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VENTING - School administrators are spineless. (LONG)
Posted by: Ombligo
Date: November 09, 2011 06:26PM
I understand they mean well and have many weights to bear but sometimes they really need to grow a spine and stand up for something.

What set me off?

Our school has made it known that while English teachers are required to teach John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" to sophomore students, they may not say any of the derogatory terms.

For those unfamiliar with this classic tale of friendship, loyalty and trust, it is set in the depression and written in the vernacular of the day. It is a gritty tale and includes inflammatory terms such as "@#$%&" and "son of a bitch." It does not glorify the terms and they are used to strengthen the story.

Well after several years of teaching the material with nary a complaint, one parent took exception.

Due to this single complaint, students may now read the words silently. If material is being read aloud by a student, they are to skip over the word. If a teacher is reading it, they may either skip it or use a non-offensive, socially accepted term. There may be no discussions centered on the terms. Teachers may not use a video or audio recording that uses any term that could be deemed offensive.

This is wrong on so many levels I am not sure where to even start.

First - we are censuring a truly great literary work. There is no excusable reason to teach that censuring is acceptable. Students get enough mixed messages without adding to the mix. Steinbeck chose to use these words for a reason. We do him a great dishonor by not respecting his work as written.

Next - Students see worse on television and hear worse in our own hallways. Most of the students use worse language themselves (I'm not excusing that, but it is a fact that teens curse excessively while growing up). My point is, we are not telling them anything not heard before.

Third - we miss an opportunity to teach how language can be used in multiply ways and invoke different opinions. A word can be deeper than it's base meaning. Students will see the word but receive no guidance to it's interpretation.

That a single parent can alter the lesson's for nearly 600 students (our sophomore class size) is a gross injustice. I may lodge a complaint next year when my son is in the class about the lack of depth and explanation to guide students in their understanding of the language in the book.

That a school administrator cannot see this is maddening. Why couldn't have simply told the parent that the book has been approved by both the local and state board of education. There child could be excused from the class during readings and discussions but they would be responsible for understanding all concepts related to the material and be prepared to be tested on it.

Instead the administration caves and politics reign. I guess there is an education there too.


(I'll now count to ten while this is routed to the political side of the forum)

Thanks for listening.



“No persons are more frequently wrong, than those who will not admit they are wrong.”
-- François de La Rochefoucauld
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Re: VENTING - School administrators are spineless. (LONG)
Posted by: hal
Date: November 09, 2011 06:46PM
"There is no excusable reason to teach that censuring is acceptable."

that's a very powerful sentence right there, but I agree all around...
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Re: VENTING - School administrators are spineless. (LONG)
Posted by: The UnDoug
Date: November 09, 2011 06:47PM
I wouldn't wait until next year when your son is a sophomore.

Complain now, and maybe you won't have to deal with it next year.



[www.zeemaps.com]
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Re: VENTING - School administrators are spineless. (LONG)
Posted by: graylocks
Date: November 09, 2011 06:52PM
RANT to the school now. we are living in a world that rewrites Huckleberry Finn to expunge 'offensive' words. Let your school feel the wrath of a parent outraged on the other end of the spectrum.



"Success isn't about how much money you make. It is about the difference you make in people's lives."--Michelle Obama
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Re: VENTING - School administrators are spineless. (LONG)
Posted by: Black
Date: November 09, 2011 06:53PM
Quote
Ombligo
I understand they mean well and have many weights to bear but sometimes they really need to grow a spine and stand up for something.

What set me off?

Our school has made it known that while English teachers are required to teach John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" to sophomore students, they may not say any of the derogatory terms.

For those unfamiliar with this classic tale of friendship, loyalty and trust, it is set in the depression and written in the vernacular of the day. It is a gritty tale and includes inflammatory terms such as "@#$%&" and "son of a bitch." It does not glorify the terms and they are used to strengthen the story.

Well after several years of teaching the material with nary a complaint, one parent took exception.

Due to this single complaint, students may now read the words silently. If material is being read aloud by a student, they are to skip over the word. If a teacher is reading it, they may either skip it or use a non-offensive, socially accepted term. There may be no discussions centered on the terms. Teachers may not use a video or audio recording that uses any term that could be deemed offensive.

This is wrong on so many levels I am not sure where to even start.

First - we are censuring a truly great literary work. There is no excusable reason to teach that censuring is acceptable. Students get enough mixed messages without adding to the mix. Steinbeck chose to use these words for a reason. We do him a great dishonor by not respecting his work as written.

Next - Students see worse on television and hear worse in our own hallways. Most of the students use worse language themselves (I'm not excusing that, but it is a fact that teens curse excessively while growing up). My point is, we are not telling them anything not heard before.

Third - we miss an opportunity to teach how language can be used in multiply ways and invoke different opinions. A word can be deeper than it's base meaning. Students will see the word but receive no guidance to it's interpretation.

That a single parent can alter the lesson's for nearly 600 students (our sophomore class size) is a gross injustice. I may lodge a complaint next year when my son is in the class about the lack of depth and explanation to guide students in their understanding of the language in the book.

That a school administrator cannot see this is maddening. Why couldn't have simply told the parent that the book has been approved by both the local and state board of education. There child could be excused from the class during readings and discussions but they would be responsible for understanding all concepts related to the material and be prepared to be tested on it.

Instead the administration caves and politics reign. I guess there is an education there too.


(I'll now count to ten while this is routed to the political side of the forum)

Thanks for listening.

Very well said, and I agree totally.




New forum user map 8/2015: [www.zeemaps.com]
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Re: VENTING - School administrators are spineless. (LONG)
Posted by: DaviDC.
Date: November 09, 2011 07:04PM
A delegation of parents should show up at the complaining parent's house & beat the $hit out of him or her. Tar & feathers might not be a bad idea under the circumstances.

This political correctness crap has gone on long enough.



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Re: VENTING - School administrators are spineless. (LONG)
Posted by: Ammo
Date: November 09, 2011 07:04PM
OK, now it's my turn to vent:

So why was there a problem in this case ? Because a parent complained.

School administrators are not spineless - they do the best job they can in a very difficult climate where hyper-sensitive parents scream lawsuit every time they make a decision. Many parents today seem to believe that their child can do no wrong, so if there is a problem at school, it's automatically the school's fault. Schools can afford neither the monetary cost of a lawsuit or the resulting "black eye" that comes with even being accused of something. Public schools are financially dependent upon the good will of the community they serve.

BTW, I believe that the fear of legal action by parents is one of the biggest reason that discipline has become a major problem in many schools, but that is definitely a topic for the other side.



Where is there dignity unless there is also honesty? - Cicero

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. —Wendy Mass
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Re: VENTING - School administrators are spineless. (LONG)
Posted by: bwicklander
Date: November 09, 2011 07:15PM
Squeaky wheel gets the grease... do let your opinion be known to the school board, administration, and school staff. Students/Staff should be able to decide for themselves if they are comfortable to voice those words or not. More parents need to be more involved with the schools.
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Re: VENTING - School administrators are spineless. (LONG)
Posted by: jdc
Date: November 09, 2011 07:21PM
Im with Ammo.

It all comes back to the lawyers.

A friend is a teachers aide in a 3rd grade class at a semi rough and tough school. Theres a lot of struggle with discipline. But what kinda got to her was when one of the boys said to her "touch me and I will sue you and get rich..." Lawyers fault for letting the parents believe they can get rich and teaching that to their kids. =)



----


Edited 999 time(s). Last edit at 12:08PM by jdc.
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Re: VENTING - School administrators are spineless. (LONG)
Posted by: macphanatic
Date: November 09, 2011 07:25PM
Quote
Ammo
OK, now it's my turn to vent:

So why was there a problem in this case ? Because a parent complained.

School administrators are not spineless - they do the best job they can in a very difficult climate where hyper-sensitive parents scream lawsuit every time they make a decision. Many parents today seem to believe that their child can do no wrong, so if there is a problem at school, it's automatically the school's fault. Schools can afford neither the monetary cost of a lawsuit or the resulting "black eye" that comes with even being accused of something. Public schools are financially dependent upon the good will of the community they serve.

BTW, I believe that the fear of legal action by parents is one of the biggest reason that discipline has become a major problem in many schools, but that is definitely a topic for the other side.

If a parent has a problem with what the Public School is teaching, they have the right to send their child to a Private School that will teach what they want their child to be taught. Rewriting history or editing literature to sanitize it or make it PC does a disservice to our children. Should they not learn the truth, how others were enslaved or mistreated? If they don't learn how things really were, will they ever understand some of the issues that our society and the world are still dealing with.

I'm also tired of schools banning peanut butter (or other food item) because a child has an allergy. There are other ways to address this issue than an outright ban on a food product. Had this been done when my one sister was in school, she would have had nothing to eat for lunch. Just another example of the rights/needs or wishes of one (or small minority) exerting undo influence on a group.
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Re: VENTING - School administrators are spineless. (LONG)
Posted by: zeppo2
Date: November 09, 2011 07:35PM
When I was department chair for my college English department, I had a parent (parent!) come in to complain about a teacher using Of Mice and Men because it used profanity. After gathering my composure (and keeping down the urge to tell them what they could do with their complaint), I told them what was taught in class was none of their business and sent them to my Dean, who did the same. That's one of the many reasons why tenure is important, and why our country is doomed, doomed I tells ya.
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Re: VENTING - School administrators are spineless. (LONG)
Posted by: archipirata
Date: November 09, 2011 08:08PM
Get the local media involved.



Athens, OH
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Re: VENTING - School administrators are spineless. (LONG)
Posted by: Racer X
Date: November 09, 2011 08:14PM
At the same time, they won't teach what has been learned since their textbooks were written, for fear of offending those who were in a better light BEFORE the new info was discovered.

Look into King Phillip and the King Phillip War. Also, don't suppose any of you who graduated in the past 2 decades were aware that there were survivors of the Alamo, and with General Santa Anna watching, were executed by the Mexican victors?

Yeah, Santa Anna's aide de camp had a diary, and it came to light over 2 decades ago, and has been authenticated. Oops, don't want to revise the truth, it's inconvenient.
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Re: VENTING - School administrators are spineless. (LONG)
Posted by: sunfalcon
Date: November 09, 2011 08:19PM
I'm so sick of BS like this where one person's complaint screws everyone else. I agree, you need to make noise about this now and not wait.
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Re: VENTING - School administrators are spineless. (LONG)
Posted by: Linda2
Date: November 09, 2011 08:26PM
As a former high school English teacher for a distressingly long period of time, I say....... you go for it, Ombligo and more power to you. The political correctness trend in this country now borders on the absurd and classic literature should be explained in the context of the time in which it was written, not rewritten to satisfy parents who have neglected to explain such things to their children. If they think they can keep their kids in a bubble, they are wrong (well, I WAS going to say stupid). The reality of the world intrudes far too early and some children are woefully unprepared emotionally and realistically.

That said, frivolous lawsuits are certainly a problem for school districts but, in my experience, administrators who stand up for what is right are rarely, if ever, successfully sued. They are respected. Unfortunately, there aren't many left anymore.
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Re: VENTING - School administrators are spineless. (LONG)
Posted by: bazookaman
Date: November 09, 2011 08:38PM





__________________________________
There’s a guy wearing overalls with no shirt.
Which I think we all know is the International uniform for the last guy you’ll ever see.
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Re: VENTING - School administrators are spineless. (LONG)
Posted by: ka jowct
Date: November 09, 2011 10:01PM
I'm not sure that "political correctness" is the problem, at least not as the term tends to be used. Witch hunts started by parents are nothing new. When I was in high school, the mother of one of my friends went on the warpath about Sinclair Lewis's "Babbitt". This mother, who was an arrogant, ignorant, pushy, self-important woman, became incensed that her daughter was reading a book in which the protagonist's wife is described as being as sexless as a nun.

If you teach or are a librarian, you hope to never encounter that sort of situation, especially because of the potential for more widespread censorship.
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Re: VENTING - School administrators are spineless. (LONG)
Posted by: Paul F.
Date: November 09, 2011 10:20PM
Your ire, which I agree with, is misdirected. The cowardly administrator is following where a cowardly populus has led.



Paul F.
-----
A sword never kills anybody; it is a tool in the killer's hand. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca c. 5 BC - 65 AD
----
Good is the enemy of Excellent. Talent is not necessary for Excellence.
Persistence is necessary for Excellence. And Persistence is a Decision.

--

--

--
Eureka, CA
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Re: VENTING - School administrators are spineless. (LONG)
Posted by: mrbigstuff
Date: November 09, 2011 10:35PM
Quote
macphanatic
Quote
Ammo
OK, now it's my turn to vent:

So why was there a problem in this case ? Because a parent complained.

School administrators are not spineless - they do the best job they can in a very difficult climate where hyper-sensitive parents scream lawsuit every time they make a decision. Many parents today seem to believe that their child can do no wrong, so if there is a problem at school, it's automatically the school's fault. Schools can afford neither the monetary cost of a lawsuit or the resulting "black eye" that comes with even being accused of something. Public schools are financially dependent upon the good will of the community they serve.

BTW, I believe that the fear of legal action by parents is one of the biggest reason that discipline has become a major problem in many schools, but that is definitely a topic for the other side.

If a parent has a problem with what the Public School is teaching, they have the right to send their child to a Private School that will teach what they want their child to be taught. Rewriting history or editing literature to sanitize it or make it PC does a disservice to our children. Should they not learn the truth, how others were enslaved or mistreated? If they don't learn how things really were, will they ever understand some of the issues that our society and the world are still dealing with.

I'm also tired of schools banning peanut butter (or other food item) because a child has an allergy. There are other ways to address this issue than an outright ban on a food product. Had this been done when my one sister was in school, she would have had nothing to eat for lunch. Just another example of the rights/needs or wishes of one (or small minority) exerting undo influence on a group.

^ this. very well put. I encounter this thinking All The Time. It's now the norm rather than the exception.
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Re: VENTING - School administrators are spineless. (LONG)
Posted by: Grace62
Date: November 09, 2011 10:47PM
Ombligo - take this with you when you talk to the principal.

"The freedom to read is essential to our democracy. It is continuously under attack. Private groups and public authorities in various parts of the country are working to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools, to label "controversial" views, to distribute lists of "objectionable" books or authors, and to purge libraries. These actions apparently rise from a view that our national tradition of free expression is no longer valid; that censorship and suppression are needed to counter threats to safety or national security, as well as to avoid the subversion of politics and the corruption of morals. We, as individuals devoted to reading and as librarians and publishers responsible for disseminating ideas, wish to assert the public interest in the preservation of the freedom to read."
American Library Association Freedom to Read Statement
[www.ala.org]
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Re: VENTING - School administrators are spineless. (LONG)
Posted by: numbered
Date: November 09, 2011 11:29PM
You have to speak up now. I have seen a number of these kinds of things happen and they almost always occur because the administrator/teacher felt that they would be alone when they stood up.

A few years ago our district "cancelled" Halloween. A religious group attended Board meetings regularly complaining about the "holiday." No one spoke up on the other side of the question--real people do not attend Board meetings. The Board really had no idea about where people stood.

And then the announcement went out. 2,000 people showed up for an emergency Board meeting, and the decision was rescinded.

Similarly, I have seen teachers intimidated by just the kind of people you mention. What cures the problem are a few normal people standing up with the school. And in those cases lawyers will rarely take a case.
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Re: VENTING - School administrators are spineless. (LONG)
Posted by: decay
Date: November 09, 2011 11:40PM
Quote

the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.



---
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Re: VENTING - School administrators are spineless. (LONG)
Posted by: Racer X
Date: November 10, 2011 12:09AM
"And some are just jerks"
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Re: VENTING - School administrators are spineless. (LONG)
Posted by: Ombligo
Date: November 10, 2011 03:26AM
Thanks all. It is heartening to see so many stand up strongly in opposition to this decision.

When I see the principal I will mention my feelings in a professional manner. However my feelings won't count for as much as any other parent. That is because I am a school employee as well and therefore not as important. Further, since I am on an annual contract rather than continuing, I cannot lead the charge. Due to state budget reductions our school district must make at least $5 million in cuts this year. I would prefer not to be one of the cuts.

However I will be placing a few well chosen tips to some friends in the media.



“No persons are more frequently wrong, than those who will not admit they are wrong.”
-- François de La Rochefoucauld
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Re: VENTING - School administrators are spineless. (LONG)
Posted by: Mr645
Date: November 10, 2011 06:52AM
Without seeing our own history, we cannot create the future. The words written are the history of our culture and without this, we cannot grow into the future.

AND, what about black students and teachers? Can they can the N word?
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Re: VENTING - School administrators are spineless. (LONG)
Posted by: graylocks
Date: November 10, 2011 09:39AM
Quote
Ombligo
However I will be placing a few well chosen tips to some friends in the media.

and to other parents who are in a position to be squeaky wheels!



"Success isn't about how much money you make. It is about the difference you make in people's lives."--Michelle Obama
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Re: VENTING - School administrators are spineless. (LONG)
Posted by: ADent
Date: November 10, 2011 10:34AM
I think teaching literature to kids is mostly a waste of time. I know it was for me.
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Re: VENTING - School administrators are spineless. (LONG)
Posted by: Robert M
Date: November 10, 2011 10:55AM
ADent,

You may think it was a waste of time but it in fact very likely contributed to your education on many levels, i.e. building your skills in reading comprehension, critical thinking, writing, increasing your vocabulary.

That said, I think what the school is doing in this situation is reprehensible and I hope Ombligo takes the officials to task for it with help from parents and other educators. However, I'm hoping Ombligo doesn't use the word censure when describing the situation. I may be nitpicking here but censure (or censuring) are the wrong words to use based on my understanding of its definitions.

Censor or censoring, while still not quite how I'd express it, are more appropriate terms to use this in this situation. Sanitize (or sanitizing) also works, too.

Robert



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/10/2011 10:56AM by Robert M.
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Re: VENTING - School administrators are spineless. (LONG)
Posted by: mattkime
Date: November 10, 2011 11:39AM
Quote
ADent
I think teaching literature to kids is mostly a waste of time. I know it was for me.

can't save 'em all!



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Re: VENTING - School administrators are spineless. (LONG)
Posted by: Grace62
Date: November 10, 2011 11:41AM
Quote
Ombligo
Thanks all. It is heartening to see so many stand up strongly in opposition to this decision.

When I see the principal I will mention my feelings in a professional manner. However my feelings won't count for as much as any other parent. That is because I am a school employee as well and therefore not as important. Further, since I am on an annual contract rather than continuing, I cannot lead the charge. Due to state budget reductions our school district must make at least $5 million in cuts this year. I would prefer not to be one of the cuts.

However I will be placing a few well chosen tips to some friends in the media.

The fact that you're a school employee does not in any way diminish your rights as a parent. In fact, employees tend to have an easier time getting the ear of administrators. I don't think you should let that discourage you, but definitely get other parents on board with you.
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Re: VENTING - School administrators are spineless. (LONG)
Posted by: decay
Date: November 10, 2011 02:25PM
sucks to your ass-mar, Piggy!



---
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