April 27, 2006

Oklahoma teacher pay and curriculum choices

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:52 pm by mrsmauck

A couple bits of education news from the Sooner State: First, I heard on the news this morning that Oklahoma is 48th in the country in teacher pay, but 7th in teacher quality. This has got to outrage your sense of justice. The reason this was on the news was almost insulting: the state legislature is proposing a $3,000 pay raise. A Christmas bonus isn’t going to keep me from crossing the Red River, should the opportunity arise. Texas teachers make an average of $9,000 more per year than we do (or I will)!

This other story actually made the AP wires, about an Oklahoma City middle school history teacher who assigned a list of “vocabulary words” that caused some serious stirs. In an effort to teach a lesson on discrimination, this teacher sparked a wildfire of criticism. Students’ homework was to define words like bastard and n*gger (excuse me!), and come up with less offensive alternatives, words that actually communicated what these words meant. The full story is below.

Students’ word list includes slurs, profanity
By Ken Raymond
The Oklahoman
Teletha Walker often helps her granddaughter with her homework, so she wasn’t surprised Friday when the 14-year-old girl asked her to define a word. She was shocked, though, to hear what word it was.
The seven-letter noun, which begins with B and ends with D, refers to a person of questionable parentage. It seemed a peculiar word to find in an eighth-grader’s homework assignment, and Walker asked to see the rest of the lesson.
“When she brought me this list of words, my jaw must have fallen two feet,” Walker said Tuesday.
The list came from Judith Miracle, 54, a history teacher at
Webster Middle School who has taught in the Oklahoma City Public Schools system for 13 years, said Sherry Fair, district spokeswoman.
“She was trying to teach about discrimination through words that have been used to stereotype immigrants,” Fair said. “There are words like that on there that people have used over the years to refer to a variety of ethnic groups.”
But there are other words on the list, too.
“They are filthy words,” said Walker, 53. “There are some I won’t even say. Disgusting words.”
Dozens of words. Among the ethnic slurs, she said, are insulting curse words and explicit slang terms for genitals. Dozens of them.
Fair said Miracle used an overhead projector to display
the words to the class, asking students to discuss the terms and copy them.
As homework, they were to define the words and come up with less offensive alternatives.
Walker and others complained soon after learning about the lesson, Fair said. District officials are investigating the complaints and will determine what, if anything, will happen to Miracle.
“She is still in the classroom,” said Richard Brown, Webster
principal. “However, she has been told to cease teaching that particular unit.”
‘It was just inappropriate’
Per district policy, lesson plans must be reviewed and approved by the
supervising principal, Fair said. Miracle was approved to teach a lesson about discrimination.
“The district has much more constructive ways of teaching students about discrimination and tolerance,” Fair said. “No matter how much value she saw in the method she used, it was just inappropriate. … The district apologizes to the students and parents involved in this.”
Walker wants more than an apology.
“This deserves more than a slap on the hand,” she said. “I want
to know what this teacher was doing, what she was thinking, why she would do this. Giving this list to … 14-year-old kids. That’s just not right.”

No quotes from students…perhaps Mrs. Miracle should have kept her lesson
within the walls of her classroom, not letting the parents see the list of words
the kids hear and probably say everyday at school.

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1 Comment »

  1. Anonymous said,

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    »


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