There is a talk radio guy named Dennis Prager. He was a fixture on the radio in Southern California for around twenty years before he went syndicated, and now he can be heard across the country. He wrote a column last year, sort of thinking ahead, and he titled it as "A Speech Every American High School Principal Should Give." He originally published it on July 13, 2010, and it very quickly spread around the internet. Unfortunately, as all too often happens today, it was attributed to several different (but for-real) principals across the country, and now has become something of an urban legend. In an effort to avoid that continuing (the urban legend part), I am forwarding it, and posting it on my Blog, so that people can read what he had to say, and form their own opinions about it:
To the students and faculty of our high school:
I am your new principal, and honored to be so. There is no greater calling
than to teach young people.
I would like to apprise you of some important changes coming to our
school. I am making these changes because I am convinced that most of the
ideas that have dominated public education in America have worked against
you, against your teachers, and against our country.
First, this school will no longer honor race or ethnicity. I could not
care less if your racial makeup is black, brown, red, yellow, or white. I
could not care less if your origins are African, Latin American, Asian, or
European, or if your ancestors arrived here on the Mayflower or on slave
The only identity I care about, the only one this school will recognize,
is your individual identity -- your character, your scholarship, your
humanity. And the only national identity this school will care about is
American. This is an American public school, and American public schools were created to make better Americans.
If you wish to affirm an ethnic, racial, or religious identity through
school, you will have to go elsewhere. We will end all ethnicity-, race-
and non-American-nationality-based celebrations. They undermine the motto
of America , one of its three central values -- E Pluribus Unum -- "from
many, one." And this school will be guided by America 's values.
That includes all after-school clubs. I will not authorize clubs that
divide students based on any identities. This includes race, language,
religion, sexual orientation, or whatever else may become in vogue in a
society divided by political correctness.
Your clubs will be based on interests and passions -- not blood, ethnic,
racial or other physically defined ties. Those clubs just cultivate
narcissism -- an unhealthy preoccupation with the self -- while the
purpose of education is to get you to think beyond yourself. So we will have clubs
that transport you to the wonders and glories of art, music, astronomy,
languages you do not already speak, carpentry, and more. If the only
extracurricular activities you can imagine being interested in are those
based on ethnic or racial or sexual identity, that means that little
outside of yourself really interests you.
Second, I am not interested in whether English is your native language. My
only interest in terms of language is that you leave this school speaking
and writing English as fluently as possible. The English language has
united America 's citizens for more than 200 years, and it will unite us at this
school. It is one of the indispensable reasons this country of immigrants
has always come to be one country. And if you leave this school without
excellent English-language skills, I will have been remiss in my duty to
ensure that you are prepared to compete successfully in the American job
market. We will learn other languages here -- it is deplorable that most
Americans only speak English. But if you want classes taught in your
native language rather than in English, this is not your school.
Third, because I regard learning as a sacred endeavor, everything in this
school will reflect learning's elevated status. This means, among other
things, that you and your teachers will dress accordingly. Many people in
our society dress more formally for a meal at a nice restaurant than they
do for church or school. These people have their priorities backwards.
Therefore, there will be a formal dress code at this school.
Fourth, no obscene language will be tolerated anywhere on this school's
property -- whether in class, in the hallways or at athletic events. If
you can't speak without using the "F-word," you can't speak. By obscene
language I mean the words banned by the Federal Communications Commission
plus epithets such as the "N-word," even when used by one black student to
address another, or "bitch," even when addressed by a girl to a
girlfriend. It is my intent that by the time you leave this school, you
will be among the few of your age to distinguish instinctively between the
elevated and the degraded, the holy and the obscene.
Fifth, we will end all self-esteem programs. In this school self-esteem
will be attained in only one way -- the way people attained it until the
state of California decided otherwise a generation ago -- by earning it.
One immediate consequence is that there will be one valedictorian, not eight.
Sixth, and last, I am reorienting the school toward academics and away
from politics and propaganda. No more time will be devoted to scaring you
about smoking and caffeine, or terrifying you about sexual harassment or
global warming. No more semesters will be devoted to condom-wearing and
teaching you to regard sexual relations as only or primarily a health issue. There will
be no more attempts to convince you that you are a victim because you are
not white, or not male, or not heterosexual, or not Christian. We will
have failed if any one of you graduates from this school and does not
consider him or herself inordinately lucky -- to be alive and to be an
Now, please stand and join me in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of
our country. As many of you do not know the words, your teachers will hand
them out to you.
I totally agree with what Mr. Prager wrote there, and I would also like to hear that every high school principal in the nation would give such a speech. But, I fear that few would have the courage to do so, and fewer still would have a job for very long after saying things like this. That's kind of sad, isn't it?