, if true, is disgusting:
Bill Nevins, a New Mexico high school teacher and personal friend, was fired last year and classes in poetry and the poetry club at Rio Rancho High School were permanently terminated. It had nothing to do with obscenity, but it had everything to do with extremist politics.
The "Slam Team" was a group of teenage poets who asked Nevins to serve as faculty adviser to their club. The teens, mostly shy youngsters, were taught to read their poetry aloud and before audiences. Rio Rancho High School gave the Slam Team access to the school's closed-circuit television once a week and the poets thrived.
In March 2003, a teenage girl named Courtney presented one of her poems before an audience at Barnes & Noble bookstore in Albuquerque, then read the poem live on the school's closed-circuit television channel.
A school military liaison and the high school principal accused the girl of being "un-American" because she criticized the war in Iraq and the Bush administration's failure to give substance to its "No child left behind" education policy.
The girl's mother, also a teacher, was ordered by the principal to destroy the child's poetry. The mother refused and may lose her job.
Bill Nevins was suspended for not censoring the poetry of his students. Remember, there is no obscenity to be found in any of the poetry. He was later fired by the principal.
After firing Nevins and terminating the teaching and reading of poetry in the school, the principal and the military liaison read a poem of their own as they raised the flag outside the school. When the principal had the flag at full staff, he applauded the action he'd taken in concert with the military liaison.
Then to all students and faculty who did not share his political opinions, the principal shouted: "Shut your faces." What a wonderful lesson he gave those 3,000 students at the largest public high school in New Mexico. In his mind, only certain opinions are to be allowed.
But more was to come. Posters done by art students were ordered torn down, even though none was termed obscene. Some were satirical, implicating a national policy that had led us into war. Art teachers who refused to rip down the posters on display in their classrooms were not given contracts to return to the school in this current school year.
The message is plain. Critical thinking, questioning of public policies and freedom of speech are not to be allowed to anyone who does not share the thinking of the school principal.
(Bill Hill, writing in the Daytona Beach News-Journal
, May 15, 2004. Stolen from a commenter in marykaykare
I attended a high school so liberal that I believe one could have been disciplined for praising
President Bush. (Admittedly, times were different then, as were Bushes.) The concept of a school having a military liaison
is so foreign to my experience that were the idea to be included in a nostaligic, corny film looking back at the 1950s
it would would strain my credulity. Yet the idea that high schools contain martinets whose first impulse is to censor seems as natural as apple pie. Even my touch-feely principal, dedicated to letting his students learn in their own ways, once seriously suggested that he preapprove stories for my school newspaper. Of course, we had spent a fair amount of time in journalism class going over the relevant Supreme Court decisions, and weren't that happy with either Hazelwood
or prior restraint. (Of course, the large majority of the newspaper staff had lawyers in their families.)
I still wouldn't describe my high school as censorious
, though. This was in the days before the world wide web, when if someone had something he wanted to say but no one particularly interested in hearing it, he could still type up four or five pages of blather and masking-tape them up in inappropriate locations. They'd usually stay put until the janitor got around to cleaning the walls, and occasionally they'd even garner comments. It truly was the poor man's LiveJournal, at least for rich kids with an unbounded sense of privilege.
I had been occasionally expressing myself in this way as early as Junior High School, where I do remember running into one actual martinet who decided that my anarchist placards for the "Lunacratic Army for Penultimate Societal Emancipation" (always proceed from acronym to nym) was an incitement to communism, although I was a fetal capito-anarchist and my exemplar at that point was Thomas Jefferson (and the whole thing was a complicated jape at my Latin teacher anyway). Much of my eighth grade year was spent in shouting matches and this was no exception; I engaged this self-appointed bulwark against the forces of anarchism in a loud discussion of free expression and the First Amendment. I was for them. He taught social studies
, too. Oh well, I have been led to believe of late that a few bad apples do not indict the entire institution.