Nuggets of Wisdom

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Criticize Public Schools? You're Fired!

During the last week of school, a bus driver noticed that one of his 6th-grade passengers was feeling down. He asked him what was wrong. The student said he was hungry. When asked why he was hungry, the boy replied he didn't have lunch because he was 40 cents short.

Troubled by this act of injustice, the bus driver shared the boy's story on his Facebook page and offered to pay for any student's lunch if they were short on money.

The next day, the bus driver was summoned by the superintendent, who congratulated him for his selfless offer, and was so moved by it that he vowed to lower lunch prices so that no student would ever have to go hungry again.

That is what would happen in a just world.

So what really happened?

The bus driver in question, Johnny Cook, was given an ultimatum: either rescind his Facebook post or be fired. Cook did not apologize, so he was fired.

To add insult to injury, Cook had the job in order to pay for his family's health insurance, which expires later this month.

There was no reason for this bus driver to be fired or forced to apologize. There was nothing to apologize about. He said nothing derogatory about the school. He merely shared a student's concern and offered to help any other student with a similar concern. And for this, he was fired.

Of course, the school's excuse for firing him was that his Facebook comment violated the school district's social networking policy, which states that: "Employees who post or contribute any comment or content on social networking sites that causes a substantial disruption to the instructional environment are subject to disciplinary procedures up and including termination."

Saying that students should not go hungry without lunch is a "substantial disruption"? I would think students going hungry without lunch would be a larger "substantial disruption." Last time I checked, hungry students don't exactly do well academically, which is bad for both them and the school.

This seems to be a recurring trend with public schools. They have been lionized as icons of American Exceptionalism. Our public schools are great, we are told, because America is great. Anyone who claims otherwise is a traitor. Therefore, we should never criticize or question the public education system. We should never point out any flaws in the system because it has no flaws. Anyone who claims otherwise is anti-intellectual and anti-education. They hate schools, teachers, and by extension, America. So be a good patriot and never ask questions!

This would be so hilarious if it weren't so real, so devastating, and so sad. Considering ourselves wise, we have become fools.

On a side note, anyone interested in supporting this brave bus driver should view and sign this petition to get his job back.