The Curmie votes are in. This is Rick Jones’ annual prize awarded to educators who embarrass their (and his ) profession. Go to his blog, Curmudgeon Central, to see the winner and the vote totals. I don’t want to spoil the suspense. Check out the nominations here if you haven’t already. A couple of observations, though:
- I would have bet on the ultimate Curmie winner, though I didn’t vote for her. I was one of the few that voted for the Griffith public schools, which punished three students because the administrators didn’t like their choice of words on Facebook. This is more than an embarrassment, but a disturbing trend, as I’ve written before, with schools presuming to control off-campus speech, which is 1) Big Brother stuff 2) the parents’ job 3) none of a school’s business and 4) something school staff are not qualified to do.
- Rick noted in his email to me that Ethics Alarms never covered the first four finishers, showing how many of these incidents there were. He’s right: it’s like the teachers having sex with students stories. There are about seven or eight of those a month I read about, and I can’t write most them all, because it’s essentially the same issue over and over. In addition, the most outrageous of the Curmie nominations aren’t necessarily the most ethically provocative or significant, although I remember having the winner on my topics runway and never getting to her.
- Next to the results are Rick’s commentary on yet another one of these “pusillanimous principal caves to officious intermeddling puritan parent who is scandalized by a Broadway show” incidents, where a student theatrical production gets killed, disappointing students and families, after it has been duly approved and gone into rehearsals. I recently wrote about one of these in the tale of a doomed production of “Legally Blonde” here, and my comments on that fiasco pretty much apply. The trenchant paragraph in Rick’s excellent coverage of an “All Shook Up” production that was a casualty of similar official negligence and cowardice (combined with the imposition of new and overly-restrictive standards for student productions) is this:
“…the play was allowed to head into rehearsal, during which time no one from the administration bothered to read the script, attend a rehearsal, or otherwise check out a play that was based on the appeal of biggest sex god of his generation. And, remember, this was a play that had already been approved. It apparently occurred to no one in authority that the new regulations might make a show that was acceptable under the old standards to be problematic under the new ones. Moreover, a subsequent news article suggests that “district officials said they failed to give All Shook Up careful scrutiny.” This, apparently, was the fault of the production staff and the students instead of the people charged with providing that scrutiny, as they were the ones punished for district officials’ incompetence.”
The larger issue here is the widespread hostility and marginalization of the arts in schools. Student musicians, singers and actors are routinely mistreated as the path of least resistance whenever a school administrator feels some heat. Surely there must be cases where a principal advises some twit who complains that “Guys and Dolls” is too racy for high schooler to skip the show, watch the “700 Club” and shut up. Maybe they don’t make the news. Or maybe it never happens.
- Elsewhere on Ethics Alarms in the comments on the Sondheim article, we have been discussing the reasons for the demise of the American musical. This is one of the causes.