The President Has No Clothes On!
Are you familiar with the tale The Emperor’s New Clothes by Danish poet and author, Hans Christian Anderson? If you are not, I will summarize it for you now. There’s this emperor who seems to care more about his appearance than the safety or the mechanics of his country. One day, after hearing of the emperor’s foolishness, two swindlers have an audience with the emperor. During said meeting they boost the emperor’s large ego with compliments. Once they have the emperor under their control, they inform him that they are in possession of a fine cloth that they will gladly design clothes for the emperor from. This cloth is so special that only the best of the best can see it. To not appear stupid and unfit for his position, the emperor doesn’t admit that it’s invisible to him. Everyone around him does the same. When the clothes are completed, the emperor processes through the town in them and the swindlers exit. Not until a child has the nerve to point out that the emperor is wearing nothing do the rest of the people admit to it too. However, the emperor keeps proudly processing on.
Over the past couple of months I have been mentally redrafting an updated version of this fable. I’ll tell it to you now. Once upon a time there was a religious sister who acted as president at an inner city high school in Massachusetts. This school was a special school in that the students paid their tuition through a work study program. Each student was assigned a job at a local business where they worked once a week. Now this president had been running the school with a capable, well-liked male principal. However, this man lacked a doctorate. Considering that the school was hoping to be accredited within the next year or so, the president, caring more about her appearance than the welfare of the school, suggested that the principal seek employment elsewhere.
Hearing of an opening, a recently retired principal from another small local high school applied for the position. As he possessed the all magical doctorate, he was immediately hired. Once the school year began, the principal enlisted the help of his two best friends. It should be noted that these same two men were his vice principals (Yes, he needed two.) at his last school. These two men, obviously unable to lead lives of their own, seemed to always be at the school. Instead of the principal observing his teachers, he would send his buddies. If a teacher had a concern, it was to go through these two men before the principal. With such a system, it is not surprising that not a single concern was ever dealt with.
Now as the year progressed, the principal let slide many interesting indiscretions committed by the students. Now I’m not referring to the ordinary, every day issues. Issues such as talking, swearing, being out of uniform, chewing gum and not being prepared for class are reported weekly on a demerit sheet turned into a veteran teacher (She’s been there the five, long years that the school has been open.) who tallies the demerits up, enters them into the system and gets upset when the demerit numbers mysteriously get lowered. No, these issues are a tad more serious.
One example involves a student nearly wiping out his classmates and teacher in anger. A teacher was trying to give instructions. The aforementioned student wanted to hear his grades. The teacher asked the student to wait until the instructions were given out. The student wouldn’t let up and, after repeatedly asking him to wait, she told him to go see the principal. He wouldn’t budge. She stepped out into the hall to call for the principal all the while the student was yelling and punching at the air, his classmates too scared to move. If the principal had been in his office that was just across the hall, the situation may have been taken care of instantly. However, he was no where to be found. The president too was missing. The only guidance counselor on staff was missing too. Now, in the high school I attended, there were people called security guards who would have been called to take care of the student. Yet, this school employs no such people. How did this situation end? Luckily, the bell rang and the students left for the day. No administrator ever got back to the teacher about disciplinary action.
Another example is a student masturbating in a locked classroom during school hours. A teacher and her assistant were trying to get into the classroom as class was set to start in ten minutes. Being that the student worked at the school, he possessed the keys to nearly every office and classroom. He had locked himself in from the inside and had barricaded the door. Inside, he watched internet porn and did his thing. The assistant, having heard of this student locking himself in other rooms to do this, called for the student’s boss to come and take care of him. The teacher was to find out that the student had been labeled “unable to be hired out” after being caught doing this at his outside jobs. His outside bosses had assumed that the principal would’ve taken care of this. However, he didn’t. Instead, he allowed the boy to stay at the school and do his work study there. Now obviously this boy has a problem and the police should’ve been alerted. At the very least, the boy should’ve been expelled. Yet, he wasn’t because it would’ve tainted the school’s image.
A final example is the overwhelming amount of plagiarism. A student being too lazy to do their work, copies and pastes an article from the internet into a word document, removes any prior claim to the article, slaps their name on it and turns it in. The teacher, realizing that this work couldn’t have been done by a failing student types the first line of the paper into a search engine and immediately gets the original article. The teacher e-mails the principal, vice principal and academic advisor about the paper. The only response she gets back is from the vice principal instructing her to give the student an F for this paper “as past teachers have done for this student.” When more students plagiarize, the vice principal instructs the teacher to do the same thing. I don’t know about any of the schools you attended, by all three of the ones I went to would’ve tossed me out and put this offense into my permanent record. However, under this man’s leadership, plagiarism is perfectly fine.
How does the emperor…I mean…president feel about her magical doctor now? She supports him wholeheartedly, obviously having taken a mental vacation from the school since the day he entered the picture. How do the teachers feel about this man? Too sick of seeing this man destroy the school they had helped build, the bulk of the teachers have been sending out resumes to other schools since January. For a few of the teachers, this was a brilliant idea. The principal no longer wishes to employ them, his friends will take it from here.
One day, when the current principal grows tired of this school, he will leave and someone will have to clean up his mess. As he is an older man and retired once before, that day probably isn’t too far off. Though I wish someone would be for the president what the child was the emperor, I know that the president, like the emperor, would merely continue her precession. Yet, considering that each day more of the mess this man creates seems to spill onto the streets of the city, I wonder if the school will even get accredited.
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