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Pick your battles
buzzed, B&W
Surprisingly, the one other thing that I really want to babble about today relates to my previous post. Short little essay about how school administrators need to pick their battles. In it a principal describes how the school used to focus on an anti-gum chewing policy, but eventually realized that this dogmatic adherence to rules wasn't conducive to creating a better school. Instead, they decided to enforce five key principles:

  • Show respect for all people in the school community.

  • Keep hands, feet, and all other objects to ourselves.

  • Finish classwork and all homework.

  • Read.

  • Learn as much as we are able.

And the key result? The more seriously we attended to the matter of successful student engagement in learning, the less we needed to address rule-breaking and consequences. Makes sense - basically a don't sweat the small stuff ideology.

With regards to the offensive shirts worn by students, the question then becomes what does it mean to show respect for all people in the school community? Someone wears a shirt that's offensive to your set of beliefs - should you respect their right to have an opinion that's not exactly tolerant?

Seems to parallel this article that I posted about a month ago. The main point of that article was that school administrators can't pick sides. The article says that "school officials can't impose one religious view of homosexuality, but neither can they censor the religious convictions of students." So what's the solution they propose? They have to somehow "agree on civic ground rules to ensure fairness for all sides."

In other words, forget the issue, but instead focus upon the First Amendment. Arguably, the recent Circuit Court decision that allows schools to ban inflammatory t-shirts could be seen as picking a side (in this case, pro-homosexuality), leading to more conflict.