Another day, another round of parents claiming the right to free speech doesn't apply to the education field. Remember the teacher who blogged anonymously about how much she hated her students? This time we've got an English teacher who doesn't "hate" kids so much as she's frustrated by their parents. Speaking out still got her fired.
Tarah Ausburn, English teacher at Imagine Prep High School in Surprise, Arizona, put a bumper sticker on her Toyota Prius that read, "Have you drugged your kid today?" Insulting to some? Sure, but Ausburn told KPHO:
I just like the ability to take a controversial topic and sum it up in one clever line. I'm an English teacher; that's what I do ... It's kind of a criticism of us tending to over-medicate hyperactive kids who might not need those medications.
She's waaaaaaaay over-generalizing. We all know kids who need medications, parents who did a lot of soul-searching before they put their "hyperactive kids" on some sort of pill. Members of my own family were forced to make that decision, and it wasn't an easy one. And one of the most telling parts of Judith Warner's book, We've Got Issues: Children and Parents in the Age of Medication, about the "myth" of the over-medicated child was the point where she set aside her pre-conceived notions about medications and sat down to talk to parents face to face. As Warner said:
As I stopped talking at people about my ideas, and started listening instead to real parents telling real-life stories, I heard of children struggling terribly with conditions that parents, very often, at first didn't want to see. I heard how parents fought the use of medication -- accepted it only (if they accepted it at all) after much struggle and soul-searching, and often after trying out every alternative available.
But when did we have to start agreeing with one another in order to live peacefully? Ausburn's bumper sticker just made a huge leap, but it's one that's not illegal. It's not completely off the wall -- the success of Warner's book proved that it's an opinion many Americans share. It doesn't use foul language that would be inappropriate on school grounds or suggest the kids use illegal drugs.
She's talking about a controversial issue in America, presenting it in an unusual way, to get people thinking and talking. Sounds like what a teacher does, doesn't it?
Tarah Ausburn really should talk to some parents of medicated kids, walk a day in their shoes, then decide if she needs to keep that bumper sticker. But if having an opinionated bumper sticker makes her a bad teacher, let's fire all the teachers with the Obama stickers, the McCain/Palin stickers, the "if you can read this, thank a teacher" bumper stickers, the Jesus fish ...
Should she be hired back or was the school in the right?
Image via Corey Leopold/Flickr