Schools as Political Fodder
Fodder is a term often used to describe what one feeds livestock and other farm animals. Unfortunately, schools are often on the menu for those who have personal, social or political agendas. These agenda-minded folks often feed on schools in order to push an issue, gain political advantage or attack things they simply do not like.
Last spring, a social-issues group contacted the regional television media and claimed that we did not allow someone to go to a prom because of sexual orientation. This false accusation was made without ever speaking with the school or asking about the criteria used for attending the prom. If the group had been genuinely concerned, it would have done a little homework and asked us a few questions before calling the regional television network.
Anyway, we responded to the false accusation by saying, “Eligible students may invite one guest and the screening criteria is limited to age, school status, discipline record and criminal record.” We went on to say, “The reason for inviting the particular guest is up to the student and his or her parents.”
For the record, the student involved in the complaint had already invited, and purchased a ticket for, a guest that met the aforementioned criteria. If the student wanted someone else to attend, all the student needed to do was let the school know that the guest had changed. Anyway, please don’t focus too much on the prom or the sexual orientation. These issues are just a recent example. The point is that schools are used for political purposes when it is completely unnecessary and completely inappropriate.
After our response and explanation, we received praise for being tolerant of sexual orientation. This false praise was just as misplaced as the false accusation. The false accusation and the false praise are unconnected to our purpose, procedures, practices and policies. Our purpose is to help students be successful in academic and extra curricular activities. While we will never be perfect in this endeavor, we have an established record of academic and extra curricular success. It is not our purpose, intent or desire to participate in social or political battles.
While the above example is a social agenda, there are many other situations in which schools are used to promote political agendas, financial agendas, religious agendas and other agendas. This is inappropriate … at best. It is wrong to take any available situation and twist it to meet your personal, social or political needs. Unfortunately, misrepresenting the truth and lying have become a political tool for many ill-minded people. We may not be able to stop this behavior. However, we should not accept it, contribute to it or pretend that it is OK.