Our Untrustworthy Public Schools, Part 2: The Fool and the Indoctrinator

When Alex met Kendra...

When Alex met Kendra…

There are bad apples in every barrel, but no apple barrel should contain poison apples. When it comes to teachers, these two make me regard the entire barrel as a bad risk.

The Fool

At Summerville High School in Summerville, South Carolina, a teacher caused a 16-year-old student named Alex Stone to be arrested and suspended because he wrote a passage on his Facebook page, as part of an assignment, that described using a gun to kill a dinosaur. Never mind that dinosaurs are extinct: guns are real; the teacher, a hysteric, a child abuser and a fool, notified school officials, and the school notified the police. They in turn,  searched Alex’s  book bag and locker for the dinosaur murder weapon, and came up empty. Police said that when Stone was asked by school officials about the his post, he became “very irate” —as would I—and so they handcuffed and arrested him.

Look at the bright side: at least they didn’t shoot him. Then Stone was suspended for the rest of the week.

Since the foolery and child abuse extended from the teacher to the administration, I am hoping Alex Stone’s lawyer makes them all paupers, and drives  these educational menaces to another profession, like urinal cleaning. Until that occurs, any parents who allow their children to be exposed to these incompetents are themselves guilty of neglect. Empty the school. I mean it. It’s the only way to stop this stuff.

The Indoctrinator

I think it’s charming that strangers say “Bless you!” or “Gesundheit!” when someone sneezes in public. It’s one of those comfy old reflex traditions that help bind us together as a society. For the most part, everyone realizes that this social grace has little to do with God, religion, or being German, for that matter. It says “I care,” that’s all. It reaffirms that this is a mutually dependent society, and not just a bunch of narcissists and sociopaths bumping into each other.

I’m pretty sure seventeen-year-old Kendra Turner will think twice from now on before she participates in this harmless piece of social balm, though. Kendra, Dyer County High School (Tennessee) student, was sent to the principal’s office on Monday morning after saying “bless you” to another student who sneezed. Then she where she was placed in in-school-suspension for the remainder of the period. For saying “bless you.

The horror.

The teacher reportedly told Kendra that “we’re not going to have godly speaking” in class. She had made that clear, she thought, earlier by writing “bless you” along with “my bad,” ”hang out,” ”dumb,” ”stupid” and “stuff” as words and phases banned in her class. Let’s see…that’s slang, slang, an insult, another insult, lazy English, and “bless you.” As they say on Sesame Street, “One of these things is not like the other.”

 Assistant Principal Lynn Garner said teachers can set their own classroom rules as long as they are reasonable. Uh-huh. And banning a reflex “bless you” when someone sneezes is patently unreasonable. The teacher isn’t just hostile to religion, she is hostile to kindness. This is an example of a teacher attempting to indoctrinate students with her personal beliefs, and abusing her power and position to do so. According to Turner, after she said “bless you,” the teacher stood up and asked who had spoken, as if she had shouted “Heil Hitler!” or something similarly inflammatory. Actually, the teacher might have approved of that, being a Nazi and all.

Garner, in comments to the media, felt that the incident had been “blown out of proportion,” and said,

“…I will say this in regard for our teachers. There is not one here I don’t trust my own kids with and my kids are here and other relatives are here or have been here. I trust the teachers and beyond a shadow of a doubt all of our teachers have the students best interest at heart. They treat the kids with respect, and I think the majority of the students believe the teachers genuinely care about them.”

Except that they humiliate and punish students for saying “bless you” when a classmate sneezes.

Call me a fanatic, but I just don’t think anti-religious indoctrination, bullying and the inability to distinguish a kindness from an insult are trivial, or conduct by a teacher that an administrator should shrug off. Garner should insist that the teacher make a sincere apology, and place her on probation.


Pointer: Reason

Facts: State Gazette, Tennessean, Christian Science MonitorNBC


16 thoughts on “Our Untrustworthy Public Schools, Part 2: The Fool and the Indoctrinator

  1. Jack

    As you know I am not a lawyer but my interpretation of the following statement means that the teacher cannot say “we’re not going to have godly speaking” in class.

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”.

    Within the first clause of this basic compound sentence it unequivocally states that a government or an agent of the government cannot pass a law or a rule that a person not freely exercise any religious belief. It is one thing to not have the teacher – an agent of the state – lead the class in a religion specific prayer but quite another to prevent a student from doing anything resembling a religious act in a public school.

    Perhaps the reason students are not performing well in the classroom is that the teacher is incompetent because she cannot read and comprehend a very simple sentence. Maybe that is why the teacher’s edition always have the answers to the questions.

    I might not pull my son or daughter out of the class for trying to impose a teacher’s value set but I sure would when the teacher no ability to read and comprehend one of the easiest sentences to understand. Imagine how badly the teacher would mangle the interpretation of Paradise Lost or any of Faulkner’s writings. Oh, I forgot the teacher has been given the answers by the publishers.

    • Clearly, the pet was a member of an historically oppressed group, perhaps of a member of the Stegosaurus or Triceratops class. Only the Fed’s are equipped to handle such persecution in support of the continued hegemony of the T-Rex and other apex predators. This is no laughing matter!

  2. If this kid, Stone, is so dangerous and disruptive to the point he had to be arrested and taken from school, what good is a couple days of suspension supposed to do? Will he be rehabilitated from his dinosaur killing ways upon his return to school on Monday? How do we know he won’t write more inappropriate stories about killing dinosaurs? The bigger concern is the safety of the other students. How can the school assure the parents’ of other students that their kids will be safe from harm while attending class with a student who was “obviously” so out of control that he had to be arrested. And you KNOW that if the police arrest a kid in school, he HAD to be out of control. It seems that the school is being very irresponsible in allowing this dangerous student back in school after only a couple days of suspension. Seriously, this kid was so dangerous and out of control a couple of days ago that he had to be arrested and suspended but now he is not dangerous? I don’t know if this school has the qualifications to determine something like that. If I were this kid’s mother, I would do the school a huge favor and pull my kid out and place him in a very respected private school. Of course, the school which had him arrested can pay for the private school which would be much cheaper than trying to prove this student is no longer a threat to the other students with his dinosaur stories.

  3. I’ll just say here what I do every time a story like this comes by me. Parents: Take charge of your schools! They’re yours. You pay for them with your taxes. And those are your children under the potential authority of maniacs.

    Know who your school board members are and what they’ve done. If they allow or support administrators and teachers who oppress your children, VOTE THEM OUT. Many school board elections are held separately from the usual elections… essentially, on the sly so only the “connected” ones show up at the polls. Don’t let them do this. Demand that your elections be held with the others and that candidates be on record with their policies. Know the issues involved. Beware of bond elections, which are nothing more than a deferred tax. Then show up and vote.

    This is a matter “for the children” that far exceeds any government spending project. Remember, the most important elections to you are not at the top of the ballot. The most vital positions are those of the school boards and the county sheriff. Never neglect them.

  4. From reading the article, Kendra seems like a nice enough girl. She can talk about God all she wants as long as she is not disrupting class. Could this scenario have happened? Teacher is frustrated because the class is out of control and the teacher issues that stupid but ubiquitous edict “the next person who talks out is going to the office”. Class gets quiet. Someone sneezes. Little Kendra says, “Bless You”. The teacher, in her mind, has to follow through on her edict to show that she means what she says and Kendra was the first person who talked out. Kendra tries to plead her case but it doesn’t matter because to the teacher it is a matter of insubordination because she banned all students from talking out due to her own frustration…which is probably not the wisest idea to begin with. I don’t know that this is what happened but I do know that this type of situation does happen quite a bit. The teacher also may have said, thinking that she was following the law, that there was to be no religious discussion among the students. Obviously students can talk about religion all they want as long as it does not disrupt the learning of others and if the teacher said this then she is ignorant of the law.

    • The “no god talk” comment suggests otherwise, and apparently the teach has a history of denigrating religion in class. Even if your scenario occurred, it’s miserable judgment on the teacher’s part.

      • If the teacher has a history of denigrating religion in class then she has to go. There was a conversation in another post pertaining to educational requirements etc. to teach. From what I can see, at least here in Texas, teachers need more training in educational law. And to your credit…I think educators would benefit from ongoing ethics training by using cases such as this and others. If a person doesn’t practice, the ethic alarms start to go silent.

  5. We had a no “bless you” rule after someone sneezes in class for one of my junior high classes. That’s because we were real buttheads about it, shouting it from across the room whenever anyone had even the slightest sneeze-like exhalation. Then we would claim freedom of speech and laugh. We really thought we were pretty funny too. The teacher was having none of it though after a short period of time. All it took was for a few people to take a trip to the principal’s office for us to eventually settle down. I don’t know if that is the case here, of course. But I can see how it could have happened.

    This is the school’s version FWIW: According to Dodds, Turner was not given an in-school suspension. She wasn’t sent out of the classroom, either — she chose to walk out. And, most importantly, she wasn’t punished by the teacher for saying “God bless you” — however, the teacher did admonish her for “disrupting the classroom.”


    The suspension part should be easy enough to verify, at the very least.

    • This link suggests that there was an brief suspension, which is what was reported.

      The fact that teacher wrote the phrase down on the blackboard with other banned words suggests that this wasn’t like your experience. (I had a class like that too, in Jr. High.)

      I hope she did walk out. I would have.

      • It looks like she was put in the same room where the in-school suspension class was located, mostly for supervisory reasons, while they investigated the incident. But it doesn’t seem as if there was a formal suspension.

  6. We were 6 – 7 years old and you could hear a pin drop in our classrooms!
    My friend raised her hand & asked if she could be excused & our teacher Mrs. Ruston said NO! Minutes passed & my friend raised her hand again & asked permission once more. Same answer NO! She ended up peeing all over herself and the floor as she remained seated at her desk in front of all her class mates! I sat beside her & saw the biggest tears splatting on her desk as they landed while her body language indicating that she just wanted to make herself disappear. Till this day when I remember that horrible day so many years ago I still tear up for my friend. I always hope she is doing well in her life. We were only in second grade! We were good kids with manners because believe me the repercussions were great if we were not. Very strict Catholic school.
    Many people are in that profession are in it just to get the summer off. I have even heard them admit to it. Not a good enough reason to be a teacher. Some teachers have no compassion & many lack education! I went to very expensive private schools my entire school career & most of those teachers I would not have them sit my pets. Some were just cruel, prejudice, lazy, and so judgmental. Till this day I still have negative thoughts about myself because of bad teachers and frankly so do my siblings. But that horrible day my friend peed all over herself was the worst memory.
    Too much hate in the world & ego!

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