Unethical Quote Of The Week: Liz Sloan, Ellen Browning Scripps Elementary School Principal (San Diego)

“This morning we told the students that there will be no romance in 5th grade.”

Principal Liz Sloan, in a letter to the parents of fifth graders at the Ellen Browning Scripps Elementary School in San Diego.

"You're a bully, Charlie Brown..."

“You’re a bully, Charlie Brown…”

When exactly was it that the public schools began believing that they had unlimited power over the private lives of students? That they could encroach upon the authority of parents, as well as the natural autonomy of children themselves? is this a byproduct of the increasingly arrogant micromanagement of our lives by the government, and those who believe that liberty, even as it is expressed in the once sacrosanct realms of the family home or the recreation of children, should be subordinate to what government “experts,” bureaucrats and autocrats believe is “best” for us? I don’t know when, but I do know that I thank the fates every time I reflect on our choice to home school my son, not merely because of its effect on him, but because I fear that it would have taken just a couple of encounters with people like Liz Sloan to give me a police record that would have been a serious occupational handicap.

Here is the rest of her letter:

Dear 5th Grade Parents,

This morning Vice Principal Morici and I had a brief assembly with the 5th grade to address a problem that has come to our attention. Some of the students are playing a game where the winner directs the loser to ask someone out. Some of the boys have been pressured into asking girls out. At the least this is a kind of negative peer pressure and at the most it might be considered bullying. Some girls have been asked out repeatedly and are feeling harassed. There has also been other drama related to who has a “crush” on whom. Needless to say all this is creating an uncomfortable learning environment and distracting the students from their learning.

This morning we told the students that there will be no romance in 5th grade. They are not allowed to ask anyone out. They are not allowed to talk about who they have a crush on or send messages saying that they like someone. I told the students we cannot have any boy/girl drama and I emphasized that their purpose here at school is to learn in an unthreatening environment.

Thank you for your support,

Liz Sloan

And here is the letter I would have written to Ms Sloan, or one of her species, had my family been sent such a communication—after I calmed down, of course. which might take a few days:

Dear Ms Sloan:

Consider this letter official notification that my son will no longer be troubling you with his annoying development into a normal human being, a process you apparently were unable to navigate yourself. For that, you have my sympathy. For your letter, however, you and Vice Principal Morici have my contempt. I have always had contempt for fascists, and it is fascism that your letter and the attitudes behind it reeks of.

Be assured that while I will immediately remove my child from the adverse effects of your presumptuous attempt to control his thoughts and emotions, I will devote considerable energy to driving you and anyone who supports you out of the school, the school system, and the field of education generally. Given your absurdly expansive definition of “bullying,” perhaps you will consider this course bullying as well. Since your judgment is obviously impaired, I really don’t care.

You may not declare that “there will be no romance in the fifth grade,” any more than you may declare that there will be no joy in the soul or songs in the heart. Your job is to teach, but you may not presume to crush the spirit and essence of the students you teach, which is their humanity, in a futile but damaging effort to make your job easier at the cost of stunting their emotional development.  I will make the rules regarding my child’s age-appropriate activities regarding the opposite sex, or should he be otherwise oriented, the same sex—not his teachers, not his principal, and not some other elected or appointed power-monger. If there are mistakes to be made in my child’s rearing, his mother and I, not you, shall make them.

What games my child plays, what communications he makes, and what emotional attachments he favors are his to choose, and mine to regulate. His aspirations regarding the class’s equivalent of  Charlie Brown’s iconic “little red-headed girl,” to place this in a simple context you might understand, are none of your business. If such aspirations and his pursuit of them interfere with his progress in school, or hers, your proper course, the only proper course, is to contact the parents involved. You may not tell him not to “like” her, yearn for her, dream about her, write notes to her or about her or carve their initials in a heart on the trunk of a tree. Nor may you, under the false license of crying “Bully!” declare impermissible the centuries old process whereby children learn, by trial and error, how to become adults. Providing an environment for that crucial process, once known as “growing up,” is as important a part of schooling as learning lessons out of books, and, unimpeded by officious tyrants such as you, it is one of the few things schools can still do well.

I strongly suggest you retract your letter as quickly as possible, and apologize to all concerned, including the students. That will not alter my decision to remove my child from the risk of further harm by you and your colleagues, as a fascist in retreat is still a fascist. It is still what you should do, however.

Jack Marshall


Pointer: Fark

Facts: WIOD

Graphic: Wikimedia

13 thoughts on “Unethical Quote Of The Week: Liz Sloan, Ellen Browning Scripps Elementary School Principal (San Diego)

  1. I agree Jack. But, if sane parents withdraw their children (assuming they have the financials means to do so), isn’t the school winning? Administrators like this WANT to see the parents like you (who they see as trouble-makers) leave the school. Once the children are out, the school board really doesn’t give a damn. It’s just one less child to educate in probably what is an overly crowded system.

    I had a similar melt down last week at my children’s private school — which is not cheap. That morning, I had put an Annie’s organic fruit snack in their lunches — it was labeled as such. They came home unopened and one of the lunchroom teachers informed me that they are enforcing a strict no sugar policy at lunchtime AND that my youngest really didn’t need sugar because she has a lot of energy. (BTW — my youngest is in the 10% percentile for weight. If we can get her to eat anything we count it as a win.)

    I asked the teacher if she read the label and noticed that it contained only natural ingredients — she hadn’t. Then I asked if they also weren’t allowing yogurt, juice, and applesauce as those products often contain sugar. No, she said, kids were allowed to eat those products at lunchtime, but since the fruit snack looks like candy (and admittedly it does look like candy), I can’t pack it. Ridiculous. Oh, and of course the school is constantly handing out cupcakes and candy for special occasions, but an organic fruit snack? Only BAD parents would give their children such a thing.

    Man, I had just simmered down from that incident and now this post has me mad again…..

    • You know, studies have shown that sugar doesn’t actually make kids hyper. It’s more an effect of the environment that kids get sugar in- class parties, birthdays, ice cream excursions, etc. As a fellow Michigander I heartily endorse the concept of you marching back in with studies in tow to reemphasize that their policy isn’t just stupid, it’s irrelevant. I don’t know how much you get science but if you want help finding the cites let me know.

      • Thanks Luke — but it would fall on deaf ears. Private schools can have lots of benefits (more advanced classes, teacher to student ratio, etc.) but a definite minus is lack of parental influence. The school wouldn’t give a damn — and if I withdrew my kids they’d just advance others off the wait list.

        • I don’t know if that’s so different from public schools. Of course, it sounds like your kids are too young, but it’s always fun when it’s the students pointing out that the school is doing something flat-out wrong. Maybe not appreciated, but fun 😀

  2. If this principal thinks this is such a horrible situation, I think I would have to write her a letter explaining all the OTHER things that fifth graders do these days, as well. In very, very graphic detail. She is clueless. She might think a little innocent romance is a good thing after all.

    • I’m not kidding when I say I am afraid of what I might have done in those situations, though. In the private school we used while my son was in grade school, a teacher who didn’t like his attitude set out to humiliate him. You wonder why my son refuses to perform in any theatrical setting? When he was a third-grader, his teacher decided to make him play the Greek god of the forge as a stammering, limping hunchback, getting him abuse from the other kids which she did nothing to discourage—meanwhile all the other kids were in gleaming white togas and gold decorations, and he was covered in soot, dragging his foot, and speechless. He refused to take a bow, and told us, after the performance , that he would never act again, and he never has.

      And that was just the beginning.

      In four schools, public and private, I saw the secondary education system as run unethically and stupidly by rank incompetents at every stage. The exceptions were just that. I should have pulled my son out earlier. I’m always up for a fight, but not when the casualties will be children.

      • Good on you for standing by your son. I don’t know how old he is now, but even through high school the knowledge that my parents had my back if I really needed it was comforting.

        Oh, and to add my own horror story, the football coach-slash-guidance counsellor told me I wasn’t a man and wasn’t worth his time because I decided not to play football one year. Bad news coming from the man who has to handle my transcript requests and scholarship solicitations, especially when he started refusing to acknowledge my presence. Turns out a visit from the ol’ man can turn that attitude around in a hurry.

      • You’re a moron. If you’re son if offending other kids in 5th grade it is because you can’t be a man a teach your son it is not okay to objectify girls as a “prize.”. You all are jackasses who think jack is anything but a jack ass.

        • I’m going to break my own policy of banning commenters who burst on the scene with vivid self-declared idiocy like this, because it’s relevant to the recent post on the significance of errors in posts and comments. Let’s see: an idiotic misinterpretation of the commentary, a politically correctness-whacko condemnation of a game being played by %th graders, a typo riddled sentence that I had to read three times to parse, and an insult using my name that was really popular when I was 8. I almost made it a comment of the day.

          The post had exactly nothing to do with objectifying girls but rather with the fascist response by the teacher, who wrote:

          “Needless to say all this is creating an uncomfortable learning environment and distracting the students from their learning. This morning we told the students that there will be no romance in 5th grade. They are not allowed to ask anyone out. They are not allowed to talk about who they have a crush on or send messages saying that they like someone.”

          Teachers may NOT forbid nascent romantic rituals and affections among students of ANY age.

          You’re a dolt, Dan. Learn to spell, read and think: unless your next post is redolent of Shaw, Twain and Bertrand Russell, it’s going into the BAN FOREVER pile.

  3. Totalitarianism. Group-think. Bias. Liberal cant. Go public schools!

    Innocent crushes on kids in elementary/middle school are part of growing up, part of the realization of individuality, and a (usually) totally innocent part of emotional growth. Regardless of the feelings of parents (or of their admission of same), to fall into lock-step with such a moronic, controlling, ill-advised policy means only that said parents will fall for any propaganda espoused by anyone in authority. It’s frightening. (One hopes that perhaps this is changing, with the “are we on the right road with Obama” poll pulling him a whopping 40%, but I doubt it.) I also think blame parents — who seem too lazy or too busy or too self- or work-involved to get school-involved as well. So they deserve what they get. Join the PTA, scream bloody murder at this kind of thing, call a parents’ press conference… but do SOMETHING!

    And if correct-thinking (and financially able) parents take their kids out of public schools, who cares? What’s to damage? The only effect would be to save at least some kids from the prison of the current public school sector — physical, mental, and emotional.

    In my jurisdiction, a whopping 40% of kids are in private and/or parochial schools and/or are homeschooled. Why? This relatively wealthy jurisdiction ranked FOURTH FROM THE BOTTOM in the SOLs for Virginia. THEN, we learn that certain students were allowed to re-take the SOLs (presumably to get the jurisdiction’s numbers up). I should trust my child to a system like this???

    Quiz: Name two presidents of the United States and/or 20 Congressman who have sent their kids to public schools in the last 40 years. (And Carter doesn’t count;..) I do not comment on any assumed snobbery, but leaders (good and bad) want their kids to have a chance at leadership as well, in whatever walk of life they choose. And they know they ain’t gonna get it in today’s public schools.

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