Mary B 
Member since Aug 22, 2015


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Re: “Racist Image Used in Vail District High School, Superintendent Downplays the Incident

>Welcome: Thank you for your response. I appreciate the insights into Tucson's public schools system and will commit to checking the Three Sonorans site. Now I am beginning to understand how complex the problems of Tucson schools are. I don't quite understand the dislike votes my earlier comment received, unless it's because some feel I am not entitled to comment as I live in another state. I am interested in Tucson schools because I have family members living in Tucson. When my son pulled my grandchild from the Tucson public school system to homeschool her, I was disappointed that they did not adopt a more proactive position and work for change.

After living in the midwest most of my life and completing teacher training at a top ten university, I moved to an impoverished coal mining town in southwest (state unnamed) where a teacher with a postgraduate degree and 12 years' experience earns $35,000, even though eastcoast teachers with the same qualifications earn nearly $60,000 . It is not the pay that makes teachers here dedicated. Neither do we have a supportive teachers union, nothing like the Federation of Teachers stature "up north". The retention rate of first-year teachers is dismal like that of Tucson, too.

In truth, my classroom was not the norm. I set it up with the no-ridicule rule because initially I myself was the target of student and parent distrust of northerners, or a damn Yankee as I was called. I am not overstating when I say many people here believe the South won the Civil War. Some of those people in the community regarded me with suspicion and even staff members (jokingly?) referred to me as the Yankee. Thus, I adopted the classroom policy of respecting one another and not making remarks against others because of where they were born, among the many other acquired human biases on a list, using my real experiences as an example.

I was not taught in college or teacher training how to counter stereotypecasting or prejudices or racism in a classroom. I was simply reacting to my own indignation at the unwarranted, judgmental remarks thrown at me. Even though that ridicule may seem slight, it set me apart as an easy target and I found that at least within the walls of my classroom I could try to change attitudes. Former students have contacted me to thank me for the impact I had on their lives so I know the message got through to some. Reaching out to racist or prejudiced people on a personal level was for me the most effective way to show how damaging ridicule can be. Perhaps wearing another man's shoes and feeling his pain is the only cure for racism. If teachers could adopt that humanistic attitude, we might see a changed country before some feel they have no recourse but a second tragic civil war. And there is the tie-in to my last comment about rebel battle flags suddenly making more appearances here. It is a very real thing.

8 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Mary B on 08/22/2015 at 2:02 PM

Re: “Racist Image Used in Vail District High School, Superintendent Downplays the Incident

As a recently retired high school Spanish teacher in a another state, I have read the above comments with degrees of interest and jaw-dropping shock at the lack of sensitivity to the issue. I am sharing a bit of my own experience not to showcase but rather in contrast with Ms. Mourer's teaching prowess touted by several other readers.

I was not the perfect teacher; however I was admired by some and respected by many (or so I continue to be told). I, too, spent countless hours outside class searching online for appropriate material to supplement the lessons and pique students' interest in Spanish culture and language. Many times I injected humor into a lesson.

More importantly and without exception, at the start of each new school year, I explained and posted the standards of behavior people in "my" classes would be expected to follow. It all boiled down to two rules:

First, you will respect and treat other people as you wish to be treated, including their property, their personal boundaries, and their feelings, because everyone in here has the right to learn without interference. Second, there will be no ridicule of any sort and no put-downs, in particular for those things about us that we cannot change (where we were born, the families we were given, our homes, our parents' finances, our heritage, our physical appearance). I then said that a person who belittles others is actually telling us that s/he feels superior to them. All of us are equal and will be treated with respect. They needed clear explanations and examples of ridicule versus respect. In each class we had a discussion about appropriateness of comments.

Now for teenagers who thrive on the power of using well-timed, sharp, and shocking words, it was initially a challenge to force themselves to stop and think before making personal comments in my classroom. Soon each class took shape as a cohesive group who seemed to respect one another and themselves.

School personnel must always model and teach personal respect to children, if only to counteract those adults who encourage and teach the use of ridicule as acceptable, even as entertaining.

I have no comment on Ms. Maurer or the super except to ask is there a powerful teachers' union which might be reason for the Board to decline taking further action?

P.S. To Christine E: re: the "rebel" flag I invite you to the southeast area of the US to witness the frequent small cavalcades sporting the rebel flag (technically the confederates' battle flag), with the word "Winners" printed across it. You are dead wrong that it is to be overlooked as mere government propaganda

7 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by Mary B on 08/22/2015 at 7:41 AM

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