Teachers Unions

Update on Idaho Teacher Who Allegedly Let Kids Draw on Slow Readers' Faces

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Yesterday, I blogged a story about an Idaho teacher who apparently/allegedly let kids draw on the faces of slow readers as a form of rebuke (yes, it mangles the imagination to even make sense of that sentence).

Here's the latest update via Idaho's Twin Falls Times-News:

A formal complaint regarding a Declo, [Idaho] teacher's treatment of students who failed reading goals has been filed with an Idaho commission on educators' professional standards and ethics.

The Idaho State Department of Education's Professional Standards Commission examines complaints against certified teachers and has the power to suspend or revoke teaching licenses.

Cassia County School District Superintendent Galen Smyer said Monday his district filed the complaint after fourth-grade teacher Summer Larsen allowed students to scribble with permanent marker on the faces of classmates who failed to meet reading goals.

"I'm really limited on what I can say because it's a personnel issue," Smyer said. "The investigation on this is also ongoing in the district."

Don't expect a resolution any time soon: "It's a long process," explained a Department of Education spokesperson. That's not a bad thing—charges this serious certainly demand a thorough and fair examination—but it also doesn't seem like the determination of basic facts should be particularly difficult to figure out and act on, either. At the very least, you've got to hope that the kids involved—both the ones drawn on and the ones doing the drawing—have received proper follow-up.

Read original Reason story here.

Hopefully Not Related: "How to Fire an Incompetent Teacher," by John Stossel. An illustrated guide to the miasma of New York City's public school bureaucracy.

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  1. Haven’t we been telling teachers they should let the kids draw on what they know?

  2. It says that she “let them” draw on other kids faces. She is a libertarian hero who did not use her state power to stop other kids from expressing themselves.

  3. but it also doesn’t seem like the determination of basic facts should be particularly difficult to figure out and act on, either.

    Hey kids, did your teacher instruct you to draw on the faces of other kids? Yes? Thank you.

    1. Hey kids, Did you choose the punishment as a group? Yes? And you say they could opt out if they didn’t want to be drawn on? Yes?

      Thank you.

  4. The NYTimes and others frequently complain about how heavily armed people in Idaho are. If that is really the case, how is this teacher still alive. I do believe that killing is a bit extreme in this case. Drawing eyeglasses and writing “moron” on the teachers forehead would be adequate. Especially if you used a soldering iron.

  5. “It’s a long process,” explained a Department of Education spokesperson.

    “I hate to rush to judgement before all the facts are in, Mister President, but it’s beginning to look as if General Ripper may have exceeded his authority.”

    1. I bet she only drink rainwater and pure grain alcohol.

  6. I’m still waiting for the teacher to be arrested for assault and probably child abuse as well.

    I mean in the grand scheme of things there are worse teachers who have done worse things to kids in their classes and this is relatively minor in terms of damage to the kids in questionbut I have a 4th grader with a reading disability and if any of her teachers pulled this sort of stunt I’d have been demanding that she face criminal charges forget just losing her job.

    1. ^This^

      How many children are totally turned off of learning because some teacher wants to engage in a “teachable moment”?

      I’m convinced that math (reading, etc.) phobia is less about math and more about horrible math teachers.

      Hell, I taught my 5 year old how to solve for x in a simple linear equation…

      1. I’m all for horrible public school math teachers; I make some nice scratch on the side by being a math tutor. And yes everyone I’ve tutored who thought they were “bad at math” was actually able to do high level math once we’d gone back and figured out at which point in the progression of math concepts they had never learned or mis-learned…if you have a solid grasp of all the preceding concepts, math is easy; and invariably it was attributable to piss poor teachers/teaching.

  7. For for a site named Reason.com, there is an awful lot of unreasonable reactions to this article. We have someone suggesting that a fine punishment might be disfigurement with a soldering iron, while others are saying fire her, criminal charges!!!

    I think this was a case of bad judgment while an inexperienced teacher was trying to have fun with the class, or foster a bit of competition. Do I think this is a good teaching technique? No. Does it rise to the level of criminal charges, not a chance.

    Get a grip guys. REASON it out.

    1. Actually yes this is by the letter of the law at a minimum assault as the children in question certainly did not consent to having their faces colored on with permanent markers, nor did their parents.

      Tell me, if someone walked up to a random gay person and held them down while their associates colored homophobic slurs on their faces with permanent markers would you agree that it is assault?

      How about if it was Neo Nazi’s doing it to a Jewish or Black person?

      What this teacher did is no different from either of the first 2 situations with the exception that she did not use physical force but rather abused her position of authority (which just makes the crime more, not less serious in my opinion) and they used the victims own peers to do the coloring.

      No this is not simply bad judgement on the part of an inexperienced teacher, this is assault, more specifically assault on a minor by a person in a position of authority.

      Hell turn it around, if I did this to my own kids, say wrote what slobs they were on their faces with permanent markers when they didn’t clean their rooms and then sent them to school so they could face the ridicule of their peers over it how long do you think it would be before I had DFCS knocking on my door?

      1. Melodrama

        1. Nope.

          First of all, there are distinct limits to the range of discipline permitted to public school teachers in any particular location.

          If this punishment falls outside of that range, it’s assault.

          Is Idaho one of the states that still permits corporal punishment? If not, it’s assault. Automatically.

          Second, it’s important to note that the teacher set students upon one another like pit bulls here. She didn’t even undertake the punishment herself. Although some jurisdictions still allow teachers or administrators to administer corporal punishment, NONE of them (to the best of my knowledge) allow that sort of punishment to be delegated to other students.

          The students who administered the punishment are certainly guilty of assault, and the teacher conspired with them to do it.

          It’s not melodrama at all. If the teacher had instructed the class to surround a student and throw rotten fruit at them while chanting “Dumb-ass!” it would essentially be the same punishment – but the rotten fruit would wash right off, so in that respect permanent marker is worse. And a teacher that did that would be guilty of conspiracy to commit assault, open and shut case.

          1. Read the article, please. The students chose the incentive, and the ones that earned it could opt out.

            1. Well actually, it was THE CLASS that chose it, and the student couldn’t really “opt out” of being punished, he was only given a choice of what punishment to take. OF COURSE the kid’s not going to choose skipping recess. You think pressuring the kid into letting people draw on his face is alright? And because more voted for it than not, it’s alright? NO. The teacher has no authority to do this in the first place, dipshit.

              This sort of attitude is EXACTLY why we have constitutions in this country: so little apologists like you won’t tread on the rights of others by a simple majority vote. Since you have offended me, you have two choices: let me punch you in the stomach, or pay me money. Since you have a choice, it’s alright, right?

              1. Maybe it was a lesson in how democracy works. People in the minority have to choose the lesser of two evils.

              2. Ah yes, more examples of reason. The name of this website is bullshit.

                You are not willing to look at both sides of the the issue without emotion and name calling.

                And why all the violent talk? Is that a reasonable reaction?

                1. Of course I am. And the teacher’s side in this is wrong. You’re not willing to call out illegitimate actions by the teacher, instead willing to defend marking on a kid’s face as a valid punishment and claiming it’s “voluntary”.

                  And why all the violent talk? Is that a reasonable reaction?

                  I see your head for analogy is as bad as it is for hyperbole.

                  1. You’re just reacting and not even reading my comments. I have always said that this teaching style was wrong. I never said it was valid.

                    You are correct that I said it was voluntary, if in a misguided and roundabout way.

                    Note again, no name calling.

                    1. You’re just reacting and not even reading my comments. I have always said that this teaching style was wrong. I never said it was valid.

                      I read the comment I was responding to. You insinuated that since the child could “opt out”, it didn’t count as assault and was alright. You are wrong.

      2. I don’t think you even read the article. Here, let me help you…
        “Larsen allowed her students to determine an incentive for an Accelerated Reading goal. The incentive the class chose was to allow students who made the goal to mark on the faces of the students who did not meet the benchmark. The students who did not meet the goal could choose to forgo recess until the goal was obtained or allow classmates to scribble on their faces. Nine students failed to meet the goal and six of those chose to have their faces marked.”

        The students chose the incentive, and the ones that earned it could opt out. Still dumb, but not criminal.

        1. I did read the article. The fact that the teacher allowed the students to “choose” the punishment is irrelivant. The fact that the kids could “opt out” and face a different punishment is relevant and can certainly be used as part of her defence at trial (although as a parent of a 4th grader with reading difficulties I would not be very swayed by her argument) but none of that changes the fact that writing on someone’s face against their will is by definition assault

          1. Being allowed to opt out makes it, by definition, not against their will.

            I agree with you the teacher’s decision was dumb, but suggesting we should disfigure her with a soldering iron, or imprison her for it…thats unreasonable.

            1. The fact that the decision was dumb does not in any way change whether it was a crime or not.

              Further I never advocated imprisoning her, I said she should be charged with a crime, specifically a crime which is a misdemeanor and not a felony and given that she is presumably a first time offender would never have her spend a day in jail but rather face a fine (of not more than $1000) and likely probation for a few months.

              As far as the other guys soldering iron claim, let me clue you in, this is the internet, people are given to hyperbole and it is highly likely that even if it happened to his kid if they put the soldering iron in his hand he wouldn’t go through with it.

              1. And I don’t think it is a crime. All you have to point to is the fact that kids could opt out. And if this was such a terrible punishment, why did 6 out of 9 students decide that the drawing on the face would be better than losing recess. 2/3rds of them thought this sounded better. Are we going to outlaw having kids stay in during recess because its is so inhumane?

                In regards to the soldering iron comment: (this guy was also wondering why she hasn’t ben shot yet, btw) Since this is Reason.com, I think I was lulled into believing that the users of this website would defer to reason rather than emotion.

                1. All you have to point to is the fact that kids could opt out.

                  All I have to point out is that people can opt out of taxes by going to prison, thu8s we can conclude taxes are voluntary. /derp

                  And if this was such a terrible punishment, why did 6 out of 9 students decide that the drawing on the face would be better than losing recess.

                  That one punishment seems worse to the kid means the other punishment is alright? Awesome. Again, you can choose between getting hit or giving me money. Thus giving me money isn’t really that bad, it it?

                  Since this is Reason.com, I think I was lulled into believing that the users of this website would defer to reason rather than emotion.

                  And we thought you could have enough of a grasp of hyperbole to not take everything seriously, but you repeatedly show you have nothing between your ears.

                  1. Your logical fallacy: ad hominem attacks.

                    Nice example!

                    1. Saying you don’t understand hyperbole is ad hominem? Really? Is that all you have?

                    2. No, actually you called me a dipshit, /derp, said there was nothing between my ears. You are unable to debate without name calling.

                      Notice I am not returning the favor.

                    3. Insults /=/ ad hominem. Might want to brush up on that, moron.

                      You are unable to debate without name calling.

                      Of course I am. I just choose not to. If you’re being a dumbass, I’ll say so. Don’t like it, don’t argue here. We have little patience for apologetics.

                    4. I’m sorry you’re such a miserable human being. It must actually be sad to be this nasty, and I mean this sincerely. Someone must have really done a number on you sometime in the past, and I’m sorry for that.
                      Good luck finding life and happiness.

                    5. You are either very stupid, or incredibly dishonest. I have no patience with who falsely accuse others of assault and make up excuses for crappy arguments. The only people trying to “do a number on me” are people like you who misrepresent their opponents and their arguments in order to win. I have no patience for bullshit. Fuck off.

                    6. Again, I’m sorry for your pain. Please get some help.

                    7. You’re a jerkoff who makes crappy arguments then tries to delegitimize his opponents by accusing them of assault and having psychological problems. And then you pull this psychoanalyzing bullshit as if there’s any reason for my anger other than not wanting to put up with your bullshit. Fuck off.

        2. Oh I should also note, I am calling for a simple misdemeanor charge here, the actual charge is Battery in Idaho (I just looked it up) and here is the maximum pubishment:

          18-904. Battery — Punishment. Battery is punishable by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed six (6) months, or both unless the victim is pregnant and this fact is known to the batterer, in which case the punishment is by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed one (1) year, or both.

          It’s not like I’m saying she should be thrown in jail for 50 years

  8. For for a site named Reason.com, there is an awful lot of unreasonable reactions

    DRINK!

    (to JsubD)

    1. (to JsubD)

      Miss him:)

  9. BTW, is it just me, or is “It’s a personnel matter!” the teacher union equivalent of police unions saying, “No public information can be released about an ongoing criminal investigation!”

    Basically any misconduct involving a teacher is a “personnel matter”, since a person did it and not a piece of furniture or a bus. So as soon as you even declare that “personnel matters” involving public employees are “confidential”, you’re basically saying that all public personnel misconduct can be kept secret.

    1. Well, just while it is being investigated of course.

      The fact that the investigations take years is not really important right?

    2. Yes, Fluffy, that’s very much the point. And police onions now have similar agreements.

  10. NotaDoranR, not sure what country you are from, but in the USA, grade school kids are not allowed to consent to a lot of things. Their parents are expected to make decisions for them.

    Even to inform the whole class about who is passing the test and who not violates FERPA. There is a prerry big control problem here and the district needs to taek a good look at that school. She should have asked the principal about this scheme.

    1. This. If the teacher gave a failing student the option of skipping recess or allowing the teacher to take naked pictures of the student, 99% of grade school kids would opt for the pictures. I hope the people on this thread wouldn’t be arguing that it was OK because it was consensual.

    2. This is actually a pretty good argument against my stance. If the kids haven’t met the age of consent, they can’t really be allowed to consent or opt out of the punishment.
      Also, I agree with the FERPA aspect too. By drawing attention to the fact that theyve not met the reading standards, their privacy is being violated.

      I have always said I thought the idea was incredibly dumb, (look above). I’m only saying that threatening to shoot, disfigure, punch, cry child abuse, etc. this teacher is a seriously unreasonable overreaction to a very poor decision.

      1. And we’ve repeatedly note that you don’t seem to know the word “hyperbole” or what it means. Don’t blame your deficiencies on other people.

        1. Isn’t it also assault to threaten violence? Doesn’t matter if it is done in the anonymity of the web. You can call it hyperbole, but if you are going to liberally interpret assault as writing on another person, then I can use the common definition of assault as threatened violence. Anonymous or not.

          1. Isn’t it also assault to threaten violence?

            Hyperbole doesn’t fall under the umbrella of true threats. There has to be a reasonable expectation that the action is meant to be carried out. An internet blog comment doesn’t make the grade.

            You can call it hyperbole,

            Because it is.

            if you are going to liberally interpret assault as writing on another person

            Note that assault and battery are considered separate offenses in Idaho. This would probably more accurately be described as battery. Note the second definition.

            then I can use the common definition of assault as threatened violence.

            Not when it doesn’t meet the legal requirements of a threat. Here’s a good primer for non-lawyers. Comment responses to a blog post would not be to be considered such a threat without showing that the message was intended to be carried out or used to intimidate.

            1. That was a helpful description, thanks for the link.

          2. No, only if there is a reasonable expectation that the threat could be carried out.

            An anonymous post on an internet message board could never be assault because the poster does not know who you really are in the real world and would have no way of finding you to carry out the violence.

      2. I believe the point being made here is that this isn’t just a school personnel issue, it goes beyond the authority of the school administrators to state legal authorities.

        If they think she should only be given a fine or a night in jail to make her think, or even a stern talking to, that’s fine.

        The message that teachers and school administrators need to get is that their little fief of a classroom or school is not an authority unto itself, that they are subject to the same laws everyone else is, and that they are not only accountable to parents, but society at large.

        Somehow they have it the other way around.

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