Red Apple Mom

April 7, 2011

School Board Member Janie Strauss’ Sanctimonious Stretch

Check out Robert McCartney’s terrific column today in the Washington Post titled: Fairfax Schools Are Right to Relax Discipline Policies.”

Jane Strauss-Generation "Out of Touch"

Generation "Out of Touch" School Board Member Jane Strauss (1995-current)

In this article, School Board member Janie Strauss once again positions herself as the “generational expert” on all things academic – this time conjecturing that Baby Boomers and Gen Xers have different attitudes about the Fairfax County Discipline Policy.

If this doesn’t qualify as a sanctimonious stretch, then we may have to rewrite the definition of sanctimonious.

People of all ages who know I’m a parent advocate continue to approach me wanting to discuss the ongoing news headlines about the discipline issue.  There is no generational “gap” in these exchanges – just a common reaction of disgust that it has taken two student deaths to waken the school system from their torpor.

The public’s desire for change has NOTHING to do with being a Baby Boomer or a Gen Xer.

It has everything to do with the perception that students in Fairfax County Public Schools have fewer rights than prisoners at Guantanamo.

It’s about the reality that anyone’s child could become one of FCPS’ next “victims.”

It’s about School Board members like Jane Strauss who remain completely out of touch on what this issue is really about – fairness!

At Monday’s work session, School Board member Sandy Evans advocated that parents need to be brought into the discipline process sooner saying, “Students confess and sign written statements before parents are called.”

One of the participating principals replied, “Is that a bad thing?

Yes principal that is a bad thing.  Here in America, confessing and signing a written statement under coercion or pressure without representation is a problem for most people who want to see justice applied.

I come from a law and order family, so I’m not soft on the safe schools issue.

My father spent years as an undercover narcotics agent in Detroit.  He’s worked in schools, busted drug dealers and disrupted gangs.  He’s literally seen it all.  Now in retirement, he accompanies my mom who teaches art to “troubled youth” at an alternative high school in Knoxville, TN.

Even my tough guy dad says he finds FCPS’ discipline policies disturbing – particularly the lack of immediate parental notification.

So let’s end this silly and unproductive academic exercise about Baby Boomers versus Gen X, Y or Z right here and now.  This debate is about fairness to students and putting some checks and balances on overreaching disciplinary policies and power-hungry FCPS officials.

Oh, and look – here.  FCPS is advertising in the Washington Post to hire another hearing officer.  Starting salary is $64,826 for the US27 position.  I’m guessing interested parties with common sense and a heart need not apply.

Sidenote: Kudos to the Fairfax County Council of PTAs who passed a FCCPTA Parental Notification Resolution Monday night.  A Fairfax Education Coalition (FEC) member who attended the FCCPTA meeting reported that FCPS Assistant Superintendent Barbara Hunter, who is with the Department of Communications and Community Outreach, cast the ONLY NAY VOTE for this clause in the FCCPTA parental notification resolution: RESOLVED:  The FCCPTA Executive Board supports changes in the FCPS discipline process to prevent students from signing or executing any written statements except in the presence of a parent or guardian.

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