Sometimes people are actually angry about something different from what they're yelling about
A lot of kids have been given less-than-stellar educations by our local school districts, and many of their parents are angry. I agree entirely with these parents' demands for better treatment for students. I also agree that many parents who complain have been bullied shamefully by school lawyers. Some of these lawyers have violated professional codes of conduct and state law to the extent that they deserve severe reprimands, even disbarment or jail time. Of course, these lawyers are unlikely to be called to account for their unethical and illegal actions.
But some of these parents are too angry, in my opinion.
I suspect that some parents are angry about situations that have nothing to do with schools, but they unleash this anger on a handy, accessible target: their kids' school. Sometimes it's really hard to keep track of exactly what these people are furious about.
Recently one of these parents sent me, for no apparent reason, an email claiming that President Obama was "first born"* in Kenya. Apparently the theory is that he was first born in Kenya, then born for a second time in Honolulu. (Sometimes it's hard to figure out exactly what these "Birthers" are trying to say.) The email I received included a photo of Obama's elementary school application to an Indonesian Catholic school. Very clearly on the application, right after his name, Obama's place of birth was listed as Honolulu. The person who filled out the form, Obama's Indonesian stepfather, was in no way trying to make his stepson sound more American.
Obama's birthplace was a matter of record, and no one had yet cooked up a plan to pretend otherwise. Yet this email was sent to me, as the sender indicated in the subject line, "to fuel the debate over Obama's qualifications." How does the human brain malfunction so spectacularly?
If anything, this San Diego parent should be angry at her own teachers for not training her adequately as a critical thinker.
But I must say that many teachers and administrators were not taught how to be critical thinkers, either. During my years of teaching I saw plenty of teachers and adminstrators spewing anger (at kids, parents and each other). Many of them made no more sense than the confused parent who emailed me. To top it off, I heard teachers make disparaging remarks about high intelligence itself. Smart people were not considered cool by the most popular and powerful teachers at my schools.
My suggestion? Critical thinking classes for school professionals.
Everyone involved would benefit from better decision-making by school personnel, and students would benefit from the improved thinking skills of their teachers.
*Quote from the email:
"This document provides the smoking gun that many of Obama's detractors have been seeking - that he is NOT a natural-born citizen of the United States - necessary to be President of these United States . Along with the evidence that he was first born in Kenya , here we see that there is no record of him ever applying for US citizenship...Gary Kreep of the United States Justice Foundation has released the results of their investigation..."
Next installment: Muslims versus Mormons: whom do Americans trust less?
Here's a story about another nasty email. The woman who sent the racially offensive email in the first place was angry that a recipient forwarded it to the NAACP, and caused that recipient to be fired. This is just the sort of thing that happens in schools, in my experience. School officials want bad behavior covered up, and they take action NOT against the bad actors, but against those they fear might reveal the truth about the bad actions to the public. That's what Chula Vista Elementary School District and its lawyers did to cover up the crimes of Robin Donlan and Linda Watson. In the end, the district committed felonies like perjury and alteration of documents to cover misdemeanors. Things really get out of control once the cover-up starts. What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.
NAACP: SunTrust Mortgage worker fired over e-mail
CHRIS I. YOUNG TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER
March 18, 2010
The NAACP says a 14-year employee was fired from SunTrust Mortgage Inc. in Richmond after she was accused of sending a chain e-mail she received at work that ultimately was forwarded to the NAACP.
The fired African-American employee said she found the e-mail offensive.
The e-mail contains pictures of 40 bumper stickers such as, "Clinton ruined a dress, Obama ruined a nation," "So I guess we're even on that slavery thing eh?" and, "Diversity -- It killed 13 at Fort Hood."...
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People released a copy of what it said was the e-mail sent by a SunTrust official to 13 office employees and one outside recipient under the subject line "FW: Bumper Stickers that Make Sense."...
Russ, an accountant, said SunTrust conducted an internal investigation and then brought her into a meeting. There, she was told she was being terminated because her supervisor had "trust issues" with her and because of the e-mail, she said in a telephone interview.
She said SunTrust accused her of trying to go public with the e-mail by forwarding it to someone who would give it to the NAACP.
The official who sent the e-mail collected Russ' belongings and escorted Russ out of the building immediately after the Feb. 18 meeting, Russ said. She said she was paid through March 4...