Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Less than apologetic

DALLAS — A teenager who took a sign reading "If you love our nation, stop illegal immigration" to school said she was hurt after being swarmed by angry classmates, and administrators said Tuesday they have suspended three students involved in the scuffle.

"It's disappointing that it happened," Athens school district superintendent Fred Hayes said. "It does not surprise me with the political nature of this issue."

Melanie Bowers, 13, brought the sign to Athens Middle School on Friday as part of a class project on political activism. Each child was assigned to pick an issue and prepare a poster supporting a position.
It's disappointing but not surprising? Way to go, Superintendent Hayes. That's real apologetic. It's absolutely wrong and those responsible for the behavior should be punished. Hayes said she was showing the sign in the hallway when a group of students tried wresting it away.

J.R. Bowers, the girl's father, said Melanie suffered scratch marks along her neck, face and arms. He said she also had a swollen jaw.

Bowers said as many as 20 students surrounded his daughter in the hallway, and Hayes said others may have hurled verbal insults. The poster was ultimately destroyed by other students.
How's that for a lesson in free speech at school? And if it had been "Amnesty for All Illegals," or something to that effect, I'm sure she would have been praised. Instead, this poor girl was attacked for making a political statement in school, simply because it may be out of the norm.

Not only was she abused physically, her school assignment was destroyed- no doubt, putting her in a precarious position with her teacher. She is now missing school for a week, her father thought it was a "bad idea," and this has sparked controversy over the racial divide in the school.

Does anyone else see how this one girl, and her attackers, are not learning, because of this incident? How her father agrees with the masses that to make a political statement - even though her teacher assigned this to her - is too dangerous or off the beaten path to risk?

I would like to see an assembly and classroom discussions about anger management as a result of this incident, not hushing political speech. How do we take teenagers' rage and channel it away from their peers and into constructive behavior?

This, and the pointless beating of the high schooler previously have me questioning just exactly what is happening in our schools and what parents are doing to reinforce basic lessons of human decency.

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