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Intolerance of Tolerance

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Is allowing discussion of tolerance a firing offense? Apparently it is if you teach in Woodburn, Indiana.

At issue is whether Woodlan Junior-Senior High School English teacher and newspaper adviser Amy Sorrel should have submitted a student opinion piece for her principal’s review before it was published.

The column, written by a sophomore whose friend had just told her he was gay, says in part, ''I think it is so wrong to look down on those people, or to make fun of them, just because they have a different sexuality than you.”

Sorrell showed the principal several unpublished stories she thought might cause a stir—including four on teen pregnancy—but not the column.

''There isn't anything controversial about tolerance,'' she explained. Sorrell has been suspended, and will be fired May 1 if the local school board follows district recommendations.

What do you think? Are there certain topics that school newspapers shouldn’t discuss?

4 Comments

One more insane interpretation of Zero Tolerance!

Of course there are. The problem is who decides which one are OK and which ones aren't.

I ran into the same problem while teaching my Intro. to Educ. courses at a local university here in Missouri. My students and I worked most of the semester to develop a survey that they would conduct with the students in the public school classrooms where they were doing their observations. We also had a parent permission letter that was to be sent home along with a copy of the survey for the parents to look over. There was ONE reference on the survey asking how much contact the student has with various groups, including other races, other religions, and gays/lesbians. Most of the cooperating teachers liked the survey, but one teacher complained about the reference to gays/lesbians and then the district AND the university blew it up completely out of proportion. I tried to apologize but was told that my apology was worthless and wouldn't do any good. I now have a letter of reprimand in my file, detailing the "grossly inappropriate" survey that I had my students conduct and how the public school was "appalled and embarrassed". Apparently, the university is now having to restore the trusting relationship with the district that has taken years to build and which I single-handedly damaged...give me a break!!! Do they think that our students are not exposed to such diversity?

How absolutely ridiculous! To think a student newspaper might actually discuss contemporary issues and relevant topics! I mean, what was that teacher thinking?! Especially when students are at such an impressionable age...let's continue to bombard them with more important topics to think about...after all, we want them to leave high school knowing that the most important things they need to think about are things like who the homecoming queen is or what the scores of last week's basketball games were. Better yet, let's model the newspaper after the magazines they already read. The girls can continue overobsessing about their appearance and weight--you know the really important things you should be learning in high school. Why bother to expose teenagers to topics that might actually make them question and reevaluate their principles and morals? Why bother to encourage them to think about issues of sustanence that might actually make them think and grow as a person? I mean, can you imagine the backlash of such an article...kids might actually stop and think about 'dangerous' things like being kind, caring, and accepting of people different than them! What rubbish! Considering the violence and intolerance that goes on in our schools today, you'd think that all school districts would be promoting thougt-provoking articles that inspire young people to actually think! No offense Woodburn, Indiana, but you really dropped the boat on this one!

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Recent Comments

  • Julie Effertz: How absolutely ridiculous! To think a student newspaper might actually read more
  • Joanie Wallace: I ran into the same problem while teaching my Intro. read more
  • tim: Of course there are. The problem is who decides which read more
  • Margo/Mom: One more insane interpretation of Zero Tolerance! read more

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