A Tale of Two Examples

My son sent me an article that he first found on FARK.com. It originated on NewsChannel5.com from Nashville, Tennessee, and is entitled “NewsChannel 5 Investigates: School System Leaves Soldier Behind.

The article is about Captain John Parker, who served with the Army Reserves in Afghanistan. Twice. Before he was deployed, Captain Parker taught criminal justice and helped coach Wilson Central High School’s wrestling team. He came back to the high school after his first deployment and anticipated no problems returning after his second deployment.

Why did he think there would be no problems? I would imagine that’s because there is “a special federal law that protects soldiers like Parker. It guarantees that, when they come home from their deployment, they’ll get their old jobs back for at least a year.”

Wilson County’s Director of Schools, Dr. Jim Duncan, is trying to find a way around that law. He says Parker wasn’t fired. There just weren’t enough students to take his class. Dr. Duncan says this even though he told NewChannel 5 reporter Jennifer Kraus that he had problems with Parker’s serving his country:

“It was like we got these classes going and you’re supposed to be the teacher,” Duncan tells Kraus.

“So, you’re saying his teaching position should have been his priority?” Kraus asks.

“Firmly. Yes.”

I could not believe it when I read this statement, attributed to Dr. Duncan:

“Could he have said something to his superiors? ‘Look, I really need to get back there. If everything is equal, I need to get back there (to Wilson Central High School) January 3rd because that’s when my class starts and I need to be with those kids for the full semester.”

That’s not my understanding of the way you talk to your superiors when you serve in the military!

As the NewsChannel 5 article points out, Dr. Duncan’s opinion is really not the one that counts. The National School Boards Association put out a document which says that a soldier’s job is protected while he serves. Armed with that knowledge, last Thursday, Captain Parker filed a lawsuit claiming that the school system violated his rights. Kraus quotes Parker as saying, “It’s pretty hard to believe in a country where we’re out there fighting for liberty, that those same things are not being given back to us when we come back.”

I agree. And I hope Dr. Duncan takes to heart a statement made by Gary Blackburn, Captain Parker’s attorney:

Parker’s attorney Gary Blackburn says his client “chose to risk his life. He didn’t choose to risk his job.”

Blackburn says what happened to the soldier is not the way someone who has honorably served his country should be treated.

“People who are willing to leave their homes, go to strange environments, endure personal hardships and threats of death should not be punished when they return home for their sacrifice,” Blackburn adds.

That’s right. Serving in the military is a sacrifice. What is Dr. Duncan teaching the young people of Wilson County about such sacrifice?

Which example would you want your child to follow?

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