Thursday, May 13, 2010

Putting politics over students

The Highland Park high school girls basketball team from near Chicago
won their conference championship and have been raising money from selling cookies to pay for the trip to the tournament. However, the tournament is in Arizona so the Assistant Superintendent Suzan Hebson has ruled that they can travel partly because based on safety and partly on principle.
She said no one knows yet how Arizona will enforce its law, which requires police to check the papers of anyone they suspect of being an illegal immigrant.

But she also said traveling to Arizona "would not be aligned with our beliefs and values."
What are her fears for safety? Does the team have illegal immigrants who may be committing crimes while they're at the tournament and so have to show their documents? If not, what possible safety concerns could she have now in May that she hasn't had since the team qualified for the tournament? Why punish the students just so she can make a political point? But there are, apparently, no illegal immigrants on the team.
"We would want to ensure that all of our students had the opportunity to be included and be safe and be able to enjoy the experience," Hebson told the Tribune about the tournament. "We wouldn't necessarily be able to guarantee that."

Parents said there was no vote or consultation regarding the decision, which they called confusing, especially since they say no players on the team are illegal immigrants.
And it is not as if the school has a policy of preventing kids from going out of state on school trips.
“The school has sent children to China, they’ve sent children to South America, they’ve sent children to the Czech Republic, but somehow Arizona is more unsafe for them than those places,” he said.
Just think of that. It was fine for them to travel across the world to a country where dissidents are jailed and those from a religious minority, the Falun Gong, are imprisoned and their bodies mined for organs, but officials don't want the girls to travel to an American state that has a law designed to enforce provisions that have been on the federal law books for decades.

This isn't keeping the Olympics team back from Moscow because the USSR invaded Afghanistan. This is an example of a school official using her political beliefs to make a statement at the expense of a team of student athletes who had worked hard for a goal and now are being used as pawns for the assistant superintendent's political grandstanding. For shame.