This Dude Has Issues

April 24, 2006

What a bizarre story: A Chicago high school teacher was ostracized for politically incorrect statements he made about his students and colleagues on a blog. Both the blog, which he apparently took down for its controversial material, and the teacher were not mentioned by name in the Chicago Tribune.

But the teacher taught at Fenger High School in the economically-disadvantaged South Side of Chicago. Recently, he unleashed some comments that left his students and administrators — understandably — fuming:

He labeled his Chicago students “criminals,” saying they stole from teachers, dealt drugs in the hallways, had sex in the stairwells, flaunted their pregnant bellies and tossed books out windows. He dismissed their parents as unemployed “project” dwellers who subsist on food stamps, refuse to support their “baby mommas” and bad-mouth teachers because their no-show teens are flunking.

He took swipes at his colleagues, too – “union-minimum” teachers, literacy specialists who “decorate their office door with pro-black propaganda,” and security officers whose “loyalty is to the hood, not the school.”

What a way to raise school morale, huh? In an ironic twist of fate, the teacher’s comments have stirred debate and built resolve among the students to alter this image.

“There is a silver lining,” Fenger Principal William Johnson said. “It brought Fenger together.” Johnson said he plans to hold student forums next week to discuss the blog, both the antagonism it revealed and the challenges that need to be fixed.

“He was painting a picture of desperation, and I had a problem with the generalizations he made,” Johnson said. “But some of it was true, and that was the tragedy. If he had gone about it in a different way, it could have been a great forum.”

Amen to that.