Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Notes From The Education Underground: The TeachWonk Diaries

Here in California's "Imperial" Valley, our local dog-trainer is named The Imperial Valley News. It's your usual chain-owned small-town fare, but they do have a fairly popular feature that they call, "Probe." Folks write to Probe seeking answers to Life's Minor Mysteries.

A recent note to the Probe editor serves to illustrate how kids from a nearby community's "better" families
get special treatment (bugmenot id: what? password: what) when they run afoul of the law and school authorities. (emphasis added)

My daughter goes to Southwest High School in El Centro. She came home upset last week. It turns out the cheerleading coach sponsored a party for the cheerleaders and football players.

Everybody got drunk. One of the cheerleaders even went to the hospital due to alcohol poisoning.

The cheer coach quit before she could be fired. Two girls were given a slap on the wrist (they were not allowed to cheer Friday). Both still were able to be in the homecoming court.

Where's our morality? The queen and princesses are supposed to represent the high standards of what a senior girl should be.

I think they should be taken off the ballot and the cheerleading squad.

Maybe needing medical assistance was not enough to wake them all up to reality. What message are we sending to our high-schoolers? Mixed Message, El Centro, California

Probe's Answer:

We all have to wake up. Those of us who are parents have to face the fact that no matter how intelligent we think our children are, how much work we have put in to teach right from wrong, our children will make bad choices and sometimes those choices endanger their lives.

You are right on several points. A severe message needs to be sent on this matter.

We agree if there are members of the homecoming court who took part in a drinking fest at the home of the now ex-cheer coach, those teens should not be allowed to participate in homecoming activities. If there were football players involved, they should be sidelined for some amount of time.

Some of you may think that sounds harsh. After all, you might say, they simply made a bad choice and already paid a price.

As far as we're concerned they have lost some privileges and while the party may not have been a school-sanctioned event, the implications of what occurred should be taken seriously by the school and the district.

In regard to the cheerleading coach, we think she probably had nothing to do with the alcohol and just wanted to provide a nice place for the teens to have a party.

Some of us know her from when she worked here and are convinced she is a fine person. She, however, showed bad judgment in trusting the teens and leaving her home to the kids.

She probably made the right decision in stepping down from her coaching duties, if only to help clear the air.

We still would like a lot of answers from this mess. First and foremost, where did the teens get their alcohol?

We hear teens [sic] able to purchase alcohol from certain local stores if they flash enough cash and the clerk gets a nice kickback. This needs to be investigated, and this newspaper will do so because it is a serious issue.

Kids could have died or been damaged for the rest of their lives from alcohol poisoning in this case. We would like to help that not happen again, although we know this weekend there probably were more parties. There will be more parties next weekend and the one after that.
This type of "kid-glove" treatment for the scions of the Valley's "better" families is pretty much a given in this rural California backwater.

It isn't the first time that students from the right side of El Centro's tracks have gotten into problems. Two years ago, there was a similar bachanal held at a wealthy farming family's home. In that case, the mother, who had supplied the alchohol to the students, was arrested. As one might expect, the charges were later dropped and nothing more was heard of the matter.

The name of the accused provider of the alcohol never even appeared in the I.V. Press, nor did the address of the party.

A few years before that, while they were in Washington, D.C., nearly the entire debate team got blind drunk in their hotel rooms on liquor that had been smuggled in for the purpose.

The school district did nothing, even allowing the many seniors who were involved to participate in the prom and graduation.

When several students from the school's soccer team, however, got drunk at a player's home after one of their games, nearly the entire team was suspended from school for three days and all who were present were permanently removed from the squad.

The soccer players were mostly Hispanic, and mostly from poorer families.

And what will the paper do about the drunken football players and cheerleaders? If past behavior is indicative of probable future actions, it is likely that there will be no follow-up story and the matter will soon be conveniently forgotten yet again.
This week's Carnival Of Education midway will open here Wednesday. Carnival submissions are due by 9:00 PM (Pacific) tonight. Send them to owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net. See our latest posts here.