Saturday, November 10, 2007

A message from the Miami-Dade County Schools to its best teachers: Keep your mouths shut and do your job or else

What's with the Miami-Dade County Schools? It appears to have a penchant for taking its best teachers who have the temerity to ask questions that threaten the system's status quo and, through heavy-handed draconian measures, remove them from the classroom, banishing them to non-teaching positions in an effort to punish and intimidate.

Shawn Beightol was the first to feel the wrath of the bureaucrats downtown. This gifted and beloved chemistry teacher made the mistake of using the schools' email system to send out emails "of a political nature." For that offense, he was yanked out of the classroom and sent to the bus depot to sit and stew and, we guess, to think better of ever trying to fuck with the system again. After 17-days, Beightol was allowed to return to the classroom. He is now organizing the Miami Professional Educators Association which will give teachers a real choice and a pro-active union that will demand and expect more from the school board. Serves those fat cat administrators right!

Now the bullies downtown are at it again. This time they're picking on another stellar teacher. Patrick "Taz" Williams, equally beloved by students and parents at Wm. H. Turner Technical Arts High School, has been removed from the classroom where he taught Spanish because he had the audacity to ask to see a budgetary report. When Principal Valmarie Rhoden ignored his numerous requests, he contacted Regional Superintendent George Núñez and wondered if there might be something to hide?

How dare he! The next day he was informed that Rhoden had filed a harassment complaint against him and was removed from campus. He is not allowed to communicate with students, parents or employees and now spends his time sitting in a room at the Regional Center III that is, in his words, "extremely cold," while waiting the outcome of his "review."*

Which is interesting because Mr. Williams was only doing what the state has asked him to do: his job. He is an elected member of the Educational Excellence School Advisory Council, a committee designated by Florida Law to be the "sole body responsible for final decision making at the school relating to implementation of the [School Improvement Plan]” (1001.452). In effect, the Miami-Dade County Schools may have interfered with his ability to carry out his duty which may be a violation of the law.

In a letter written to the school board in support of Williams, Beightol states:

"Taz, as a highly educated African-American male who speaks 7 languages has been able to do what many consider impossible - he was able to ignite his minority urban students to exceed the boundaries of mediocrity and pass the Spanish AP exam 16/18 and 18/18 with District commendation on this achievement. Why is this important to point out his ethnicity and gender? Because our children are hurting for passionate, honest, men of integrity in their lives. I know. I grew up without a male role model and Taz is the kind of man that would have made me want to learn. The 'proof is in the pudding' - Taz' students did disproportionately better than the other AP students in the area. Taz is a good teacher and should be returned to his classroom at the earliest for his students' sake. He should also be commended for trying to fulfill his mandate to represent the school's and its stakeholders' best interest by doggedly asking questions."

Hear! Hear, Shawn! Maybe this time the "system" that bludgeons kids' and teachers' spirits everyday with FCAT tests picked on the wrong guy. Again.
*These tactics remind us of Guantanamo and wonder if ex-intelligent officers aren't moonlighting for Rudy Crew and company.
UpDate (11/23): Mr. Williams has been out of the classroom now for 22 days.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Check out the Newtimes Coverage on TAZ!