With Liberty and Justice for All

Tuesday, I was at the National Conference of State Legislatures listening to panelists talk about education and results based accountability. I’ve wondered about the unintended results in education. I touched on this briefly in a post about the Freedom of Information complaint filed against the Lewis S. Mills School in Burlington, CT.

Andy Thibault has been following this closely at Cool Justice and pointed me to Chris Powell’s wonderful column Inadvertently, school teaches about liberty.

Doninger and her friends also were forbidden to wear to school T-shirts with inscriptions supporting freedom of speech.

It all will be a nice counterpoint to the next recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag at Mills High School, what with its proclamation of "liberty and justice for all."

Powell’s article captures very nicely the truly teachable moment taking place at Lewis S. Mills School. Yet for teachable moments to take place, people must know about them and Thibault and Doninger are providing an important service in bringing attention to this teachable moment. I hope it spreads.

Being the instigator that I am, I hope the students and teachers at Lewis S. Mills school all return to school wearing T-shirts that simply say “Liberty and Justice for All”. Will the school, in the middle of this lawsuit send students home for wearing a quote from the Pledge of Allegiance? How will the administration treat teachers that try to use a teachable moment to encourage students to think seriously about what the Pledge of Allegiance means?

Beyond that, I do hope that the administration comes to its senses soon and settles out of court. Wise educators know not only when to take advantage of a teachable moment, but they also know when it is time to move on with the lesson plan. I hope such a settlement includes a way to bring closure to the teachable moment.

To me, the best closure would include a school assembly with Thibault, Powell and others on a panel talking about the importance of vigilantly protecting liberty and justice for all, followed by the musical event that precipitated the whole morass. I also hope college admission officers around the country take note and fight hard to recruit Avery Doninger.

I remain the optimist. I do believe in liberty and justice and all, and I salute Doninger, Thibault, Powell and everyone who is standing up it.