Clear need for accountability

I find three things to be common knowledge: the primary purpose of schools is to educate, publicly funded enterprises should not discriminate or intimidate minorities in any way and all officials should take responsibility where due and resign when necessary.

Now we move on to the widely circulated story of how Baraboo High School reacted to an incident where dozens of students cynically gave Nazi salutes in a photo. A district message, signed by the superintendent, implied that she had nothing to do with it and publicly declared that the district was potentially pursuing legal action against those students.

Besides the fact that the photo, the websites it was posted on and the setting of the photo were completely outside of the school’s jurisdiction (and any person with even moderate legal knowledge should have known that it was illegal to punish anybody for free speech), I cannot ignore the disregard of personal responsibility exhibited by the superintendent. I believe she should have acknowledged at least partial responsibility for the school’s apparent negligence in sending clear messages to students about behavioral expectations, among other things.

Never be impressed when a public leader tries to deflect personal responsibility by showing how angry or panicked she is. She apparently ignored most of the cynical behavior until it got out to the press. Public schools are not running efficiently in America, and part of the reason is that we do not have a culture of accountability among the staff of our schools.

I recognize all the great people who work in schools, but I also recognize that more needs to be done about the people who do not hold themselves to a high standard in the public schools they work in.

Michael Hurlburt