The week of May 16 through May 20 was School Spirit Week at one particular elementary school in the Payson Unified School District.
There were designated days that the students could show their school spirit by dressing up on that particular day as outlined in a notice sent home to parents. The notice stated the subject of the spirit for that day, “pajama day” or “wacky hair day” etc. Students showed their spirit by dressing accordingly.
Sounds like fun, huh? Well, it should have been, for all the students. That’s what the notice said; right?
Not so, it seems that individual teachers could determine that it is not right for their class and forbid this schoolwide-promoted activity in their classroom. One problem, no notice was sent to the parents of that classroom by this rogue teacher.
Students started showing up to this classroom and immediately got reprimanded.
Girls in pajamas are sent to the principal’s office and told that they could not be in class. Imagine walking down the halls to the principal’s office and seeing the other students all dressed the same way you are and yet you are the one in trouble.
Think about this: boys coming to school for wacky hair day and arrive to this classroom and are immediately sent to the principal’s office. It turns out that one of the boys was forced to have his hair washed out in the sink by an aide. The other boy was forced to sit backward in the classroom and every time he turned around to pay attention to what the teacher was saying, he was told to turn back around. It seems like strong actions for third-graders, doing what they thought was right.
These students were now targets for the other students to ridicule. They were bad kids. They just did what all the other students in any other class were doing.
There was a call made to one parent by the principal and when it was pointed out that they were only doing what the notice had outlined, the principal informed the parent that this particular teacher did not allow this in her classroom. The parent, noticeably more than upset by this time, pointed out that this particular teacher never informed the parents of her individual action. The principal apologized to this parent and said that there would be no disciplinary action.
Wrong! Her child was the one forced to sit backward in the classroom. He was made to pull the tag on his name to show one step of disciplinary action in the classroom. These children were from families with several children in the household going to the same school. One could participate and have fun preparing for the next day’s activities while the other could only look on, wishing that they could do the same.
Hmm, school spirit?
I wonder what these kids are really learning; are they learning to like school? Are they learning team spirit and getting along together by participating in a unified activity?
Or, are they just learning to fear authority (rogue teachers) and their misguided, self-serving, I can do what I want in my classroom attitude? Sometimes I wonder if some of this rebellion we find in schools now could be rooted in this kind of authority.
Don’t call a unified activity and then allow individual authorities (rogue teachers) to pick and choose accordingly. The young minds they are responsible for just can’t comprehend the underlying reasons for their actions, especially when everyone else in the school is doing the exact same thing they got in trouble for.
Are the individuals that govern Payson Unified School District, who are the ultimate authority over these teachers, aware that these students and parents that were discriminated against?
I think public apologies should be made to the students as well as the parents in this matter. This would be one step forward in teaching these discriminated against students that adults and authority figures do make mistakes and readily accept responsibility for the humiliation that the students as well as the parents felt.
Tom and Micheale Franey