Friday, May 06, 2005

Support this teacher

AccessNorthGa reports A Gwinnett County teacher was fired early Friday after refusing to raise a student athlete's grade he lowered because the student appeared to be sleeping in class. The Gwinnett County School Board voted 4-1 early Friday _ after a marathon Thursday night meeting _ to fire Dacula High School science teacher Larry Neace, said school system spokeswoman Sloan Roach.

I know that High School Football is important in many small towns, but this is stupid.
"These students lost a teacher who cared not only about their academic growth, but their growth as individuals," said Deidre M. Stephens-Johnson, who represented Neace. More than 200 students, parents and teachers packed Thursday night's hearing. Many of them carried signs or wore T-shirts and buttons supporting Neace.
Georgia can't afford to have good teachers, if it interferes with winning the football game each week.
Gwinnett school officials said Neace was barred from campus for insubordination after he repeatedly refused to comply with a district policy that prohibits using grades as discipline. Neace, who has taught at Dacula High for 23 years, was removed from class after he refused to raise the grade he had given a football player on an overnight assignment. Neace said he cut the student's perfect grade in half because he thought the student had fallen asleep at his desk the day the assignment was made. School officials said they gave Neace a chance to restore the football player's grade. When he refused, they sent him home. He has not been allowed back at school since April 14, when he was told he could resign or face being fired. Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks recommended to the board that Neace be fired."He cannot have a policy that supersedes board policy," Wilbanks said.
A stupid policy should be removed, along with the board members that instituted it.
"He had no right to do that." Neace said he had a practice of reducing the grades of students who waste time or sleep in class. His course syllabus warns that wasting class time can "earn a zero for a student on assignments or labs." No administrators had previously complained about the practice, which he adopted more than a decade ago, Neace said.
Maybe he never used it against the star football player.
"What we have in this case is a case of a pampered football athlete sleeping in class and being given favored treatment on an academic grade," said Michael Kramer, another of Neace's lawyers. "What we have here is the principal essentially attempting to coerce and intimidate a teacher."

Michelle Malkin blogged Students are trying to rally around Neace. 114 of them have signed a petition asking for his reinstatement. Contact info for the Gwinnett County School Board is here.

Winfield Myers blogged Larry Neace has spent 23 of the past 26 years teaching physics -- not an easy subject -- to high school students in the formerly small town of Dacula, Georgia. In the wee hours of this morning, the Gwinnett County School Board voted to fire him in spite of his stellar record and the support of scores of students, whose impassioned pleas that he be retained were ignored by the Board, and a principal aptly named Donnie Nutt.
The whole school board is NUTTs
Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that Neace, who's nickname among students is Doc, was fired precisely because of his stellar performance and emotional following among his students. For it seems that he crossed what amounts to a death line for too many public teachers in America: he marked down the grade of a star athlete and, in doing so, spat in the face of the enforced mediocrity too many in his profession rely on to keep their jobs.
Georgia can't afford to have really good teachers.
The story, as recorded over the past week in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, goes like this: Neace, 61, has a decade-old policy of academically penalizing students who "waste time" in class. Among the actions, or inactions, that qualify for this move is sleeping in class, which is what the football playing son of Barry Cheek did in April. Cheek slept through the class in which an assignment, to be turned in the next morning, was made. As he has done for the past ten years, and as he stated clearly to the class on the first day of the term that he would do, Neace halved the student's grade.

If you wonder what's wrong with public education in America, here's one thing: the School Board has a policy of not allowing teachers to use grades to penalize students for such behavior. That is, what I could do as a college professor (via a demand for class participation or attendance), or what will most certainly occur in any job, cannot happen in Gwinnett County classrooms.
We can't have teachers enforcing discipline in their classrooms. The students might learn something.
Remember: this is high school. High school students are kids, not adults, and (think back) no small number of them will gladly disrupt class in myriad ways. Assignments in high school come fast and furious, too -- don't let your college days throw you on this. Remember all the tests, assignments, and projects you did during those halcyon days? Without the means to gain and maintain control over a class, and to instill some discipline into young minds, teaching in public schools can become even more difficult and thankless than it already is.

When ordered to raise the student athlete's grade, Neace refused. Good for him. The students he touches -- and 114 of them have signed a petition calling for his reinstatement -- will remain grateful to him for the rest of their lives. Students have also made t-shirts lauding him (a most American response to any crisis) and plastered the walls of the school with posters calling for his firing to be rescinded.

Neace is a physics teacher, mind you, not some push-over who shares my humanities background. When was the last time you were eager to take any physics class, even one taught in high school? That he could find so much support speaks volumes of his character, integrity, and talent.

mikesofc blogged The Devil Went Down To Georgia… What’s with Georgians these days? First, we have Jennifer Wilbanks. A certifiable…something. Now, we have this story…

Lockjaw blogged Physics Teacher Fired for Insisting on Academics

1 comment:

redleg said...

Larry Neace sounds very much like the excellent physics/chemistry teacher I had in high school in NC about 40 years ago. Her rules were simple: attend class, do your homework, don't goof off, don't sleep and do your best in class. Do less than your best and your grades suffer. I was so scarred by this teacher that I never took another science course after I received my Doctorate in Organic Chemistry. Aunt Betty was an inspiration and I believe that Larry Neace is one also.