Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Special Snowflakes

Or How to Teach Your Kids to Stay Out of the Big Leagues if They Can't Compete

An article in one of the student newspapers at a high school in our city spoke of the anger students have when (gasp) teachers park in the student lot. Can you imagine the GALL of these teachers, parking their cars where all the special snowflakes park? The article was picked up my our local newspaper's blog, and the commenting commenced. I don't know if your local paper has a blog, but mine has had one for about a year now, and it's one of my greatest sources of entertainment. The comments are fabulous! We've got a committed (or they should be) cast of characters, most of them curmudgeonly conservatives, and they have an opinion on every topic. Believe me, every freaking topic brings out the loony in these folks. It's like an unedited letters to the editor column gone wild. I love it. I really do. I also participate, but not on every topic. Strange, but there are some topic on which I have no opinion at all. I know!

So, the commenting is pretty much commonplace until some special snowflake comes on. He's articulate, has a good vocabulary, but his arguments... well they are fairly specious. You see, SS thinks that students should have equal rights with teachers. That students deserve the same treatment as teachers and staff.
The fact of the matter is, there should not be designated areas for students vs. staff. Instead, it should be like most parking lots in the world - “first come, first served.”

This is not intended to sound pretentious or conceited, though I expect that some TAB bloggers will not agree. That’s fine. But in an organization that supposedly values “equality and opportunity for all,” among other virtuous sentiments in the mission statement (which, FYI, was carefully crafted by a team of administrators and teachers for the NEASC evaluation), it seems odd that STUDENTS - the real reason why this school exists and these teachers are employed - are treated unequally compared to staff.

Ok, I expect complaints about “hierarchy.” In short, that teachers are in charge and should receive benefits. That’s also fine but, on that note, there are numerous parking areas on campus that are solely for teachers, and these areas are conveniently located near entrances and elsewhere. Another part of the mission statement, “respect for self, others, and the environment,” implies that staff members would RESPECT the fact that students PAY to park in LIMITED areas and, therefore, not take up those finite number of student spaces available. (Not to mention, of course, that there is NO penalty for these staff members violating school policy).

And then all hell broke loose! We had one commenter after another tearing apart this poor kid's argument that teachers and students should be hierarchical. As if!

Now, I didn't (yet) participate in this discussion because honestly, it's just stupid. First off, the parking lot the kids are bitching about is across the street from the school, is the hangout for all of the sketchy kids (including the Girl) who smoke dope and cigarettes and god only know what else there, is next to "the shed" which is a program for the sketchiest kids in the school, is only available to seniors, and in general is about an uninviting a place as can be. If, and I say "if" with a huge dollop of disbelief, a teacher chose to park there, they are doing it because there is no available space in their own, much larger, cleaner, safer, and more pleasant parking lot.

Special Snowflake couldn't drop it, however. And this is where he starts ticking me off:

I’m sorry, but you guys are unbelievable. Not only are you NOT part of the Newton South community (and, therefore, have ZERO perspective on this), but also you are making broad, uninformed, non-inclusive statements about South teachers, students, and their relationships. (I might add that you, Tim, are uneducated, too, since you don’t seem to be able to spell).

Tim, you write, “A teacher is more important than a student.” I won’t get into the whole “teachers are employed because of students” thing, but I will refute your comparison of teachers to priests and doctors. I respect a person’s choice to enter the teaching profession, but that does not make any individual more important than anyone else - including students. You are clearly underestimating the role students play in creating a positive community within a school. Some students, I dare to say, are MORE important to a school than any individual teacher.

Jane, you write of “hardships” that teachers experience. I’m sorry, but if someone is unable to walk a certain distance (especially under bad weather conditions), the Registry of Motor Vehicles allows for those experiencing such a “hardship” to apply for a Handicap plaque that allows them to park within close proximity of many establishments - INCLUDING Newton South. As for those teachers that couldn’t possibly spend an extra 2 minutes “searching” for a space, it seems to me that a certain effort is assumed by any employee of any organization when they sign on to complete a specific role - i.e. TEACH in a public high school where PARENTS pay their salaries and STUDENTS have rights.

Come on, complain some more. I’m all ears.

Some caveats.
Tim, a kind of nutty but continual commenter, is Greek. As is "born and brought up in Greece" Greek. English is his second language and anyone that reads more than one post of his can figure that out, but he tells you anyhow. All the time. So insulting Tim isn't winning any points.

There are 2 (count 'em, TWO) handicap spaces at the front of the school. Those spaces are almost always filled with either Special Snowflakes waiting for their friends to come out of school, or the parents of SS's waiting for their little blizzards to arrive for pickup. When they are asked to move, the majority are furious or refuse to move even when shown a handicap placard.

SS seems to forget that he and his compatriots are CHILDREN, and in the Commonwealth they don't have any rights at all until they are 18.

Lastly, I HIGHLY doubt that teachers are parking in the senior lot. As an adult, I know I wouldn't leave my car there where it isn't under camera survelience. No way, Jose.

OK, so the second SS comment really gets the juices flowing. People are calling him 'whippersnapper' and are fairly irritated by his total lack of respect for his elders, never mind anyone else. Because it's all about him. Man, I love the teenagers!

His next response is even more foul.


Thank you for your support.

But, I’m sorry, last time I checked, you didn’t write the Newton South mission statement. That’s right. You don’t get to decide who is “equal.”

“Newton South High School, a community of students, parents, faculty and staff, is dedicated to equality and opportunity for ALL.”

This reminds me of some class called “U.S. History.” The Declaration of Independence mentions that “all men are created equal,” yet, throughout history, certain groups have clearly been deprived of their rights. Like whom, you may ask? African Americans, homosexuals…oh, and women! Did those groups just wait to “grow out of it?” Definitely not. To this day, those groups are STILL fighting for their rights as U.S. citizens - regardless of age, social status, or ranking in society.

And guess what - South students (no matter how pretentious and spoiled you think we are) will also continue to defend themselves.

SS is now speaking for all students. But.... I have two students and they don't feel this way at all. Not in the least. Nor do their friends. Most of whom do not have cars and aren't special snowflakes. As for the mission statement, special snowflake didn't write it either. Our temporary principal 3 years ago wrote it, and drove the entire school CRAZY for a whole year over the freaking mission statement. When the Boy was a freshman he would come home almost rabid over another stupid assembly where she would talk about the mission statement. And after a whole year, that is what she came up with! Amazing.

But our special snowflake isn't through burying himself.

If a city employee is not in good health, he/she should not be employed in a position that requires them to complete normal, everyday tasks (like, walking from your car to a door). Teachers already receive health benefits - what more can they ask in terms of health care? (Like I said earlier, get a doctor’s note for the RMV and hang that golden handicap plaque on your windshield).
Oh man, what a freaking asshole. I'm sorry, but what kind of parents does this kid have that he thinks he's so damn special? That he can decide who can and can't work. Has he never been informed about hidden disabilities. I swear, I DARE HIM to say that to me. I'd deck him.

Fortunately, I'm not the only person who is now sitting at the computer with steam pouring out his/her ears. Teachers started to get involved. One told the kid off, another one tried to temper the arguments. But now SS is starting to get comments calling him 'a little prick' and tempers are short. Does he quit? Why NO!!!
You’re all talking about TEACHERS teachers teachers.

That shows how little you know about a school. A school is NOTHING without so many other people (and I don’t just mean students).

and even parents

To everyone on here besides the NSHS teachers, when was the last time you spent some quality time at Newton South, or any other high school? Don’t speak about something you don’t know about. I don’t care who you are or what type of power trip you’re on. It’s that simple.

And guess what? Parents DO pay the salaries and all school employees should remember that. It’s not a threat - it’s just common sense. When teachers go off complaining about a student or parent, they should remember that the only reason they can pay their bills is because of the snotty children that live in this town.

This is NOT a business, it’s a public school. Teachers are NOT the employers and students are NOT the employees. If you think that’s the case, then you better cut the kids a check every other Friday, and then we’ll park wherever you say to. But until you stop and realize that - no matter how you feel about “equality” and the like – students are not passive elements in the school community and that they DO have a say in their LIVES, don’t say a word.

To be honest, in the classroom, it’s not a question of “equality.” It’s about the teacher getting paid to perform a certain function (i.e. teach) and the students benefitting from that. Some do that better than others, and many go above and beyond, but no matter how much work they do, they cannot argue that they are more important in any way than any student. And if they do, then they shouldn’t be working in this town. And there are definitely many teachers in Newton that agree with me on this.

OMG. Who handed this kid a shovel? I guess Mummy and Daddy haven't told special snowflake about that evil word, taxes. About how the state picks up some of the cost of education and that taxes, not parents, pay teacher's salaries. Many people are NOT parents but pay taxes. Many people that are parents don't pay property taxes because they rent. This isn't rocket science, but SS seems to have missed this explanation. Plus...parking? Is it REALLY this big of a deal to this special snowflake. There is always plenty of parking in the senior lot. And if there isn't, there is street parking. He might have to (OMG) walk, but there is street parking. But then, in the very last post, comes the real reason he's gone this far.


I certainly agree with mark in terms of this being a fascinating thread, although it’s such a “simple” issue. It’s entertaining, to say the least.

You’re also right about everyone using each other against everyone else. Unfortunately, in my short life, I’ve noticed that this seems typical in Newton.

I will defend the Principal, though. It seems to me that the chief executive of an organization (i.e. school principal, district superintendent, city mayor, etc.) should have SOME sort of privileges for taking so much sh*t all the time. This is clearly a debatable issue (like everything else on this blog), but that is how I feel about it, and I do have an enormous amount of respect for Newton South’s principal.


To answer your question - yes, if students pay for parking, they are entitled to those student-only spots. This year, at least, there are not too many student parking permits issued. However, the only student parking left after 8am is across Brandeis Rd in the “Senior Lot,” which many students would rather stay away from - for a variety of reasons that I will not list here, but that Newton South community members might know. When staff members park in student spots that are on the school’s side of Brandeis road, it forces some students to go across the street.

Also, I think that the parking fee and bus fee are very similar ($180 per semester, $360 total for the year). That’s a good point.

Actually, Gail, I don’t disagree with you (though I’m not certain I’m in a position to agree) that if the South Administration decides there needs to be more spaces for teachers, then they should refund students and take the spots. My issue - and that of many of my peers - is that I don’t want to park across the street or in other areas that assumedly illicit activities are going on in AND I don’t want my car to be in danger while I’m in class. (Parents might not be too happy if it came home with a smashed windshield…which has been known to happen at South)

He doesn't want to park in the senior lot because it's sketchyville, and he's obviously scared of what will happen to his car. But he thinks it is OK for teachers to park there instead. There ARE spaces, just as I said there are. But because the school does absolutely NOTHING to curb the kids that hang out there and their questionable activities (and remember, my kid is one of them), then we'll just blame the teachers for taking up the safer parking spaces. Cause that's fair and equality in action.

So, I've got a couple of points here. Kids shouldn't be responding on town blogs when they don't really have their facts straight. They get reamed. Not that I did the reaming or have ever done the reaming when this has come up before, but it happens and I don't think kids should be getting attacked by adults like this. Although this little snowflake certainly did his best to rile everyone up.

Parents need to teach their kids that they aren't special or better than adults, that they don't deserve anything but food, clothing, a free public education, and shelter (that's the law). Anything else is frosting on the cake and is not DESERVED.

And a lesson on how public education is financed might be valuable as well.

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Blogger Daisy said...

Funny how certain teens think the world revolves around them and their wants. Not needs, wants. Parking privileges? Get real, kid.

21/11/08 8:25 PM  
Blogger Cpt. Robespierre said...

You said:
"Lastly, I HIGHLY doubt that teachers are parking in the senior lot."

That's a valid doubt, and I'm not sure why there are parking there, but the reality is that they are.

The issue is that the problem exists. There's a teachers' lot and a students' lot, as you are well aware. Students pay a fee for those spots in their lot, and if they don't have a permit, they don't get to park there. Teachers have enough spots, but for some reason have decided to occupy student spots. Students aren't allowed to do the opposite, with good reason. So the teachers shouldn't park in student spots. Period.

And I don't know why you're so condescending as to call a high school student a "special snowflake." You seem to think pretty highly of yourself as well.

And I dare you to let this comment stand.

21/11/08 11:06 PM  
Blogger margalit said...

My dear Captain. Guess your dare isn't worth that much, eh?

Let's go over this again, shall we? There are two parking lots. One for teachers which has ONE designated row for student parkers, and one undesignated, but tolerated row for students. All other spaces are for teachers. Directly across the street there is a student lot. It is almost always half filled. There are ALWAYS plenty of spaces in this specially maintained STUDENT lot. Teachers do not park there. Ever.

Now this particular little snowflake is a kid I know. Although he remains anonymous on the town blog, even the teeniest bit of searching can find out who he is. And once you've identified him, if you know ANYTHING about this particular school, you would know that this particular snowflake has made quite a name for himself. And it isn't in the popular category. He is widely loathed by pretty much the entire student body.

Additionally, this kid drives a very expensive BRAND NEW Mercedes. Not a cheap model either, more in the $70K price range. Mommy and daddy bought it for the special snowflake, and this is why this kid is so upset about parking. He wants to park his shiny new Nazi Mobile (and we're both Jewish, so don't even start with me) where it won't be damaged by the rather sketchy kids that hang in the student lot.

The deal is, the kids don't like him, they don't like his officious behavior, they don't like his fancy schmancy Mercedes, and they don't really care much for propriety. That's why they're sketchy. His car probably WOULD get keyed if he annoyed some kid. So he feels that he's special enough (and the school certainly has helped booster this belief) that he deserves a special parking place. I'd bet my bottom dollar that he's asked at least once for a parking space to be labeled with his name. He's THAT kind of kid.

And yes, I do think highly of myself. Why wouldn't I? I'm smart, funny, a good parent, a good writer, and I don't take shit from people who appear out of the blue to insult me.

Sorry Cpt. You didn't intimidate me in the slightest. Not even a decent attempt!

22/11/08 12:27 AM  

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