As is often the case, the problem starts at the top.
Edd Burleson, in full charge, didn’t bother to chew on the question. At age 77, the former small-town state champion football coach, who later served as the superintendent of a Dallas-area school district, made it clear he has neither the time nor patience for political correctness.
Rather, Burleson, who left public schools in 1989 and has served since in the leadership of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools, spit out an answer he knew would raise eyebrows. When finished, he allowed a knowing nod and wry smile to punctuate his words.
“We shouldn’t have accepted them in the first place,” Burleson responded without hesitation.
“Them” is Beren Academy. And on the first full day of spring, three weeks after Beren and Burleson found themselves in the national and international spotlights, the TAPPS executive director was asked if he had any regrets about his handling of the situation.
“What else would you want me to say?” he asked. “Want me to come up with some politically correct gobbledygook? I can’t. I’m telling you that’s how I feel.”
Well, I guess that’s good for the rest of us to know. It’s certainly good for the other members of TAPPS to know.
In the wake of Burleson’s comments, the Texas Catholic Conference Education Department said the group continues to be committed to reforms that would ensure diversity among TAPPS membership.
“The comments attributed to Mr. Burleson in the media (Sunday) come as a surprise,” the group’s statement read. “At a meeting with representatives of member schools last week in Belton, Mr. Burleson reportedly conveyed his intention to listen to the concerns of member schools and resolve these issues – he even scheduled a second meeting in two weeks to discuss it further. If today’s comments are accurate, they are dramatically different from the impressions he gave a week ago.
“The Texas Catholic superintendents’ position remains the same. If the concerns are not satisfactorily resolved, Catholic schools will reconsider their future affiliation with TAPPS.”
See here for more on that. If TAPPS wants to change its name to the Texas Association of Schools With Approved Religions, they can do that. They’ll have a harder time finding public facilities to use for their sporting events if they do, but that would be their choice. Whether Edd Burleson likes it or not, we live in a diverse society. I don’t know how this is going to play out, but one way or another TAPPS is going to have to change to accommodate that. Whether they do it by recognizing reality or attempting to keep it at arm’s length remains to be seen.