Blair Hornstine

 
 

THE MEDIA AND BLAIR HORNSTINE


     There was media attention that was focused upon the facts and the court decision.  She received some talk radio support as well as the written media.  Specifically, she received huge national support from Michael Smerconish.  In his radio broadcast entitled Blair Gets Jobbed, Again, he noted:
Every dope who sat on his hands and seethed while the teacher’s pet got the answer right is now exacting revenge by throwing spitballs at Blair Hornstine….Blair deserves a break.  Let’s review.
     She filed a lawsuit when she realized that the Moorestown school district, egged on by a bunch of South Jersey Gladys Kravitz types, was conspiring to deny her something she had earned – her claim to be the high school’s sole valedictorian.  Her suit earned her ridicule and scorn.  Published reports say her house was egged and sprayed with graffiti.  Death threats were received.  And her disability was the subject of more urban legends than Area 51.
So fast and furious was the torrent of spite directed at Blair and her parents that it was initially hard to know the real deal. I confess to having dismissed Blair as a spoiled malingerer myself when the case first broke, but my view changed when a federal judge listened to the evidence and sorted out whether Moorestown should have more than one valedictorian.
     U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson pulled no punches in a lengthy opinion. She ruled that Blair earned the title and that the school district was wrong to assume that somehow her disability had given her an academic advantage over other students. Judge Wolfson wrote that despite the whispers in the community, the school district never disputed that disability:
"Regrettably, this issue has polarized the graduating class and the community most of whom are uninformed about the facts and the law. In light of that, I want to make clear that the evidence in this case has shown that Ms. Hornstine earned her distinction as the top student in her class in spite of, not because of her disability.”
     That's about as clear a conclusion as could have been reached. Too bad more people haven't taken the time to read Judge Wolfson's opinion online.
Additionally, national columnist, Warner Todd Huston, in his article Another School System fails Its Students in the American Daily, had the professional and ethical morals to read the court decision before commenting on the case and its issues..
     Why would a high school valedictorian sue her Moorestown, New Jersey school district?  She had won the highest honor a common public high school has to offer so what more could she want, right?  Perhaps a tiny bit of respect for her achievement would be the answer to that one.
     I have followed this story in New Jersey and discovered it to be a sad commentary on life in these United States today.  It seems we have reached a level of disrespect for the successful among us that will not be easily reversed.  I must say that my first impulse upon hearing that Miss Blair Hornstine was suing her school system over her status as valedictorian was one that immediately struck me as just another selfish brat using a frivolous lawsuit to further her own ends, as most lawsuits ARE these days. However, after reading more about this case, I have decided that she is right in filing her suit and the school was woefully wrong in its actions against her.  This case also illuminates many American’s inclination that the rules do not apply to them.
     Miss Hornstine has an outstanding record of scholastic achievement and an incredible list of charitable works as well as a series of extracurricular activities that would tire the average person out just reading about them all.  She has reached a grade point average of 4.689…yet school superintendent Paul Kadri had decided that she should share her valedictorian status with the runner up instead of enjoying her achievement by herself as is traditionally the case.  Kadri chang[ed]…through the backdoor the past policy of qualifications for the position of valedictorian and [made] it retroactive to the beginning of the just ending school year.
      Why did the school superintendent decide to thwart convention and create the new status of "co-valedictorian" out of whole cloth? It seems that Miss Hornstine had taken advantage of Federal disability guidelines and conducted much of her schooling at home due to an undisclosed illness she suffered. Mr. Kadri decided that her class load was somehow easier or graded higher which gave Miss. Hornstine an unfair advantage over the rest of the student body…. Mr. Kadri played fast and loose with the school’s highest award and created this ethereal new award.  But, naturally, he not only had no real proof that Miss Hornstine was being dishonest in her achievements and grades but he didn’t  even display the courage of his convictions in attempting to sort the issue out. Instead, he took the easy way out by creating the feels good idea of "co-valedictorian".


      Perhaps the rules for home schooled children and their grading practices should be revisited in New Jersey, perhaps not. But what superintendent Kadri did was wrong when he tried to ramrod through a change to the system that would nullify some of Miss. Hornstine’s achievements AFTER the school year was practically over. He effectively changed the rules in mid stream to accommodate his own desires to be politically correct and make everyone "happy". Instead of sticking by his convictions and confronting the issue head on, or at least presenting the ideas to change the rules for future school years, he secretively tried to backdoor his ideas to thwart Miss Hornstine’s award.
But all that is not the worst thing about this case. The backlash against Miss. Hornstine in the general population of the school and community is appalling. How this situation could POSSIBLY effect the kids on the football team or the folks at the other end of the grade scale is beyond me. The vitriol against Miss. Hornstine can only be described as a sort of class envy that we are seeing all too much against the achievers in this society. 

     But, most of all we can blame another gutless wonder of a school superintendent for this entire mess. Kadri is just another superintendent who does not have the courage of his convictions to address a situation he feels has gone amiss. Shakespere once wrote, "Things without remedy, should be without regard; what is done is done", and this should have been Mr. Kadri’s philosophy when he belatedly wondered if Miss. Hornstine might have taken undue advantage of the system yet decided not to confront her over it. I, for one, hope Miss. Hornstine wins her lawsuit sending Mr. Paul Kadri into the retirement he and the children he is supposed to be shepherding deserve.

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