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8 Infuriatingly Outrageous Teacher Firings

8. Michael Baker and War

Michael Baker, a high school teacher in Nebraska, was a celebrated teacher in his district and the state. In 2006, he was one of only 47 teachers in the state to win National Board Certification. A celebrated and beloved teacher, there were no complaints about him until he showed the documentary “Baghdad ER” to his geography class.

The film, which “captures the humanity, hardships and heroism of the US Military,” likely troubled a few students and led to parental complaints.  Some were displeased with the “unflinching and honest account of the realities of war,” and this was the cause of his firing. -Source

7. Abby Nurre and Atheism

Abby Nurre, an eigth-grade math teacher in Iowa, taught in a private Catholic school. On day, while on Facebook, she saw a survey asking if she believed in God. She answered “No.” Her profile was private, meaning that only her friends could view her information and activities. Somehow, the information found it’s way to the school officials. Her religious beliefs and her survey answer were called into question, and she stated that she was not an atheist.

A few months later, Nurre posted a link to a New York Times article on an online discussion forum, Atheist Nexus. The article indicated that the U.S. government had spent $2.3 million on prayer research in the last ten years. Five weeks later she was called into the Monsignor’s office and handed a letter of suspension for “making atheist statements in a public forum.” Yet she didn’t make a statement about the article. She only posted it. Nurre was fired simply for acting in ways that the Catholic Church does not approve of. It had absolutely nothing to do with her teaching ability, which was never mentioned. -Source

6. Seth Stambaugh and Homosexuality

Seth Stambaugh, a Beaverton School District student teacher in Oregon, was in the middle of teaching a fourth grade class when he was asked a very innocent question: whether or not he was married. Being an honest and openly gay 23-year-old, Seth replied that he was not. He then went on to explain that it would be illegal for him to marry in Oregon because he “would chose to marry another guy.” For this honesty, Stambaugh was fired.

When a parent heard of this conversation, a complaint was made to the administration that it was inappropriate.  In response to the complaint, school officials approached Stambaugh and told him he would have to teach in another school district.  Stambaugh was fired for his honesty. -Source

5. Karen Salazar and Activism

Karen Salazar, an English teacher at Jordan High School in California, liked to engage her students. She wanted them to observe and think about the world around them. She encouraged their political activism, telling them they were “part of the long legacy, the strong history, of fighting back.”

Her course materials include The Autobiography of Malcolm X, which is approved for students, the poetry of Langston Hughes and even some lyrics by the late Tupac Shakur. This lead to complaints that she was too “Afro-centric.” Salazar was even accused of brainwashing students. It was these complaints from the administration that led to her dismissal. -Source

4. Marianne Kearney-Brown and the Oath

Marianne Kearney-Brown, a California State University math teacher, was required to sign a loyalty oath before beginning her new teaching positions. She had signed it twice before, each time modifying it due to her Quaker beliefs.

When asked to “swear (or affirm)” that she would “support and defend” the US and state Constitutions “against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” Kearney-Brown inserted revisions. She wrote “nonviolently” in front of the word “support,” crossed out “swear,” and circled “affirm.” She was not doing this out of malice. Kearney-Brown only wished to establish that she would defend the Constitution as long as it didn’t require violence.

She was fired for injecting religious beliefs which were incompatible and inconsistent with the oath. -Source

3. Sydney McGee and Art

Sydney McGee, an art teacher at Wilma Fisher Elementary School in Texas, lead her students through the Dallas Museum of Art. Accompanied by 89 students, 4 other teachers, 12  parents, and a museum docent, the large group observed and admired works of art that dated as far back as Ancient Greece. Everyone seemed to enjoy the trip.

Yet McGee received a memorandum from the principal the next day, citing complaints that the students were exposed to “nude statues and other nude art representations.” For this she was suspended and later fired, in spite of the fact that over the past decade, more than half a million students have toured the museum’s collection of 26,000 works spanning 5,000 years without a single complaint. -Source

2. Steve Bitterman and Genesis

Steve Bitterman, an instructor at Southwestern Community College in Iowa, was teaching his Western Civilization class the Old Testament from an academic standpoint. Like any good professor, he delved deeper into the story, much to the chagrin of some of his students.

“I told them it was an extremely meaningful story, but you had to see it in a poetic, metaphoric or symbolic sense; that if you took it literally, that you were going to miss a whole lot of meaning there.”  Then, in a private conversation with a student, he called the story of Adam and Eve a “fairy tale.” It was then that he discovered the students had threatened to see an attorney. He was fired over the telephone. -Source

1. Jim Piculas and Wizardry

Jim Piculas, a substitute teacher in Florida, likes to start off his classes with a 30-second magic trick in which he makes a toothpick disappear then reappear. He heard no complaints from his Rushe Middle School class in Land O’ Lakes. That is until the middle of the day, when he got a call from his supervisor.

The Superintendent of the school district claimed that there were other performance issues, but Piculas knew nothing of these issues and believes they were just added to cover his initial accusation. It looks like Piculas did his wizardry in the wrong part of Florida. -Source

Comments (8)

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  1. I sympathize with them. I have committed various sins like that. And would be fired.

  2. Travis says:

    Be very careful with #7. Should the teacher have been fired? Absolutely not. Did the pope hand tell the school to fire her? Absolutely not. Do not confuse the Catholic Church with a Catholic School, as there are many different Catholic schools in America, all of which have their own agenda

  3. Editorials says:

    Its really sad to see teachers fired in this way. If a teacher was fired for showing our US Troops in Action, then the entire administration should be fired as well for bringing us to War! Ridiculous. Kat from Whiz office

  4. Sarah G. says:

    You fail to mention the fact that religion teachers are also banned for voicing their beliefs. Isn’t it equally outrageous that all people aren’t allowed to believe what they want, not just atheists?

  5. People are dumb, the end.

  6. Rebecca says:

    This is ridiculous. Half these teachers absolutely should have been fired. A woman teaching at a Catholic school that doesn’t believe in Catholicism? That’s totally legit. And Telling your fourth grade class about your love life is totally inappropriate. That is none of the students’ business. Long story short, many of these were totally legitimate firings, and also, usually if there are no performance issues, teachers won’t be fired over something as small as most of these complaints.

  7. Clay Boggess says:

    First of all, Stambaugh was a student teacher at the time so technically he couldn’t be fired. Second, the student didn’t ask him to provide a dissertation on his love life; they just asked him if he was married. This should be a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. Stambaugh was using this as an opportunity as a forum to talk about his personal beliefs.

  8. Colby says:

    Yeah, poor Strambaugh was thinking he could live in a world with equal rights.

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