Principal Wilfred Hulbert is cautiously optimistic he will keep his job at Wahoocheekoochee High School. Actually, he hadn't given job security much thought until last Thursday when he was wheeling his tan 2001 Camry into his reserved parking space. A blue 2004 Honda Civic had beaten him to it. He glared at the student sticker in the left lower corner of the rear window. The little jerk.
A clear violation of the Student Handbook, Chapter 8, Subsections 5 and 6 on Page 37. Hulbert strode toward his office, simultaneously buzzing assistant principal Howard Smedley on his walkie-talkie. Such a handy device. And assistant principals are such handy workers, too. Let the Marines hit the beach first!
Smedley's walkie-talkie squawked. "Saw the Honda, huh? I already contacted the student. As soon as the stragglers are rounded up for first period, I'll be right in to explore our options."
Explore options. That's why Smedley, after 17 years, was still an assistant. There were no options of any kind that needed to be considered. The Student Handbook, Chapter 9, Sections 1-12 specified the procedure and penalties.
Of course, Smedley would equivocate. Feckless fellow. He needed a tougher assistant next year.
Smedley came into Hulbert's office showing dark, wet circles under the armpits of his inevitable oxford-cloth blue shirt. "Mr. Hulbert, 50 students have decided to hold a meeting with you during second period. I told them nothing doing. They told me why it was going to happen. I'm afraid they're right."
Hulbert thought, "This Smedley is just history."
Hulbert often met with the football players, perhaps to slap their wrists for boys-being-boys behavior. This was a different group of students.
All 50 took advanced placement classes. Every one had an earned 3.85 or higher cumulative grade point average. He hardly knew any of them.
Brad Weisenheimer was the spokesperson. "Mr. Hulbert, I know you think that because the football team had a winning season your position is secure. In reality, how we 50 choose to perform on the FCAT will determine your tenure. If we decide to sandbag on the FCAT next week, Wahoocheekoochee High will be labeled a failing school and you are toast. Probably Mr. Smedley will get your job."
"Oh, no you don't. You guys can't do that because you wouldn't make into college. I can see to it that your grade point average plummets. I will prohibit any faculty member from writing recommendations. You just don't understand how this thing is played."
"No, Mr. Hulbert, you are quite mistaken,'' Weisenheimer said. "College admission depends on getting fives on AP exams. These exams are administered in an independent setting and totally beyond your control. When admission committees see our earlier grades, review the fives we get on our AP exams and consider our SAT scores, we will be admitted by any college we want; meanwhile, you will be looking for work in Arkansas. So, we are here to tell you how the game will be played from now on. No more restrictions on cells phones. No more reserved faculty parking. The dress code is rescinded. Math classes at 7 a.m. will be rescheduled for hours when we are actually awake. The cafeteria will… . "
So, principal Hulbert struck a deal for a new game. He is developing endless enthusiasm for the educational reforms the Florida Legislature has visited upon public education.
C.D. Chamberlain has been a Methodist minister since 1962. During his ministry he has served as a pastor, mental health administrator, lobbyist and editor. A California native, he was reared in Jamaica and lived in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Virginia and Tennessee, before retiring to Spring Hill. Guest columnists write their own views on subjects they choose, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.