The Arlington, Texas School District Flunks Accountability

The latest in teaching aids in Arlington, Texas

The latest in teaching aids in Arlington, Texas

If a Walmart worker poured pencil shavings down the throat of a customer, he would be fired. If the CEO of Boeing poured pencil shaving down the throat of a company accountant, he’d be out the door before he could utter the word, “Seconds?” If a pediatrician poured pencil shavings down the throat of a patient, she’d lose her license, and if a veterinarian poured pencil shavings down the throat of a kitten, he’d be arrested.

Yet in the Arlington, Texas, School District, the teacher who poured pencil shavings into the mouth of unsuspecting Marquis Jay, a 13-year-old eighth-grader at Boles Junior High School, is back on the job after less than a month’s suspension. She apologized, you see. She said that she wasn’t thinking right.

Yes, I’d say that’s a fair description of her actions. But I’d also say that a teacher prone to harming her students in those periodic moments when she is “not thinking right” is a continuing risk to the children. If fact, I’ll confidently state not only that a teacher who attacks a child in this manner—and an attack is what it is—has to be fired, if a parent of a child attending the school involved is to have any justified faith that the school is properly concerned with the welfare of its students, isn’t recruiting instructors from the violent ward at the local Home for the Bewildered, and, in short, doesn’t have an administration staffed by moonlighting Hell’s Angels members.

Such an irresponsible, impulsive, potentially catastrophic act is signature significance personified: no trustworthy teacher would do this even once, ever. In fact, no trustworthy teacher wouldn’t be horrified to hear about it. Apparently the school really had to explain to the teacher, who exists in a George Costanza state of ethical and logical fog, that “no,no, no.—it is wrong to pour little pieces of wood down a child’s throat!”

If you have to explain that kind of thing to a teacher, then that teacher is in the wrong profession. I will go further: any school administrator that wouldn’t resign and give a news conference to the local press and TV outlets if such a teacher was allowed to return to the scene of her crime is also in the wrong profession, and needs to investigate whether any bait shops are hiring. This is an example where parents and the public earn the kind of schools they get: no parent should send a child back to a school that employs teachers this untrustworthy, and the proper response to a school allowing such a teacher to return is to empty that school of students, and to demand the removal of every decision-maker within it as well as an independent review of every teacher employed there. This undoubtedly will require telling the teachers union to go suck an egg: good.The union apparently won’t allow the name of the teacher to be revealed, so innocent people on the street can be on alert for run-by pencil shaving assaults. To the contrary, her face should be broadcast on the local news.

No, this isn’t Sandy Hook, but unlike Sandy Hook, the path to protecting the children is crystal clear:

  • Don’t tolerate teachers who pour pencil shavings down students’ throats.
  • Don’t tolerate school administrators and unions that do.
  • Don’t send your children to schools the continue to employ such teachers.

Simple. Logical. And essential.

Problem solved.


Facts: CBS DFW

Graphic: dreamstime

15 thoughts on “The Arlington, Texas School District Flunks Accountability

  1. Unfortunately, cases like this are… absurdly routine, for lack of a better word for it. I don’t spend as much time looking through sources as I used to… but I still come across one or two every month or so. When I *was* actively looking (there’s a story there), it was three or four… and that’s just the cases that made the news.

    It’s a lot harder when you know the family — especially if you knew the family _before_ the abuse. It’s still worse when the abuse was sanctioned and condoned by the school and school district. (Yes, I’ve had this happen to me, although that case never made the news to my knowledge.)

    And yes, the teachers getting off is also pretty routine (if, again, disgusting). The case of Wendy Portillo, which I’ve referenced here before, is a case in point… although Government Accountability Office report GAO-09-719T may provide you with more thorough (and disgusting) reading and some information on just how ridiculous the situation can be.

    Or there’s the matter of the Judge Rotenberg Center, which… gyah.

    At least they haven’t (in this case) started the usual blame-the-victim excuses… something which is *also* absurdly common in school abuse cases.

    In any case, I’m pretty involved in this sort of thing (as the above should help indicate), so please don’t take me as a neutral source. Personally, I think that my position (vehemently opposing child abuse) is pretty much ethically mandatory… but the fact that I am emotionally involved does mean that there are potential sources of bias involved as well.

    And now that I’ve written that, I’ll consider the disclaimer taken care of for the rest of discussion, I’ll just chime in as needed/appropriate.

  2. Just wondering why you conclude that it’s the teachers union (in a right-to-work state) that objects to releasing the teacher’s name. There’s no mention of the union in any of the half-dozen stories I’ve read about the episode, and I couldn’t even immediately determine whether that district even has a union. Of course, the reality could be exactly as you describe. Or perhaps not.

    • Or perhaps not. I do know that several teachers unions do have such requirements any time a teacher is accused of misconduct, in other states. I can’t find the name of the teacher, and can’t find out who is withholding it or why. Just a guess.

  3. The problem with your three points is that we don’t have a choice. We have no alternative school. I am paying for the state school and I am not allowed to withdraw the money. I can’t fire the teacher and I can’t get the administrator to fire them because of politics and unions. You can’t fix the problem above by firing one teacher or one administrator. This is a poisonous culture as seen in all of the entries about elementary kids being severely punished for harmless play.

    I am thinking that we need to start creating a parallel school system so when it is mature enough, we can destroy the current one. There is no way to reform this system. The state online schools are probably the best bet. If enough people can enroll their children in these, and if we can get private “online school centers” opened up for students to go to during the day and work on their online school work, we could build a viable, alternative system. The three principles above are meaningless unless there is a viable alternative to having pencil shavings shoved down your child’s throat, having your 5-year old labelled a sexual predator for burying his face in the chest of a teacher while crying, or having them labelled as a potential terrorist for playing with bubble blasters.

  4. Where do the children come first? When do we do the right thing by children? I want our students to feel safe and not have to worry about pencil shavings, things being thrown at them, rude remarks made to them about who they are and how they learn, and inappropriate relationships with teachers. Who stands up for the child? I do not get it!!!!

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