Indiana teacher suspended for giving students a book

Showing up on CNN yesterday, this Indiana story:

Perry Township teacher Connie Heermann a 27 year teaching veteran, was suspended from her job at Perry Meridian High School for a year and a half without pay, for giving her high school English class the book Freedom Writer’s Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them.

Apparently, the book was objectionable to the Perry Township school board because it contains swear words.

Yes, swear words. Oh, my stars and garters. Heavens to Murgatroid.

In addition to said swear words, it also contains inspirational stories of how inner city kids from very poor circumstances were inspired by their teacher’s introducing them to first-person journals from Anne Frank and others to write journals of the poverty and suffering around them, achieve in school, and go on to college. A very worthy book, it seems to me.

I guess not to the Perry Township school board.

Heermann attempted to get permission to teach the book as a textbook in her class, and the school board dithered at length on whether or not to allow it, because it contained the aforementioned swear words. While she waited on an answer, she sent home permission slips to the students parents, and 149 of 150 parents approved the book. So she passed it out in class, and stuff hit the fan.

The Perry Township School Board has taken refuge in the idea that they suspended her for “her disregard for policy and procedures and not working within the confines of the system she’s agreed to work in and support” claiming that they’re not “banning a book” but disciplining a teacher for not following the rules.

I am not fooled. This is a book banning.

It’s a bit of a mystery to me why this showed up on CNN just now, when the school board vote to suspend Connie Heermann occurred in March, but I’m glad it did, since I missed the story the first time around.

I’d also like you to take note that I used absolutely no swear words in writing this post, owing mostly to the fact that the CNN reporter said “blank” as he read the offending passages aloud, and the only word I could figure out was mother-fucker. Oops. Damn.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. B

    I am a teacher as well, and it breaks my heart to see this story. People wonder why our school system isn’t working. Well, view this story. The people on the school boards are generally not in touch with the students and their needs, which are significantly different from when the school board members went to school or even taught. Anytime you can get students engaged in a learning experience that could inspire them to better themselves and see that they are capable of moving outside their current situation, you go for it. So I say bravo to the teacher and a resounding boo to the board.

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