Rodin Out of Town


You may have already seen the story making the blogospheric rounds about the Texas art teacher whose contract was cancelled because (she claims) parents complained after she took her fifth grade class to a museum containing bare naked marble—in particular Rodin's "Shade," Malliol's "Flora," and the, uh, not exactly pornographic "Star in a Dream" by Jean Arp . But reader Loretta just pointed me toward the New York Times account of the story, which contains yet more damning proof of local school officials' philistinism: They apparently upbraided the teacher for wearing "flip flops" to work, when in fact she had on Via Spiga sandals. Whatever became of culture? [x-posted @ NftL]


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  1. I have long since held that the only thing worse than the teachers in public schools were the administrators, most of the parents, and most of the students. Still more anecdotal evidence in support of such a theory.

  2. On two different occasions the NYTimes article references “additional complaints, which Ms. McGee has challenged” and “(the) superintendent told parents in their e-mail message Wednesday, citing ‘performance concerns’ and other criticisms of Ms. McGee’s work.”

    Wouldn’t it be good to have those facts before we chastise the school board?

    Given the difficulty of firing teachers, as illustrated in the current issue of Reason magazine, maybe the Dallas school board should be applauded for its bravery in attempting to fire a bad employee, rather then immediately made out to be the Gestapo.

    I’ll probably turn out to be wrong, but I sure as hell ain’t gonna take the NYTimes’ word for it.

  3. Well, the teacher also says that she’s got a long history of positive performance reviews, which she’s got copies of, and that all these other performance complaints arose after the museum trip. I don’t know whether, as she seems to suggest, those complaints are purely pretextual, but it would be quite unusual for a teacher with years of commendable service under her belt to get the axe in the wake of one or two bad reviews unless she’d dones something really egregious.

  4. How else are the children going to learn that tits are okay in public provided certain framing rules are followed.

    These rules are obscure and take a lot of exposure to work themselves in.

    Even the parents are unaware of them, showing a generation of failed schools with not enough museum field trips.

    Watch out for late Picasso.

  5. In the early 80s, a guy at work brought in a 3′ high statue of a nude lady, a piece of faux art, that he wanted to get rid of. It sat in his office for a while, and then we moved it to the company courtyard, where it sat among lunchers for about a month, before somebody had it removed in a huff.

    The art frame is not easily broken, but there’s always somebody who doesn’t get it.

  6. If she can afford those sandals, I don’t want to hear any further complaining about teachers’ pay.

  7. School officials have not named the child who complained or any particular artwork at issue, although Ms. McGee said her puzzlement was compounded when Ms. Lawson referred at times to “an abstract nude sculpture.”

    So, we can fire a teacher because an unnamed parent complains about a unnamed child complaining about an unidentified work of art in a museum?

    “You’re fired!”
    “Because why?”

  8. “I’ll probably turn out to be wrong, but I sure as hell ain’t gonna take the NYTimes’ word for it.”

    Yeah, Ima gonna get me uh knife ‘n’ sit onna couch an’ yell up a sandstorm at thems libral newspapers on the TV set.

  9. Lamar-Given the Times’ relatively recent spate of journalistic screw-ups, I don’t think being skeptical of that paper is equivalent to being a slackjawed yokel.

  10. “Rodan” (Giant Bird Lizard Thing, “Godzilla’s Flying Buddy”) does not equal “Rodin” (Sculpture, “Creator of ‘The Thinker'”)

  11. ” “Rodan” (Giant Bird Lizard Thing, “Godzilla’s Flying Buddy”) does not equal “Rodin” (Sculpture, “Creator of ‘The Thinker'”)”

    Guess I shouldn’t have skipped the Rodan Museum when I was in Paris….

  12. Lamar, it must have been my use of the word “ain’t” that threw your delicate sensibilities into a tizzy. Please forgive me, for I have used a word recognized by Lamar to be unfit for online conversational purposes. You see, Lamar is probably a lawyer. He will tell you himself if you just give him time. You have to understand that Lamar is at a disadvantage. You see, online we can?t tell he is a lawyer by the car he drives, the way he parts his hair on the side, and the ever so hip pinstripe suit that is all the rage in his men?s magazines he keeps on his nightstand. Here, online, Lamar has to prove he is witty, intelligent, and ?snarky? rather than letting us all know by looking at him. Our loss, really.

    As the mighty lawyer, Lamar probably regards language as civilization?s foremost safeguard. I have broken that trust with the use of that southern colloquialism, ?ain?t.? It shall not be done again.

    By the way Lamar, how do you feel about coming to conclusions without having most of the facts, which was, by the way, the crux of my post. You seem just intelligent enough to make me curious.

  13. Wow! He is in a Bad Mood!

  14. As far as I can tell, the school board doesn’t claim that the nude art wasn’t a reason for her firing; they’re claiming that it was only one of the reasons for her firing. Which is as much of an excuse as saying, “I’m not firing you just because you’re black, I’m firing you because you’re black and you’re not doing a good job”.

  15. It is not unusual for school boards to give unreasonable weight to a single complaint, warranted or not, from a patron. In fact, that is how we end up with many of the goofy rules and procedures teachers and administrators are forced to navigate in an attempt to provide students with the opportunity for a quality education.

  16. I have been to public schools for 13 years (in Germany, there is no private alternative) and hell, our schools have problems, too (immigration, integration, not good equipped, no good techer/pupils ratio), but the American schools seem to beat us over the head. You could easily win the contest of most humorous and stupid public schools in the world…
    If it weren’t so sad…

    Well, the implications will arise in a few years, when immigration is further limited in the US and so all the brains turn to other countries (China, India etc.) and you only can rely on what you brought up yourselves.. I hope then someone in the state deparment will be shortened a few centimeters.

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