Monday, July 6, 2009

Reading, Writing, Rediculous!

I’ve always thought teaching was the noble profession. I still do, but I have second thoughts when I read about some of the things happening in our schools these days.

There are about 700 New York City schoolteachers who have been accused of various offenses, some serious and some for insubordination. They are paid their full salaries of more than 70-grand a year to sit in a room and do nothing.

Why? Tenure. Unions. I have always supported unions, but not this kind of idiocy. The Unions and the school authorities need to work this out and adjudicate each case. Either get them back teaching or get rid of them, but stop wasting money.

A couple of years ago there was a teenager in a Texas classroom that was suspended for two days for taking a cell phone call from his Dad who is serving in Iraq. The school has a policy of not allowing students to use cell phones in class. Apparently a teacher saw him answering his cell phone as he walked out of class and the kid was punished by suspension for two days.

Where is common sense?

All of us understand the need for rules, but some rules must have exceptions and this was one of them. If school authorities cannot see that rigid intolerance belies learning then they ought not be in education for when the absolute becomes rigid, learning suffers.

Other examples: One school had a rule of no tactical exchanges between students. One little girl hugged another because she heard the other child’s Mother had just died. The kid was briefly suspended from school.

A number of years ago the school board in Altoona, Pennsylvania had a policy allowing historical or religious documents to be displayed for 25 days in the school building.

The Ten Commandments was the first posting.

The caveat was that no document could show disrespect to an individual, ethnic group or religion.

Then the school board learned that the Baha'i faith, Wicca, atheism and gay rights history were to be displayed, they quickly voted unanimously to stop considering documents for display.

Rather than take away the words or images and icons of various beliefs because they are controversial; rather than hide them in textbooks on dusty shelves, perhaps the school board should have considered festooning the school with many documents as the walls could hold. And while they're at it, hang the paintings and pictures of the great teachers from the world’s many beliefs.

Tell the stories of Moses, Mohammed, Jesus, Vishnu, Gandhi, Zoroaster, Chief Seattle, Buddha and many more. Our children need examples of inspiration, not intolerance and fear.

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