Center School class complaint

A student's family brought a complaint against the integrated humanities class at The Center School and, until the complaint has been resolved, the teacher has been instructed not to discuss race or gender in the class.

More information here, from The Stranger.


I find it interesting that Ms. Wippel thinks Ms. Heath is the last word. She isn't - the Board is. Maybe they forgot about the issue over the use of the novel, Brave New World.

From the comments at The Slog, many parents think highly of this teacher. But talk of race can be uncomfortable.

Again, whenever a teacher ventures down these roads, there should be prep for both students and parents. Maybe he did send something home. I hope so but it would helpful to know.
Anonymous said…
Actually! It even goes beyond the board. Can be appealed to the Superior Court.

Ed Lambert said…
I hope that the teacher can find a way to creatively ignore the direction from district administration.

This article on the blog, Creativity Not Control, suggests this as one of the strategies for pushing past the traditional pitfalls for driving change in education.

Anonymous said…
A friend with a child in this class had told me about it when it happened. Her child was very upset as were most of the kids in the class. They were enjoying the discussion and appreciated the ability to discuss real-world issues. This friend is bi-racial, as is her child.

Solvay Girl
G. Krom said…
Jon Greenberg was an amazing teacher for my son, who graduated with the author of this story. Greenberg’s class was one of his favorites, and helped to shape his major in college. It is a shame that one complaint can derail a great teacher. This class is a model for what education can be.

Georgi Krom
I hope it does go to the Board so that we find where teachers are allowed leeway. My only ask is to make sure they put things in context for students (when was this book written, etc.) and let parents know what the class is about and that these discussions may be difficult.

I'm not sure what difference it makes to a junior or senior who might go to college in a year and hear the same thing.
Po3 said…
In reading the comments on the Slog and petition it is obvious that the teacher and the curriculum are both highly regarded. Pretty sure this family had no clue what kind of firestorm they were igniting.

I wonder if there was any mediation between the school and the family or did the family just escalate to the district?

Unknown said…
This is an example of how our ideas of governance in this school system are out of whack. There should be a bias toward allowing local school communities solve this problem--or problems like the MAP--at the school level. Only in the most egregious instances of abuse should there be any intervention from above.

The parent should have the right to appeal a local decision, but the process for resolving issues like should be transparent and fair--and involve input from the broader community that will be impacted by the decision. It will be a real disappointment if Banda turns out to be just like everybody else when it comes to this soul-crushing top-downism.
Anonymous said…
as for keeping it at the school level, what if this class is something we would ant taught at other schools? shouldnt innovative curriculum be spread around? id bet thereis lots of good stuff going at at individual schools that never get examined well and possibly introduced to others. this class in particular seems wasted by not getting into other classrooms. or does the district know all about this class and has tacitly approve of it until now when somebody complained?

want traqnsparency
LG said…
Yes, Jon Greenberg is the sort of teacher we dream of. Smart, creative, energetic, with complete respect for and by his students. I hope he isn't too demoralized by this.

I wish this could have been worked out in house.
mirmac1 said…
Yeah Melissa, amazing the short memories those folks at JSCEE have. Shoot, even I can remember back to 2010...

Why do I get visions of Alexander Haig as I read Wippel's statement...
Charlie Mas said…
It's not that they have short memories; they have short service.

Look around the district senior staff and tell me which of them were on the senior staff even two years ago.
mirmac1 said…
Teresa Wippel was there. Not senior, but should know not to say things that a flat WRONG!

Heath's boss Tolley was there as well. Why would someone who is two layers of middle management below him have final say?
Nancy Long said…
Re Jon Greenberg's class: Over 600 students and parents who actually know what happens in his classroom have signed a petition asking for reinstatement of the class content. My daughter is now graduated from college and no class at High School or school level had as positive impact on her as Greenberg's two Center School classes.

He is being accused of creating an intimidating environment. Really? The hundreds of students involved - going back over 10 years of him teaching this curriculum - are not speaking out in support of him because they felt intimidated. Shouldn't these students' opinions have as much weight as one set of parents?

The district is trying to say that curriculum about race and gender is a high priority as long as it is taught in a way that does not make people uncomfortable. The students are saying: the curriculum works because it is uncomfortable - it gets us talking and thinking about things we have not dealt with. That is why students use the word "transformational" when describing the impact of this class. Please let the district know that this is how you destroy quality education.

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