/ October 3, 2004 06:14 PM
Shiba Pillai-Diaz, a middle school teacher in New Brunswick, New Jersey walked out of her class after being instructed by her supervisors to remove a picture of the President of the United States from her classroom or be fired.
In a country where there's a lot of people who couldn't tell you who the President or the Vice President are this is ridiculous.
From the Home New Tribune
Though she says he has not resigned, the teacher's situation at Crossroads Middle School South is not yet resolved.
Shiba Pillai-Diaz's walkout involved the local police, left school officials mum and appalled the local Republican Party.
Pillai-Diaz, 33, a volunteer with the Bush campaign and an English teacher, has had a publicity picture of the First Couple hanging in her classroom since the start of the school year, she said.
The photo became an issue last week.
"Students said, 'You like George Bush? He's killed people,' " Pillai-Diaz said. "As a rule I don't talk about my politics in the classroom."
Thursday, at back-to-school night, the controversy exploded after a parent asked why the picture was up, Pillai-Diaz said.
"The way she asked was a political assault," the teacher said.
Then the parents started their own debate about the picture, and one mother stormed out of the classroom, Pillai-Diaz said.
Friday morning, the teacher, who is in her sixth year of teaching and her first in South Brunswick, was called into the assistant principal's office. Daniels told her to remove the picture, Pillai-Diaz said.
"He said, 'If you care about your job, you'll take the picture down,' " she said.
Pillai-Diaz told the assistant principal to take the picture down himself. Then she sought Principal Jim Warfel, who gave her an upbraiding.
"He said, 'You've caused more disruption, hatred and anger than anyone I've ever known,' " she said.
The teacher said the principal told her to "get out," so she left and headed to the South Brunswick Police Department.
An officer accompanied Pillai-Diaz back to the school because she said she feared for her safety when she went to collect her belongings, police said.
Once Pillai-Diaz felt safe at the school the officer left, police said.
In the school, Pillai-Diaz had a two-hour meeting with Superintendent Gary McCartney and a representative from the teachers' union. Both parties told the teacher she would lose any fight she would try to start about the picture, Pillai-Diaz said.
I don't see where the problem is with a picture of the current President being displayed. One day soon I'm afraid we will see certain groups asking that Presidents be removed from textbooks because they may offend some students. Should Harry S. Truman be removed from textbooks because his decision to use the bomb in World War 2 may offend some students of Japanese decent? Should Ronald Reagan be removed from all references because he was a Republican and may offend a high school student that may have Democratic beliefs?
I personally would be offended if in the 1990's a Republican asked that an image of Bill Clinton be removed from classrooms because it is "furthering an agenda" rather than informing students of who the current leader is.
There is nothing in the story above that shows the teacher was pushing the presidents, or her own, agenda on the students. It was displayed next to the Declaration of Independence and the constitution.
When are people going to become annoyed enough at all the blatant political correctness and partisan bickering to realize that education of students is more important than whining about something?
* * *
Pete over at Encyclopeteia has pointed me to press release by Gary P. McCartney, Superintendent of Schools for the South Brunswick School District. It can be found here(PDF file). I have reproduced it below in its entirety.
* * *
October 3, 2004
District Statement Regarding Bulletin Board at Crossroads Middle School
In an incident that has recently been reported to several media sources, a claim has
been made by South Brunswick Middle School teacher Shiba Pillai-Diaz, that she was fired for
not removing a picture of President George W. Bush from a classroom bulletin board. The
claim is false. While I am normally reluctant to discuss personnel matters in public, Ms. Pillai-
Diaz’ distortions of the facts, along with her aggressive efforts to get herself national media
attention, leave us no choice but to set the record straight.
The facts are as follows:
Ms. Pillai-Diaz is a new Language Arts teacher in the South Brunswick Schools.
Recently, the school administration began receiving complaints from students and parents that
Ms. Pillai-Diaz was using her position, classroom and teaching time to engage in partisan
politics. Students reported that she had made statements which denigrated one party over the
other. The conversations included Ms. Pillai-Diaz telling some students who offered opinions
contrary to her statements, that she was "glad they were not old enough to vote." Other
comments to students, including such statements as, "you should be ashamed to be a
Democrat" have been verified through student interviews.
A classroom bulletin board, normally intended for curriculum-related matters, was set
up as what she herself described as a "personal bulletin board." On the bulletin board she
placed a picture of the President, the President's dog, the Oval Office and several other
Presidential artifacts. In addition, she placed a stuffed elephant on a classroom cabinet, which
generated student reaction and discussion about partisan politics.
Following receipt of complaints from parents, the Assistant Principal met with Ms.
Pillai-Diaz and cautioned her not to engage in partisan political discussions in her Language
Arts classes. He did not initially ask her to remove the picture of the President. As the issue
grew in intensity, the teacher herself chose to remove the stuffed elephant because of student
In the ensuing days, parents expressed increasing concern about the teacher's classroom
behavior, the misuse of classroom instructional time and the personal bulletin board. The level
of concern resulted in a classroom confrontation between some parents and Ms. Pillia-Diaz at
the Back-to-School night program. It was at this point that the school administration decided to
On Friday morning, October 1, Ms. Pillai-Diaz was directed by the Assistant Principal
to remove bulletin board materials because they were being viewed as contributing to an
ongoing disruption of the teaching-learning environment. She refused. She then met with the
Principal who repeated the directive. At this point, Ms. Pillai-Diaz abruptly left the building,
abandoning her post of duty and her classroom responsibilities.
At no time was she told to leave, asked to leave or given authorization to leave.
School was still in session. At no time was she told she was suspended or fired. With
professional responsibilities of a classroom teacher waiting, Ms. Pillai-Diaz chose, of her own
volition, to walk out of the school, contact various media sources and claim she had been fired.
I had occasion to meet with Ms. Pillai-Diaz, along with a union representative and a
police escort that she had requested, for approximately two hours when she returned to the
building later that same afternoon. After listening to her story, I asked if any member of the
administration had used the phrase "you're fired" or anything that remotely sounded like it. She
admitted that no one had used any such language. When I further pursued why she reported to
media sources that she had been fired, she said that she "thought" that she had been. I
explained that principals cannot fire employees, that only Boards of Education can do so. With
her union representative present, she said that she now understood. I asked that when she next
spoke with the media, that she clarify her new understanding.
I fully support the actions of the Principal and Assistant Principal. It is never
acceptable for a teacher to utilize the classroom to advocate for political purposes or advance
personal beliefs. The courts have always admonished teachers for proselytizing in public
school classrooms. This issue is not about a picture of the President, but rather a zealous
misuse of seventh and eighth grade student instructional time.
The South Brunswick School community is enormously respectful of the Office of the
President of the United States, President Bush and the democratic process for choosing our
President. Anyone trying to suggest the contrary has the worst of intentions. Under other
circumstances, the display of a picture of the President would have been viewed as completely
appropriate and uncontroversial.
It is important to note that pictures of President Bush are openly displayed in all of the
South Brunswick Schools. The teacher’s own actions here, however, took it out of the realm of
education and made the presentation appear partisan to many of our students and parents.
Under these circumstances, our actions in directing the removal of the display were singularly
Gary P. McCartney Ed D.
Superintendent of Schools
South Brunswick School District
P.O. Box 181 · 4 Executive Drive · Monmouth Junction, New Jersey 08852 · (732) 297-7800 · FAX (732) 422-8054
"Expect the Best · And Get It!"
* * *
With this latest salvo from the school district it's confusing as to who to believe. It is also brought to the readers attention that in the original article the whole district is controlled by a Democratic majority and the Democrats in the district outweigh the Republicans by a 3-2 margin. Also educational institutions are, in general, usually liberal slanted. I'm not saying that plays into the Superintendents position or not, just mentioning it as a valid concern with regards to the subject at hand.
* * *
WABC in New York has picked up on the story and done an article and news report on it. The article
has a link to the video news story. From the article:
Rita Bianco, Parent: "Children should know their president and their first lady!"
Parents expressing outrage after a teacher is kicked out of her public school for hanging a picture of President Bush next to pictures of other presidents in her classroom.
Paula Sjolund, Parent: "She didn't do anything wrong, and I think that it should have stayed up there."
Shiba Pillai-Diaz, Teacher: "There was no political intent, nor was there any political content in that photograph nor on the bulletin board."
School officials would not talk on camera but insist nobody here has been fired. To that, Ms. Pillai-Diaz asks what does it mean then when your boss asks you to hand over the keys and kicks you out of the building? She also says she is not sure if she'll be returning to school tomorrow.
* * *
This story was picked up and posted on The Drudge Report
The Story also was been picked up by Bill O'Reilly on The O'Reilly Factor. Tonight he interviewed the teacher, Shiba Pillai-Diaz. One little factoid that came out in the interview is that she is not a member of the teachers union because she had just moved jobs.
* * *
Update 4 (Oct 5 12:25AM PST)
There are several more developments in the story. According to the Home News Tribune, Shiba Pillai-Diaz has hired an attorney in the case. Not a bad move in my opinion seeing as though she has the full force of the Board of Education against her.
She explained she changed her mind about returning to the classroom because of the prejudicial nature of McCartney's version of events. "I don't how I can go to that school again after he distorted everything and sent (the letter) to all the teachers,"
Interviewed yesterday, McCartney said if Pillai-Diaz stopped making political statements he would allow her to return to the classroom and even return the picture to the bulletin board, telling her, "I encourage you to do so."
The letter she refers to is the press release from Mr. McCartney that is reproduced above.
She said yesterday the principal told her to "get out," which she interpreted as being fired. "When the principal says get your stuff and get out -- what would you think?" she said.
McCartney described her leaving the building as "abandoning her post of duty and her classroom responsibilities. At no time was she told she was suspended or fired."
Read the rest of the article and you will see that Mr. McCartney comes off as a real arrogant asshole and a man who made a mistake, but is unwilling to admit to it. From the above statement of "get your stuff and get out" I would figure I was relieved of service as well.
The New York Post is also on the story. The post reports that school officials now want to compromise by letting her hang the picture.
"How can I go back to work and have a normal environment when they distributed this false press release about me?" the 33-year-old mother-of-one asked.
"They're trying to take attention away from the real issue — that they tried to make me take down the picture."
N.J. Sen. John Corzine, who is a Democrat, told WABC Radio he would help her if she contacted his office. "If it's just a straight-up picture of George Bush and Laura, then I don't understand the issue at all," he said.
* * *
Update 5 (Oct 7 8:16AM PST)
There's a few little tidbits more in this ongoing story. First we have an update from the local paper and then I have a press release from the teacher that ws sent to me by one of my readers, Brian F. Curley Esq. Thanks Brian.
Home New Tribune Oct.6
Pillai-Diaz, her attorney and Superintendent Gary McCartney were in a conference until last evening. McCartney said nothing had been resolved and would not comment further.
Pillai-Diaz did not return numerous calls for comment yesterday.
Principal Jim Warfel met with Pillai-Diaz's pupils yesterday to answer their questions about the incident, said parent Michelle Donahue, whose daughter is in Pillai-Diaz's class.
Donahue sent a letter to the board saying she would not permit her daughter in the classroom if Pillai-Diaz continues to teach.
"These kids are old enough to know what's going on," Donahue said. "This is not a good environment for them to be in."
Pillai-Diaz joined the district this year as a language arts teacher. She had previously taught in Brooklyn and Tenafly. She is a graduate of Cornell University and has five years teaching experience.
According to Terry Collins, director of personnel with the Tenafly district, Pillai-Diaz worked as a long-term substitute last year.
"She was hired as a substitute for a teacher that was on maternity leave, and her assignment ended in June," Collins said. "She was fine, we never had any problems."
Below is the press release in it's entirety.
October 7, 2004
Statement of Shiba Pillai-Diaz In Reply to the Press Release Issued By
The South Brunswick School District
The root of this matter is the misguided and unfortunate demand by Middle School Principal, James Warfel last Friday that I leave the school building due to my refusal to remove a portrait of President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush from a bulletin board in my classroom. The portrait of our President and First Lady was a small part of the bulletin board that also displayed a copy of the Declaration of Independence, a copy of the Constitution of the United States, copies of prints from Benjamin Franklin's printing press, and other patriotic symbols including the White House. There was no political content or intent reflected in the bulletin board.
It has been missed that the bulletin board had been up since before the start of the school year in late August. It has also been missed that the school principal, James Warfel, was present in my classroom several times since the beginning of the school term and never expressed any problems or objections to the bulletin board. Moreover, Assistant Principal Mark Daniels specifically reviewed the bulletin board last week, and told me that displaying the Presidential Portrait was not a problem and stated, "It is fine, it is a part of our culture."
After the matter generated some press coverage over the weekend, Superintendent McCartney chose to issue a press release that accused me of "zealous misuse of seventh and eighth grade student instruction time" to "proselytize" my political beliefs. The press release issued by the Superintendent has only inflamed the situation.
I categorically deny that I ever engaged in any of the activities alleged in the Superintendent's press release.
In fact, there is evidence that I refused to engage students in political discussions, which may have resulted in complaints from parents to school administrators that I was stifling discussion. On at least one confirmed occasion, I REFUSED TO ENGAGE a student who stated that the President was "killing people" in Iraq.
As a result of my policy of avoiding political discussion, I was specifically asked by Assistant Principal Daniels to allow political discussion in my classroom, to which I responded that I did not view that to be appropriate. The failure of the School District to disclose those facts in its press release speaks for itself.
The question that should be asked is why the School District chose to publicize supposed accusations by parents that should have been handled discreetly and confidentially between the School District administration and me. The School District was under an obligation to me not to disclose such matters publicly. Despite requests by my attorney to document the alleged parent and student complaints cited in the press release, the School District has steadfastly refused to provide any proof whatsoever of the allegations. Superintendent McCartney has responded that the alleged complaints were tendered in confidence and he will not provide proof of the allegations to the public or to me without a court order or legal action on my part.
Superintendent McCartney cannot have it both ways by asserting those purported complaints are confidential while making them the focus of his attack on my character and professional reputation. If he were truly concerned about not involving parents and students in the public forum, he should not have publicized the alleged statements in his press release.
Moreover, the Superintendent and the School District have been adamant in clarifying that I was not terminated on Friday, despite the alleged political "proselytizing" and purported "abandoning of her post." The sheer fact that I was not and have not been terminated belies the strength of those allegations.
In the press release, Superintendent McCartney alleges events he was not witness to on Friday. In particular, the characterization that I voluntarily left my classroom and "abandoned [my] post" is not supported by the facts. On Friday morning, BEFORE my first scheduled class had even entered the classroom, I was asked by Assistant Principal Mark Daniels to come to his office. Despite his earlier review of the bulletin board and expression that there was no problem with the bulletin board and in particular the Presidential Portrait, Assistant Principal Daniels instructed me to remove the Presidential Portrait immediately. When I refused, the discussion moved to the office of Principal Warfel, which culminated in Principal Warfel demanding that I leave the building.
When I complied with the Principal's directive to leave, THERE WERE NO STUDENTS IN MY CLASSROOM FOR WHOM I WAS RESPONSIBLE. It was incumbent upon Principal Warfel to cover my next assigned class before that class convened by arranging for a substitute teacher, or sitting in the classroom himself. At no time did I abandon my duties or leave children unattended as alleged.
Compounding the problem, the "facts" asserted by Superintendent McCartney have apparently been adopted in the press by, among others, Board of Education President Robert F. Long, who is attributed in press reports to have called McCartney's press release a "clarity of the facts." The rush by Mr. Long as the President of the Board of Education to take sides in the dispute without making any effort to independently investigate the truth, or even speak with me, should be a cause for further discussion. One might expect that the President of a School Board would make the effort to objectively evaluate the situation and get both sides of the matter before publicly passing judgment.
In addition to releasing his version of events to the media, Superintendent McCartney appears to have distributed his press release to teachers and staff at Crossroads South Middle School. If the press release was in fact distributed to teachers and staff, it is not clear why this was done.
It has also been reported that in the wake of the School District's press release, at least one teacher has been soliciting parents to send emails to the Board of Education not to allow me to return. If that is occurring, it is not clear if that teacher is acting on her own, or at the direction of school officials.
It is indeed a sad day for our schools that displaying a photograph of the President and the First Lady produced this state of affairs. Whatever one may think of me or my political leanings, I do not deserve to be treated in this manner. No one does.
I have been on administrative leave at the direction of the Superintendent through today, and have been instructed to report to the Office of the Superintendent tomorrow morning at 8:30 for further direction.
Thanks once again to Brian for this press release.
* * *
Update 6 (Oct 7 11:00PM PST)
EdWonk over at The Education Wonks has an exclusive interview with the teacher Shiba Pillai-Diaz. As it is their exclusive I offer you nothing more than this tidbit.
... she is looking forward to being out of the limelight.
Head over to their site at the link above for the exclusive news from the interview.
Original Hat Tip: Michelle Malkin
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Posted by Digger on October 3, 2004 06:14 PM (Permalink)
So, the liberals strike another blow. Put KERRY's picture up too? What was THAT parent thinking? This was a gallery of PRESIDENTS, among which GW Bush IS one.
The Dem's go too far (again) I am SO sick of all this Political "correctness", that has no basis in fact or logic, but the rules only apply to conservatives and anyone that is non-Democrat.
What must the children think at this point? So now it comes down to, if you're in the "wrong" party (personally) you get NO backing from the union or anyone else. Did the school board REALLY think this would be ignored?
Posted by: An Army Mom on October 5, 2004 06:56 AM
It's going to come down to a 'he said/she said' argument. Shiba Pillai-Diaz claims she never brought politics into the classroom, and it was simply a picture of the President that parents reacted about. The principal claims he never fired her or told her to pack her things and leave. The students claim she told them they should be "ashamed" of being a democrat. More will come out from both sides, and it will be impossible to find out the truth. My hunch is the truth lies somewhere in the middle. The teacher did bring politics into the classroom, and possibly showed her natural bias toward the party she believes in. Some students and/or their parents overreacted, and the whole shebang snowballed. Once the press and talk radio got involved, nobody can back down and reach a compromise. Now it goes to court. Pathetic.
Posted by: Richard Witt on October 6, 2004 05:43 AM
AMEN to you Mr. Witt. I cannot tolerate people like "Army Mom" who get all pissed off blaming everything on the Democrats when they don't know all the facts. I teach in this particular district and we don't operate like that. This teacher wanted her 15 minutes of fame and is now lying to the whole country... and people (close-minded conservatives like "Army Mom") are falling for it. She did bring her political bias into the classroom and in education... that is serious when you consider that kids of that age are so impressionable -- Just like in the classroom, I can't go blabbing about all the great things about being a Christian. It was not simply about the picture. Because one parent stated that she should also put up a picture of Kerry makes many think the school is making it a politcal thing. Oh... and the bulletin board this LANGUAGE ARTS teacher used -- she called her "personal bulletin board". It should have been used for student work or something related to what she was teaching (Language Arts). She's not a social studies teacher... if she was, it would make a little more sense to me to have the bulletin board honoring the President. (Her stuffed Republican elephant she had in the classroom also delivered a little bias to the situation -- in my opinion).
Thank you Mr. Witt for speaking up and realizing that the truth will lie somewhere in between what both sides say. Perhaps a school administrator reacted in a negative way... but no decision the school made was politically motivated.
Posted by: eric on October 6, 2004 09:31 AM
It's now clear that this teacher did not simply post a photo of the president, but that she created a bulletin board shrine intending to promote a sympathetic view during an election campaign. If that were done to foster student analytical writing, it could be relevant to the class. But the teacher seems to be making no such claims.
I have been a politically active teacher for 40 years. It's not hard to keep one's personal commitments to issues and candidates separate from the teaching one does. Everything I've read so far suggests this teacher just isn't very good at the job.
Posted by: John L on October 6, 2004 02:21 PM
Having read more on the subject and seen more on the news relevant to the situation, it appears John and Mr. Witt, that you are no doubt correct. Whatever the truth is, we have yet to be told.
And I'd like to thank you, Eric, for YOUR very tolerant views as well.
Posted by: AnArmyMom on October 6, 2004 05:02 PM
Ms. Pillai-Diaz has said in many interviews that as a WRITING assignment she asked the students to write a letter to the current President. That is why the president's picture was up there. Also, if you idiots didn't notice the previous statements, the copy of the constitution and George Washington were posted too. So, perhaps now it is wrong for a teacher to get her AMERICAN students to be proud to be an AMERICAN and honor that pride? She has also stated that she would put up pictures of whoever the current president is. I suppose that we should have to put pictures of Bob Dole next to Clinton so we are not "biased???" What a bunch of morons. If it weren't election time none of you jerks would care. Well, some of you might because you're all pathetic.
Why can't we just drop the issues? So everyone is going to be worried more over politics than education? Most people are too ignorant to understand the concept of politics, anyhow. Like our local news broadcast interviews of people "off the street" and most of them said they were disappointed that the presidential debate didn't contain any information about social security and healthcare. That's because it was a Foreign Policy debate, dummy! That's exactly what I mean...just too damn ignorant!
Posted by: Christina on October 6, 2004 08:55 PM
Christina - you believe everything this woman is saying? (Perhaps because you both have the Republican blood running through your veins)
She stated to members of the media that she never brought politics into the classroom… that’s B.S! This woman had a stuffed Republican Elephant in her room! I don’t know about you but that raises a red flag. As a teacher in this particular district, I’m not happy she took advantage of her power to effect students political views. A teacher with any common sense should never allow his/her students to know where he/she stands in the political spectrum. Kids at that age… especially 8th graders have very impressionable minds. The bulletin board in which she had this “montage” (centered around Bush), was what she called her “personal bulletin board". Red Flag! She didn't tell the parents in the room during the "Back-to-Night" that the bulletin board was for a writing assignment. And if it were for a writing assignment, why did she have it up since the beginning of the school year? How long is this writing assignment? This school district STRONGLY ENCOURAGES that the bulletin board be used to display student work or at least the units you’re teaching. It’s amazing nobody sees that she made a small little shrine to Bush (disguised by other presidential stuff)… and I would have to question the timing of her putting together this “personal bulletin board", with the election just around the corner. And she stated that she doesn’t bring politics into the classroom! Come on!
Oh… one more thing I found out today that you might find interesting. She is a first year teacher at South Brunswick Township Schools… and we take a lot of pride in amazing teacher training, especially for those new to the district. Well, I heard that she missed the three-day new teacher training because she was volunteering at the Republican convention. Red flag! This woman is the only one bringing politics into the situation not the admininistrators… And now, ignorant people are demanding the principal be fired? For what? Being responsible and protecting the students from her bias? She was asked to take down the bulletin board not because of having a picture of President Bush… but because of the political bias she expressed to the students in her class on more than a few occasions, prior to the night of the “Back-to-school night” when those parents confronted her. Those parents were outraged because their children were coming home and relaying the comments Ms. Pillai-Diaz expressed in the classroom. What would you do if you were this woman’s principal? I think asking her to take down the bulletin board was a fair thing to ask. Personally, I think she should have been suspended… then have her take the bulletin board down!
I know other teachers in this district who have pictures of the President in their classroom... and they are not reprimanded. Why not? I think you know the answer... or you're just to ignorant and blinded by your bias to see it.
Here's a link to the latest article in our local paper:
Posted by: eric on October 6, 2004 10:21 PM
There's a few updates to the story above.
I don't know about some of the comments that she had a "shrine" to President Bush. I know some think that Republicans sit around worshiping their leaders constantly and building little shrines all over their houses, but that simply isn't the case.
The fact she missed a teachers meeting for a Republican convention should in no way be held against her unless you want to start an inquisition and start persecuting every person for their religious and political beliefs.
Nowhere did I find that she missed a "new teacher training" as eric mentioned above. As he says in his post "I heard that..." and that should be taken exactly as it is, a rumor.
While she's a first year teacher at THAT school note that she has 5+ years teaching experience and that her previous school said there were absolutely no problems.
The assertion that it was a "personal bulletin board" is only from the Superintendent and I have not heard her actually use those words.
Posted by: Digger on October 7, 2004 08:47 AM
Hey Digger... Thanks for responding to me. Read the entire article you and I both cited from the Home News Tribune (October 6th). Besides the Superintendent quoting the teacher in using the words "personal bulletin board"... Michelle Donahue, a parent of a child in her classroom, also heard Ms Pillai-Diaz use those words.
As for attending the convention instead of the 3-day teacher inservice for new teachers to the district... I don't think criticizing her for that is like "persecuting everyone for their religious or political beliefs". I simply see it as to where her priorities are. That's all.
And the "I heard that" comment you made. How is that any different than you and all these other yahoos immediately criticizing the school and demanding the firing of the Principal when you simply HEARD THAT a teacher said these things about her Principal and school. Yes this woman was directly quoted by the press... Well I got my information from a first-year teacher colleague who works in the Middle School. Are you saying that my source is lying and this lady is telling the truth? Or maybe we could just take this whole darn story about this teacher as a rumor... since nobody really knows for sure.
I think this story is so rampant because the crazy, fanatical Republicans want to believe this story of unjust sooooooo much... so it must be true.
And one more thought... I feel very badly for my colleagues over at the Middle School, especially the poor secretaries. They are receiving hundreds of phone calls a day from lunatics all over the country... many of them reaming out the secretary as soon as she answers the phone... like, "You ought to be ashamed... working for that Nazi school". Please people, use some common sense before you go blasting people and making accusations. It's the innocent folks who must pay.
Posted by: eric on October 7, 2004 01:06 PM
To correct you, first of all, I am NOT a Republican. In fact, I was a huge Clinton supporter. I also voted for Gore in 2000. However, I can tell when a group of people is biased.
Also, how can you call ONE picture of the president on the board surrounded by pictures of Washington and the constitution a SHRINE? Was she burning candles around his picture? Was it in a frame? It was tacked on a board!
Another thing is, how can you say that she is biased in her classroom? These kids are not old enough to vote!!!! By the time they are, neither Bush nor Kerry will be around! Are you afraid that the kids will go home and somehow convince their parents to change voting stance? Rediculous!!!
So what if she had a stuffed elephant in the closet??? A lot of teachers will wear cross necklaces or earrings. Does that mean they are offending others because they are quietly celebrating their religion? Did she have republican posters in the classroom? Was the picture of the president on her desk? Because she chooses to celebrate our president....those parents should be ashamed. What's going to happen next? We're not going to be able to teach our children about political science because people will be offended one way or another.
I'm not saying that she's not lying. I'm looking at the situation, and that is that people, as a whole, are dumb and petty. When teachers take an hour of personal time to dote on their favorite candidate, let's get concerned. When they start hanging several pictures of their candidate on the walls and their desks, let's get worried. Until then, let's not be petty.
My fiance is also a teacher, and he happens to be a republican. The last school district he worked for was absolutely wonderful! - that is until another teacher found out that he was a Republican and the word spread. By the time we moved out of state, he had been ridiculed and branded as a "hardcore right-wing Bush supporter," and that's not him at all! He is a laid back person who, at this time, is a middle of the road republican. He was very sad that when he left he had such a rotten reputation - all because he is a republican. It's a sad damn thing.
And our country wonders why there is a shortage on teachers.
Posted by: Christina on October 7, 2004 05:43 PM
Excellent comment Christina. Well thought out and written.
It's a sad story about your husband. I'm not a Democrat and everytime I walk my kid to school I go past a Kerry/Edwards sign in a yard. I just chuckle and have said hello to the older gentleman that owns the house on a number of occassions.
I don't understand these hateful people that villify someone because of their own personal choice or belief in who to vote for. It's a democracy, one person is just a small part of a party, not the end all and be all of a party.
There's not many people that are 100% on a parties issues, remember that the next time you see a Republican and think he or she is a warmonger or see a Democrat and instantly think they're all for welfare and a national healthcare system.
Posted by: Digger on October 7, 2004 05:58 PM
OK... OK... maybe the word shrine is a strong word.
Christina, I want to point out your statement that when a "teacher spends an hour of personal time to dote on their favorite candidate, let's get concerned"..... that's the whole point in this story!!!!!!!!!! HELLO!!!!! That is what the majority of the students in her class are saying Ms. Pillai-Diaz was doing!!!!!!!! As I mentioned earlier, I'm a teacher myself (in the same district)... and I have to say that the kids in this district are great kids. They would not be saying all these things about the teacher unless there was a bit of truth to it.... that she was preaching her politics in the classroom! There were complaints about that before the parents even saw that picture of Bush and his wife on Back to school night.
And to quote you again,... "Another thing is, how can you say that she is biased in her classroom? These kids are not old enough to vote!!!! By the time they are, neither Bush nor Kerry will be around! Are you afraid that the kids will go home and somehow convince their parents to change voting stance? Rediculous!!!"
WAIT A SECOND.... YOU'RE SAYING BECAUSE THE KIDS ARE NOT OLD ENOUGH TO VOTE, SHE THEREFORE ISN'T BEING BIASED IN THE CLASSROOM? What sort of logic is that? So... Christina... you're saying that it's alright for me, or your husband, or any other teacher for that matter to say whatever you want to in the classroom. Are you freakin' serious? And you too Digger for thinking she has a good point there! Yes, there is something in this country about free speech... but when teaching young impressionable minds, we are limited as to what should say... as we should be. Teaching should be about teaching our kids to think for themselves and fostering opinions of their own. Many students and their parents are alledging that Ms. Pillai-Diaz hushed the kids when they talked about opposing views other than her own. She's the one who needs to be strung up... not the Principal for trying to solve this problem in her class.
Why are you assuming all these students are lying? Why? I want to know why you are 100% sure this woman is telling the truth and 10-20 people are lying. I realize it's fun to believe in an outlandish conspiracy theory... this is a great story -- "TEACHER ODERED TO TAKE DOWN PICTURE OF BUSH". Unbelievable that you all soak this up and see a fraction of the story and ignore the rest.
Christina - I'm sorry your husband had a bad experience in his past job... I feel bad about that. But it isn't like that here. I know you want to believe it, but it's not. That's all I have to say. Have a nice evening.
Posted by: eric on October 7, 2004 09:17 PM
Eric, I can only say I'm glad my son is no longer in school. You ream out Christina for daring to have an opposing view to yours, because "you teach in the same district."
"These kids are old enough to know what's going on," Donahue said. "This is not a good environment for them to be in."
The first CORRECT thing Mrs. Donahue said. These kids ARE old enough to know what's going on- and the remedies that exist in certain situations for the things that happen.
It was stated that the teacher "ran to the media in 5 minutes"... well evidently the situation seemed important enough to her to do what she did. Last I heard this was still America, and we ARE allowed to fight percieved injustices to ourselves- those are the rights we give our citizens- even Republican teachers.
Eric, I find it hard you "keep your politics out of it"... when it appears you and your colleagues are very obviously opposed to this teacher and look down on her because she's only a first year teacher. You say the young minds are impressionable- well, gee, isn't that the idea of teaching them at that age? They're supposed to learn about ALL things. We have TWO party system in this country , something many Democrats choose to forget on occasion, and as such a WRITING assignment about the CURRENT election and/or CURRENT President is appropriate. So TWO people "heard" her say the words "personal bulletin board"... hmmm.... just happens to be some of the SAME people talking to the media to refute this woman's story. And TWO hearsays are better than one huh?
Yep, I'm a Republican, just like Christina, and just like our President. I'm not a warmonger or opposed to helping the less fortunate... I'm a CITIZEN of the United States. I am voting for MY candidate, and I'd LIKE to see a broad education for children that includes a WORKING knowledge of our political system and ways for THEIR generation to improve it. I don't wish to see them brainwashed by either side, but sadly I think many of the people doing the teaching these days are very liberally minded. Do you think Eric, that if she had been teaching the wonders of Democratic Party politics as espoused by John Kerry, and a Republican parent called the school on it, that the resulting newspaper coverage would be the same? I highly doubt it, given our very liberal press.
Christina, I hope your husband has a much more pleasant experience in your new home area.
Posted by: AnArmyMom on October 8, 2004 03:19 AM
Yes... if a teacher had discussions and expressed his/her very liberal views without discussing the other side... or allowing the other side to at least be heard... yes, I see that teacher as getting him/herself into a little bit of trouble.
In the most recent press release from Ms. Pillai-Diaz on Oct. 7th... She stated that she didn't avidly pursue the media - the media came to her. How did the media know about it then? She most certainly sought out the media. Her statement confuses me as does many and raises questions. And assuming she was wronged by the school and the Principal, why didn't she first go to the Superintendent first... if that didn't work, then go to the media (again, assuming she was wronged and she sees absolutely no way to rectify the situation).
My colleagues and I don't look down on her because she's a first year teacher... where did you get that idea? (And just in case you didn't catch it... this is her 5th year - first in this district). This district is a rapidly growing district, where anywhere from approximately 65-95 new teachers to the district are hired every year. A huge percentage are non-tenured... so no, your weird perception that my colleagues and myself look down on her for being a first-year, or fairly young teacher is way off.
Army Mom... you stated....
"Eric, I can only say I'm glad my son is no longer in school. You ream out Christina for daring to have an opposing view to yours, because "you teach in the same district." "
Hmmm... no, I don't ream out Christina for having opposing views as mine.... I ream out Christina for being unfair, much like yourself... for reaming out people when you don't know all the facts. I don't know all the facts yet! We probably will never know all facts (hopefully we'll at least know much, much more of the facts though before this is all over). As you may have guessed, my biggest pet peave is when people are ignorant and make extremely strong opinions based on partial information. I wouldn't have made any posts here if there weren't people bashing my school district. I posted here to present the other side of the story... to attempt to make you think of all the possibilities. Do I know 100% whether not Ms. Pillai-Diaz is majorly distorting the facts? No, but you obviously know where I'm leaning. So anyway, I'm not reaming out Christina or you because I work in the same district. If it comes out and it is PROVEN that Ms. Pillai-Diaz is telling the truth, go ahead --ream out the Principal!... the students!... the parents!... the whole darn district! I wouldn't say anything then... I'd just be embarrassed that it happened here. So, why don't you just wait a little bit before running your mouth.
The difference between me and you all... I responded to you. I didn't come out and spread my opinions all across the internet when this woman went to the press. I'm the sort of person to sit back and wait and see what happens.. then voice my opinion. But, when I read comments, such as those from Army Mom and Christina... I had to show the opposing view. Opinionated, close-mindedness... I hate it!! Republicans... Democrats.... whoever.... I just hate it when people run their mouth without truly knowing! I am sorry if I offended either of you... I just wanted you to know why I started writing.
Posted by: eric on October 8, 2004 05:58 AM
Eric, I take exception to a couple of your statements; mostly that in expressing OUR opinions Christina and I are "spreading our opinions all over the internet" . No, we did not- we came here, same as you to place a post, BASED on the information at hand. And, although I cannot speak for Christina, yes you DID offend me.
You know NOTHING of me, or what I believe or the things (similar to this situation) that I have seen. I do not like intolerance, and at the outset, that is what it seems this situation is based in. I have also seen first hand, the attitude in "academia"... the holier than thou, "we know more than you because we teach!" attitude that you seem only to happy to project.
I have two college degrees, so I"m not exactly in the "dummy" or ignorant category so don't patronize me.
I doubt that there is 100% truth on either side of this debate. Your post that I answered seemed to carry a certain amount of condescension for Miss Pillai-Diaz, as if she didn't quite "get" how you all do things (in a much superior way, of course) That was how you sounded Eric- perhaps that was not what you wished to convey.
I'm sure all kinds of scuttlebut is circulating in your teachers' lounges this week- and I hope there is a certain amount of embarrassment for those of you not directly involved. Hopefully though it gives teachers everywhere the chance to look at how THEY comport themselves and present themselves to their students, and perhaps opportunities to open discussions with the kids about the situations which occur in the real world.
Hope this clears up some of the angst on the subject.
Posted by: AnArmyMom on October 8, 2004 12:50 PM
Hi Army Mom..... how you finished your last post... "I'm sure all kinds of scuttlebut is circulating in your teachers' lounges this week- and I hope there is a certain amount of embarrassment for those of you not directly involved. Hopefully though it gives teachers everywhere the chance to look at how THEY comport themselves and present themselves to their students, and perhaps opportunities to open discussions with the kids about the situations which occur in the real world."...
now if you began your first post like that... I wouldn't have had much of a problem... as a matter of fact I probably would have responded with a resounding YES, YOU ARE RIGHT! However, the part where you are wishing those not directly involved were embarrassed over the situation - I'm not fond of that statement.
But instead, and in my opinion, in your first post you responded with throwing down the political card a little to quickly... when it clearly appears to be more than just about the picture. ArmyMom.. you are clearly a highly educated, intelligent woman.... I've enjoyed reading every one of your posts. As you stated, things I've written to you or about the situation has offended you... I certainly can't understand why, being that your posts have been equally as harsh or offensive. The first time I took exception to your comments were when you put down our union and the school board. Just like I don't know you (as you stated)... you don't know how our union or school board operates... Why criticize them? You were clearly putting our school, our parents, our union, and our students into one neat little category -- a bunch Republican-hating Democrats. Because of your experiences in academia, you've apparently stereotyped all of us... and I thought it was wrong to do that. I took offense to that.
And after all of this... it might surprise you to find out that I voted for Bush in 2000... and I'm currently an undecided voter for this election (leaning towards Kerry). So, I'm not some bleeding heart liberal Democrat, nor am I a Republican. But I hate extremism in politics! Some of the strong Republican-based comments from you and others in this thread have left a sour taste in my mouth. The view that IT MUST BE THE DEMOCRATS BEHIND THIS WHOLE THING... and having that cut-and-dried approach to it appears very narrow-minded to me. It seems like paranoia and too much jumping to quick conclusions. This is how I view this whole thing got started in the first place - when Ms. Pillai-Diaz came to the conclusion that this issue is as cut-and-dried as a picture of the President and First Lady. I'm just imagining what she was thinking, "The principal demanding that I take down the picture must be because I'm a Republican! It obviously can't be for any other reason... because I'm a Republican and I know they all hate me. All Democrats hate me! Oh... I'm fearing for my life! Now where's that number to the local newspaper?"
I'm friends with one particular History teacher who happens to be Republican and has a picture of Bush in the room. This teacher is fine and even survived back-to-school night. But how can that be? He's a Republican! He has a picture of the President in his classroom! And everyone around him must be narrow-minded Bush-bashing Democrats... since it is a school and all. .... Oh wait.... Now I get it... there's more to this story then a Repbublican possessing a picture of Bush in the classroom. And apparently we aren't all narrow-minded Bush-bashing Democrats. Sorry for my sarcasm.
And to slow down a bit and start being fair... I'm also getting tired of the political correctness. But until more facts come to a head in this case... I will not assume that Ms. Pillai-Diaz is a victim of political correctness and Republican suppression. Even the parental statement about putting up a picture of Kerry along side the President... we are only seeing a snapshot..was it ignorant political correctness?... or as others claim - it could have been taken out of context or it could have been a "dumb" statement made in the middle of a heated argument (based on prior blatant political bias occuring in the daily lessons of the classroom)... but I don't know and neither do you.
I just want you to consider the other side instead of blindly blaming our school district of going on a witch hunt. When the he-said, she-said starts to die down, and more facts come to surface... say what you gotta say! If it turns out she is 100% right... you probably won't be hearing much from me... I'll be cowering in the corner, embarrassed and angry... while reading the classifieds for teaching jobs in other districts... and perhaps busy writing Ms. Pillai-Diaz an apology letter. But if it swings the other way... then I'll expect you to think of writing some apologies to the students, parents, administration, and union of our school district.
I'm a little tired of this... perhaps you are too. So, I'll let my hostilities end with this post. Army Mom, if you don't mind me asking, where are you from? And am I correct to assume you are in the Army? Active? What do you do? What were your degrees in?
Posted by: eric on October 8, 2004 02:40 PM
Let's pretend for a moment that Ms. Pillai-Diaz did make a "shrine"....Ok, this is not a shrine of just a candidate. It is of our AMERICAN PRESIDENT. I would say it is wrong to make a bulleton board of just Kerry because he is not our president, at the current time Bush is.
I am not a hard core republican, but I'm also not a liberal democrat. I'm middle of the road, like a lot of people. I am uneducated in politics itself, and if it weren't for me being in a political science class this semester I wouldn't even be involved. It just seems to me that because it's election time, cat claws are flying unneccisarily and this teacher has a good reputation from her previous school. As quoted above, the previous principal said that she was a wonderful teacher and never had a problem with her.
And Eric, yes the kids in the school may be "good kids" but common! Gossip flies around! I remember a situation in jr. high when I was 12 when the female science teacher was rumored to be gay. There were rumors that two of the teachers were dating. If it was a hot topic, it was talked about, even if it was just a rumor. So of course these kids are going to get in an uproar over this and gossip is going to be all over the school. I'm not saying that these kids are lying, I'm just saying that neither side is 100% for sure telling the truth.
I do believe that Ms. Pillai-Diaz may have stretched the truth a little, but also that the school district did as well. Isn't the teacher's union supposed to stand by her side in the time of conflict? Then why aren't they? Why did the teacher's union side with the administration? And why did, as Ms. Pillai-Diaz stated, the vice prinicipal tell her that it was OK, no problem and that she didn't have anything to worry about the day previous to the day of incident? Then she came in and they jumped her like she was a flag burner or something?
If Ms. Pillai-Diaz was IN FACT using her class time to promote political debates, then I disagree with her. But she has stated that she had a good reputation and that she wouldn't want to jeopardize her job - what reasonable teacher would? The whole thing just seems fishy to me. I can't trust either side until more factoral information comes to light. I believe everyone should just keep an open mind. Remember, it's innocent until proven guilty.
Good day all.
Posted by: Christina on October 9, 2004 01:30 PM
Christina... I agree with most everything you said! The only thing I question is the part where the union didn't try to help her and took the administration's side... not sure where you heard that as fact. From what I understand, because of this controversy blowing up.. much of what is being discussed in private meetings between the two sides are being kept hush-hush.
For the most part, I believe you're absolutely right. Have a great day yourself! Good luck in school.
Posted by: eric on October 9, 2004 02:16 PM
Eric, I have no problem with you or anyone else here. I too have friends that are Democrats :-).
Just kidding with you a bit.
To answer your questions about me, My "ArmyMom" handle comes from the fact that my son is currently stationed in Suwan, S. Korea, on the 38th par. as a Patriot Missile Specialist. I'm in Central PA and live with my husband who is a heart surgeon. My degrees are in Psychology and my second degree is in Classical Piano Perfomance. I am a small business consultant, having owned my own company for many years.
As far as the bias I have shown against the school system, it stems from having dealt with some very liberal minded school personnel in the days my son was in school. Unfortunately for me, it was not hard at all to assume the district and administration was at fault. I have, as you saw in the last post I made, pulled back from that.
I personal feeling on all this, is that the media is probably the biggest culprit in all this . At this point so close to the election. they spin every situation in some sort of political light, and the real issues at hand get lost.
If I seemed to attack you personally Eric, I apologize, I think probably you are one of the more thoughtful folks here, and I too enjoy your posts, and our little debate.
I guess in all industries; private sector, teaching etc. there are folks who, for whatever reason, don't have some kind of personal standard for themself, perhaps even Ms. Pillai-Diaz falls in to that category... but again, that may just be the media's spin on the whole thing.
Certainly blogging and sites like this, are usurping some of their power, and hopefully showing them that there ARE still folks who think for themselves, and don't need the Big Three to tell us what's happening.
Christina, bravo on that last post...
Posted by: AnArmyMom on October 10, 2004 03:48 AM
There seems to be no dispute that Diaz was told to take down the picture. That was clearly wrong no matter what motivated posting it in the first place or what motivated the instruction to take it down. The pictures alone are not political statements of any kind. If the problem was that she was making political statements in class and that was contrary to established school policy, she should have been reprimanded for that conduct.
By the way, I personally take little stock in comments from a teacher (Eric) who cannot spell (sic) rediculous. Check your dictionary.... and people wonder why our kids get a poor education! Too much bickering about nonsense like this and not enough attention paid to whether the teachers are even qualified to teach!
Posted by: Doug on October 28, 2004 05:22 PM
So what! I made a typo. You sound like one of those far-right conservatives who immmediately blame everything on the liberals when they have very little information in the first place. That's what got me going in the first place when this story surfaced... and you're now going to say I'm not a qualified teacher because I made a typo? Your first statement piqued my interest, but then you insulted me for making a typo and accused me of not knowing how to spell. So I'm no longer going to comment on your educated response... I'm just going to call you a jerk!
Posted by: eric on November 8, 2004 07:16 AM