course, just some friendly advice, if by "divided" y'all are meaning "there are nonconformists in our midst, and we wish they would all go away" you're in for many years of feeling "divided." This is a small but culturally diverse town (however we wish to define "culture"), as I've mentioned before, and that diversity is not going away but strengthening. There is much to find pride in when looking at the coexisting individuals and groups who sometimes differ in significant ways, but who share in common our humanity.

Remember that pride and discipline make for nice sound-bites. We never really did get solid definitions of those terms. If they're code for conforming to some cookie-cutter image of the ideal White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (with a heavy dose of Calvinism thrown in for good measure), we're never going to agree. Those disagreements thankfully are still trumped by the Constitution and its amendments. One last thing: I realize that the values represented by my palabras Monday night might seem unsavory to a few of y'all, and that's cool. However, openly mocking - as one of you did - my words only serves as a source of amusement to me and my compañeros, and goes to demonstrate my point about the apparent recent lapses in self-restraint (or discipline) on the part of those who are supposed to set a better example. Just sayin'.

As a compañera in the blog world might say: onward!

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