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TEACHERS.NET GAZETTE
Volume 3 Number 2

COVER STORY
Harry & Rosemary Wong say, "...effective teachers do not employ tricks of the trade, the latest fad, or untested opinions..." This month the Wongs feature Liz Breaux, a most effective teacher...
COLUMNS
Effective Teaching by Harry & Rosemary Wong
Promoting Learning by Marv Marshall
4 Blocks by Cheryl Sigmon
Ask the School Psychologist by Beth Bruno
Online Classrooms by Leslie Bowman
The Eclectic Teacher by Ginny Hoover
The Busy Educator's Monthly Five (5 Sites for Busy Educators) by Marjan Glavac
Around the Block by Bridget Scofinsky
Ask the Literacy Teacher by Leigh Hall
The Visually Impaired Child by Dave Melanson
ARTICLES
Seussational Reading Excitement - NEA's Read Across America: Too Much Reading Fun for Just One Day!...
The 100th Day of School
100th Day Activities
Television--Don't Trash It--Control It
Remediation Doesn't Work
Behavior Management Tips
Stress
Children and Stress
Children Do Grieve
Infuse Test Preparation With Life-long Learning
Technology Integration Has No Hope of Succeeding!
Technophobia to Technophilia
Cooperative Learning
Why All Students Need Fine Motor Skills
Teaching Gayle to Read (Part 3)
The Role of EFL learners' Heterogeneity in Terms of Age in Their Use of Communication Strategies
The Importance of the School Administration to Student Achievement
Using Non-Fiction to Motivate Reluctant Readers
Quantity over Quality--The Problem with Writing Instruction in Our Schools
Tips for Substitute Teachers
TEACHER INSPIRATION FEATURE
From "I Don't Care" to "I Did It!"
ON-SITE INSIGHTS
Rules for Secondary Classrooms
Block Scheduling
REGULAR FEATURES
Special Days This Month
The Lighter Side of Teaching
  • YENDOR'S Top Ten
  • Exceptional Normalcy
  • Schoolies
  • Woodhead
  • Handy Teacher Recipes
    Classroom Crafts
    Help Wanted - Teaching Jobs
    Featured Lessons from the Lesson Bank
  • Famous Black Americans
  • Valentine Village
  • Upcoming Ed Conferences
    Letters to the Editor
    Chatboard Poll
    FYI
    Arecibo Radar Gets 11th-Hour Reprieve
    Planetary Society Offers New Scholarships
    Gazette Home Delivery:

    Letters to the Editor...
    Violations of Teachers' Constitutional Rights

    This is my first time on Teachers.Net. I
    read with interest Tom's letter regarding
    certification and ethics, and Tom Lucey's
    article concerning administrators' affect
    on student achievement. I have been
    fighting for teachers' Constitutional
    rights, and fighting against power-hungry
    administrators for the past year. I taught
    English and U.S. History at Los Lunas High
    School in Los Lunas, New Mexico for
    thirteen years. I have spent most of my
    fourteenth year on administrative leave.
    This is a long, frightening story, but I
    have learned that it is not unusual in the
    business/political mess that education has
    become. For three years the Los Lunas
    district has been under the reign of
    superintendent Danny Burnett. The high
    school has been the domain of principal Rex
    Henington. Henington had a reputation for
    violence before he was hired by the
    district, once knocking down, then kicking,
    a student when he was a teacher. Our weak
    and ineffective state NEA attempted to
    discourage the board from hiring Henington,
    but he is Burnett's close friend, and
    Burnett controls the board. Henington's
    abuse of power began soon after he started
    working at LLHS. It was clear that he
    enjoyed picking on female staff and
    faculty. He especially liked to make
    females cry. He is a loud, 6'2", 235 pound
    ex-coach. He once said that our pesky
    First Amendment makes his job difficult, so
    he ignores it most of the time. Female
    security guards were his first two
    victims. One he locked in his office while
    he verbally assaulted her, standing against
    the door so that she could not get away.
    She literally had to fight with him to get
    the door open to leave. She filed an
    assault charge with the police, and a
    complaint with EEOC. She was fired, and
    shortly afterward, her husband was fired
    too. It is a favorite ploy of this
    administration, assuring them that victims
    can't afford an attorney. Another female
    security guard nearly went through the same
    ordeal, but she knew what had happened
    previously, and fought with Henington when
    he tried to lock her in his office, She
    got away, but suffered retaliation. A
    principal from the middle school asked her
    to transfer to the middle school, which she
    did. Now we know that it was just one of
    many, many timss another administrator or
    board member has had to step in to protect
    Henington. I tried to stay out of his way,
    having only one minor run-in with him in
    January of 2000. I had not attended an in-
    service on January 8th, and he caught me on
    the sidewalk on the 10th, yelling at me
    about not attending. He said he knew I was
    on campus that day, and had office
    personnel look for me. I had a personal day
    off on the 8th, but went to school anyway,
    to work on a computer project for my
    students. I assume he forgot that he signed
    the permission form. There was no sense in
    attempting to explain to him, so I went
    into the school, leaving him on the
    sidewalk yelling. On March 7, 2001, I
    desperately needed to get to the bank
    before 3:00. For the third or fourth time
    in 13 years I signed out to leave at 2:30,
    just as the bell rings. If teachers need to
    leave when the students do, yet beat
    student traffic, we leave the classroom
    about five minutes before the bell rings.
    I asked the teacher across the hall from me
    (he was on prep, and about six feet from my
    room) to keep an eye on my 11th-grade
    students. I got into my car and started
    backing out slowly. Out of the corner of
    my eye I saw Henington rushing toward my
    car, flapping his arms like a child
    pretending to fly, his face red and
    contorted. He started screaming at the top
    of his lungs,"Where are you going? You
    didn't sign out. There's no one watching
    your students!" I rolled down my window,
    and explained that I had signed out, and
    that someone was watching my kids. He
    screeched into his walkie-talkie to the
    secretary, telling her to look at the
    signout sheet. Of course my name was
    there. He yelled at me that I had not told
    the secretary I was leaving. I said that I
    was sorry, but that after 13 years there, I
    had never been told that I had to tell her,
    as long as we signed out, and had our class
    watched. He went bonkers, lunging toward
    my car, screaming that I was out of control
    just because I was nearing retirement, that
    all of the administrators had been
    discussing my out-of-control behavior! He
    yelled that I had better not send him any
    more nasty memos. I had never sent him a
    nasty memo! As I looked at the rage and
    hatred on his face, I knew that he was
    capable of hurting one of us or one of the
    students. There had been rumors about his
    violence toward Mexican National students,
    and there were female members of the staff
    or faculty in the hall in tears far too
    often. Complaints to the board and the
    superintendent were unheeded. I decided
    that enough was enough. I parked my car
    and went to the NEA rep to file a
    grievance. It is hard to believe now that
    I was naive enough to think that I could
    help force him stop harassing people. That
    was the beginning of a year of sheer Hell.
    As it turned out, there had been witnesses,
    who assured me they would testify at the
    grievance. Retaliation against me and two
    of the union reps was swift and harsh. I
    was followed by a vice-principal for one
    entire day. I was written up for being in
    the halls. I was sent harassing letters
    during class time, which interrupted
    lectures. My request for a pre-grievance
    hearing was at first denied, giving
    Henington time to get to the witnesses. By
    the time we finally got to pre-grievance,
    he had terrified the witnesses. One had
    already told several people that she had
    never seen anyone scream at and threaten
    another person like he had me. Now she
    said that everyone she told the story to
    was lying, that she had never seen
    anything, or talked to anyone! She quit a
    few months afterward. I am sure that the
    pressure from administrators, and her
    conscience bothering her, got to be too
    much. All that I asked for at the pre-
    grievance to resolve the situation was an
    apology from Henington, a promise that he
    would let me alone, and a guarantee that
    he, the board, and Burnett would admit his
    problem with violence toward women, and a
    third (yes, taxpayers had already paid to
    send him to anger-management classes twice)
    course in anger-management. He refused.
    The success that he, the board, and Burnett
    had in avoiding publicity about the many
    problems between faculty and administrators
    made them more and more arrogant, cruel,
    and abusive. I decided to file assault
    charges against Henington with the
    citypolice, in a last-ditch effort to get
    him, the board, and Burnett to acknowledge
    Henington's problem, and to get help for
    him. In the meantime, two other teachers
    (and union reps) angered administrators,
    and were put on administrative leave. The
    stress caused my blood pressure to zoom out
    of control. I fainted in the halls one
    day, and had to be taken to the hopital in
    an ambulance. Three teachers have been
    taken from school in ambulances this past
    year. Two have fainted from stress and
    harassment. Teachers began to quit,
    transfer, or retire. We lost 23 teachers
    between April 2001 and this month. By
    April, I was calling the national NEA, the
    state department of education, the attorney
    general, and anyone else i could think of.
    Two of us went to the media. Then harssment
    escalated to the point that I suffered a
    flare-up of the autoimmune disease from
    which I suffer, and I missed over my
    alloted sick days. When I applied to the
    sick bank, of which I am a member, Burnett
    denied them to me. Teachers took up a
    collection to help me with my bills, but
    Henington ordered them to stop,saying "This
    isn't a charitable organization." Students
    had a car wash for me. Some of them, but
    not all, were members of SADD (Students
    Against Dangerous Decisions).
    Administrators accused the teacher who was
    the SADD sponsor, of stealing SADD funds,
    and forced me to give the money to SADD.
    That teacher was also put on administrative
    leave. I tried to contact board members,
    which was useless, since teachers had been
    warned often by Burnett and Henington not
    to speak to board members. By now, there
    were classes being taught by people without
    certification, and often classes went all
    day without being covered by any adult.
    When State Department and North Central
    Accreditation members were scheduled to
    evaluate the school district in September,
    I and others called and wrote to them,
    pleading for assitance, begging them to
    speak to teachers when they visited te high
    school. They didn't, giving the school
    glowing evaluations. I called the State
    Superintendent, who had his secretary tell
    me that he would never be available to
    speak to any teacher from the high school.
    By May of 2001 the situation was dangerous,
    and all of us speaking against the
    adminstration began to fear for our safety,
    and several of us had lawyers. That is all
    for tonight. Believe it or not, things got
    worse in May, and have worsened steadily
    since then. I will try to add more
    tomorrow. I want to know if any of you
    have been in this situation. This year I
    have learned that education is one of the
    most corrupt businesses in our contry, and
    that the education of our students ranks
    very low with far too many administrators
    and parents. Teachers serve as scapegoats
    for problems caused by apathy,
    incompetence, and greed. If we don't grow
    backbones, and stand up for ourselves, our
    students, and our Constitutional rights,
    our country is doomed. Without educated
    citizens, who know their rights, and
    realize their responsiblity to fight for
    those rights, there can be no America.

    Darlene Goodman, mcdarlene@abq.com,
    2/16/02

    This month's letters:

  • special education, 2/28/02, by kristen.
  • Behavior Managemant Tips, 2/20/02, by Lynne Glover.
  • Violations of Teachers' Constitutional Rights (continued), 2/17/02, by Darlene Goodman.
  • Violations of Teachers' Constitutional Rights, 2/16/02, by Darlene Goodman.
  • Certification and Ethics, 2/14/02, by Tom.
  • Success, 2/13/02, by Shaun Best.
  • Burnout, 2/10/02, by Dan.
  • Burnout, 2/08/02, by Terry.
  • Burnout, 2/08/02, by pl4kids.
  • Burnout, 2/07/02, by Chloe.
  • Burnout, 2/06/02, by Jill.
  • Burnout, 2/06/02, by Staci, MI.
  • student burnout, 2/06/02, by Karen.
  • student burnout, 2/06/02, by Sue.
  • Are we helping to create student burnout?, 2/06/02, by Regina Hartsuck.
  • Student Burnout, 2/06/02, by Laura.
  • Are we helping to create student burnout?, 2/05/02, by Mary/PA.

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