A nasty story that makes me mad: Some students have been denied their high school diplomas because their families had cheered for few seconds as the students’ names were called. Because some previous events had been raucous, students (and parents) were made to sign a contract about behavior at the ceremony.
Many schools across the country ask spectators to hold applause and cheers until the end of graduation. But few of them enforce the policy with what some in Galesburg say are strong-arm tactics. “It was like one of the worst days of my life,” said Gayles, who had a 3.4 grade-point average and officially graduated, but does not have the keepsake diploma to hang on her wall. “You walk across the stage and then you can’t get your diploma because of other people cheering for you. It was devastating, actually.”
I can’t believe that a school principal actually has the power to deny a student her diploma because her parents cheered for a few seconds after her name was called. Are such “contracts” even legal? When did schools get the authority to make student sign such contracts? And how were parents coerced into signing them too? How can a student be held responsible for what other people do anyway? And this happened in Illinois?
The school “adopted a zero-tolerance policy” – ya know what? I haven’t seen anything good come out of these policies. Let’s stop “adopting” them – I think “zero-tolerance” policies should be left orphaned and homeless. What happened to contextual judgment and common sense? The educational system and the government have “adopted” these policies by using public hysteria as an excuse for power grabs, and I think it’s time to put a stop to it.
At my graduation, there were plenty of people who got cheered, and I was always a little disappointed that no-one cheered for me.
And by the way:
In Galesburg, the issue has taken on added controversy with accusations that the students were targeted because of their race: four are black and one is Hispanic. Parents say cheers also erupted for white students, and none of them was denied a diploma. Principal Tom Chiles said administrators who monitored the more than 2,000-seat auditorium reported only disruptions they considered “significant,” and all turned in the same five names.
This is draconian. Shame on you! Your priorities are in serious disarray.
I’m sending a long extended boo-hiss and some extended catcalls to Principal Tom Chiles of Galesburg High School, to Assistant Superintendent Joel Estes, and to the Superintendent of Schools over there in Knox County!
Contact the Senators of Illinois:
Obama, Barack- (D) Class III
713 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
Web Form: http://www.obama.senate.gov/contact/
Durbin, Richard- (D) Class II
309 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
Web Form: http://www.durbin.senate.gov/contact.cfm
Contact the House Representative in Illinois:
Hare, Phil (D) – 17th District
261 N. Broad, #5
Galesburg, IL 61401
Phone: (309) 342-4411
Fax: (309) 342-9749
1118 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-5905
Fax: (202) 225-5396