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My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.
|Why You DO NOT Want It To Be Easier To Fire Teachers|
I submit for your consideration:
A music teacher placed on leave last month after some parents objected to the showing of a video of the opera Faust to elementary school students says she's been called a devil worshipper and a lesbian in this small town 35 miles east of Denver.
Some parents reportedly objected to the video because of references to the devil, while others were troubled by a scene in which a man was killed in silhouette and by allusions to suicide.
Teresa Waggoner, 33, was placed on paid administrative leave Jan. 30 and will remain on leave until further notice.
For those of you who do not know, "on leave until further notice" is code for "find a new job for next year."
Now, consider the case. A teacher show 12 minutes of an opera video to 1st,2nd and 3rd graders, an absolute CLASSIC, and a portion of the community goes ballistic because of some of the themes portrayed. Before getting into the specifics, turn some of the details around.
Can anybody out there imagine a place around here, say about 20 miles to the northwest, where a community might go a bit ballistic if a teacher showed something with supposedly conservative themes? Anyone? Imagine Boulder's reaction to a teacher showing "The Great Raid," a TRUE story about depicting American heroism and Japanese brutality in World War II. Personally, it's not that hard to imagine.
Now, ask yourself: are more school administrators liberal or conservative? most of us would answer, and probably correctly, "liberal."
So, do you really want it to be easier to fire teachers?
It is very easy for me to picture a school system where, if administrators have the power to fire teachers based on nothing more than community complaints or ideological disagreements, the schools are not merely liberal leaning but proudly and professedly liberal-orthodox. Think I'm overexaggerating? Consider that many college Schools of Education already question prospective students on their commitment to diversity, and do deny students access to the program if they are not sufficiently orthodox.
This would not be healthy for anybody. There should be a process in place that guarantees teachers are not the victims of witch hunts because guess what? In today's schools, the conservatives are the witches.
As to the specific case of Teresa Waggoner, this is the sort of thing that occasionally makes me embarassed of the Christian community--sort of like that church in Kansas that sends out picketers to the funerals of soldiers who hold up signs saying "God hates fags." You know, it's been a while since I read my Goethe, but if memory serves, Faust is nothing if not a cautionary tale about abandoning Faith for Power, and the perpetuality of God's forgiveness and redemption. And while, yes, there are depictions of bad things, including demons, in Faust, the overarching themes are explicitly God-like. So maybe some of these Bennettites can just get a grip and relax.
Now, had the issue been curricular, or perhaps artistic (based on the use of sock puppets in the video in question) then that would be a different story. But everything that I've seen points to the conflict being ideological, and that's bad for everybody.