Tiffany Schley is Valedictorian of her graduating class at Brooklyn’s High School of Legal Studies and she took the opportunity during the graduation ceremony to deliver a “scorching speech” on problems with the high school. Now the school refuses to hand over her diploma until she apologizes for the speech:
“I was speaking for my peers,” Tiffany told the Daily News. “We’ve been living with this for four years.”
A top student who’s going to Smith College on a full scholarship this fall, Schley was brutally honest about the High School of Legal Studies during Thursday’s graduation ceremonies in Bushwick.
Among her gripes: The school has had four principals in four years, overcrowded classes, a shortage of textbooks and other basic materials, unqualified teachers, unstable staffing and uncaring administrators who refused to meet with students to discuss the school’s problems.
“They always want to keep the problems hush-hush, but what goes on in this school is real,” said Tiffany, who was also the editor of the school newspaper, yearbook chairwoman and a member of the student council.
One teacher who attended the graduation said the audience was shocked by the speech.
“The administration was very nervous, but the students were definitely in support of her,” the teacher said.
“We feel that her schoolmates are deserving of an apology,” said Education Department spokesman Stephen Morello. “It was a celebratory day for all of them.”
I wonder what they feel she should apologize for if the students were in support of her speech? Sounds to me like she said what many of them wanted her to say and the only people that might have any reason to be offended are the administrators themselves. Personally, I’ve never understood why people are asked to give speeches if they’re not free to speak their hearts and minds during said speech. If the school administration would consider taking the words in Tiffany’s speech to heart and address some of the issues she raised, then perhaps future Valedictorians will have no reason to give a critical speech of the school in the future.
No, that would be too much work. Best to have the student apologize for being “disrespectful” and drive home the message that being honest isn’t actually the best policy after all.