Friday, September 4, 2009

School daze

As the school year gets underway, you sometimes just need to shake your head in wonderment.

In the local weekly paper, a constant source of amusement is the Speakout section in which anonymous calls to the paper's voice mail are transcribed and reprinted. Usually the comments range from the pleasant (thanks to the person who returned the caller's purse) to the obsessive (really people, can we just drop the incessant rantings about the local university and paying taxes?). Last week, a new topic showed up as a caller railed, in a righteous rage that clearly came through in the transcript, against the local school district for asking the students to read Upton Sinclair's The Jungle. "Why are we asking our children to read socialist and communist books," asked the caller. "They should be reading good American books!" much for open minds, a literate society, and an appreciation for a classic of American literature.


In other local news, the question has been asked: so exactly what does it take to remove a teacher from her classroom? Surprisingly, it appears that being under the influence of alcohol during the school day, reports of driving under the influence with children in the vehicle, and repeated arrests for domestic assault and battery with alcohol involved aren't quite enough. After the local superintendent fired an elementary school teacher, she was restored to her position after a R.I. Superior Court judge upheld an arbitrator's decision that she was fired without proper cause.

Obviously, you never want to see someone lose their job unfairly. Clearly, this woman is in need of help for her issues with alcohol and instigation of domestic violence. However, as someone who will hopefully have a kid going to elementary school in the years ahead, I can understand the outrage and shock among parents that someone with this track record (and the inherent risks associated with such behavior) would be allowed back into a situation where she is responsible for the health and safety of children. I can only hope that she gets the help she needs to combat her addictions and that no child is put at further risk or comes to harm.

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