Monday, September 24, 2007

Deadlines, Al Sharpton & Dress Codes

Glazed eyes. Frazzled nerves. Testy tempers. Ah, the horrors of deadline days. Advising student-produced publications is not for the weak, and honestly, I’m not sure it’s even for the strong. Perhaps, it’s strictly for maniacs… which offers an interesting transition into how Al Sharpton nearly became the head of a small Texas school district. (Geewillikers, I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.)

The Scene… After school. 4:25 p.m. Fourth deadline day. I think I had just given my “Why Children Suck The Life Right Out of You” speech. If I didn’t, then I was sure thinking about it.

What Happened… We needed a few quotes from surrounding school districts about why those districts had gone to school uniforms. I got one of the new staffers to call a nearby district. Even though it wasn’t his story, he got a great quote. Our news editor was typing in the information. I was standing behind her reading over her shoulder as she typed… “We wanted to standardize our dress among our students and make them more cohesive…"

“Who did you talk to?” she asked.

“I think it was Al Sharpton,” he said.

"How do you spell that?" she asked as she started typing, "S…h…a…r…"

“Wait a minute,” I gasped. “That’s not right.”

“No, I think that’s what he said,” the staffer told me.

I yelled for our opinion editor who poked his head in from the other room, not sure if it was safe to enter.

“Al Sharpton,” I said. “Do you know who he is?”

“Isn’t he one of those black activists,” he asked.

“Yeah, isn’t he the rhyming one?” asked our entertainment editor.

“No, I think that’s Jesse Jackson,” the opinion editor said.

“They both rhyme,” someone else said.

“You see,” I said trying to get control of the situation. “You didn’t talk to Al Sharpton.”

“Well, I think that’s what he said,” the staffer told me.

“Well, that would be rather interesting," I said, "if he were superintendent, but he’s not. I think, you know, he’s probably been a little busy with the Jena Six thing.”

“Oh,” he said with sudden realization, “that’s where I must have heard the name. We must have talked about him in my AP government class.”

“That’s nice dear,” I said trying very hard to be positive. “I’m glad you were listening in that class, but Al Sharpton is still not the Red Oak superintendent– although that would be pretty interesting.”

“Yeah,” said the entertainment editor, “and what if Malcolm X were the principal?”

"Hey,” said the opinion editor, “and what if Jesse Jackson was the assistant principal?”

“And Don King could be the speech teacher…” the entertainment editor said.

I'm not sure how we went from black activists to Don King, but so it went…

“You need to call Red Oak back tomorrow and see who you really talked to,” I said, trying very hard not to think about the file in my bottom righthand drawer simply labeled, "Things That Will Get You Fired." (And, yes, I really do have such a file.)

And with that, it was time to call it a day, but I couldn't help but think it was probably one of the first times ol’ Al didn't make it in to print.

And, at least in this case, thank goodness for that.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your stories with us. Anyone would enjoy reading these so I'll share with friends I know will enjoy following along.

Anonymous said...

damn funny

frazzled adviser in DC

Sandy HC said...

Any chance John Wiley could become your district's dress code czar? He is a sharp-dressed man as ZZ Top would say.
Sandy HC