A Staten Island teacher has been reprimanded after an assignment she gave out included a question that slammed President Donald Trump and another that extolled Barack Obama.
The question, however, still doesn’t sit well with a father whose daughter was marked off because he told her to not answer the questions and wrote a note on the assignment telling the teacher to not push her opinions on his daughter.
Vincent Ungro, a father who lives in the Annandale section of the New York City borough, saw his 11-year-old daughter bring home the vocabulary sheet from the Paolo Intermediate School, SILive.com reports.
“President Trump speaks in a very superior and _________ manner insulting many people. He needs to be more __________ so that the American people respect and admire him,” the first question read. The “correct” answers were “haughty” and “humble.”
That’s when Ungro wrote this on his daughter’s paper:
“Please keep your political views to yourself and do not try to influence my children on them. Thank you,” it read.
Apparently unfazed by offending a parent by pushing her political views on a student — against Department of Education standards, by the way — sixth-grade teacher Adria Zawatsky docked Ungro’s daughter 15 points for the missing questions.
“This woman is forcing my child to put words on a piece of paper describing our president in a disparaging manner,” Ungro said Thursday, in an interview with the Post. “Her political opinion should be left at home.”
Ungro did get an apology letter from Zawatsky — well, sort of. The teacher didn’t really seem to know what she’d done wrong.
“Firstly, I do not believe I was expressing a political view at all on my vocabulary sheet. My reference to President Trump was about his personality traits rather than his ability as a president,” Zawatsky. “The media is nonstop on very similar references. This is considered freedom of speech and I feel I have the same right as they do.”
Let me translate Zawatsky’s argument here: “I wasn’t expressing a political opinion. And I had every right to express the political opinion I wasn’t expressing.” As the late polemicist Christopher Hitchens once said, “Perhaps you notice how the denial is so often the preface to the justification.”
Unfortunately for the teacher, the New York City Department of Education didn’t quite agree with that whole “I have the same right as they do” argument.
“The DOE encourages respectful conversations about civics that help students become more thoughtful and engaged citizens, but staff are directed to maintain neutrality when discussing political issues in school,” DOE spokesman Michael Aciman told the Post.
Other Staten Island parents seemed to agree.
“They’re too young for that,” Diane Cardinuto told WCBS-TV, “just something I don’t agree with.”
*That’s what teachers should do — just teach,” Michael Baroz told the station. “It’s like when musicians talk politics. Just shut up and sing. That’s all I want.”
Zawatsky, who has been teaching at the school since 2005 and takes home a cool $102,000 a year, had a disciplinary letter placed in her file over the incident. Ungro wasn’t happy with that, though, calling the punishment “basically nothing.”
Oh well. Look on the bright side, Mr. Ungro. Adria Zawatsky is a lot more famous than she was just one week ago. And, I’m guessing she probably isn’t too happy about that.
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