I usually cringe at my fellow conservatives when they jump on the "blame-everything-on-teachers" bandwagon when criticizing our moribund educational system, but listening to the illiterate rantings of this high school social studies teacher in North Carolina does no favors for the argument against blaming teachers for our students' academic shortcomings.
A few days ago, at a high school named Tonya Dixon-Neely in the Rowan-Salisbury School District in North Carolina, a student who had grown tired of his social studies teacher's repeated statist diatribes used a cell phone to make an audio recording of a class session. The audio was made with the phone's video camera feature, but the only thing you ever see on screen are the lights on the ceiling, as the phone was obviously sitting in a backpack next to the student's desk.
The ignorance and intimidation presented in what the teacher said in response to her student's question about President Obama is truly breathtaking, and there is a slight language warning, as both the student and the teacher engage in some light profanity of the "sh**" variety:
If you don't have time to listen to the audio, here are some of the highlights as described by the folks at Breitbart:
The video shows a classroom discussion about the Washington Post hit piece about Mitt Romney bullying a kid some five decades ago. One student says, “Didn’t Obama bully someone though?” The teacher says: “Not to my knowledge.” The student then cites the fact that Obama, in Dreams from My Father, admits to shoving a little girl. “Stop, no, because there is no comparison,” screams the teacher. Romney is “running for president. Obama is the president.” The student responds that both are “just men.” The teacher yells -- literally yells -- that Obama is “due the respect that every other president is due … Listen,” she continues, “let me tell you something, you will not disrespect the president of the United States in this classroom.” She yells over the student repeatedly, and yells at him that it's disrespect for him to even debate about Romney and Obama. The student says that he can say what he wants. “Not about him, you won’t,” says the teacher. The teacher then tells the student – wrongly – that it is a criminal offense to say bad things about a president. “Do you realize that people were arrested for saying things bad about Bush? Do you realize you are not supposed to slander the president?” The student says that it would violate First Amendment rights to jail someone for such sentiments. “You would have to say some pretty f’d up crap about him to be arrested,” says the student. “They cannot take away your right to have your opinion … They can’t take that away unless you threaten the president.”So as far as this teacher is concerned, criticizing Obama is not allowed because he is the president, while criticizing Romney is allowed because he is only a candidate for president. Gotcha.
All I can think of is my own classroom experiences in the last decade as I have listened to students criticize George W. Bush (and Reagan in a few cases) in the most hateful terms, and I couldn't care less. I looked at it as an excellent opportunity to ask the students what exactly their complaints were and to ask for details. Even when I agreed with the student's criticisms (especially regarding Bush II), I still challenged the student to back up his or her snarky criticisms with fact.
This teacher did the exact opposite. She would not allow this student to express a different point of view. For merely asking a question about Obama's past conduct, this student was illegally disrespecting the president in the opinion of the teacher. God, what a loser!
Thank you so much Ms. Dixon-Neely for making my job that much harder.
"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson