When the Need for "Inclusivity" Kills Integrity and Excellence

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Nobel Middle School

Got this from Daniel “The Highway Guy” Faigin. It concerns an impending threat to the drama program at Nobel Middle School, an apparently top quality program. The following is taken from concerned parent Barry Borses’ Facebook page and his call to action. Check it:

THE NOBEL THEATER ARTS DEPARTMENT has a widely known and highly regarded reputation in the Northridge community and surrounding areas. The theater department offers Theater Production and Theater Lab to approximately 100 students each fall and spring who demonstrate drive and dedication to the performing arts. The demanding performance-related classes hone skills enabling the young actor to audition and perform with confidence. Technical Theatre classes provide students with experiential training and build the skills needed to tackle all aspects of technical theatre. Department productions are student-centered and run by student crews under the guidance and assistance of department alumni (past students serve as directors, choreographers and musical directors) dedicated to giving back to the Nobel community.

The department provides the full scope of theatre training required for students to confidently compete in the world of high school and university level performing arts. Many of our alumni now work as professional actors and theatre technicians as a direct result of their involvement in our program. We don’t just put on plays, we instill pride and passion in our students to be more than they dreamed possible—and we have proven results garnered over the past 10 years in 20 notable productions.

Sounds great, right? So what happened? This:

Unfortunately, due to one parent’s complaint, there has been a major disruption that threatens to kill the integrity of the Nobel theater arts program. Due to a legal loophole, which exposed the LAUSD’s lack of vision for middle school performing art descriptions to model that of the high school curricula, there is nothing in the course descriptions that require students to have any prior experience or demonstrate any necessary skills in theater arts. What this means is: any student who selects placement in an advanced course as their first elective choice, will be randomly selected by a computer rather than by their proficiency in, and/or drive for the theater arts. As is too often the case, students will choose classes they perceive as an “easy A,” not realizing the commitment and dedication required for the level of excellence that Nobel’s program has achieved.

The district is mandating “no exclusivity” for the drama program. Hence, instead of maintaining the integrity and advanced level of our current productions through the current talent-based process, students would instead be randomly selected. In essence, it is akin to placing a non-athletic student on the varsity football team simply because he chose it as his elective course. Essentially, the imposition of this statute and its low bar of requirements is like turning a champion varsity team into a mediocre P.E. class; it negates the expectation or need for talent, skill and drive.

Yup. No exclusivity. The tyranny of the minority. Because being “exclusive” would of course, be, what? Too hard on the poor children who simply aren’t up to snuff? Fuck the kids who actually have talent, right? But hey, it’s all about the poor little dears’ feelings, right? It doesn’t matter if they don’t have a whit of talent at least they are now “included”. Borses goes on and further explains:

WHO IS AFFECTED: All current and incoming students interested in, and dedicated to theater arts. This “non exclusivity” statute does not offer guaranteed placement for returning students. They too are at the mercy of the random selective process of the computer. Thus, students who have demonstrated passion, students who perhaps have taken outside classes to further develop their talents, or have spent many hours in rehearsal, are on equal footing with the student who can’t be bothered to learn a line of dialogue or a dance sequence.

How does this so-called objective “fairness” promote quality in education? Or, in the interest of “fairness,” is striving for excellence no longer the main goal of education?

If this annoys you as much as it does me, Borses offers a way that you can help:

WHAT YOU CAN DO: You are urged to call, write, and email the district leaders who are mandating the “no exclusivity” rule compromising the integrity and dignity that the performing arts at Nobel Charter Middle school currently offers. If you know someone in the media, please contact them. Write letters to the editor of the L.A. Times and the Daily News. (District contact information is on reverse side)

If the complaints of a single parent can reverse years of excellence, imagine what an army of parents can achieve to ensure that excellence continues to be the hallmark of a Nobel Charter Middle School education.

URGENT!

MAKE YOUR VOICE COUNT | CONTACT THE DISTRICT!

Michelle King

Superintendent

[email protected]

213- 241-7000

Vivian K. Ekchian

Local District Superintendent

[email protected]

818- 654-3600

Rory Pullens

Executive Director of the Arts

[email protected]

213-241-8222

Steven McCarthy

K-12 Arts Coordinator

[email protected]

213-241-5226

Matthew Kennedy

Theatre & Film Adviser

[email protected]

213-241-2532

Steve Zimmer

School Board Member District 4

[email protected]

213-241-6387

Scott Schmerelson

School Board Member District 3

scott.schmerelson

Folks, inclusiveness and fairness and diversity are of course very important goals for our society, but not when the means that are used to reach those goals deaden and dilute excellence and quality and promotion through merit.

If you cannot tell the difference, then perhaps it is you that are the problem.

Do what you can to help this program and the people affected.

Thanks, Daniel, for knowing the difference.