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Do you think teachers should be protected from criminal charges when using controversial art or literature in the class room?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on February 27, 2007

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Photo of Laura Moriarty

“Yes, I do. I think we should respect our teachers’ judgment and allow our children to be exposed to even controversial viewpoints.”

Photo of Steven Thompson

“It’s important for students of all ages to be well educated and learn about art and literature from a broad range of sources, but I would be hesitant to give teachers absolute discretion.”

Photo of John Bejan

“No, they should be free to teach. If a teacher is willing to dig in and bring something to the class that’s not in the textbooks, they should be protected in doing so.”

Photo of Katie Ozorkiewicz

“Oh yeah, definitely. They should be able to use whatever material they need to. As long as they’re not scarring the kids for life, I think they should be protected.”

Comments

Kuku_Kansas 7 years, 10 months ago

Speaking as a teacher...

...if it somehow aligned with the curriculum and perhaps students/families have received upfront notification.

Whether we as teachers like it or not, you must use common sense and be a tad more proactive to CYOA.

jonas 7 years, 10 months ago

The really scary thing about this question is that it assumes that art or literature can be criminally damaging. Unless it contains pornography or something like that, I find that to be a chilling mentality. It's just an idea, it can't hurt you.

davisnin 7 years, 10 months ago

My understanding is currently the law protects them even when bringing in pornography, there's your unless, but that could have been an exaggeration. I don't think restrictions on K-6 are a problem, kids should be getting the basics then, it's a bit too early for their minds to be blown. But that's with the assumption that the restrictions wouldn't be overreaching, which they probably would.

sgtwolverine 7 years, 10 months ago

Jonas, I think you're underestimating the potential power of art and literature.

Anyway, this is a broad question that probably shouldn't have a broad answer. It depends on the teacher (and the teacher's motives) the students (the age range), and the specific art or literature (why is it controversial?). I don't think this can be a yes or no question.

jonas 7 years, 10 months ago

"Posted by davisnin (anonymous) on February 27, 2007 at 6:27 a.m. (Suggest removal)

My understanding is currently the law protects them even when bringing in pornography, there's your unless, but that could have been an exaggeration"

An exaggeration?!?!? In Kansas politics?!?!? Get out of here!!!!

jonas 7 years, 10 months ago

sgt: Not at all. A reasonable, rational person reacts to literature and art as just that, the expression of a viewpoint of one person at one time. The people who make it dangerous, they were looking for something to focus upon. If it's not one things, it would just be another.

The solution, then, is to find those people before they explode and crush them. mwahahaha. Or maybe that was just from a book I read.

I suppose there might be some variation on this since the target audience would be children, but to be honest I think children have a much greater ability to filter in and out relevent information than any of us adults give them credit for.

davisnin 7 years, 10 months ago

Children look up to Paris Hilton and Ashley Simpson... We give them plenty of credit.

jonas 7 years, 10 months ago

Says you. How many children have you asked about Paris and Ashley?

I'm not saying that in the short run they don't get influenced, just that in the long run it amounts to a non-effect.

At any rate, you're comparing media outlets to classroom outlets. If those things aren't different, then we, as a society, have a lot more to worry about than the art our children are exposed to.

nut_case 7 years, 10 months ago

I always viewed school as a place to learn how to learn. True learning and exploration is done outside the class room.

ksmoderate 7 years, 10 months ago

It's simple: if you are a parent that believes your child should not be "exposed" to certain books, art, etc. because you deem it to be obscene, then take your child out of the public school and send them to a religious school or school them yourselves...that way you can guarantee that your children will end up as paranoid and ignorant as you are.

davisnin 7 years, 10 months ago

Jonas, I was involved with a 300 million dollar study done out of MIT. We polled 250,000 first through sixth graders on who they thought we're the most important women in history.

1.Paris Hilton 2.Ashley Simpson . . 12. Clay Aiken . . 99. Oprah . . 1,203. Harriet Tubman . . 2,334. Susan B. Anthony

sgtwolverine 7 years, 10 months ago

Jonas, I might agree with you, except we're not talking about reasonable, rational people. In many cases, we're talking about people who are still trying to figure out how to be reasonable and rational.

But I think my larger concern is the context of presentation. It's one thing for a kid to examine controversial art and lit; it's another for a teacher to present that art and lit. That presentation gives the art and lit a weight that it may not necessarily deserve, and that may not end up being beneficial to the material or the students.

I'm not against students seeing any controversial material; I just think there should be caution when it comes to having it presented by teachers.

beatrice 7 years, 10 months ago

davisnin: A poll of 250K people that cost 300 million? If my quick math doesn't fail me this early in the morning, that is $1200 per person!! What, did MIT fly each person first class to the poll site and then put them up for the night? I'm afraid I might be smelling some phoney baloney this morning.

I love art. However, I don't believe anyone should be protected from criminal charges if exposing children to illegal material. This is because I don't think the two are ever going to be one and the same. Since literature and art won't fall under the guidelines of pornographic material, then there shouldn't be a problem. No upper court will support that "Catcher in the Rye" or "Slaughterhouse Five" is pornographic.

If anyone is going to criminalize art, then you must first define "art." Good luck with that one.

beatrice 7 years, 10 months ago

Oh, and consumer, it is the conservatives as usual who are the ones whining over this issue, not the liberals.

sgtwolverine 7 years, 10 months ago

I think bea is making a good distinction, and I think this discussion is probably going to be larger than the original question. I suppose if I were to answer today's question, I'd have to say criminal charges would be going a bit far for a lot of things. But at the discretion of local and state adminstration (preferably the former), I wouldn't protect teachers from disciplinary action.

samsnewplace 7 years, 10 months ago

I don't think teachers are going to corrupt our children, they would have to get in line behind public television....and we all know that leaves nothing to the imagination any longer, not to mention language. School is for learning, about everything I thought. Parents should always have input, but I think one person's idea of controversial is quite different from another's.

tim_hardaway 7 years, 10 months ago

i hate liberals!!! who cares about art these kids should be focusing on how to read no wasting there time on art!!!

davisnin 7 years, 10 months ago

God I hope you can smell it. I thought I made it pretty stinky.

jonas 7 years, 10 months ago

"Posted by consumer1 (anonymous) on February 27, 2007 at 7:36 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Wake up people. . Teachers are people only people, they have agenda's like most other people"

Sorry, but right here is where you go wrong. Most people Don't have agendas. That is something that you simply believe that everybody else has, because you spend too much time paying attention to that small, loud minority of people who Do have agendas and that distorts your perception.

jonas 7 years, 10 months ago

"Posted by davisnin (anonymous) on February 27, 2007 at 7:50 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Jonas, I was involved with a 300 million dollar study done out of MIT. We polled 250,000 first through sixth graders on who they thought we're the most important women in history.

1.Paris Hilton 2.Ashley Simpson 12. Clay Aiken 99. Oprah 1,203. Harriet Tubman 2,334. Susan B. Anthony"

Role model is not mentioned in there. Someone could say that Mussolini was an important figure, and you could safely assume that they don't view him as a role model.

Watching the TV for a week, you can understand why they would believe Paris Hilton was more important than Susan B. Anthony. What do you think would happen if we transposed that list on top of relative share of media coverage in any given period of time. The reason the kids think so is because our society, with the media as reflection, views those people's importance in that order. Or do you think that a large percentage of our population would tune out American Idol(otry) and the Simple Life to watch a three hour even on the life and times of Harriet Tubman?

jonas 7 years, 10 months ago

sorry "event on the life and times of Harriet Tubman?"

RonBurgandy 7 years, 10 months ago

Watch out scenebooster, you falling into that "Typical Liberal response" of name calling...of course if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck....

jonas 7 years, 10 months ago

"Posted by beatrice (anonymous) on February 27, 2007 at 8:14 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Oh, and consumer, it is the conservatives as usual who are the ones whining over this issue, not the liberals."

I don't know, Bea. Tipper Gore was pretty bad, if you recall.

tim_hardaway 7 years, 10 months ago

i love it all you little liberals continue to cry about NOTHING !!!

Kuku_Kansas 7 years, 10 months ago

I'm a "liberal."

No tears here.

I make an effort to ignore idiots.

davisnin 7 years, 10 months ago

My god. Did the inclusion of Clay Aiken and the 300 million price tag make the joke too elusive?

jonas 7 years, 10 months ago

Davisnin: Errr. . . apparently so.

As a note, it's best not to make humor look TOO much like plausible reality. To be honest, I bet that list isn't too far from the truth.

jonas 7 years, 10 months ago

R.I.: Wow, that looks a lot like my list, except, as a godless liberal, mine also has:

6:35: Plot new ways to sneak contraceptives to kids and tell them where to have abortions 6:40: Think of new ways to sneak pornography into classrooms 7:00: Sign contracts for new roundabouts 7:05 on: Redistribute income downwards

sgtwolverine 7 years, 10 months ago

Jonas, your schedule looks packed. When do you find the time to sneak evolution into classrooms?

jonas 7 years, 10 months ago

Ha! Thanks to the godless liberals on the boards of education and the easily manipulated people of Kansas, evolution is forced into the classroom with full sanction of the government, right out in the open!! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Linda Aikins 7 years, 10 months ago

Gosh - it took a while for anyone to comment that his header said "important women" and the list had Clay Aiken! And where am I on that list???

person184 7 years, 10 months ago

Posted by tim_hardaway (anonymous) on February 27, 2007 at 8:35 a.m. (Suggest removal)

i hate liberals!!!

Jesusu loves you, Tim.

sgtwolverine 7 years, 10 months ago

I have to admit that I spotted it, but figured a lot of people polled thought he was a woman. Oops.

jonas 7 years, 10 months ago

hah! I'm slow today, I just now noticed that. I just read "important PEOPLE" over important women.

And just yesterday I was talking about fighting confirmation bias in a study abroad application.

thanksforcoming 7 years, 10 months ago

Not really teaching kids anything if we are sheltering them.

sunflower_sue 7 years, 10 months ago

Too many variables to factor in on this question. It is unanswerable.

Huh! I missed Clay Aiken. I'm going to poll my kids this evening and see if he comes up on the list. Gootsie, I'll let you know what # you come in as.

promitida 7 years, 10 months ago

Laura Moriarty! She wrote one of my all time favorite books!

beatrice 7 years, 10 months ago

rt: "This forum is still the cheapest entertainment you can find."

And you continue to do your part by cheapening it further with every post. Now, shouldn't you be at home teaching the kids to hate others who aren't just like their daddy?

beatrice 7 years, 10 months ago

I think he is a Log Cabin Republican.

davisnin 7 years, 10 months ago

Yay! I have given life to the pseudo-intellectual discussion of Clay Aiken.

Here is another interesting fact gleaned from that MIT study.

1 out of 7 high school seniors believe that Jefferson Starship was the designation of the UFO that landed at Roswell.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 10 months ago

Is sex education pornography? I think not!

Are nude bodies pornography? Not necessarily!

Were we born nude? Sure as the sun rises in the east.

Does Kansas have narrow minded paranoid legislators? Yep

It must be time for the majority to go home.

sgtwolverine 7 years, 10 months ago

I feel like I'm in middle school or something. "You're liberal times 100!" "Well, you're conservative times 1,000!" "Oh yeah? You're liberal times infinity!"

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 7 years, 10 months ago

Norman Rockwell, John Collier, Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye", Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath, Cormier's "I Am The Cheese", Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four", Shakespeare's "Hamlet", Joyce's "Ulysses"...

Yes, all these books would be gone and Shakespeare and Chaucer get a little racy at times. If a parent really finds any of these classics offensive, they can ask for alternative assignments for their student. Books that are used in school are part of the curriculum that any parent is allowed to see. Parents may ask anytime what is being read in school, then make a decision whether or not they want their student to read it. Remember the guy that was saying Romeo and Juliet was promoting teen sex a few years ago? This displayed real ignorance. Most people did marry as teens in the era that the play is set (you were old if you lived to be 50), plus they do marry in the play. So his entire argument was formed out of total ignorance of the facts.

sgtwolverine 7 years, 10 months ago

TOB: don't forget Democrap. I always like that one.

It is comedy. It's like a great sports rivalry, except it's centered around something that was supposed to be taken somewhat seriously.

beatrice 7 years, 10 months ago

TOB and sgt -- you are correct. I have no idea why I have resorted to responding to rt. It is like trying to have a conversation with a door knob. I guess I got sucked in by the absolute weirdness of his posts. At least I didn't stoop to name-calling.

Oh, and you are both neo-cons times infinity ... plus one.

sgtwolverine 7 years, 10 months ago

R_I, I got hung up on the "Clean up your own mess" one. Is that negotiable?

davisnin 7 years, 10 months ago

Check out the top stories. Clay Aiken just got arrested for his involvement in an Asian prostitution ring.

RonBurgandy 7 years, 10 months ago

R_I - the real question is, can I run with scissors?

Ceallach 7 years, 10 months ago

No, I do not. Art and literature are undeniably two of the basic elements that must be present for any truly complete education. But how delusional would we have to be to assume that a teaching certificate somehow endows the holder with the intelligence, character and moral responsibility necessary to warrant being given total access to any student's mind without the possibility of repercussions if they act irresponsibly? That is why teachers are a singular part of the line of authority within a school, city, county, state, etc.

Those who would put any teacher on that pedestal should spend more time catching up on the news.

Ceallach 7 years, 10 months ago

On a VERY sad note. During lunch break I went to vote and was shocked to see that I was voter number 21 in my district!!! 21!!! What is the matter with people?

Flap Doodle 7 years, 10 months ago

Hmmmm, the air is rank with flying biosolids today.

davisnin 7 years, 10 months ago

No, just so amazed that the first post went over like it did that I want to see what else will work.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 7 years, 10 months ago

Ceallach - the voting will be small, but don't forget a lot of people did the advance voting.

Ceallach 7 years, 10 months ago

"We are discussing art and literature being labeled as obscene, and teachers being criminally prosecuted for using those materials. Whose community standards will you use to judge these materials?"

All art and/or literature is not appropriate for children of all ages. Ideally, the individual school districts would set the standards since parents are more likely to have influence at that level.

My point was that anytime a group is given absolute power, corruption will follow. Maybe not by the entire group, but certainly through individuals within the group. Something as important as our chidren cannot be handed off to teachers, preachers, or priests, with the understanding that the person will have no consequences even if they expose the children to inappropriate material of any kind.

I love how "want to be deciderer" people call other people want to be deciderers in order to not be looked upon as want to be deciderers themselves. Or some want to be deciderer thing like that. Deciderer people :P

sourpuss 7 years, 10 months ago

I can't imagine any teacher worth their salt bringing in anything truly inappropriate to a classroom.

Art and literature is full of subversive ideas, but those are only a danger to those in power, not to children.

I was traumatized by "Summer of my German Soldier," but only because it was so friggin boring... god, the ennui! However, I loved "I am the Cheese"... gotta love the insane.

Linda Aikins 7 years, 10 months ago

Good copy/paste/edit C!

I'm off to #2 [pencil] in some circles.

Crossfire 7 years, 10 months ago

Yes. Not just protected, but encouraged to present controversial art and literature in our classrooms. Words...ideas...art...images...imagine encouraging free thought and speech in America. Cool huh...

Ceallach 7 years, 10 months ago

Goots, copy/paste/edit . . . that pretty much sums up my life . . :)

Bone777 7 years, 10 months ago

I tried to say:

Clay Aiken's fan base is right-wing conservative.

I love him!

Bone777 7 years, 10 months ago

I remember some books about a couple of frogs. I think it was Ted and Tad or something like that.

I was just reminiscing about when I used to read books...

james bush 7 years, 10 months ago

Teachers need to be approved by the aclu so that 11yr-olds will be protected when they have sex...............aka hpv hysteria!

Ceallach 7 years, 10 months ago

RI, the Deciderer, I like the sound of that!! If only more parents were like you. That is the type of parental parallel teaching that always benefits the younglings.

I tried to do the same with my spawnettes. It usually worked best if we could have short discussions before, during and after the book, gallery, etc. They still love to read and we still have special days for lunch, a gallery exhibit and good times with the g-babies (although some of the g-babies are now almost g-rown ups :)

james bush 7 years, 10 months ago

NO, the aclu should be called to the front of the class and made to account for itself!

rhd99 7 years, 10 months ago

ARE U KIDDING ME?! Give me a break, folks! This issue that KINZER wants to raise in the Legislature is an idea full of loopholes. What the heck is he going to demand next? CENSORSHIP is illegal under the Constitution's Freedom of Information & Speech clause. Where did this guy go to Law School? TIMBUKTU?!

Flap Doodle 7 years, 10 months ago

"CENSORSHIP is illegal under the Constitution's Freedom of Information & Speech clause." There isn't a "Freedom of Information & Speech clause" in the US Constitution. Where did you go to school? Here is the text of the Freedom of Information Act: http://www.usdoj.gov/oip/foia_updates/Vol_XVII_4/page2.htm

james bush 7 years, 10 months ago

We did not need this law when people had a sense of morality..........before parents abdicated their role and allowed Hollywood, MTV, NBA and entertainers to become our kids' lifestyle models.

Godot 7 years, 10 months ago

Intelligent Design is considered to be controversial, as is any questioning of global warming.

Godot 7 years, 10 months ago

Of course, the JW inflames sentiment by substituting the word "obscene" for "controversial." The two words are not synonomous.

Godot 7 years, 10 months ago

oops again. JW substitutes the word "controversial" for the word "obscene."

sunflower_sue 7 years, 10 months ago

got my kiddies to take that $300 million poll, here are their results: (top 6 in order that they spit them out) Most important women in history: 1. Condaleezza Rice (cringe) 2. Harriet Tubman 3. Amelia Earhart 4. Mother Teresa 5. Mary 6. Oprah

Clay Aiken did not make the list. Sorry Gootsie, you didn't place, either...but neither did I!

beatrice 7 years, 10 months ago

rt, I said trying to converse with you is like conversing with a door knob, because a door knob, or glass of water or pair of scissors, won't respond in any rational manner. This isn't the same as actually calling you a door knob.

"Spoken like a true hysterical anti-traditionalist, anti-Christian, anti-Conservative, rabid W hating far-left, secular progressive looney tune." That is name calling. That is what one is left with when incapable of actually conversing or trying to argue a real point.

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