06/13/2011: "LETTERS ON: "Not Ready to Make Nice," Or Is It Time?"
To the Editor:
I don't think Mr. O'Donnell makes any reference to, or implication that specific parents are "coaching" their children in the evil of hatred. He is simply reflecting on very real feedback from his kids. Like it or not, our children will model our behavior - for good and bad.
In my opinion, Mr. O'Donnell merely proposes that we stay focused on positive, forward thinking attitudes towards the new principal. Unlike, Mr. Power's assertion, I do not think it necessary or even probable that Mr. O'Donnell will "confront the parents of those children in private" or even "out" the kids themselves.
I have never met the man, to my knowledge, but from his letter, I have more respect for him than to imply that. He heard his kids speak and he spoke his feelings to the community. Why can't we lower the flag of implied injustice, remove the "total recall" stickers and move on. Please, some of the community has had it's say regarding the stewardship of FHES. The school board responded, followed by the decision of our local branch of the justice dept.
Agree or not, let us not keep this us vs. them mentally any further. Ms. Askew makes some great points about accepting the new principal and I fully concur. My kids say "hate" alot. When it occurs, I find a teachable moment that relates specifically to the context of the situation. I "hate" the Yankees, [I grew up a Brooklyn Dodger fan] but that does not mean I hate Alex Rodriguez as a second baseman.
Lighten up and move on, please.
San Juan Island
To the Editor:
Mr. Odonnell, [see last letter below -Ed] who by the specificity of his description of the "kindergarteners and first graders" on his daughter's bus -- certainly has or can easily identify the parents whom he suspects of coaching hatred. I would suggest to him that a more adult way to handle the matter would to be to confront the parents of these children in private. Rather than out children publicly -- and, at the same time, paint a sizable class of island parents with the broad brush of dishonor.
To the Editor:
I'd like to respond to Mr O'Donnell's letter [see below -Ed]
about his fear that parents
who were supportive of Mr. Pflueger and who disagreed vehemently with
the actions of the school board may now be instructing their elementary
aged children to become haters of the interim Principal. It saddens me
that this idea could resonate enough for him to write a letter about it
and it saddens me to think that anyone reading it might accept the
proposal as at all believable. As one of those parents who was involved
in trying to organize an effective defense of a man with quiet integrity
my heart hurts to think that now my own children could be mistaken for
haters and perhaps that I might be suspected of misanthropic designs
toward a woman who appears to me to be well-qualified, enthusiastic and
deserving of our support as she jumps in with an open heart to try to
help heal some pretty sore wounds and keep things working for our children.
Indeed it is unlikely that children chatting on the school bus are
thinking about representative democracy and its relationship to their
life at all. Isn't it rather more likely that they are speaking from
their sense of general powerlessness? Even the least informed child on
that bus understands that there has been hubbub about Mr. Pflueger this
year and now he is leaving. They also know that a new lady will be in
his office in the fall. Haven't we all been a child startled at the
sight of a substitute teacher sitting in our teacher's chair and been
dismayed? Hasn't every substitute felt the cold draft of distrust from
a room full of small children who do not like unexpected change? Who
doesn't remember stories of pranks pulled on substitute teachers, names
reassigned, test papers unsigned, earnest assurances about rules that
don't exist? Or how about just a simple pact to hate the new person who
is replacing the one they know and love and who is a Stranger?
It seems to me to be quintessentially childish to approach change with
expectations of disappointment and to brace oneself for it by a
predetermined hate. Just this morning my youngest told me she 'hates'
scrambled eggs with green onions cut a certain way that was unlike the
usual way. Did she? No, of course not. Did someone coach her to hate
the new style of eggs? No, of course not. She's just a child. And so
were the children on the bus getting themselves ready for all the big
changes they are facing in their young lives, end of the school year,
summer of adventures and then to top it all off, a Stranger in Mr.
I hope we can all keep a little perspective about our sources of
information and give each other the benefit of the doubt as we all
continue to do our best to raise happy, healthy and educated children.
To the Editor:
The Dixie Chicks' Grammy winning song "Not Ready to Make Nice" could serve as an anthem for the many people on the island still irate over the firing of Gary Pfleuger. The song's themes of sticking to one's beliefs and especially its tag line of "I'm mad as hell" neatly capture the raw feelings of many of those who stood for hours at SJI school board meetings hoping to change the course of events.
Now that a new principal has been chosen, though, I think it's important to listen to another message from that song:
"It’s a sad sad story when a mother will teach her
Daughter that she ought'a hate a perfect stranger"
I bring this up because my daughter returned from school the other day puzzled and distraught by a conversations she'd heard on the school bus. Apparently kids around her were relishing how much they were going to "hate the new principal" next year. These were kindergartners and 1st graders, so I doubt they, personally, have strong opinions about how representative democracy let them down.
Principal Pfleuger may be leaving our school, but that does not mean that the "Safe, Civil, Productive" signs need to be torn down. The desire to keep him as principal was motivated in part by the respectful attitudes he inspired in his school. I hope that all parents who appreciated Gary's leadership will do him the honor of instilling those same attitudes in our children with or without him.
"They say time heals everything
But I'm still waiting."
San Juan Island