Thursday, February 28

And While We're At It, Let's Give Principals The Right To Fire Bad Students.

FURTHER proof, where none is needed, that whoever writes Steve Jobs' speeches has never met an actual public school principal:
Franklin school: Student has right sit during pledge

By Amy Bartner

February 27, 2008
Franklin school officials had a quick reply Tuesday for a student who sued over his right not to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance: You’re right.
Administrators in the Johnson County school district said they already had started to resolve the complaint from the 17-year-old, who said he was wrongly given detention after refusing to stand in class for the pledge.
“Our attorney addressed it and basically indicated that the student was correct and the school administration had erred,” said Franklin School Superintendent William Patterson.

Our Story: In 2005 the World's Third-Worst State Legislature™ (Motto: Louisiana Is "Reforming", It's Time To Move Up!), out of a spasm of patriotic fervor/concern over dwindling military enlistments/fear that Kansas was becoming an innovator in Making High School Students Do Stupid Shit, enshrines as a legal right every Hoosier students' daily opportunity to say the Plejullejence and observe a moment of silence which may or may not include, without institutional interference,  an invocation to the Higher Power or Powers of his or her choice to smite that smirk off Jaime Reynolds' face Once and For All, amen.   The Legislature also provides the funding to put a fire-retardant flag in every classroom, lest students start twirling like Dervishes looking for the thing and accidentally adopt a new religion. This was the last time the Legislature actually anticipated a problem before it created it, and also the last time it funded an educational initiative.

Cut to: Franklin (IN) Community High School ("Home of the Grizzly Cubs"), 2008, and a week very much like the last one, where a student known to the legal system only as "J.L." refuses to stand for this and is reprimanded by Teacher. (According to the lawsuit, when pressed for his legal justification in ordering the student to stand, Teacher replied "because I said so." It's left unclear whether he realized he was quoting Charles Evans Hughes, though for education's sake we hope so.)  When the same aberrant behavior resurfaces the following week, and spreads like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus to another lad, Teacher sends both to the school office.

(By the way, this reminds me of my own response when, in my junior year, facing an ever-increasing average length of student hair, my own high school ["Home of the Americanism Club"] instituted a weekly Plejullejence. It took place Fridays, third period, when my best friend and I had a study hall in the cafeteria. We took to grabbing one of the small tables along the wall, the one, not coincidentally, right under Old Glory. Then at the appointed PA system cackle we'd stand up, hands on hearts, and face the other 250 kids in the place while craning our necks like we were looking for the thing. Did that for a full year. I guess kids today favor the more direct approach.)

Here Our Story begins to be enclouded in murk, a situation familiar to regular readers of the Indianapolis Racist Star as well as anyone who's ever listened to the public pronouncements of a school district spokesman who has discovered a prominent, if metaphorical, portion of his anatomy caught in the proverbial wringer. "J.L.'s" lawsuit says an (unnamed) assistant principal ordered him to serve an hour of after-school detention. Principal Craig McCaffrey says the school had not planned to take any action, but was unable to notify the two students before the suit was filed.  (Couldn't find them, presumably.)

Principal McCaffrey also claimed that the students were not punished for refusing to stand for the pledge, but were merely asked to conduct their own legal research to prove they should be allowed to remain seated.

(The lawsuit, by the way, puts it, to use the legal term, slightly fucking differently; it claims that "J.L." presented the Unnamed Assistant principal evidence of his right to remained seated under Indiana Code 20-30-5-.05 and -4.5, and was informed by Mr. Anonymous that the school was "expanding the Indiana Code".)

McCaffrey told the Racist Star “We were in the process of solving the problem. There wasn’t enough time between Friday and Monday. Part of what the ACLU does is protect people’s civil liberties, but I think that’s my job as an educator.”

Really?  When are you starting your job?  

So, "protecting civil liberties" is part of your job, but a passing familiarity with the laws affecting student behavior, a reasonable grasp of the Constitution of the United States, not operating a public trust without resort to cheap intimidation, and getting your fucking story straight before talking to the newspaper, aren't?

Or finding time to Google Indiana state law, for that matter?

It's 20-fucking-08, bub. This sort of thing has been news at least since the "flag salute" cases of the 1940s, and the underlying Constitutional principles have been a hot-button issue in public education since the school prayer decisions of 1962 and 1963, or in other words, longer than you've been using oxygen and long enough that you might be expected to have a passing familiarity with it even if that weren't your job. Not to mention the fact that that goddam 2005 law was all over the local media at the time, as was its intention. It seems to me that students shouldn't be allowed to graduate from your institution without understanding the principles involved, or maybe even be promoted to it, let alone run the place. The World's Third-Worst State Legislature™ was savvy enough to understand it, and it's pretty clear at least half of them couldn't meet your graduation requirements.

So let's just face facts here, and then let's toss what's left in the circular file. First, you've got an enrollment of around 1400, situated in what in my day was an hour's athletic bus ride across amber fields of corn and soybeans but is now nearly edging Indianapolis' suburban sprawl. (Back in the day your cross-country course included a one-man footbridge over a dry creekbed, where, in 1969, I told my first and only Chappaquiddick joke, then blew past the guy in front of me when he started laughing. Always the fierce competitor.) The population, both town and school, is 97% white. Which, give or take a couple points, is the siren's call of all that development headed your way.

We feel justified in assuming, based on size, homogeneity, and recent scientific discoveries on the effects of inbreeding, that it was not very long after the initial incident--reported in the suit as occurring on the Friday of two weeks ago--before the whole place knew about it, meaning you should have, too. The next episode is the Tuesday after that, or immediately following the three-day Presidents' Day weekend. It's beyond our measure of charity to assume you hadn't heard about it once it escalated. Then, according to the suit and depending on which story one believes (yours is not exactly sparking confidence at this point) the student quotes relevant Indiana law, either in self-defense or as an "assignment", and is either rebuffed or ignored. We know this because the ACLU filed suit the following Friday, which despite popular fable, Country and Western song lore, and history lessons originating from talk radio, they don't do without first making a good-faith effort to resolve things. You ignored them, or blew them off, or maybe you explained Because I Said So, or Vice-Principal Anonymous told 'em you were expanding the Code. And no doubt more than once.

So let's shitcan (hey, it's Free Speech; treat it as a Learning Experience) this "no time between Friday and Monday to straighten things out" routine. The suit was filed on Friday, and by then you'd had a minimum of three days to read the straightforward English of the law and respond as a good citizen should have, although a really good citizen might have understood the laws he's responsible for overseeing in the first place.   And now that taxpayers have to pay to respond to a lawsuit that could have been avoided had you a) known the law; b) bothered to look up the law; or c) not operated like a small-town bully, you claim time constraints?  

Anything to add, Mr. McCaffrey?
McCaffrey said the students — along with administrators — learned something from the situation.

“Any type of process that can be a learning process is good,” he said. “I’m proud of the kids, and I think they did a good job.”

Now on to making that mulatto kid prove he's entitled to eat lunch with the white folks.  His research was due yesterday.


heydave said...

And while you continue backing in the glow of your great state, may I point out that during this week's homage to all things conservative by NPR (like that will cause me to rethink the ill feelings behind my pledge withdrawal to only those stations that play jazz) the listening audience was graced by the types of some religious freak in the south, Glenn Fucking Beck, and your own Mitch Daniels.

Notoriety not to be pursued.

heydave said...

uh, basking... of course was meant

Anonymous said...

You know, I think we're roughly the same age (if not--well, let's just say I'm nearing ancient), I grew up in neighboring Illinois (but not Chicago), and I don't remember saying the Pledge in school after about sixth grade.

Scott C. said...

Ah, I should have known -- a fellow cross-country veteran. Let's hear it for the sport of oddballs, loners, and smart-mouths who, if they can't outrun a bully in short spurts, can at least outlast him over difficult terrain.

Grace Nearing said...

According to the lawsuit, when pressed for his legal justification in ordering the student to stand, Teacher replied "because I said so."

So the theory of the unitary executive trickles down to school teachers.

coldH2O said...

I agree with anon. I don't remember it past 6th up here in northern Wisco. I find the whole pledge thing just, well, do w'ach ya wanna.

Brendan said...


I, too, am no longer an NPR contributor, and one of my reasons for ceasing was just what you said.

I can't even bear to listen to their news anymore.

heydave said...

Have you noticed the NPR reporters now seem committed to being cute? More sound effects than a cheesy sitcom, ludicrous gotcha-type questions, and just some serious fucking DUMB out there.

FYI, KCCK out of Cedar Rapids, IA and KKJZ out of Long Beach, CA both broadcast jazz all day and stream online. Those are my "member stations" now.

LittlePig said...

I, too, am no longer an NPR contributor, and one of my reasons for ceasing was just what you said.

Same here. I used to kick in a pretty good chunk of change, but as of a couple (coming up on three) years ago I stopped. It's just too damn pathetic. And about every time I start to rethink it, there is crap like Wednesday when Grover "Red In Tooth And Claw" Norquist was bitching about having to pay for government services received. Did the interlocutor bother to point out to Mr. Norquist that back during the six years they ran the joint spending went up, not down. Oh, heavens no! That might get into precious Republican talking point time.

I'll be damned if I will subsidize that.

And the really stupid thing about the new NPR devotion to faux equivalency is that people like Norquist WANT TO DO AWAY WITH THINGS LIKE NPR. Those evil folks aren't ever going to kick in to NPR, ever. Ain't gonna happen, period, end of story. NPR News has become a very sad joke.

Brendan said...


And the really stupid thing about the new NPR devotion to faux equivalency is that people like Norquist WANT TO DO AWAY WITH THINGS LIKE NPR.

Exactly. I have long suspected that NPR, like other members of the MSM, has a very thin skin regarding accusations of being part of the "liberal media." I think it is obvious that they take such nonsense way too seriously, frequently adjust their coverage, tone, and slate of guests accordingly, and all the while, fail to realize that no matter what they do, they'll never lose the label that the wingnuts love to apply. They could have twenty-three hours and fifty-nine minutes of fawning over Jonah Goldberg, and it'd be the last minute that would provoke endless howling about "bias."

They should just stand up and do the best job they can, and not worry about something they can't control. Instead, they fill their newscasts with disingenous coverage of Republican machinations, uncritical assessments of fundamentalist religious types, and frequent appearances by non-credible attack dogs.


Have you noticed the NPR reporters now seem committed to being cute?

Yes. I frequently rant to anyone who will listen about the ick factor and the overdose of twee. I'll often turn on Morning Edition or All Things Considered while riding in my car, and hear some saccharine-laced bit that has me stabbing for the CD button lest road rage overwhelm me. It's not all bad, but the ratio of good to bad has been discouragingly low the past few years.


Apologies for polluting your Comments section by straying off on a tangent. The NPR thing touched a very sore nerve. Call me a reformed junkie, I guess.

Anonymous said...

I was kicked out of Cub Scouts because I giggled during the Solemn Pledge ... what can I say ... it was a big favor, in that I wasted no more Carefree Childhood Days among that sorry bunch.

So, purely to assuage my own curiosity, what does that Indiana Law Codometer say about giggling during The Event? (I had my sweaty palm firmly over my heart at the time.)

pookapooka his (X) signature

Anonymous said...

Testing testing, trying to figger how to post inside the Doghouse with my own beloved name intact.

Is it doable without joining teh googleblogger etc?



Brendan said...


You should be able to post using your preferred handle without signing up for a Google account. In fact, there are two ways:

Use the OpenID method.

Even simpler, just check the Name/URL option. You can type in a name here without giving a URL, if you like, or you can put in a URL to wherever you'd like.

aimai said...

I was made to stand out in the hallway, when I was in fourth or fifth grade, for refusing to say the pledge of allegiance. That's a long time ago, now. I think I was protesting the vietnam war.