Remember Natalie Munroe, the teacher who blogged about how much she detested her high school students, calling them names like “rat-boy” and “jerkoff”? What, you may ask, could be more destructive to the necessary trust between teacher and student, or parents and the teacher to whom they entrust their student’s education, short of actual abuse?
How about a teacher ridiculing his grade school special ed students?
Believe it or not, that’s what Jeremy Hollinger, a Mobile (Ala.)County Public School teacher who handles a second grade special education class at the Eichold-Mertz Elementary School did on his Facebook page. (In news reports, that’s what he “allegedly” did, or “is accused of” doing. In fact, all the evidence is public, it is clear and unambiguous, and the bottom line is, he did it.) Most spectacularly, Hollinger posted a mocking picture of himself wearing a seizure helmet and making a goofy face. Among his charming jibes at the young and challenged children in his class were such satirical comments on their behavior as “I guess crayons are on the menu” and “Why is there shit on the floor?”
We don’t have to debate this, do we? Surely we can agree that a special ed teacher must be able to empathize, sympathize, care for and be compassionate to his students, and have an abundance of patience and skill to properly deal with their behavioral and learning problems. For such a teacher to ridicule special needs 7 year-olds in a public forum—Hollinger’s Facebook page was open to all, and he lists nearly 2000 “friends”—shows suppressed anger, mean-spiritedness, disrespect, irresponsibility and a jaw-dropping absence of common sense. This isn’t a matter of disciplining a teacher for unpopular opinions on his own blog. As with Holloway, the teacher has disqualified himself for his profession by destroying any reasonable trust in his judgment and attitudes.
The mother of one of Hollinger’s students who saw Hollinger’s Facebook page (and whose son wears a seizure helmet) pulled the boy out of the class and transferred him to another school, but the one who should be moving out is the teacher. Like Munroe, however, Hollinger will apparently keep his job, because school systems are terrified of unions and lawsuits, because school administrators lost their spines over eons of evolution, and because education in this country is no longer about teaching, but about protecting jobs, even those of teachers who are a disgrace to their profession.
A spokesperson for the Mobile County Public School system told reporters, “The appropriate measures were taken by our Human Resources Department.” Since Hollinger still has his job teaching the second-graders whose problems he finds so simultaneously disgusting and mirth-inducing, we can only take this to mean that the school system thinks it is appropriate to have its most vulnerable charges taught by individuals who have contempt for them.
Good to know.
A Side Note in Pique: I originally read this story on a blog called Insane Asylum. As is my practice, I wanted to give the site credit; as is also my practice, I attempted to copy parts of the story so I could get quotes and names straight without having to re-type each one from the site itself….you know my typing accuracy. The site wouldn’t let me do it, sending me a pop-up box saying “Wait a minute! At least you could like us on Facebook first!” The box doesn’t even supply a link to its Facebook page; you have to type it in (no, you can’t copy and paste that, either.) So I “liked” the $#&^%! page, and it STILL wouldn’t let me copy any text; it kept showing me the box. The practice is obnoxious and coercive, and I you couldn’t get me back on that blog with a forklift…and no, I don’t like your Facebook page, Insane Asylum, or you.
In fact, you can bite me.