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 Post subject: How would you have handled this?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 7:00 pm 
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This is a smoking hot story here in Massachusetts at the moment.

http://www.tauntongazette.com/news/x1903566059/Taunton-second-grader-suspended-over-drawing-of-Jesus

Some of us on the board are teachers. I'd be particularly interested in your thoughts on how your school administrators might have dealt with the situation.

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 Post subject: Re: How would you have handled this?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 7:32 pm 
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These are difficult. I think each of these should be on a case-by-case basis. I know the kid is only eight but you can get a sense of where a child is headed. Tough to make a snap judgment without knowing everything.

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 Post subject: Re: How would you have handled this?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 8:51 pm 
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Looking at this, if what the father said is true in the article, is really crazy. If this was all I had to deal with in my job as a teacher, I would thank my lucky stars. It sure sounds like it was overblown. The district needs to get their collective heads out of their....well you know what I mean.


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 Post subject: Re: How would you have handled this?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 9:47 am 
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The school board should be doing everything they can to avoid a lawsuit right now. If I were the father, I'd make sure to include the teacher's name on the lawsuit and make sure their license was suspended.


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 Post subject: Re: How would you have handled this?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 10:39 am 
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I pay to send my children to a school that PROMOTES these types of drawings. That's just me though and I do realize that comparing my situation to this one is apples to oranges. However, I have to wonder, had the drawing in question been a picture of Thor wielding a hammer, or perhaps a buring Menorah, would the consequences to the boy have been as severe? Not knowing all of the facts, particularly the personal motivations of the administration, but never at a loss for my own personal opinion, I'd venture to say that this is less to do about violence and more to do with religious affiliation.


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 Post subject: Re: How would you have handled this?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 1:35 pm 
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Glaringly absent from the media account of this is what did other children draw? If there is any child that drew a picture with either Jesus in it or a cross or other religious symbol, then that would seem to undermine the conclusion that this was solely based upon religion.

Schools all over the country are reacting (overreacting??) to children bring Tylenol to school and other items which could be potentially used as weapons. On its face, this looks to be another overreaction and failure to consider the entirety of the situation. Is a crucifiction violent? Absolutely. Was it meant as a depiction of some violent event or evidence of violent tendencies? Highly unlikely.

Trying to read between the lines here . . . I'm guessing that you have a special needs child whom the teacher may not appreciate or fully understand or, in fact, may be scared of. Before anyone laughs at that suggestion, I have a strong factual basis for asserting it. My mother is a special needs counselor and therapist working with kids from kindergarten age through high school. Bottom line? A lot of teachers are well-equipped to deal with the average, ordinary run of the mill kid. But a learning disabled, special needs kid can present a difficult challenge and, yes, can be frightening to some teachers. Laws protect kids that are legally declared special needs kids and a whole battery of professionals are required to work with them to make sure that they are not "left behind." Some teachers are not only intimidated and scared by these kids but also resentful. This also extends to administration. In fact, my mother recently testified in a deposition in a case against a school district for which she still works and had to admit that the administration purposefully did not follow rules and regulations regarding how special needs kids were to be instructed. These kids are a lot of work and take up more than their fair share of attention. I'm guessing that either (1) the teacher was resentful of this child and used this as an opportunity to get the kid out of class or (2) the teacher took it way too literally and, out of a incredible amount of caution, reported the incident. Perhaps AZ can comment on this, but I also get the sense that schools are erring on the side of caution when it comes to identifying potentially violent tendencies in kids. Keep in mind, there are not only media reports of schools being overly cautious but schools being overly lax in failing to recognize the warning signs of potentially dangerous conduct. It is a tough spot . . .

Overall, my "gut" tells me that this was an overreaction.

Now . . . on the other hand, the elevation of this story to be a "statement" about public school and religion is - based upon what is contained in this story - likely a stretch. I mean, for God's sake, the teacher was asking them about Christmas. The teacher was not asking them about "holidays" or the "season." You'll find a large number of public schools who will not use the word "Christmas" or will equally promote Hanukkah, Ramadan or Kwanzaa or whatever is the celebration for a particular culture. The Dad certainly seems to want to make a legal fight ("my child has been emotionally traumatized by this!!") and declare this about a denial of his right to religion. Well, I'm not sure what "right" you have to religion in a public school. You have the right not to be discriminated against because of your religion. I ask this . . . isn't it fair to conclude that, if the teacher was using the word "Christmas" that the classroom was predominantly populated by those of Christian faith? And, if so, were these kids also being discriminated against?

The "lining up" of various political groups/advocacy groups on this story should be interesting. It is likely that the "Religious Right" will be right in line with the ACLU trying to make this out to be an issue of denying some child's rights. That doesn't happen much . . .
Republicans, who are generally perceived to abhor civil rights litigation, may be pounding the table and asking for justice. Democrats, who are generally perceived to protect "the little guy" are also generally perceived to be strict advocates of church/state separation and advocates for teachers. They have no clear cut "favorite" in this dispute.

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 Post subject: Re: How would you have handled this?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 1:56 pm 
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From the article:

Quote:
“I think what happened is that because he put Xs in the eyes of Jesus, the teacher was alarmed and they told the parents they thought it was violent,” said Toni Saunders, an educational consultant with the Associated Advocacy Center.



Quote:
The man said his son, who gets specialized reading and speech instruction at school, has never shown any tendency toward violence.

“He’s never been suspended,” he said. “He’s 8 years old. They overreacted.”


Quote:
He went for the psychological evaluation — at his parents’ expense — the next day and was cleared to return to school the following Monday after the psychological evaluation found nothing to indicate that he posed a threat to himself or others.



Definitely overreaction on the teachers part imo. It doesn't appear as though there were any prior events that would lead to such a jump in conclusion on the teachers part.

No. 9 wrote:
If there is any child that drew a picture with either Jesus in it or a cross or other religious symbol, then that would seem to undermine the conclusion that this was solely based upon religion.


Excellent counter point Counselor and one in which I hadn't thought of.


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 Post subject: Re: How would you have handled this?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 2:02 pm 
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The other side of the story........

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/12/16/taunton_officials_dispute_reports_on_jesus_sketch/

Quote:
Hackett said the student, age 9, was never suspended and that neither he nor other students at the Maxham Elementary School were asked by the teacher to sketch something that reminded them of Christmas or any religious holiday, as the Gazette and other media reported and the father suggested, although his story changed as he explained it.

She said it was unclear whether the boy, who put his name above a stick figure portrait of Christ on the cross, had drawn the picture in school, which his teacher discovered Dec. 2.

“Religion had nothing to do with this at all, 100 percent nothing to do with it,’’ Hackett said, adding that Taunton is known as “The Christmas City.’’

She said the drawing was seen as a potential cry for help when the student identified himself, rather than Jesus, on the cross, which prompted the teacher to alert the school’s principal and staff psychologist. As a result, the boy underwent a psychological evaluation.


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 Post subject: Re: How would you have handled this?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 2:11 pm 
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Hold the phone. Did he undergo this evaluation without the father's permission?


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 Post subject: Re: How would you have handled this?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 3:08 pm 
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With respect to other side of the story:
1. If the school did nothing and the kid attempted suicide and this picture would be found, would there be any criticism of the school for doing nothing?
2. Did the school overreact? Yeah, probably. But, it would appear that they erred on the side of the kid's safety - a kid who is a special needs kid.
3. Motivations. The kid's dad "held court" at his girlfriend's apartment? He is quoted as saying that they are due a full scholarship and more money? Not sure that this is the "test case" that some interest groups will get behind . . .

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 Post subject: Re: How would you have handled this?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 3:26 pm 
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School districts and teacher err on the side of caution all the time. Personally I think this is due to society today. When I was a kid, if I got in trouble in school and someone called home, I caught @#$% when I got home too. Today, many parents automatically take up for their children without knowing the facts and regardless of the facts. I have two heavy bags for kids to use in the weight room and have boxing gloves for the kids to use with them. Just today, I had two 6th graders decide to use the gloves on each other. Of course the stock answer for the reason they did this was "they were playinng around". Unfortunately, it often results in one guy not thinking it is "playing around" and it escalates into a fight. I called home to each set of parents. One father of one of the students who really never gets in trouble was supportive and understood the reasoning. The other, the mother of the kid who started it and is regularly in trouble, immediately stood up for the kid and defended his behavior. Teachers and districts have been conditioned to over react over the years to CYA. Fortunate or unfortunate, that is what we live with.


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 Post subject: Re: How would you have handled this?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 3:57 pm 
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No. 9 wrote:
With respect to other side of the story:
1. If the school did nothing and the kid attempted suicide and this picture would be found, would there be any criticism of the school for doing nothing?


Depends on your expectations of schooling (whether it be public or private). Some people believe it's the school's job to act as secondary parent, others believe it's sole purpose is to teach, yet others believe it's somewhere in between. As for me, I believe that school is for learning, parenting is done at home. I diagree with the father in this case, he's trying to extract monetary compensation where, imo, it's not due. And I'll go one even futher and state that I believe the father's actions will end up hurting the kid more than the schools! In a tale of overreactionaries, the father is winning hands down.


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 Post subject: Re: How would you have handled this?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 3:59 pm 
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Az Bucco fan wrote:
School districts and teacher err on the side of caution all the time. Personally I think this is due to society today. When I was a kid, if I got in trouble in school and someone called home, I caught @#$% when I got home too. Today, many parents automatically take up for their children without knowing the facts and regardless of the facts. I have two heavy bags for kids to use in the weight room and have boxing gloves for the kids to use with them. Just today, I had two 6th graders decide to use the gloves on each other. Of course the stock answer for the reason they did this was "they were playinng around". Unfortunately, it often results in one guy not thinking it is "playing around" and it escalates into a fight. I called home to each set of parents. One father of one of the students who really never gets in trouble was supportive and understood the reasoning. The other, the mother of the kid who started it and is regularly in trouble, immediately stood up for the kid and defended his behavior. Teachers and districts have been conditioned to over react over the years to CYA. Fortunate or unfortunate, that is what we live with.


Sound reasoning AZ, you are definitely more disposed to teaching than I!


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 Post subject: Re: How would you have handled this?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 4:17 pm 
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Argentum wrote:
Some people believe it's the school's job to act as secondary parent


Most days, I do more parenting than teaching. Of course I teach PE not a core class. When I get in trouble, it is when I am parenting and the parents don't like how I parent. Well, they should have done a better job at home then. I have to teach most kids to say please and thank you. I have a sign on my office door. Please knock before entering my office. Wait for permission to enter. Use please and thank you in this office if you have a request. I ask students to read the door multiple times on a daily basis. Don't get it after the first read, you snooze, you lose.


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 Post subject: Re: How would you have handled this?
PostPosted: Fri Dec 18, 2009 10:47 am 
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The parents of the troublemakers always defend their kids. Mostly because they taught them the behavior in the first damn place.

That's why it's good to be a military educator. No Parents.


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 Post subject: Re: How would you have handled this?
PostPosted: Fri Dec 18, 2009 8:56 pm 
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Jeremy wrote:
The parents of the troublemakers always defend their kids. Mostly because they taught them the behavior in the first damn place.

That's why it's good to be a military educator. No Parents.

Or a college educator: no parenting.

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 Post subject: Re: How would you have handled this?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 19, 2009 8:35 am 
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It sure appears to be an over-reaction to a youngster's innocence. But of course, many in our country have attacked teachers for ignoring potential serious problems that are indicated by student actions that on their surface may have not seemed to be any kind of issue beyond the obvious. This, as indicated by No.9, is a no win for teachers. If a teacher errs on the side of protecting a child from self damage or future damage to other students, he has acting in the best interest of everyone.

Our recent history has made teachers very aware of student imbalance issues and have had many meetings and advise and policy directives from administrators to guard against kids hurting themselves or others because of their mental inclinations. Without knowing the intimate details of this issue it does appear to be strong medicine for what looks like a non issue.

The school district as all do today has determined to initiate strong protections for all kids. I suspect that often these good intentions are carried out in an overly active manner as seems to have happened here.

Unless I'm mistaken, there is no religious intend here, and may be someone seeking his own agenda. It will almost surely result in a law suit and money being awarded to the child and his family.

There is an underlying problem here that few outside of education consider. Since recent court rulings have indicated that all students need to be in the least restrictive environment for learning, most special students have been 'mainstreamed' into classes without special educators to meet their needs except as resourse teachers. The regular teacher without specific training is put in a very difficult situation. Most can and do fulfill these kids needs but it is very taxing.
Most special education classes had a much smaller teacher-student ratio which provided much more time for individual learning. In our state special needs kids are required to have an IEP (individual education prescription) written for them. But when these kids are part of a 25/35 student classroom someone's needs are not being met. There are only so many minutes in a class period. Major revision is needed in our whole system to properly handle all this and not ignore the needs of non-special needs kids.

There will be no solution because the only real answer is to lower the student-teacher ratio so that all kids receive the individual attention that they need. That would be cost prohibitive.

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 Post subject: Re: How would you have handled this?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 19, 2009 12:44 pm 
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Good post sub. Great post in fact. I would add one thing from my personal experience. We have ED (Emotionally Disturbed) students mainstreamed in our class. UNtil a new director took over, they were always accompanied by an aid who would deal with issues concerning those students. New director feels they can be allowed to come to class un acompanied. which causes problems at times. I often find myself spending an inordinate amount of time dealing with these students to the detriment of the rest of the class. I have serious issues with this because I don't feel that the 30 other students should be not only exposed to the sometimes violent behavior of these students but should have their learning environment compromised. I also feel this way about chronically disruptive students and their effect on the learning environment. Just my two cents. I have 6 years left to retire and hope I make it in one piece.


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 Post subject: Re: How would you have handled this?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 23, 2009 11:16 am 
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There's a much longer rant here on progressive teaching methods, but it's Christmas and I'll let it go.


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 Post subject: Re: How would you have handled this?
PostPosted: Thu Dec 24, 2009 4:32 pm 
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Don't want an argument either but need to say that it's easy to declare how it should be. Those in the classroom realize that they are charged with helping kids.

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