Letter to the Editor: Why have rules if we’re not going to uphold them?


Julia Landy

Letters to the Editor are accepted from the public, student body and faculity via submission at [email protected]

Eagle Eye

The ideas expressed in this opinion article are held by the specific author, not Eagle Eye News or Broward County Public Schools.

Dear Editor,

I’ve got to be honest, as much as I love working at MSD, I’m also really disappointed. The annual holiday Door Decoration Contest was advertised to faculty and staff in an email from Principal Kefford stating, “… the theme is ‘Cruising into Winter Break: Arctic Adventure.’ Doors will be judged on Dec. 16 at 8:00 a.m.” But the instruction in that email seems to have been dangerously lost in translation by the judges. Every entry announced as a first, second, or third place winner decorated their door beyond the boundaries of the actual door.

When appropriate, I’m all for people going above and beyond, but this trend of rewarding people who go beyond the scope of the contest is not only unjust, but it also sets an academically dangerous principle. The winner of last year’s iteration of the door contest decorated two hallways. Several entries this year admitted expanding beyond the confines of the door was done precisely because they feared following the limitation would be prohibitive of victory. But this very trend is indicative of both immediate and more deep seeded problems. When colleges put word limits on an entrance essay you literally can’t write any more than fits in the text box. Being concise is a skill; following directions is a skill. When you need to get to school and be in class by 7:40 a.m., you’re following the rule. When you throw on a hoodie even though you have a cute new crop top you’re really excited to show your girlfriends, you’re following the rules. But decorated walls and corkboards beyond the frame of a door is beyond the rules. Why does the door decoration contest reward this behavior?

Is this really a standard we want to set, a behavior to be modeled for students? I know I speak for more than just my students and our decorated door entry when I say: the annual judging of this contest is flawed. I can’t imagine admin and security want students wearing clothes that go beyond the permissibility of the district dress code. I can’t imagine geometry teachers want students using methods not taught in class to complete math proofs. Why have rules and guidelines if there are no consequences for breaking them, let alone rewards from breaking them?

I’m all in support of people who want to decorate beyond their door; I’m not in support of those artistic endeavors being included in the competition. Debaters can’t exceed the time limits set for their speeches, the football team can’t run an extra play beyond the final whistle, the soccer team can’t expand the size of the opponent’s goal, and when Astronomy drops eggs from the second floor every contraption must be within the limits! There should be standards for the contest, participants should have to keep their decoration within the frame of the door or be disqualified. Stay out of the competition if you can’t stay within the rules.

At this point, the contest has lost all semblance of fairness. And in school, especially, rubrics matter. Schools have a duty to teach our students right from wrong; we don’t just teach math, reading, science, history, languages, and arts. It’s time our cordial contests uphold the values we want our students to uphold when they walk through our red gates.

Submitted by Debate and Public Speaking teacher, Dr. Jacob Abraham, Ph.D.