Monday, September 19, 2011

High-Powered Low-Lifes in Education

Kent School Boiler by mdt1960
Kent School Boiler, a photo by mdt1960 on Flickr.
With astonishment, I read the stories about an Al Jazeera reporter named Gabriel Elizondo visiting a local high school football game in Brooks, Texas recently. At the heart of this story was the insipid greeting and dismissal directed toward the reporter coming from the school’s principal, Lisa Yauck and superintendent, Michael Lee.

If you have not heard about this story, I would encourage you to stop here and read the reporter’s blog entry from that day and than read the school superintendent Michael Lee’s response to the Elizondo’s blog.

What first struck me about this event was the total ignorance oozing from these two educational (and one would assume, “informed”) administrator’s regarding Al Jazeera as a legitimate news operation that has matched and sometimes surpassed the coverage of other leading news agencies around the world. It is simply beyond belief. In a world that is becoming more and more polarized, these two jingoist serve as shining examples of incompetence and mediocrity in education while perpetuating malicious hatred within the heart of our country’s innocence—small town America.

It’s no secret that I don’t care for Fox News. I probably see them in the same light as Lee and Yauck view Al Jazeera. However, one thing I know for sure is Fox News has a right to report/film/write a story at my local high school or college athletic event, even if I’m sure they will put their “spin” on it.

Like many lackluster school administrators, Lee cites FERPA as his rationale for turning away Elizondo. Yet anyone who truly knows FERPA certainly knows it is not a counter to freedom of the press—especially when it comes down to something as public as a high school football game… held at a public school no less!

If Michael Lee truly believes FERPA is the justification for spurning a reporter who wishes to interview fans (whether it be students or general public) at a high school football game, he is a second-rate superintendent, and totally incompetent. On the other hand, if Lee is using FERPA to mask his disdain and prejudice for other people of culture, race or religion, he is simply a disgrace. Which ever the two, I know one thing for sure, he should be fired along with secondary principal Lisa Yauck.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Trying To Get Past 9-11

Not Again! by mdt1960
Not Again!, a photo by mdt1960 on Flickr.
Thank God September 12 has finally arrived. After more than a week’s worth of rehashed 9-11 tributes, interviews, ceremonies and highlights, I’m ready to move on, even if few share in my sentiment.

Call me unpatriotic, but I find it hard to believe that the victims of September 11, 2001 would want us to wallow in so much of that dark day ten years ago. Yet, after all of this time, rather than putting it behind us, it’s as if we would rather go back in time and wade back into that pool of acute pain and sorrow.

Thank you, but I’ll have none of it.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I want to forget that day or pretend it never happened. Even if one wanted to forget it, how could they—something that epic, that tragic? I just don’t want to relive it year in and year out through all the poignant, graphic and sad, sad stories that have been repeated over and over in various outlets of the media.

Like December 7, 1941 (the attack on Pearl Harbor), I think it’s tasteful to stop for a moment of silence and fly the flag each year. But, to have six moments of silence, for example, (when the first plane hit the WTC, when the second plane hit the WTC, when the third plane hit the Pentagon, when the plane crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and when each of the towers fell) is a bit over the top.

How did 9-11 render our country, our people, our media with this masochistic-like obsession—all the while wearing it on our sleeve for all the world to see? Talk about a chip on the shoulder. Isn’t Halloween enough?

Journalist and author William Langewiesche spent five months at ground zero of the WTC after the attacks and warns, “It’s not to deny the tragedy. It’s to question the utility of public grief.” Langewiesche produced an extensive piece for Atlantic and was later published as a book titled American Ground: Unbuilding the World Trade Center.

Through it all, I can’t help but think of some goody two-shoes cheerleader who was beaten up on the playground by a thug. Despite the fact that she may not have deserved such treatment or it was simply a violent act, she goes on and on all year long about it until many of her friends think that maybe she had it coming.

Even today, September 12, I was hoping my respite would finally arrive. Yet, there were still more stories flooding the media about 9-11.

C’mon America, it’s time to move on and look forward and focus sharply on making America great… again. Besides, football season and the Rugby World Cup are upon us.