Recently retired from a 40-year career in public education, I have led dozens of field trips, some with over 100 students in attendance. These trips demand a lot of organization and help from parents who want their kids to have a special educational travel experience. Besides the obvious safety issues, the most important item I impressed dealt with the way my students behaved themselves. They were told that their behavior not only reflected their character, but the character of our school, the community and me as well. I am very proud to say that my students always made me proud that I was their teacher and field trip leader. Simply, their behavior made me look good! So, I am not only outraged by the actions of those students; I am horrified to imagine the shame that the adult in charge of field trip must feel.
But after seeing so many “MAGA” hats on these students and learning they were there protesting on behalf of the “Right to Life” movement, I realize that these kids were probably led by an adult who impressed his/her particular ideology on them. Their chanting of “build that wall” as the Native American gentleman tried to continue his religious practice illustrated adult leadership that actually might have instigated this outrageous behavior. If this is the case, that person, whether a teacher or parent, must be called out for this and made an example of poor organization and inexcusably unintelligent leadership, possibly encouraged by the behavior of our president.
I wish the Catholic Diocese of Lexington the strength it needs to encourage diocese leaders to find out the teacher or parent in charge of this trip, because that disrespectful, youthful mob has tainted not only CCHS, but the community, the state of Kentucky and the Catholic church. Their organization might salvage some positive optic value with a public show of disapproval to this adult who, by allowing the confrontation to happen, has fomented children’s attitudes of bigotry, disrespect and intolerance. This act will also illustrate the church’s willingness to quickly and forcefully deal with an important issue instead of pushing it “under the rug,” thereby teaching students in schools across the nation that such behavior is wrong.
Mark Dressler, Former Performing Arts Director/Teacher, Laguna Beach Unified Schools
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