Monday, April 14, 2008

Bilbo Backs Down

"This is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure, and found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected. He may have lost the neighbours’ respect, but he gained – well, you will see whether he gained anything in the end."

- J.R.R. Tolkien, 'The Hobbit'
I've been working on this post piecemeal through the weekend, and I'm kind of glad I waited after reading this evening's breaking news from the Sentinel.

My son was in the thick of the Bud Glover controversy at Grand Junction High School. I'm really not, and in my position all one could do was watch and evaluate what was being said. I've no personal knowledge of Mr. Glover or his abilities as a coach and teacher, but there seems to have been plenty of commentary online from people who do.

Based on the gregariousness of his supporters and the reticence of those who may have other opinions, I'm glad that Mr. Glover got his job back. If he didn't, I would have hoped he felt free to disclose what the school's difficulties with him actually were. That's about the only way any information would have come out, considering that with the reported resolution of the issue the involved parties will politely move on with things.

When this all started last week, School District 51 was on red alert with shields up, and Chief Information Stonemason Jeff Curtland (sic) had the spin machine at maximum warp when he put this gem out to the Sentinel's Anna Maria Basquez:

"'We can acknowledge that obviously we had a group of
students that reacted to a situation,' Kirtland said of Wednesday’s protest."

"Reacted to a situation". Kind of reminds me when the CAPCOM for the Challenger mission in 1986 called that a "major malfunction".

“The school made an attempt to provide information the best that they could. Beyond that, it’s really a situation between the principal and the coach. It’s a matter of how we support kids and stay focused on what we’re going to do next year.”

Translation: It's none of your business, and we'll be better off when summer comes and this all blows over.

The seeming success of those involved in attempting to influence Principal Bilbo's decision should be celebrated briefly, and then hopefully translate into increased collective resolve for the longer term. I've heard that the students still plan to wear the t-shirts they had made as a show of solidarity behind Mr. Glover.

I hope that those involved will consider this just the beginning of a renewed interest in the issues surrounding their lives and education. I can think of a few issues that the Class of 2009 can set the stage for addressing collectively at the end of this school year, and continue this on into their final year of high school.

Jon Bilbo will hopefully be forthright, gracious, and magnanimous in explaining his decision to the GJHS student body. Judging from the school district press release as quoted by the Sentinel, it looks as if he won't have to try too hard to say something meaningful in comparison to the doublespeak produced by the Curtland Spin Machine.

Mr. Bilbo can go a long way in helping to repair the relationship that was damaged by this episode. As Ralph D'Andrea said so well today, the students are his customers, and if he's not prepared to level with his customers about decisions that affect them, perhaps it would be best that he set himself along the path that he would have set Bud Glover on. Perhaps he can invite Jeff Kirtland along for company. Glade Park isn't necessarily Middle Earth, but it's close enough.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

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