It all began when Collins was hired by the Academy of Notre Dame de Namur, an all-girls private school in Villanova, PA. The school hired Elizabeth to teach English. Now when I went to school, taking an English class meant that you learned about grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and other basic skills. But Elizabeth apparently felt that those things weren't quite as important as her own worldviews on things like environmentalism, feminism, Obamacare and how rotten President Bush was, so she used her class to push her views and indoctrinate the students on these things--something that was totally inappropriate for a teacher to do.
Well eventually a student pushed back, and gave a speech in class on "Obama's lies" after Collins has assigned them to write and deliver an advocacy speech. Well fair enough--the student took a point of view and argued it, something that an advocate does. But Collins couldn't handle criticism of her beloved messiah by a mere student in her class so she responded to the speech by writing one of her own and posting it on her blog, which she, in another display of inappropriate behavior, had given out to her students to read. In her blog piece, she stated that she was "modeling" the correct approach to the assignment.
Her piece encouraged students to move "beyond knee-jerk joining of their parents' political party, and not become one-issue voters, to open their minds and consider the ramifications of their votes." Collins' essay criticized many George W. Bush administration policies and defended the Obama administration.OK, so here we have a teacher pushing her political views in a class where she's just supposed to be teaching kids how to write. Then she gives them all her personal blog address, and this blog is basically a rambling nest of Collins' self-absorbed thoughts about how she sees herself in the world and screeds against Bush and Republicans in general.
Now both of these things go beyond the boundaries of a proper teacher-student relationship, but as unprofessional as that was, Collins went further by criticizing this student on her blog--a blog which she'd encouraged all of her other students to read. Naturally, the student's parents--big donors to the school--were not amused.
The next day, Collins received an e-mail from the student's parents, James J. White IV and Megan White. Saying there "may be some mix-up with the tone of your blog and the actual class that you are teaching," they requested a conference and asked, "If this had been an overly liberal paper, would our daughter have been the subject of your blog?"I think that we all know the answer to that one.
The parents' e-mail also questioned two previous, unrelated incidents in Collins' class. "Earlier in the year, we did let the comment go about marriage and the taking of your husband's last name," though it was an "unnecessary comment to make to the girls and had little or nothing to do with English," it said. "Later, we were all exposed to your very strong feelings about the health-care proposal. . . . Another platform that neither of us felt was necessary for the classroom."Collins replied to then parents' email and told them that if they wanted to meet with her, she was bringing a lawyer. (Over-reaction, anyone?)
Collins said in an interview that she had told her students why she had kept her maiden name after they asked, and added, "I just feel like health-care reform is such an innocuous issue - it's not abortion."
But Collins only became more unprofessional. She blogged about the parents. She didn't name them specifically, but one can assume that in this small sphere, it was pretty clear who she was talking about. She also claimed that she "was dealing with some hard-core provincialism - not to mention intolerance of anything but ultraconservative views."
Since when do English teachers--or any other subject-matter teacheers--warrant tolerance for their personal views in a classroom?
The school called her in for a meeting with administrators and the student's family and warned her about this unacceptable behavior, but she walked out and wrote yet another blog piece in which she described her version of the meeting, assigning fake names to the parents and apparently assuming that even though everyone would know who she was talking about, it still wasn't something that the school could act on. Finally the school had had enough. They justifiably fired Collins.
The school has no specific guidelines on blogging, but in a letter to Collins, it said she had violated faculty policies and procedures and the ethics code, "which specifies that the academy is committed to treating our students and parents fairly."There's that reference to her views again. She really doesn't get it, folks--she was hired to teach a subject and that subject was English. It wasn't "what Elizabeth Collins thinks about politics".
Her termination letter said she had "engaged in improper communications with academy staff and former staff members about your dispute with the Whites."
Collins maintains that she was the target of an unjustified attack by the Whites that was largely motivated by what she called in one e-mail to the school their "clear political intolerance" toward her views.
So now she's an ex-teacher. Hopefully no other school picks her up, but with her warped teaching priorities and political views, I'm sure that some inner city public school's teachers' union would love to have her as a member.
Now I tried to post a comment on Elizabeth's blog suggesting that she refrain from political indoctrination of other people's kids and simply stick to teaching the subject matter, but Elizabeth is a true liberal in that she only recognizes the right to speak out if it's speech that she agrees with. She's rejected my post several times and appears to only be approving those few from other liberals that tell her how brave and wonderful she is and express sympathy with her for being "victimized" so. (Here at Lagniappe's Lair, all comments are approved unless they are spam, obscene personal attacks on the author or extended advocacy pieces that go well away from the topic being commented on.) Elizabeth could learn a thing or two if she'd get outside of her own fantasy world for a bit and check out reality, so to that end, I've invited her to stop by here and post her thoughts. Stick around and see if she accepts, folks. And if you've got a few minutes, stop by her page and let her know your thoughts--she'll read them even if she doesn't post them.
Tell her me and Lagniappe sent ya.
EDITED TO ADD: Looks like she posted my invite, and people are drifting over from there. So welcome, both Elizabeth and her supporters. I look forward to hearing why, in your opinions, an English teacher should be trying to politically indoctrinate other people's kids instead of just teaching them to write.