Saturday, October 13, 2007

Eightball #22: Trainwreck of Teacher Abuse

The citizens of Guilford, CT have been played for a bunch of rubes. In a town that rewards school administrators with whopping salary increases at the expense of school crossing guards, one has to ask if what's best for children is truly a top priority.

Friday Rick Green updated us on the Nathan Fisher case in Town Loses a Good Teacher.
Wednesday night, the Guilford Board of Education accepted Fisher's resignation. Willie Dow, his lawyer, told me there was little alternative in a community inflamed over allegations about a teacher, a young female student and a comic book erroneously labeled as pornography.

Honestly, I really don't know whether the superintendent, the police or the poor girl's amped-up parents caused this, but it didn't have to happen. A valued, popular teacher was sacrificed because a few people freaked.

And guess what. Investigations by police and the DCF found nothing. In all of this, no responsible educator in town tried to understand what happened.
Green's column concludes, "Guilford handled it shamefully. A promising teacher was thrown to the wolves."

As in the Amero case, an innocent person is surrounded by no one but self-serving cowards. To say that these people are shameful is to be embarrassingly generous.

The threat of investigations, the humiliation of investigations, the inhumanity of sham investigations all amounted to plenty. The extortion of a resignation by Fisher was a howling success. Ushered into a tiny administrative office - surrounded by a none-too-subtle principal, superintendent, and a police officer (maybe the accuser's brother!), Nate was given the same choice we reserve for Guantanamo detainees - you're in a game you can't win, sign this or else (and btw, screw you - you lose).

And no sooner than the ink had dried did a tsunami of lies, disingenuous "facts", and hate crime innuendo creep into the public discourse. The pretense of ""protecting"
Polly Pureheart's parents "right" to defame, destroy, and endanger the life of Nathan Fisher seemingly became the media's crusade. After all, "good" parents can take the law into their own hands, organize vigilante mobs, and do as they damned well please. Why not? Hardly anybody cares, right? Patrick J. Lyons in a NYTimes blog writes in Strange Headlines About Parental Involvement
Beyond the hot-button social issues that figure in these cases — guns and abortion — which will no doubt bring out the familiar political reactions from all sides, The Lede is struck by the light these very different episodes shine on the permeable boundaries between parents and childrens’ lives and the way they can refract people’s perceptions of right and wrong.

Highly questionable though their judgment may have been, in each case the parents appear to have started, at least, with a protective impulse: the Pennsylvania boy had been bullied, we are told, and the Massachusetts parents claim to have been trying to spare their daughter heartache.

Parents often say, “I’d do anything for my kid.” Should they?
Good question. In Nathan Fisher's case the DCF investigation considered the charges "unsubstantiated". Similarly, the police investigation failed to get the eightball in the corner pocket. Never mind - heh, heh.

In America - IN AMERICA, MY COUNTRY TIS OF THEE! - in America, when you make a mistake you should apologize. And so, on the weeknight Guilford's Board of Education should have heard the apologies of the anonymous parents and the recommendation of the Superintendent and Principal to reject Nathan's coerced resignation. Instead, quietly, shamefully, cowardly, Fisher's resignation was accepted without a peep. No teachers stood up, no parents, no students, NO, uh-uh.

In fact, now that Nate's been exposed to the world as an innocent man shouldn't the anonymity of the parents be exposed as well?

I hope the teenagers of Guilford do not grow up to be their parents and guardians. Aim higher. When adults complain about the youth of America, you can always respond with, "Look who's talking" with devastating effect.

Like trained seals, teachers, parents, and the public have been conditioned to accept the human sacrifices offered by teacher's unions, administrators, and timid politicians who insist "there are no winners here", "it's too late to make it right", "too bad", "what a shame", and the cacophony of weasel word excuses used to rationalize the barbarism of petty tyrannies. It's all a nod and wink game.

In response to Rick Green's column, Pulitzer Prize winning author Art Spiegelman wrote,
Seems I ought to have put in my two cents earlier, when I first read reports of this sad comedy of errors, but I was paralyzed with the fascination that can come when witnessing a train-wreck. So, though it may be too late, My hat is off to Nathan Fisher for offering one of Dan Clowes' best works to a ninth-grade student. It's a work richer, more complex and far less licentious than many on the school's approved reading list and a book, coincidentally, that I'd passed to my own daughter when she was in ninth grade (she's at Yale now) with no obvious ill-effects from that reading experience. Clearly, the comic book format brought out atavistic tendencies in the authorities concerned who have damaged Guilford's reputation and all the parties concerned.....If Nathan Fisher needs a letter of recommendation for his next teaching gig, I volunteer my services.
Oh for a few more sparks of courage. If this country is to survive and prosper and overcome the 9/11 lack of vision the previous generation had then courage is the first step.

Toward that end, let's clarify a number of additional facts about this incident for the record. The family of the girl are long-time Guilford residents, the girl was not new to town or the school system. The girl had spent a year in Florida living with an aunt and apparently the parents made no effort to contact the school about high school preparation (like -cough- reading).

The father's brother is affiliated with the police which may explain the implicit, arrogant sense of entitlement to berate this teacher with impunity by the family and family supporters.

The girl stopped after a class to get the assignment and chose a book. Numerous (quite disingenuous commentators describe this as "creepy" or signifying nefarious intent and so on - all fabulist horseshit - Fisher let a new student choose a book - it is what it is, a gateway behavior leading to... -gasp- uh, READING).

Thomas Forcella's letter to parents states, "It is important for parents to know that the material in question rose to a level of unacceptability that is far beyond that of materials normally questioned in educational circles." Even Big Bird would call this sugar-coated propaganda, bullshit.

Finally, the dispproportionate volume of predator hysteria heaped upon males attempting to offer care-taker or teacher functions is reaching epidemic and crisis tipping points. A minivan-diaries blog entry called, The Victimization of Nate Fisher is a must read.

Search my blog for Fisher for more information on this case.

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