Saturday, June 2, 2007

Diplomas Withheld Beacuase Of Cheering

Students whose parents and friends cheered at Galesburg (Illinois) High School had their diplomas denied due to not acting in a dignified way.

About a month before the May 27 ceremony, Galesburg High students and their parents had to sign a contract promising to act in dignified way. Violators were warned they could be denied their diplomas and barred from the after-graduation party.

This is an interesting case, and as I was thinking about posting about a similar incident that I was involved in, I will go ahead and do it now.

I attended a high school graduation ceremony recently. Actually, I was assigned to work, in my duties as a teacher. We had similar cheering and whooping going on as the student's names were announced.. A student would be announced and people would go crazy. Cheering, whistling, and even a few air horns for heard. I believe if you are at a formal occasion, ACT ACCORDINGLY!

Some people in the audience were dressed in working clothes; jeans, t shirts, hats, etc. In respect to others in attendance, I did notice others dressed in proper attire; dresses, coats and ties. I believe if you are a a formal occasion, DRESS ACCORDINGLY!

However, the overall behavior of most of the people in attendance was very inappropriate for a respectful and solemn occasion. This graduation resembled a circus.

I can understand parents and friends getting excited when someone they know graduates. It is an exciting time. In this graduation, those who were creating a spectacle probably were excited that someone in their family actually graduated from high school. That probably will be the high point in their lives.

The fact is that most of these people don't value education and the things that are associated with it. If they did, they would act better.

By the way, the young lady mentioned in the article stated she had a 3.4 GPA. In my school, a 3.4 GPA not as great as one is lead to believe by this article. Since grades are pumped up for honors and advanced courses, it is common for most top graduates to have GPAs over 5.0.

In my view, a 3.4 GPA is the equivalent to a B-C average; hardly representative of an honor student.

Galesburg's assistant superintendent Joel Estes was quoted in saying,

"Lots of parents complained that they could not hear their own child's name called and I think that led us to saying we have to do something about this to restore some dignity and honor to the ceremony so that everyone can appreciate it and enjoy it."

Good for Joel and his administration. We need more decisions like this.

26 comments:

Ronnie Ann said...

Hi Texas Truth! You visited my blog and invited comments "no matter how ridiculous they are" so I thought I'd accommodate you. (-; I know we disagree, but I'd like to respectfully share my views on your blog.

I’m all for trying to maintain decorum and have no problem with the school letting the audience know their preferences in advance, but that said…there is no benefit to punishing the students! They didn’t do anything wrong. While I get what the school was trying to do, it’s a poorly written policy and a very poorly thought-out implementation of that policy.

To punish kids because their parents lost control and let their joy be heard? For goodness sake…if we can’t show some honest emotion at a joyous ceremony, where is our humanity? Yes...I know they probably went too far, but I’m sure they didn’t do anything wrong on purpose.

But more importantly there is no good educational lesson in having the kids pay for the actions of others. Even if the lesson the school intends to teach is to follow policy, the wrong people are getting punished. And the students are left with a horrible memory for no good reason. As I said…a bad educational policy despite an intent that is understandable.

Now...even though we are on slightly different sides of this one issue, I just want to say that you seem like a truly caring teacher and that's what kids need most. All the best with your students. Regards from beautiful Brooklyn, New York!

Anonymous said...

Well, if the student signed a behaviour contract and then behaved, that is nothing worth punishing.

If parents/friends signed a behaviour contract and then misbehaved, that is worth punishing. The parents/friends should be the ones doing "community service".

If the contract said if the parents/friends misbehave, but the student behaves the student will serve the punishment, that is grossly unfair.

Texas Truth said...

ronnie ann: thank you for you comments. They were not ridiculous. In fact, I understand what you are saying. Being in education for 30+ years, I have seen education fall into a state were average is accepted as great and poor is the norm.

Perhaps the administration could have found a better way to keep the dignity of the program at a high level. Seeing how graduations ceremonies have deteriorated, I applaud any administration that attempts anything to bring dignity back to education. It does seem the administration, both district and campus level, in addition to the school board approved the action.

I would love to see a video of the ceremony. If it was anything like the graduation I mentioned on this blog, it was much like a pro wrestling match.

One further thing, I appreciate the way you took the tag "ridiculous." Some posts are totally off the wall and have no thought behind them. I use that term to indicate that I don’t care how much I disagree with the post; I welcome any and all submissions.
Thanks again for posting. You seem like a very caring, knowledgeable, and educated person. Just because we disagree on this matter doesn't mean we won't agree on others.

I will add your blog to my blog list. I will enjoy reading you take on other things.

Take care and thanks again.

Texas Truth said...

Anonymous: I think that if the parents and students knew about the policy, the studnet should be held accountable.

I cannot see anyone except a parent, family member, or friend yelling out.

I think they people who were at fault thought no action would be taken.

This is a learning experience for all. Someone will be held accountable. I bet if these students had asked their family, friends, and relatives to act appropriately, they would have.

If the graduation meant so much to them, they could have acted more responsible.

Andrea said...

I remember my high school graduation. My family cheered for me but none of it got out of hand. I understand the need for such a policy. However, The contract was signed by the student and their parents, not their entire family. You can tell people not to do something all you want. It doesn't mean they will actually listen. The student can't control what other people do.

What if someone who just happened to have a grudge against the student or their family got up and cheered or whatever, is it still the student's fault?

As for the incident in which you spoke of, in my opinion, sounds as if you were making observations about people you didn't know. Maybe those who attended wearing their work clothes didn't have time to go home and dress accordingly and still be able to see their kid graduate. And just because some were acting inappropriate doesn't mean this event would be the high point in their lives. Maybe they were just excited about their child's graduation.

It's true that there are many people who don't value the importance of an education, but sometimes that's because of the circumstances in which they grew up in. Not exactly an excuse but how can they value an education if they haven't had the privledge of the experience for whatever reason.

Again, just my opinion.

Texas Truth said...

andrea: thanks for your post and opinion. Many feel that society is getting out of hand and schools/educators see more of it that they average person.

People must learn to act and behavior appropriately when they are in public.

A graduation is not a place to get up, cheer, and yell. How do the child and their parent who is next in line, after outburst occurred, when they are unable to hear their child's name called?

In the original article, it was stated that problems had occurred in the past.

If the administration had not done something, others would have been upset.

If they want to celebrate their child's achievement, there is a time and place for it. That place is not in a public forum.

Thanks again for your comments. They do give everyone another point of view. Isn't that what makes discussion great; a free exchange of views and opinions.

Alasandra said...

Thanks for visiting my blog.

While I agree that maintaining a proper decorum is important, it is grossly unfair to punish someone for the action of others. As one student in the article pointed out they could only control the people they gave tickets too; not the whole audience.

As for the GPA, it would depend on the school she attended. I know many schools where a 4.0 is straight A's. I know a few where a 3.6 is straight A's. So to assume she was a B-C student merely because where you are at the GPA is higher is unfair. The article said she was a honors student (that usually means A-B).

MomToAnAngel said...

Perhaps the IL GPA system grades differently than that of yours, IL might be like MI that the highest GPA is 4.0, in MHO- if you have 30+ years in the educational system, then you should no better and not hold a child responsible or punish a child for their parents behavior.

I for one do not believe what they did was right. I respect your thoughts and opinions on how people should dress and behave, but holding someone's diploma back for something they didn't due really shows a lack of maturity on the schools behalf.

Angela said...

This was an interesting topic. If the student graduating signed the contract and acted up while waiting to get their diploma then there should be some accountability.

However, I don't feel that the student should be denied their diploma because the audience couldn't keep their end of the bargain.

Texas Truth said...

This topic has certainly generated a great deal of interest. I understand not holding the student responsible for some other person's actions. However, the school's administration foresaw a problem based on past events, and took action.

So many schools take no action because of possible backlash for parents and the community.

It is a "damned if you do and damned if you don't" situation.

I think the students and parents will live through this. Look at what one of the students said. She indicated she would let the school keep the diploma of her appeal was denied.

The sad thing is that the school and the administration will probably cave in to the parents and give them the students their diplomas without any further action.

Schools and administrators don’t want the headaches that go with their decisions. What a shame. If they do indeed cave in, it will open them up for future attacks on their decisions.

Law and Order Teacher said...

T.T.,
I think we're on the same page here, but my concern is that a stance such as this is very hard to control. Anytime you draw a bright line such as this, you immediately open yourself up to many possibilities. As several others have pointed out, some people are evil. If I learned anything from being a cop it was that people will look for ways to beat the system and in some cases cause other people pain.

As for other issues, we are definitely on the same page. Thanks for reading my blog. I'll add yours to mine.

James Landrith said...

"Texas Truth" apparently doesn't get it, despite comments to the contrary.

The students were not making noise. The spectators were making noise. Students - no noise. Spectators - noises.

Students - punished. Spectators - not punished.

The students were punished for actions committed by others.

The students were punished for actions committed by others.

The students were punished for actions committed by others.

The students were punished for actions committed by others.

Again, for the folks who don't get it: The students were punished for actions committed by others.

How is punishing one person for the actions of another anything approaching fairness? Maintaining order and decorum? Give me a break. This is the equivalent of putting my child in detention because I got in an argument with his teacher.

It is not the responsibility of high school students to control their parents and family members. Anyone advocating otherwise is promoting "guilt by association", a rather unAmerican concept.

Texas Truth said...

James Landrith:

Thanks for you post. You have an interesting way of putting things!!!

Thanks for you post. You have an interesting way of putting things!!!

Thanks for you post. You have an interesting way of putting things!!!

Thanks for you post. You have an interesting way of putting things!!!

As far as promoting Un-American ideals??? I cannot understand where that came. I guess because of you raising the race card on your website!!!

I guess race is the reason everything happens in the country. To me, that is Un-American.

I really must have hit a nerve with you!!!

How would you have felt if these people had disrupted YOUR child's graduation?

Either way, you have your opinion and I have mine and we will not change each others views.

Time will tell what happens in this case. Time WILL tell!!!

James Landrith said...

How would I feel if these ADULTS had interrupted my child's graduation?

I would want the ADULTS thrown out rather acting like a bully and picking on innocent kids. But then, I'm not a bully.

That is what I would do.

Why is that so hard to understand?

It isn't - for those who know the difference.

For those who think it's okay to pick on kids for what their parents did, well - that speaks volumes about the person picking on the kids...

Texas Truth said...

Well, the decision is not one we had to make. The administration obviously felt something needed to be done and they did it. Everyone involved will have to live with it.

So you said you would have the adults THROWN out. They may have tried that the previous year. I really don't know. Have you looked into the history of this incident?

It seems this kind of behavior had a history at their graduation.

As an educator, I know whatever action is taken in any situation, someone will be upset.

As I have said, TIME WILL TELL if anything happens.

James Landrith said...

That ignores the fact that punishing a child for a parent's behaviour is a coward's way out. Should my child be jailed if I assault another parent at a football game? According to this type of illogic - yes.

Again, this is picking on an innocent child, rather than facing the parent who was misbehaving.

Bully behaviour by the high school.

Do you teach your students that the ends justify the means and that guilt by association should replace individual responsibility?

As a parent and former educator, I know that mistreating children, rather than dealing with the delinquent parent is a coward's way out.

And that is exactly what you are promoting here.

Texas Truth said...

WOW! I was right. I guess this strikes a nerve with you.

I can see the fire BOILING within you.

I guess you need to mobilize all your ACLU buddies, march into Galesburg and help these poor students.

Opps: My mistake, the ACLU said they had no problem with the action, as look as it was enacted universally. So I guess that is a moot point unless you want to throw in the race card.

Looking at your blog, it looks like you have already played the race card and possibly have another agenda, especially since the letter on your web site was addressed/CCed to:
Julian Bond, the Chairman of the NAACP and Wade Henderson, President and CEO of Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.

James Landrith said...

My "agenda" is civil liberties and fairness. I've worked with both Ward Connerly and Julian Bond on issues of shared agreement. I've worked with the Christian Coalition and Quakers on other issues. Your strawman has been dismantled.

Your "agenda" is guilt by association and treating children like property of the government.

And, of course, you are still dodging the issue of punishing a child for a parents actions - like a coward.

How's that for striking a nerve?

James Landrith said...

By the way, you copied the "agenda" accusation from another blogger. Cute strawman - but easily dismantled above.

Texas Truth said...

james landrith: I guess we will continue to disagree on this.

As far as dodging the issue I don't feel that I have. I have stated what I believe. You can accept it or not.

As I said, if you feel so strongly about this, round up you buddies and go down to Galesburg.

By all means, show your support for them.

As far as you, you claimed to be a former educator, what level did you teach? You never did answer that question.

Race and civil liberties are always brought up when things like this happen. I wonder how fast you would have been to support the cause if they had been white students and their parents.

You don't have to answer the question, I already know the answer you will give (of course you would have).

Good luck on your "cause" and "agenda." You certainly seemed like you are "hell bent for leather" to stick up for these people. I say go for it!!! Exercise your American right to write letters and state your views. That is what this country is all about.

Isn't it great we live in a country where we can disagree and support the causes we feel strongly about?

James Landrith said...

Should I march into Galesburg with my conservative coalition friends in the:

American Conservative Union?
American Civil Rights Institute?
Free Congress Foundation?
Christian Coalition?
Eagle Forum?

Can I also include my libertarian coalition friends in the:

Libertarian Party?
Liberty Coalition?
Downsize DC?
Republican Liberty Coalition?
Democratic Freedom Caucus?

Can they come with the ACLU too?

Texas Truth said...

Sure!! Bring them on!! The more the better!!!

Bring them all!!!

Get all the help you need!!!

PS: as far as seeing something on a different blog and quoting it, SO WHAT!!!!!

James Landrith said...

I don't recall being asked what level I taught before (missed it). I taught teenagers (mostly) and some adults in pre-GED programs, partnered with DC schools, for several years in a dangerous part of Southeast D.C. on a volunteer basis.

By the way, race became part of the issue when it was reported that the same behaviour by parents of white students was allowed and ignored, while only non-white students were punished.

Of course, some folks probably think that is okay too. After accepting the notion that children should pay for the misdeeds of their parents, logic is out the window. Anything becomes acceptable at this point.

James Landrith said...

Wow. 30 years of teaching and your retort is "SO WHAT"?

I dismantled that fallacy earlier. I guess "SO WHAT" is about all you've got left at this point.

You have a nice night, I'm heading to bed.

Mainstream Iowan said...

This James Landrith guy, calls people unAmerican whenever they disagree with him.

Why doesn't he offer to pay for all the extra security folks needed to do things his way?


Regards,
Mainstream Iowan

James Landrith said...

Ah, this Mainstream Iowan guy is promoting unAmerican concepts like "guilt by association" and "the ends justify the means" with regard to punishing children for acts committed by adults.

Perhaps he should stop said promotion of unAmerican concepts if you dislikes being labeled as such.