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Registered: 01/28/04
Posts: 537
Loc: MI
Last seen: 8 years, 7 months
New Mexico Principal: All your opinions are belong to us!
    #2721278 - 05/24/04 09:43 AM (18 years, 8 months ago)

Teacher Fired Over
Student's Anti-War Poetry
By Bill Hill
Daytona Beach News-Journal

Bill Nevins, a New Mexico high school teacher and personal friend, was fired last year and classes in poetry and the poetry club at Rio Rancho High School were permanently terminated. It had nothing to do with obscenity, but it had everything to do with extremist politics.

The "Slam Team" was a group of teenage poets who asked Nevins to serve as faculty adviser to their club. The teens, mostly shy youngsters, were taught to read their poetry aloud and before audiences. Rio Rancho High School gave the Slam Team access to the school's closed-circuit television once a week and the poets thrived.

In March 2003, a teenage girl named Courtney presented one of her poems before an audience at Barnes & Noble bookstore in Albuquerque, then read the poem live on the school's closed-circuit television channel.

A school military liaison and the high school principal accused the girl of being "un-American" because she criticized the war in Iraq and the Bush administration's failure to give substance to its "No child left behind" education policy.

The girl's mother, also a teacher, was ordered by the principal to destroy the child's poetry. The mother refused and may lose her job.

Bill Nevins was suspended for not censoring the poetry of his students. Remember, there is no obscenity to be found in any of the poetry. He was later fired by the principal.

After firing Nevins and terminating the teaching and reading of poetry in the school, the principal and the military liaison read a poem of their own as they raised the flag outside the school. When the principal had the flag at full staff, he applauded the action he'd taken in concert with the military liaison.

Then to all students and faculty who did not share his political opinions, the principal shouted: "Shut your faces." What a wonderful lesson he gave those 3,000 students at the largest public high school in New Mexico. In his mind, only certain opinions are to be allowed.

But more was to come. Posters done by art students were ordered torn down, even though none was termed obscene. Some were satirical, implicating a national policy that had led us into war. Art teachers who refused to rip down the posters on display in their classrooms were not given contracts to return to the school in this current school year.

The message is plain. Critical thinking, questioning of public policies and freedom of speech are not to be allowed to anyone who does not share the thinking of the school principal.

The teachers union has been joined in a legal action against the school by the National Writers Union, headquartered in New York City. NWU's at-large representative Samantha Clark lives and works in Albuquerque.

The American Civil Liberties Union has become the legal arm of the lawsuit pending in federal court.

Meanwhile, Nevins applied for a teaching post in another school and was offered the job but he can't go to work until Rio Rancho's principal sends the new school Nevins' credentials. The principal has refused to do so, and that adds yet another issue to the lawsuit, which is awaiting a trial date.

While students are denied poetry readings, poetry clubs and classes in poetry, Nevins works elsewhere and writes his own poetry.

Writers and editors who have spent years translating essays, films, poems, scientific articles and books by Iranian, North Korean and Sudanese authors have been warned not to do so by the U.S. Treasury Department under penalty of fine and imprisonment. Publishers and film producers are not allowed to edit works authored by writers in those nations. The Bush administration contends doing so has the effect of trading with the enemy, despite a 1988 law that exempts published materials from sanction under trade rules.

Robert Bovenschulte, president of the American Chemical Society, is challenging the rule interpretation by violating it to edit into English several scientific papers from Iran.

Are book burnings next?

- Hill is a retired News-Journal reporter

? 2004 News-Journal?Corporation http://www.news-journalonline.com/NewsJournalOnline/Opinion/

If you want a free lunch, you need to learn how to eat good advice.

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Registered: 10/13/02
Posts: 2,876
Loc: ATL
Re: New Mexico Principal: All your opinions are belong to us [Re: FrankieJustTrypt]
    #2721496 - 05/24/04 11:40 AM (18 years, 8 months ago)

Another failure of public education. Students are taught to agree with authority and not question it. Authority must be questioned or it will consume all of us. I will never send my children to a public school.

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." - C.S. Lewis

"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson

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Registered: 04/29/04
Posts: 354
Last seen: 16 years, 8 months
Re: New Mexico Principal: All your opinions are belong to us [Re: FrankieJustTrypt]
    #2721650 - 05/24/04 01:48 PM (18 years, 8 months ago)

According to the school the reason that they had to fire the poetry teacher was that the reading of poems at Barnes and Noble by students during evenings while their teacher was present constituted a field trip and Nevins hadn't filed field trip forms with the school. I can't find any excuses for what happened to the other teachers.

One interesting development is that it appears that the principal in question may have been replaced. http://www.rrps.k12.nm.us/rrhs/Principal/Principal_news_index.htm shows the school principal as a Richard VonAncken. But the staff list on that same site shows the principal as Gary Tripp (the guy who opposes free speech and tells students who wanted to speak out in favour of peace to "shut their faces")

Another interesting bit of this story is that the high school in question was set up with major funding from Intel corp. One has to wonder if a consumer boycott of Intel products might lead to the firing of the principal.


Rio Rancho School District and its high schools, RRHS (the largest in New Mexico) and Independence High, were established in the late 1990s with major funding from Intel Corporation, the largest employer in Rio Rancho, a relatively new city located north-west of Albuquerque. Reports in the Albuquerque Journal and Tribune cited RRHS principal Tripp as stating that he intends to ask Intel Corp and the Bank of America for guidance in addressing what he identifies as ?racial conflict? problems at RRHS.


http://www.rrps.k12.nm.us/rrhs/ADMIN_CONTACTS/index.htm has the following information:



I know that it might be considered slightly irresponsible to post people's phone numbers on a public forum so I've replaced the last digit with *. Just go to the website if you want the phone number to call and ask about free speech in that school.

Principal Gary Tripp has left the high school, he's been promoted! He's now the director of the New Mexico Activities Association. That body oversees all school extra-curicular activities in New Mexico, including speech and drama!!! The job pays $95,000 a year.

This isn't the first time that Tripp has been in contact with the ACLU. Back in 2001 he was taken to court by them after he gave a two semester suspension to a student who was found with a miniture penknife on the keyring in her bag. It had a blade one inch in length and the student only had it because she'd lost her keys and had been given the family's spare set. The ACLU won the case.

The penknife at issue is just over one inch long and was given to Kara by her parents because she had recently misplaced her house key. Kara's mother's employer had distributed the key ring, with a miniature flashlight and penknife attached, as a promotional item. The Swiss Army style penknife also contains a plastic toothpick, tweezers, nailfile and scissors.

In addition to improperly notifying Williams of the prohibition against penknives, the ACLU claims that the school district violated Williams' constitutional right to due process by judging her according to a "zero tolerance policy" that is not written or made available to families. "Kara had no chance at a fair suspension hearing," Gagne said. "The school refused to consider any circumstances of Kara's particular case because of a zero tolerance policy that doesn't exist. Kara was suspended without a defense."

At the suspension hearing Principal Tripp and Vice Principal Belmore testified that the zero tolerance policy prohibits consideration by any school official or administrator of any circumstances regarding a student's possession of a "weapon" no matter how small and no matter what the circumstances. The administrators stated that the policy prohibits school authorities from exercising any discretion. Therefore, the school would not consider any of Kara's circumstances including the fact that she had no violent history; that she had never threatened anyone; that she had never displayed the penknife; and that she did not present a risk of safety or threaten the students or staff. The ACLU views such actions by the school administration as irrational, arbitrary and capricious and in violation of Kara's Substantive Due Process rights.


well here's some more info about Tripp and his legal troubles. It seems that the two staff members he suspended without pay won their cases as well. The school board climbed down before they were pushed this time.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. ? Two Albuquerque high school teachers and a counselor disciplined after putting up anti-war literature ?have been vindicated? under an agreement between the school district and the American Civil Liberties Union, their attorney says.

?I think our clients are winners,? said ACLU attorney Jane Gagne. ?I think [the school district] wins, too, because they have learned the importance of allowing teachers to voice their opinions in a positive, educational way.?
Teachers Carmelita Roybal of Rio Grande High School and Allen Cooper of Highland High and counselor Ken Tabish of Albuquerque High were suspended without pay temporarily and given letters of reprimand in March for refusing to remove from their classrooms or offices anti-war literature on the U.S. war against Iraq.

The ACLU?s lawsuit on their behalf alleged the school district and several of its officials violated the trio?s rights to free speech and equal protection.

The ACLU said the school district ordered the removal of the anti-war material after receiving anonymous complaints, although the material had been up for some time ? in one case, for at least two months.

The settlement requires the district to repay the trio two days? pay, remove the letters of reprimand from their files and pay their attorney fees and costs.

Another teacher, Francesca Tuoni of Albuquerque High, also was part of the lawsuit, although she complied with officials? demands that she remove a peace rally flier to avoid suspension, the ACLU said.

?Our clients? rights have been vindicated,? Gagne said.


And for the people who claim Bill Nevins hates America:

Bill Nevins breathed an enormous sigh of relief last month when his 23-year-old son, Liam, returned from Baghdad, where he had been a squad leader in the 82nd Airborne Division.

The Albuquerque schoolteacher brims with pride when speaking of his son. "Becoming a ranger is like getting the Ph.D. of soldiering," Nevins said. "Liam had already served in Afghanistan. We had many moments when our hearts were in our throats."

While his son was serving in Afghanistan, Nevins never told him about the troubles he was having at home in New Mexico. "I didn't want him worrying about me," he said.

(from the May 8th Santa Fe New Mexican)

You'll note that the school investigated whether the poem contained "profanity and incitement to violence", I'll let you be the judges of whether it did:


Revolution X
-- Courtney Butler

Bush said no child would be left behind
And yet kids from inner-city schools
Work on Central Avenue
Jingling cans that read
Please sir, may I have some more?

They hand out diplomas like toilet paper
And lower school standards
Underpaid, unrespected teachers
Are afraid of losing their jobs
Funded by the standardised tests
That shows our competency
When I'm in detox.

This is the Land of the Free ...
Where the statute of limitations for rape is only five damn years!
And immigrants can't run for President.
Where Muslims are hunted because
Some suicidal men decided they didn't like
Our arrogant bid for modern imperialism.

This is the Land of the Free ...
You drive by a car whose
Bumper screams
God bless America!
Well, you can scratch out the B
And make it Godless
Because God left this country a long time ago.

The founding fathers made this nation
On a dream and now
Freedom of Speech
Lets Nazis burn crosses, but
Calls police to
Gay pride parades.

We somehow
Can afford war with Iraq
But we can't afford to pay the teachers
Who educate the young who hold the guns
Against the "Axis of Evil"

Land of the Free ...
This is the land
If you're politically assertive
They call you a traitor and
Damn you to ostracism.
Say good-bye to Johnny Walker Lindh
And his family.

Bye Bye.
American Pie.

So maybe
My ideas about this nation
Don't resolve around perfection
But at least I know
Education is more important
Than money.

Land of the Free . . .
If this was utopia
We'd have to see each other naked
Before we got married
But instead, we see each other naked all the time
Because the government has my social security number
And the name of my dog!
And then we make babies,
But don't worry, they won't be left behind
And they grow up saying
God bless America!

But they don't know who Bush is
Because they never learned the Presidents.
And they will ride the ship Amistad
To our dreamland shores
Bearing the same shackles as us.

I'm here to say that
Generation X
Is pissed and we are taking over,
Ripping down the American illusion of perfection
We are the future generation
I have my qualifications
I know it looks like Angel Soft paper,
But don't worry
It's a diploma
Do I look qualified?
You can take our toilet paper,
But you can't take our Revolution.


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Day careobserver
 User Gallery
Registered: 04/09/02
Posts: 1,780
Loc: Oregon
Re: New Mexico Principal: All your opinions are belong to us [Re: FrankieJustTrypt]
    #2721784 - 05/24/04 05:05 PM (18 years, 8 months ago)

As awful as this situstion is that poem gives me hope that others see what is happening.Now that the asshole behind all the hubbub got promoted while disgusting,seems to be how folks rise to the top any more,instead of cream though we are getting pond scum.
I urge ALL parents to be as involved in their childrens education as possible as well as educating oneself regarding ones rights under the constitution.
Courtney sounds much like my nephew from her poetry.He has almost the same view point yet his solution was to join the Army,conform amd excell,and while riding on his sucesses he is constantly raising others awareness.He believes in change from within.I am old and cynical and believe the rot is too deep, but how can I not be proud of what these young revolutionaries are attempting?

To old for this place

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