You know, some people don't get it.

My wife and I had this discussion today as we read the newspaper, and I'm reminded of it as I read Nathan Schock over at Fresh Glue editorialize on it.

Randall Beck over at the Argus called for the Sioux Falls School System to let the two Lincoln High School kids walk across the stage. And despite my disagreements with many of his editorials, I couldn't agree with this one more. Read it here as he petitions to let Nick Kelly and Jake Wampler join their Lincoln High School classmates at graduation ceremonies:
The two students won't have enough credits to get their diplomas next month but would like to participate in graduation ceremonies with classmates. Jake is five credits short because his heart stopped on a football practice field last year; his rehabilitation has been long and difficult. Nick, whose leukemia is now in remission, is just 1 1/4 credits short. Both have worked hard to catch up. No slackers these kids.

The Sioux Falls School Board and Superintendent Pam Homan say they won't allow the two young men to join classmates in the traditional graduation ceremonies. Jake and Nick, Homan says, can join students in other year-ending rituals - prom, for example, or the senior party.

But not graduation.

We've heard words such as "integrity" and "fairness" tossed around in the district's spirited defense of barring the students from the stage.
After reading it, I thought of a word he left out: Horse shit.

Yes, it would probably be a little rough for the paper, and it's an unusual lapse for 'usually tasteful' me. But this is a good time for people to climb off their high horses and recognize this rule omitting these high school students for what it is. A bunch of manure. Because prohibiting them from participating really doesn't prove anything.

My graduation was a hot indoor ceremony with an excruciatingly boring speech by our valedictorian. I amused the girl next to me by leaning my head on her shoulder and breaking out into spontanous snoring, because that was the only thing that made it bearable. The only highlight was walking across the stage and getting that empty folder handed to me (with the real thing to be provided upon the successful turning in of my books, in acceptable condition).

The School Board is providing a spirited defense of this? Why? In the big scheme of things, it's indefensible. It's not like they don't intend to complete their requirements before the summer's end. It's the same kind of crap they pull on kids in many instances who fulfill their graduation requirements a little early in some towns. If it doesn't fit in their little box, it doesn't work for them.

And it's crap. It always has been. And it always will be. It's crap foistered upon kids by petty, petty bureaucratic school board members and administrators because they can.

These same groups will be suing the State of South Dakota for more funding because they say the state doesn't understand how important their needs are. But at the same time they're demanding understanding, they can't see their way through to impart a little of it to kids who not only need it, they deserve it.

School boards, you want understanding next time when you ask for more money? Maybe you should start with a little understanding at home first before you expect voters to pay a kindness forward.

Comments

Anonymous said…
I agreed with you - up until the point where you began to make a linkage between this decision and school funding.

School boards are no more and no less competent than the rest of us. They occasionally err. Every school board in South Dakota is composed of volunteers. They should be thanked and congratulated for their service. I think you missed that part of your treatise

However, it is the legislature's task to properly fund education. They have consistently refused to do so. It's time to replace those who refuse to see that.
Anonymous said…
PP... there are legal issues here, as there always are with decisions like this.

This situation is emotional, and tugs at heart strings. And, I too, believe some concession should be made to allow these students to participate.

However, I can see the school board side of things. If they make an exception here, they have to plan to make exceptions in the future. School policy acts as the law of the land, and it governs with the same kind of legal authority as state laws do.

How about an analogy? Some feel the law passed by the Legislature is cold because it does not contain exceptions for rape and incest. Some say that it happens so rarely, there need not be an exception.

I'm sure the school board will resolve the issue - they likely don't like the situation any more than you do.

Also. Sioux Falls isn't suing the state. Lets not project.
nonnie said…
9:53. Comparing this to the abortion issue is a real stretch. How often would this issue come up? Hopefully never again would kids be hit by illness while in high school, but it probably will come up again sadly. If the student is a whole year behind, that's one issue. Only 1 1/2 to 5 credits behind and wanting to participate with his/her graduating class and intending to complete within the summer - that's another. This is a no brainer and if it had been handled correctly and with empathy, the SF school board would have reaped much in the way of community goodwill. As it is, they have further estranged themselves.

Guess maybe the voters should rethink their OK of the opt out and request a vote on it, if not too late. And yes, the two are inexplicably connected - we are entrusting our taxes to them to use wisely, and they aren't holding up their end of the bargain.
Kelsey said…
I have yet to find anyone who agrees with the district on this one. It's a stupid ceremony, who cares? Let the kids walk!

Pam Holman has said that there is no written policy when it comes to graduation ceremonies, so I'm not even sure what they're relying on here. If they're worried about a precedent being set for the future, why not let these two walk and *then* put together a written policy with a defined medical exception for the future. It really isn't that complicated (and it certainly isn't engendering any support for the district), so why not do the right thing?
The Graduate said…
I absolutely agree with you PP, this is cold and heartless. Those two kids are behind because of illness, not laziness. In my hometown school, you hear stories almost yearly of how so-and-so really didn't graduate yet,because of a failed class or whatever. Yet they were allowed to participate with their classmates. This most likely means these two will never get to experience or enjoy a graduation day celebration.
PP said…
And as I said, it's not just those who graduate slightly late because of illness - schools do it to those who graduate a semester early because they pushed themselves.

It's because they can't handle anything that doesn't fit their little mold.
Anonymous said…
My confidence in the grossly-overpaid Homan wanes every time another story slithers out of the SF school district.
Anonymous said…
PP

You can't compare people who graduate early to those who graduate late. If they have the credits ahead of time, they still have the credits at the time of graduation.

I'm going to play devil's advocate here. The school board is trying to stick by a simple policy - you get to graduate (walk across the state) when you have the credits. If they start making exceptions, they have to be worried about a slippery slope. This does seem like a no-brainer, but when you think past it - at the precedent you set for illness or medical condition - it becomes more complicated. So a student that cannot graduated because they had a large number of days missed b/c of sickness and they're short a couple credits. Then what happens? They didn't have luekemia (sp?) but they went through a tough flu season. It becomes a little more difficult to include them.

You of all people should know that policy making is difficult, PP. I think you should give the school board a break.
Anonymous said…
I think there is another issue here that no one is addressing. Rather than make sure that kids have the credits needed to graduate, how about making sure the kids can read and actually have learned what they are supposed to in order to graduate. A novel idea, huh? What about the kids who can't read? What about the kids who have to take remedial classes in college? What about grade inflation and the ever increasing numbers of kids on honor rolls? These are issues that no one in the education community wants to address.

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