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View Diary: Daily Kos diarist/teacher removed from classroom by police (186 comments)

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  •  It seems this is all about 2 books that you (5+ / 0-)

    wrote and how you intermixed the books with your professional life.

    I agree with the others who say putting up this diary probably isn't in your best interests and I hesitated before writing this comment but then I decided to go ahead and give you my take as a neutral outsider despite my general pro-union pro-teacher outlook.

    If you wrote what was essentially an anthology of yours and your students writings then I imagine you would need release and permission slips from the guardians of the minors involved and they probably deserved some input into where any money earned should go. Also, since it clearly involved your school and your students, it seems it would have been wise to have the administration on board with the project in advance.

    Regarding the second book -a novel which you published under a name you specifically chose so your students wouldn't find it, but then you put it on a blog that theoretically they could have found by searching your name. I think that was an error in judgement on your part. Someone connected to your position DID find it and then blew the whistle on you. A student? A parent? A co-worker?

    To me it looks like you may have been trying to promote your book to your personal circle, which is fine unless part of that circle was your current students for whom you yourself say the content isn't appropriate. How many free downloads were there? After the free download period was the book then for sale? For how much? Were any sold? (I wouldn't answer any of those questions here, but those are the questions I would want to know if I were on your hearing panel. If there were no downloads and if no books were sold, then no harm no foull)  I personally don't think it's appropriate for any teacher to try to sell any current student anything, whether it is a book, or Amway products or Girl Scout cookies.

    I think you could have done things differently and better, but then can't all of us admit to that in our lives? I hope that your previous years of stellar service to your students and your community will override the current situation and get you off with a warning or whatever else they do in these situations.

    “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

    by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Wed May 01, 2013 at 07:05:31 AM PDT

    •  I did have parental permission (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mrkvica, JerryNA

      On the tornado book, one of the charges against me was that I did not receive parental permission, though I have signed parental permission slips. I was never asked. As for the input, I have been working with parents, students, fellow teachers, and I had even talked to my principal about ways to use the money. Perhaps I was naive in thinking that being totally honest and aboveboard about these things would keep me from making any errors, but their basic charges on these books are that I did no receive parental permission and that I have profited from the books. Since my principal (and my readers) were already aware of these things, it seems the investigation was not particularly well done.

      •  Well then you should be ok when you (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sychotic1, JerryNA

        actually have your hearing at least on the tornado book.

        I think that sounds like a really incredible project that you and your class did. If anything your school and your school district should be PROMOTING that book and maybe the school could sell it collectively as a fundraising project.

        The other book seems like the more problematic simply due to the content issue and where you posted it.

        “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

        by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Wed May 01, 2013 at 07:37:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You keep saying "permission" (4+ / 0-)

        Did the written permission forms specifically release student work for commercial publication?

        It's an interesting situation.  I know many teachers who are also writers, and some who write about their classroom experiences; I also know education researchers who of course write scholarly work, but also fill that work with personal anecdotes and the like about children and teachers they have met.  (Think of Jonathan Kozol's work, for example.)

        The actual teacher of an actual class of kids has particular professional obligations (some under various federal statutes pertaining to educational records, many under state statutes that include things like morality clauses and approval processes for particular lesson content or readings) to maintain the privacy rights (as well as, implicitly, the intellectual property rights) of his/her students, whose consent can only be granted by a legal guardian.  So school systems tend to be very particular about the language of "permission" forms and the like, I've noticed (as a parent, especially, I actually appreciate this in some ways -- like my kid's school knows we will not allow the kid's picture to be used online in any identified form).  

        On the other hand, I know of public middle school teachers who interact with their students (under 13!) on Facebook --- the students themselves had to lie about their ages to be on Facebook in the case I am thinking of, which inspired a bit of a parents' revolt that got this changed -- the teacher was young and clueless, frankly, about the internet vs. real life.

        I think teachers need to be legally represented in all of this stuff, and of course that's what unions are supposed to provide, but not just after the fact of an accusation.  Did you (rturner) freelance this "permission" process or did you go to your principal or administrator and get advice?  Did you use some sort of standard form for the permissions?  Did they include a release for publication?

        I'm trying to put myself (devil's advocate) in the position of a parent, realizing these are high school kids (and mine is younger) so the limits ought to be a bit looser.  But say you're a parent, and you find out your kid's teacher has published an essay your kid wrote, attributed by name to your kid, in a commercial book.  

        What did I sign?  See my point?

        Alas, this is why you need a lawyer, not a mob of sympathetic kossacks.

        And just to explain my intense interest in all this, again I am in education, and I specifically deal with issues of intellectu@l property and fair use in the classroom, where there are often legal actions going on against teachers, districts, universities, etc.  More broadly, because of that work, I am interested in law and education.  For better or worse, educators work as professionals in an increasingly hostile and litigious environment.  It's smart to protect oneself as much as possible in advance of taking risks in that context.  It's smart to know the legal and administrative frameworks that constrain you inside and out if you intend to test their limits.  

        None of this -- again -- is in any way meant to imply the diarist did something intentionally wrong.  Intention doesn't always matter from the point of view of the law.  And of course if you have enemies -- and teachers always have enemies -- even little and unintentional transgressions of the rules give them tools to abuse you.  

        So on some level this story is certainly about the creeping, curdling, right wing war on education and on teachers, no question about it.  They are coming for our free speech and our job security from all sides.  I am 100% down with the anger behind many responses in this diary.  I feel it myself.

        But this particular case may not be a perfect example of all that is wrong, and in any case its particulars are complicated.

        “I wore black because ... it's still my symbol of rebellion -- against a stagnant status quo, against our hypocritical houses of God, against people whose minds are closed to others' ideas.” -- Johnny Cash

        by RocketJSquirrel on Wed May 01, 2013 at 07:55:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Agreed (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dburn, high uintas, erush1345

      I don't know if the diarist's firing was justified or not, but a lot of the commentary here about this being an outrage is misplaced.

      The diarist was fired for (improperly?) intermingling his personal and professional lives. It's not like he was fired for refusing to teach creationism or whistle blowing or something. Also, we are only hearing the diarist's side.

      Maybe the firing was justified, maybe not, but this incident isn't a battle in the ever escalating war on teachers or whatever. It's a murky legal dispute between the diarist and his employer.

      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

      by Sparhawk on Wed May 01, 2013 at 09:28:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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