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Jun 2017
Vol 14 No 2
BACK ISSUES


Date Rape Talk Lands Teacher in Hot Water

By Teachers.Net Teachers
 


A student teacher assigned to an 8th grade science class posted on our General Interest Teacher Chatboard, (just one of more than 200 topical chatboards here at Teachers.Net) seeking input from veteran teachers on a sensitive topic that put him in hot water. Read about the date rape prevention discussion that became a problem for him, and then see whether you can add to what teachers advised.

Appropriate or not?
Posted by Mark

I am a student teacher and recently I was “called out” for talking about date rape drugs with my 8th grade science students after one of my students asked how the nail polish works that changes colors as an indicator of the date rape drug in a drink. I thought it was a good opportunity to explain how the scientist at NCSU discovered and patented this nail polish. I also answered questions that followed about how to guard against becoming a victim (covering drinks, lids, etc). Evidently a parent complained to the principal about me discussing this. I was told this was not something that I should have talked about.

This bothered me a great deal, I felt it was relevant to science, helpful, and something useful for 8th graders to know. What am I to make of parents telling me what is and isn’t appropriate within the confines of what is within policy? I can certainly understand not talking about religion, morals, politics, and such. I saw this as both relevant to science and the topic we were discussing. I was also helping students understand how dangerous and common this drug is. I do not want to teach in a system where I have to alter my lessons to what different parents think is appropriate and not-appropriate. If we talk about meat protein in diet, are vegan parents going to tell the principal I can’t talk about meat? How far does this go? How much is this a real stress for teachers? Should I consider private over public? Please advise.

I am currently student teaching and would appreciate your advice before I make my career decisions.
Thank you!
Mark

—————–

“retired K teacher” wrote:

First, who “called you out” about this? Were you told that a parent was upset or that you did something “wrong”? What is your mentor teacher’s take on this?

As a teacher, we walk a tight rope every day and parents complain about everything but a lot of how it goes down depends on your admin. Some will have your back, some will bow to the parents, and some will throw you under the bus. In some schools the parents basically run the place and in other schools the principal is clearly in charge.

I have taught in both private and public schools and in many cases the parent complaints are louder and more frequent at the private school because the parents are paying tuition and feel that this empowers them to manipulate things to their liking. They threaten to pull their child out of the school if the teacher/school doesn’t do what they want. I had a parent withdraw her child because I didn’t teach her 3 year old to read! You can never please everyone.

If you are in the Bible belt or a very conservative area the parents don’t want you teaching their little darlings about such
things. They have strong feelings about such things and don’t want their child exposed to information that they may not approve of, including about premarital “relations”.

As I said, teachers walk a tight rope every day!

——————–

Betty Ann added:

Unfortunately or perhaps fortunately, parents do have some degree of influence over what is taught in classes. It is important for a teacher to be aware of the general attitudes of a community to sensitive topics (such as rape for 8th graders) and what parameters the principal and district administrators have set. As a student teacher, it is wise to be cautious.

Your class discussion was likely interesting to the majority of the students and may have been helpful to a few in learning to avoid dangerous situations. Unfortunately, there’s a complaint from a parent and the administrator did not back you.

Another time you might answer the student’s question very briefly and then confer with your cooperating teacher before expanding on the issues. Did your cooperating teacher have any insights for you? What about your university?

As far as public vs. private schools, in general I would expect more parental involvement in curriculum details in a private school. The parents are paying tuition and they expect that their money gives them rights and a voice. Not only that, but if they are dissatisfied and withdraw their child from the school, the bottom line may suffer.

One of the problems in your situation is that the principal was not aware of this class discussion in advance. He/she might have agreed that the issues are important and should be addressed. Or perhaps the school community has decided this topic belongs in high school. Or it’s addressed in a health class (perhaps with a letter going home in advance to explain).

I hope things settle down, Mark, and that you will find ways to address important topics without causing an uproar.

———–

MacQ said:

I’ll make it real simple: [continued on page 2]

 

 

Pages: 1 2



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This entry was posted on Sunday, January 1st, 2017 and is filed under *ISSUES, February 2017, January 2017, Teachers.Net Teachers. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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