Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Colorado geography teacher leaves school

Seventh-grade geography teacher Eric Hamlin has decided not to return to his classroom at Carmody Middle School in Lakewood, Colorado.

Can't say as I blame him. I don't think I'd want to teach in a school whose administrators declared me "insubordinate" for displaying the flags of foreign nations and the UN in a world geography class, and insisted on micromanaging my lesson plans.

Hamlin was allowed to teach on August 22, but at the end of the day, he was called down to Principal Schalk’s office. “He presented me with a letter of reprimand,” Hamlin says. If Hamlin wanted to return in good standing, the letter said he would have to agree to “not display any flag of any foreign nation,” Hamlin recalls. “And I had to receive administrative approval for any display I was putting up in my classroom.”

Hamlin says he told Schalk that he “could not morally comply” with those terms.

The next day, shortly after Hamlin arrived at school, Schalk handed him a letter placing him on administrative leave.

It was only after the story gained prominence in the national media that the school, faced with an onslaught of negative publicity, backed down and dropped its demands. But by then the damage had been done. Hamlin was sufficiently shaken by the experience to prefer to move on, and out.

Some of the comments on the incident over at The Denver Channel were amusing, if disturbing. For example, here's "SJM in Arizona" on the subject:
Eric Hamlin is one of these liberal teachers who thinks illegal aliens should be allowed to be educated at taxpayer expense, just as if illegal aliens were as good as everyone else instead of trash, scum and filth.

Eric Hamlin is a teacher paid by US taxpayers in US funds. This "multi-flag" baloney is just a disguise for his pro-Mexico, anti-American agenda.

Colorado state law prohibits what he's doing, and he wants to ignore the law that he doesn't like, just like the illegal aien scum do.

If Hamlin wants to teach Mex, let him go to Mex and stay there. Better yet, let him go to China and pull his behavior there.

Or go to teach in the Catholic schools, where the Catholic pedophile priests support the illegal alien scum.

Hamlin needs to be made a public example, telling all these liberal one-world teachers that we won't allow them to promote illegal aliens on the taxpayers' money.

Hamlin is an enemy of America.

And "Jebster" adds his two cents worth:
This guy is a lib commie. It was his underhanded way to support communist China and illegals (that is people breaking our laws). Then he goes running to the ACLU as all anti-American turds do.

Fortunately these two seem to be in the minority. Most commenters thought the whole affair was utterly ridiculous, and a parent of a former student of Hamlin's wrote this testimonial:

Our daughter was in Mr. Hamlin's 7th grade class last year. Mr. Hamlin is one of the best teachers our family has ever encountered. He does not have a right or left wing agenda, but a desire to educate 7th graders. He is very knowledgable [sic] in the subject matter that he teaches and highly skilled and effective as a teacher. The fact that there is a law like this is wrong. The school is wrong for standing by this "letter of the law" type argument. Let him teach, the kids will be better for it.

Hamlin may teach again, though not at Carmody, or he may not. He says he is concerned about a "law that limits educators."

Assistant Principal Victoria Winslow and Principal John Schalk interpreted the law very narrowly. Colorado Revised Statute 18-11- 205 prohibiting the display of any flag other than that of the United States of America or the state of Colorado in state buildings allows the following exemption: "the display of any flag ... that is part of a temporary display of any instructional or historical materials not permanently affixed or attached to any part of the buildings ... ."

"the principal looked at the curriculum, talked to the teacher, and found that there was really no curriculum coming up in the next few weeks that supported those flags being in the classroom," Jeffco Public Schools spokeswoman Lynn Setzer said Wednesday.

Hamlin argued that although his curriculum may not speak specifically about those flags, they are used as reference tools for world geography.

"It's much along the lines of a science teacher who puts up a map of the solar system. They may not spend every day and every lesson talking about Mars, but they want the students to see that and to see the patterns of the planets and the order, and the students will observe that and absorb that learning visually," Hamlin said.

Hamlin said that the school district not only deprived him of a teaching tool but also took away from his students' education.

Speaking of education, here are some recent statistics reflecting the scale of geographical illiteracy among young Americans:
- Thirty-three percent of respondents couldn't pinpoint Louisiana on a map.
- Fewer than three in 10 think it important to know the locations of countries in the news and just 14 percent believe speaking another language is a necessary skill.
- Two-thirds didn't know that the earthquake that killed 70,000 people in October 2005 occurred in Pakistan.
- Six in 10 could not find Iraq on a map of the Middle East.
- Forty-seven percent could not find the Indian subcontinent on a map of Asia.
- Seventy-five percent were unable to locate Israel on a map of the Middle East.
- Nearly three-quarters incorrectly named English as the most widely spoken native language.
- Six in 10 did not know the border between North and South Korea is the most heavily fortified in the world.
- Thirty percent thought the most heavily fortified border was between the United States and Mexico.

Let's not forget that these are the promising young citizens of a nation which thinks itself entitled to rule the world.


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