Lost Teaching Moment

bad_idea_sign_crossbonesAs a recently retired teacher of 33 years, I am disappointed to observe how Twin Peaks Charter Academy handled the teaching moment Evan Young’s graduation speech presented. When they could have taught tolerance and freedom of speech/expression, instead they taught intolerance and suppression of free speech.

Evan Young is a shy, witty and very intelligent young man. He happens to be gay and wanted to weave this fact into his valedictory graduation address where he spoke about the importance of respecting others — whether or not you agree with them. It’s ironic Evan was not given the very respect his speech was about.

Outing Evan to his father was wholly inappropriate. Informing Evan minutes before the ceremony began that he would not be allowed to speak added insult to injury. Not acknowledging Evan as valedictorian was punitive. Throwing him under the bus in their public statement was a cheap shot. Four missed opportunities to afford Evan, a 4.5 GPA student with a scholarship to Rutgers, basic respect and dignity. Evan deserves better, and so do taxpayers.

Because Twin Peaks Charter receives public monies to operate, the SVVSD superintendent and school board have an obligation to pursue this matter. While charter schools are exempt from direct oversight by the school district, this does not mean they get a waiver to discriminate. At the very least, Twin Peaks Charter Academy owes Evan and his parents a formal apology. They also need to provide assurances to taxpayers that measures are being taken to ensure they will not discriminate in the future.

If Twin Peaks is not able to meet these reasonable criteria, their charter should be revoked. Hopefully, Twin Peaks will take this opportunity to rectify their lost teaching moment into a lesson involving self-reflection, reconciliation and improvement.

  1 comment for “Lost Teaching Moment

  1. Bob Miller
    June 5, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    Right on, Shari. Excellent points. Evan Young demonstrated that he understands what the word “education” means, and the principal of Twin Peaks Charter School demonstrated just as clearly that he does not know what it means. Evan should have been given recognition as the valedictorian. That he was not testifies to the fact that the principal did not agree with his proposed speech, and decided to punish him. The principal’s behavior was shameful. He should be fired.

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