Thursday, May 25, 2006

Chicago Teacher Suspended Over Racial Comment

A Chicago music teacher has been suspended for directing a racial remark to a 6th grade student. From the Chicago Tribune:

The school decided on the punishment for the Skinner Elementary teacher in late April--six months after the pupil's parents reported the incident to Principal Deborah Clark and other district administrators, Clark said.

Skinner is apparently a fairly elite magnet school, though in Chicago "elite" doesn't always mean as much as you might think.
Priscilla Dixon had asked for her son to be removed from the teacher's class, but the district refused, saying that music was required curriculum, according to correspondence between the parent and the district.

A good music teacher is hard to find. Think how many times in an emergency you've yelled, "Get me an elementary school music teacher," only to be rewarded with silence. Those recorders won't play themselves!
"The investigation into allegations that music teacher Florina Cupsa told your son that, 'You're a black boy and you need to learn your place in my classroom,' or words to that effect, has been completed and substantiated," wrote district general counsel Patrick Rocks in a Feb. 9 letter to Dixon. "Apparently, this inappropriate comment was made by the teacher when she was disciplining your son and a few other students."

I think it is reasonable to interpret this as, "Yeah, she said it, but she lost her temper when your kid acted up. We'll take action and keep an eye on her, but we're not going to let the kid who misbehaved think he can get a teacher fired."
The allegation was substantiated by interviews with the 6th grader and his classmates, some of whom wrote essays because they were upset by the remarks, Dixon and Clark said.

The minute she was essayed, the teacher was doomed.
"He doesn't feel safe there anymore," said Dixon of her son, who is transferring next year. "I don't think he'll ever trust people in positions of authority."

"Ever"? She doesn't think he'll "ever" trust people in authority? Sounds good to me. He'll probably be a conservative when he grows up.

To be honest, I get the sense that this parent feels ostracized for reasons other than this comment. She has three kids at the school, but is terribly angry at Skinner, saying "[a]nyone who's not a cheerleader [for the school] is vilified." I think there is some back story we're not getting.

Here's the key paragraph, which also provides some insight.
"Clark said Wednesday that she didn't fire Cupsa because she has "great potential" as a musician and as a teacher. Clark said the teacher, a native of Romania, is struggling with classroom management and "cultural issues." Clark says she doesn't believe Cupsa made the comment out of any racial animosity."

Sometimes immigrants just don't see the white/black issues, or especially the language issues, that cause so many problems in this country. Their lessons on these matters are usually learned painfully.

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