Russ Gibb at Random

Education that works

February 22, 2011


To the students and faculty of our high school:

I am your new principal, and honored to be so. There is no greater calling than to teach young people.

I would like to apprise you of some important changes coming to our school. I am making these changes because I am convinced that most of the ideas that have dominated public education in America have worked against you, against your teachers, and against our country.

First, this school will no longer honor race or ethnicity. I could not care less if your racial makeup is black, brown, red, yellow, or white. I could not care less if your origins are African, Latin American, Asian, or European, or if your ancestors arrived here on the Mayflower or on slave ships.

The only identity I care about, the only one this school will recognize, is your individual identity -- your character, your scholarship, your humanity. And the only national identity this school will care about is American. This is an American public school, and American public schools were created to make better Americans.

If you wish to affirm an ethnic, racial, or religious identity through school, you will have to go elsewhere. We will end all ethnicity-, race- and non-American-nationality-based celebrations. They undermine the motto of America , one of its three central values -- E Pluribus Unum -- "from many, one." And this school will be guided by America 's values.

That includes all after-school clubs. I will not authorize clubs that divide students based on any identities. This includes race, language, religion, sexual orientation, or whatever else may become in vogue in a society divided by political correctness.

Your clubs will be based on interests and passions -- not blood, ethnic, racial or other physically defined ties. Those clubs just cultivate narcissism -- an unhealthy preoccupation with the self -- while the purpose of education is to get you to think beyond yourself. So we will have clubs that transport you to the wonders and glories of art, music, astronomy, languages you do not already speak, carpentry, and more. If the only extracurricular activities you can imagine being interested in are those based on ethnic or racial or sexual identity, that means that little outside of yourself really interests you.

Second, I am not interested in whether English is your native language. My only interest in terms of language is that you leave this school speaking and writing English as fluently as possible. The English language has united America's citizens for more than 200 years, and it will unite us at this school. It is one of the indispensable reasons this country of immigrants has always come to be one country. And if you leave this school without excellent English-language skills, I will have been remiss in my duty to ensure that you are prepared to compete successfully in the American job market. We will learn other languages here -- it is deplorable that most Americans only speak English. But if you want classes taught in your native language rather than in English, this is not your school.

Third, because I regard learning as a sacred endeavor, everything in this school will reflect learning's elevated status. This means, among other things, that you and your teachers will dress accordingly. Many people in our society dress more formally for a meal at a nice restaurant than they do for church or school. These people have their priorities backwards. Therefore, there will be a formal dress code at this school.

Fourth, no obscene language will be tolerated anywhere on this school's property -- whether in class, in the hallways or at athletic events. If you can't speak without using the "F-word," you can't speak. By obscene language I mean the words banned by the Federal Communications Commission plus epithets such as the "N-word," even when used by one black student to address another, or "bitch," even when addressed by a girl to a girlfriend. It is my intent that by the time you leave this school, you will be among the few of your age to distinguish instinctively between the elevated and the degraded, the holy and the obscene.

Fifth, we will end all self-esteem programs. In this school self-esteem will be attained in only one way -- the way people attained it until the state of California decided otherwise a generation ago -- by earning it. One immediate consequence is that there will be one valedictorian, not eight.

Sixth, and last, I am reorienting the school toward academics and away from politics and propaganda. No more time will be devoted to scaring you about smoking and caffeine, or terrifying you about sexual harassment or global warming. No more semesters will be devoted to condom-wearing and teaching you to regard sexual relations as only or primarily a health issue. There will be no more attempts to convince you that you are a victim because you are not white, or not male, or not heterosexual, or not Christian. We will have failed if any one of you graduates from this school and does not consider him or herself inordinately lucky -- to be alive and to be an American.

Now, please stand and join me in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of our country. As many of you do not know the words, your teachers will hand them out to you.

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10 Comment(s)

Russ, What do you think of this artical ? These are some the same teachers skipping school. - Two-thirds of the eighth graders in Wisconsin public schools cannot read proficiently according to the U.S. Department of Education, despite the fact that Wisconsin spends more per pupil in its public schools than any other state in the Midwest.

--by Sandy on 2/22/11   Lives: Detroit area  

I don't know if this is a real letter. BUT IT SHOULD BE.

--by D B on 2/22/11   Lives: USA  

Russ, I don't think this is real, but we can all sympathize with some of the sentiments. The sentiment that rang loudly with me was 'no more attempts to convince you that you are a victim because you are not...Christian.' In Dearborn we see it all the time: so called 'community leaders' which include the imams, telling the Muslim kids they are victims. What a sad lie, and almost nobody stands up to the fact that it IS a lie.

--by Dearborn Observer on 2/23/11   Lives: Dearborn  

yeb, the liberal mouth piece of the Demorcratic party, Snopes will say it's a phony. But the fact is that what it is saying is TRUE.

--by Dellor on 2/23/11   Lives: Michigan  

Hi Russ,

As one of the military retirees that have portect our fundamental rights, It is refreshing to see someone (even if this is not true)to put to words what education should be doing.

When Brian Whiston first arrived here, he had the Michigan Leadership Institute conduct evaluations of the Dearborn High Schools. The report on its face was badly written and had grammatical and spelling errors in it.

The issue with Fordson High School was it was an Arabic high school in America, rather than an American High School with arabic student attending.

Dearborn Public Schools needs to revisit specific grading and coursework that will enhance the students ability to compete in the real world.

--by Military Retiree on 2/26/11   Lives: Detroit area  


--by Mark on 2/28/11   Lives: Dearborn  

Mark, Yes, most people Iam sure understand the letter is "Fictional" but the FACT remains that what is said SHOULD be said. Public education is in a very poor state today.

--by Collin on 3/2/11   Lives: Michigan  

To Nice Try: you make a point that, in Dearborn at least, we downplay the connection that Henry Ford had with Hitler, at least in Hitler's earlier days of power. Don't forget that we also downplay the connection that Muslims had with Hitler, as they gladly embraced his slaughter of Jews. "Who remembers the Armenians?" was Hitler's statement when told the world would protest his ongoing genocide. That Muslim hatred of Jews is more relevant than the views of Ford, as it continues today, right here in Dearborn. It is the politically-correct approach to life, however, to ignore such truths.

--by Dearborn Observer on 3/5/11   Lives: Dearborn  

Russ - nice to have you back.

This letter should be sent to every school district in the United States.

Many of the readers realize that it might not be real. Others, try to politicize it. None of that is important.

The letter, real or not, gets to the crux of the problem with education in this country - IT IS NO LONGER ABOUT EDUCATION.

Let's get back to teaching the 3 R's and the love of higher education.

If we don't, we will just keep falling further and further behind.

--by cloe on 3/9/11   Lives: Dearborn  

Military Retiree:

Thank you for your service to our country.

Brian Whiston was brought to Dearborn to be a hatchet man. This is his background, this is his specialty. He is not a scholar nor an educator nor a real citizen of Dearborn. He has no vested interest in Dearborn. The school board was not interested in his ability to articulate, just his ability to cut the bottom line without regard or remorse for the cost to our students or community. Why is anyone surprised that all we do is battle over money in this district instead of elevating our students? We now have a Governor who is just like our Superintendent. Look for the same level of performance from him as you see from Whiston. Lots of cutting that is not value driven, but politically driven.

The issue at Fordson High School was the placement of a fundamentalist Muslim Principal who related to and shared the same ideology of his uncle, the now deceased Shi'ite Cleric Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah who was the one of the leaders of Da'wa. We put this man in charge of a building full of young Muslim's and kept him there despite overt evidence that he had gone off the deep end years before. Fordson’s failing AYP scores year after year were not enough, so leadership did nothing. His supporters were louder and better connected than his detractors. Don’t blame the Principal, blame our leadership who pandered to the political pressure to keep him there.

We need not worry about specific grading and coursework. This district is so out of touch with “the real world” that all they can do is continue to do business as usual. Public school leadership and government are as far from reality and what works as they can be. If they knew what was going on out here, we would not be where we are now. As long as we have people who are insulated from reality we will continue down this spiral of poor performance, fiscal disaster and dissention with no resolution. The reality of this situation is that change is no longer driven by reality or outcome. We lack the intellect and imagination at the leadership level to make real change. Change now comes through the political necessity to act. As we see in the Middle East, political change is done when people flood into the streets and demand it. Dearborn citizens do not have any political will thus far to make change. No one is flooding into the board chambers so they will not change anything. If we were demanding better for our kids in a loud overt method, we would get the change we need. The citizens of Dearborn and Michigan don’t seem to want any more than what we have now.

--by Dearborn Guy on 6/6/14   Lives: Dearborn  

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