Deeper Issues than Dancing Dead Cats

charter school oklahoma city
What was once Harding High School in Okla. City Public Schools is now Harding Charter Preparatory High School, authorized by the district.| Photo by Brett Dickerson

A seemingly good college prep charter here in Oklahoma City has encountered publicity that it didn’t plan on, and perhaps wants badly to just go away. 

This video was posted in May by PETA, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals:

Harding Charter Preparatory High School now says that this video was made in 2013.

For many of us who have ever spent time in the classroom, it never was only about the dead cats and the seemingly inhumane treatment of them.

One YouTube user called “Meridius” made this comment on the video:

this is just f***** up, I wonder why none of the students thought “jesus, this weird f**** teacher wants us to play around with dead cats and record it on camera, I should go home”

While we can all agree that there is a better way to state this concern, the point is right on target —  Why wouldn’t the teacher and/or the students consider this to be just way too bizarre? Why is it okay to show such crude disregard for these dead cats.

And then today a story came out on the Associated Press about the school’s response.

dead cats
Harding Prep’s response to the dead cat controversy. Screenshot from

Almost a month later, I have to wonder if those in charge of the school get the deeper implications of this misbehavior.

The released statement today found on their website says that the school “does not condone the conduct of the students nor does it accept such conduct as appropriate in any setting.”

They go on to say how regretful it was that students would do such a thing.

Yes, the mistreatment of these animals, even dead, is a problem that should be addressed.

But is that the whole problem? Will it be solved just by not using cats for anatomy/biology lab exercises?

Is this only a PR problem about dead cats? It’s not.

It is sobering to think that in this high-flying charter prep school some of these science students may some day be physicians.

Will they have the same disregard and crude attitudes toward those who have died or are dying? How about those who are seemingly less powerful than they are?

The insensitivity of the teacher and the students to anything that is less powerful than they are is the part of this that goes beyond just the inhumane treatment of these dead cats sold to the school for teaching purposes.

I have to wonder if, on a deeper level, the school is unconsciously perpetuating a growing cultural separation between the powerful and the powerless.

The question needs to be asked not just at Harding Charter Prep. It needs to be asked anywhere that we are setting school policy.