Texas Ed: Comments on Education from Texas

August 25, 2006

Art museums can be hazardous to your job

Filed under: censorship, cultural values, Frisco ISD, Sydney McGee, Teacher issues — texased @ 8:59 am

Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Collin County News:

Ms. McGee, who has taught in various Texas districts for 28 years, said she visited the museum and spoke with museum staffers before the trip to ensure that it was appropriate for the fifth-grade class. Ms. McGee said she does not know which piece of art offended the parent, and the district did not identify it.

Ms. McGee said principal Nancy Lawson called her into a meeting the day after the trip to admonish her about the parent’s complaint. Shortly thereafter, she received a negative review and a series of directives about displaying student artwork and creating lesson plans.

“You have to start somewhere when you’ve seen things you don’t believe are in the best interest of the students,” Superintendent Rick Reedy said.

Why didn’t they tell her what art piece the parent found objectionable? They would be doing the museum a favor as well since it thought that the exhibit was appropriate for 5th graders. Maybe the parents are relatives of John Ashcroft.

68 Comments »

  1. A child could open a National Geographic or an Encyclopedia for that matter and see more nudity than in the Dallas Museum of Art. This is why we fire teachers? We want teachers who use their imagination to make learning fun and we want to fire a teacher of Ms. Mcgee’s expertize? ThisI think this is scary. The principal should have her job history reviewed to make sure she isn’t a hazard to our children’s education.

    Comment by lissa rabon — August 29, 2006 @ 5:04 pm

  2. appears as an attempt to be rid of one very experinced teacher salary that would pay for two just out of college teachers. aterrible thing to do to texas teachers.

    Comment by mike mcgee — August 30, 2006 @ 9:36 am

  3. She wasn’t fired, “just” received negative reviews. And I bet that the school doesn’t subscribe to National Geographic. This is a part of Texas that still has dry counties and Frisco is a very rapidly growing, wealthy area. So I’m guessing this has more to do with someone’s sensibilities being offended who also happens to be on the PTA or works for one of the companies who have recently relocated there. Which is also probably the reason why they won’t identify the piece of art because the administration knows it’s ridiculous and doesn’t want any more bad press than it already has. The area won’t seem as such an ideal place for corporate relocation if one person can deny the rest of the population an educational art experience. If it was really horrible, don’t you think they would have identified the art piece by now?

    Comment by texased — August 30, 2006 @ 10:21 am

  4. […] Apparently the school with reprimanded art teacher is rated exemplary. […]

    Pingback by Who needs art education to be exemplary? « Texas Ed: Comments on Education from Texas — August 30, 2006 @ 10:49 am

  5. My daughter is a student at an exemplary/blue ribbon elementary school in Flower Mound, which is under Lewisville ISD. Our art teacher took the THIRD graders to the Dallas Museum of Art. She explained ahead of time that there would be some nudes in paintings/sculptures and this information went home on the permission slip. I went along as a parent helper and, with the exception of a few giggles, there were never any problems. Our art teacher was voted Teacher of the Year at LISD in the past. It’s a shame that the principal and superintendent have caved in to the complaint of one parent. Frisco parents should not be silent on this issue.

    Comment by Jackie Bevolo — August 30, 2006 @ 2:35 pm

  6. Well, some parent obviously wasn’t silent. I hope other parents do speak up. And they should definitly start at the next school board election.

    “Some board members said it appeared that Ms. Lawson was trying to improve the art teacher’s performance and should be allowed to do so.

    ‘It is a principal’s job and their duty and responsibility to give directives to the people who work for them, and I don’t want to circumvent that process,’ board president Buddy Minett said.”

    And what is the process for a teacher who feels she has been retaliated against? On what basis did the board choose to accept the principal’s side of the story?

    Comment by texased — August 30, 2006 @ 5:32 pm

  7. If only everyone knew the full story. This is so beyond the field trip. I am glad that she has finally been approached that “free draw” is an unacceptable lesson plan. Being 10 minutes late to dismiss one class and accept another on a regular basis is unacceptable. Making teachers late in turning in their newsletters because they were waiting for her “blurb”. “Working” in the hall during the 45 minutes she has with students. And there are more in the 4 years I have been associated with her. And the “only issue” that people are seeing is “one parent complaint about a field trip”. Please realize that there is so much more to this and there are reasons that the administration cannot respond. Please don’t believe everything you read and hear!!

    Comment by sad teacher — August 31, 2006 @ 8:48 pm

  8. This brings up a different issue. Why then wait for some outside influence to give negative evaluations? It sounds like she has done plenty to deserve earlier reprimands but nobody did anything.

    Of course there are plenty of teachers like this in schools (and employees like this any organization.) The problem is that the administration doesn’t do anything about it and makes everyone else’s lives miserable but not miserable enough to rock the boat themselves. They just retire or find another job. Maybe the administration can’t do anything because of who she’s related to, maybe not. Since this is Texas, I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with tenure. It’s possible she’s the only minority in a majority school and is adept at playing the race card. If she has been a consistent problem, I’m guessing the administration/district is showing some sort of backbone by not allowing her to transfer, the usual solution to such employees in any organization. It looks like they’re hoping she quits instead.

    This may or may not be the case for this teacher and situation. What I find disturbing (but not surprising) is the failure of leadership among the administration. When the administration doesn’t follow a consistent, transparent policy regarding work expectations, everyone loses in any kind of organization. The students don’t receive an appropriate art education, but hey, it’s only art. Teachers have to pick up her slack but what’s a few extra 45 minutes here or there. Morale declines but the administration doesn’t have to go through the stressful process documenting a confrontational teacher.

    So when the situation arises, (a parent complaint, finally!) they take advantage of it. Except because they haven’t established a consistent paperwork trail, it looks like the teacher is being singled out and picked on and subsequently jeopardizing any disciplinary action. The administration can’t say everything that is going on because then someone will ask why hasn’t something been done earlier?

    Either way, the administration hasn’t done its job. Other employees in the school may breathe a sigh of relief since at least something has been done. But think about, the good teachers have been getting the same evaluations as the bad. Fairness has not been the administration’s major concern, convenience is. Who knows, the next time a parent has a complaint about something the administration may find it easier just to side with the parent rather than defend the teacher’s record. As long as the administration doesn’t do it’s job, it’s a capricious workplace for everyone.

    Comment by texased — September 1, 2006 @ 2:48 pm

  9. Actually, no, if the administration made her previous reprimands public, Sydney Mcgee would really have a valid law suit! Do you really think administration can discuss teacher records and evaluations with the public?? What makes you think the administration didn’t act on previous complaints? This is the only one that Sydney has discussed. She is the only one legally able to disclose information about her performance. Does it surprise you that she is only choosing to disclose this one small piece of the puzzle?? Would she have a case if she told everyone of all of the other things she was reprimanded for? And where am I getting this information?? From working with her for years! She is not one to keep things to herself!

    Comment by sad teacher — September 2, 2006 @ 2:06 pm

  10. If the situation with McGee is as bad as you say (and I would guess that you are right) there is still a problem. Apparently Frisco ISD has made public the fact that there were no previous written reprimands although it sounds like she deserved some.

    I’m not necessarily for McGee or against you. I’m for an organization to hold its employees accountable. I don’t think good employees should have to suffer because of problem employees when something can be done about it. Ever get the exact same raise/bonus as someone else who didn’t deserve it? The way I see it is that people who go into leadership positions are paid extra for a reason–to make and carry out the hard decisions in a fair manner.

    Comment by texased — September 2, 2006 @ 3:22 pm

  11. I see your point. What article said that she didn’t recieve prior reprimands? Is this something she said or the district? I thought I’ve read everything and I’ve missed something if the district said she had no previous discussions with administration.

    Comment by sad teacher — September 2, 2006 @ 6:28 pm

  12. I’ve posted the info on the latest article I’ve found under What a Mess. The Frisco Enterprise Star published something today.

    http://www.friscoenterprise.com/articles/2006/09/01/frisco_enterprise/news/a-newsfri04.txt

    Comment by texased — September 2, 2006 @ 6:43 pm

  13. Thanks texased!

    I see now that it seems she may not have any written documentation. So, anyone have any idea what Ms. McGee wants? Has she made any requests or is she just happy with making the school and the teachers at that school look bad. I guess that is what has gotten me so upset about the whole situation. It makes the whole school look bad, even teachers, students and parents who are not involved. What does she want??

    Comment by sad teacher — September 2, 2006 @ 8:01 pm

  14. I am also an art teacher in a Texas public school. I am curious to know what does SAD TEACHER teach? Are they a self-contained classroom teacher? If so, I would like to ask SAD TEACHER: How many students do you see on a daily basis? How many different subjects/classes do you teach a day? Do you have library time, computer lab time, counselor visits, etc. in your weekly/monthly schedule? If so, what does SAD TEACHER do during these suggested times when they are not “on stage”? I know the classroom teachers on my campus get these built-in free moments when the librarian, counselor, math specialist, reading specialist, or other teacher(s) are in charge, and they can sit at their desks, work on lesson plans, write copy for newsletters, average/document grades, go to the bathroom, etc… As an art teacher, Sydney and I don’t get any of these “free moments” each week or month.

    Similar to Sydney, I see over 125 students per day, six different classes every 45 minutes, with no extra minutes in between classes. I have one planning period per day. I am required to write six different lesson plans and document grades for approximately 125 first-fifth graders. Actually, I teach nine different classes this year. On top of six K-5 art classes, I teach three-one hour (kindergarten, second grade, and fourth grade) “enrichment” classes every morning, Monday-Friday. As an art teacher, I don’t, (and I bet Sydney doesn’t either) have any down time in between changing classes and grade levels every 45 minutes, six times per day. An art teacher’s schedule is like acting out a six act play everyday. We have a scene/set/costume/character/script change everytime we change classes. Before I was an art teacher, I was a classroom teacher for six years. NEVER in those six years did I work as hard as I do as an art teacher. I know Sydney has the same experiences.

    SAD TEACHER has a problem with Sydney using some of her 45 minutes of classtime to hang artwork in the school’s hallways, or letting her students “free draw”? Gosh! forbid if the students get a few minutes of freedom from ditto sheets, test drill/kill work, and have to think and express their individuality without a teacher’s prompt. Again,similar to Sydney, I hang over 200 student masterpieces per month so when a visitor walks into our school, they will be amazed and in awe of the true talents of our students. When the art teacher hangs student artwork in the school’s hallways, that artwork along with the art teacher’s blood, sweat, and tears are what makes one of the first and most lasting impressions on any visitor(s) to that campus. It takes a whole lot of time to mat, mount, and display artwork. And from what I know about my friend Sydney, she hangs a whole lot of artwork! I have visited her classroom and school. Upon first entering Sydney’s school, I saw student masterpieces smiling at me. I do know she just hung about 60 pieces of student art in a permanent exhibit.

    Because the art teacher is the classroom teacher’s 45 minute planning period, many classroom teachers have the attitude that art teachers are nothing more than the babysitter who gets to color, cut, and paste pretty pictures all day long. The classroom teachers display their disrespect even further when they arrive early to drop off their students at the artroom door, and return even later when picking up their students at the end of art class. On a daily basis, I may have one class cleaning up preparing to leave artroom, another class standing in the hallway (early arrivals), and/or students entering the art room, and my most recent class lined up standing at the doorway waiting to be picked up by their late teacher. I can almost bet Sydney deals with some or all of the above situations, too. So, when SAD TEACHER talks about Sydney’s inappropriate use of time, I wonder if they are guilty of the above attitude about art teachers…

    If we didn’t use some classtime/instructional minutes to hang art, document grades, write lesson plans, etc., we would not be able to complete all of the extra responsibilities that come with teaching art to the entire student population. So, the next time SAD TEACHER sees Sydney hanging students’ artworks in the hallway, maybe they could offer to help. Oh, silly me. They are probably on their planning period and don’t have time to help hang art. Or, maybe SAD TEACHER’S students are in the library or computer lab under someone else’s supervision. So, SAD TEACHER has just enough time to go to the bathroom, make a quick phone call, and/or just wander the halls to see if the art teacher is working as hard as SAD TEACHER is working.

    Comment by ARTasylumkeeper — September 5, 2006 @ 12:02 am

  15. SAD TEACHER hit a nerve with me. I am a longtime friend of Sydney’s, and I am also an art teacher in a Texas public school. I am curious to know what does SAD TEACHER teach? Are you a self-contained classroom teacher? If so, I would like to ask SAD TEACHER: How many students do you see on a daily basis? How many different subjects/classes do you teach a day? Do you have library time, computer lab time, counselor visits, etc. in your weekly/monthly schedule? If so, what does SAD TEACHER do during these suggested times when they are not “on stage”? I know the classroom teachers on my campus get these built-in free moments when the librarian, counselor, math specialist, reading specialist, or other teacher(s) are in charge, and they can sit at their desks, work on lesson plans, write copy for newsletters, average/document grades, go to the bathroom, etc… As an art teacher, Sydney and I don’t get any of these “free moments” each week or month.

    Similar to Sydney,(and almost every other art teacher in Texas) I see over 125 students per day, six different classes every 45 minutes, with no extra minutes in between classes. I have one planning period per day. I am required to write six different lesson plans and document grades for approximately 125 first-fifth graders. Actually, I teach nine different classes this year. On top of six K-5 art classes, I teach three-one hour (kindergarten, second grade, and fourth grade) “enrichment” classes every morning, Monday-Friday. As an art teacher, I don’t, (and I bet Sydney doesn’t either) have any down time in between changing classes and grade levels every 45 minutes, six times per day. An art teacher’s schedule is like acting out a six act play everyday. We have a scene/set/costume/character/script change everytime we change classes. Is this schedule similar to SAD TEACHER’s daily teaching schedule? Before I was an art teacher, I was a classroom teacher for six years. NEVER in those six years did I work as hard as I do as an art teacher. I know Sydney has had to deal with the same attitudes and experiences from teachers as I have. Lack of classroom teachers’ respect is a very hot topic at all art teacher gatherings!

    SAD TEACHER has a problem with Sydney using some of her 45 minutes of classtime to hang artwork in the school’s hallways, or letting her students “free draw”? Gosh! forbid if the students get a few minutes of freedom from ditto sheets, test drill/kill work, and have to think and express their individuality without a teacher’s prompt. Again,similar to Sydney, I hang over 200 student masterpieces per month so when a visitor walks into our school, they will be amazed and in awe of the true talents of our students. When the art teacher hangs student artwork in the school’s hallways, that artwork along with the art teacher’s blood, sweat, and tears are what makes one of the first and most lasting impressions on any visitor(s) to that campus. It takes a whole lot of time to mat, mount, and display artwork. And from what I know about my friend Sydney, she hangs a whole lot of artwork! I have visited her classroom and school. Upon first entering Sydney’s school, I saw student masterpieces smiling at me. I know Sydney just this past week, hung about 60 pieces of student art for a permanent exhibit in the hallway of the school.

    Because the art teacher is the classroom teacher’s 45 minute planning period, many classroom teachers,(Maybe SAD TEACHER included) have the attitude that art teachers are nothing more than the babysitter who gets to color, cut, and paste pretty pictures all day long. The classroom teachers display their disrespect even further when they arrive early to drop off their students at the artroom door, and return even later when picking up their students at the end of art class. On a daily basis, I may have one class cleaning up preparing to leave artroom, another class standing in the hallway (early arrivals), and/or students entering the art room, and my most recent class lined up standing at the doorway waiting to be picked up by their late arriving teacher. So, if there is any chance of a few stolen seconds between art classes, they are taken up by thankless classroom teachers. I can almost bet Sydney deals with some or all of the above situations, too.

    If we didn’t use some classtime/instructional minutes to hang art, document grades, write lesson plans, etc., we would not be able to complete all of the extra responsibilities that come with teaching art to the entire student population. So, the next time SAD TEACHER sees Sydney hanging students’ artworks in the hallway, maybe they could offer to help. Oh, silly me. They are probably on their planning period and don’t have time to help hang art. Or, maybe SAD TEACHER’S students are in the library or computer lab under someone else’s supervision. So, SAD TEACHER has just enough time to go to the bathroom, make a quick phone call, and/or just wander the halls to see if the art teacher is working as hard as SAD TEACHER is working.

    I know that Sydney is an exceptional art teacher who is truly passionate about her students, her job, and the subject art. She does what she does, the way she does it, when she does it, because she LOVES doing it all. But as an art teacher, she has to do it differently than the way a classroom teacher would do it and sometimes understand. And sometimes the way an art teacher does things is also not the way a principal or administrator would want things done, because they too, don’t take art too serious except when the art hanging in the hallways make them look really good! And most administrators have never,ever experienced how different and difficult teaching art can be. I just hope that whatever happens in the end, Sydney will still be teaching her passion. I hope that the principal and her colleagues,(SAD TEACHER included) will learn to appreciate and accept Sydney’s creativity, quirkiness, and eccentricities as her gifts to the students, school, and community of Frisco.

    Comment by ARTasylumkeeper — September 5, 2006 @ 12:33 am

  16. I plan and teach 6 subjects a day. When I finish with a lesson, I am walking around to ensure understanding, pulling small or individual groups, and conferencing with students about work. When my kids are in the library, I am in there with them, listening to the lesson to expand on it later and helping them find books on their levels. I am also using that time to read individually with students. When they are in the computer lab, that is when I have my conference time and I am hanging work, making parent phone calls, but most of the time, I am meeting with my team to plan lessons for the following week. We don’t have “counselor time” but if we did, again, I would be listening to the lesson to see how I could help and extend the lesson later.

    So my “free moments” are non-existant unless you call the days where I decide to do lesson plans and grade papers instead of eat. Don’t get me started on going to the bathroom!! Math specialist and reading specialist come to classrooms and teach lessons?? Again, if that were the case a great time to learn, not grade papers.

    I, too, teach back to back lessons with no break in between. I, too, have one planning time which is usually devoted to meeting with ny team to plan or analyze test data. I have to juggle teaching, reviewing, playing a game, song, dance to keep children’s attention and interest. I have to keep track of who’s got it and who doesn’t so I can challenge those that do and reteach those that don’t. I have to keep track of who is being pulled for what and when so I can reteach the material they missed.

    so, yes, I do question how she has time to work in the hall and give radio interviews from school. She obviously had a big enough break that day when she gave a phone interview 7 minutes before kids came in her room. Why wasn’t she hanging masterpieces then??

    And by the way, I never had a lack of respect for her until she had a complete lack of respect for me by consistently (like every time I came to art) being 10 and 15 minutes late dismissing and taking my kids. (so can I say she is “thankless”) And perhaps now by blasting my school to every news media that will listen.

    You may want to be careful about your very broad generalizations!! You don’t know me!! My experiences are from working with her for years!! Don’t accuse me of being a thankless teacher who thinks you are babysitting my kids, when you have no idea what I think and feel about specials teachers!

    Comment by sad teacher — September 5, 2006 @ 6:34 pm

  17. This really is sad. I see two very dedicated people defending how they do what are obviously difficult jobs. I could see everything being true in both cases. Sad teacher only deals with Sydney in one context which could be consistently negative. ARTasylumkeeper would be dealing with several different teachers which may or may not act like Sad Teacher.

    Think about it this way, quirkiness and eccentricities may make for a passionate teacher but that doesn’t mean she’s a good manager. Other teachers may feel like they can take advantage of the art teacher since art isn’t on the TAKS. Again, I put the blame on the administration.

    The more I learn about administration in schools, the more amazed I am that anyone remains a teacher for more than two years. Too often it seems that administrators don’t treat teachers as professionals but rather as adult-sized versions of the school’s students. And that means that when such conflicts exist, administration treats them as “playground squabbles” where those involved are simply sent to their corners for an adult version of time-out.

    Shouldn’t adult teachers be able to work things out among themselves? Sure, but in only places where the work environment is already set up to facilitate such interactions. And that is the administration’s responsibility.

    Comment by texased — September 5, 2006 @ 8:15 pm

  18. TEXASED – I appreciate your calm, level-headed, and rational demeanor about this entire situation. I do not deal with Sydney on the daily professional level. But, I do know her on a personal and semi-professional basis, and I still see her as a highly creative, passionate, and talented human being who happens to also be an outstanding art teacher. The faculaty and administrators must have thought this too at one time because Sydney was the Teacher of the Year! Her eccentricities and quirks are what help make her such a unique and wonderful art teacher. Art teachers do have the luxury of taking risks and doing the unusual to get students excited about learning. Maybe the parents, teachers, and administrators in Frisco aren’t ready for taking the risky and less traveled road!

    I too, beleive there are some other issues (other than the DMA fieldtrip)that are playing into this whole situation, and maybe it has gone on too long and too far. The media is obviously in need of some fresh news other than the war in Iraq, Anti-Immigration, Katie Couric’s new job, or the continuing saga of the DISD Credit Card Scandal. However, as an art educator, I have to say the Sydney Saga has helped shed some much needed spotlight on the arts in education! Whether it is negativity or positive, it has got the public’s attention.

    SAD TEACHER makes the very determined and passionate declaration that she too, teaches six different lessons each day, with the same action-packed schedule as an art teacher. I don’t doubt SAD TEACHER for one minute that she too, does works hard and does an amazing job of teaching six different lessons to her one group of 18-25 or so students each day. I could not do her job, and I do have the greatest respect for any classroom teacher. Especially if they are a kindergarten teacher!

    Comment by ARTasylumkeeper — September 5, 2006 @ 10:29 pm

  19. I think one of the things that really bothers me about all of this is that it was instigated by a parent complaining about the appropriateness of some piece of art. The administration may have only been using the incident as a means to take action on other issues but I think it has set terrible precedent. The administration can take disciplinary action against a teacher without providing specifics as to what he or she has done wrong. Because it happened to an art teacher, I think the public probably takes it less seriously and because it happened to a teacher that may have had other work place issues, other teachers don’t consider it relevant to them.

    If a parent were to complain to the principal about a math teacher using cards to teach probability, you would expect the teacher to be told the specific causes of the complaint especially if the administration is supporting the complaint. Yet the principal has the board convinced, or the board has accepted it a convenient explanation, that she is only doing what is in the best interest of the students and helping the teacher to improve.

    Think about this in more generic terms.

    The administration has some sort of problem with a teacher but doesn’t take the time or effort to address it.

    A parent submits a complaint about the teacher that the administration thinks it gives it some cover to go in and take charge.

    The teacher asks what she has done wrong and the administration refers to the parent complaint and all the other things it hasn’t done anything about previously.

    The teacher refuses to accept the action quietly and escalates the action.

    The administration realizes that to reveal the specifics of the complaint will do more to jeopardize its position than support it, falls back onto all the other problems—it’s just the tip of the iceberg so don’t worry about the tip.

    The board hears about all the problems the administration has had with the teacher and agrees that the principal should do something about it and doesn’t worry about the initial complaint.

    If there was a problem all along, the board would have agreed to the administration to do something about it. The administration hasn’t done anything about it until some lame complaint comes along. The board should be disciplining the principal for not addressing the problem sooner and for allowing an apparently less than serious complaint to affect its action. But in this case it’s a lot easier to pick on an art teacher rather than rock the boat at an exemplary school.

    Comment by texased — September 6, 2006 @ 8:16 am

  20. I have sat back and watched the “saga” unfold with this incident, and after tonight’s news broadcast had to comment. I am a second grade teacher. I have taught for 7 years. I love my job, and love teaching students. I have always wanted to be a teacher which is why I took a job as an office assistant at my local elementary school when I was a senior in high school. While working at the elementary school, I met an extremely energetic Kindergarten teacher and her (at this time) 6 year old daughter. At this time, I began babysitting this young girl. If you have not figured it out, this child’s mother was Sydney McGee. I cannot express how positive my experience was with this woman. She not only helped fuel my eagerness to teach, but she also helped me by writing recommendation letters for me as well as helping me decide about college, degree plans, etc. Texased said it perfectly when using the words “quirky and eccentric.” Anyone who knows Sydney knows this is exactly what she is. She was very passionate about teaching children back then, and I would assume she is still as passionate.

    As sad teacher alluded to, I am sure there is a lot more to this story than meets the eye. However, I do not feel this is shedding a bad light on the school or it’s teachers. It does; however, make the district administrators look very unprofessional. If a teacher is performing poorly, then this should be addressed during the course of employment. You cannot rate a teacher’s performance as proficient or exceeds expectations, or whatever the case may be for Sydney, then change your story when a parent complains about a field trip. I don’t know about Sydney, but I know that as a classroom teacher, I would be livid if my administration did not back me up when I was called to the carpet. It should not matter who the parent is, or how much money they have etc. When the principal called her into her office to discuss the problem, she should have been supportive…not automatically siding with the parent. To me, that is very unprofessional…but again, I do not know the whole story.

    However, I am sorry, but basic common sense will tell you that if you go to an art museum, then nudity will be seen. It is extremely narrow minded for a parent to cry foul when your child saw exactly what any educated person would expect to see at an ART museum. I went to the Biltmore Estates in North Carolina this summer. I had NO idea that there were beautiful paintings depicting naked cherubs on the ceilings of one of the libraries. My 9 year old son radared right in on the sight of naked women. My 10 year old niece, who by the way goes to a private Catholic school, went to the Biltmore with us. She told us of seeing the same paintings when she was there on a 5th Grade field trip with her school. All she said was “Gross.” I did not get up in arms with the Biltmore for not warning me there were naked pictures and art throughout their magnificent estate. Instead, I took this “educational moment” and explained to my child that this painting was a beautiful piece of art that originally was painted by the great Pellegrini in Venice and was brought to America piece by piece to be placed on the ceiling of this library. I accentuated the positive without stressing on the issue that there were naked women above my head. Art is beautiful, not sexual or dirty. Unless the “secretive” piece that is being kept so hush hush was depicting a lude or sexual act, then the parent(s) need to grow up and quit being so narrow-minded. If you were going to have a problem with nudity then you should have kept your child home that day and not gone on the field trip.

    As for sad teacher, it made me a “sad teacher” to read her negative and somewhat degrading comments about Sydney. Like I said, I knew her years ago when her daughter was in Kindergarten/First Grade. She was going through a rough time in her life at this time, but she tried to remain upbeat. As far as her “not keeping things to herself,” who does? Also, you were wondering “What does she want?” Again, I do not know the whole situation. However, can you blame her for fighting for what she thinks is right? I can’t. I was also worried that people have been made aware of what her lesson plans consist of. I do not know how your district works, but where I work, lesson plans are not something that are made public for discussion by other teachers. So what if she has “free draw?” I have been to many G/T workshops where freedraw is the noted means of expression for students and is recommended to be done on a regular basis. If it’s good enough for the Einsteins of the world, why wouldn’t it be good enough for Sydney’s Art students? It just seems to me that this district is trying to make an example out of Ms. McGee in order to prove something to someone for whatever reason. Otherwise, why wouldn’t they have just let her out of her contract when she wanted to transfer? Wouldn’t that have been a peaceful end to this unnecessary saga?

    Comment by fairelemteach — September 25, 2006 @ 11:59 pm

  21. This is absurd. I am extremely angry about this incident. It is completely ridiculous that a teacher would be fired or let go because a child saw something like a nude statue while on a fieldtrip to a public institution like the Dallas Museum of Art.

    When you let conservative religious fanatics take control over the education system with their religious dogma and ideology you give their complaints credibility…and this complaint on behalf of one parent is NOT CREDIBLE. Even if the student did see a nude figure in a painting or a sculpture, there is nothing wrong with a child seeing something like that! You are not educating children about art or history if you shelter them from reality. An art museum is the perfect place for children to begin to see the differences in what is acceptable nudity throughout history; as opposed to something like a Calvin Klein advertisement on a billboard where the nude form is being objectified to sell a product! In fact, you are doing a disservice to the child by allowing them to remain uninformed, sheltered, and uneducated about art and history in a world that should respect global social diversity among differing cultures and religions.

    Seriously, you would think our society had advanced from such prudish conduct in lieu of more common sense….but, I guess Frisco wants to remain a stereotypical “small-town” minded cesspool of ethnocentric conservatism rampant with prejudice and the minimal intellect that accompanies such conventional ideology.

    Forcing otherwise good teachers out of the classroom and making others fear the same retribution is an unfortunate and sad place for the Frisco Independent School district to find itself. If a parent is offended by the typical methods of instruction for most normal societies and educational institutions, then that parent needs to keep their child at home.
    We don’t need religious fanatics, Taliban or otherwise, forcing their personally prudish judgments into the public school system at the expense of another child’s personal growth.

    I hope this teacher sues the school district and gets a hell of a huge settlement because of the prejudice and stupidity of Principle Lawson and Superintendent Rick Reedy. Ms McGee should have been supported for her efforts and the complaining parent should have been abruptly told to piss off! Hopefully the other parents who have children attending school in Frisco will remember this and elect a less antiquated school board that is not afraid to stand up to religious extremism, censorship, and pure stupidity.

    Comment by D. Pope — September 26, 2006 @ 3:59 am

  22. There just HAS to be MORE to this story than meets the eye!!! WHAT KINDA bucks are these parents contributing to the school to have this kind of clout to get a great teacher fired uneccessarily???? With the kind of junk and amazing sights we and our children are subjected to daily on TV, I find it difficult to believe that a piece of art could be so offensive as to ruin a good teachers career! Have we gone back to the dark ages when they stoned the arm off ‘David” and hung a curtain to keep delicate eyes from the temple? Shame on those who have fired this woman for something so innocent! And it should be told what sculpture was the most offensive…..maybe whenever children are in the museum, a tarp could be thrown over it.

    Comment by Barbara Brands — September 26, 2006 @ 8:19 am

  23. I am a parent of a student at Fisher Elementary, where this unfortunate saga is being played out. After reading some of the recent posts, I feel it is important to make my views known.

    Clearly a number of the people writing here have strong passions, strong beliefs. I think that this debate is valuable, and I sincerely hope that Ms. McGee, the teachers at Fisher, the school administration (including Principal Lawson and Vice Principal Gonzales) and district administration and the school board are reading this. I believe there is much to be learned from what is going on, and I hope that the issue won’t just be “swept under the rug”.

    Before I continue, I also have to say that for this to be a productive debate, we need to take a deep breath and put things into perspective. What has happened with Ms. McGee does not, as D. Pope says, mean that the residents of Frisch want “to remain a stereotypical “small-town” minded cesspool of ethnocentric conservatism rampant with prejudice and the minimal intellect that accompanies such conventional ideology”. I honestly take deep offense at that comment. I feel that it is a vast over-generalization, and I believe that it reflects the views of an extremely small minority of the people in Frisco. I’m not trying to personally attack D. Pope, but I do believe that making such statements doesn’t help us figure out anything in this discussion; rather, it just fans the flames.

    Now, as a Fisher parent, what are my views on what has happened with Ms. McGee? I don’t know all the information. I (as with everyone else here) have not seen the actual complaints that the administration wrote, I was not present at the meetings between Ms. McGee and the school administration, and I haven’t been in the school watching all of her interactions with students and other teachers. The media has reported on the administration’s claims that other factors than the field trip contributed to the action taken against Ms. McGee. I have no way of personally knowing the validity of those claims, and so I’m not going to deny or support them.

    I can state, very clearly, that _IF_ the events of the field trip were indeed the primary reason why the recent actions have been taken against Ms. McGee, I would be outraged. As a person whose personal and professional life has been closely involved with the arts, I believe that no education can be effective or complete without a strong artistic (visual and music) component. I believe that nothing wrong was done by taking 5th graders to a museum where they might (*gasp*) see artistic expressions of the human body. The media has reported that the school administration stated to Ms. McGee that she should have done more to pre-screen what would be on display at the museum. I don’t know if the administration really did state that, but I strongly disagree with that idea. Quite simply, the fact that she took students to the museum should be an absolute and complete non-issue in regards to Ms. McGee’s performance evaluations. (I’d actually argue that it should reflect positively on her…)

    I’m going to take the hypothetical position that there are true performance issues that are at the core of the actions being taken against Ms. McGee. If that is the case, it is clear to me that, as an employee relations issue, we, as the public, do not have the right to know all of the details. That’s fine with me. If there are legitimate reasons for what the administration and school board is doing, fine. However, here’s where my complaint comes: I believe that the school administration and school board have done a very poor job of handling this situation. I believe that the tremendous media uproar we are hearing is harming the Frisco teachers and students and their reputations. Please do not misunderstand me. I am NOT arguing for censorship of the press, I am not saying this story shouldn’t be told. Not at all! What I am saying is that the school board AND the administration need to take a very public, very visible stance on this issue. I am not asking for them to tell us the private details of discussions with Ms. McGee. It isn’t my right to know that. I *AM*, however, asking that they make a clear, unambiguous statement on the educational and artistic concerns that have been raised. I personally would like to hear Principal Lawson and Superintendent Reedy both make public statements indicating that they do not support the notion that there is something immoral or wrong about taking students to see art exhibits at major city art institutions. I would like to hear them clearly on the record telling us that the field trip last spring wasn’t the reason for action against Ms. McGee. (The school district has gone on record with what I felt was a somewhat vague statement indicating that the field trip wasn’t the only reason…. I think they need to make it clear that it was not a reason at all.) I would like to hear them talk about their immediate plans to insure that teachers with diversity, with eccentricity, with unique viewpoints are welcomed into my school and are allowed to flourish. But even if this is NOT the exact message that the district wants to convey, I think it is absolutely CRITICAL that they make a statement, in public, very clearly. They need to seek as much media attention to talk about the educational vision they have as is being devoted already to the sensationalist “5th graders see nudity” story.

    Again, I’m trying hard not to make any judgements about the merits of the case against Ms. McGee. If I believed that what the media has reported is the entire story, it would be hard for me to justify what has been done–but I honestly don’t know. I do think it is important, however, to consider the viewpoint of the students. My daughter has been taught by Ms. McGee. My daughter respects her, loves her teaching, loves the eccentricities that others have mentioned here. I hope that as the school board and administration has considered this issue, they have taken that into account.

    Comment by Fisher Parent — September 26, 2006 @ 8:54 am

  24. It’s 1939 and the Nazi’s are burning books again. But wait, this is 2006 and Orwell’s 1984 Big Brother has already passed. What kind of small minded person would have a gifted teacher fired because their child saw a nude in a art museum. What a strange place to see nudes! Let’s cover all the pictures and scupltures so our children won’t be corrupted. Maybe we should have the museum move the beautiful nude scuplture in the main hall that tens of thousands of children have seen over the years. Wake up and look around. I would be willing to bet that the child in question watches TV. And what do you see on TV? Sex in everything. I’ll even bet they play video games where there’s violence happening most of time.

    I’m a realtor, and when people ask me about Frisco schools, I tell them that it would be better to look elsewhere. I just can’t believe that the school board got away with this. I’m embarassed to be a Texan.

    Comment by Ron Mason — September 26, 2006 @ 11:21 am

  25. Several reports both written and verbal have been released to several media outlets from administration and those media outlets have refused to publish and air them. The effort to give a statement and comment continues.

    Comment by sad teacher — September 26, 2006 @ 7:39 pm

  26. You know, I am a Fisher parent and I am really confused about this parent, and this complaint.

    LET ME BE CLEAR – No, not confusion for having family values or standards – have them. Great. No problem.

    ** Confusion that one would think that you abdicate responsibility for your child’s life experience because they are in the momentary charge of even the best of teachers. If nudity is so offensive to this family, don’t let your kid go. There is no substitute for you personally checking out whether a situation fits into your family values – school sanctioned or not. You can’t expect a teacher or principal to do that for you, and be correct – 100% of the time.

    ** Confusion about who did the real damage. Isn’t it possible that the drama Mom or Dad has cooked up over this incident was the real damage done to this child? Unless there was a Mapplethorpe exhibit going on at the DMA that day, which I seriously doubt, IT WAS JUST ART. I bet Little Johnny would have forgotten about it a long time ago if given the chance.

    Of course, the media did their fair share in cooking up attention, I acknowledge that, but WOW. Do they shower in the dark ?

    Comment by Melanie — September 26, 2006 @ 7:51 pm

  27. I believe every art teacher in the nation has to make a stand and have a policy on issues that arise out of the teaching of art. Most of us already feel as though we teach in the ‘cultural peace corps’. It is healthy for these issues to come out in the open…that’s where art lives, and will always cause controversy…it is was brings folks to more meaningful thought about what it means to be human. Thank you to all the Ms. McGee’s in the world for shedding light on the subject!

    Comment by Capt. Suzan Wallace, MFA — September 26, 2006 @ 7:53 pm

  28. I wish more parents like “Fisher Parent” would state their views on this topic. They are the ones that are truly knowledgeable about how Ms. McGee teaches and how successful she is in her classroom. Also, I may be extremely naive, but I find it very hard to believe that the media has not broadcast views and opinions from the Frisco administration. As hot of a topic as this is right now, media would be jumping on any morsel they were handed by anyone associated with this unnecessary and unfortunate drama.

    Comment by elem teacher — September 26, 2006 @ 8:20 pm

  29. While we may not know all the gory details, I think we’ve heard enough.

    Principal Lawson’s lack of paper trail and a parent’s accusation resulting in a dismissal of a fine teacher. I am upset that Sad Teacher has to make it all about how their school and district would look to the public now that this is getting so much press. It is NOT ABOUT YOU. I think if YOU were in this predicament YOU would want to fight for what YOU believed in.

    Yes it would be nice to hear the voice of the Fisher parents. Please vote wisely for your school board members next time. Get some people in there with balls and guts who will back a teacher up before making a drastic decision and to investigate fully without bias all accusations.

    I hope Ms McGee take them to the cleaners. Good luck to you Sydney! May you prevail!

    Comment by Bystander — September 26, 2006 @ 9:22 pm

  30. I think it was shameful to let students know what a human body looks like. That’s why I feel that all children under the age of 21 should be denied the use of mirrors, and be forced to change clothes in the dark. I am also opposed to allowing pets and farm animals run around stark naked. That is why I dress my cat and dog in appropriate attire, and my goldfish looks stunning in his bathing suit. Hooray for Texass!

    Comment by Modest Proposal — September 27, 2006 @ 9:22 am

  31. This story is unbelieveable! Almost everyday we hear on the news that another teacher molested a student. But not today, we hear that an art teacher took her class to an Art Museum. Oh my, what is this country coming to? How dare we subject children to HISTORY, ART, CULTURE, and INDIVIDUALISM this is terrible. I have many, many things to say about an administration that will hide behind a PARENT APPROVED, SCHOOL APPROVED field trip as a reason for firing a teacher. Yes, they are hiding. This is not the reason for firing her, you better believe that, but regardless, they are sending a message to other teachers and schools, not to branch out from the ordinary and not to expand classroom knowledge. If you do, you may get fired. I agree with the parent above that the administration needs to “come clean” and give a statement tht this in fact is not the reason; and if it is, then every parent should take their children out of that school until proper administration can be found.

    NOTE TO THE IDIOT PARENT THAT COMPLAINED TO THE SCHOOL: Congratulations, you will probably end up a grand-parent before your kid gets out of High School. 5th graders should have already heard the sex talk!! Sheltering children will lead to disaster!! Education and open communication is needed to make sure your child doesn’t end up a statistic. Ever heard of curiosity killed the cat, well curiosity will make you a grand-parent.

    Comment by Outraged — September 27, 2006 @ 11:04 am

  32. Figure it out people. “sad teacher” is a plant, not a colleague of Ms. McGee. Ms. McGee… continue your fight. And, commenters, don’t buy the stuff that plants like “sad teacher” spew.

    Comment by John — September 27, 2006 @ 2:19 pm

  33. I’m a former Plano resident and son of a Texas teacher.

    I think there is more going on here than simply a museum trip, but that it might have been a catalyst in the fight between Sydney and her management.

    Contrary to many, I think we actually need to open up teacher performance reviews to the public. The school board meetings should not be closed, and everyone should be able to present their case.

    Public schools are very rigid in their policies and procedures, which may make it hard for teachers like Sydney to teach well, especially art teachers. Policies assume that one size fits all students or teachers, and uniformity of enforcement is considered more important than education itself.

    When I heard Sydney wasn’t doing things “by the book”, but that she was highly regarded by parents, pupils, and some teachers, I was happy. Here was a teacher who was able to work “around” the system, and put her students ahead of her administration.

    If she was as good a teacher as many have said, then the school should not have dismissed her, but should have hired her an assistant to help her meet the school’s requirements for things like lesson plans. It sounds like she was too full of passion and energy to sit down and do the mundane work required of public school teachers.

    I can see that this might produce resentment in other teachers — “Why is Sydney allowed to get away from her lesson plans when I have to spend every day working on mine?” Others might have considered her a prima donna.

    I think Sydney should just forget about public schools, and work for a private school which can tolerate her quirks which make her unique, and give her the discretional authority she needs.

    In fact, the “Sydney McGee School of Arts”, founded by parents, educators, and local businessmen, would be a great idea. In 5 years it could make the Frisco school board look stupid.

    Comment by leek — September 27, 2006 @ 2:36 pm

  34. I think John gives too much credit to Frisco ISD in labeling Sad Teacher as a plant. She started posting on August 31st. I haven’t seen anything that suggests that the district is capable of such forethought and planning. I have no problem believing that the administration has told the teachers that it is trying to get it’s story out. If she was a plant, wouldn’t she be giving that story?

    Comment by texased — September 27, 2006 @ 6:14 pm

  35. I think that Leek raises a very interesting idea that I’d like to expand upon.

    One of the problems in this whole debate is that we (the public) and even we (the parents of students at Fisher) don’t know the whole story. The media certainly has focused on Ms. McGee’s point of view, and so many of our opinions have been heavily swayed by what we hear there. I still stand by my earlier remarks; if what we see in the media is a fair, balanced and complete view of the story, then it appears clear to me that it is the administration (and school board) who is at fault. But, as I alluded to in my previous post, we also DON’T know the whole story.

    I was actually quite encouraged to see the post earlier today by “Texas Teacher” on a related post: https://texased.wordpress.com/2006/09/26/this-is-why-we-have-lawsuits/

    I haven’t yet been able to find where the Frisco ISD made this statement, but I do believe it is critical that they tell their side of the story (in a public fashion) so that we get the whole picture. I think there is still lots of work to do–posting to this forum isn’t all they should be doing, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

    Back to the remark by Leek, though–I agree with the idea that school board meetings related to teacher performance should be open to the public, with a slight modification. I think that it is important that teachers preserve their right to confidential discussions with the school board, IF THEY SO CHOOSE. That is, if a teacher wishes their evaluation discussions with the board to be private, I think they as employees have the right to do so. However, I do not feel that this right of privacy should extend to the school board. By its very nature, the school board should serve in a uniquely public role. If a teacher requests so, the board should have to allow performance related meetings to be held in public. That would put the decision entirely in the teacher’s hands. That would allow Ms. McGee, if she chooses to do so, to require the board to make their statements known to the public, but wouldn’t force her to do so.

    I also just want to make the point that despite all of the comments people have made to the contrary, as a parent of a student at Fisher Elementary, this case does NOT reflect a lack of caring, a lack of qualification, a lack of value in what the teachers at the school are doing. There might be management issues, but I know that the teachers at Fisher are highly qualified, unique individuals, and they do an exceptional job. Please don’t fall pray to the game of casting ridicule on the Frisco schools and the teachers there. I’ve seen some inflamatory and hurtful statements by people on this forum that I don’t feel add value to this discussion. This is a critical discussion on an extremely important issue, and I hope that we can continue it and make valuable progress without belittling all the good work that IS being done at Fisher and within the Frisco schools.

    Comment by Frisco Parent — September 27, 2006 @ 7:21 pm

  36. The superintendent of schools for the Frisco ISD, Dr. Reedy, has just sent an email to the parents at Fisher outlining the district position. I believe that the school board is now starting to take action to communicate their story, and am encouraged at this development.

    Comment by Frisco Parent — September 27, 2006 @ 7:28 pm

  37. Frisco Parent: I agree about confidentiality if the teacher requests it. But like you say, the board should not have the choice to close its own hearings, certainly not about something which has invited this amount of (international) speculation.

    Hopefully something positive can come out of this, even if it does not involve her getting her old job back.

    When I was in school, I never really appreciated “art” — what does drawing colors on paper have to do with life, I reckoned?🙂 But as I have grown older, I have learned to appreciate art teachers.

    And yes, teaching is a difficult and underpaid position, so hateful comments against teachers are not welcome.

    Can you share Dr. Reedy’s email, or will it only invite more speculation?

    Comment by leek — September 27, 2006 @ 8:27 pm

  38. Rick Reedy – Superintendent of Schools
    reedyr@friscoisd.org

    Frisco ISD
    6942 Maple Street
    Frisco, Texas 75034
    (469) 633-6000

    Nancy Lawson – Principal
    phone: 469.633.2600
    Fax: 469.633.2650

    Wilma Fisher Elementary
    2500 Old Orchard Dr.
    Frisco, TX 75034

    Comment by For UR Info — September 28, 2006 @ 10:02 am

  39. I did not mean contact information — I meant the actual contents of an email referred to above.

    Comment by leek — September 28, 2006 @ 11:00 am

  40. My son goes to Fisher Elem and loves McGee. This is his 3rd year at the school and generally, seldom talks about other teachers besides his class teacher. Within the 1st year at the school we heard a second name in our household and it was Ms. McGee. He loves her class, brings back artwork with great enthusiam…should I say more.
    I think the administration handled (or is handling) this whole thing inappropriately…they choose bad timing if her performance was really an issue. This really looks like a major cover up for the silly reason they earlier took a stance on. Also remember she was voted teacher of the year once and has to be for a pretty good reason, especially if you stand against several great competitive educators.
    I’m deeply concerned with this whole issue.
    Here’s some facts from a parent from Flower Mound….
    My daughter is a student at an exemplary/blue ribbon elementary school in Flower Mound, which is under Lewisville ISD. Our art teacher took the THIRD graders to the Dallas Museum of Art. She explained ahead of time that there would be some nudes in paintings/sculptures and this information went home on the permission slip. I went along as a parent helper and, with the exception of a few giggles, there were never any problems. Our art teacher was voted Teacher of the Year at LISD in the past. It’s a shame that the principal and superintendent have caved in to the complaint of one parent. Frisco parents should not be silent on this issue.

    Comment by Very concerned parent of Fisher Elem — September 28, 2006 @ 1:46 pm

  41. As a parent who is seeing the terrible impact this is having on my child’s school, I’d like to plead with everyone NOT to get into some shouting match with the school. I’m not saying there is not an important issue here—but I see the staff and teachers trying to deal with literally thousands of incredibly rude people calling, attacking them, their values and their capabilities. Please take a moment to breathe before you proceed. I’m not trying to defend any actions taken by the board or the administration, but I do think that it is important that we all realize that we have only really heard one side of the story. The administration is now starting to make attempts to tell as much of their side as they can without violating Ms. McGee’s rights–but it appears that they are being met with a refusal by the local media to cover the school’s side. (I can tell you from personal experience that I tried to contact the local media to suggest that there was a different perspective they should report on–they refused to contact me back. I’m not speculating what their motives are, but rather just saying that they have NOT told both sides yet.)

    Again, PLEASE respect the many many hardworking people at the school, in the district, and in this community. Those of you who have called the school and shouted profanity at the staff aren’t helping matters at all, and honestly should be ashamed of those tactics…. I’m NOT saying don’t contact the school, but perhaps sending an email or a letter (to the school board?) would be a better approach right now.

    Comment by Fisher Parent — September 28, 2006 @ 2:08 pm

  42. I’m always disturbed when people react by yelling and shouting profanity as a way of expressing their opinion. This is what their children learn. This is why we have negative campaigning. Of course, it would take time and the ability to restrain your emotions to have a meaningful discourse but apparently that’s considered to be too much effort for most people.

    Think about it. You would presume that these people who are calling the school to complain are doing so because they think this is about art being censored, that the administration are acting like ignorant, uneducated, hicks. And they do it by swearing and shouting at people. Now that’s making a statement.

    Comment by texased — September 28, 2006 @ 2:36 pm

  43. My 6th grade daughter went to Fisher from 2nd -5th grade. She was on the field trip last April to the DMA. We signed a permission slip to let her go. When she came home she was so excited to have seen “famous” art. She said there were a lot of “cool” things there.

    She has only talked about a few teachers at home and one of them was Ms McGee. She said she is so cool & everyone loves her. She said “she likes animals, mom”. My son also had Ms McGee in art at Fisher and they both always had nice things to say about her. They said they always did a lot of fun activities and they made a lot of art that we still display.

    When my daughter came home from school the other day she said they had heard through the radio & friends about Ms McGee being fired because she took them on a field trip & that made her really sad. I told her about all the nice things people have said about Ms McGee & what a good art teacher she is, she looked at me with sad eyes and said “mom, can that parent that complained about her take that back and can they give her the job back?”

    Now, as a parent I have some real hard explaining to do. A teacher my child idolized is fired, because a parent complained. Even though WE don’t know the whole story…. this is the only story our children hear!

    Comment by 5thgradeparentof mcgee — September 28, 2006 @ 11:15 pm

  44. Suspicion…

    This is part of a larger issue where the School Board probably wants to faze out the art program.

    They started with a complaint and got rid of the teacher and now they will probably say, “oh the art classes cause problems, and supplies are expensive and we can’t budget it, and we can’t find a replacement for the teacher, so we are just going to scale back the art program FOR NOW”

    BOOM! Before you know it, no art for the kids and the school will hire another “coach” for some sport/PE class (probably a brother-in-law or relative of someone on the school board or board of trustees or related to Ms Lawson) with the excuse that the kids need more “activity” and exercise. The arts in your school will be forgotten and dropped completely. Gone.

    Wait and see. It will happen.
    Just like it has happened at THOUSANDS of other schools!

    Comment by Wake Up People! — September 29, 2006 @ 1:01 pm

  45. “Now, as a parent I have some real hard explaining to do. A teacher my child idolized is fired, because a parent complained. Even though WE don’t know the whole story…. this is the only story our children hear!”

    Said the child as the emperor walks by.

    The school and the district are forgetting the first rule of holes: when you discover that you’re in one, stop digging. While endeavoring to become the focal point of ridicule from all over the world, is anyone paying attention to the damage being done to the kids?

    What kind of moral morons do you have running things there? (Oops, you did give us George Bush)

    Comment by California Nudist — September 29, 2006 @ 1:23 pm

  46. Before jumping to too many conclusions, keep in mind that the principal of this school is actually a musician, and is a former music teacher. I think it’s probably unfair to over-generalize and say that she is trying to eliminate the arts from the school. If that ever was an attempt to do that, I can assure you that none of the parents I know would stand for it. The Frisco school district has a budget that clearly CAN afford an arts program, and I have honestly not felt that the administration or the district is trying to say otherwise.

    We (parents) have been notified that there has been aggressive recruiting of a new art teacher, and that a new teacher has now been hired.

    —–

    California Nudist–please don’t over-generalize. The Frisco school board had little impact on the election of George Bush. 🙂

    Comment by Fisher Parent — September 29, 2006 @ 2:34 pm

  47. After reading these comments written by teachers, I am saddened by the spelling: Beleive instead of believe, recieve instead of receive, lude instead of lewd, it’s (when it should be its). This is why Johnny can’t spell.

    Comment by Linda Riley — September 30, 2006 @ 9:37 am

  48. This situation is absolutely absurd. It seems as though the teacher had a real strength in her ability to engage the students and a weakness in her disability conform in her managment of work tasks. All humans have strengths and weaknesses, and I think it is hard to make a good judgment of this situation. The fact that she was so popular with students may have stirred jelousy and provoked other teachers to complain more about her shortcomings.
    I am getting an MA in ArtEducation and this situation honestly makes me think twice about going into the educational system.

    Comment by Isadora — October 1, 2006 @ 11:05 pm

  49. Oops—To the rest of the country Texas looks like a bunch of backward hicks. She was suspended with PAY- this translates to CYA—I hope the Texas Teachers Union does not put up with this BS…Lets hear the Parents side–why did they sign the permission slip then complain—-GOOLLYY Nude people maw-it was awffuull

    Comment by al — October 2, 2006 @ 1:59 pm

  50. Even if there were any issues before this one, as sad teacher mentioned, what made this one worse?

    This was a field trip, apparently an annual one with fifth graders to a museum that offers tours for schoolchildren. The principal was on board and Ms. McGee went there herself to assure that all the exhibits were fine for the age group of her class.

    So a parent complained? How does this reflect on her in class performance? She did her homework to make sure everything was fine. She had already discussed some of the artists whose work they went to see.

    A complaint about the aesthetics of a piece of work in an art museum is not a valid reason for disciplining a teacher. This has to do with the morals of the parent and a disagreement with what her child saw rather than the teacher’s performance. And getting rid of a teacher due to the morals of a dissenting parent is a horrible reason for suspending or not renewing a teacher’s contract.

    Bob S

    Comment by Bob S — October 2, 2006 @ 9:35 pm

  51. Wake Up People said:

    This is part of a larger issue where the School Board probably wants to faze out the art program.

    They started with a complaint and got rid of the teacher and now they will probably say, “oh the art classes cause problems, and supplies are expensive and we can’t budget it, and we can’t find a replacement for the teacher, so we are just going to scale back the art program FOR NOW”

    BOOM! Before you know it, no art for the kids and the school will hire another “coach” for some sport/PE class (probably a brother-in-law or relative of someone on the school board or board of trustees or related to Ms Lawson) with the excuse that the kids need more “activity” and exercise. The arts in your school will be forgotten and dropped completely. Gone.

    Wait and see. It will happen.
    Just like it has happened at THOUSANDS of other schools!

    Amen!! The school I teach in has neither Art nor Music, but our district has lots of coaches (and coaches’ wives on staff), not to mention relatives of others.

    Comment by Mike in Texas — October 3, 2006 @ 7:49 pm

  52. The administration and school board have stated very clearly, on the record, that:

    1. They have no intentions of eliminating the art program from our school
    2. There is no budget shortage that will impact the art program
    3. A new art teacher has already been hired to replace Ms. McGee

    While I do not minimize the importance of what Mike in Texas, Wake Up People and others have said, there appears to be no evidence that this is part of a conspiracy to get rid of the art program. I am a musician myself, and am very sensitive to the issue of a shrinking role of art and music in the schools. I would fight with all my might against any effort to get rid of art from the school, but honestly, I don’t believe that is what this is about. Fisher has regular (weekly–EVERY week) musical performances by students (attended by the entire school), art programs both in and out of the classroom, active participation in district and regional art exhibitions and competitions, etc.

    Comment by Fisher Parent — October 3, 2006 @ 11:05 pm

  53. I am a teacher at Fisher, and I love my job and the administration there. The story Sydney has portrayed to the media is completely false. Sydney has done everything she can to make you believe that nudity at a museum is the issue. And because of this,the media has jumped all over it. Just so you know, they were not interested in hearing from those of us that worked with her. You see, it wasn’t as interesting of a story. I am mostly surprised that so many people would readily jump to attack a school district based on one viewpoint. It reminds me of a modern day stoning… Forget the truth, just attack!! I am sure they must have done something wrong!
    Sydney lacks a great deal of professionalism, and the way she has handled this issue is just another example of that.

    Comment by Teacher Fisher — October 4, 2006 @ 8:09 pm

  54. To Teacher Fisher:
    I know it’s tedious but if you were to read the previous comments (and not just on this post), you would find that there are some people who realize that both sides of the story haven’t come out and that the trip to the museum was probably just a catalyst.

    Since you work there, maybe you could tell us how personnel evaluations are handled. I’m not asking for any specific information about any one person but rather how often are they done and who does them and so on? When someone has a negative evaluation, do employees get a specific, documented improvement plan? Is there feed back during this improvement plan period?

    The reason I ask is because McGee may have had serious workplace issues but if the principal didn’t address and document the problems as necessary, the principal didn’t do her job. It’s never nice to have to discipline someone and I would imagine that most people are able to get “the hint” through more informal verbal methods. But if a person doesn’t respond, there are formal rules and documentation that need to be followed for both the protection of the employee and the employer. And according to the district, the principal didn’t provide such documentation until McGee requested it. That’s the problem.

    As I’ve pointed out earlier, if McGee had professionalism issues, I’m sure the rest of the teachers breathed a silent sigh of relief when she was suspended. Finally, the principal got rid of her! But if the principal got rid of her without following district policy, every teacher in the school has reason to be concerned. My guess, and this is all speculation, is that the parent complained and the principal thought it was a great opportunity to get rid of her. Rather than doing the job herself, she thought she could blame it on the parent or at least use it as “the final straw.” But once McGee started complaining to the media, the administration realized it had a serious problem of bad press and no documentation to back up their side of the story.

    So, yes, the press has only been presenting one side of the story and that’s unfair to the teachers at Fisher Elementary. But what is even more unfair, and places them in an even more precarious situation, is an administration that arbitrarily enforces it’s own personnel policies.

    Comment by texased — October 4, 2006 @ 8:48 pm

  55. To Teacher Fisher:
    I know it’s tedious but if you were to read the previous comments (and not just on this post), you would find that there are some people who realize that both sides of the story haven’t come out and that the trip was to the museum was probably just a catalyst.

    Since you work there, maybe you could tell us how personnel evaluations are handled. I’m not asking for any specific information about any one person but rather how often are they done and who does them and so on? When someone has a negative evaluation, do employees get a specific, documented improvement plan? Is there feed back during this improvement plan period?

    The reason I ask is because McGee may have had serious workplace issues but if the principal didn’t address and document the problems as necessary, the principal didn’t do her job. It’s never nice to have to discipline someone and I would imagine that most people are able to get “the hint” through more informal verbal methods. But if a person doesn’t respond, there are formal rules and documentation that need to be followed for both the protection of the empoyee and the employer. And according to the district, the principal didn’t provide such documentation until McGee requested it. That’s the problem.

    Comment by texased — October 4, 2006 @ 8:52 pm

  56. Seems to me like texased has it right. I’m a history teacher at a private school, and it doesn’t surprise me that not everyone thinks Sydney McGee is a great teacher, or that some people think she’s wonderful. While there is certainly a level of professionalism all of us are expected to maintain, teaching is largely stylistic, particularly in a field like art, which is so subjective and individualistic. What some hate, others are going to love. I can imagine that anyone who wanted to “get” me or any of my colleagues could easily come up with anecdotes that would seem damning out of context. Likewise, I suppose someone else could come back with an avalanche of supportive stories. If Sydney McGee was a thorn in someone’s side, this incident could be used as an excuse to fire her.

    Of course, that could only happen, as texased implies, the administraton isn’t doing it’s job. It is simply not enough to say, “there were issues,” without a paper trail documenting the steps that were taken to deal with them. To put this in a larger context, we are currently in a heated and public national debate over whether our government should have the right to hold people indefinitely without charge. I believe, very fervently, that going down this path will lead us to a terrible place. Our history is blemished by periods when baseless accusations cost people their jobs, their reputations and even their lives (think of Salem, or the McCarthy hearings). Maybe Sad Teacher is telling the truth; Sad Teacher seems sincere, but Sad Teacher would deserve the same protections from arbitrary dismissal many people want to see extended to Sydney McGee.

    Frisco may be a small town, but I contend that the stakes here are large, indeed.

    Comment by ultimattfrisbee — October 4, 2006 @ 10:05 pm

  57. In the interest of accuracy, I should correct the following mistakes in my previous post (proofread, kids, before you submit!)

    The first sentence of the second paragraph should read, “Of course, that can could only happen if, as texased implies, the administration weren’t doing its job.”

    This sentence, in its original form, was a disaster, including the misuse of an apostrophe, which is a venal, if not cardinal, sin in my book. Apologies.

    Comment by ultimattfrisbee — October 4, 2006 @ 10:09 pm

  58. Hi there. I do not have time to respond this morning to the questions from Texased concerning evaluations, appropriate steps, etc. I have to get ready for my teaching day. But I will try and respond later this evening. I can tell you that there is updated info on the Frisco ISD website about Sydney’s actions.
    Thank you!

    Comment by Teacher Fisher — October 5, 2006 @ 6:05 am

  59. This happened last April. I would think if the trip was the primary reason for her dismissal she would have let go or not renewed over the summer.

    It is possible that other issues came up forcing her dismissal and McGee is usoing the trip as a red herring.

    Comment by Bern — October 5, 2006 @ 10:00 am

  60. To the individuals such as Sad teacher and others who claim to have worked with Ms. McGee and are now displaying on this blog your own displeasure and bad working relationship teaching under the same roof with Ms. McGee, sleep on this:

    How am I letting jealousy and childish hate overcoming my sense of fairness, humility, and self-respect?

    And take a reality check on this:

    If this nonsense and injustice could happen to Ms. McGee, it could happen to you. Start networking with other colleagues in other school districts (if you haven’t done it already), as it might come in handy one day for you when the spineless principal and school board decide to take their frustration out on the next victim.

    Ms. McGee, I am an anti-litigation kind of guy, but, sue the cr*p out of the school district to set a precedence, as they have done so in using you as a scapegoat in their poorly organized ploy.

    Ms. McGee, May God and justice always be on your side.

    Comment by Plano ISD parent — October 5, 2006 @ 12:31 pm

  61. If you live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, please watch Channel 11 news at 6:00 and 10:00 about Ms. McGee’s past performance at the McKinney ISD. Channel 11 was able to obtain her files, and she was asked to leave McKinney in 1998 after pages and pages of parent complaints about the job she was doing as a second grade teacher (she has not always taught Art). She was paid $8,300 to leave her post, and was given a positive recommendation if she agreed. The story was also broadcast at 4:00 and 5:00.
    Sadly, this shows her true character as a teacher and professional, and it is what those of us, who have worked with her daily, have been saying. I am sure more information will be added when the Frisco file is opened.
    ** The Dallas Morning News also had an article about this today. You can find it on their website.
    Thank you!:-)

    Comment by Teacher Fisher — October 5, 2006 @ 5:31 pm

  62. You know I don’t know how all you “sophisticated” people out there who are putting down people who are from Texas when you are eating up what the media has fed to you in whole. I have three grandchildren at Fisher Elementary and I live about four houses from the school, Ms. Lawson is a excellent principal as my daughter had a few discussions with her last year regarding one of my grandchildren and was very helpful and concerned going out of her way to help my grandchild. Ms.McGee has brought this whole situation to the media when she did not get her way and has caused tremendous disruption. This is NOT about children going to the art museum and seeing nude art folks, read between the lines. Ms.McGee was paid to leave another district when parents complained, she was a second grade teacher there, why did she take the money if she is such a good teacher????? Frisco ISD has had its hands tied in what it can say to ANYONE as there are employee disclosure laws that they must adhere to. The school district has asked Ms.McGee to sign to allow the public to view her record. So for you folks out there who are so openminded and educated and so much above the State of Texas open YOUR EYES.

    Comment by Nancy — October 5, 2006 @ 9:25 pm

  63. Thank you to Nancy for your post. I am very frustrated too, because it just seems like no matter what point we address, others do not want to listen but instead continue to argue and yell about the museum trip! I feel like I am beating my head against a wall. Our school has been besieged by angry, threatening phone calls and emails daily, and although we continue to push on, the impact of all the hateful energy is making it hard even for the strongest of teachers. During our school day, there is not much time to even think about it, as teaching well requires a great deal of energy. But after school, when I want to go home and relax, and all I hear is how “poor Sydney” is suffering, I just want to die. So I spend my evening trying to talk to as many people as I can about the truth, even though the percentage that I can reach against the media’s power is so small.
    Please just take a minute to stop and think about the likelihood of one parent’s complaint being the catalyst for all of this. Sydney has brought all of this on herself, and now that the McKinney file has been opened, it at least shows that she has not always been the amazing teacher that she wants to portray herself as. And although I may seem frustrated and angry now, I wasn’t always that way. It was not until Sydney decided to lie and pull our whole school down, over and over again, that I lost all respect for her.

    Comment by Teacher Fisher — October 6, 2006 @ 6:38 pm

  64. I was a parent that chaperoned that trip. I am also in management and as such understand that the principal and district can’t play the media like a virtuoso as Ms. Gee has. The ignorance of the ill-informed shocks me. This is not about a nude sculpture. This is not about potentially one parent complaint. I too felt the trip was chaotic, the DMA staff was rude and museum was over-booked. I primarily blamed the DMA frankly, but some accountability does belong to the organizer. She should have accepted the criticism and grow from it. Trying to hide behind the one complaint is to avoid recognizing her short-comings and opportunity to improve. Interestingly enough, I never have had my children complain about her class, but at the same time, their lack of interest or apathy may be a sign of her lackluster teaching. My kids normally rave about learning yet they barely mention this class. When asked, they can’t recall anything of significance that they have done there. I have asked myself why my kids don’t know the basics of art. Why did my 5th grader not have any understanding of the purpose of the field trip? Why was it not part of unit of study? For example, if they learn about the ocean and then they visit the aquarium – the knowledge is applicable to the trip. I wonder why the children did not truly have a clue about the intent. I don’t presume to know all of the facts that led to this point as no on truly ever does in an employee/manager situation due to privacy laws. However, I do know that this is a phenomenal school that has tons of school spirit, parental support, wonderful teachers and administrators, and intelligent, considerate kids. The mission is to educate our kids and to encourage their love of learning. Under Mrs. Lawson, the staff has set its goal to drive excellence similar to that espoused in Jim Collin’s “From Good to Great”. Perhaps this is really about the fact that Ms. McGee may not have been willing to get on the bus to get us there. If that is the case, then move on and please leave our children and school in peace. The negativity needs to stop. Pursue your actions with dignity through the proper channels. The media and court of public opinion is not the place for a fair assessment of her paid administrative leave.

    Comment by Parent Chaperone — October 7, 2006 @ 1:50 pm

  65. Some informative information to read here:

    http://www.friscoisd.org/news/mcgee_response_06oct.htm

    All in all, she was never fired because of the field trip. Matter of fact, she was never fired, only put on paid administrative leave because she was disturbing the learning environment.

    Interesting.

    Really you can see how the media would take her twisted-around-to-fit-her-needs information and sensationalize it to the public while the district’s hands were tied and could not respond fully for fear of privacy rights.

    Comment by Angel — October 11, 2006 @ 6:48 pm

  66. To those of you who have children at Fisher, teach at Fisher, or live in this community, I’d really love to have the chance to talk with you all away from the bitterness that seems to arise on this forum. I am NOT saying that I have no desire to continue this public discussion–I still have the optimistic hope that we can bring some balance into this whole discussion. However, I feel like there are certain things that each time we try to discuss simply lead the conversation into angry outcries at how ignorant we are, or how superior we must feel ourselves to be, or any of the other mud that has been slung at our school and our community.

    If any of you are interested in having a discussion outside of this forum (perhaps even meeting locally sometime, if that seemed to make sense), please email me at frisco_parent@hotmail.com.

    To those of you who remain convinced that my failure to take an absolute stand on this issue (either for or against Ms. McGee) is a sign of my moral and mental inferiority–I remain perfecly happy to continue our discussions, in a civil fashion, here on this board, but I reserve the right to not respond personally if you send emails to the hotmail address. No offense is intended–that just isn’t what I wanted to use that address for…🙂

    Comment by Fisher Parent — October 14, 2006 @ 11:03 pm

  67. After everything that has been said and done, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s more of a personality clash between the teacher and principal than anything else, which is a shame. All of the adults involved should be thinking more about the children than themselves.

    Comment by Kat — October 19, 2006 @ 3:26 pm

  68. maybe Ms.Lawson had personal issues that were unknown to others.

    Comment by mike mcgee — September 4, 2010 @ 12:15 pm


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