27 February 2006

Further Grease-fire info

First, I must apologize to my faithful readers (both of you) for my lack of postings over the past week and a half. Most of my free time has been devoted to planning the celebrations for my spouse's 40th birthday party, a milestone I myself commemorated quite some time ago. This not being one of those blogs that assumes everyone wants to see pictures of said blogger's personal goings-on, I won't bore you with photos of the aforementioned party; however, those of you who know me and my spouse in our non-blog lives can feel free to email me requesting said pics.

Back to the business at hand. You'll recall my last post about the era of censorship descending upon the good citizens of Fulton, Missouri. I just remembered that this was the town where Winston Churchill popularized the term "Iron Curtain" - ironic, isn't it, now that we've defeated the Soviet Union with its state-controlled media and rampant censorship, the local school board gets to exercise its own version of state censorship.

Anyway, I digress. In that last post, I mentioned having informed Dr. Enderle, the superintendent, of my article, and invited his comments. I also sent an email to Ms. DeVore, the drama teacher under fire. Dr. Enderle hasn't responded (no surprise), but Ms. DeVore did send a comment to my blog with some updates on the situation. Since I know that not everyone bothers to backtrack and read comments on prior posts, I wanted to make sure her comments were broadcast herein in a more accessible manner:

Good evening,

I just wanted to send a note to say thank you for your kind words of inspiration regarding the NYT's article. As you can imagine, it has been crazy here in Fulton, MO. Everyday brings new stories, letters and emails.

Last week was a rather frustrating as the Fulton Sun; our local paper who started this coverage, posted a letter from Dr. Enderle stating that the show was never "banned" as well as mentioning that he came to talk to the students the day the article came out. This was distressing to the students because they and I felt that he had "used them" to make himself look better. Another slap in the face for them.

Unfortunately, they will not be able to let people know this because the Fulton Sun made a statement that it agreed with Dr. Enderle and would no longer post letters about this topic. Underneath the printed article was a passage from the bible Proverbs 18.2 (this is only in the printed ed., not the on-line ed).

[Blogger's editorial note: this verse reads "A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind", or alternatively, "but that his heart may discover itself".]

I am not a vengeful person by nature and had agreed to let this fade away and to focus on looking for options for new employment for next year (still no word on my contract at this point). However, this second injustice to the students as well as his denial of the facts, makes it hard.

I am not writing this letter to stir up more anger or provoke anything, but to thank you, make the truth known, keep you updated on a situation in which you expressed a great interest.

Thank you again for your kind words.

Sincerely,
Wendy DeVore

3 comments:

kitty cat said...

I feel even more sympathy for Ms. DeVore, being no stranger to institutional overlords who thump their Bibles so very loudly in order that interesting ideas not be heard. I hope that we both find better employment soon, as the Scriptural Curtain falls over the red states.
This is, of course, not to say that I am not a Christian. I just define "Christian" very differently - and that includes striving for truth, even when truth is personally unflattering. Shame on the principal who lies about helping students to understand the moronic decisions he makes. But then, why should I expect anyone in a position of power to admit to dishonest or unChristian actions? Where will the buck stop? (God bless our dearly departed H.S. Truman.)

Anonymous said...

Being involved with the Fulton Public School District for some time now, I have to present the alternate side of the story. This entire matter has been blow out of context and proportion. Wendy Devore was not "forced" to quit her job as drama teacher at Fulton High School. She was simply asked to put the Crucible on hold until the controversy calmed itself. In fact, after all of the problems arose, Ms. Devore openly offered to quit her job as drama teacher (I’m assuming this was in a joking manner, but an offer none the less).

As and educator, Ms. Devore's job is to educate students--first and foremost. As a professional, Ms. Devore's job is to respect and honor the wishes of her supervisors, without question or challenge. Instead, Ms. Devore chose to openly air her grievances about the district, the community and the superintendent. In my opinion, this was a mistake on her part. If you do not want attention or controversy to arise, it would stand to reason that the best idea is to keep your mouth shut. She is entitled to her opinion, however being a teacher gives her a small town "celebrity" status and when she voices that opinion openly, she's bound to have situations such as the present.

No one brought this situation on Ms. Devore but Ms. Devore herself. If you feel sympathetic toward her, you have that right. However, I feel only one side of the story is continuously being played out in the media and through websites such as this. The job of journalists or any news reporters (including private/public websites) is to present both sides of the story. I hope I have helped to do so.

Dan said...

Anonymous,

Thanks for your side of the story. However, I don't recall stating anywhere that Ms. DeVore was "'forced to quit her job", as you noted in your comment. I have to disagree with one of your assertions - that as a professional, one's job is to respect and honor the wishes of one's supervisors without question or challenge. I think that particularly in the realm of education, when one sees one's superiors as standing in the way of educating one's own students, a teacher's primary responsibility is to the students first and foremost, not to the wishes of one's supervisors. Questioning and challenging are integral parts of critical thinking, a skill which is far too often lost in our secondary schools these days (with all the pressures to "teach to the test" and the like). Sometimes controversy is necessary to make a larger point - which is in fact much of what art and literature are about.

Still, I'm glad to see a dissenting voice on this topic register his/her opinion here. Thanks again for sharing your perspective.