You can’t Censor Away Incompetence

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006 3:21 pm by Neal

(Hat tip: Our friend, George P. Burdell)

Here’s a story that is fooling exactly…no one.

The St. Petersburg Times is reporting that the principal of Hillsborough High School censored an article in the student paper in order to protect his poor, delicate students’ self-esteem. There’s only one problem: the principal is full of bullshit and is instead using censorship to cover for his own incompetence.

TAMPA – There are few issues in American education as widely discussed as the achievement gap, the racial divide that separates the academic performance of white and minority students.

But not at Hillsborough High School, where the principal pulled an article detailing the school’s achievement gap from the student newspaper.

Principal William Orr called the content inappropriate, even though it focused on data the federal government publicizes under the No Child Left Behind Act.

Instead of a story and chart, students found a gaping hole Monday in the Red & Black, the school newspaper.

“If it’s something that has a potential to hurt students’ self-esteem, then I have an obligation not to let that happen,” he said. “I don’t think it’s the job of the school newspaper to embarrass the students.”

Editor-in-chief Emily Matras wrote the article, which included a chart breaking down Hillsborough High student test scores as reported on the state Education Department’s Web site. She wanted to let classmates know what the school administration was doing to address the divide, including a schoolwide reading push.

Students stayed at school until 8 p.m. Friday cutting the article out of Page 3 in the October edition. It was replaced by a stapled note explaining that the administration offered to reprint the edition, but the newspaper’s staff didn’t want to delay publication.

Students were told not to talk about the article. The St. Petersburg Times contacted several after learning what happened.

“It did not condone anything immoral. It didn’t talk of drug use or pregnancy or teen violence,” said Simone Kallett, the newspaper’s features editor and a sophomore. “It was a very fact-based article, and we don’t understand why it was pulled.”

Orr allowed a Times reporter to read the article briefly in his office, but not to quote it.

The Red & Black’s faculty adviser, Joe Humphrey, declined to answer questions about the article when they came up around campus.

“We were told not to publish, and by word of mouth or otherwise we have not published it,” he said. “Our primary goal when this happened was to still get the newspaper out.”

“If it had appeared in the Tampa Tribune or St. Petersburg Times, we wouldn’t have thought anything of it,” said Bertha Baker, assistant principal for administration. “But a student newspaper has to be a little more sensitive to the feelings of the students.”

Par for the government-school course.

We love these kinds of stories because they so aptly demonstrate how stupidity cannot be contained or covered-up. Principal Orr censored the paper to cover his own incompetence, and now everyone in the country gets to hear what would have remained a local story! Thank you, principal Orr for yet another demonstration on why anyone who puts their child in a government school is committing an act of child abuse.

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