Monday, October 02, 2006

Check out the Monet! Check out the Michelangelo! Check out the boobies!

When I taught World History a few years ago, I did a few units about the art of the period we were talking about. It is amazing how students react to art projects; first with boredom, then with interest, and finally with enthusiasms. The Renaissance project was a big hit, as students found such an intriguing blend of mythical figures, religious connotations, and brilliant colors. Some of the artwork that they research include nudes, whether it's David, one of the various Madonna's, or some other image of the human body. Over the three years that I taught freshmen, I rarely had any issues with students complaining about nude artwork, or even acting very immature when viewing it. Out of 90 students a year, I might have had 1 or 2 that would snicker. Other than that, the kids were really interested in the art.

So, does that mean that teacher Sydney McGee should have taken her 5th grade class to the Dallas Museum of Art? Does she deserve to be suspended and possibly fired because a student complained to mommy that he/she saw nudity in some of the artwork? According to the New York Times, that's exactly what is happening in Texas. The district is taking the situation out of hand and pandering to small town parents, something I found when I coached at certain small school districts.

In the May 18 memorandum to Ms. McGee, Ms. Lawson (principal) faulted her for not displaying enough student art and for "wearing flip-flops"” to work; Ms. McGee said she was wearing Via Spiga brand sandals. In citing the students "exposure to nude art, Ms. Lawson also said "“time was not used wisely for learning during the trip,"” adding that parents and teachers had complained and that Ms. McGee should have toured the route by herself first. But Ms. McGee said she did exactly that. In the latest of several statements, the district contended that the trip had been poorly planned. But Mr. Gibbs, the districtÂ’s lawyer, acknowledged that Ms. Lawson had approved it.
And people wonder why you need a union if you are a teacher. Her past performance evaluations are excellent, she is well liked by students and other parents, and was even awarded a Teacher of the Month award from a local paper.

Sounds to me like accountability for administrators might need to be considered.
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