Some people can’t keep personal politics out of…anything.
Could that have been the case at a Dallas public middle school?
As reported by The Dallas Morning News, art teacher Kayla Mick approved a politically charged (or, proponents might say, socially conscious) cover for the Downing Middle School yearbook.
The Flower Mound institution’s artwork was purportedly decided upon by 8th graders, but Kayla was in charge.
The front and back of the book boasts phrases which, presumably, were thought to crystallize the last year.
Some were rather generic:
We Stick Together
Do You, Be You For You
Kindness is My Jam! It’s Grape!
The Future is Ours
Others were year-specific…
Keep Distance We Must
And some entered into unusual territory for a kids yearbook:
Love is Love
No Human is Illegal
Women’s Rights are Human Rights
I Can’t Breathe
Black Lives Matter
— New York Post (@nypost) May 29, 2021
It prompted, per the Morning News, “parent concerns.”
The teacher’s been placed on paid leave.
And Lewisville Independent School District is “reviewing the circumstances surrounding the design of the yearbook before taking further action.”
But for those wondering if Kayla was placed on leave due to parental complaints, LISD spokeswoman Amanda Brim made clear such a statement would be “inaccurate.”
Amanda did note that teachers are supposed to be “neutral”:
“It is our best hope that all of our teachers connect with students in a way that makes them feel safe and creates a sense of belonging in every classroom. Having said that, we expect staff to remain neutral while engaging students in these conversations, in accordance with district policy.”
One sympathizer — former Flower Mound mayoral candidate Stephanie Bell — began a petition in Kayla’s defense.
Here’s how she put it at Change.org:
LISD chose to discipline Mrs. Mick by suspending her — forcing her to vacate her classroom, prohibiting her from interacting with students and parents, and missing the last week of school (including saying goodbye to her 8th grade students and participating in end-of-the-year activities).
The action taken by the district sends the wrong message to our students.
To hear Stephanie tell it, LISD’s action is downright dangerous:
Censorship in journalism simply because you disagree with the content is not only unacceptable, it’s dangerous.
She even quoted a court case:
As decided in Tinker v. Des Moines: “Students and teachers do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate”
That case involved three students who wore black armbands to school in 1965 — as a protest of the Vietnam War.
Stephanie wrote, “We ask that the district take no further disciplinary action against Mrs. Mick or the Downing MS principal as well as ensure that our students’ right to free speech as afforded by the First Amendment will not be infringed upon.”
According to the Morning News, Stephanie sees it as a muzzle:
“This is such a time in a child’s development where they are learning to be their own person and when we’re muzzling them from thought,” she said.
It seems to me we’re saddling young people with too much.
Too much, that is, of everything — adult content in entertainment, sexual complexities, and the weight of social implications they shouldn’t be asked to understand, let alone bear.
Having said that, a current cultural mantra is that of “representation.” Were some students/families not represented by the sloganeering?
It seems they’re trying to figure that out.
Meanwhile, parents who request an alternate cover for their child’s yearbook will be provided one.
At the time of this writing, Stephanie’s petition has garnered 3,858 signatures.
Two comments on the page:
- As a former LISD teacher, the idea that the district would give in to closed minded, hysterical parents, ESPECIALLY parents whose children do not even attend LISD schools, is abhorrent.
- I’m signing because this is a display of censorship and cancel culture at it’s finest. A couple of parents threw a fit because they are very conservative and being given stickers to put over the BLM sticker wasn’t enough, they wanted heads to roll. These jobs pay the bills of these educators. It’s a thankless job made worse by parents who care nothing for what it takes to be a truly good teacher.
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