Monday, March 3, 2008

Makes Cents To Me

Way back in the early Seventies, I was in high school and helped organize a protest of the Viet Nam War with a group called the Students for Peace. The name was fairly straight forward, and the head of the student group was inspired by the kids from the Supreme Court case of Tinker v. Des Moines School District (1969), who wore black arm bands to protest the war.

We followed the lead of those Tinker kids by calling a moratorium and inviting students to not attend classes, and join us on the picket line outside the school. It was a fairly powerful method of disrupting the school day en masse. Of course, not everyone who joined us was actually protesting the war.

Most of the students just wanted to have a good reason to cut class. But, our methods certainly empowered our student group, Students for Peace, and made the administration fear us, or so we thought. The student leader of that group is now a wellknown national Weight Watchers organizer and weight loss guru. So, I guess the organizing skills he developed back then went to some good use anyhow.

So, I am always glad to hear that student organizing and protesting are still with us today----no matter what the issue.

Last week several student eighth-graders in Readington Township ---29 to be exact---protested the shortening of their lunch period to just 30 minutes by using pennies to buy their $2 lunches. This created a time issue for the cafeteria staff and more than 32 pounds of pennies to be dealt with. And school superintendent Jorden Schiff did not think that it made much sense/cents: He decided to punish the offenders with a two-day detention.

Some parents put in their two-cents plain and thought that the punishment fit the crime, and some thought it was too harsh. Either way, eventually Schiff decided to rescind the punishment: “The school community has been through a difficult period, and we need to move forward," he wrote in a note to the parents. "We discussed how the incident has been blown out of proportion and how it has affected our children and our school community."

Ahem. I think he just did not like all the publicity.

Now, it is true that time is money---whether you’re 14 in middle school or 40 and at your job. Thirty minutes is just not enough time to get a lunch, pay for it, and eat it. What the kids did makes cents to me.

Give them more time to eat lunch. Seems that a Superintendent making $153,000 a year could figure that out.

Unless he wants to get paid in pennies, too.

No comments: