CHEERLEADERS GONE WILD: A LESSON IN POWER
Plugging “Cheerleaders gone Wild” into a search engine will currently pull up more than rather risqu pictures of cheerleaders frolicking. Texas, the land of living large, has once again given the nation reason to think about the lessons we teach our children and the responsibilities adults have in behaving like adults. The frightening aspect of this story may not be the total lack of morality and wisdom exhibited by the Texas community that allowed a small group of high school cheerleaders to “rule the school”. The truly frightening lesson taught by this story is how nepotism and power are misused by leaders of a community for extended periods of time before being brought to a halt. It is a lesson that every child who attended McKinney North High School has learned very well.
The “Cheerleaders Gone Wild” story involves a group of high school cheerleaders (the Fab Five), who were allowed to openly flaunt school rules, terrorize staff and violate underage drinking laws. School authorities and parents were complicit in the girl’s behavior. It is not a coincidence that the ring leader of this group of cheerleaders was the daughter of the school principal. After the cheerleading coach went to the media with the story, the situation at McKinney North High School in Texas was investigated and the principal was forced to resign, after receiving $75,000 dollars and a letter of recommendation. The principal had apparently raised the schools academic rating to excellent.
The students of this Texas high school did receive an excellent education, especially in the politics of power and favoritism. One can only hope that the lesson that those who abuse power are eventually brought down has also been as effectively taught. Given the severance package the principal received, and how it took media attention to remediate the situation, I doubt if the penalties for abusing power have been as effectively taught as the benefits. I guess you would need to ask the kids which lesson was taught more effectively.
The McKinney principal had communicated to her staff that her daughter and her friends were not to be disciplined. In adult life how often are well connected individuals allowed to operate outside societies laws for extended periods of time? One only has to review the recent corporate and government scandals to see how being well connected allows certain individuals to be exempt from the rules the rest of us are required to follow. In the Texas case each child at that school saw how being connected to the principal or her daughter allowed you to live outside the normal rules. The teenagers also learned that other adults in the school and in the community would allow favoritism and corruption as long as it was in their best interest. Is this any different then how the adult world works? How many of us are willing to “rock the boat” or withstand the stress of challenging the system. Even in the Texas case, the coach who took the matter to the media had already left her position with the school. None of the staff whose careers could still be affected by the principal or the administration were responsible for stopping the abuse of power that was openly and unashamedly occurring in this community.
The “Fab Five” cheerleaders who ruled the school will always have the memories of being “the chosen ones”. As they progress in their academic careers they may also get to learn the lesson of what the average person experiences. How to follow rules, the penalties for misbehavior. I am sure these children’s parents will attempt to place them in environments where they will be as well connected as they were in high school. This is also a real part of adult life. How often are good connections used to place the prodigy of the powerful in positions that are “appropriate”? I am not sure any of these girls will find life quite as privileged as at McKinney North, but their parents have already shown their willingness to allow their girls to post obscene pictures on “My Space” and drink underage without little repercussions. The pictures on “My Space” even resulted in suspensions, the severity of which these girl’s parents protested. If these girls do ever get to learn what it is like to live as most do, it may be a rather difficult lesson after their education in high school.
I am not a big fan of the lessons taught at McKinney North High School. I do realize that these lessons are taught in every school in America, though not quite so well. I firmly believe that almost everyone in power eventually is corrupted. That is why morals are so important; they delay the corruption and subsequent abuse of power. An individual must first overcome their own morals and ethics before corruption and abuse sets in. The more ethical the individual, the longer it takes for corruption to take hold. This is why we teach ethics and morals to our young.
The McKinney North community does not seem to adopt this method of education. They have chosen to teach the politics of power rather then the value of morals. I have to wonder if Texas is not an accurate reflection of most of America or is it merely a snapshot of an amoral community. I guess that will be discussed in tomorrow’s lesson plan.