An Atlanta suburb, Cobb County is the scene of the latest ideological battle over what children should be taught in schools.
Katie Rinderle, a teacher with ten years of experience, put herself in the middle of controversy when she made a decision to read a book dealing with gender fluidity, “My Shadow is Purple” to her elementary school class. The school district policy is that controversial books of this nature are not to be included in classroom instruction. Following complaints from several parents, the Cobb County school board was forced to act.
On Thursday, the school board voted along party lines to terminate Ms. Rinderle’s employment. Three Democrats on the board voted in favor of her continued employment, but four Republican members voted to fire her. In a press release following her termination, the board said “The district is pleased that this difficult issue has concluded; we are very serious about keeping our classrooms focused on teaching, learning, and opportunities for success for students. The board’s decision is reflective of that mission.”
Following her termination, Ms. Rinderle issued a statement through the leftist Southern Poverty Law Center, which helped represent her. “The district is sending a harmful message that not all students are worthy of affirmation in being their unapologetic and authentic selves,” she said. “This decision, based on intentionally vague policies, will result in more teachers self-censoring in fear of not knowing where the invisible line will be drawn.
The fight may not be over, Ms. Rinderle has the right to appeal the decision and also to pursue other legal remedies to retain her job.
So what are we to make of this? Has Ms. Rinderle been treated too harshly and perhaps even unfairly?
I have a great deal of empathy for teachers who believe they are acting in the best interest of students to educate them about “real life” issues that will be present in the society they will one day lead. I do not for a moment doubt that Ms. Rinderle believed that she was right, based on her perceptions. But she, and other teachers in her position are employees. And ultimately, the taxpaying parents who elect school boards to represent their interests are in charge of the policies that govern what takes place in those schools. Not individual teachers.
Parents and taxpayers have every right to expect that once a policy is put in place, it will be adhered to. They, not individual educators, are responsible for their minor children. That responsibility is not just financial but also extends to the values that are imparted to their children. Those parents who disagree with the board are free to educate their children about these controversial matters outside of the classroom.
All too often, leftist educators take the position that they know better than the parents of children, what is best for those children. This case should be a wake-up call, that parents who are also taxpayers are no longer content to let ideologically-driven educators have their way, with no pushback.