To the Editor:
I was disturbed by your story about the 8th grade “gifties” at Beaubien Elementary School, in Chicago (“Court Says ‘Gifties’ Misapplied Talents,” March 21, 2007). We are seeing younger and younger students who are challenging the schools’ ability to discipline by claiming their “rights” are being violated. I, for one, don’t think this is very funny. It will destroy the little bit of discipline that is left in our schools and society.
Basically, this group of gifted, spoiled, and elitist brats tried to ram down everyone’s throat what they wanted: that the design submitted by one of their members be chosen for their 8th grade class T-shirt. They were the minority and wanted the majority to kowtow to their whim. To accomplish this, they undoubtedly had parental support in the form of money and encouragement when they printed their own shirts.
How can a school district run itself, maintain discipline, and teach any type of character development when it is challenged like this? What message do we send to our children?
Free speech comes with responsibility. Without it, we have chaos. Our desire to protect and encourage the right of free speech for one group often infringes on the rights of others. A society cannot maintain order and discipline without respecting and protecting all its members.
There has to be some common sense when protecting free-speech rights at the risk of hurting others. I do realize that “common sense” is not so common anymore. One day our courts will be totally bogged down with these frivolous lawsuits—we are not far off now.
Target Consultants International
Center for School and Personal Safety Research
A version of this article appeared in the April 18, 2007 edition of Education Week as Writer Not Amused by Gifted Students’ Prank