A group of public school kindergartners showed up at the White House more than an hour late yesterday for a tour, and were disturbed and in disbelief that the White House would not rearrange its schedule to accommodate their own tardiness.
This according to NBC News (via Drudge Report)- who to their discredit played up the angle of the White House snubbing little kids, as opposed to an elementary school snubbing the White House and the children the school allegedly serves.
Conway Elementary School is located in Fredericksburg, Virginia and is part of the Stafford County Public School District. According to Google Directions, the school is located 50.1 miles away from the White House, for a driving time of 59 minutes or 1 hours 20 minutes in traffic.
For an appointment to the White House, you do not arrive late. Period. The school officials and charter bus company they hired should have allowed for traffic, weather and other contingencies with enough time to still be early. There is simply no excuse for tardiness, and it is a shame that the kids missed out on a special visit to the White House because of poor planning by adults.
The worst thing about it is the adults’ reaction when they realized that they had missed their appointment.
Parents, like field trip chaperon Paty Stine: downplayed and even misrepresented their own tardiness; expressed anger and disappointment at the White House for sticking to the schedule; made excuses about why they were late; focused attention on disappointed children rather than their own actions that caused the disappointment; said that they were entitled to an exception from the rules; claimed victim status; mocked the President of the United States; and even had the presence of mind to indulge in a little rhetorical class-warfare.
The sad thing is that some of these kindergartners may grow up to be just like Paty Stine, if she is the type of parent and chaperon to be found at Conway Elementary School. The school’s website offers added context to the words and behaviors of the adults. The page of “Effective Schoolwide [sic] Discipline” makes not a single mention of punctuality or ramifications of tardiness. Instead, young Conway Cougars are encouraged to “respect others,” have a “positive attitude” and be “accepting of differences.”
The White House issued a gracious, yet carefully worded statement that did not give in to the elementary school-style bullying directed their way. “The President and First Lady are dedicated to opening the doors of the White House to the public, and it is unfortunate to see young people miss a tour. The visitor’s office is already working to reschedule the group.” I don’t say this often, but “Good Job, Obama White House.”
Post Script: Being punctual is important, and I have had my own struggles with it. While I have made monumental improvements and am now generally a punctual person, I still have a little ways to go to always be punctual – even for the little things in life’s schedule. A couple months ago I read an article by Dustin Wax which helped me better understand the significance of punctuality. I recommend it not only to the folks at Conway Elementary School (actually, I recommend they read it about 10 times each and nail it to the doors of their school), I encourage you, too, to consider reading it.