Two ways Montclair schools failed us (Letter)
On Monday, June 21, when walking to the post office on Watchung Avenue, I passed Watchung School. I saw that the playground was closed and torn up, while many students were "enjoying" their recess on the narrow sidewalk of Fairfield Street.
In addition, I saw some youngsters playing in the gutter on Garden Street. Even with teachers around, it appeared very dangerous and uncomfortable for the kids on this hot and humid day.
The Montclair school system couldn’t even wait a couple of days for the end of the school year to satisfy their obsession for a "regulation-size" lacrosse field? My daughter played lacrosse and field hockey, and never had a concern about whether her field was or was not regulation; the answer to such a question was irrelevant to the degree of enjoyment she experienced when participating in these sports. And isn’t that what school athletics are for?— as opposed to coaches and administrators winning trophies so they can add them to their resumes?
It also appears that the school system is deaf to transparency when it comes to the case of its positive recognition of terrorist Meir Kahane (so labeled by our FBI). It is clear that attempts are being made to cover up exactly how that happened. The Montclair Local has indicated that “MHS Principal Jeffrey Freeman and Superintendent Jonathon Ponds didn’t respond to emails from the Montclair Local over the last few weeks asking how Kahane was selected for recognition.”
I doubt that a serious investigation is being undertaken to find out exactly who was involved — because the answers are probably known by the administration. While it is possible that the Kahane event occurred purposely, initiated by a right-wing supporter of Israel’s treatment of West Bank Palestinians, in my mind it is more likely that it came from school administrators’ ignorance of foreign affairs and insensitivity to the Jewish community. The acceptance of the school system’s apology by one of the area’s local rabbis is clearly a let-bygones-be-bygones tradeoff for an apparent “sincere desire to learn and grow in their ability to support a diverse student body.” In other words we won’t reveal whether we were involved, but also we won’t do it again.
How about divulging the exact scenario? Most people of good will are forgiving of mistakes, but not of coverups.
Editor's note: School officials did not reply to inquiries from Montclair Local asking how ultranationalist Meir Kahane was selected for recognition in a Montclair High School daily announcement to students marking Jewish American Heritage Month, but Rabbi Ariann Weitzman of Bnai Keshet, who has since met with school staff for a professional development session, told congregants and Montclair Local Kahane was chosen based on information in an American Jewish Historical Society timeline.
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