Wednesday, February 11, 2004

They didn't get all of the story 

There was a debate on the social science standards a week ago last Friday at Normandale Community College, reported by suburban newspapers as heated. But it appears they did not give the entire story of this DFL-sponsored event. One of the participants was Dr. Chuck Chalberg, a history teacher at NCC, who sent a letter about it to the head of the district DFL.
. Ms. Lonnie Skrentner�s attack directed at Todd Flanders was both uncalled for and unprofessional. Ask yourself this question. Had Dr. Flanders been the head of a private black academy or a private Muslim academy would she have dared to take the shot that she did. I seriously doubt it. No, make that, I feel certain that she wouldn�t have so dared. In fact, I doubt that so much as the thought of launching such an attack would have crossed her mind. But what did cross her mind�and what then came out of her mouth�cannot be ignored.

...Ms. Skrentner chose her words carefully. Speaking from a prepared text, she made it quite clear that she apparently believes that there are, in fact, some real to her understanding of diversity. She might have simply questioned whether the head of a private academy period ought to have had a role in this process. That would have been bad enough. But she wasn�t content with that. Instead she felt it necessary to add�and with obvious inflection, I might add��Catholic,� as though such a person could not and should not have had a role in this process. Is Mr. Flanders a citizen or is he not? Why should it not be concluded that she was trying to read citizen Flanders, and by implication, any Catholic, out of this process?

If I were a Republican party operative ... I would want that tape to be viewed by every Catholic voter within reach.

... I wonder what Ms. Skrentner meant by her reference to the Providence website and its claim that their students study the best that has been written. (I don�t recall the exact line.) Was this somehow a stab at what she presumes to be their arrogance? Not that it strikes me as arrogant at all. They study the classics among, I presume, many other things. What�s wrong with that? Nothing. In fact, that was once the basis for all education and for any number of good reasons. A study of the classics helps do what the DFL was trying to do last Friday evening. Such study helps make better citizens. It also helps make better students. Providence has made an attempt to determine what it thinks is the best that is worth studying. What�s wrong with that?

I've uploaded the entire letter with Dr. Chalberg's permission, because it bears careful reading. Dr. Flanders, the headmaster excoriated by Ms. Skrentner and by Mr. Seeba earlier, is being deprived of the same speech rights that others wish to deny those who exercise political free speech through contributions to candidates. This exchange went right over the head of the reporter. According to those present with whom I spoke, Dr. Flanders chose to ignore the slap, which might explain why the reporter let it go as well. But we should not.

The newspaper blandly reported on Ms. Skretner, a teacher at Edina High, with a rather innocent quote and the usual complaint that the standards "are not age-appropriate". At what age is it appropriate to decide which religious beliefs get to sit on the standards drafting committee?