Thursday, November 3, 2016

Educating educators who show poor judgment...

Earlier today, a friend of mine posted this article about two school administrators who made an unfortunate error in judgment.  Dr. Mark Rowicki, principal of Robert E. Lee High School in Staunton, Virginia, and school secretary Stephanie Corbett decided they wanted to get in on the fun of dressing up for Halloween.  Dr. Rowicki, reportedly a 22 year Air Force veteran who earned a doctorate in curriculum administration, opted to dress up like Donald Trump, complete with a "Make America Great Again" baseball cap.  Ms. Corbett dressed up as Hillary Clinton, though she didn't wear a pantsuit.  Instead, she wore prison orange, complete with belly chains.

The two were photographed and the picture was put up on the school's Web site.  Once some of the local parents got a load of the picture, pandemonium erupted.  While some parents thought the costumes were funny, many other parents felt the school employees were making an inappropriate political statement ahead of next week's election.  The photo was eventually taken down from the school's Web site, but not before it went viral.

I shared the first post with my Facebook friends with the comment "Tsk tsk tsk".  One friend said he thought the costumes were inappropriate.  I agreed.  Another friend said people were making too big of a deal about the costumes and too many people are offended these days.  Ordinarily, I might agree with her.  However, I can't believe that a man with a doctoral degree didn't see this reaction coming, even if he's working in a somewhat rural city in Virginia.  It really says something about the man's judgment or lack thereof.

The comments on the second article I posted are pretty fascinating.  It comes from a local newspaper in Staunton, so some of the commenters have students at the school or live in the community.  Lots of folks-- likely Trump supporters-- think this display is perfectly okay.  And lots of others feel it's inappropriate for a school employee to disrespect Mrs. Clinton by depicting her as a criminal, particularly since she has not yet been convicted of a crime.  The fact of the matter is, at this point, she is a presidential candidate and a week from now, may very well win the election.  How does it look for someone working in a school to project that sort of image, even if they're working in a place where a lot of people would honestly like to see Hillary Clinton locked up?

For those who think the principal and the secretary should have had the right to dress up anyway they wanted to, I'd ask how they'd feel if the principal and the secretary dressed up like Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun.  How about if they came dressed as a pimp and a whore?  Or how about if they wore blackface?  Could they have worn those types of costumes?  Yes, I suppose they could have.  But it would have been inappropriate and people would have gotten upset.  Given how emotionally charged the election is right now, I think these costumes were incredibly inappropriate and not particularly funny.

Some people in Staunton are calling for Rowicki and Corbett to be fired.  I don't know if I'd go that far, even though I do think they made a serious error in judgment and demonstrated very poor taste.  A lot of people in Staunton seem to think folks need to lighten up, though I wonder if they'd say the same thing if the principal had dressed as Trump in prison orange?  Somehow, I doubt it.

Seems to me that for a school setting, the principal and the secretary could have chosen any number of costumes that would have been in good taste and not upset anyone.  Why couldn't Dr. Rowicki come dressed as Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse?  Ms. Corbett could have been a mermaid or Little Red Riding Hood.  On the other hand, maybe the smartest thing to do was not dress up at all.  Because the truth is, people ARE a lot more sensitive now than they were when I was a kid.  And in today's political climate, it does seem to be risky to upset the apple cart with provocative Halloween costumes.

Actually, I'm surprised schools are allowed to even observe Halloween.  Seems like lately, most holidays are now verboten in public facilities.  But then, I know for a fact that a lot of Virginians pride themselves on not being politically correct.  I don't necessarily disagree with that attitude, by the way.  I do, however, think that people ought to have some common sense, especially if they happen to be in a position of authority.  I don't know if anything will come of this or it'll just blow over, but I do think these two idiots should have saved their costumes for an after work party... preferably one where cameras weren't allowed.





  

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