The Grinch

Grinchy Decision Ill-Timed,” Sioux Falls Argus Leader,, 24 December 2004.

Congratulations. If you do business in Sioux Falls, you helped make kids cry.

For the uninitiated, Sioux Falls is the largest city in South Dakota. After the Keenan debacle, the city’s school board selected Pam Homan as the new superintendent. She rapidly made a name for herself by continuing the school board’s lawsuit against an employee who wished to hold a prayer meeting after class. Several federal rulings and hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars later, she’s still losing. But unhappy with that petty and unconstitutional abuse of power, she’s now making little children cry.

Sioux Falls isn’t Whoville, and schools superintendent Pam Homan isn’t the Grinch.

It just looks that way.

Let’s review.

Teachers at several elementary schools, as well as Patrick Henry Middle School, planned to take students to see the holiday movie “The Polar Express.” For some students, it was to be a comparison with the book they read. For others, it was a party.

This is hardly unusual. Students take field trips and have parties and do all sorts of things older Grinchy-Claus types find wasteful.

But Homan decided to put her foot down. Cancel the plans. No movie, she said – dashing Christmas hopes of a thousand students, no doubt causing more than a few to cry boo-hoo.

Homan said she had good reasons. She would have us believe that this was no Grinchlike attack on all the Sioux Falls Little Cindy-Lou Whos.

“Given our focus on instruction time, the focus on increased accountability in our schools, the attention given to the quality of instruction and our efforts in the district to extend the learning time for students, my reason is, we were not going to allow the schools to take this amount of time to go to the movie theater,” Homan said.

There’s more to this story than this one editorial. There’s the fact that the trip was cancelled with about 48 hours notice. There’s the fact that the school district had to beg the local theatres to keep the movie ino Sioux Falls, and they in turn had to beg higher ups. There’s the fact that this is the latest of her arbitrary decisions. There’s the fact that she’s overriding teachers decisions on the best way to educate children. The fact that she doesn’t let principals run their schools.

And there’s the fact every resident of Sioux Falls pays for this. There’s the fact that public education, not content to be academically terrible, is determined to be socially terrible too.

Do I care if kids see this movie? No. But I care when money is picked from everyone in the district to subsidize a monopoly that warehouses children. It doesn’t teach, it doesn’t educate, and it doesn’t allow children to be children.

Public education: still terrible. And cruel.

The blanket elimination of movies as a field trip activity goes way too far. We’ve puzzled these things ’til our puzzler got sore.

Perhaps because she enjoys a good fight?

Or, just maybe, her shoes were too tight.

Or maybe she’s a government bureaucrat who enjoys the power she has over small children.

Only a very special type of person makes someone subsidize her job, takes children away from their families, and then breaks their hearts. Pam Homan is that type of person.