Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Every day, in every way

This country's getting dumber and dumber.

A teacher in Frisco, Texas, takes her class to the Dallas Museum of Art. Kid goes home and tells parent, "Hey, I saw a nekkid statue!"

Teacher gets fired.

Read and weep, folks.


Blogger Mike M. said...

Not to defend what they did -- which is stupid beyond belief -- but they did not fire her. They elected not to renew her contract for next year. She still gets paid for the entirety of her contract.

A deeper problem is that teacher contracts in Texas are one year contracts (unless, of course, you are a football coach) and that Texas teachers never gain tenure.

10:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This fills me with such rage I cannot stand it. Never mind that mummsey and daddums probably let their 5th graders watch films like SAW and Freddy vs. Jason at home, but GOD forbid they see bare breasts rendered in marble.

This "non-renewal of her contract" speaks volumes about our highly fucked up value system in this country.

I noticed that today CNN began carrying the story. Now the school officials are saying that their decision has nothing to do with the DMA incident, that her other inadequacies as a teacher are to blame.


11:56 PM  
Blogger Cold Potato said...

What we need is dewussification of our land, starting in our schools.

I agree that teachers in core subjects (NOT FOOTBALL!) should be given multi-year contracts depending on performance or at least lack of problems with the administration (another thing needing a change).

While they didn't use the word "fire", in essence, they did the same thing. To actually fire her in the middle of the year would have meant a messy legal battle.

2:50 AM  
Blogger The Calvinator said...

Ummm . . . Why are you all assuming that the teacher's version is the correct one? Isn't it possible, just possible, that she really was doing a crappy job, and she is the one using the Museum trip as a cover for it? Maybe, just maybe, the school district isn't in the wrong here.

If she was disciplined for the Museum trip, that was stupid and wrong, but we do not know if that is truly the case. Can you say "Rush to Judgment"?

5:20 AM  
Blogger SuperHolmie said...

What did the parent think they were going to see? There ain't paintings of puppies and windmills in an art museum, folks.

5:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in frisco and have followed this story a bit.

She was teacher of the year in Frisco 2 years ago.

The complaints about her performance suddenly started AFTER the field trip.

The other teachers in the school have been told to not speak with her.

Rumor has it 2 other teachers are leaving the school (not sure of the reasons).

8:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's the latest.

Teacher: Reprisals began after field trip
Frisco ISD: 5th-graders saw nude art; board supports principal

Thursday, August 24, 2006

By KAREN AYRES / The Dallas Morning News

FRISCO – A veteran Frisco art teacher says school administrators have retaliated against her because a student reportedly saw a nude sculpture during a field trip to the Dallas Museum of Art.

District officials say they are supporting a principal who reprimanded Sydney McGee over the field trip and other performance issues.

At Ms. McGee's request, the situation was aired in public during a school board meeting Monday.

The school board rejected a request that would have allowed Ms. McGee to transfer to another school.

Ms. McGee told the board that the principal of Fisher Elementary School criticized her performance and threatened her job after a parent complained about the April field trip.

Ms. McGee's attorney, Daniel Ortiz, said she didn't receive any negative reports until shortly after the field trip.

"This case is about censorship. ... It's about retaliation front and center," Mr. Ortiz told the board.

Ms. McGee, who has taught in various Texas districts for 28 years, said she visited the museum and spoke with museum staffers before the trip to ensure that it was appropriate for the fifth-grade class. Ms. McGee said she does not know which piece of art offended the parent, and the district did not identify it.

Ms. McGee said principal Nancy Lawson called her into a meeting the day after the trip to admonish her about the parent's complaint. Shortly thereafter, she received a negative review and a series of directives about displaying student artwork and creating lesson plans.

"You have to start somewhere when you've seen things you don't believe are in the best interest of the students," Superintendent Rick Reedy said.

In a memo to Ms. McGee, Ms. Lawson wrote that students were exposed to nude statues and other nude art representations during the trip. Ms. Lawson said she received complaints from parents and other teachers about the trip.

Ms. McGee said Monday that she was afraid of being fired. Ms. Lawson told the board that she planned to have Ms. McGee return to Fisher this fall.

Ms. McGee said she sought to resolve the issue by requesting a transfer.

"There was such hostility, I didn't feel like that was a good environment," she said.

That grievance and another transfer request were rejected by administrators. The school board unanimously upheld those decisions Monday night.

Some board members said it appeared that Ms. Lawson was trying to improve the art teacher's performance and should be allowed to do so.

"It is a principal's job and their duty and responsibility to give directives to the people who work for them, and I don't want to circumvent that process," board president Buddy Minett said.

Board members said there were other performance issues in question beyond the trip complaint.

But Ms. McGee and her attorney said there is a clear connection.

"She made a great effort to see to it that the April 26 field trip was in fact a big success," Mr. Ortiz said. "Apparently one parent complained, and that changed Sydney's work."


Here are some other viewpoints on the issue: http://texased.wordpress.com/2006/09/02/what-a-mess/

1:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Rick Reedy to every FISD employee, regarding a termination neither prudent nor ethical:

To All:

Any of you who read newspapers, listen to talk radio, or tune in on the Internet, are aware that FISD is receiving some intense media coverage over the past few days regarding a personnel issue.
Although prudent and ethical practice prevents us from conducting due process through media outlets, I wanted to give all of you some facts to use if community members ask you about your knowledge of this situation.
1) A teacher's job status in this district has never been nor ever will be affected by the incidental viewing of art work of any kind in any type of medium, on or off campus.
2) We have attempted to counter some of the negative media coverage by releasing as much information as we legally and ethically can. Despite this, we have found that some in the media are not interested in presenting a balanced viewpoint that counters the distorted information that they are being provided.
3) Our Administration and Board support our teachers and our principals. We are all aware that we have an exceptional principal and outstanding faculty and staff at Fisher Elementary. We commend them, along with the parents and students of Fisher Elementary, for maintaining their focus on academic pursuits during a challenging time.
We will communicate information as we can to keep you as informed as possible.
Although we have received numerous phone calls and e-mails, very few have been from citizens in FISD and our citizens have been extremely supportive.
I personally apologize to any and all of you who have suffered from this unfortunate and unwarranted media attention. Thank you all for your service to our students.

2:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Professor,

If the teacher had been fired for using the term "Niggardly" or "Picnic" or the nursery rhyme "Eenie Meenie Minie Moe" would you feel so comfortable making fun of the parents and the school system. Firing have occured in the past for the use of those phrases (but not school teachers).

Of would you claim that schools need to be more aware of cultural differrences and that they teacher should be fired.

My guess is that you feel very comfortable making fun of the the beliefs of rural whites but would never criticize minorities for being just as stupid.

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Frisco isn't some poor rural farmtown. ComplainerDad is probably a plastic surgeon. I guess Texas' cultural difference is that silicone and saline hooters are okay, but marble or bronze, well, that's sick and wrong.

1:29 PM  
Anonymous Max said...

The evidence that this teacher was fired primarily because someone's child saw a nekkid statue is tenuous at best. I believe some are quick to accept this claim because it supports their pre-conceived opinions. I read the linked article and those included in comments and can only conclude there is insufficient evidence to form a firm judgment. Still I don't have the powers of insight possessed by those who can even predict ComplainerDad (not Mom) is a plastic surgeon. We all know plastic surgeons are notorious prudes.

2:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to Greatschools.com, Frisco High School is 17% Hispanic and only about 67% white, non-Hispanic. Any school in Texas that is only 2/3's white does not have the children of platic surgeons in its student body.

Is it not amazing the the good Professor automatically assumed the complainer was white when the public schools in Texas are only about 50% white. What makes the good professor think that Hispanic or black parents would never compalin about what their children are expose to at school?

4:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't it a shame that one parent has so much power? If we do not expose our children to art, how will they learn? It's amazing. The Greeks and Romans didn't blind or muzzle their children to sculpture, so why in this century are we doing this? A ten-year old shouldn't see a nude statue? How is he going to view African art or the great Masters? Disturbing.

11:51 PM  
Anonymous Fisher Parent said...

I was a parent that chaperoned that trip. I am also in management and as such understand that the principal and district can’t play the media like a virtuoso as Ms. Gee has. The ignorance of the ill-informed shocks me. This is not about a nude sculpture. This is not about potentially one parent complaint. I too felt the trip was chaotic, the DMA staff was rude and museum was over-booked. I primarily blamed the DMA frankly, but some accountability does belong to the organizer. She should have accepted the criticism and grow from it. Trying to hide behind the one complaint is to avoid recognizing her short-comings and opportunity to improve. Interestingly enough, I never have had my children complain about her class, but at the same time, their lack of interest or apathy may be a sign of her lackluster teaching. My kids normally rave about learning yet they barely mention this class. When asked, they can’t recall anything of significance that they have done there. I have asked myself why my kids don’t know the basics of art. Why did my 5th grader not have any understanding of the purpose of the field trip? Why was it not part of unit of study? For example, if they learn about the ocean and then they visit the aquarium - the knowledge is applicable to the trip. I wonder why the children did not truly have a clue about the intent. I don’t presume to know all of the facts that led to this point as no on truly ever does in an employee/manager situation due to privacy laws. However, I do know that this is a phenomenal school that has tons of school spirit, parental support, wonderful teachers and administrators, and intelligent, considerate kids. The mission is to educate our kids and to encourage their love of learning. Under Mrs. Lawson, the staff has set its goal to drive excellence similar to that espoused in Jim Collin’s “From Good to Great”. Perhaps this is really about the fact that Ms. McGee may not have been willing to get on the bus to get us there. If that is the case, then move on and please leave our children and school in peace. The negativity needs to stop. Pursue your actions with dignity through the proper channels. The media and court of public opinion is not the place for a fair assessment of her paid administrative leave.

10:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nancy Lawson was involved in a similar situation at her last principalship in Park Ridge, Illinois. Lawson did not renew the contract of a well-respected teacher who was not tenured. The reason(s ) for non-renewal (a reason is not required to be given in Illinois until the fourth year a teacher has worked in the school system) were never made public, even though the teacher gave his consent to do so. The parents of the children in his class protested vehemently, but the School Board stood by Lawsons's decision. This episode left the school and the community split down the middle as a result of her decision. On the last day of school, an armed guard stood at the front door of the school in the event some sort of unrest broke out. Park Ridge is an upscale suburb of Chicago, where homes are priced at 700K and up. People move to Park Ridge specifically for the schools. Lawson moved on to Texas the year after the incident, and some speculate that Lawson herself was "non-renewed" by the School Board. However, this is merely speculation, and no definitve proof of this has been made public. Seems like a pattern is emerging here!

9:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Incompetent administrators are hard to get rid of and yet asking a teacher to resign, deciding to non-renew,or terminating (all the same when you are trying to get another job) happens a great deal with no basis. Texas has a shortage of teachers, deffinitely has a shortage of good teachers, and it is because back stabbers and idiot administrators ruin great teachers' careers to cover their own incompetence. Our kids need teachers who can focus on teaching and not be distracted with the petty politics of public school. A teacher who is secure but still accountable, would be a great teacher. This means that just like in the regular business world, a teacher would have a job unless there was cause to dismiss. I do not agree with probationary or tenured contracts. There is a solution for our schools.

11:46 PM  

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