Los Angeles Science Teacher Suspended After Students Design Doomsday Weapons
Please do not adjust your interwebs. There is nothing wrong with your computer. Yr Wonkette is actually going to sound like a wingnut blog for just a moment here, because we have to ask if administrators at the Cortines School of Visual & Performing Arts in downtown Los Angeles are maybe just a little completely crazy forsuspending science teacher Greg Schiller after two of his students designed projects that the school deemed "imitation weapons." One would use compressed air to "propel a small object," but it wasn't connected to an air source, so it couldn't have been used. The other would have used an electric coil, powered by a mighty AA battery, to propel a tiny projectile out of a tube. And so Schiller has been suspended from teaching since February because of these kids' frightening contributions to the science-project arms race.
Just about the only good side to this story, the LA Times reports, is that students and parents are making noise and calling for Schiller's reinstatement; they have an adorably earnest Facebook page that indulges in a few rhetorical excesses -- "Bureaucratic Leaders... why are you so scared of educated Americans? Is it because you are afraid they will open their eyes to the corruption in our country?" -- but they're also calling attention to the injustice of suspending a science teacher for teaching science, so good on the kids.
Schiller's suspension came about after a school employee saw the air-pressure project and thought it looked like a weapon. God only knows what sort of carnage an air-powered weapon could do. Sure, maybe the kid could have gotten an invite to the White House, like the kiddo who showed President Obama an air cannon that shoots marshmallows across the West Wing, or he could be the next Anton Chigurh. Only not a fictional character.
Schiller, who had only seen the projects in photographs, was sent home and the two projects were confiscated as "evidence." The district informed Schiller he was being removed from teaching for "supervising the building, research and development of imitation weapons." Since then, Schiller has been reporting to a district office to sit and do nothing; he had been writing lesson plans for his substitute, but the district told him to knock it off, presumably because he might taint the children with further science. As Warren Fletcher, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, puts it, “As far as we can tell, he’s being punished for teaching science.”
Schiller teaches -- or taught -- advanced placement biology and psychology, plus regular and honors biology; a student in his psych class complained, “The class is now essentially a free period ... The sub does not have a psych background and can’t help us with the work.”
Also, maybe in the Buried Lede category, the LA Times story notes that Schiller was also
the teachers union representative on the campus and had been dealing with disagreements with administrators over updating the employment agreement under which the faculty works. His suspension, with pay, removed him from those discussions.
We'd bet that has pretty much nothing to do with his removal, which is only about a "kids making zip guns in science class" freakout, not labor issues, what are you, paranoid?
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