I posted this morning about the outrage in Orange County over a third grade teacher’s actions addressing bullying in his classroom. (If you haven’t seen it, check the post out here before reading further.)
Last night they held a public meeting to discuss the incident, and I’ve been reading the coverage with the hope of feeling better. I was not in a happy place writing the last post. I have a hard time understanding how we can still be having these same tired old arguments and, quite frankly, the whole thing was a bit depressing.
But I’m not having a lot of luck with that feeling better goal.
One article I read mentioned that applause at the meeting indicated about three-fourths of the attendees supported Omar Currie, the teacher who’d read “King & King” to his class. That was encouraging.
Parents at Friday’s meeting who supported Currie noted that he had introduced his students to tolerance of all people. Kim Grooms said, “I appreciate the fact that the teacher was willing to address this issue and was willing to approach this topic in his classroom.” (WRAL.com) PTA president Paquita Lyons noted, “To me, (the book is) very kid appropriate. It didn’t use words that children wouldn’t understand.” (abc11)
All this is sounding pretty good, right? I should be feeling better. Except for all the other crap happening.
I’m not even going to address the grown man who said he was being bullied himself by being told what his children would hear in school. You can’t fix stupid.
Predictably, some parents objected to the age of students involved, saying that their children are too young to learn about homosexuality. Well…except for the fact that they kind of already are, by virtue of living in the world. That elementary school in particular has several households with two moms or two dads, so “nontraditional” families already exist in their community. And if you think 8- and 9-year-olds don’t notice that sort of thing, well…I think you’d be surprised at what you find in the typical third grade classroom these days. It’s not exactly Little House on the Prairie in there.
I have to say, though, that a woman named Lisa Baptist took the all-time prize for Biggest Ass with her comment. “(You’re) infiltrating young minds, indoctrinating children into a gay agenda and actively promoting homosexuality to steer our children in that direction.” (WRAL.com) Sweet mother of God.
Yes, that’s right, ma’am. My main goal this year is to BRAINWASH MY ENTIRE CLASS so that they will become gay. Gay is the only way, I tell you!! (Please note: the snarkiness is entirely mine. Mr. Currie holds no responsibility for this content.)
Oh, and I’m curious. Are you just as worried about the straight teachers indoctrinating children into a heterosexual agenda and steering them in that direction? I’m pretty sure there’s no sexual steering going on in third grade. They’re a little busy learning to, you know, read and write and do math stuff.
ABC 11 reports that the “Orange County School district has appointed a committee to review the text and weigh public comment. The committee will decide next week if they will ban the book.” (abc11) Great. Maybe they’ll send a list of all the banned books to parents, too, so we can carefully screen any incendiary material out of our homes.
So with all this uproar about subversive teaching and gay agendas and such, I thought it might be nice to learn more about Mr. Currie. Gotta love Google…there was a bevy of links about this story but then, lo and behold, I stumbled across his teacher web page.
Please take a moment and check this out: Mr. Omar Currie, Efland Cheeks Elementary
If you know me, then you know I can be pretty particular about teachers. Let’s just say it takes a lot to impress me, and everything about this man’s web page screams I care about my students.
So let’s learn a little more about this man who people are calling a bully, inconsiderate of parents, and a deviant (because, let’s face it, that’s what Lisa Baptist is REALLY saying). The very first page talks about being partners with parents in creating a safe and motivating learning experience for their children. It then goes on to list the multitude of ways this teacher is accessible to them; good grief, the only thing this man left out was his home phone number!
He states their four big goals for the year and provides parents with a clear picture of his classroom’s rules and procedures. There’s no question about what he expects from his students and what he expects them to achieve together during the year.
I got a good vibe from his “home” and “meet Mr. Currie” pages, but it was when I checked out the parent web links that it really hit home: this man cares deeply about his students’ lives, not just academically but in every aspect. I can’t begin to cover the links he’s provided to services that his students’ families might need…they range from food/medical needs to child protective services, from various adult needs to voter registration. And if the parent can’t find the information they’re looking for, Mr. Currie offers to research it further.
In a perfect world, Mr. Currie would have shown up at last night’s meeting to find crowds of people drowning out the ugliness. Instead, the offensive voices got louder (and, in my opinion, more vicious) and now we’re talking about book bans.
The saddest part of it all is what’s happening with this teacher. A man who’s clearly dedicated to his students and their families. A man excited about learning and eager to pass that thirst for knowledge to his students.
A man who is now considering whether to resign at the end of the school year.
Great teachers are already in very short supply. It looks like Orange County might be losing another one.