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