Press and online outrage has been brewing about two women for doing what they were asked to do. Both the First Lady of the United States (FLOTUS), Michelle Obama, and Principal of the W.F. Burns Middle School (POTWFBMS), Priscella Holle, have been ridiculously criticized. It's time for people to step back from the keyboard and breathe. Leave FLOTUS and POTWFBMS alone please.
FLOTUS Flouts the Kingdom?
It's common practice for the attire of the First Lady to be scrutinized, but as often happens the Tweeters and Bloggers were blind to the facts of historical precedent. President and Mrs. Obama visited new Saudi Arabia leader, King Salman, on Tuesday of this week, and she supposedly had the audacity to not cover her head with a scarf.
Rather then being an act of defiance, however, this was nothing more than common diplomatic practice. As explained in the NY Times article, "Michelle Obama Praised for Bold Stand She Didn’t Take in Saudi Arabia," multiple "uncovered" female dignitaries from the US and other countries have been welcomed by Saudi monarchs. This is a non-story that gained energy from ignorance.
Similarly, we have the story about Principal Holle's letter to families asking them to bring canned goods to school for protection against an aggressor. A photograph of her letter went viral, with people ridiculing her personally, the strategy being advocated, and education in general.
"This has to be a satire...I call BS...If my kid brings home a letter like that I'm homeschooling him!!!!" --Brandy M Pearsall-Valdez
"Sorry, but this is NOT the most dangerous, stupidest thing I've seen from an 'educator.' 'We need gun free zones at our schools to protect the children' is absolutely the most dangerous, stupidest statement from an educator!" -- Robert Gandy
The problem is that these amateur commentators didn't care to take the time to understand the strategy behind Principal Halle's request. Have you heard of A.L.I.C.E. training? The ALICE Training Institute was founded by the husband (and former police officer) of an elementary school principal after realizing the vulnerability of administrators, teachers, and students when facing an active shooter. Within this response strategy, students use cans of food, books, or other objects to distract the aggressor. I don't know if it works or not, but the training has been used for several years. The Draco Group is a company that we have used for the best threat preparation.
Assuming the worst of educators is common practice and part of the degradation of the respect for superintendents, principals, teachers, etc. Until you've walked in the shoes of these people, please be careful with your words. Just because you attended a school or two at some point in your life doesn't mean you know how to run a school. If you want to contribute to the conversation about education quality, starting with humility will strengthen your position.