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KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf
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Friday, December 02, 2005

Just Following Orders

Remember the New Mexico high school essay contest on why limiting marriage to heterosexuals is "vital"?

My post on that subject got a few people mad enough to e-mail Donny Ortiz, principal of Piedra Vista High School in Farmington, in protest. One of them is my friend from Joyful Alternative, and this is what she wrote to Ortiz:


I expect you have by now received many comments on the inappropriateness of requiring your students to write essays on the topic of why heterosexual marriage must be preserved. You might instead have asked them more generally how families could be kept intact, and your students might have been challenged to think deeply and propose reverting divorce laws back to the standards of the 1960s, raising the minimum wage to $10 per hour, or any number of other solutions.

But I see you are following the directives of some outfit called United Families International, whose Web site features stirring (although written as if by the average inth-grader) polemics against women earning pay equal to men's, because, after all, women naturally benefit from their husbands' higher pay, so they're not really losing anything. Therefore, your (and their) objective is not developing your students' thinking and writing skills; the objective is propagandizing students against nonheterosexuals and their rights to life. Frankly, I've been wanting to know exactly how my lesbian neighbors' existence can ruin my relationship with my husband and my marriage, because this whole line of attack makes no sense to me; from the objective evidence, they're better parents than I am, for one point. If any of your students' essays cast light on this question, please forward it to me.

Since you've apparently abandoned No Child Left Behind in favor of the directives of this dubiously credentialed private organization, I'm wondering instead about next semester's essay question. Is it "Why should illegal immigrants be summarily executed?" Maybe "Why is torture effective in learning which pupil hid the classroom wastebasket?" or "Why should your parents vote for school board candidates who are members of United Families International?"


Ortiz sent my friend an I-was-just-following-orders response:

I am sure you are somewhat misinformed regarding the essay issue. I only passed on what was sent to all administrators from the New Mexico Public Education Department. I cannot take credit from those who praise the essay, nor from those who are offended by it.

You raise some very interesting points in your message to me. I appreciate your willingness to let me know how you feel, and I respect that. I will continue to work hard on behalf of all students to improve our lives and our future, regardless of their religion, ethnicity, etc.


But notice that Ortiz didn't include sexual orientation or gender identity in his list of "regardlesses," still managing to avoid any responsibility for fostering discriminatory attitudes in his students.

You can e-mail the school district here.




1 comment:

datecan said...

yes that seems little rude

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