There is a fine line we as parents walk with our children. We love them so much, we want to give them the best of every possible good thing, great experiences, and of course ensconce them in security and safety. Which is why buyers spend upwards of a million dollars to live in the Park Cities. What are they buying? Safety and those highly rated schools.
Case in point: this is 4819 Auburndale, $975K, a teardown. HP schools. But maybe, after the world hears what happened to a renown young author, buyers might think twice about buying to send their children to Highland Park High School, because of the culture.
Author Jamie Ford says he was “mocked” by a group of students during his talk last Thursday, he being keynote speaker at the town’s literary festival. Ford, author of, among other books, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, says, on his personal website, “a thousand students, trolling me,” as teachers and a principal looked on.”
“After visiting more than 100 schools, from inner-city schools in New York, the kind with clear backpacks and metal detectors, to elite international baccalaureate high schools, including one where the previous year’s guest speaker was Justin Bieber — I’ve finally had a school visit … go sideways,” Ford wrote. “I’m looking at you, Highland Park High School, and I’m confused.”
According to the reporting in The Dallas Morning News, teens were a bit rowdy at the beginning — “predictably rowdy”, it reported, which perked my antennae right there: why would teens be “predictably rowdy” at a literary discussion? This was not a pep rally. But on Ford’s Facebook page, he says the start of his talk went smoothly. The News says:
…a few students escorted out of the auditorium by teachers, their behavior deteriorated to the point where Ford was forced to quickly blurt out responses to questions.
Ford was not feeling the love:
“Despite the 1000 to 1 odds, I wasn’t about to be run off the stage by a bunch [of] entitled children who had decided I was just another mark to be bullied,” he wrote.
Ford is Chinese-American, and his great-grandfather emigrated from China and worked in Nevada’s borax mines. His first book is set in the Japanese internment in the U.S. during World War II, when we were at war with Japan. He spoke about the incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans and nationals, his point to the students being that we should never forget the darker history our fellow humans created, because if we do, it “diminishes us as a people.” Pretty serious stuff.
But apparently, the students clapped, as if they were cheering the incarceration.
On his Facebook page, Ford compares the students’ attitude to former Highland Park student Levi Pettit, who was videotaped leading a racist cheer that included the despicable “N-word” with his Oklahoma fraternity brothers.
“In coming to Highland Park High School, I thought that was an anomaly by an immature alum, a racially insensitive apple in a barrel of healthy fruit,” Ford wrote. “But now I’m not so sure.”
If the students were so terribly bad — teachers apparently escorted some out during the opening remarks — why did a teacher or principal not grab the mic and tell them to pipe down? Later, Ford said he was approached by several students who attempted to apologize for their rowdy peers, but what they said troubled Ford even more:
Yes, a handful of your students sought me out to apologize on behalf of their peers. And they were truly wonderful and I enjoyed our time together. But they also said troubling things like “This place is awesome, but half the kids are basically corrupt politicians in the making and future date rapists.” They even used an acronym, the FDRC, the Future Date Rape Club. (Please tell me that’s just a joke.)
Wow, strong words. Where were the teachers and the principal? Are teachers in Highland Park afraid to discipline students for fear of reprisal from parents? Is the culture there insurmountably bigoted and mysoginistic?
School officials say they “will work with our students to improve as a result of this experience.”
What should they do? What should parents do? Was this author over-reacting to a bunch of teenagers? And could this type of rap hurt the sales of Highland Park homes in the future?