To the students and faculty of our high school:
I am your new principal, and honored to be so. There is no greater calling than to teach young people.
I would like to apprise you of
some important changes coming to our school. I am making these changes
because I am convinced that most of the ideas that have dominated public
education in America have worked against you, against your teachers and
against our country.
First, this school will no
longer honor race or ethnicity. I could not care less if your racial
makeup is black, brown, red, yellow or white. I could not care less if
your origins are African, Latin American, Asian or European, or if your
ancestors arrived here on the Mayflower or on slave ships.
The only identity I care about,
the only one this school will recognize, is your individual identity --
your character, your scholarship, your humanity. And the only national
identity this school will care about is American. This is an American
public school, and American public schools were created to make better
If you wish to affirm an ethnic,
racial or religious identity through school, you will have to go
elsewhere. We will end all ethnicity-, race- and non-American
nationality-based celebrations. They undermine the motto of America, one
of its three central values -- e pluribus unum, "from many, one." And
this school will be guided by America's values.
This includes all after-school
clubs. I will not authorize clubs that divide students based on any
identities. This includes race, language, religion, sexual orientation
or whatever else may become in vogue in a society divided by political
Your clubs will be based on
interests and passions, not blood, ethnic, racial or other physically
defined ties. Those clubs just cultivate narcissism -- an unhealthy
preoccupation with the self -- while the purpose of education is to get
you to think beyond yourself. So we will have clubs that transport you
to the wonders and glories of art, music, astronomy, languages you do
not already speak, carpentry and more. If the only extracurricular
activities you can imagine being interesting in are those based on
ethnic, racial or sexual identity, that means that little outside of
yourself really interests you.
Second, I am uninterested in
whether English is your native language. My only interest in terms of
language is that you leave this school speaking and writing English as
fluently as possible. The English language has united America's citizens
for over 200 years, and it will unite us at this school. It is one of
the indispensable reasons this country of immigrants has always come to
be one country. And if you leave this school without excellent English
language skills, I would be remiss in my duty to ensure that you will be
prepared to successfully compete in the American job market. We will
learn other languages here -- it is deplorable that most Americans only
speak English -- but if you want classes taught in your native language
rather than in English, this is not your school.
Third, because I regard learning
as a sacred endeavor, everything in this school will reflect learning's
elevated status. This means, among other things, that you and your
teachers will dress accordingly. Many people in our society dress more
formally for Hollywood events than for church or school. These people
have their priorities backward. Therefore, there will be a formal dress
code at this school.
Fourth, no obscene language will
be tolerated anywhere on this school's property -- whether in class, in
the hallways or at athletic events. If you can't speak without using
the f-word, you can't speak. By obscene language I mean the words banned
by the Federal Communications Commission, plus epithets such as [the
'N' word], even when used by one black student to address another black,
or 'bitch,' even when addressed by a girl to a girlfriend. It is my
intent that by the time you leave this school, you will be among the few
your age to instinctively distinguish between the elevated and the
degraded, the holy and the obscene.
Fifth, we will end all
self-esteem programs. In this school, self-esteem will be attained in
only one way -- the way people attained it until decided otherwise a
generation ago -- by earning it. One immediate consequence is that there
will be one valedictorian, not eight.
Sixth, and last, I am
reorienting the school toward academics and away from politics and
propaganda. No more time will be devoted to scaring you about smoking
and caffeine, or terrifying you about sexual harassment or global
warming. No more semesters will be devoted to condom wearing and
teaching you to regard sexual relations as only or primarily a health
issue. There will be no more attempts to convince you that you are a
victim because you are not white, or not male, or not heterosexual or
not Christian. We will have failed if any one of you graduates this
school and does not consider him or herself inordinately lucky -- to be
alive and to be an American.
Now, please stand and join me in
the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of our country. As many of you do
not know the words, your teachers will hand them out to you.
-- Dennis Prager
(1948-) American syndicated radio talk show host, syndicated columnist, author, and public speaker
Source: A Speech Every American High School Principal Should Give, July 13. 2010