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  1. #1
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    Art Teacher Fired for Exposing Students to Nudity on Musem Trip

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/30/ed...c03&ei=5087%0A

    The Times requires registration, so here's the text:
    FRISCO, Tex., Sept. 28 — “Keep the ‘Art’ in ‘Smart’ and ‘Heart,’ ” Sydney McGee had posted on her Web site at Wilma Fisher Elementary School in this moneyed boomtown that is gobbling up the farm fields north of Dallas.

    But Ms. McGee, 51, a popular art teacher with 28 years in the classroom, is out of a job after leading her fifth-grade classes last April through the Dallas Museum of Art. One of her students saw nude art in the museum, and after the child’s parent complained, the teacher was suspended.

    Although the tour had been approved by the principal, and the 89 students were accompanied by 4 other teachers, at least 12 parents and a museum docent, Ms. McGee said, she was called to the principal the next day and “bashed.”

    She later received a memorandum in which the principal, Nancy Lawson, wrote: “During a study trip that you planned for fifth graders, students were exposed to nude statues and other nude art representations.” It cited additional complaints, which Ms. McGee has challenged.

    The school board suspended her with pay on Sept. 22.

    In a newsletter e-mailed to parents this week, the principal and Rick Reedy, superintendent of the Frisco Independent School District, said that Ms. McGee had been denied transfer to another school in the district, that her annual contract would not be renewed and that a replacement had been interviewed.

    The episode has dumbfounded and exasperated many in and out of this mushrooming exurb, where nearly two dozen new schools have been built in the last decade and computers outnumber students three to one.

    A representative of the Texas State Teachers Association, which has sprung to Ms. McGee’s defense, calls it “the first ‘nudity-in-a-museum case’ we have seen.”

    “Teachers get in trouble for a variety of reasons,” said the association’s general counsel, Kevin Lungwitz, “but I’ve never heard of a teacher getting in trouble for taking her kiddoes on an approved trip to an art museum.”

    John R. Lane, director of the museum, said he had no information on why Ms. McGee had been disciplined.

    “I think you can walk into the Dallas Museum of Art and see nothing that would cause concern,” Mr. Lane said.

    Over the past decade, more than half a million students, including about a thousand from other Frisco schools, have toured the museum’s collection of 26,000 works spanning 5,000 years, he said, “without a single complaint.” One school recently did cancel a scheduled visit, he said. He did not have its name.

    The uproar has swamped Frisco school switchboards and prompted some Dallas-area television stations to broadcast images of statues from the museum with areas of the anatomy blacked out.

    Ms. Lawson and Mr. Reedy did not return calls. A spokeswoman for the school district referred questions to the school board’s lawyer, Randy Gibbs. Mr. Gibbs said, “there was a parent who complained, relating the complaint of a child,” but he said he did not know details.

    In the May 18 memorandum to Ms. McGee, Ms. Lawson faulted her for not displaying enough student art and for “wearing flip-flops” to work; Ms. McGee said she was wearing Via Spiga brand sandals. In citing the students’ exposure to nude art, Ms. Lawson also said “time was not used wisely for learning during the trip,” adding that parents and teachers had complained and that Ms. McGee should have toured the route by herself first. But Ms. McGee said she did exactly that.

    In the latest of several statements, the district contended that the trip had been poorly planned. But Mr. Gibbs, the district’s lawyer, acknowledged that Ms. Lawson had approved it.

    “This is not about a field trip to a museum,” the principal and superintendent told parents in their e-mail message Wednesday, citing “performance concerns” and other criticisms of Ms. McGee’s work, which she disputes. “The timing of circumstances has allowed the teacher to wave that banner and it has played well in the media,” they wrote.

    They took issue with Ms. McGee’s planning of the outing. “No teacher’s job status, however, would be jeopardized based on students’ incidental viewing of nude art,” they wrote.

    Ms. McGee and her lawyer, Rogge Dunn, who are exploring legal action, say that her past job evaluations had been consistently superior until the museum trip and only turned negative afterward. They have copies of evaluations that bear out the assertion.

    Retracing her route this week through the museum’s European and contemporary galleries, Ms. McGee passed the marble torso of a Greek youth from a funerary relief, circa 330 B.C.; its label reads, “his nude body has the radiant purity of an athlete in his prime.” She passed sculptor Auguste Rodin’s tormented “Shade;” Aristide Maillol’s “Flora,” with her clingy sheer garment; and Jean Arp’s “Star in a Dream.”

    None, Ms. McGee said, seemed offensive.

    “This is very painful and getting more so,” she said, her eyes moistening. “I’m so into art. I look at it for its value, what each civilization has left behind.”

    School officials have not named the child who complained or any particular artwork at issue, although Ms. McGee said her puzzlement was compounded when Ms. Lawson referred at times to “an abstract nude sculpture.”

    Ms. McGee, a fifth-generation Texan who has a grown daughter, won a monthly teacher award in 2004 from a local newspaper. She said the loss of her $57,600-a-year job could jeopardize her mortgage and compound her health problems, including a heart ailment.

    Some parents have come to Ms. McGee’s defense. Joan Grande said her 11-year-old daughter, Olivia, attended the museum tour.

    “She enjoyed the day very much,” Ms. Grande said. “She did mention some nude art but she didn’t make a big deal of it and neither did I.” She said that if Ms. McGee’s job ratings were high before the incident, “something isn’t right” about the suspension.

    Another parent, Maijken Kozcara, said Ms. McGee had taught her children effectively.

    “I thought she was the greatest,” Ms. Kozcara said. But “knowing Texas, the way things work here” she said of the teacher’s suspension, “I wasn’t really amazed. I was like, ‘Yeah, right.’ ”

    EDIT BY JASON M:

    On behalf of conceptart.org, I wrote a formal complaint to the following people. Perhaps, if enough people did so, that this kind of thing would be exposed for it's ignorance. The school's key people are listed below.

    Rick Reedy
    Superintendent of Schools
    reedyr@friscoisd.org

    Shana Mckay Wortham
    Communications and Foundation
    mckays@friscoisd.org

    Linda R. Bass, Ed.D.
    Assistant Superintendent
    for Human Resources
    basslr@friscoisd.org


    http://www.friscoisd.org/schools/fisher.htm
    Principal: Nancy Lawson
    6942 Maple Street
    Frisco, Texas 75034
    Phone: 469.633.2600
    Fax: 469.633.2650

    Eloquence will get one much farther than just being loud. I cc'd all of them in my letter. If you write, and I am not telling you to do so, please choose your words wisely. A few well-chosen words will go a lot farther than a lot of angry text.



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    Last edited by Jason Manley; October 3rd, 2006 at 11:42 PM.

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  3. #2
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    absolutely ridiculous. It seems like the majority of people in the world believe the body is a shameful thing. How silly.

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    The stars at night, are big and bright,
    deep in the heart of Texas!

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    Parents these days eh?

  6. #5
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    $57,600-a-year job? wow...

    And all that porn in museums... for shame! Museums suck the innasence right out of children, eh?

    Quote Originally Posted by cotron
    The stars at night, are big and bright,
    deep in the heart of Texas!
    Hahahaha

  7. #6
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    Art Teacher Fired for Exposing Students to Nudity on Musem Trip
    "Will someone please think of the children!"

  8. #7
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    This is total and utter bullshit! Her/his mom is required by law (I am 99.9% sure) to sign a feild trip permission waiver which discloses the date, the times, the way lunch is delivered, and the location, and come on- IT'S A DAMN MUSEUM! Do you expect them to censor boobs that weren't even in their own time painted from reference? (aka hogarth boobs) It's the parent's fault, and I feel bad for the poor child. =\

  9. #8
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    I bet the other 95% of students logged on to the museums webpage after the trip to have another look!

    You cant help but laugh at the stupidity of parents though, its art, god, we all have a "rudie parts"

    underneath those clothes you're naked you know

  10. #9
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    Maybe the PMRC will come to the resue of the defenseless children and establish the Museum Art Rating System.

    That's gonna be one popular kid for the rest of the school year.
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  11. #10
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    the first time i was taken to a musem was when i was 5, thats 1st grade. we had no problems.

  12. #11
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    forwarding comments....at least we can do something to help.

    Here you go...let them know how you feel...BUT BE VERY CONSTRUCTIVE AND INTELLIGENT IF YOU WRITE THEM.

    Rick Reedy
    Superintendent of Schools
    reedyr@friscoisd.org

    Shana Mckay Wortham
    Communications and Foundation
    mckays@friscoisd.org

    Linda R. Bass, Ed.D.
    Assistant Superintendent
    for Human Resources
    basslr@friscoisd.org


    http://www.friscoisd.org/schools/fisher.htm
    Principal: Nancy Lawson
    6942 Maple Street
    Frisco, Texas 75034
    Phone: 469.633.2600
    Fax: 469.633.2650

    Eloquence will get one much farther than just being loud. I cc'd all of them in my letter.



    J

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    Every time i hear about things like this, I think of a similar story that happened a few years ago about this dingbat lady in the bible belt (don't know exactly where) that went to one of those cement lawn ornament places with her daughter and she saw a replica of the statue of David and just about blew a gasket. She had the press come to this guys place so that she could expose him as the pornographer that he was. Some one had to explain to her that this was from a famous work of art. She didn't even know who Michelangelo was. The owner ended up tying a red bandana around his waist just to shut the lady up.
    I guess it was good for business, though.

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    Thats insane ...

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    Thumbs up

    Cool initiative Jason! Writing a letter to the principle now.

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    ...wanna know what's scary...I live near frisco...and if memory serves the event madplanet is referring to is in Oklahoma (something similar happend about an hour or so from where I used to live in Oklahoma) - Frisco is within about a 90 minute drive from here...

    I've always sworn the world's full of idiots and psychos....maybe they're just stalking me? .

    Anywho...I agree it's pretty messed up - and to think someone sent me an email about a job teaching children art (afterschool thing) - that was in Frisco. Turned it down because the pay wasn't worth the drive (I'd make money...but not much because of the limited hours). I probably wouldn't have lasted long there .

    I might send an email as well....and maybe even to the news stations around here (although yea - they aired the story about it back in september, but it was one of those ones they sort of blew over).
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    This is sad on so many level.
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  18. #17
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    I believe there are politics at play, or the small issue here would not have grown to the point where she was removed from the system.

    Regardless...here is the letter I wrote.

    To Mr. Reedy and others whom this may concern:

    My name is Jason Manley. I am the Founding Director of www.conceptart.org , a Non-Profit Organization founded in Texas which is currently supporting Art on the international, national and local levels. We are perhaps the largest active community of drawing and painting Artist's on the world wide web today and contain members from nearly all countries in the world, including members in your area.

    I am writing to voice concern regarding a recent news article published in the New York Times regarding Ms. McGee and what seems to be the poor decision making you and your program have made regarding the surrounding situation.

    "FRISCO, Tex., Sept. 28 — “

    But Ms. McGee, 51, a popular art teacher with 28 years in the classroom, is out of a job after leading her fifth-grade classes last April through the Dallas Museum of Art. One of her students saw nude art in the museum, and after the child’s parent complained, the teacher was suspended.

    Although the tour had been approved by the principal, and the 89 students were accompanied by 4 other teachers, at least 12 parents and a museum docent, Ms. McGee said, she was called to the principal the next day and “bashed.

    The school board suspended her with pay on Sept. 22."

    Art is a viewpoint into the mind and heart of genius and a well from which deep meaning is gathered. Children are most open to Art's inspiration and are sensitive to it's most subtle meanings even at the subconscious level. The Art contained in the Dallas Museum are important pieces in the history of the world, the intellect, spirtuality, and creativity. Children nowadays more than ever should be exposed to such works.

    Art opens hearts and minds. It is an outrage that the situation has been handled the way it has been so far, according to the article in the Times. It is a shame on your program, considering the great turmoil the world is in currently and the need for inspiration and growth of our countries youth. Art contains the essence of human wisdom and inspiration. The Art in that museum is not of the offensively modern type, it is classic, timeless, and worth exposing people of all ages to.

    I expect that you and your group will someday realize the huge and ignorant mistake your school system has made in bowing to the pressure from the insensitive and uneducated few. Ignorance and bias toward culture, history, learning. and creativity is inexcusable if it is found within those who call themselves educators. I do hope that you will find an open heart and time for reflection regarding the decisions reported by the NY Times.

    Disappointedly,


    Jason Manley
    Founding Director
    www.conceptart.org

  19. #18
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    I have to say, I don't think it really has to do with nudie statues.

    Teacher, 28 years in the classroom, pay -$57,600-a-year

    Teacher, no experience, pay 20,000-a-year.

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    Also the parent(s) who got mad could slap them with a frivolous lawsuit if nothing is done. And, I dont think the school will want to deal with that, even though if it went public theyd have more support then the parents would.

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    Excellent and eloquent response Jason!


  23. #21
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    Regardless of the politics, ignorance is also at play. That kind of stupidity is why I had to wait til I was 20 years old to find anyone who could teach me anything about Art. I guess I come from the mindset that children should be exposed to as much art, music, and culture as possible at a very young age.

    Art opens minds...unlike the education system in that little town in Texas.

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    I wish some of these people could see the CA / MB workshops. Where plenty of youngsters are around nude models all day and are entirely professional about it.
    * Help a CA artist! Visit the Constructive Critique section! *



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    In highschool the art teacher had to abide by very strict rules on no nudity tasteful or otherwise, no guns, no depiction of drugs in anyway as well. We couldnt create anything that had that in there. I came in for her advice on a life model, was kicked out and sent to the principles office. Slapped with a day of detention.

    Next day only 3 in the class actually understood what I was learning the others thought i was weird and perverted (those were the ones taking art class because it was an easy A).

    oops forgot to add I got out of it though through explaining myself. They slapped me on the wrist and said not to do it again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2b BOY
    In highschool the art teacher had to abide by very strict rules on no nudity tasteful or otherwise, no guns, no depiction of drugs in anyway as well. We couldnt create anything that had that in there. I came in for her advice on a life model, was kicked out and sent to the principles office. Slapped with a day of detention.
    I had a friend who was'nt much of an artist.. but in highschool art class he poured his heart out into making a greyscale painting of some german soldiers for his grandfather. No nazi paraphernalia or anything, just two soldiers in a field. The teacher destroyed it and he was suspended, though. It made such an uproar with alot of students and teachers... I remember feeling really bad for him, because the painting turned out FANTASTIC for someone that age who never had an interest in art otherwise.
    * Help a CA artist! Visit the Constructive Critique section! *



  27. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Manley
    Regardless of the politics, ignorance is also at play. That kind of stupidity is why I had to wait til I was 20 years old to find anyone who could teach me anything about Art. I guess I come from the mindset that children should be exposed to as much art, music, and culture as possible at a very young age.

    Art opens minds...unlike the education system in that little town in Texas.
    My dad used to work for a company called Ingersoll when I was 4-11, and we always had a huge supply of these GIANT sheets of graph paper- like, 24x32. My parents always had construction paper or something that I could do, and I think if it weren't for drawing on that paper when I was little so much, I would never be as interested in art as I am now.

    I have to agree with your mindset- not only if they want to become a musician, or an artist, but if they want to be a problem solver- it's important to be exposed to things like that, I think.

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    ugh...is it just me or does anyone else wanna just go to these parents houses and slap them effin silly. frick

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    Its sad that not all people appreciate the figure as an art form until they begin to draw.
    Funnily enough I will be attending lifedrawing-advanced anatomy classes fairly soon, and Im a month shy of 15.
    Of all things, nudity in art should be as an expressing form of culture.
    Its disappointing that one person should constrain the imagination of young people's minds because of their view of art as perverted.

    Oh, btw great letter Jason Manley,

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    i could probably write to them,but seeing as i'm currently in loss of words i won't...until i've gathered my thoughts again and found some sandbag to beat my heart out on...such stupidity. i bet those parents have nothing against their child watching something like csi in the evening though. sic.
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    Americans

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    we¨re all running around nacked.

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    Its ridiculous how people are offended by their own bodies. Its not as if they were taken to a gallery with hardcore imagrey on it..
    The thing that makes me laugh is that they were also offended buy nude statues. Nude statues are everywhere, In parks, museums, gardens, everwhere!!!

    I would send a letter but Im so rubbish at writing to a proffesional standard.
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