Monday, February 13, 2006

A real education ...

The issue of whether public school students should be forced to wear uniforms has always been a perplexing one to me. Part of that may be because I had to wear a uniform for four years when I was attending a Catholic grade school and thus can see both sides of the story. On the one hand, uniforms are an economical way to protect kids from the elements without the peer pressure of having to wear the hottest and coolest and most expensive thing in order to keep up with the "hip" crowd. On the other hand, it's during their school days where the personalities of children are formed, and having to wear the same thing day after day is not exactly conducive to individuality.

I bring all of this us as an ass-backwards way to back into the main topic of this post, which has something to do with how clothes can sometimes backfire on students, but much more with why some people should not be charged with teacher our young people anything. A few weeks ago in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, an unfortunately titled town outside of Pittsburgh, a high school junior named Joshua Vannoy ran into a buzzsaw - namely, a "teacher" named John Kelly. From the AP:

Sunday, January 29, 2006

BEAVER FALLS, Pa. -- A 17-year-old high school student said he was humiliated when a teacher made him sit on the floor for wearing a Denver Broncos jersey.

The teacher, John Kelly, forced Joshua Vannoy to sit on the floor and take an exam in an ethnicity class two days before the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Broncos 34-17 in the AFC championship game. Kelly also made other students throw crumpled up paper at Vannoy, whom he called a "stinking Denver fan," Vannoy told The Associated Press.

Kelly said Vannoy, a junior at Beaver Area Senior High School, just didn't get the joke.

"If he felt uncomfortable, then that's a lesson; that's what [the class] is designed to do," Kelly told The Denver Post. "It was silly fun. I can't believe he was upset."

Vannoy was wearing a No. 7 Broncos jersey on Friday, because he is a fan of John Elway, the Broncos' retired Hall of Fame quarterback.

Vannoy said he was so unnerved he left at least 20 questions blank on the 60-question test, and just wants out of Kelly's class because he's afraid the teacher won't treat him fairly now that the story reached the media.

Cool, right? But, wait, it gets better. Kelly, who said that the class he teaches is about diversity and the sometimes isolation circumstances of such, was not punished or even admonished for the incident by his principal or the school board. (The district said that Kelly had suffered enough from the publicity.) Vannoy, meanwhile, says that he received phone threats against his person from other students, missed a week of school because of such, and now has transferred out of the entire school district to an unnamed school where he may be able to start anew. (But, hey, Vannoy did get a free heat-massage chair designed by John Elway himself for his trouble, so I guess it's all good, right?)

I'm sorry, I thought the point of high school was for the kids to get an education, not to be chased from the institution because of prejudice. And while being shunned wearing the "wrong" football jersey may not compare with the shunning of pregnant girls or gay students or such, it is still just as stupid. John Kelly - apparently one of the most popular teachers at his school - should have been fired or suspended on the spot the moment this story broke, and because he wasn't, the people above him should be evaluated for their qualifications to hold on to their posts. This entire thing is ridiculous.

Note: I guess Vannoy should be thankful that the Broncos lost to Pittsburgh. Who knows what would have happened to him otherwise?

1 comment:

Beth said...

Well, what a fucked-up story this is.