Inclusivity Over Talent or Ability
Inclusivity Over Talent or Ability
Ah, cheerleaders. The spirit leaders of any school. Girls and boys, young men and women, who get up in front of their schools’ fans to pump up the volume at football games and other events. Those same students who ask their parents to shell out hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of dollars on cheer camps and lessons to help their squads win competitions in the hope of claiming a cheering scholarship to college. Yes, cheering has come a long way over the years and is now considered a sport. Thanks to Hanover Park High School in New Jersey, cheering is in the news for something quite different from the abilities and talents of its squad members. Hanover Park High School (HHPS) has deemed it more important to be inclusive so, for at least the next school year, any student who wants to be on the squad shall be — no matter what.
It seems after tryouts were held and cuts were announced, a mother went to school administrators complaining because her little darling didn’t make the team. The administrators in a perfect example of waffling and rolling over and playing dead decided the best course of action was to tell those students who worked hard to make the team that their efforts meant nothing. If someone wanted to be on the team, they were on it. It was all in the name of inclusivity and not ability.
As cheerleader Stephanie Kreuger told the school board, “All my hard work has been thrown out the window. . . I tried my hardest. Now everything is going away because of one child who did not make the team, and their parent complained.” Kreuger is one of those young women who took her training to be a cheerleader seriously, working toward her dream multiple days a week for ten years. And for what? Now membership in the elite “Black Squad” is no longer determined by who is most qualified, most talented. Any junior or senior at HPHS can be part of it.
Inclusivity over talent and ability for the
How insidious is this? One parent complained about the results of the tryouts and now, suddenly, anyone who wants to be on the team can be. However, when other parents went to the principal to complain about the change, they were told the new policy would be followed or the squad would be disbanded. Talk about a double-standard.
Worse, the Hanover Park Regional High School District Board of Education (and isn’t that a mouthful?) has issued the following:
So, a complete upheaval in how things were done came about because of “multiple appeals from several parents.” Not a number of parents and not complaints from the students involved — remember, these are high schoolers and not kids in elementary school — but “several parents”.
Justification #2: the score necessary to be named a member of the Black Squad was lowered because not enough students trying out made it. Of course, reading the letter, this isn’t necessarily the case. Why? Because the board admits it was “our understanding” that the score had to be 85. Not that it had verified by talking with the coaches or checking written standards.
And here’s the kicker: “[T]he Board of Education feels that Principal Callanan made the best decision for our students by having the Hanover Park Cheering Program be more inclusive.”
The letter itself is a perfect example of saying nothing while saying a lot. The only good thing is that the decision is limited to the 2018-2019 school year. However, the precedent has been set and it is not a good one. Students who worked hard are finding their work not valued by the district. As a parent, I’d ben concerned about potential injuries to my child because students who are not as qualified are now allowed on the squad.
What does this statement from the school board tell those students who have put in the effort? “In order to facilitate a more inclusive program, the alignment between the various cheerleading squads would be modified to allow all interested students to be able to participate. This decision was made in the best interest of all students and was made to be as inclusive as possible.”
How is it in the best interest of all students? When are we going to say enough is enough and being inclusive should not be at the risk of injury to our children? When are we going to finally admit that actions such as this do nothing to prepare our kids for what they will find in the real world? This school board has forgotten it is supposed to prepare its students for being responsible and productive adults. Instead, they are working hard to make those students who are special through talent and ability anything but.