Explain The Reasoning Process Of This School System, Please…

Hate speech. Sorry. The lesson has to be "Some states fought the Union over something or other, waiving a flag that we can't show you because it's dangerous." Quiz tomorrow.

Hate speech. Sorry. The lesson has to be “Some states fought the Union over something or other, waiving a flag that we can’t show you because it’s dangerous.” Quiz tomorrow.

President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education is facing the closest Senate vote on any cabinet member ever, in part because two Republican Senators (what the Democrats say doesn’t matter, since they have decided not to cooperate in the governing process) question whether Betsy DeVos “understands the public schools.” In her defense, I don’t see how anyone could understand public schools, especially when they behave like this one…

In Folsom, California, the family of an African American 8th grader  filed a complaint against  Sutter Middle School history teacher Woody Hart.  Tyrie McIntyre’s son had asked Hart for a definition of equality during a discussion of the U.S. Constitution. The teacher  allegedly told his eighth-grade class, “When you hang one black person, you have to hang them all.  That is equality.” At least that is what Tyler McIntyre, 13, thought Hart said. Tyler, one of only a handful of black students in the class and school, felt embarrassed.

Hart, 70, didn’t deny his student’s account, but explained in an interview that he made the comparison because he was trying to make the discussion “interesting” and “express something that would catch students’ attention.”

“Here’s what I said: ‘If you hang black people in the South, that means that you hang any black person who comes from outside the state. ”

Hart also said that he has spent much of the year teaching his students about racial equality. If that’s the clarity, logic and accuracy with which he taught it, a remedial course, indeed several, may be required.

After the complaint, Principal Keri Phillips interviewed six students chosen at random, all of whom heard Hart give “hanging all blacks” as an example of how states treated individuals under the Constitution. She said that Hart has been told to henceforward  use examples “at a level that eighth graders can understand,” avoid stereotypes or culturally insensitive language, and must rely on “very simple analogies that do not focus on the controversy” during lessons involving challenging material.

McIntyre said that this doesn’t address his concerns. “My issue wasn’t the context,” he said. “It was the content. There was no way to justify the statement that he made.”

That’s exactly right, because the statement that “If you hang black people in the South, that means that you hang any black person who comes from outside the state” isn’t insensitive or “too complex” for an 8th grader.  It’s stone-cold stupid, bad logic, bad history, and bad teaching. An example that is “at a level that an 8th grader can’t understand”? I’m worried about anyone who thinks he does understand Hart’s example. That the teacher thinks it makes sense tells me that it is an unacceptable risk to allow Hart to teach any subject to anyone.

Nonetheless, Woody Hart was allowed to keep teaching, because public schools. Ah, but last month, he really crossed the line, or whatever it is that causes schools to ding teachers. Teaching the students about the Civil Way, Hart showed them…

A CONFEDERATE FLAG!!!

Well, as you can well imagine, that was the final straw for old Woody: Folsom Cordova Unified School District forced Hart to retire, explaining,

 “We recognize that regardless of context, to many of our students, families, and staff, the Confederate flag is a racist symbol of hate….it is important to reiterate: Any employee who is found to engage in behavior that creates an unsafe environment for students will face full consequences, including the possibility of initiating termination proceedings. In this case, the flag — which was found across the room from a Civil War Union flag, potentially in preparation of a history activity — was removed from the classroom before school began today. It is our schools’ responsibility to provide a safe learning environment for all children.”

That’s right: showing the students a Confederate flag as part of a lesson on the American Civil War made the students unsafe. This isn’t a matter of teaching children disturbing and violent material that they are too young to process; this is showing them a piece of material that was the emblem of the breakaway states that the United States fought in a long and bloody war that affects the nation to this day. “Regardless of context”? Education and critical thinking cannot discard context, or else—let me see, what’s a good example?AH!—you end up with mindblowingly cretinous statements like that one from Sutter Middle School.

To summarize, then: when the teacher gave his class a description of “equality” that was both genuinely offensive and made no sense at all, he was allowed to continue warping the minds of the young with his incompetent pedagogy. When however, he produced a Confederate flag as part of a lesson about the civil war involving a nation that flew that flag, the school viewed it as hate speech. THAT proved that he wasn’t fit to teach.

Final thoughts:

Hmmm…I thought my head could hold out for the whole post. Guess not. Now where’s that mop?

  • California.

Do you wonder why California is culturally, ethically and ideologically its own planet? This is how they indoctrinate their young, apparently. I may be harsh, but I would deem this “making them stupid,” and the opposite of preparing them for life, except maybe life in…California.

  • The public schools.

How can we justify or rationalize trusting administrators like this with  minds of your children? How do you trust an education system in which administrators who apply such shoddy, biased, political correctness-poisoned standards to teaching with the responsibility of educating children?

  • Betsy DeVos

DeVos doesn’t understand stories like this? Good.  She thinks a system that allows school systems like this to exist constitutes a crisis in the U.S.? I want to hear her critics explain why taxpayers should pay a single cent for cesspools of stupidity like the Folsom Cordova Unified School District, much less more money into the black hole of U.S education.

  • Denial

How much worse will the public school system have to get before its defenders show the courage and integrity to admit, “Yup, this isn’t working any more”?

I have no idea, none, whether DeVos has a solution to this particular crisis. I have no idea whether she can fix it, improve it, or do anything to slow the downward spiral of the public schools. Her opponents, however, have yet to reconcile such educational atrocities as this tale with the contention that public schools are worth preserving in their current state and under their current leadership.

________________________
Pointer: Res Ipsa Loquitur

 

 

19 Comments

Filed under Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, History, Kaboom!, Professions, U.S. Society

19 responses to “Explain The Reasoning Process Of This School System, Please…

  1. Steve-O-in-NJ

    Betsy is facing this close vote, which, if Sessions gets confirmed first, becomes a losing vote, because two Senators get a ton of money from the most powerful union in the country. The Democratic Party isn’t even really about civil rights first, it’s about making sure government employees get steady raises, comfortable pensions, and don’t have to work too hard for them.

  2. Steve-O-in-NJ

    “what the Democrats say doesn’t matter, since they have decided not to cooperate in the governing process”

    Bigger question, Jack, if I may. Where is the line between standing up against a government you believe is wrong (justified) and failure to cooperate (unjustified)? The Democrats in Congress right now are in almost the same place the GOP was in 1993, and Bob Dole is thought of as something of a hero for holding the line until Newt Gingrich arrived with the Republican cavalry. Maybe Schumer thinks he is doing the same, trying to deny Trump all he can deny him until they can produce a blue wave in 2018.

    • No line. The duty of an elected official is to govern. Compromise, threaten, persuade, but follow the process. Pure obstruction and nothing else is unethical as well as stupid.

      Thus the Democrats boycotting committee votes was simply unethical, and Hatch was correct to change the rules.

  3. Looks like the school wanted a reason to “fire” (placed on paid administrative leave), but he decided not to fight it. He probably could have won due to the teachers’ union in CA is fairly strong. His phrasing, of course, was inappropriate for 8th graders, who surely teased the kid after class. If this were a college class, I don’t think there would be much controversy (unless it’s at UC Berkeley!). For what it is worth, on RateMyTeacher, he received good marks and lots of praise from students and parents alike.

    The whole issue with the Confederate flag is so silly. Jeanine Spotnitz, presumably the leader of the social justice group Showing Up for Racial Justice, was quoted as saying “The Confederate flag is widely recognized as a symbol of white supremacy, racism and it is unacceptable to say that it is anything else.” It’s no surprise, given recent events in UC Berkeley, that California is hostile to anything that seems hateful or a symbol of something negative. Handcuffing teacher to teach the way these folks want them to is a big reason why U.S. Education has gone down the toilet.

  4. This sequence of events reminds me of some of the things that Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt talked about regarding our education system and what she called “The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America” and how the education has used behavior modification to “brainwash” students into reacting to things instead of teaching genuine critical thinking skills.

    Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt really is a conspiracy theorists that is way out there; however, over time it seems like there are more pieces of evidence to support some of her theories from years ago. I think the last campaign season is relative evidence that critical thinking is a thing of the past for a lot of people and reacting emotionally has become the more socially acceptable thing to do.

  5. Neil A. Dorr

    Jack,
    I think it has more to do with the fact that he had multiple complaints. The second one was stupid, yes, but he’d already said something insensitive once and the school had no interest in parsing yet another incident to figure out if he was at fault. A “fool me once” kind of thing.

    I doubt the incident would have gone anywhere had he not had the previous complaint already on record. It doesn’t mean they condone the first message and condemn the second, merely they don’t like having administrative time constantly wasted because a history teacher isn’t more sensitive to the topics he’s discussing.

    -Neil

    • Not the point, though. The second complaint wasn’t valid. The first one should have gotten him canned. The explanation for the second “offense” should have gotten everyone BUT the teacher canned.

  6. Other Bill

    Chris is a teacher in the California public schools, Santa Cruz, I think? What’s your take, Chris?

    • Chris

      No one should complain about a teacher using historically accurate symbols to explain history. Obviously.

      I’m an English teacher, and we’re reading the Diary of Anne Frank. Today I showed my students’ Nazi propaganda. They have to see that in order to understand what happened and how these ideas spread. According to this district, I shouldn’t have shown them this, because context doesn’t matter.

      Bullshit.

      • Chris

        Whoops–there should not be an apostrophe in “students” above.

        • Chris,

          I was amused by the apostrophe. I needed a chortle today. It’s been one of those days.

          I imagine showing Nazi propaganda to your students is a tough call. You don’t want to glorify the Nazi regime but you have to discuss the symbols and symbolism for a book like the Diary of Anne Frank to make sense. In the abstract, it would not carry the same impact.

          jvb

  7. dragin_dragon

    Interestingly, the Congress of the U.S. made the display of the National Flag of the Confederate States of America (All three or four of them) Illegal. This was done because the States who joined the Confederacy were considered to be in rebellion; thus, displaying the National flag was considered supporting a rebellion. The “Stars And Bars” (which many people seem to think is the Confederate flag, mistakenly) was actually a battle flag, used to identify friendly forces for the Confederacy. It was adopted after the First Battle of Bull Run because the original Confederate States National Flag, in the still air, was mistaken for the U.S. flag (Old Glory), resulting in friendly fire incidents throughout the battle. Therefore, the only thing the Stars And Bars represents is “Don’t shoot me. I’m on your side.”

  8. According to the Good Professor, “Here’s what I said: ‘If you hang black people in the South, that means that you hang any black person who comes from outside the state. ”

    You know that makes perfect sense, right? According to anyone and everyone not from the South, the South still believes that the Civil War was actually the War of Northern Aggression and Occupation. also, to anyone not from the South, minorities are still oppressed and marginalized to the plantations, and lynchings are still carried out on an hourly basis. For the love of Pete, how many towns in the North, East and West are called “Lynchburg”? And why is it named “Lynchburg”? I’ll give you one guess (and, no, it wasn’t named after John Lynch [1740 – 1820], which is a popular urban myth to erase the true meaning of ‘lynch’).

    Having lived in Houston since 1986, I can attest to watching daily hangings in the town square at 12:00 sharp, segregated bathrooms (one for the genderly ambivalent [ambiguous?], and one for everyone else), and saluting the Stars and Bars. When we attorneys appear in state courts, we are required to wear white suits with funny-looking pointy hats. It’s true. The South won’t rise again because it never fell! The local battle cry is, “Long Live Jim. Crow, that is.”

    Good grief.

    jvb

    • “Civil War was actually the War of Northern Aggression and Occupation”

      To the few people who do actually refer to the Civil War as that, I say:

      It was.

      And so?

      Bitter enders use the term as a way to make monstrous the Union’s efforts maintain Union and end slavery (and yes, I’m familiar with the stated goals of the war, but the war *was* about ending slavery regardless of Lincoln’s famous “no it wasn’t” quote). But those same ante-bellum romanticists don’t recognize reality.

      It was a War of Northern Aggression, because a Sit-In of Northern Passivity wasn’t gonna do anything about re-uniting the nation and ending the evil of slavery.

      It was an Occupation, because defeated people have to know they are defeated and also cannot be relied upon to immediately get back to business on their own without reverting back to the evils which they were originally attacked for.

      That being said “Civil War” is actually an awful name for what happened. A civil war is a war in which two or more groups vie for power over the ENTIRE political entity. What the “Civil War” was would best be termed the “Southern Insurrection”.

  9. The teacher must have been ready to retire, as the Teacher’s Union in Kali is supposed to be Godzilla.

    Texas teachers are not allowed to strike, which makes union activity rather toothless. Two sides of the coin.

    We get less of the PC crap, but it still exists.

    • dragin_dragon

      Slick, we’re also a right-to-work state, . That means a person can be…separated…from his or her job for any reason or no reason. Only real consequence is having to pay unemployment.

  10. Wayne

    I think the example that Thomas Hart to define equality was pretty awful and bound to freak out his class and especially black students. He’s lucky he got off with a reprimand for that. On the other hand, showing them the confederate flag as part of a history lesson and being forced to retire, shows that mentally challenged administrators are running the district. Where oh where is the CTA teachers union to defend this guy?

  11. Wayne

    Please excuse my substituting Thomas Hart the author for Woody Hart.

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