Insubordination? Riiiiiiight

Teacher placed on leave after Sept. 11 video

A middle school teacher in Colorado has been placed on administrative leave until he can goose-step to district policy.

I’m sorry. Did I just say “goose-step to”? That’s strange.

I meant “follow” district policy.

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of coverage on this, but according to the Denver Post, Ritter has been suspended after he was caught, gasp, showing his class a CNN video about the 9/11 attacks. He showed them the video, which included images of people jumping/falling to their deaths on that terrible day, as part of a lesson last Wednesday, the day before the two-year anniversary of the attacks. He was sent home on Wednesday, and when he returned on Thursday, after agreeing not to show the video again, he was sent home once more. He was also sent home on Friday, althouth there is some debate over who’s decision it actually was.

[Cherry Creek School District spokeswoman Tustin] Amole said other staff members dispute Ritter’s statement that Fischer ordered him to leave Thursday.

Amole said Ritter chose to leave. His other options were not to teach anything about Sept. 11, or to stay within the parameters of the topics outlined by the district.

Those topics included the historical significance of the event, democracy, patriotism and heroism, she said.

This seems really strange to me. I don’t think we’re getting the whole story here, from at least one side or the other. The policy in question apparently is one that requires all outside materials be approved beforehand. That’s reasonable, but if Ritter was breaking that policy by showing the video, he fixed the situation by agreeing not to do so again. There’s some confusion over exactly what he could and could not say to his class about the attacks. When he returned on Thursday, Ritter was told he could only discuss Flight 93. While Flight 93 definitely bears discussion, whatever may have happened up there that morning, does anyone really think that it is the only aspect of that day worth discussing with students?

The historical significance of the event. Democracy. Patriotism. Heroism.

There is enough of that to fill a month of class discussions, and not all of it happened on Fight 93. Why can’t he talk about that? I’ll grant that the pictures of people jumping to their death is disturbing. It would have been prudent to get permission from the parents first. But skimming over the anniversary of what might well be the biggest historical event of these kids’ lives isn’t doing them any favors.

(To be honest, it makes me think of all the adults in the Harry Potter stories whispering about “You-know-who” instead of daring to say the name of Voldemort. Ooooh! Don’t say it! Too scary!)

Let’s call evil by its name.

These kids want to know about that day. If they’re 13 and 14 now, they were 11 and 12 when it happened. Two years is a big difference at that age. They’ve probably got questions that they’re just figuring out how to articulate. Teach them. Let them ask their questions. Let them cry if it makes them feel better. Let them get angry. Just talking about it, getting it out into the open, would probably be good for them. But don’t hush it up. Don’t try to hide it from them. That’s just taking a bad situation and making it worse.

I’m very curious to see what becomes of this. The spokeswoman said it raises “issues of insubordination.” We’ll see.