Kellogg, Idaho's government schools were bad academically before their mistreatment of student Travis Lohr and bus driver Dakota Mailloux, and the district is now giving up the evidence that there’s a lot more going on here.
Let’s start with the fact that Kellogg School District is an academic disaster. In the district, half to two-thirds of students can’t read, write, or do math at grade level, according to the most recent test scores of students who attend school there. That’s not to single Kellogg out because, honestly, that’s true of most, but not all, government schools.
But Kellogg school officials reacted to Travis and the subsequent protest with a petulance that I wish was uncommon in government education but is, sadly, very normal. We’ve encountered the same kinds of things all over Idaho and across the nation. We’ve seen how schools treat parents and students for stating their opinions about what’s in a school library or for exercising any kind of support whatsoever for non-woke beliefs, and we’ve seen the lengths school districts will go to rig elections and protect their monopolies.
It is undisputed that Travis, a graduating senior, was supposed to offer some “inspiring words” to an assembly of high school students. Instead, he went with, “A guy is a guy and a girl is a girl.”
School officials largely stuck to their story that it wasn’t the content of his comment that cost him a suspension from school and a chance to walk across the stage to accept his diploma at graduation. They said it was the fact that he went off script as if that would make it better.
Travis said some words that weren't pre-approved by The Administration. When we spoke last week, I should have asked him what he was supposed to say, but I’m guessing it was a lot less interesting.
Students always go off script. They’ve probably gone off script in Kellogg in past years, and I’d also bet Travis wasn’t the only one who had some off-the-cuff comments for their fellow students. I believe it was the content that got him in trouble because if Kellogg were suspending students and banning them from accepting their diploma at graduation every time they went off script, we’d have heard about it before now. The words he spoke were the deciding factor.
That’s such an obvious hole in The Administration’s story that later, Superintendent Lance Pearson told KXLY-TV that disciplinary problems were behind the decision. If that’s the case, parents and possibly education certification folks should wonder how easy it was for Pearson to violate the privacy of a student who merely stated obvious biological facts. They’re treating him as if he stood in front of the whole school and threatened their lives. He did no such thing.
He might as well have said we need air to breathe and water is wet. Would that have resulted in a suspension and a chance to walk at graduation?
Travis is 18. Even if Travis were a terrible student who doesn't listen to teachers, he said nothing offensive or illegal — except in the minds of the school's authoritarians. If we pretend for a moment they're not woke, it means all we are left with is that these school officials chose to punish a grown adult because they didn't authorize his remarks. They consider that action a disciplinary matter.
That is an authoritarian move, such that while we don't know for sure that Dakota, the bus driver, lost his job because of his attendance at the protest defending Travis, let's just say firing an employee for free speech, especially conservative free speech, seems very on-brand for the school.
It's enough for me to wonder if the temporary decision to cancel graduation wasn't another psyop by the school intended to make Travis and Dakota look bad and make their friends angry that graduation was canceled. It makes me skeptical of Shoshone County Sheriff Holly Lindsey’s claim that “a group known for violence during protests” was en route to Kellogg to protest at graduation.
If there really is a group, she should have said who it was so we can evaluate the veracity and seriousness of the threat. It is also interesting Pearson said something notably more specific regarding the decision. He said, "We just could not take the risk of too many outside people coming in and it being ground zero for a riot.”
I’d like to know if the scary unnamed group is known for rioting because that’s not what the sheriff said in her statement.
If this affair had happened at Troy’s government schools, at least I could have reacted with, “Well that’s a damn shame because Troy has some pretty good scores on its ISAT tests.” Kellogg does not. Students aren’t getting the $11,400-a-year-per-student’s worth of education paid for by taxpayers.
Those are just my off-the-cuff thoughts that I'm sure the school district would like to ban, along with, "If you still have a child at Kellogg School District, you might want to consider Silver Valley Christian Academy instead."
Editor’s note: Kellogg High School went ahead with its graduation ceremony Saturday morning at a new time. Travis Lohr did not attend.
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