22 Comments

  1. I wouldn’t recommend firing the guy. Not at this juncture. Everyone makes mistakes.

    At the VERY least he needs to apologize, and apologize soon. There is no excuse for writing that on a child’s assignment. That’s supposed to be his way of “relating” to a kid? The teachers who said they “approve of his methods” would actually defend this? Maybe his methods are good at relating to kids; this “loser” stuff goes over the line.

  2. Hube, check out starting around 0:25. The notes started in the fall, she complained, they stopped, and they came back. And it was several parents defending his methods, and not other teachers.

  3. Ah, OK. But it also says that the teacher then apologized in a written statement. If it stops there, that should be the end of it.

    A couple things: If it’s accurate that many parents like the teacher, that (to me, at least) is fairly significant. Not that it excuses what he did in this case, but it should weigh in on possibly firing him, as you advocated, John. Second, why did the mom go right to principal first? Why not go right to the teacher and say, “Hey, can you please explain this?” If there’s no satisfaction, then go higher. Third, in today’s schools, WAY too many parents automatically take their child’s word as 100% gospel. But when a teacher makes a mistake (as in this case), he/she “is the adult” and “there is no excuse” for it. Of course, “being the adult” doesn’t mean beans when it comes to HIS/HER version of a story, though!

    And I say all this as a 19 yr. veteran public school teacher.

  4. Trust me, Hube, I don’t take students’ or parents’ words for events. But in this instance, the teacher left a paper trail that stopped after it was brought out into the open and then started back up again later. It’s that paper trail that tips the scales for me.

  5. That little girl isn’t the loser here, and this isn’t a personnel matter. This is a matter of possible child abuse and the teacher and the principal should be investigated to determine if this form of abuse is limited to this girl or if there are other forms of abuse and other abuse victims at the school.

  6. John — I understand. He obviously was told to stop (by the principal) after the mom complained, and then he did it again months later. Maybe he forgot and slipped up. He then wrote a letter of apology to the mother. If it ceases there, then IMO that should be it.

    Pardon me, but I just have a fairly decent degree of skepticism about things like these. (Just witness the Lower Merion District laptop stuff.) Mom went right to the media, too. Kids in schools these days get a few days suspension for screaming “F*** YOU!” to a teacher or administrator, and are right back — doing it again. A few days more suspension. Then again. But a teacher should be fired for making a mistake like this? If the supportive parents are correct, and that he’s “trying to relate,” that should be taken into account.

    Look, personally, I think writing “Loser” on a sixth grader’s paper is absolutely nuts. I wouldn’t even consider doing something like that, but if I did, I’d apologize profusely (written or however) and never, ever do it again. But I don’t know this teacher’s kids/classes wherein there may have been a lot of joking or such about the term “loser” and such. We just don’t know.

  7. rope: Many districts now have written policies about such harassment. If the additional charge of the teacher tossing the kid’s bag in the hall, and then the girl getting in trouble for it is accurate, then there certainly appears to be a case against this guy. But in this latter case, it seems to be a kid-said/teacher-said situation.

    I appreciate you guys’ POV; however, I could talk for hours about the types of scams kids try to pull on their folks, teachers and admins. Some of them would make your jaw drop.

  8. I understand where Hube is coming from, but this student was a six year old.

    Like Hube, I taught high school kids, some of whom were indeed losers; even then, I would not use a very strong word like ‘loser’, and never did. One can get the message across by writing something like: ‘I expect better from you!’

    This teacher deserves a reprimand and a warning, in my view, because he has repeated the use of the word ‘loser’.

  9. The bottom line is, it’s virtually impossible to fire teachers – no matter the offense. It takes 5+ years of litigation, etc., because of union protections. Writing “…for being a loser” on a student’s paper is nothing compared to accusations of sexual harrassment,touching students inappropriately, being discriminatory, etc., and if you read the LAT link, you can see what a horrible uphill battle it is to remove even the worst teacher from the classroom and put them on administrative suspension (where they continue to be paid), let alone actually firing them. This is the power of teachers unions. And unfortunately, the teacher in this post is nowhere near awful enough to be terminated. What a shame.

  10. Other Dana: Being “virtually impossible” to fire a teacher varies from state to state. Delaware, for example, has a fairly weak union, and terminating a teacher isn’t as tough there as, say, New York or PA.

    And keep in mind, BTW, that approx. 40% of NEA members and conservative/Republicans and aren’t known for touting the usual union “line.” :-)

  11. It is not only unethical, what that teacher di, it is also a serious impediment to that child’s progression. Self deprecation very much impedes a child’s development.

    I saw a documentary of a case in which a teacher (decades ago) chose to show how horrible racism is and the results of the experiment were even more enlightening thatn she was expecting. To make children understand racism, she divided children up into categories of either blue eyed or brown eyed, then she said, all blue eyed children are smarter, and were more courageous, and honest, or WHATever. Then, throughout the day, the blue eyed children were given more privileges, and got to sit in the front of the class, brown-eyed children couldn’t play at recess with the blue-eyed and so on.

    Then, as the regular curriculum of study ensued it turned out that the blue eyed children THAT DAY did better than the browned-eyed children in all aspects. Social abilities, as well as academic.

    But she told the brown-eyed students they were best the next day, and that the blue-eyed children were the inferior ones really. The blue-eyed children were deprived of playing with the brown-eyed that next day. And, the brown eyed children did BETTER than the blue-eyed children that next day as well in all aspects. So, the children and the teacher, experienced the effects of positive versus good reinforcements of a child’s mind and what that mind is fed.

    So, the psychological aspects of what took place from that teacher calling the young girl “loser” are dreadful for the child!

    If anyone wants to see the documentary, I’ll bring the link. Just say so.

  12. Do I need to mention that at the end of the experiment, the children all knew about positive/negative mind building or mind fragmenting, from support or the other.

  13. Hube, I’m in Cali where we in financial ruins due in great part to being held hostage by three unions: SEIU, Cali Teachers Association, and the prison guard union….I forget not every state is in the same bind.

    Anyway, I see this post as one more reason to homeschool one’s children.

  14. Other Dana, to narrow down Cali’s fiscal woes to the unions is naive at best, ideological at worst. You are just plain wrong, in my view.

    What about running the state by referenda, instead of the normal legislative approach? Certainly that set education back.

    What about wildly inflated real estate prices? What about sub-prime mortgages? That set you Cali’s up for being a leader in foreclosures.

    What about spending? Your state is one of the highest per capita.

    What about polarized politics? Cali lead the country in that category.

    It is a crying shame, because your state, otherwise, is one of the greatest states in the union, a state that I have always enjoyed on business there and on vacation there, so I am hoping that you folks will come to your senses, unite for the common good, and get your act together!

  15. Hube, you are correct, she is a sixth grader, my mistake. I still have a problem with the “loser” moniker used by the teacher, but I also think the mom mishandled the situation by going to the principal first.

    I suspect she may have thought that if she went to the teacher, her child would suffer at the hands of the teacher, a sentiment I have heard expressed and seen happen.

    Of course, going to the principal first could have brought on the same problem for her child, should the teacher have been the vindictive type.

    My life experiences have taught me that dealing directly with the parties involved, in a mature manner, is the best way for resolving issues of this kind. It could even have started with the teacher, in a private conversation, explaining to the student the reason for the use of “loser”. That not having happened, the student could have requested having a private conversation with the teacher, as difficult as that might be for a sixth grader to do. A parents-teacher meeting should then have been the next try, with father involved with mom. Going to the principal would then be the last resort.

  16. blu: I’m aware of Jane Elliot’s program. It may have been relevant when she first came up w/it (in the 60s), but all it does now is enforce “progressive” PC visions of racism — racism which, in their minds, hasn’t changed much since the 60s. Which is nonsense, of course. That being said, the message of how negativity is perceived by children (especially) is well-taken.

    However (and make note of this!), I agree w/most of what Perry has said in this thread relating to this girl’s story. (Although I hope he learns how to spell “principal” correctly!) ;-)

  17. In grading a paper, a teacher should be grading the student’s performance on the assignment; “loser” is not a grade on the assignment, but an assessment of the student in general.

    As Perry noted, there certainly are some students who are just born losers. Not only the teachers know this, but so do their peers. (We all knew who would drop out years before it happened, with the only variable being whether a girl would drop out because she got knocked up.) Nevertheless, the teachers aren’t really allowed to come out and say this to the students or their parents, and that’s where the line was crossed.

  18. Dana: I don’t think anyone here is disputing the line was crossed. There’s just a difference of opinion about the consequences.

  19. It seems to me that the first instances allowed for some non-termination discipline. The fact that it was noted, the conduct ceased for a while, and then resumed indicates to me that the teacher had, in effect, a second chance, and blew it anyway. At that point, termination seems a reasonable penalty.

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