We live in strange and sobering times. Actors, politicians, comedians and media moguls, to name a few, are being accused of some heinous crimes. In some cases, they are found guilty as they should be in a court of law that has been carefully created to provide an unbiased system and vetted to give the accused the best chance of a fair trial. However, even when these people are found innocent, or worse yet, stand up in public to the accuser with their own evidence, the court of public opinion condemns them and their career for life.

It is this guilty first attitude that has now trickled down into the Westfield Public School system and particularly Roosevelt Intermediate School. Something as simple as a student turning in a completed multi-page science assessment can now leave him disenfranchised and pessimistic about a teacher’s ability to be fair and unbiased instead of vindictive and immature. And when that student and parents stand up for what is right and fair, they are not engaged in thought provoking discussion as equals to reach a fair and enlightened solution. Rather, they are run through the gauntlet of a system of professional cronies that ends with an administrator saying soft, deflective non-committal responses like “I hear your concerns” while really not doing a damn thing about it. And despite evidence to the contrary, you unfortunately know in your heart that you have no other place to turn.

Taken a huge step further, it sadly makes me think once again about all the parents I personally know who have sought out 504 or IEP acceptance and subsequent action for their children. I have heard first-hand from multiple parents about being turned down or not being provided adequate solutions by the school/district. These potentially life changing decisions are not being made by unbiased professionals, but by groups of school administrators many of whom do not even have any direct specialty in these areas. Is it any wonder in this current societal environment that a whole profession has been created solely for student advocacy in these cases? And what about the countless families who cannot afford an advocate? 

Sign Up for E-News

Being a good parent and raising a child in today’s society with a proper moral compass is difficult enough with all the social media and 24-hour mostly negative news cycles. But when your own child’s teachers and administrators also take part in undoing all the lessons you have worked so hard over the years to impart on your child about fairness and seeking amicable and just solutions, maybe there are legitimate cases that the court of public opinion becomes the only reasonable and independent option left.

Glad Its Summer,

Aaron Turnof