Parents Have Confidence in all Murphy School Staff
The last issue of the Murphy Messenger was a tough one for Murphy Middle School. Our public school system is really not in a position to either explain or defend their actions due to minors being involved and laws protecting that privacy - as it should be! But since some of these events have been turned into a public forum, where ironically it seems the desire is to force a desired outcome from MMS and PISD (which isn’t that some form of bullying or “micro-aggression”?), I wish to offer our own thoughts about our Murphy schools and staff. As parents, the emotional well-being and physical safety of our children is always at the top of our concerns. But the degree or crossing the line of what parents consider infringements or offenses to our children varies widely by parent. You only need to attend a youth sports game to experience that difference (usually at the embarrassment of their child who mostly wish their parents would just sit down and shut up). Because we as people do not universally see events from the same viewpoint or perspective, we also do not seek the same resolutions, if any at all. Personally, we probably would have had no reaction to the video if it was our son, outside telling him to handle it, because we have mostly told our kids we won’t fight your fights, at school or on the sports field, we can’t be there for you all the time. But, I also in no way think that makes me right and a parent who views that differently wrong. That’s our way, how our house works. The point is, one parents perception can’t be the defining benchmark for a school, a policy, or the actions to be taken by a school. It can only be the benchmark in our own homes. It’s why we must rely upon and trust the school staff who are tasked to be unbiased in investigating these events. And then once completed, who refer to the policies of the district and state, which have undergone thorough vetting in their development and implementation. A social media clip, although appearing condemning, does not mean we are privy to all the details of the events that took place (no different than the victims parent indicated about a questionable clip of her own child on a bus) - we lack context. We don’t know the history of these children or the review process done by PISD - it’s not our trial to publicly adjudicate! But unfortunately we are now a reactionary society satisfied with headlines and social media to draw final conclusions - guilty until proven innocent. Personally, I find it inappropriate, and unfair to tarnish everyone else involved with these schools by inviting NBC and the media into the mix. I have friends in other cities that saw the news clips, and this is now their reference to our schools - is that the desired outcome people wish, a misleading reputation about our school? Requesting NBC to cover this only benefits NBC's needs of fulfilling sensationalizing attention grabbing headlines, while punishing the reputation of the school and a lot of great staff. The only winners in that is the news outlet, who ultimately walks away with no invested stake in the matter. What is also unreasonable, is to expect one’s own personal views to be met in the punishment rendered by a public school.
I would never deny there are still unacceptable incidents of bullying. The kids in the video acted stupidly, and taking and sharing the video was even more grievous in my opinion. But singular events do not define a school or district, and a few 8th graders acting stupid don’t define a school or its staff. I would even argue it doesn’t imply there is a systemic problem with the students involved. Suppose a parent asks for measures to create distance between their student and yours at school, would you be satisfied that this request alone is burden of guilt on your child? Because that is exactly how it was presented within the social media outrage. If the school district appeases that request, that also does not constitute proof they are guilty, it’s very possible that sometimes our schools take the route of honey over vinegar. None of us who are not directly involved as PISD staff know the answers to any of this. PISD has a stellar record as a public school district. My 8th and 9th graders have attended Murphy schools since they started kindergarten. In all those years we have felt blessed that our kids attend these schools. These schools are mostly the reason we moved to Murphy and continue to live here. I know what schools look like with real violence, where your physical safety is at risk on a daily basis, because I attended schools like that for 7 years, and I see it today in my non-profit work with some of the most disadvantaged schools in DISD. From these experiences, I just can’t convey how how opposite the environment is at Murphy schools!
We have frequently asked our kids about the environment at school, including questions about bullying. And to this day, not only have our kids said it has never happened to them, they both say they have never even witnessed it. This does not mean it has not occurred, but the social media and newspaper response suggests something very different. When you try to bring public attention to something, it suggests there is a pervasive issue, that change is needed. One incident does not remotely support this theory in schools our size, and it certainly does not mean the school staff is negligent in tolerating it. I don’t believe that MMS has anything to defend itself from, but I feel compelled to share our own personal experiences as a dissenting opinion to this subject. This past Fall my wife and I were somewhat concerned as our 9th grade freshman was joining a football locker room at Plano East Senior High of almost entirely juniors and seniors. We had a few talks with him about preparing himself for some hazing and knowing the line to defend himself, walk away, or talk to coaches. At a minimum we expected him to get the cold shoulder from his new upper classman teammates. Then, as the season and school year started we discovered we could have not been more wrong. In fact, we were so wrong it was almost perplexing - why would juniors and seniors give a freshman the time of day, treating him as an equal? Seniors were asking him to sit with them at their table for team meals, they gladly gave him rides home, invited him to hang out, a district MVP QB sharing his cell phone number with him saying call if you need anything. I could go on and on about how great these kids are from what we have witnessed, and they are not the exceptions, our experiences are they make up the majority. I give credit to the coaches, but I also give credit to the schools, the teachers, PISD, and especially the parents of these kids. These Murphy schools, the lunch rooms and locker rooms are not the ones we might remember from 25+ years ago. Staff, teachers, and coaches take these accusations or events seriously. This is why we disagree with a public trial of MMS and PISD staff and support principal Conrad, the MMS teachers, coaches, and the PISD administrators. So to everyone who has ever taught our kids or worked in a Murphy school, we are thankful for you and that our kids are so fortunate to get a great public education. We know we are not alone in this opinion, and hope others will join us in showing that appreciation, lifting up and sharing our confidence in all the staff at our Murphy schools.
Chris & Claudia Morrow