As a small child, I had a Sabbath School (equivalent to Sunday School) teacher who wasn’t particularly great at settling down 20 to 30 unruly kids hopped up on Fruity Pebbles every Saturday. In fact, I only still remember one lesson from Sister Stevenson, but it was the only lesson most people will ever need. After she collected our dimes and quarters in a white handkerchief each Saturday, before releasing us back into the wild, she would say: “Play pretty, lil’ chirren. And just be nice to people.”
I’m pretty sure the teachers at Middleton Heights Elementary School never attended Sister Stevenson’s Sabbath School class.
According to the Idaho Statesman, teachers from the school in Middleton, Idaho, decided to dress up in stereotypical Mexican costumes and as patriotic images protected by a border wall. The photos were made public when someone surreptitiously snapped them and posted them to social media without the consent or knowledge of ...
I’m being told that the teachers posed for the photos and willingly published them on the school’s Facebook page because ... I don’t know man, I just don’t know.
I don’t understand how they all thought this was a good idea. These are teachers who teach people things. How do things like this happen? I don’t just blame the teachers, what were the husbands, wives, partners and roommates doing when Ms. Whitenmeister was plopped down in the living room turning her Amazon box into a facsimile of a wall? Was there not one person sitting in the back of the Mexican Halloween meeting who could timidly raise his hand and say: “Hey guys ... What if someone thinks this is kinda racist?”
And it’s not just me.
Dr. Josh Middleton, the poor superintendent of Middleton Schools whose great-grandfather, I assume, founded the town of Middleton as a haven for people who like cosplay but make bad decisions, looks and sounds exasperated in his apology video. In between sighs, he explains that the district is conducting an investigation into the poor choices of costumes.
“I want to say we are better than this,” Middleton explains, obviously unaware that there exists photographic proof which shows they are definitively not better than this. As my high school basketball coach said: “It’s ‘good, better, best.’ You have to get good before you can get better.”
Then Middleton (the Superintendent, not the school) began doing that thing white people do when they’re in trouble. They ask and answer their own questions.
“Do I think that there was a malicious intent in this poor decision? No, I don’t,” Dr. Middleton explained. “Was there poor judgment involved? Yes. Absolutely. And we now have to own those decisions.”
What the fuck does that even mean?
Let’s say that I made some of those assless chaps that only Prince and cowboys are allowed to buy. Then, let’s say I put on those chaps, went to a fireworks store, lit a match, and started farting. When everything explodes I can’t call it a “poor decision!” I can’t tell the people’s whose houses are on fire that I didn’t have a “malicious intent.” Who cares about intent? Why do white people always think people care about what’s in their heart when we can see the results of their actions?
The district’s technologies policy says that students, parents and staff are “expected to use good judgment” and to “use good common sense.” Well, that seemed to work out just fine.
Idaho-based education website Idaho Ed Trends reports that the school is 12.9 percent Hispanic, so the teachers were obviously aware that someone of Hispanic descent would likely see the post. The Statesmen writes that organizations immediately condemned the photos.
Twelve Idaho-based advocacy groups and nonprofits, including the ACLU of Idaho, the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, Immigrant Justice Idaho and PODER of Idaho, sent a letter to the district’s superintendent Friday afternoon stating they were deeply concerned about the costumes.
“The intent or misjudgments of the individuals involved does not undo the trauma experienced by students, families and communities,” the letter states. “The impact on these students does not stay only with them but has lasting effects beyond the school or classroom. We believe the school and classrooms have now become hostile environments that are not conducive to the education of the students.”
The letter urged the district to review the State Board of Education’s policies and civil and human rights laws on discrimination and harassment.
And if this seems trivial, I didn’t go to elementary school, so the only comparison I have is that that I can’t vividly recall anything Sister Stevenson taught me. But I remember her values.
Although she could not be reached for comment, I am authorized to share her thoughts with the MAGA teachers of Middleton, Idaho. It is sage holy advice that they should consider when making any decision in the future:
Play pretty, little children. And just ...
Be nice to people.