Sunday, June 18, 2006

Go Maroons!

I was going to post on this and forgot. See, I took the GRE on Friday, so most everything else sort of dripped out my ears from Thursday until Friday night.

Austin High Teacher in trouble for topless internet photos.

Front page of CNN, man. It's hard to keep that kind of stuff on the QT when CNN is splashing it across the front page out of prurient interest. The Statesman ran an article on this last week and included pictures of the teacher. I think it's worth noting that Ms. Hoover appeared qualified to pose topless.

Art and high school are an odd combination. Despite all evidence to the contrary, high school administrators are in a never-ending battle insisting that they are in charge of children, not young adults with working brains. Parents would like for art classes to be all clay ash-trays and pictures of posies in a vase. The students, meanwhile, are in a crucial stage of self-discovery and expression. We had a photo of a skinny male torso taken down out of our display case at KOHS because a caoch deemed it "gay".

Now, you sort of have to have a background in art in order to teach art in high school. And that may mean that the teacher may have had an educational background not steeped in the education department while receiving their degree. It may also mean that the teacher has a life outside of the classroom.

I'm not exactly certain what's contained in the photos of Ms. Hoover, but the description was "topless". At no point was "simulated sex acts" or anything of that nature brought up. Further, according to the Statesman's article, Hoover had no idea the artist would post the photos online.

I know I know I know... we must protect the children. Whatever. Those kids are going to be adults someday. In fact, the day they turn 18 and/ or graduate from high school, expectations sure do change, don't they?

I think it's absolutely worth noting that Ms. Hoover was not the one who showed the photos to her students, nor did she participate in them in order for her students to see them. She was a model. It was, in fact, a different teacher who viewed the photos in the classroom with other students present.

In viewing art, even in public school, students are exposed to nudity. Whether viewing slides of The David or Venus de Milo. And, no, the argument that those are "classic" works doesn't hold up. You either accept all of it as art or you accept none of it.

Now, with national attention, the district is going to find itself at the center of a lot of controversy regarding the private lives of underpaid school teachers. No doubt, the district's decision to quickly slap Ms. Hoover with her scarlet letter and get her out the door will be applauded by the PTA. I think it's kind of sad that they're quick to fire someone so quickly when they did nothing wrong in the classroom or on school grounds, and which, in all fairness, probably had no adverse effect on any student.

AISD has been a problem school district for well over a decade, and has much bigger fish to fry than a couple of photos. I'm sure they know this. What I find interesting is that you really didn't hear much about people in the district getting fired for manipulating TAKS scores, but this firing wasn't even in question.

Still, you gotta protect those innocent, innocent kiddies from the preeeverts.

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