Nov 15, 2010
There should be no tolerance for intolerance
There should be no tolerance for intolerance and bigotry, and that’s one reason I support the actions of Howell High School teacher Jay McDowell.
McDowell, who also happens to be the president of the Howell Education Association (HEA) that represents the teachers, was suspended for one day without pay last month because he sent two students to the office for disrupting his class. However, it's the subject matter that has, again, put Howell back in the national headlines in an unfavorable light for its prejudice and intolerance and launched a Facebook page with 943 members to date called “Support Jay McDowell.”
The incident occurred, according to the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, on Oct. 20; the day people all over the country wore purple to support the end of anti-gay bullying that led to a rash of suicides by gay teens. Apparently, McDowell asked a student wearing a belt buckle sporting the Confederate flag to remove the symbol of racism, slavery, white supremacy and treason.
Another student, 16-year-old Howell High School junior Daniel Glowacki, “was ejected from McDowell’s classroom along with another student. The ejection occurred after Glowacki and McDowell argued about another student wearing a belt buckle sporting the Confederate flag.”
According to the newspaper, “on Nov. 8, the district’s Board of Education received a report on McDowell’s disciplinary action — which included a one-day suspension the high school economics teacher has already served — during its regular meeting.” District Superintendent Ron Wilson said the district, McDowell and the union are engaged in the grievance process. “Until that process is complete, Wilson said Friday in the Press & Argus, the district will not discuss the disciplinary aspect of the issue because it is a labor issue.”
Support for McDowell has been widespread, and many people have spoken in support of him during public comment at school board meetings. The district caught wind of a protest in support of him at their regular school board meeting last Monday, and they tried to hold them off with a special forum set for 7 p.m. tonight in the cafeteria of the Howell High School Freshman.
I, like many other people, are at a loss as to why a teachers was disciplined for maintaining control of his classroom by sending a disruptive student to the principal's office. “Sending a student to the principal’s office” has long been a discipline option.
The students asked to leave claim that homosexuality is against their religious beliefs. The only way that is true is if he is a member of the Westboro Baptist Church, and it’s still not the case.
Livingston County has an undeserved reputation for racism because Klan Grand Dragon and domestic terrorist Robert Miles once lived in the county near Howell and because of various isolated incidents over the years.
One such incident was the debacle over an anti-gay hate group when the now defunct anti-gay hate group called known as LOVE (Livingston Organization for Values in Education) was formed in 2006. It sprang up like a bad fungus in response to diversity flag they mistakenly labeled a gay pride flag. It gained Howell Public Schools plenty of bad publicity when they launched a long and, thankfully, unsuccessful book-banning campaign.
But it did saddle the district with school board member Wendy Day, who also happens to be a leader of the teabagger farce in Michigan that has it roots in racism. Its early grassroots support, before two Washington, D.C. lobbying groups started funding it, were militias, secessionists and neo-Nazi white supremacist groups.
I’m just happy we have teachers like Jay McDowell at HPS where my grandchildren go to school.