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Valedictorian Silenced

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The valedictorian of a charter high school in Los Angeles was barred from making her graduation speech due to her participation in recent school sit-ins organized to protest the direction of the school, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Aurora Ponce, the senior class president of the Accelerated School, one of a family of charter schools in South L.A., said the school administration has also taken away her summer tutoring job and other honors.

"We, as students, we feel like we are not being heard," said Ponce, who has a near-perfect A average. "The administration treats us like we're ignorant."

School officials involved in the incident did not return calls to speak about incident to The Times.

The popular Accelerated School’s collection of schools were once known for their collaborative environment between students and teachers. However, they have recently been criticized for instituting a more hierarchical school-management system that is reportedly unresponsive to parents and students and covert in its decision-making.

Ponce participated in a sit-in along with dozens of other students on May 15, protesting the authoritative management, as well fewer college prep classes, larger class sizes and teacher departures. Although it’s unclear how many students were punished, Ponce said she was immediately escorted from the school and suspended for two days.

Aurelia Teodoro, whose child was also suspended for two days for participating in the sit-in, said, "I'm so angry because they are abusing our kids and the parents and the teachers.”

Update 6/30/09:

Ponce was allowed to give her valedictory speech at the Accelerated School’s graduation ceremony in South L.A. this past Saturday. After two hours of discussion with school officials on Friday, the issue remained unresolved, Ponce said, but ultimately she was given permission to present her speech, according to the Los Angeles Times.

5 Comments

All I can say is Wow! You wouldn't have seen this in the 60's or 70's. What's happening to America?

"abusing" --- Aurelio's got the vocabulary down ...

Actually, this all started in 1969 with Tinker vs. Des Moines, and every "student rights" case since then has further defined this ruling that basically said students can say and do anything, as long as it does not cause a "substantial disruption" or is not considered lude and lascivious. The word "substantial" leaves lots of room for interpretation, and sit down strikes may fall under this. http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/comm/free_speech/tinker.html

When will the public finally look at situations like this and see the weakness is squarely in the educational administration leadership? If this is how the schools' academic achievers are treated, venture a guess as to how the 'average kid' moves through this oppressive system. How sad when administration is afraid of, and punitive toward, its most talented students instead of supportive. I would also suspect that the support for the arts in this school is on par with how the academic achievers are treated. What a shameful mess.

The Valedictorian was not disciplined for participating in the sit-in, but for barging into and disrupting classrooms to encourage more students to join. I know, my child was in one of them. I'm glad that the school ended up allowing Aurora to speak. We will see if the school also relents on the job she was removed from. I think it would be hard to hire someone who has a history of defying authority and disrupting the very business the school conducts. If they pay her for that, it shows how charters are becoming so much like the worst of public system.

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Recent Comments

  • Kevin Sved: The Valedictorian was not disciplined for participating in the sit-in, read more
  • RS Lloyd: When will the public finally look at situations like this read more
  • Trace: Actually, this all started in 1969 with Tinker vs. Des read more
  • tim: "abusing" --- Aurelio's got the vocabulary down ... read more
  • Slim Jim: All I can say is Wow! You wouldn't have seen read more

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