Part 2 of this continuing story describes my letter to a high school principal on how he has thus far dealt with a complaint that one of his teachers preaches conspiracy theory bilge and Leftist drivel in a course of U.S. History II.
This is the second installment of the continuing story of a complaint that a high school teacher is teaching conspiracy theory and Leftist bilge when he is supposed to be teaching U.S. History II.
Part 1, Failing A Teacher contained the letter dated May 25, 2006 that I sent to the accused teacher, his Principal, and his Superintendent of schools, with a copy to the Superintendent of school in my own community (whose students attend the high school where the alleged inappropriate instruction is taking place). That letter prompted a telephone call from the teacher's Principal.
What follows is a redacted copy of my follow-up letter to the school principal based on our phone conversation discussing my complaint.
Thank you for calling me yesterday to discuss my complaint against the teaching practices of Mr. "R". On reflection, some of the positions you took during our phone conversation leave me somewhat concerned that a proper investigation of this complaint is not being conducted, nor is one likely before it is too late (with the school year ending soon).
Specifically, based on our conversation:
You stated Mr. "R" had a past record of similar classroom bias and/or political advocacy that you felt had been dealt with adequately. You further stated that, having been satisfied that Mr. "R" had reformed his methods, you recommended his tenure. I suggest this complaint indicates you were mistaken. I further suggest that Mr. "R"’s past history of similar problems in the classroom give greater credibility and urgency to the current charges.
When I asked if you were going to interview other students in the U.S. History II class, you stated you had no plans to do that and made a passing reference to Mr. "R"’s “privacy” rights! I suggest that no teacher has any right to “privacy” when it comes to investigating the conduct of that teacher in the classroom. The classroom is a place of public education where the teacher’s role is to educate students. There can be no expectation of privacy in the course of instructing students in a public school system funded by taxpayers. I find it extremely unsettling that you should think for one second that some right of “privacy” would prevent a speedy and thorough investigation of this complaint.
It appears that the extent of your investigation thus far has been to interview Mr. "R" in the presence of his department supervisor and review the list of complaints as well as his lesson plans. You seem to have taken Mr. "R"’s denials as satisfactory contrary evidence to the complaint. I find this astounding, given Mr. "R"’s past issues with political bias in the classroom. Clearly, it is absolutely essential that every one of Mr. "R"’s U.S. History II students be confidentially interviewed with regard to this complaint prior to the end of the school year. Student interviews under these circumstances must be confidential to avoid any future charges of retribution should the interviews confirm the elements of the original complaint.
You stated that a review of Mr. "R"’s lesson plans revealed nothing that would substantiate the allegations. I suggest that, if the allegations are true, Mr. "R" would not document his actions as part of his lesson plans.
You stated that during your observation of Mr. "R" over the school year that you observed none of the alleged behavior. I suggest that it is unreasonable to expect he would perform as alleged in the presence of a classroom observer.
You confirmed that Mr. "R" admitted to showing video clips from Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, Oliver Stone’s film about JFK, and Loose Change. Yet when I asked if any balancing clips had been shown (e.g., FahrenHype 9/11 or Celsius 41.11, both of which refute Moore’s propaganda piece), you confirmed he had not presented balancing material. I suggest this is clear evidence of his continued extremist bias in the classroom. I further suggest that it is the height of irresponsibility to subject impressionable students to highly biased propaganda that is well documented to be loose with the facts and reflective of little more than conspiracy-theory nonsense. If such material were presented for what it is, that would be one thing. However, the allegations made suggest that, to the contrary, the material is being presented as something that should be taken seriously!
You made the point that the allegations are not coming from a parent. I suggest parents are reluctant to take on school teachers as it clearly opens their child to retribution (it’s human nature).
Our phone conversation has left me very concerned that these allegations are not being taken seriously. I remain convinced that the only way to confirm or refute these allegations is to interview each of Mr. "R"’s U.S. History II students, confidentially, and in the presence of an outside observer (e.g., a member of the [redacted] Board of Education, a taxpayer, or the Superintendent of Schools). I suggest it is essential that, as part of the interview, each student be given a list of the allegations and asked to confirm, deny, or otherwise comment on each of the specific elements of the complaint.
Time is of the essence. With only a few weeks left in the school year, it is critical that no time is wasted setting up student interviews. These allegations are serious and warrant a serious response. I believe it is absolutely essential that a thorough investigation include confidential student interviews.
I have taken this matter up with appropriate school authorities so that Mr. "R" not be unfairly subjected to public criticism should the allegations not be substantiated by other students. As a graduate of [redacted] High School and a taxpayer in [redacted] where we pride ourselves on the quality of our schools, I would very much prefer not to have this matter taken to the public. However, be advised that I will not hesitate to focus both local and national attention on this problem unless every effort is made to perform a timely and thorough investigation of this serious complaint.
Bob Webster, a 12th-generation descendent of both the Darte family (Connecticut, 1630s) and the Webster family (Massachusetts, 1630s) is a descendant of Daniel Webster's father, Revolutionary War patriot Ebenezer Webster, who served with General Washington. Bob has always had a strong interest in early American history, our Constitution, U.S. politics, and law. Politically he is a constitutional republican with objectivist and libertarian roots. He has faith in the ultimate triumph of truth and reason over deception and emotion. He is a strong believer in our Constitution as written and views the abandonment of constitutional restraint by the regressive Progressive movement as a great danger to our Republic. His favorite novel is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and believes it should be required reading for all high school students so they can appreciate the cost of tolerating the growth of unconstitutional crushingly powerful central government. He strongly believes, as our Constitution enshrines, that the interests of the individual should be held superior to the interests of the state.
A lifelong interest in meteorology and climatology spurred his strong interest in science. Bob earned his degree in Mathematics at Virginia Tech, graduating in 1964.