Saturday, February 23, 2019

It's PARTY TIME at Forest Hills High School!

At least, that's the clear implication I see here:

Principal Ben Sherman, who joined Forest Hills in 2017, shrugs off the pot-puffing — saying “it’s going to be legal” anyway, teachers complain.

So what else is okay in Forest Hills High School? Alcohol is already legal, so why not let kids just get drunk? That's not a problem, is it? Maybe, instead of making them sneak around the halls they should just do it right in the classroom. After all, then they'll be under the supervision of teachers, and whatever goes wrong you can just blame them for it.

Personally, I favor legalization of marijuana. However, I'd want to see an age limit on purchases. Also, unlike what the principal of Forest Hills seems to think, I wouldn't want high school students coming in high. To me, it wouldn't matter much if it were legal. I simply don't think teenagers being high contributes to the optimal school environment. (Of course, I'm just a lowly teacher, and I haven't been to the Leadership Academy, where they teach all that Important Stuff for principals.)

Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I'm not particularly fond of students coming in drunk either. It seems that must be okay with administration at Forest Hills High School, because if we're supposed to tolerate drugs that are not yet legal, doesn't it follow that we should tolerate those that already are? I wouldn't want my kid (or yours) drunk, let alone going to school drunk. In fact, I don't think I've ever worked for a principal who said, "Well, it's legal, so just let them do it."

There are a whole lot of legal things I don't want my students to do. Driving is legal, but if they don't know how I'd just as soon not see them on the road. Flying is legal. Giving tattoos is legal. Performing heart surgery is perfectly legal. Being a teacher, I see education as a prerequisite to many things. I also see maturity as a similar prerequisite.

So personally, I'm horrified to imagine that a school principal would suggest that teenagers smoking weed in a high school ought to be tolerated because it's going to be legal one day. I wonder what the superintendent would say if he were to find out about something like this. Intrepid reporter Sue Edelman tried asking the principal first, but he wasn't talking. Anyway, here's what she found:

Sherman referred questions to DOE spokesman Doug Cohen, who said in a statement: “Principal Sherman has been an effective leader for Forest Hills High School, and the superintendent is continuing to support the school. We take these complaints seriously and will continue to ensure a supportive environment for all students and staff.”

I wonder if the DOE spokesperson has also been to the Leadership Academy. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that place must change the way a person sees things. For example, I've never been there, so it's hard for me to square that with the implication that it's okay for teenagers to smoke weed in school, and not because it's still illegal either. It's also hard for me to square that with the chaotic mess I see described.

Call me madcap, but the environment I see described in the story strikes me as something distinctly less than a model for us all. Furthermore, I know a bunch of people who work at Forest Hills. What they describe to me is the polar opposite of a "supportive environment" for staff. Does an "effective leader" have staff in open revolt? If your class were in open revolt, do you think you'd be rated effective when observed?

As a teacher of students from different places and cultures, I'm acutely aware that it's our job to teach respect for one another. Not only that, but it's our job to model it as well. This starts at the top. It's hard for me to understand how a staff under siege can be at their best. I mean, if you're constantly worried about what fresh crap the principal is going to rain upon you, it's got to affect your job performance.

Maybe the DOE spokesperson is taking misdirection lessons from Sarah Huckabee Sanders. From his words, you'd think everything was peaches and cream over there. It clearly is not, or you wouldn't have 90% of staff declaring no confidence in the principal. No one does things like this for fun. The staff is obviously demoralized and fighting for the decent environment they knew for many years before this Leadership Academy principal arrived.

This is a mess. Mayor Bill de Blasio failed the teachers and students in this city when he failed to purge Tweed of the fanatical ideologues planted by Michael Bloomberg. Forest Hills High School is but a symptom of the poison tree Bloomberg left in his wake.

Let's see if this mayor has the guts to do just a little pruning, at least. Then, he should chop down the whole frigging thing.
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