Let’s Play “Spot the Ten Outrages!” (Public School Version)

Here we have a video, taken with a North Carolina high school (North Rowan High School) student’s cell phone during class. (yes, it just points at the ceiling. It’s the audio that matters):

Now lets’s play…SPOT THE OUTRAGE!

(There are ten!)

OUTRAGE 1: Does this sound like a class in session to you? Students are laughing and joking, barely paying attention. What kind of learning can occur in such a a chaotic environment? Do parents realize this is what school is like today?

Is the fact that a student is recording the class without the teacher’s consent an ethical breach? Once I would be tempted to answer yes: recording without permission is always unfair and a Golden Rule violation unless there are special circumstances. However, special circumstances were present, and may be present in more classrooms than our fragile sanity will permit us to accept. I now think perhaps all public school classrooms should be videotaped, all the time.Then we would quickly know the extent of our education catastrophe, as horrifying as that would be.

OUTRAGE 2: The teacher of the social studies class presents as the“fact of the day” the Washington Post sliming of Mitt Romney based on his mistreatment of a fellow student in his prep school days. In itself, this is not an inappropriate topic for discussion by a high school class, as the story raises many fascinating issues. How much do the students feel their conduct during their tender years should count against their character 50 years hence? Is it relevant to the presidential election in any way? How have attitudes toward “sissies,” gays and less-than masculine boys changed since the early Sixties, if at all? How have attitudes toward and awareness of homosexuality? What does this story say about the objectivity of the  press? Is it fair? None of these legitimate and discussion-worthy questions, however, seemed to occur to the teacher, who was simply trying to show that “Romney was a bully in high school” in a clumsy and transparent effort to indoctrinate her students in her own political views.

There seems to be a lot of this going on, based on the isolated reports that have happened to leak out, and I wonder how just much more of it there is, especially when one considers the alliance between the Democrats and the teachers unions, and the unprofessional profession of educators generally. However much there is, it is too much. Slanted political advocacy is not the proper role of a teacher at secondary school level, and such conduct is unethical and unprofessional.

One student, however, can be heard on the tape raising the question of fairness and even-handed treatment of both candidates by asking,

“Didn’t Obama bully somebody, though?”

This reference to a passage in Obama’s autobiography, if the teacher knew anything about ethics, might have provoked a useful dialogue about the valid and invalid applications of that question. Whether Obama bullied others or not does not make what Romney did better or worse: that is a common ethical fallacy that the teacher could have taken the opportunity to dispell. On the other hand, if the student was making the point that Romney’s juvenile misdeeds should not be featured in a classroom colloquy without his opponent’s similar conduct being discussed as well, then he was on firm ground.

The teacher, however, being incompetent, biased and without any evident teaching skills whatsoever, first denied that there were any such Obama incidents, and when her class insisted, said,

“Stop! Stop! Because there’s no comparison!  He’s running for president. Obama is the president.”

OUTRAGE 3. The statement is, to begin with, gibberish; by definition, in an election, the candidates must be compared. Later, as the students argue that both candidates need to be subjected to similar scrutiny, she tells them,

“You got to realize, this man is wanting to be what Obama is. There’s no comparison!”

OUTRAGE  4! She is no longer a teacher now; she is just an Obama flack, and an especially inarticulate and ignorant one. She is appearing to suggest that Romney is engaged in some kind of wrongdoing by seeking the nomination of his party for  office of President in the Constitutionally mandated election.

One student, anonymous but an Ethics Hero who might grow up to be someone impressive if he could get in a school with real teachers, protests,

“If you’re gonna talk trash about one side, you gotta talk trash about the other.” To which the teacher responds, in OUTRAGE 5,

“You will not disrespect the president of the United States in this classroom!”

The teacher was the one who brought up the candidates for President for discussion, and the student has not said anything disrespectful. If the teacher wanted to retreat from the topic she raised herself after proving too dim-witted and biased to moderate a fair debate, that is her prerogative, but invoking the false accusation of disrespect is both cowardly and misleading. Criticizing elected officials on the basis of deeds and character is not disrespectful. The student, in resbuttal, invoked his rights to express a civil opinion, by announcing, “I’ll say what I want.”

All right; that’s defiant and insubordinate. The teacher was still in charge and hadauthority, even if she had been abusing it and had no more business wielding it in a classroom than my Jack Russell Terrier. I think, however, that on balance defiant and insubordinate was called for here, as shown by the teacher’s juvenile, emotional and completely inappropriate response, and OUTRAGE 6,

“Not about him, you won’t!”

 The student now protests that in this the teacher is still proposing a double standard:

“Whenever Bush was president, everybody talked shit about him!”  True enough. Now, it would be appropriate for a competent teacher to use this comment to segue into a discussion of how difficult the Presidency is, how harsh criticism goes with the job, and how the hyper-partisanship in the nation beginning in the Clinton Administration has made discourse increasingly crude and uncivil. She might have also told the student to watch his mouth. But no. Her actual statement was:

“Because he was shitty.”

Crude, devoid of content or educational value and more politicking by the teacher, this is OUTRAGE 7.  This is how they train teachers to teach in 2012, is it? When the exam asks, “Describe the governing approach of President Bush, and speculate on why he was such a polarizing figure,” presumably the answer sought will be, “He was shitty.” There’s your A!

Then, in a spectacular finish, the teacher goes into a full-fledged rant, telling her students that those who criticized President Bush were arrested for saying derogatory things about President Bush:

“Do you realize that people were arrested for saying things bad about Bush? Do you realize you are not supposed to slander the president?”

Well, no, now that you mention it, I don’t realize that, and neither does anyone who has studied civics or the Constitution, because it isn’t just untrue, it is spectacularly untrue. Now the teacher is lying outright, or displaying such ignorance that the students would be justified in stampeding toward the exits lest she rot their developing brains further. But our Ethics Hero stands his ground, and replies,quite correctly,

“You would have to say some pretty fucked up crap about him to be arrested. They cannot take away your right to have your opinion. … They can’t take that away unless you threaten the President.”  Whereupon the teacher should have taken a seat at a students’ desk, and they should have commenced teaching her. OUTRAGE 8.

Really, however, none of these eight outrages, as thoroughly depressing and nauseating as they are, compare to the ninth and tenth outrages. OUTRAGE 9 is, of course, that teachers this ignorant, foolish, incapable and box-of-plastic vomit stupid are hired anywhere in the United States, to waste precious time and resources while either making our children as idiotic as they are, or, in best case scenario,  being completely irrelevant to their intellectual development at all.

And OUTRAGE 10 is the most outrageous. For though the entire, miserable display of teaching incompetence was recorded and put on YouTube, and though the Rowan-Salisbury school district knows the identity of the teacher and has viewed the video, it doesn’t see the need to do anything. Spokeswoman Rita Foil told the press that  the “teacher” is still employed with the district and has not been suspended or disciplined.  In a statement on behalf of the school system, Foil declared:

“The Rowan-Salisbury School System expects all students and employees to be respectful in the school environment and for all teachers to maintain their professionalism in the classroom. This incident should serve as an education for all teachers to stop and reflect on their interaction with students.”

This teacher needs a lot more education than that. If any teacher this uneducated, this unprofessional and this incompetent can be judged sufficiently skilled to continue teaching above the developmentally-disabled shellfish level, every parent in the nation should be on high alert. All the money, tests and  standards in the world will not create a functioning educational system if it is run by teachers like this Obama-worshipping dolt, and the irresponsible administrators who tolerate her.


UPDATE (5/21/12): The teacher has been identified as Tanya Dixon-Neely, and as of today, she has been suspended pending an investigation. I will not personally cease being outraged until she is flipping burger’s at Wendy’s or in some other job that does not involve instructing students.


Pointer: The Blaze

Facts: Salisbury Post

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at  jamproethics@verizon.net.

6 thoughts on “Let’s Play “Spot the Ten Outrages!” (Public School Version)

  1. I must disagree. I think the teacher’s behaviour was extremely educational.

    The kids are not gullible fools. They can see what’s happening here as well as you or I can. Moreover, in an environment where authority was incompetent at keeping order, they ordered themselves pretty well, considering.

    Just whatever you do, do not allow this “teacher” – and I use the word loosely – to have anything whatsoever to do with assigning grades.

    Her job, as “horrible example” of authority not deserving respect, is done. I feel that you Americans respect Authority far more than you should. Might does not make Right.

    • You are exactly right that the kids can see what’s going on. The problem is that they are learning to be cynical, thinking that all facts are just self-interested opinions. They are also learning the fine art of public discourse which involves raising your voice, blocking your ears, and asserting the absurd.
      I was in college during the Bush administration and in some classes, despite their having nothing to do with current events or politics, the way to get ahead was to agree with the professors when they got up on their soapboxes.
      Lastly, I would STILL be in detention if I had used the phrase “talking shit” to a teacher in class. Is this how crude we’ve gotten?

  2. What do they learn in such an environment?
    •Knowledge is useless, learning is pointless: What meaningful information was conveyed in this classroom? None. The students gain no knowledge of the government, civics, or anything else of value. The big problem is that because they never have had any knowledge conveyed to them, they don’t even know what it is.

    •When you are in charge, you get to be a bully: The teacher is clearly a bully and the teacher’s point is that when you are in charge, you can be a bully. The teacher gets to bully the students because she is in charge. Obama can bully people because he is president.

    •Liberals are good, conservatives are bad: The teacher’s point is that Obama is president and anyone who challenges him needs to be treated like an assassin or a thief. Romney is challenging Obama for the presidency that Obama rightly has, so Romney must be stopped for such outrageous conduct.

    Does anyone now wonder why our political discourse is in the shape it is? This is the only example of political discourse the students have ever known. They see it in school, they see it in the news. Their education also is lacking in anything that would allow them to rise above this childish level of reasoning and behavior.

  3. I just posted the video on my Facebook page from another source, Jack. (Sorry!) We were thinking along similar lines in our comments, though mine were far briefer. One point I made was my dismay at the low, virtually gutter level of conversation that the debate often sank to. That the teacher contributed to that- along with the obvious biased inaccuracies that even the students could see through- made for a truly sorry spectacle. You have to wonder if this is representative of public high school classes today. If so (as I said) we’re in a world of hurt!

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