As a child and student, I remember being mortified many times by my mother's Letters. She was not afraid to let her voice be heard, to start petitions, to effectively "raise Cain" if needed. One of her favorite things to get ruffled about, as I recall, were the song choices by our elementary school choir teacher, Mr. DiMenna (affectionately nicknamed Mr. Demented, of course. His massive comb-over didn't help his cause any, nor did his Sansa-belt polyester pants.) He liked the 4th-8th graders singing songs that had lyrics like "lying next to you here in the dark". I would have been steamed too, but nevertheless it was still embarrassing to have to take her petitions around to all my friends' houses to see if their parents would join the cause.
I've written my fair share of Letters too, carrying on in her tradition. Maybe the fact that I got Letters from her and Italian from my father makes it near impossible for me to keep my mouth shut. And this latest episode at my daughter's high school is a real doozy, for sure. I appreciate so much the support you've given me, and I took the dear talented Letter Writer Supreme Josi Kilpack up on her offer to help draft a letter. She got right on it. I only tweaked it a tiny bit, and then personalized them for each recipient. The letter from yesterday's blog post was merely a theatrical effort to dramatize for the blog's sake. I know enough to not hit below the belt with name-calling.
So, without further adieu, here is the letter that I sent to the principal this morning:
Dear Principal Klewitz,
On Wednesday, October 15, 2008, my daughter, a freshman at Verdugo Hills, received a permission slip asking parental approval for her to attend “Spring Awakening” with her dance class, taught by Mrs. Weber, on November 5. The field trip, as I understand was initiated by the drama club coach, Mr. John Lawler. The permission slip gave a brief account of the “controversial” play, stating that it might not be appropriate for all students.
I am an ardent supporter of the arts and strongly believe that a solid foundation in theatre, dance, and music gives my children a wider view of the world and helps them to tap into their own creativity. I expect that to be the same goal of the public schools they attend, and am therefore extremely disappointed that the teachers and administration of Verdugo Hills High School would feel “frank portrayals of masturbation, abortion, rape, and suicide” are acceptable for any student.
With all the beautiful and edifying mediums of art culture available in this area, it is impossible for me to comprehend why “Spring Awakening” was the venue chosen. It is far beyond the scope of “education” for students to be expected to properly absorb and interpret the themes presented in this musical. Never mind that they are children, but to watch such “frank portrayals” surrounded by other teenagers is not only inappropriate, but extremely dangerous as they lack the maturity to fully appreciate the consequences of things like abortion and suicide. Part of our job as parents, teachers, and administrators is to keep our children safe both emotionally and morally while they are in our care, and this field trip promises to do neither.
The point of this letter is to let you know, without uncertainty, that I am absolutely opposed to this trip, not only for my child, but for every student. Its explicit content is counter-productive to the goals of education that as parents, teachers, and administrators we have all pledged to be a part of. I hope that you will reconsider the trip and choose a more educationally edifying event to support through both student attendance and the financial cost of such an endeavor.
In closing, please be informed that I have sent a copy of this letter to the LAUSD Board of Education District 6 member, Julie Korenstein; city council; and Governor Schwarzenegger’s office; as well as to the LA Times editorial office. I have also let Mr. Lawler know by email of my feelings opposing this field trip. I will be paying close attention to your choices in this matter as I evaluate what course of action I choose to take in the future.
Thank you for your time,
And true to my promise, I sent letters to Mr. Lawler (the drama teacher who drummed up this whole idea), the LAUSD Board of Education, my City Council Member, Governor Schwarzenegger, and the L.A. Times. It's been a busy morning.
And I'm sure Lyndsay is, for the first time, grateful that I have a different last name than she does.
P.S.--Thank you, Josi! xo!