Students learn important lessons in MVHS flap
I teach at Mountain View High and my kids attend Mountain View schools. I am writing to support the work both of teachers William Blair (activities) and Amy Beare (journalism).
After reading the article in the Voice and listening to the podcast of the school board meeting, I empathize with the parents quoted in the school board minutes and in your paper. The wording in the article quoting Planned Parenthood was both vulgar and short of journalistic standards. I also agree with the point about provocative music and dress at dances.
However, I strongly disagree with the quoted parents about the role of the mock weddings on Valentines Day, sponsored by our Gay Straight Alliance. I also disagree with the implied notion that the school should do a lot more to prevent such objectionable events in the future.
The point of education, according to experts like Daniel H. Pink (Drive: The Surprising Science of Motivation) and Po Bronson (NutureShock) is to learn from our mistakes and missteps. There are lessons to be learned from the sex article feature in the Oracle and believe me, they are being learned. Moreover, a valuable lesson in the public discussion of moral issues in the schools is that parents and staff at the school should reflect upon the role of adults in guiding students through morally gray situations.
First, the adage "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" is great advice for parents, staff, and students. Breathalizers and a policy of no "in-and-outs" of school functions would help. Although I do not speak for the district, I have several recommendations based on my experience at dances: parents could assist, campus clubs could organize alternatives.
Lights could be turned up a bit. Volunteers could patrol restrooms and the dance floor. Regarding dress code, it may shock parents to learn that a reasonable outfit at home can be transformed into something much more revealing. I suggest that parents have a "fashion show" with their teen. As proactive partners in modeling good choices, evaluate what is in their closets.
Yes, I know it's important to have high standards of conduct and to enforce rules. There is another daunting set of national standards teachers and students must grasp. In short, I believe that parents should step up. If they cannot abide by the co-education of their kids with students whose parents may not share the same values or have the same amount of free time to inculcate the values that they do embrace, then a number of private and home school options are available.
Another issue raised in the Feb. 15 issue of the Voice was same-sex mock weddings officiated by our school's Gay Straight Alliance. In the news coverage, one parent quoted the dictionary, saying "to mock" is to ridicule or deride." But this is the definition of the verb "to mock," not the adjective "mock", which is used in Mock Trial and drawings called 'mock-ups.'
The dictionary defines this "mock" as a simulated version of an event that is clear in its nonbinding outcome. Thus, there was no ridicule of marriage at the Valentine's Day event. One parent quoted in the Voice was concerned that the event organizers did not invite same-sex marriage opponents to take part. Many heterosexual students and staff did take part in the event, as straight allies of LGBT people actively seeking equal rights in our country. It is not the responsibility of those denied their rights to invite the deniers to share in the event.
Free speech is not prohibited to anyone who wishes to host a sponsored event on campus during school hours. Nothing is preventing other clubs from hosting events that express the view that same-sex marriage should be illegal. Several years ago, lunch was interrupted when a group of students with Bibles preached from the table tops. Their drive to be heard and their dedication to their beliefs was no less admirable to me than the dedication of our GSA to courageously pursue the right to have their partnerships recognized as legal marriages.
Disagreement is the breath of democracy. In the examples above, two groups organized and planned public events to communicate their ideas and share their goals. To me, that's what's known as education.