When we were in high school, the superintendent of schools tried to eliminate the school’s home-economics curriculum. Because everyone liked the home-ec teacher (we still fry eggs in the hole of a slice of toast), all the students marched down to Town Hall to protest. It was front-page news the next day in our town of 8,000. What was not front-page news today was the walkout that happened yesterday in the Bronx. The students of Bronx Science (the city’s competitive, second-ranked public school) walked out because they hate their principal, Valerie Reidy. Why do they hate their principal? Because (a) she seems to be what the kids these days call a “jerk” and (b) because she was firing a teacher that they liked. Oh, and because she went around telling people to call her “Dr. Reidy” even though she doesn’t have a Ph.D., which is classic. The Department of Education denies the claims about the fired teacher and the “doctor” line but seems to be evasive on the whole “jerk” thing.
Now, from the outside, a protest of 100 students (at a school where there are more than 2,500) may seem sort of like small potatoes. But try to remember: Walking out of class in high school is kind of a very scary thing to do. And standing up against the powerful principal of your school is kind of like facing off against Lord Voldemort: Basically, you’re bound to lose unless there’s a last-minute technicality with someone’s wand. So to those students, a moment of respect. Just a word of advice: If you try that whole “walkout” thing in college, no one will care, and if you try it at work, you’ll get canned faster than you can say “Bull’s-eye.”