Frisco Texas Art Teacher Fired for Field Trip to the Dallas Museum of Art?
“I wanna tell you all a story ’bout a Harper Valley widowed wife,
who had a teenage daughter who attended Harper Valley Junior High,
well her daughter came home one afternoon and didn’t even stop to play,
And she said.”Mom I got a note here from the Harper Valley PTA.”
Tom T. Hall
So apparently in Frisco, Texas (not to be confused with ‘Frisco, California) the Frisco school board has voted not to renew a reprimanded art teacher, Sydney McGee’s, contract after 28 years of service. This teacher apparently was honored two years ago with a Star Teacher Award. Her crime? Allegedly taking 89 Fisher Elementary School fifth-graders to the Dallas Museum of Art where one of her students apparently saw a nude sculpture.
Gasp, the horror.
Parents repoortedly had signed permission slips allowing the trip.
So here I present to a photo of the school board who fired this poor teacher.
Yep, that’s them. Renee Ehmke, Buddy Minett, Brenda Polk, Dan Mossakowski, good old Dick Beaver, Cindy DePaolantonio and Laura Ellison.
Now I’m not going to call these guys a bunch of assholes or pricks just yet because there could be more to this story. In fact, I was able to dig up this rebutal apparently written by someone named Shana Mckay-Wortham from the Frisco School District who seems to dispute this teacher’s version of why she is not being renewed, but still, this smells awfully bad. Also, The New York Times probably has the best coverage I’ve seen on this yet but they do confirm that this teacher was taken to task over the field trip in a memo from the school:
“Although the tour had been approved by the principal, and the 89 students were accompanied by 4 other teachers, at least 12 parents and a museum docent, Ms. McGee said, she was called to the principal the next day and “bashed.”
She later received a memorandum in which the principal, Nancy Lawson, wrote: “During a study trip that you planned for fifth graders, students were exposed to nude statues and other nude art representations.” It cited additional complaints, which Ms. McGee has challenged.”
I will say that if in fact this teacher has been fired for taking kids to a museum this sucks pretty bad. Kids ought to be exposed to art and I find it very difficult to see what might be objectionable in nude statues. I take my kids to the Oakland Museum of California all the time where the nude above is on display and I don’t really see anything wrong with it. If anything I would think that the nude might prompt a healthy conversation about our bodies.
Certainly some art probably can be too extreme for young children. When I took my son Jack to the MOMA a few years back I decided that we would skip Larry Sultan’s photographic showing of “The Valley,” a behind the scenes photo exhibition of the porn business in the San Fernando Valley. I do think Sultan’s photography is pretty incredible, but still, probably not the best thing for my four year old to see.
But I don’t think that most nude sculpture that I’ve ever seen would be too much for fifth-graders and I suspect that this school board may have taken this one a bit far. It’s unfortunate that this is how art is viewed in Frisco Texas.
Thanks for the heads up on this story Steve Gobeil.