Sickout was wrong way to protest name change
The best thing that happened in Beaumont ISD schools on Monday was what didn’t happen: A misguided effort by some residents to protest the name change on the football stadium by keeping their kids home in a “sickout” fizzled. The district actually had more students show up than last week.
Some residents are angry over the name change, but this was an irresponsible choice of tactics. Its organizers in fact were guilty of some of the same things they accused the school board of.
For example, they said the stadium’s name was being used as a pawn in a larger effort to undermine the legacy of the district’s first black superintendent. Yet they were willing to use students as pawns in their battle to fight the name change. There are many ways to argue this issue pro or con without affecting the daily education of BISD students.
Opponents of the change also said managers and trustees were being distracted by a secondary issue and should be focused on providing the best education possible. True, but holding kids out from school can hardly be described as acting in their best interests and prioritizing education. It’s the opposite.
One parent reportedly asked his child if he wanted to stay home Monday, and he agreed. Duh! Regardless of how well a parent might explain the issue, the chance to miss school with parental approval is tough for a lot of kids to pass up.
For the record, we opposed last week’s vote. We didn’t think the name should have been changed — even though former Superintendent Carrol Thomas didn’t deserve this honor in the first place — because it’s a distraction from what’s truly important. As we have said from the start of this debate, at some point the people of Beaumont need to move on. That thinking still applies. The change is not irrelevant, but its practical implications are limited: No BISD student will ever need to know the name of the football stadium when applying to a college or for a job.
Any teacher will tell you that the first step to learning is actually showing up (on time) and being in the classroom. If the desk is empty, there’s no teacher-student interaction. There will be days when students are tired or the weather is bad, but their parents must get them to the school anyway. That’s good training for their adult careers too.
Sickouts by student (or teachers, for that matter) are never justified except under the most extreme circumstances. The combination of letters on the stadium’s wall is not one of them.
As one parent put it, “Don’t drag the children into it. It’s not their battle.”