Well, it looks like at least some sanity has come to Philly.
In the saga of student Samantha Pawlucy and teacher Lynette Gaymon, hopefully today puts the whole matter to rest. I hope. Not sure. But I hope.
Pawlucy, according to a Philly.com story — http://bit.ly/PUappo — returned to school today.
According to the Philly.com story, an assembly was held shortly after the start of school. A rally on the sidewalk in front of the school was held early to support Pawlucy’s return. About two dozen people held flags, sang the national anthem, shouting support for Pawlucy. Pawlucy read the beginning of the Declaration of Independence, and the group also recited the Pledge of Allegiance and sang “God Bless America.”
Meanwhile, within hours of the student’s return, Gaymon read a letter at an assembly.
The Philly.com story said Gaymon came to the school to personally address students.
“What I meant as a light and humorous remark during class has developed into a huge conflict between students, faculty, parents and neighbors,” the letter reads. “I truly regret that we have come to this point,” according to the story.
Continues the story:
“In the letter, Gaymon writes of her support for free expression and calls for civility in response to reported harassment and threats aimed at Pawlucy.
“’I’m very disturbed by the negative and hateful words and messages that have been directed at Sam Pawlucy. The bullying of Sam — on Facebook, Twitter, or otherwise-has to stop,’” the letter reads, according to the article.
I suppose I feel torn on the whole matter. I support the fellow students’ right to disagree with Pawlucy but was sickened by the degree to which the matter reached, especially given the mob mentality that social media can create. I am all about showing passion and strongly disagreeing with someone – but without the threat of physical harm.
For the record, I don’t believe the teacher’s notion that hers was an innocent act of a bad joke, a “light and humorous remark.” You can say something about someone’s shoes, their purse, whatever. When you go down the road of politics, personal opinions, calling someone out because of their personal point of view – and you’re a teacher – well, you’re treading down some dangerous territory and Gaymon should have known better.
And to make matters worse, it took way too long for the teacher to realize her mistake. The student and teacher still have not had a face-to-face discussion about the matter.
The media – yes, that’s us – also took the liberty of raising the temperature on the issue to where the incident sounded a lot worse than it was. It took on a life of its own and again, social media just fanned the flames.
Sure, Gaymon was out of line and should be disciplined. However, death threats? C’mon, not for this. Actually, not ever. As I stated before, the school should have put a stop to this before it got rolling. Mandate a meeting with the teacher and student and her parents. Force an apology from Gaymon if for no other reason than to prevent a riot! Make kids understand it’s OK to disagree among themselves but that teachers and other adults should know when it’s appropriate or not to inject person opinion. And make it clear that nothing, nothing, ever, ever, ever should come to blows, threats of violence or the like. That just can’t happen.
I have no problem with Gaymon being whatever political party she chooses, to vote for whoever she wants, to support anything or anyone. But as a teacher, you must know when it’s OK and not OK to put that stuff out there. Especially in this day and age. People are way too sensitive. And we know that so sometimes it’s better to keep it under your hat – especially where kids are involved as they are way too easily influenced.
A few days from now, this will all be a dead issue. The kids will have lost interest now that Gaymon has made her “plea for peace.” They kids will go back to arguing about whose music is best and where the best burgers are and who has the nicest car. It will all be a memory.
But I hope everyone learned a valuable lesson. And the lesson is to keep your opinions to yourself unless you’re willing to accept the blowback. In this case, Pawlucy caught a lot of crap from schoolmates and some of the public and Gaymon from unknown people as well as some of the students. Some bad judgment here but nothing that deserved the level to which this story rose.
Tolerance is something our schools – and our world – desperately need to learn. Differences of opinion don’t always need to end with a punch in the nose. But that’s where we’re at. Just look at the weekend wedding reception that ended in an all-out brawl. Come now, was the food that bad? Too many cocktails perhaps?
Too much violence, too little tolerance, too many lawsuits and way too many reasons to fight.
People, people. Calm…
– Andy Hachadorian