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January 10, 2005
Teaching Standards

Today's lesson in upholding standards comes from Principal Jim Bennett of Lemoore Union High School in California, who followed through on a warning to his students to stop simulating sex during school-sponsored dances. When students ignored their principal, he responded by canceling the rest of the school dances for the entire year:

Principal Jim Bennett of Lemoore Union High School said he warned students at a winter formal dance last month to either quit dirty dancing or face the possibility of not dancing at all.

But he said the students continued "freak dancing," a form of sexually suggestive dancing that involves grinding the hips and pelvic area.

The ban on dances includes the school's Sadie Hawkins dance in February and the junior and senior proms in the spring, but Bennett said they could be rescheduled if students modify their behavior.

"It's really up to the kids at this point. They have to take some responsibility," Bennett said.

For those who haven't seen this before, "freak dancing" is not just the kind of sexy dancing popularized briefly by the Patrick Swayze movie, Dirty Dancing. It appears more inspired by catwalk strippers and big tippers on The Sopranos' Bada-Bing! "gentlemen's club." Girls turn their backs on their partners and grind their rears into the boys' crotches, or the two twist their legs and give a performance straight out of the Kama Sutra.

It's not new; freak dancing has been going on for a few years. School administrators have tolerated it, declining to put moral judgements on student actions. However, when a school sponsors an event, they expect certain behavior from its students. They certainly don't condone grope sessions off the dance floor, so it's hard to understand why they allow them in front of everyone.

Bennett has the right idea. He clearly articulated the school policy, and the students violated it. They now have to face the consequences. This resulted in a typical teenager response:

"Some students save up all year to buy a dress or rent a tuxedo and buy flowers for the prom," said student body president Zohra Lakhani, a 17-year-old senior. "To crush everyone's dreams, it's not fair."

It sounds like the student leadership needs to learn some lessons about life and responsibility. Bennett has his work cut out for him.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 10, 2005 7:18 AM

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