Friday, June 19, 2009

My friendly advice to one unfriendly superintendant...

This is what I sent her...

Dear Ms. Lukas,

I am sure that you have received many e-mails of late pertaining to the very unfortunate incidents which surrounded the graduation of the class of 2009. The intent of this note is not to admonish you for what you have done, but to urge you to reconsider your decision and issue and immediate statement of apology to Justin Denney, his family and the entire district for the series of mistakes you have made in denying that young man his diploma.

To say it plainly, you don’t have the right to deny him his education because you weren't the only one to give it to him. My elementary school principal, Joyce Freeman, was fond of saying "it takes a village to raise a child," and she was right. It took Mr. Denney thirteen years of hard work and dedication to reach that moment of graduating from high school (far longer than you've been superintendant, I might add) and because of some foolish sense of pride or vanity you have denied him one of the most triumphant moments in his young life. Public education is bigger than one person. The successes of those students belong to the whole community, and if they make mistakes it is because we have not given them the tools to make good decisions.

However, we both know that Justin didn't make a mistake that day. We both know he was expressing his joy in a moment of triumph. Yes, there were rowdy students--there were antics at my high school graduation, I'm certain there were antics at yours--but the intent of school is not to raise an army of robots. I know for a fact that any silliness that happened at any of the graduations I’ve been in (or to) was just in good fun, an expression of camaraderie and friendship--one last hurrah. Those kids should be entitled to that, and if you embraced their joy instead of fostering their resentment, they would tell stories about you to their grandchildren. They would take that special relationship and spread it around the world and that would be your legacy. You haven't done that--but you still can. Please, I urge you, give the boy his diploma, be the adult here, and let’s put this in the long forgotten past.

Best of luck to you and the class of '09,

Jeb Knight
BEHS class of '02

I've since learned that Justin will get his diploma, thankfully. It's come to my understanding that the atmosphere in my old high school has gone from bad to worse and the administration has decided to blame and punish the students. This, of course, only fosters a greater feeling of resentment between students and educators and worsens an already poor learning environment. I feel for the students who want to excell but are lumped in with the lowest common denominator. I wont pretend to know how to solve it, and I dont hardly expect schools to raise our children for us, but there must be something very wrong for something as innapropriate as this to occur.

No comments: