May 20, 2005

The "big picture"

Last week I got my very first published photo credit. In the local Sunday newspaper. It wasn't a particularly good photo; in fact, I took it with my cell phone. The image, however, was clear: a sign hanging on a school door that read, "Testing -- Do Not Distrub."

I would like to say this sign hung on a door in the Stanford school of education, but alas it was on the door of a room at my kid's elementary school. Keep in mind, the teacher whose door sported the sign is highly competent and well respected, and the school is in the top 5% of all schools in California. It enjoys tremendous parent support and has few of the serious budget woes of our neighbors just a mile or two away in Concord. That is, the students have plenty of books, pencils, paper, chalk, and art supplies. Thus, it's obviously a simple typo made by overworked and underpaid people who have far better things to worry about.

Now, would you believe it, I appear to have been labeled as some sort of mean-spirited, anti-teacher miscreant whose only hobby is to skulk around the school looking for proof of incompetence. Maybe it's not quite that bad, but it seems a lot of people are talking smack about me... but not to me. This despite my being receiving an honorary service award for the volunteer time I spend at the school.

I wasn't even the first to publish this photo. I sent it to a few friends, and the honor of first public display goes to a good friend's blog.

It appears I have had the misfortune to have accidentally taken sides in some strange faux feud between the teachers at the school and the newspaper. The teachers are torqued that the paper didn't send anyone to cover their recent protest of state budget cuts, so when my name appeared on a photo they decided it must be all my fault, I guess. No one bothered to ask whether I actually had any affiliation with the paper (I don't, except as a paid subscriber).

I think this all stems from the current atmosphere in America that if you're not "with us" then you're "with them." I suppose I have been deemed disloyal. I've been told I should have gone to the office staff to tell them of the minor typo and then hushed it up. Forget for the moment that the sign was displayed on at least four different occasions and that the door it hung on is directly opposite the door to the school office. Forget for the moment that apparently no one else noticed the misspelling. Forget for the moment that everyone in the world makes simple, benign, harmless mistakes, and that sometimes the results are funny. Hilarious, even. Forget for the moment that the name of the school was never associated with the photo. Forget for the moment that my wife, my father, my stepmother, and many of my friends have all been teachers and that I donate to schools every year. Forget all those things because to some people, they don't matter.

Apparently, some people at the district itself are bent out of shape because of this. Perhaps they think it hurts their image and will discredit them in their fight against state education budget cuts. Perhaps they are insulted by the paper's editorial decisions. Who knows? But one thing is clear: They are making a mountain from this molehill because they have no sense of humor and little sense of perspective.

For my part, that photo still cracks me up every time I see it.

1 comment:

Ch@ndy said...

It still cracks me up too! And let me tell you - I am proud to be the first publisher of your photo!