The Irascible ProfessorSM

Irreverent Commentary on the State of Education in America Today

by Dr. Mark H. Shapiro
Sex.  In America an obsession.  In other parts of the world a fact....   ...Marlene Dietrich (1962)

Commentary of the Day - October 13, 1999:

Witch hunts still alive in the Center Unified School District:

The Center Unified School District in northern California is keeping alive the grand American tradition of the witch hunt.  It seems that the Center Unified School Board has decided, by a 3-2 vote, to dismiss teacher Dana Rivers because she discussed her sex change operation with some students and in the school newspaper at Center High.

By all reports the 44 year old Rivers has served the district well for eight years as a history teacher and baseball coach (before her sex change operation Rivers was known as David Warfield).  According to newspaper reports, Rivers notified the school board last May that she would be undergoing the sex change operation to correct a lifelong medical condition.  At the time she was informed by the board not to discuss her operation on campus or with students.  Recently, four parents complained that she had answered questions from some students about her sex change.  The 3-2 vote for dismissal came following a closed session meeting with the complaining parents.

Now it occurs to the Irascible Professor that some of Rivers' students might just be a little curious when she started showing up in a dress.  Should these students, who probably are a bit more awake than most, just sit there wondering what's going on, or do they deserve a straight-forward explanation of the reasons that led David to become Dana.  While the parents probably were technically correct in stating that they should have been asked for their permission before the teacher discussed sex with students (California law requires this), the Irascible Professor doubts that this is exactly what the legislature had in mind when they passed the law.  After all, I doubt that Rivers went into details about the plumbing changes, but more likely focussed on the emotional problems that led her to the decision.

The few guidance counselors left in the public schools frequently talk to students about emotional problems.  The bozos who voted to can Rivers probably have forgotten that most of the emotional problems that teenagers have relate to sex in one way or another.  Are they trying to tell us that no one should talk to students about these problems without a legal release from parents?

At present a recall movement is underway in the Center Unified School District against the three board members who voted to fire Rivers.  The Irascible Professor hopes that the recall succeeds.  If it does, it will reduce the ignorance faction on the board substantially.


The Irascible Professor invites your comments.
©1999 Dr. Mark H. Shapiro - All rights reserved.