Monday, October 5, 2009

Know Why Our Kids Can't Read?

Interesting story in the news over the weekend. A New York mother is fighting with the local school board because they claim their school policy prohibits allowing her 12-year-old son from riding his bicycle to school. We have here the obvious angle of I don't know anything that would give a school board the authority to tell you how your child can and cannot get to school but, believe it or not, there is actually a more interesting (read that as "absurdly stupid") facet to this story. According to Saratoga Springs superintendent Janice White, it's all just a misunderstanding. She says, "The existing policy is worded in such a way that it may lead one to believe that we're prohibiting biking to school."
Is it possible that one of our esteemed public schools has a policy that is so poorly written that such a misunderstanding could happen? Let's look at the policy and find out.
"The riding of bicycles by elementary pupils to and from school is prohibited."
Yep, I can see how such a long and convoluted sentence might lead one to false conclusions. Wait a minute! Ms. White, we seem to have a problem here.
There is no misunderstanding here. This is not a case of "might lead one to believe". That policy expressly states, in words that even a New York politician could understand, that this school board thinks it has the authority to prohibit the riding of bicycles to and from school. I even tried to play lawyer and twist it all around to come up with something else and it can't be done. "The riding of bicycles ... is prohibited."
Do you begin to see the humor here? How about the problem?
How are our children supposed to learn to read if the very people in charge of that education can't read themselves? I'm perfectly familiar with the normal phenomenon of political doubletalk, but that hardly applies here. Someone in charge of teaching young children does not, under any circumstances, get the luxury of claiming that words mean something other than what they do mean!
First of all, kudos to the mom for telling a school board where to stick their arbitrary power grab and for making it public so they couldn't schmarm their was out of it. Those of you in the Saratoga Springs voting district, however, might want to consider finding a new superintendent because this woman is really making you look stupid.

1 comment:

  1. You missed the obvious connection that supported the Superintendent's claim. And, it was even given BY a "New York Politician."
    He historically rebutted: "It depends on what the definition of "IS" is."
    He now resides and works in New York you'll recall.