Saturday, September 30, 2006

Art Teacher loses job after kids see nude sculpture

Sigh….at the risk of my Stumble tag continuing to be at sexuality (for what reason I absolute cannot comprehend because not only is my focus on the politics of it but also it's just one of my "hot button issues").

Anyway, award winning art teacher on the urging of the Principle brings Elementary (Primary) School kids to the museum. Parents all sign consent forms. They (kids) see nude statue. Protest raised. School board decides not to renew her contract after she had been there for 28 years.

Oh boy.

My feelings on this issue should now be more than evidently clear given the whole stream of blog post on this issue. But I'm going to try to see if there's some way of saving and salvaging this situation. I think there are but the arguments are fairly weak on balance.

Firstly, there arguably is no direct causal link between the protest and her contract not being renewed. It may well be a case of post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. Just because B came after A doesn't mean A caused B. And it may well be a pretext to not renew her contract. But despite all that, a court in civil suit is going to use an objective test based upon the theoretical legal reasonable person and whether s/he would believe that the non-renewal was based upon this particular incident.

Another argument would be based on the fact that it's not a firing. Theoretically, the School Board ought to be within their rights like any other educational institution to determine whether a teacher ought to have their contract renewed. A firing must be with cause. I'm not certain a non-renewal needs to be, although again they may be an implied term in any employment contract of mutual trust and confidence i.e. that the employer would not act unreasonably in the determination of whether to renew contracts or in their general behavior towards the employee. There is an entire corpus of such implied terms but I not certain if they apply here in the US. But I think it wouldn't be a stretch and again, I think a reasonable person would think that this incident could not justify a non-renewal.

But I might well argue at this point that all the parents are consenting to is a trip to the museum and that the teacher has the duty of ensuring that the young innocent minds are not exposed to something unsuitable for their age i.e. the teacher has been negligent. The consent form here is a huge nail in the coffin and I think the teacher ought to be allowed to rely on those consent forms to believe that the parents had indeed consented to the freaking trip to the museum and yes, that should include viewing the exhibits in there. And thus, if they don't do their jobs as parents and determine what they are consenting to, that's their problem not the teacher's.

Similarly, even based upon a fiduciary duty (i.e. one of good faith and loyalty and higher than duty of care), I really don't see that the standard has been breached. Because I personally think art nudity in this circumstance is not unsuitable in any regard. It's art not pornography for goodness sake! But arguably if this had been some of Goya's more disturbing and nightmarish paintings I might well decide otherwise.

But let's take the last point. Is my feelings on this matter based solely upon my worldview i.e. nudity is less harmful (or heck better) than violence? In such a situation I would argue that reality has a liberal bias and that the studies have been fairly clear that nudity has a non to negligible impact on young minds as opposed to violence.

Anyway, let's hear your views on this matter. I'm off to do readings on Sales.


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