“Schools Aim for Culture Change” (in the Feb. 3 edition) echoed my calls as a school board candidate for urgent change to nurture a higher standard of civic culture in our schools. Our campaign included student empowerment and discipline programs proven nationally to harness peer pressure among students to promote good character values.
Recent LBHS racial bullying, and now a violently anti-social student film, remind anyone who has been paying attention that selective tolerance for diversity at LBHS is not new. In 2002 racial tension between home and visiting sports teams and spectators escalated. Instead of calling on the school community to be good hosts to all visitors sharing our stadium, school district officials erected temporary bleachers across the field, segregating visitors in inferior separate facilities.
That modeling of tacit if not overt intolerance for those different from us also reminds anyone paying attention that anti-social behavior doesn’t begin or end with our kids.
The Breakers Live student video, featuring baseball bat wielding masked attackers descending on a hooded victim for a beat down, foreseeably would impact a more diverse audience in a profoundly negative way. Only the homogeneity of a close-knit group mentality made it seem acceptable as social parody, even humorous satire, or, as one clearly clueless school board member saw it, just “being goofy.”
What’s not goofy at all is the fact that in 2016 the overtly anti-social and violent content of the Breakers Live beat down video was explicitly modeled by school officials in a SchoolPower video. Made by adults not kids, that video openly ridiculed parents identified with opposition to school district policy, who are depicted in the video hiring a biker hit-man to assassinate the superintendent by slitting her throat.
With school district approval this anti-social SchoolPower video was posted on the school district website. All school principals sent scripted official e-mail blasts promoting the video as “brilliant” must-see social satire with a powerful school policy message.
Why should the students and faculty member who made the Breakers Live snuff video, or for that matter students who threw watermelon at the doorstep of a black student, be held to a stricter standard of accountability than our school board and superintendent?
To produce positive change in school culture, clearly adults in the school community need accountability and consequences for anti-social misconduct as much or more than the students.
Howard Hills, Laguna Beach