Chris Ferguson – known in professional poker as “Jesus” – is famous for saying that the most important part of the game is “position, position, position.”
In non-curricular or extra-curricular public school events, the saying should be “permission, permission, permission.”
Obviously, the logistics of requiring constant approval aren’t realistic, but one need not have his fingers on the pulse of all things cultural, political, religious, etc. to realize that some issues are contentious and should require broad permission.
Solomonia mentions the resignation of Ron Francis, the Andover physics teacher who arranged for Wheels of Justice – a pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel, anti-American [and generally anti-Western] group – to talk to social studies classes in the school. The Jewish community [and, as Solomonia points out, more than just the Jewish community] was upset by the event. Who’d a’thunk it?
Francis would not say how much the backlash from the Wheels of Justice visit had to do with his leaving.
“I’ve looked over a variety of features,” Francis said. “It was a totality of different things. I wanted to move on to a different situation.”
Hopefully Francis’ physics lectures made more sense than whatever he said in that quote.
Francis’s politics aside, he exercised spectacularly bad judgment by not clearing the event with everyone involved. There’s nothing wrong with inviting [and welcoming] a controversial speaker here or there – I can think of quite a few seemingly-outrageous events from which I pulled value. But I was an adult then.
The lesson here? When you’re dealing with a mix of public services, controversy and minors, you need approval or you can expect problems.
And it’s not just when you’re dealing with an issue tied to the Middle East; it also happens when you take a bunch of kids on a field trip to Planned Parenthood. That’s going to rankle someone, whether it’s a parent, student, school employee, board member, taxpayer, American citizen – constituents of the Manchester, NH school district or not.
Permission from various stakeholders serves as an effective check on bad judgment.