Friday, May 10, 2013

Heights High and the height of overreaction

(Inspired by this item)

[Faculty meeting, 3:21 p.m., Heights High School, Wichita, Kansas]

Principal: "OK, people, we have a disturbance on our hands."

Math teacher: "Oh my God, what happened? School shooting?!!"

Principal: "Heavens no! Math teacher, you must exercise discretion when passing along such conjecture. You'll scare people when there's no cause for alarm."

Math teacher: "My apologies."

Principal: "No, what happened was that a student ... posted a controversial tweet."

Math teacher: "What's a tweet?"

Principal: "I don't know, it's some website on the Internet."

Vice Principal: "It allows people to say anything they want and send it to 140 characters or less."

English teacher: "Or fewer."

Vice Principal: "Hush."

Principal: "Apparently, Wesley Teague managed to send it to more than 140 people, because the whole school got it. Honestly, I'm not sure how the Tweeter works."

Math teacher: "Wesley Teague? Isn't he the senior class president?"

Vice Principal: "Yes he is."

English teacher: "Wow! Then he should know better than to spout inflammatory rhetoric. What did he say?"

Principal: “I've got it right here. Uh, '"Heights U" is equivalent to WSU’s football team.'"

Math teacher: "Ha! That's funny."

Vice Principal: "Hush."

Principal: "This is a direct attack on our school athletes and we cannot allow it to stand."

Coach: "Teague runs track. He's an athlete too."

Vice Principal: "Doesn't matter. He made a mild crack at sports and there's honor for us to defend."

Science teacher: "Why?"

Band teacher: "Yeah, why?"

Vice Principal: "Because as the most popular group in this school or any school, they have such delicate sensibilities."

Principal: "We'd do the same for any group if they were the coolest in school."

Band teacher: "Uh-huh."

Vice Principal: "In any event, it's clear that Mr. Teague created a disruptive environment at school, as evidenced by the anger his tweet generated. You could see it in their reply tweets."

Science teacher: "Will those students face the same punishment?"

Vice Principal: "Heavens no! People have every right to be offended and stand up for themselves."

Principal: "Especially if they're athletes."

Coach: "Like Teague?"

Vice Principal: "Hush."

Math teacher: "So how are you handling this? A talking-to? Formal reprimand?"

Vice Principal: "Are you kidding? We're meting out suspension for the rest of the school year and are barring him from attending some student activities."

English teacher: "Isn't that excessive?"

Principal: "We hear the Tweeter is a big deal, so the punishment should be too."

Vice Principal: "We have to teach him that actions have consequences."

English teacher: "But he's a good kid. Don't you think he already knows that on some level?"

Behavioral counselor: "Yeah, I work with our most challenging students and there's a difference between a mistake by a good kid and a pattern of defiant behavior by a delinquent."

Vice Principal: "We teach zero tolerance here. No student is better than anyone else. All must face accountability for their actions."

Behavioral counselor: "But shouldn't the punishment fit the crime?"

English teacher: "And is it really a crime to post mild jokes on Twitter? It's not as if he's cyber-bullying."

Vice Principal: "We're dealing with a technological force unlike any we've ever known before. And frankly, it's scary. People are more equipped than ever before to completely derail their future before it even begins."

Behavioral counselor: "Well, that's kind of on us too, isn't it? We have a responsibility to use our power with discretion."

Principal: "No, we have a responsibility to use our power with power. That's what we do as authority figures."

Science teacher: "That's a pretty good life lesson, I'll admit."

Vice Principal: "I'm just glad we have the Internet to police our pupils. Can you imagine how hard it was for administrators when we were in school?"

Principal: "Aw, man, I'd have been in so much trouble!"

Vice Principal: "Me too! Ha ha!"

Principal: "I probably wouldn't be principal today if they knew half the stuff I did. The sixties alone ... whoo!"

Vice Principal: "But we put it all behind us and grew into solid, responsible human beings."

Principal: "It's too bad kids these days are so far gone."

Vice Principal: "Blame it on bad influences. Video games, rap lyrics, YouTube, bad parenting."

English teacher: "If only we could do something about it, huh?"

Vice Principal: "We are. We're punishing him."

Principal: "Next time, he'll think twice before he expresses himself."

Vice Principal: "Inviting criticism by saying something provocative is not what being a good American is all about."

Principal: "It's our duty to weed out disruptions at this school."

English teacher: "Seems to me that a national story about overreactive administrators is the textbook definition of 'disruptive.'"

Science teacher: "It's all any of my students wants to talk about."

Math student: "Mine too. Makes it hard to teach to the test."

Coach: "And my guys are starting to look like Wichita State's defunct football team." 

Principal: "All right, I've heard enough! Teachers, you're all suspended."

All teachers: "What?!!"

Civics teacher: "Even me? I didn't say anything!"

English teacher: "That's ironic on multiple levels."

Principal: "I shall announce our sensible measures via school-wide text."

Civics teacher: "That's also ironic."

Vice Principal: "Hush."

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