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A SWAT for turning a student sit-in into a smackdown

Submitted by on Thursday, 25 June 2009 No Comment

She’s been banned from giving a speech at graduation, banished from grad night at Disney, suspended for two days and lost a summer tutoring job she was counting on to help pay for college.

Aurora Ponce must have done something serious to deserve having that much punishment heaped on. Dealing drugs at school or getting tipsy at lunch, maybe?


Ponce is the valedictorian at Wallis Annenberg High School, which is part of the Accelerated School network of Los Angeles charters. Her crime was standing up for what she believed in during a silent sit-in at school to protest increased class sizes, teacher layoffs and elimination of college prep classes, the Los Angeles Times reported.

No doubt the sit-in disrupted school, and there likely were more than a few students  who participated not because they care one whit but because they wanted to get out of class.

That’s usually the way it is with high school student protests. The difference, though, is in the administration’s reaction in this case.

Most principals have the sense to just go with it. They’ll let the students make their statement, under the condition that they then return to class and life returns to normal.

Leaders at Accelerated instead had Ponce escorted off campus.

What a great lesson they instilled. Gather calmly to make your objections known and we’ll get rid of you. We’ll punish you in every way we can possibly think of, including depriving you of a part-time job.

Administrators might have rationalized it by thinking they were keeping the peace or upholding discipline – no one knows because they aren’t talking.

What they really did, though, was show the students that a reasoned approach will draw the same martial-law crackdown as a riot. They created a serious disincentive for future upset students to chose the rational path.

They negated everything they ever taught these teens and young adults in civics classes.

And they showed themselves to be petty and vindictive.

Alleged leaders of Accelerated School, Stop Wasting America’s Time and start practicing what your teachers should be preaching. In this country, dissenting voices have the right to be heard.

Know of someone who deserves a SWAT? Click here to make a nomination.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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