Teaching is one of our oldest and proudest professions. In theory at least, it takes some of our best and brightest minds, and uses them to educate and instruct our next generation in what they need to know in order to live a successful life.
Unfortunately, in recent times there has been no shortage of scummy individuals who have taken advantage of their position as an authority figure when it comes to the children they teach, often to the point that these children incur some very significant trauma. It's a situation that understandably has both parents and school boards extremely concerned about the safety and well-being of their children.
However, as a result, we've seen an increased amount of sweeping, generalized rules put into play in schools that seem less dedicated to protecting kids from predators and more about protecting school boards from lawsuits. From "zero tolerance" violence policies that punish children for defending themselves, to subjects being stripped down or outright banned to avoid parents getting angry, a few bad apples have effectively poisoned the batch for everybody.
The most recent example of this comes from Mateo Rueda, a Utah elementary school teacher who is contesting his termination by the school board, all because he showed students examples of art that contained nudity...
Rueda had been passing around a series of educational postcards that he had borrowed from the school library to his sixth-grade class, postcards which depicted various famous works of art. Unfortunately, as it turned out, some of these works contained nudity, which started a situation that quickly spiraled out of control.
The two images were "Iris Tree" by Italian painter Amedeo Modigliani and "Odalisque" by 18th-century artist Francois Boucher, which upon investigation, police ruled were not pornography. Rueda himself was very apologetic about the situation, and had removed the cards immediately upon students reporting discomfort.
"This is not material at all that I would use. I had no idea," Rueda said.
Unfortunately, it seemed to be too little too late in the eyes of the school board, who immediately terminated Rueda's contract and ordered that school Principal Jeni Bruist destroy the offending postcards. Rueda is appealing the decision, but parents seem split on the issue.
Venessa Rose Pixton, the parent of an 11-year-old boy in Rueda's class, complained about the teacher's handling of the situation, claiming he said to students that "There's nothing wrong with female nipples. You guys need to grow up and be mature about this." Rueda has denied this claim, stating that all he said was the the human body is often depicted in art that you can see in museums.
Other parents, like Kamee Jensen, are decrying the decision, stating that the art had no impact on their children whatsoever. In a letter to the Herald Journal, she states that her daughter "was just very upset that her teacher was in trouble."
What do you think? Was the school board right to fire Rueda over this apparent mistake?