Thursday, April 26, 2007
Monday, April 16, 2007
Friday, April 6, 2007
Ok. Enough nice guy. Time for a rant.
The nearby and normally quiet city of Bayonne, NJ - well, quiet by Hudson County standards anyway - has been shaken in recent months by growing social unrest no one seems to be able to resolve. State and federal lawsuits, civil protests and inflammatory speeches normally reserved for hot-button issues like gun control and abortion are now addressing something even bigger: school uniforms.
Last summer, the Bayonne Board of Education instituted a requirement for students in their public grammar schools to wear uniforms. In December, the State Education Commission upheld the requirement over the objections of a group of local parents, and gave the parents a 90-day deadline to file an appeal with the State Board of Education. Showing the same sense of responsibility that they're teaching their children, the parents filed an appeal after the 90-day deadline expired, and it was rejected on that basis.
Understand please, dear reader, that this rant is not about school uniforms per se. Though I'm the father of two teenage sons, both of whom wore school uniforms in a public grammar school and who now adhere to a strict dress code at a public high school, I'm not against uniforms or dress codes. I'm also not against people who are against uniforms or dress codes. I'm against - Bayonne parents, please listen carefully - WHINEY PARENTS and their AREN'T-WE-PRECIOUS CHILDREN!
So what are the parents saying?
One described the uniform requirement as "very non-democratic, highly punitive dictation from a political government group." First, requiring students to do homework is non-democratic. I don't know what school this mom went to, but I've never seen a classroom that's a democracy. Second, I'm not sure the jailed political dissidents in Russia, Cuba, and a whole bunch of other places would agree with their sister-in-arms in Bayonne, NJ about uniforms being highly punitive dictation. But what would they know of the oppressive regime of the Bayonne Board of Education, what with being in jail so long and all that?
This same woman has filed a federal lawsuit against the board for prohibiting her son from wearing an anti-uniform emblem depicting Hitler Youth. (Charming young man, don't you think?) I just hope, when all the fuss about school uniforms is over, that this woman and her spoiled son never really have to find out what the Hitler Youth movement was about. (Here's a hint, honey. It had nothing to do with school uniforms.)
Another parent, this one a father, was also concerned. "The school board doesn't have the right to tell me how to raise my kid..." No dude, but they do have the responsibility to hold him to a set of reasonably high standards at school. It's kind of what they're there for, like, you know? Otherwise, the child is liable to grow up into the kind of irresponsible adult who, oh, I don't know, let's say, waits till the deadline has passed before filing an appeal and then blames everyone but themselves when it's turned away.
I'd love to be there when junior's boss tell him the office has a dress code he's expected to follow. Who's mommy going to sue then?
Society has - as it should -certain expectations about following rules you may not always like. The question for me is not whether students should wear school uniforms. I really don't care if they do or they don't. The question in my mind is this: what are any of these people - the whiney adults and the spoiled kids they're serving as examples for - going to do if they're ever faced with a real problem?
So as not to end this on a negative note, let me tell you a joke. How many Bayonne public school students does it take to change a light bulb?
It takes one to hold the bulb still, and nine parents to stand around expecting the world to revolve around him.
Sunday, April 1, 2007
* In some urban areas, "dat be whack" is an expression of deep concern, and possibly dissatisfaction, over something. "Yo" may be roughly translated as, "and I really mean it." For example, "The Dow Industrial Average decreased by nearly 100 points on reports of a downturn in petroleum futures and concerns over inflation? Dat be whack, yo."
The good thing about early Sunday morning hours is that they're quiet, and I get to sit and think. The bad thing about them is that they're quiet, and I get to sit and think. This morning, the thoughts are of having "life experience." You know...middle age.