A Principal at Lucille M. Brown Middle School in Richmond is suing parents of a student at her school for three million dollars over a letter published in Style Weekly’s online edition. I read Style Weekly somewhat regularly, but did not come across the article until after my fiancé mentioned the story to me.
The letter accuses the principal, and other Richmond City personnel of mismanaging the IB program, an honors program. “We have not noticed any significant improvements to low teacher morale, poor discipline, deplorable communication and an overall climate of fear and intimidation of teachers,” the parents wrote. In response, the principal’s lawsuit cites that, by writing and publishing the letter, the parents sought to “purposefully and without lawful justification maliciously injure the plaintiff in her profession and reputation.” The principal has been reassigned to a different school while the lawsuit is pending.
This brought to mind a second article about drastic measures in schools. It’s a very different story about a Kansas lawmaker introducing a bill to permit teachers to hit children hard enough to leave a bruise. The law requires permission from the parents or guardians, so it’s got that going for it. One of many problems is, instead of curbing bad behavior, spanking and hitting is linked to aggression and other behavior problems.
What these two articles have in common for me is they both show desperate times calling for desperate measures. They speak to parents and educators who are backed up against a wall, in lose-lose situations. A cohesive and effective education climate doesn’t breed these extreme examples. I have a hard time passing judgement on anyone involved without knowing what they’re going through, more so in regards to the Richmond story than the Kansas one. I can say that challenging the status quo is important, and for what it’s worth both of these stories certainly do that. Because, to quote the Richmond parent’s letter, “…low teacher morale, poor discipline, deplorable communication and an overall climate of fear and intimidation” are not symptoms of one IB program, one school, one city, or one state. They are symptoms shared by most of the education system in our country today.