On the definition of high school insanity

On the definition of high school insanity

You never make the same mistake twice. The second time you make it, it is no longer a mistake. It’s a choice. – Lauren Conrad

I’ve heard that the rivalry remains strong, but back in those halcyon classic rock days there was certainly no lost love between my Evanston Township High School peers and our New Trier High School compatriots. I won’t apply the slur we frequently hurled at our adversaries, but suffice it to say we fervently believed our far more diverse student body made us a little bit tougher than a bunch of lily-white kids from Winnetka, Wilmette, and Kenilworth.

Of course, we were lily white, too, but that’s beside the point.

Let’s just say those North (of Evanston) Shore suburbs weren’t exactly regaled for their tolerance when it came to any form of minority. While that’s still generally the case, it was more than amusing to read the recent Tribune report on two incidents clearly demonstrating how those New Trier sands have decidedly shifted to the left.

In the first case, a parent filed a complaint with the New York based Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism (FAIR) in reference to a New Trier teacher’s attempt to force a student to take a survey regarding their participation in the “Combined Racial Affinity Group” and the “White Anti-Racist Affinity Group.”

For the uninitiated – like me – according to New York’s Columbia College, a student affinity group provides a place “Where members of a shared identity (race, gender, sexual orientation, age, veteran status, ability status, etc.) engage in activities and discussion centered around their identity.”

Oh! So, the answer to racism and intolerance is to head straight back to the Jim Crow era. That’s good to know!

Whatever good intentions those New Trier administrators may, or may not have had, there’s no way that survey could be perceived as anything other than outright intimidation. The barely implied message, of course, was “We expect you to participate in this overly woke BS whether you like it or not.”

To make matters so much worse, when that singularly sane student correctly refused to complete the survey, the teacher threatened to take their cell phone away. How many times have I had to say, “You can’t make this stuff up?”

The parent correctly complained the school was trying to “compel speech” which is exactly what they were doing. It’s a lot like those Ukrainians “freely” voting to annex their regions into Russia.

But that farce pales in comparison to the second parental complaint which cited yet another New Trier survey. This time, students were asked to list their preferred pronouns and when and where they should be used. I’ll pause for a minute while you take that in…

On what planet does anyone with a quarter-of-a-brain think that asking high schoolers to out their sexuality to teachers and administrators is a good idea? What could possibly go wrong with  that? It’s a good thing I’m not a parent in district 203 because I would’ve descended on that principal’s office before the ink dried on those responses to raise all sorts of holy hell.

FAIR objected to this version of insanity by noting that requiring students to answer the pronoun question violated their First Amendment protection against being forced to adopt an ideology that might compromise their religious beliefs.

New Trier Superintendent Paul Sally responded to the group by insisting that students are allowed to join any group and staff and teachers ask students to share preferred names and pronouns in order to connect with them. Ah yes! Another administrative platitude that doesn’t begin to address the overly obvious issues we’ve just discussed.

Before you jump to any conclusions, FAIR is not the kind of organization you’d find on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s hate group watchlist. The non-partisan group, founded in 2021 by Bion Bartning, took flight when schools started developing anti-racist curriculum that “caused more harm than good” by highlighting racial differences which only serve to further the intolerance cause.

It’s nice to know I’m not the only one railing against these eminently counterproductive politically progressive school initiatives.

As I made my way through the Trib’s report, I almost managed to finish uttering the words, “You mean to tell me there wasn’t one New Trier teacher or administrator who had the brains and foresight to stand up and say, ‘Ya know! These survey questions may not be the best idea and here’s why.’” But before I could complete that thought, I realized that any district staffer who had the nerve to say the emperor had no clothes would quickly be branded as racist, homophobic, and transphobic by their self-appointed social justice warrior peers.

Though the Trib asked, D203 refused to comment on whether they’d change either policy as a result of those parent complaints, but I would seriously advise them to consider that possibility, because here’s what’s going to happen if they don’t.

Tired of being beaten over the head with a progressive cudgel, conservative groups are pouring money into local school board elections and getting rightwing candidates elected that fall squarely into the “redneck” category. Those boards’ former worries about the fiscally conservative variety getting elected will pale in comparison to the curriculum havoc these MAGA candidates will wreak.

And there are plenty of those hyper-conservative possibilities to be found in the New Trier school district, too. Thirty-seven percent of Lake County voted for Trump in 2020, and if you take Waukegan out of the mix, that number would soar to over 50 percent.

But here’s what really frosts my cookies. If our freakin’ educators are incapable of grasping the basic notions of cause and effect and creating an equal and opposite political reaction, then what hope is there for the rest of us – particularly our children? What do we do when teachers patently refuse to learn from their mistakes?

I don’t recall the phrase “social justice warrior” showing up in any educator job description, and unless they want to create the very reality they seem so terrified of, they better get back to teaching math, science, history, and English and leave the morality lessons to the parents.

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