Texas Ed: Comments on Education from Texas

October 5, 2006

Creating a perfect storm

Congratulations to the Dallas Morning News for finally presenting “the other side” of the McGee story.

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

McKinney ISD in 1998 to end her employment as a second grade teacher at Glen Oaks Elementary School. Under the arrangement, Ms. McGee received a positive recommendation from the district. McKinney officials declined to comment on the report Wednesday.

Of course, it’s not the McGee story anymore but rather the local paper pointing out the limitations of that shrine of liberal media, the New Times. The Dallas Morning News wins either way.

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

Jennifer King said Wednesday she and other fifth-grade teachers who went on the field trip later told their principal it was chaotic and disorganized.

Now why couldn’t they find out this information two weeks ago? Was it that hard to find someone who was on the field trip who had negative things to say about it?

Congratulations to McKinney ISD which apparently managed to buy its way out of a problem and dump it on another district rather than going through the trouble of actually addressing it.

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

The records show that Ms. McGee signed a settlement agreement for nearly $8,300 with McKinney ISD in 1998 to end her employment as a second grade teacher at Glen Oaks Elementary School.Under the arrangement, Ms. McGee received a positive recommendation from the district. McKinney officials declined to comment on the report Wednesday.

The records do not indicate the reason behind the settlement agreement, but her file contains letters from parents who asked that their children be removed from her class because of personality and learning issues.

Her file also contains complaints from unidentified teachers about planning and field trip preparation issues.

Personality conflicts and disparities between a teacher’s teaching style and a student’s learning style are certainly a headache for any administration. Yet, half of all homeschoolers will tell you that it doesn’t necessarily get a teacher fired. But then there’s the planning and field trip issues again. Addressing such issues in a meaningful way is time consuming and stressful. So if someone were to do a cost benefit analysis, it was probably worth it to cough up the money and have McGee go away quietly. Think about it, if you calculated the time of all the people who would have to deal with this issue at $100 an hour, that’s two weeks of work. Halve that and it’s a month of time spent on one teacher.

Congratulation to McGee for knowing her rights and continuing to teach the way she wants without regard to her fellow employees and supervisors. It would appear that she took a calculated risk that the administration wouldn’t go through the trouble of actually pursuing her shortcomings in a meaningful way so she just focused on her art. As I’ve stated before, she can be a great art teacher but still have problems dealing with the administrative responsibilities. Also, all teachers should realize that no matter what they think about her abilities, if it happened to her, it can happen to you. As for going to the New York Times, I might consider doing that as well while thinking about my next mortgage payment.

And finally congratulations to Frisco ISD for not ever having to answer exactly how did the administration handled the parent complaint. The district must also be saving the tax payers’ money by reducing the time and money it spends on creating a meaningful message.

Update to Request to Disclose Records of Ms. McGee (October, 2006):

Ms. McGee continues to be an employee of the District and receives her full salary and benefits.

See, they have not actually fired her. They’ve got another art teacher but they didn’t fire her.

Update to Request to Disclose Records of Ms. McGee (October, 2006):

but in fact, it is merely all about her overreaction to a memo that she received last spring from her principal which expressed valid and ongoing concerns about her job performance, but which sought no disciplinary action.

And the memo wasn’t disciplinary in nature. It only told her exactly what she would have to do otherwise she would be fired, oops sorry, her contract would not be renewed.

There are times that I feel sorry for the principal. I don’t think she followed procedures in dealing with the workplace issues regarding McGee. She’s probably used to people taking verbal direction and for people to back down when she confronts them with her authority. But then I think about how she obviously did not stand up for education principles with regard to the parent complaint about a nude statue and that feeling goes away.

52 Comments »

  1. In regards to this issue of Miss McGee,
    Being a former art major and having taken two courses of art history in college, I was appalled to have
    seen in the news of her being dissmissed from her position as the art teacher, simply because she took
    her students to an art museum and they happened to have seen nude figures that were done by famous
    artists centuries ago. To put it simply, IT’S HISTORY!!!!Michelangelo,for example is one of the
    greatest artists that ever lived! These famous works of art have been in books for centuries, and it’s
    regarded as such, and not as being crude and unacceptable,instead,again…it’s history!!! How can one
    erase history as we know it! I feel very sorry for Miss McGee and I’m hoping that some other school will appreciate her gift of art appreciation!

    Comment by 3bearscollector — October 5, 2006 @ 12:58 pm

  2. She was NOT ousted because of nude art at the DMA. Period. Get a grip people!

    Comment by Angel — October 5, 2006 @ 10:42 pm

  3. How is it that someone always manages to step into this discussion without reading any of the other thousands of posts on this issue? It is NOT about the nude art! This is what she wants you to believe! I cannot wait until everything is out in the open, and we can all move on to the most important thing; which is educating our future leaders to be open-minded, thoughtful, and educated citizens. Something many people are currently lacking.

    Comment by Concerned Teacherf — October 6, 2006 @ 9:06 pm

  4. This is a link to the KRLD radio station’s current interview with Sydney’s attorney. This radio station was completely biased in their loyalty towards Ms. McGee early into the controversy. Now they have figured out that there must be something else going on. I have tried attach the web address. It is interesting to listen to all their interviews, starting with the earlier one. Their opinion of the situation has definitely changed.
    http://krld.com/pages/75512.php?contentType=34&contentId=1079

    Comment by Concerned Teacher — October 6, 2006 @ 9:15 pm

  5. I was a parent that chaperoned that trip. I am also in management. 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 over-booked. I blamed the DMA frankly, but some accountability belongs to the organizer. Accept the criticism and grow from it. Trying to hide behind the one complaint is to avoid recognizing her short-comings. I never have had my children complain about her class, but at the same time, their apathy is a sign of her lackluster teaching. My kids rave about learning yet they barely mention this class. 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? 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 spirit, parental support, intelligent, considerate kids and a mission to educate our kids. It’s goal is to drive from “Good to Great” and 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 let our children and school in peace.

    Comment by Parent Chaperone — October 6, 2006 @ 9:40 pm

  6. I was a parent that chaperoned that trip. I am also in management. 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 over-booked. I blamed the DMA frankly, but some accountability belongs to the organizer. Accept the criticism and grow from it. Trying to hide behind the one complaint is to avoid recognizing her short-comings. I never have had my children complain about her class, but at the same time, their apathy is a sign of her lackluster teaching. My kids rave about learning yet they barely mention this class. 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? 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 spirit, parental support, intelligent, considerate kids and a mission to educate our kids. It’s goal is to drive from “Good to Great” and Ms. McGee may not have been willing to get on the bus to get us there. If that is the case, then I would ask her to please move on and let our children and school in peace. As for everyone else, please get informed, wait for all of the facts and stop making baseless statements.

    Comment by Parent Chaperone — October 6, 2006 @ 9:42 pm

  7. Quite frankly some districts try and get teachers who have a lot of years of experience and are older. “Parent Complants” is a tactic that used sometimes to justify getting rid of a older teachers. My suggestion if for the teacher to sue the district, the principal and the parents Libel and age discrimination. Definately sue the parents also for Libel. Supeonas can get that info and it should be in her file they have to show her. 28 years of teaching and then being suspended is very suspicious. Try and find a non union lawyer also who will not be constrained by limits.

    Comment by Harry Smith — October 9, 2006 @ 12:10 pm

  8. By the way the personnel department of any district is obliged to disclose the parent who complained.

    Comment by Harry Smith — October 9, 2006 @ 3:20 pm

  9. Mr. Smith,

    Unless you are a resident of Frisco, unless you have children in this school (I DO), and unless you have some inside knowledge of this issue that the rest of us don’t, I really don’t think you are justified in encouraging a law suit. As I have stated time and time again on this and other related posts here, I’m a California-raised liberal. I am a musician and a strong supporter of the arts. My initial reaction to this story was one of outrage–it was and still is clear to me that we cannot allow the school district to censor art and fire teachers on the basis of complaints by parents about seeing nude art.

    My core beliefs have not changed one iota. What has changed since that first reaction I had was that I spent time–a LOT of time–digging for the truth, researching all the different statements that people had made, talking to various parents, teachers and administrators who have FIRST HAND knowledge of this situation. The truth is that it is FAR more complex than you are painting it to be.

    It’s very easy for the media (PLEASE understand me–I am not someone who gets my news from Fox news–I am not someone who bashes the “left wing media”–not at ALL) to get caught up in a sensationalist story. It’s far more exciting (sells far more papers) to have a news story about a teacher getting fired because of a field trip to a museum where students saw nude art than it is to report the full story.

    Please, Mr. Smith–don’t tell people to sue my school district (and ultimately cost ME and all of the other teachers, parents and students who are involved) over something when you don’t understand the full story. What will happen if people start suing, as you are suggesting? Well, then the district will have to start spending money on fighting that. And you know what? THAT is when we will lose our arts programs. YOU, Mr. Smith, are advocating the elimination of the arts programs in the public schools. That’s not fair, that’s not right. You are apparently suggesting that people sue ME. (You say “My suggestion is for the teacher to sue… the parents”) I find your remarks utterly inappropriate and offensive.

    It is getting harder and harder for me to speak calmly when I’m posting here. At first, I tried really hard to keep a calm, focused, balanced voice. But quite frankly, I DO wish that before people post inflamatory remarks, they would take some time to read, to think, to try to get the whole picture. Because I live in Texas, there are a lot of people who like to use a stereotype of an “ignorant, conservative, redneck”. People use that stereotype to bias their opinions, and to avoid looking at all of the facts. And quite frankly, I think that the people who are doing that are only reflecting poorly on themselves. Yes, I’m upset. Yes, I’m speaking strongly and forcefully and passionately.

    When it all boils down, the people getting hurt the most are those of us who are here. I am hurt, my daughter, who attends this school, is getting hurt. The other parents and students of the school and the district are hurt. The dedicated and passionate teachers at our school are getting hurt. It’s not some administration bent on getting rid of the arts that is hurting us (the school has already hired a new experienced art teacher. This is NOT about eliminating the arts!). What is hurting us are the people all around the country who are throwing words of ridicule and hatred at us because they don’t want to take the time to get past their stereotypes. Please think about that for a few minutes….

    Comment by Fisher Parent — October 9, 2006 @ 4:54 pm

  10. Unfortunely the truth hurts and when teachers are let go for small reasons then we all pay no matter which district you are. I have every right to say what I want to it’s a free country. As I have said before the arts may have been an excuse and not the reason it happens to other teachers all the time and unfortunely the only way teachers can protect themselves and their reputations is to do it legally. Do you know sir how hard it is for a teacher to find a job anywhere once that teacher has been fired or should I say their contract not renewed. You work 28 years and cannot get retirememnt because some parent had a bad day or some district which ever district that is wants to save money. I have seen it done to other teachers. I don’t know about your district but other districts have done this for the wrong reasons. But one thing for sure if I was that teacher and her career was being flushed down the sewer because of some parents disagreements in teaching I would certainly go the legal route as quickly as possible.

    Comment by Harry Smith — October 9, 2006 @ 5:37 pm

  11. Mr. Smith,

    I’m not denying that it is a free country, nor that you have a right to say what you want. I’m just ASKING that you think through what you are saying. You say “the truth hurts”. Do you feel that you know more of the truth than the people who are actually physically here in this school do? We are the people who personally know Ms. McGee, personally know the administrators, and have spoken to them, face to face.

    Most of the teachers I know would disagree with what you seem to be suggesting. You imply that teachers should first and foremost be looking out to protect their career and their retirement money. I don’t disagree that those are important things to any of us. However, I would argue that the teachers I know, the GOOD ones, would argue that the FIRST thing they should be looking out to protect are their students.

    Does posing for staged photographs for the New York Times and CNN serve ANY benefit for the students? (That’s one of the big things that Ms. McGee did that first shocked me.)

    Does suing the school district and ultimately causing the elimination of education programs by your lawsuit serve ANY benefit for the students? (That’s what you are advocating.)

    Please read my previous comments carefully. I am NOT taking the position that either Ms. McGee or the school administration are utterly right or utterly wrong. I am saying that many people on this forum (and elsewhere) have been advocating extreme points of view that ultimately hurt the students. THAT should be the absolute most important concern. I would hope that Ms. McGee believes in her heart that she is a good teacher, she would realize that her #1 job, before looking out for her career, should be doing what is best for the students. Has she been wronged? Has the administration unjustly dismissed her? I don’t know–and I’m not advocating any particular answer to that question. I do know that her reaction to the situation has created a huge firestorm that hurts the students.

    Comment by Fisher Parent — October 9, 2006 @ 5:51 pm

  12. Fisher Parent:

    I am avocateing the protection of a teacher’s right to teach without fear. It’a a hard enough job now to teach school when the system now is to teach kids how to take the taks test. Years ago when I was in school. Parents are different now gone are the days of real interaction with the teacher to help the community. Now adays parents tend to be more interested in getting what they want instead of helping their children with homework or mentoring other kids. A lot of parents get divorces and have homes with split families. When those kids come to school it is usually the only stability they have. Teachers care about their students but not at the cost of their own families. many teachers are single parents, and have children or have been in the buisness for many years and know no other vocation. I don’t know about your experience with teachers but do you know that many times teachers stay up till 2 and three in the morning to get grades done on time, and spend Saturdays and Sundays in the classroom. I don’t know about Frisco but in some districts some teachers are forced out of their jobs by using parent complaints as a excuse for age discrimination. I have personnaly seen it happen. Many times these teachers cannot find other jobs within the teaching fields and are forced to leave the profession even though they are great teachers. In my opinion I think that was the cause since she was 51. But for argument’s sake let’s just say it was because of a parent’s complaint. Do you honestly believe a teacher should have her and her family’s life ruined because of a disagreement in teaching philosohy, or because of a personality conflict between a parent and the teacher. What would you do if someone got you fired from your career and you could then not find another job, and people made up stuff about you. What other recourse would she have except the legal system after years of dedication. If she was not a good teacher she would not have lasted 28 years. How many teachers do you see her age when you walk into a school now. Most are young with no experience in life. Take a look next time you go to your kid’s school.

    Comment by Harry Smith — October 9, 2006 @ 7:42 pm

  13. I have NEVER seen anyone in Frisco ISD get let go for too long of a tenure. That is just absurd. Maybe it happens in your neck of the woods, but it doesn’t happen here. Unbelievable!

    Comment by Angel — October 9, 2006 @ 8:51 pm

  14. It does happen in Texas

    Comment by Harry Smith — October 9, 2006 @ 9:01 pm

  15. Mr. Smith,

    Are your views based primarily upon:

    – Your experience as a teacher in Texas?
    – Your knowledge as a Frisco resident?
    – A member of the Frisco ISD school board?
    – Your relationship with Ms. McGee?
    – Your stereotypes of Texas as an ignorant place where parents, teachers and school boards are doing everything in their power to attack the teaching profession and the arts?

    Let’s think about it another way. What if this weren’t about Ms. McGee. What if it were the following hypothetical situation: (Please try to remove everything you think about Ms. McGee’s case from your mind for a moment and JUST think about what this story….)

    Mr Jones is a high school physics teacher. He has been teaching for 6 years, and the local newspaper awarded him a “Great Teacher” award for his innovative use of apples in his teaching. He is popular among a number of the students, but other students and parents are concerned about the fact that he refuses to assign homework or teach lessons having to do with Newton’s laws of motion, because he believes that they serve no real value to science. One day, he organizes a field trip to a local apple orchard, where he wants students to watch apples as they fall from a tree. While at the apple orchard, several students spend their time dodging falling apples, and many are confused about what the purpose of the trip was. One parent files a complaint to the school principal, saying that he does not approve of the trip because the green apples in the orchard are too sour. The parent files that complaint at the same time as the school board is doing their annual reviews of all teachers. The board decides that because of a variety of factors, including Mr. Jones’ refusal to teach Newton’s laws, they want to formally ask Mr. Jones to improve his teaching. Mr. Jones expresses concern that this action was taken because of the parent complaint about sour green apples. The school board insists that the sour green apple complaint was not the reason for their actions, but Mr. Jones remains unconvinced. Mr. Jones then decides that he does not want to start teaching about Newton, and requests a transfer to another school in the same district. His request is denied by the school board, because they wish to continue working on the problems they have identified with his teaching, in an effort to convince him that it is important to teach lessions about Newton. Mr. Jones becomes very angry, and begins buying cartons of apples and painting them with the faces of the school administrators and the members of the school board. He then calls a number of major media outlets, including the New York Times, CNN and many other outlets. He invites them to come and take pictures of him dumping these cartons of painted apples out onto the street. Many of these newspapers think that this is such a sensational story that they take him up on the offer, and start publishing these photos, along with an accompanying story decrying “Frisco Teacher Fired Because Apples are Too Sour!” An enormous wave of anger starts within the apple growing community, and the school where Mr. Smith taught is bombarded by hundreds of angry phone calls and emails every day from people rudely yelling “It doesn’t matter what Mr. Jones’ views on Newton are! The local paper said he was a great teacher last year, and you are firing him because of green apples being too sour!”

    Ok, now…. IF that were the story of Ms. McGee, what would you think, Mr. Smith? Would you think that Mr. Jones has been unfairly treated by the school district? Would you think that the “ignorant” people of Texas were launching some campaign to remove physics from the schools?

    I’m not saying that the case with Ms. McGee is as simple as the story I told a moment ago. Yes, there is more to it. But, my point in telling that story, and in asking you to think seriously about it, is that this story DOES mirror, in many important ways, what happened with Ms. McGee. I believe (maybe I’m wrong) that if you think about just the story I told, you’d agree that this isn’t just a case of a school board running rampant, trying to eliminate high paid qualified teachers, trying to eliminate some particular program from the school…..

    By the way, in response to the remark about the Frisco school district not hiring or keeping older teachers, that’s flat out wrong. I walk down the halls of Fisher Elementary, and I see a significant number of older, highly qualified and experienced teachers. Are there younger faces around? Of course. But there are a substantial number of older teachers. I believe–BASED ON MY DIRECT FIRST-HAND EXPERIENCE IN THE SCHOOL–that the remarks about the Frisco ISD trying to eliminate teachers with more experience is just plain false. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen elsewhere–I’m sure it does. But it CLEARLY isn’t happening here. (So, Mr. Smith, perhaps it would be just as meaningful for you to change your “It does happen in Texas” to something else… Maybe “It does happen on Earth”. Or “It does happen in California.” Or “It does happen in Alaska.” Or “It does happen in Sweden.” Or “It does happen in Burkina Faso.” You appear to be singling out Texas as being some strange cultural dead zone. I’ve lived in California, I consider myself politically quite liberal, I listen to NPR and never watch Fox news–so I certainly know about the stereotypes about Texas. And I know just as clearly that, at least in this case, applying those stereotypes is flat out wrong…..)

    Comment by Frisco Parent — October 10, 2006 @ 4:51 pm

  16. I think either you are misreading my responses or changeing what I said. This is what I said Quote “I don’t know about Frisco but in some districts some teachers are forced out of their jobs by using parent complaints as a excuse for age discrimination” Does that sound like I know the Frisco District. No I never said I knew Ms. McGee. What I can say is it happened to someone very close to me in a fairly large district. As far as texas as a ignorant place I challange you to quote where I said that because I never said anything of the sort. You seem pretty sensitive to what I have to say are you one of the parents, or maybe one of the administrators involved? Just curious.

    Comment by Harry Smith — October 10, 2006 @ 5:26 pm

  17. I’m not attempting to change what you said–I apologize if I have construed your comments in an incorrect light. I know that many people have posted here using such words as “ignorant”…. My interpretation was that because you made comments specifically about Texas that you were singling Texas out. Again, if that isn’t what you meant, please accept my apology.

    I AM quite sensitive to what you (and others) have said. No, I absolutely am not an administrator. I am a parent of a student at Fisher. I go to the school every day, and know many of the teachers and administrators. Why am I so sensitive? It’s quite simple. This whole media outrage, and the thousands upon thousands of people who are spreading their biases and their anger, are hurting our school. They are hurting the education of my daughter, and YES, I’m sensitive about that. Because of the anger, the threats, and outrage that so many people (people who don’t really know what is going on) are spreading, we, the parents, are afraid for our children’s physical safety. THAT makes me sensitive. To know that there are people who have threatened teachers and administrators at our school, to know that there is the risk of physical violence against the school and against my daughter because people THINK they know what is happening and want to do something to “change” it. Yes, that makes me extremely angry. At this point, honestly, it doesn’t really matter that much to me whether the specifics of why Ms. McGee was laid off were valid or not. The way she brought it to the media has created an environment here that is harmful for my daughter’s education. (I’ve heard some of the phone calls that are coming in to our school—trust me, it is not pretty…) The reason I get upset at your comments is that they seem to be aimed at continuing all of the “what if” speculation around what happened, and are keeping this hateful energy going. I’m NOT accusing you personally of being hateful. What I’ve repeated over and over again on these forums is the idea that the people who are posting here don’t know the whole story. *I* don’t know the whole story, but I think I know a lot more of it than most of the people who have no direct connection to the case. I just can’t see how it helps make anything better here when people continue to assume that one side of the story is true and fan the flames of this debate with that viewpoint….. I’m a strong supporter of free speech–but it seems like sometimes the BEST speech is to not speak at all….

    Comment by Frisco Parent — October 10, 2006 @ 5:46 pm

  18. I totally agree with you Frisco Parent. I too feel the same way. I am concerned about people that have absolutely no connection to our community, our school or the facts misconstruing this situation and hurting our kids. The kids and the teachers need a nurturing environment. I see a lot of hurtful statements made about Texas and our neighbors. It makes me sad to think that people can blindly make cruel remarks without any feeling. We are not backwards. We are not ignorant. We are honest, hard-working people that want people to just leave this situation alone. It will be resolved through the right venue. If that is in court – so be it. I know that the truth will win out. The part that sickens me is that the neither the NY Times, The Today Show or People Magazine will come knocking to tell the truth when the time comes. It doesn’t sell enough advertising to just tell the truth!

    Comment by Parent Chaperone — October 10, 2006 @ 6:56 pm

  19. Frisco Parent

    I speak what I feel and that is that if you read my other comments carefully earlier you know I did not say anything out of the way. Again I still don’t understand why you think I said anything about Texas. I live in Texas also and have children in our public school system also. I only spoke from personal experience. I am just against age discrimination which runs ranpant in this country in both the education system and the private sector and also the power of Parents to destroy a teacher’s career. I wish Ms. McGee luck and I am sure her and her lawyers will strive for the truth in the courts.

    Comment by Harry Smith — October 10, 2006 @ 7:32 pm

  20. Parent Chaperone

    I speak what I feel and that is that if you read my other comments carefully earlier you know I did not say anything out of the way. Again I still don’t understand why you think I said anything about Texas. I live in Texas also and have children in our public school system also. I only spoke from personal experience. I am just against age discrimination which runs ranpant in this country in both the education system and the private sector and also the power of Parents to destroy a teacher’s career. I wish Ms. McGee luck and I am sure her and her lawyers will strive for the truth in the courts.

    Comment by Harry Smith — October 10, 2006 @ 7:32 pm

  21. Frisco Parent I ment the last comment # 20 for Parent Chaparone sorry

    Comment by Harry Smith — October 10, 2006 @ 7:33 pm

  22. Mr. Smith,
    My comment were made in general to the public abuse our district, adminstrators and school is taking over this issue. I can appreciate your concerns about age discrimination, but as Frisco parent stated – this is not the issue at Fisher. There is respect for teachers of all ages and they work well together. I think the concern I have is that you seem to have made up your mind without any actual knowledge. It is not age discrimination. It is performance or the lack of it that lands us here today. The truth will hopefully win out and then I trust that you will be equally vocal in your support of our school. The fact that you still think that this is about one parent’s power makes me realize you aren’t reading all of the facts from those of us that do know this teacher, this school and this administrator. I don’t have all of the facts but I have personal experiences. I employ people of all ages and respect your thoughts on that point as I have stated I don’t however think they are applicable here.

    Comment by Parent Chaperone — October 10, 2006 @ 8:10 pm

  23. Dear Harry,

    To quote you: “I am just against age discrimination which runs ranpant in this country in both the education system and the private sector and also the power of Parents to destroy a teacher’s career. I wish Ms. McGee luck and I am sure her and her lawyers will strive for the truth in the courts.”

    Any over reaction anyone might have with your comments is easy to see given this forum and the points that you make regarding age discrimination and parent power. By pointing it out under this particular topic surely means that you meant to ASSUME that this is the case in this case. You are feeding a fire that wasn’t even a flicker when this all started.

    To quote you once more: “What would you do if someone got you fired from your career and you could then not find another job, and people made up stuff about you.”

    No one has made up stuff about her. (maybe you were being broad when making this point, but since this forum is about her, again, readers would ASSUME you are referring to this issue.)

    This is not about nude art, only the seeking of the naked TRUTH at this point. This is not about age discrimination or teachers being run off for one reason or another.

    This is about a teacher needing improvement. When she didn’t want to improve, she wanted a transfer. The transfer was denied and rightly so because you don’t pass a problem around. (apparently McKinney passed the problem on to us since she was asked to leave their district) Instead of improving, she went to the media BEFORE she was ever given any walking papers. (She first went to the media when the transfer was denied.) She was never initially asked to leave Fisher, only to adhere to the standards of the principal. (the DMA field trip was in April of last year) She continued to ALLOW the media to take photos and interviews which made the learning environment volatile at the school because of continual badgering and threats made by the public frenzy due to the media message that she was spinning.

    I speak what I feel too. Peace.

    Comment by Angel — October 10, 2006 @ 8:12 pm

  24. Some things I would include in the green apple analogy:

    “One parent files a complaint to the school principal, saying that he does not approve of the trip because the green apples in the orchard are too sour. “

    Add:

    There are plenty of other parent complaints having to do with the lack of organization about the trip. The principal picks this specific complaint to comment on and ultimately include in a memo.

    “The parent files that complaint at the same time as the school board is doing their annual reviews of all teachers.“

    Add:

    The principal mentions the problems with the trip and specifically, the complaint about green apples. When Mr. Jones asks for written documentation, the principal includes the specifics of the green apple complaint.

    “The board decides that because of a variety of factors, including Mr. Jones’ refusal to teach Newton’s laws, they want to formally ask Mr. Jones to improve his teaching. Mr. Jones expresses concern that this action was taken because of the parent complaint about sour green apples. The school board insists that the sour green apple complaint was not the reason for their actions, but Mr. Jones remains unconvinced.”

    Add:

    The school board insists that it would never fire someone based on a parent complaint.
    Mr. Jones is (vindictive, desperate, indignant, manipulative-your choice) and goes to the press with the information about the parent complaint that the principal explicitly choose to document in the evaluation and memo.

    Media goes wild over green apple complaint and takes three weeks before it begins to even address the other side of the story. School board doesn’t help the situation since it never states how it deals with parents who express concerns over green apples. Nor does it ever explain why the principal choose to include the complaint when there were apparently so many others to choose from that directly related to the issues of his job performance.

    Teachers become defensive, parents start worrying (rightly so) about the well-being of their children. Everyone blames Mr. Jones for making a mountain out of a mole hill and taking liberties with the press. Nobody asks why the principal included the parent complaint that started the mole hill and which the school board insists had nothing to do with their actions.

    Comment by texased — October 10, 2006 @ 9:12 pm

  25. One fear out of all of this is that people will afraid to become teachers worrying about these type of issues. That is one reason for the shortage of teachers now. Found this advert from this employment attorney in Alabama. Please read the part about Ms. McGee on the main website. This type of issue is not unusual. http://www.edwardstill.com/
    This will be my last posting in this forum History and the courts will be the judge.

    Comment by Harry Smith — October 10, 2006 @ 10:35 pm

  26. They won’t want to become school administrators either, to your point. Ahh, two sides to see. As a side note, most administrators were once classroom teachers. Just some food for thought. Peace.

    Comment by Angel — October 10, 2006 @ 11:00 pm

  27. 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 @ 6:47 pm

  28. It’s time to unionize, Texas Teachers!!!!!! Get a hold of the CTA (California Teacher’s Association) they will help you get the ball rolling. After giving 28 years of public service and getting the disrespect after that, that is a crying shame. Think about it folks… giving 28 years of your working life to an organization and then getting the shaft, in one of the hardest jobs on the face of this earth. (No wonder they claim there is a teacher shortage.) I would like to see some of these critics spend a week with twenty-one, first graders, and then tell me how they feel.
    There are two sides to every story that is understandable, it is just pathetic that the school district and the teacher, couldn’t come to an agreement. Note to parents…. if you are weary of your student going on a field trip (whatever the field trip) then don’t sign the permission slip. Case closed.

    Comment by Suzanne — October 11, 2006 @ 7:31 pm

  29. It’s NOT about the field trip. 28 years were not all served in Frisco. And I am a Texas Teacher! And I used to live in California!)

    Comment by Angel — October 11, 2006 @ 7:53 pm

  30. Suzanne,

    The problem is that the case isn’t about the field trip. That’s the red herring that the media has latched onto.

    I agree that it IS pathetic that the district and Ms. McGee couldn’t come to an agreement. Unfortunately, rather than try to work one out, it appears that Ms. McGee immediately went to the media. Whatever the merits of her case, I think that decision made her lose the moral high ground….

    Comment by Frisco Parent — October 12, 2006 @ 12:33 am

  31. I too work in the local school community. I know she didn’t teach in Frisco for 28 years, you are not reading between the lines of my message (you also didn’t read my message), you critical critics. It is a sad state of affairs when teachers can not back up teachers. Where is the respect to the profession and to the job of the teachers? Keeping the teaching profession professional? Angel, did you teach in California? Then you would definitately understand where I am coming from. If not read my message again. Teachers are the advocates for children, who is going to be the advocate for the teachers. I am not just talking about this one incident either.
    Unfortunately, if you have been reading the other internet articles and other news media organizations, to the outside world, Frisco, looks like your typical paranoid Texas community that can’t come to grips with reality. Sounds like she really made a board member mad, and they decided to take it out on her. I also read somewhere that some of the diciplinary measures taken against her, were for wearing flip flops to work and not having updated lesson plans. Boy, if I could tell you all the times I have seen teachers wearing flip flops at the schools around here. Updated lesson plans?? What does that mean?? Did she turn something in from 1989???
    Why doesn’t Frisco just throw out the baby with the bath water and not have any field trips at all. In fact why don’t we go back to the days of Little House on the Prairie and revert back to the one room school house?? Like I said before, parents if you are paranoid about any field trip, then don’t sign the permission slip. CASE CLOSED.

    Comment by Suzanne — October 12, 2006 @ 6:42 am

  32. P.S By the way, because of the teacher union in California (CTA), you would never have seen this in the public forum. It wouldn’t have ever come to this point. It would have all stayed at a profesional level. History Lesson #1: The California teacher’s union was made to not only protect the teachers, but the students as well. Remember that.

    Comment by Suzanne — October 12, 2006 @ 6:53 am

  33. Oh my, now do I have to say (besides the field trip: It’s NOT about the flip-flops! Sometimes the case is that a teacher needs to go. I would support a teacher who was in the right in a heart beat. Not a teacher who has a history of problems at more than one district to name one point. I really don’t want to re-hash what’s already been pointed out. I’ve read every article about this case under the sun, but thanks for asking.

    Comment by Angel — October 12, 2006 @ 6:59 am

  34. What bothers me more than the undocumented firing of a teacher, is the kind of culturally challenged parent who signed a permission slip, yet complained after about the nudity in the art museum. Did that parent not know there are naked statues in an art museaum? What does that show about the mind set of SOME of the people in Frisco? No wonder Highland Park has the best schools. Take a look at the profiles of each of the board members. That should tell you much.

    Comment by Paula — October 12, 2006 @ 7:10 pm

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

    http://www.friscoisd.org/news/mcgee_drreedy_dmn_06oct.htm

    Highland Park can kiss my nude statue!

    Comment by Angel — October 12, 2006 @ 9:57 pm

  36. Paula,

    I’m just curious. Could you please explain in more detail what you mean by “Take a look at the profiles of each of the board members. That should tell you much.” I’m curious what conclusions you draw by what you read there.

    As an example, here’s one of the profiles of a board member:

    Renee Ehmke – Board Member
    “We are lucky here in Frisco to have a community that supports education, which makes our job as a school board that much easier. I hope we can continue to serve the needs of all the children in FISD in ways that allow them to reach their own potential. The outstanding educators that work within our system help us make that a possibility for each child. Our job as a school board is to make sure the policies and procedures are in place for them to best make that happen.”

    Frisco Resident Since: 1996
    Family:Renee has been married to Chad Ehmke since 1988 and they have four children – Kate, Tony, Bo and Sam.
    Profession: bachelor’s degree in education and has taught for nine years at both the middle and high school levels in Wichita, Kansas.
    FISD Board Service: First elected in 2004
    FISD Community Service:
    – Curtsinger Elementary PTA Board 1996-2007.
    – Wester Middle School PTO Board 2002- present

    What conclusions do you draw from her profile?

    (You can view all of the profiles at http://www.friscoisd.org/inside/board.htm)

    Comment by Frisco Parent — October 12, 2006 @ 10:39 pm

  37. Sounds like a model citizen to me. I hope she proved her greatness by making the right decision to fire an art teacher. I hope for her sake, that there is concrete evidence used in this teacher’s removal; otherwise, I feel sorry for the open minded, free thinking people of Frisco. That attourney sounds shrewd, and if the public learns that it was based on refusal to conform to the new “Frisco Wanna Be Elite” and their way of thinking, then he’ll have you for lunch.

    Comment by Paula — October 13, 2006 @ 6:16 pm

  38. Dear Miss Highland Park Paula,

    “Frisco Wanna Be Elite? What are you talking about? What is your beef Paula? And this Sydney touts that her flip flops were really Via Spiga brand sandals. Most teahers, especially in Frisco, can’t afford that brand. Oh that’s right, she could have purchase them with her pay-out money deal from McKinney so that she wouldn’t stir up the mess she ended up creating here!

    I’ll have the blue plate special.

    Comment by Angel — October 13, 2006 @ 7:55 pm

  39. I have a beef because I live in Texas, and I am concerned that there still exists a parent, who would have the nerve , after giving her permission for her child to go to an art museum, to whine to a principal that her child saw a nude whatever. It takes us back to the dark ages in education. How could the principal and school board not have the foresight to know that an incident like this would set off a bomb in the media? I also have a beef with the person who said that she would pray for me. I realize that sometimes I might need a prayer, but please do not pray for me just because you don’t agree with my self-expression. I do not need your prayers;I have a good relationship with God, and I do not need some self-righteous person to sit in judgement over me. Save your prayers for those innocent good parents who will now suffer through a highly publicized lawsuit. Also that person asked me if I knew SM or I knew about her “character.” Well, my response is that I thought it was HER JOB PERFORMANCE that was in question, not her character. Somebody is showing true colors, and it gives that shrewd attorney fuel for the fire. You have metaphorically attracted some mean demons, now I guess you’ll have to wrestle with them. Maybe the lawsuit will put it to rest. Just waiting for all that written documentation as proof. You know, Picasso would roll over in his grave if heard such nonsense.

    Comment by Paula — October 14, 2006 @ 9:42 am

  40. I never said that I agreed that a parent should whine about nude art at a museum. Let’s get that clear.

    The principal and the school board didn’t have the foresight that this would set off a bomb in the media because in their eyes it wasn’t about the nude art at a museum. McGee brought that to the media, they did not.

    It is about job performance, not character, but sometimes the two go hand in hand. In this case they do unfortunately.

    http://cbs11tv.com/education/local_story_278190717.html

    Comment by Angel — October 14, 2006 @ 10:02 am

  41. YEP, they sure went hand in hand with JFK, Jefferson, as I heard on the debate for governor, Sam Houston, Tomas Foley, Soloman, David, Clarence Darell, Pollack, Picasso, Poe, Hoover, Bobby Fisher, Chaplin, Kenneth Lay, and I could ramble on, but you get my point. WHO IS TO JUDGE if character=good job performance? That is where it gets really scary.

    Comment by Paula — October 14, 2006 @ 3:56 pm

  42. Paula,
    Why are you so angry towards our community? If you don’t live here, you can’t possibly know what we are about. I think it is truly scary when some one with no vested interest decices to begin a crusade based on innuendo. Your arguments are filled with venom and intended to offend. Why? I am at peace in that I know in the end, our reality will be proven and our district and school vindicated from this horrible media abuse. I certainly hope that you and others like you will have the courtesy to recognize your faults and at least apologize for painting an entire community with your slanted negativity. We don’t deserve your abuse.

    Comment by Parent Chaperone — October 14, 2006 @ 10:01 pm

  43. I apologize for the type in line 2 – it should read “decides”

    Comment by Parent Chaperone — October 14, 2006 @ 10:02 pm

  44. 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 @ 10:47 pm

  45. You are right. The whole world is wrong. The blames rest entirely on one trouble making teacher. No one else is to except responsibilty for this unfounded, unjustified public outrage. If anyone disagrees, then they are hateful in your eyes. Did you not get my point about people who judge? You do not want to get my point because the truth hurts. It is not an innuendo that a parent whined to the principal, and the principal acted on it. It is a fact and it sends the wrong message. That is really what bothers people, not so much the teacher. GET it. People all around the world identify with this kind of behavior. Why do you think it is getting so much press? Where there is smoke there is fire.

    Comment by Paula — October 14, 2006 @ 11:02 pm

  46. Paula,
    I don’t have issue with a balanced disagreement. I take issue with your insulting tone. What is sad is that you have chosen to only consider one point. It is innuendo to believe that she was fired from that memo. That was not the case – her contract was renewed for this year. It is innuendo to believe that she was placed on administrative leave for the field trip in April. She was placed on leave for disrupting the learning environment in September. It is getting so much press because Sydney and her attorney have sought it knowing that most people will latch onto the story and let it mushroom without asking any questions. I can’t help that one parent. I don’t understand their complaint personally. I only can speak to my personal experience and that is what I have portrayed. It is not about me being right and the whole world being wrong. There are a lot of people saying that there is more here to support the principal. You and others like you just don’t want to hear us. That is fine – just let’s not get personal. The truth doesn’t hurt me. You and others like you that want to insult do. Can you please cease and keep it about the discussion?

    Comment by Parent Chaperone — October 15, 2006 @ 8:49 am

  47. Yes I do want to hear both sides; it is an interesting story, but the fact remains that no matter how bad I felt a teacher was, I never wished her or him fired unless there was solid proof. I knew one of the best teachers who was too strict and demanding on the students, got into trouble with parents because their little darling did not earn an A in his class. Other parents got on the bandwagon and started to complain. They threw in examples of rudeness, and he was rude to my daughter , too, but she learned so much, I excused it. They decided to take it to the school board to complain, but the principal stood up for him because his students’ AP test scores were better than most, and the board backed dowm. Those parents were well-off finacially and loved the chance to throw their weight around town. That teacher suffered because of them. That is the sort of injustice I can’t stand. I do not know, this case might be totally different. I hope I can either read about it or hear it and will wait to write anymore.

    Comment by Paula — October 15, 2006 @ 12:13 pm

  48. You have strong opinions, clearly stated. This is an issue that deserves the depth of discussion being done here, and kids’ education is at stake as well as the stakes adults on both sides have invested. Mainly because the two points of view are so divergent do I say that the one good thing that may come out of lawsuits is that the truth will come out. I hope that arts education will not suffer in the process.

    The importance of the truth is at the forefront to me as I am reading a book titled the Oxbow incident which is not as much about vigilante justice as it is about how we each see and paint the truth, and how elusive but crucial it is.

    Earlier someone commented about an unorganized field trip without clear goals in relation to this issue. I can recall not knowing the objective (at that time) of why my elementary school took a bunch of what are called ‘ghetto’ kids into the Fair Park Music Hall to hear a live symphony performance. How can you tell such kids why you are doing that, except by actually renting the busses, packing lunches, and driving them there so thay can hopefully be overwhelmed by the sheer majesty of the music? We may have been poor, and undereducated at that time, but the impression and edification were lifelong enrichment that cannot be taken away. And I can’t hold it against the organizers if there was chaos or lack of measurable objective that could be quantified. I LOVE music, and always have since that first excursion into ‘your’ world. I felt more American and European and human because of it and there’s no easy way to communicate an objective like: “you WILL become more human as a result of this field trip”.

    So, I hope you all take my comments with a grain of salt and are merciful, but brace yourself, because here are some more:

    I wonder Why the newspaper doesn’t show pictures of the supposedly bad art the kids are purported to have been harmed by? The DMA does not display pornography, and I doubt they would steer kids to see such exhibits if there were any.

    McGee checked with them and they said it was allright to bring the students, so some blame should be placed there, not on the teacher only.

    Frisco ought to be mad at them, and not take it out on the teacher who trusted the museum. But then, many kids see the exhibits at the DMA, and teachers are not chastized for it. It is one of the most kid-friendly (and people-friendly) places in the world.

    The Frisco district initiated negotiations, and the offer seems reasonable. But then after an agreement was reached by all the parties (almost) Frisco backed off. Why? Three months of salary seems the least Frisco could do to end the debate.

    I do not see what’s wrong with that offer, and it seems preferable to further humiliation for our state and what seems like will be a costly legal battle for Frisco.

    Lastly, as they say on Sundays, let me ask that “Peace be with you”. (Would someone please reply “…and with your spirit”?)

    Comment by Metroplex citizen — October 17, 2006 @ 1:00 pm

  49. As I would say on Sundays in reply to “Peace be with you,” …and also with you.” I can say “and with your spirit” too.

    Your points are well taken. Just please remember and keep in mind that it was not all about the nude art. Bottom Line.

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

    I have to ask you, metroplex citizen, what agreement was reached by all parties that Frisco “backed off” from? I don’t recall anyone reaching an agreement. They put McGee on paid administrative leave back in September and quite frankly she should consider herself blessed to receive pay through the end of the school year.

    The new deadline is Thursday for McGee to either accept the paid leave as it stands or be prepared to truly be fired in the legal sense, which means no pay at all.

    Comment by Angel — October 17, 2006 @ 2:52 pm

  50. This deal that they are negotiateing is not a good deal. That is why she should have goone to a independent lawyer. She will have a hard time getting a teaching job after this if she does not force the district to get a new recommendation letter from the principal herself and a promise to give a nuetral reference. No recommendation letter and nuetral recomendation from teacher and district no deal. If the district gives her a bad reference then she can come back to them for breech of contract. She should then go after the parents involved the district will not protect them.

    Comment by Harry Smith — October 22, 2006 @ 10:45 am


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