Saturday, October 18, 2014

An Honorary Curmie Award

Curmie is way behind in his writing… two months without a post? Really? True, life (especially in the form of a wonderful but exhausting theatre production) has intervened, but there have been opportunities. Lots of potential Curmie nominees have strutted their dubious qualifications. I thought the indictment of Rick Perry would get me writing again, but although I may yet get to that, I haven’t actually parked myself in front of the computer to write it up.

But now comes news that the Idiocracy at Batavia High School in Illinois has apparently forced the resignation of social studies teacher John Dryden. His transgression, you may recall, was telling his students about to fill out a survey including identifying information that they have a right against self-incrimination. Just because it’s true, you know? The nerve! In granting Dryden Ethics Hero status in August of 2013, Jack Marshall wrote, “Dryden is, for now, still both a teacher and an Ethics Hero. But that letter of reprimand is in his file… let’s see how long he keeps his job.” Alas, we now know the answer to Jack’s question.

Curmie first wrote about this case last December (I was playing catch-up last year, too). The cretinous yahoos in the Batavia hierarchy—Superintendent Jack Barshinger, School Board President Cathy Dremel, Chief Academic Officer (apparently “Principal” is an insufficiently pretentious title) Brad Newkirk and the rest of their gaggle of pathological do-gooders—earned a Curmie nomination; Curmiphiles ranked them third in this year’s balloting against some pretty stiff competition.

By this time, of course, the self-righteous administrators had trotted out their list of grievances. Of course, in the Orwellian world inhabited by school administrators, Dryden’s truth-telling qualifies as “mischaracterization” because, in effect, all manner of unconstitutional intrusiveness is to be excused because they are self-righteous as hell voyeuristic assholes only looking out for students’ welfare. A statement of Common-sense reminders that constitutional protections apply even to high school students are “legal advice.” Being “flippant” about anything, apparently, is inappropriate in an educational setting (boy, is Curmie in trouble).

Nope. Sorry. It’s possible that Mr. Dryden disparaged the motives of administrators privately (Curmie certainly does), but his public statements show a level of professional courtesy the administration and school board certainly didn’t grant him. It’s clear, too, that the school not only administered a crappy survey, allowed the private company that created it to claim its questions as a proprietary trade secret, and sanctioned an apparently outstanding teacher for doing his job… they didn’t communicate adequately to teachers, parents, or (especially) students about the survey, opt-out opportunities, and so on.

And now, having just turned 55, Dryden is “retiring” in the middle of the school year. To commemorate this event, which, let’s be real, is pretty damned unlikely to be entirely voluntary, I hereby bestow an honorary Curmie Award on the Batavia school system and all the mindless drones who run it. All of the major players manage to combine hubris and incompetence in frankly rather frightening ways. But now they’ve won an honorary Curmie. They truly are among the most embarrassing so-called educators in the country.

Arrogant incompetence of this caliber should be celebrated. Sort of.

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