Declo Teacher Allows Students to Draw on Faces as Reading 'Incentive'

One grandparent says allowing other students to draw on slow readers was bullying.

(28) Comments

  1. aka3x
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    aka3x - November 28, 2012 5:35 pm
    jmejean, FYI. Parents went to the LOCAL media because this issue was being swept under the rug by the principal, superintendent, & school board. This story went national because it is so absurd!!! How is this a 'bad parenting' issue when the parents were NOT notified of the AR goal?!? I know two of these kids do HOURS of homework EVERY night with their parents, grandparents, and other family members.Yes, you are right that there is bullying going on... Perhaps you should read some of the hate mail that parents are recieving from the community for standing up for their child!!!
  2. hellsurvivor
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    hellsurvivor - November 26, 2012 6:57 am
    Unless I missed it, another very important issue in this case that has not been mentioned may be toxic chemicals.


    Many permanent markers contain poisonous chemicals that are easily absorbed through the skin. The cleaning material(s) used to remove the ink could also have been very toxic.,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&fp=9c1c7a74a90eb2f8&bpcl=38897761&biw=960&bih=443

    While researching the issue of poisoning I discovered that long-term LOW LEVEL exposures to artificial chemicals can damage organs, nervous systems, etc., and cause fuzzy thinking: lists over two hundred books about that subject. One of the "must read" for all teachers and parents is titled: "Is This Your Child?"
  3. jmejean
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    jmejean - November 22, 2012 12:47 pm
    I think the only bullying going on here is the parents that have made this a national issue. Im sorry that the parents here were unable to help their kids reach their reading goal. A student that is not a strong reader is not going to set a goal that he sees as impossible. I know for a fact that the schools are big on reading. My daughter is in second grade and reads every night. Parents need to work harder with their kids instead of letting the teachers do it all at school. Kids not meeting the goals is a reflection on the bad parents who dont take the time to help the kids. This whole thing is bullying but not the way everyone is looking at it. The parents are teaching the kids that its okay to bully the teacher. By making this such a huge deal, kids are taught that if you don't like what happens then you can bully those authority figures and made what happened okay. Money and social status are not an excuse for bullying. Just because you are so and so and have a lot of money doesnt mean that you can throw it around and get what you want.
  4. Tech127
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    Tech127 - November 21, 2012 3:56 pm
    I have a child with a reading ability. He is slow and is still learning his letters and sounds. My husband and I sit with him every night and practice sight words, letters, sounds and read books. I know my child and he wants to learn, he's great in other subjects but just struggles with reading. He's come a long way and it's because he has had some amazing teachers to help. This teacher should not be allowed to teach one more child! As for Karla Christensen...get a grip! We work with my son every night and he still struggles to meet his goals, but his teacher is there to help and encourage him, not allow the other students who can read better to make him feel any worse than he already does!
  5. Sneakypete
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    Sneakypete - November 21, 2012 6:18 am
    This is just one of the reasons Idaho is still in the stone ages in education. Now we're even more of a laughing stock to the rest of the nation. Go Redneckistan Idaho!
  6. j_rodge
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    j_rodge - November 20, 2012 3:17 pm
    It's definitely not plain and simple. You talk with such certainty, as if these children don't play a part in their own education, and it is up to a teacher to ensure their academic success. WAKE UP and join REALITY: it's a two way street. When I was in elementary school, I'm pretty sure I was the one reading, and many times - I didn't meet the goals assigned. That was my fault; I didn't try hard enough. The next year I read constantly, becoming the school's top reader. Children have a responsibility as well, that is why we have a grading system; it serves as a means to assess both educational attainment and effort. I agree with you that some of these kids may have learning difficulties that need to be addressed, and that may come down to a teacher failing to recognize the issues and employ appropriate strategies in the classroom... or (maybe this thought alluded you) she doesn't have the time and/or resources in her school to appropriately help these children! I highly doubt Delco has the funding and personnel to adequately attend to every child's needs (a failure of education legislation and structure; another topic altogether).
    I agree that marking children as a form of punishment for failing to reach a reading goal is not appropriate, and punishing children for not reaching a goal is debatable in general, but we don't know the details of the situation. How much time did these kids have to reach their goals? How is difficulty assessed? Were these goals reasonable?
    There is a lot we don't know about this situation, and you're just going to write off this teacher's entire career as BAD because of one incident? The situation is not ideal, but let's also remember these fourth graders DECIDED to have their faces marked!! Seriously?!? If my kid came home and told me he didn't reach his reading level and chose to have his face marked instead of missing recess, I would probably laugh, talk to him about it, and take the appropriate steps to IMPROVE HIS READING, or get him the academic support he needs. I wouldn't forget about the part I play in his educational and cognitive development as a parent, as many of these parents have.
    Consider another perspective. These kids had a choice: skip one 20-minute recess, or risk being humiliated because of a failure in decision-making. It's a life-lesson I'm sure these kids won't soon forget, and something they're going to learn in some form or fashion eventually in life.
  7. aka3x
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    aka3x - November 20, 2012 12:26 pm
    Summer Larsen is going to end up taking all the heat from this. But what about the principal who harassed some of the students after they were marked? What about the DARE officer who was in the school and saw these children and did nothing? What about the superintendent who has changed his statements? What about the parents supporting their children participating in this type of activity and fully support a teacher with a criminal record of violence? This is a sad situation.
  8. karla813
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    karla813 - November 20, 2012 9:29 am
    As a grandparent of two of the children who had faces marked on, i am very concerned, but those of you watching from afar this is the same old STUFF of "good old boy" small town politics. she is still in the class, i am not saying she should loose her job, but get her some education, or at least counceling. we have put 8 children through this school district and we have some EXELLENT t eachers, our football team (that just won state) go Hornets! volleyball team were both acedemic all stars with our track team a close second. but then there are those teachers who make all teachers look bad. Teachers, please go to school board and beg for something to be done, just because she might be the sister, sister in law, cousin, visiting teacher, daughter of a friend, should not give her the "second, third, or what ever " do over.....and to the mother who stands behind her as a wonderful teacher, who would have seen it as a relfection of your parenting skills if your child had a marked on face that day, really ? if your child has a disability it is your fault? and as you told my friend, " I WILL PRAY FOR YOU!!"
  9. Tumbleweed49
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    Tumbleweed49 - November 18, 2012 4:51 pm

    I had trouble learning to read also, and more or less taught myself, then read everything I could get my hands on. I think I had good enough Teachers at Buhl, I was just a little slow in that area. Also I had a bad brain injury when I was a preschooler. I am 63 now and consider myself a success also. This teacher needs terminated and possibly prosecuted. Sounds like Health and Welfare should have a look at that whole district? It is too serious to let go!
  10. PetHDO
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    PetHDO - November 18, 2012 3:59 pm
    Really? Laugh at the six little mugs? The teacher Larsen made a huge mistake and you laught it off and pass blame on the 9 and 10 year old kids?
  11. PetHDO
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    PetHDO - November 18, 2012 3:48 pm
    If this had happened to my daughter I would make every effort I could to find the other moms whose children had been bullied. Then file a classaction suit against every administrator, the teacher Summer Larsen, and each and every schoolboard member in Declo. If the schoolboard and school administrators at Declo think this is ok you are very wrong. Another blackeye for the public school teachers.
  12. Lorna
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    Lorna - November 18, 2012 11:58 am
    I have three children, now adults. Two of them found it easy to learn to read, and the other struggled for a long time. Their school careers stretched over a time period before and after the introduction of the Accelerated Reading (AR) program. Based on my own observations, I really believe the problem lies with AR. Children are "tested" for their reading ability (with a quick test that really just tests vocabulary level) and told which books they are allowed to read. The reading level of the book is determined by computer analysis of word and sentence length. This completely misses the point of reading for pleasure or interest, which is the best way to motivate students. The struggling reader is not going to want to read "baby books," no matter what kinds of incentives are offered. The third-grader who "tests" at a 12th grade level (I had one) is not ready for "War and Peace." Meanwhile, there is a whole world of magazines, comic books, newspapers, on-line how-to articles, etc. not included in the AR program! The saddest thing I ever overheard in a bookstore came from a family looking for AR books. "No, you can't buy that book, it's not on the list and we'd be wasting our money." Children get the message that reading is something they need to be bribed into doing.

    In the beginning, the AR program was pure incentive, with prizes being given in exchange for points. Then teachers began setting goals (goals were even mandatory for my youngest child, in middle school) and teachers and principles started coming up with ever-crazier "incentives" to get children to meet those goals. Crossing the line into punishment was bound to happen sooner or later. The teacher in this case used poor judgement, but the real fault lies with the AR program.

  13. readingteacher
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    readingteacher - November 18, 2012 9:37 am
    To Algernon: You have completely missed the essential points here. FIRST of all -- why did so many students have problems with meeting the goal? In my years of professional experience, it is usually because the teacher has no idea how to teach. To say that the CHILDREN are always to blame -- lazy, unmotivated, just need to try HARDER-- is to reveal your own ignorance about cognitive processes. I guarantee you, from across the country, that at least several of these children have specific learning needs that aren't being met in the classroom. SECOND, giving children a choice between staying in from recess (which appeals to you apparently as evidence of "trying harder") or being publicly humiliated doesnt make the teacher's behavior any less appalling! WAKE UP and join the year 2012 in education. Get informed. Enlighten yourself so you can understand why this was so reprehensible. This was a clear case of a BAD teacher abusing students as punishment for her own failures as an educator. plain and simple.
  14. algernon
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    algernon - November 17, 2012 1:47 pm
    "The class chose to have students who did not meet the goal either stay inside at recess until the goal was met, or have their faces written on by their classmates who met their goals. Nine of the students in the class did not meet their goals. Of those, six chose to have their faces marked on and three chose to forgo recess."

    This is not bullying! Do you reationary "parents" think the three kids that chose to stay inside during recess to catch up on their reading were bullied?

    Shouldnt the Headline of the story read "Six students learn valuable lesson" or "Given the choice between missing recess and humiliation, six choose poorly."

    I think the Three kids who chose to stay and do their homework during recess should get a cookie. These six who chose poorly will learn one of two things depending on how the adults progress. If the national outcry builds against the teacher and she is fired the kids will learn that they can do what ever they want and if some day they get fired from a job because they fail to do their work they will probably cry foul and try to sue. However, if the adults take the time to talk to these six kids and say "well, i guess you made a poor decision didnt you?" and yes...laugh at the six little mugs, they may learn something valuable.
  15. readingteacher
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    readingteacher - November 17, 2012 10:42 am
    National attention? I am from Maine. I heard about this on Facebook from an appalled friend in New York City. The story is so outrageously disturbing that we have tweeted it to all of the followers of our organization -- which advocates for science-based reading instruction for all students. Leaving aside the fact that this teacher is a bully and likely violated the law, this teacher obviously knows nothing about how to teach reading -- and then victimized the students as punishment for his/her own ignorance. To the victimized children and their families: our thoughts are with you -- know that we are ALL watching and waiting the outcome here.
  16. SisterSteve
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    SisterSteve - November 16, 2012 9:32 pm
    I will agree that some public schools are having problems and are in serious need of an overhaul, however, I think you are off base with your comment about dyslexia. About 15% of the population suffer from this learning disability (that's 1 in 7 people). As educators, if we can catch this early enough, the chance of the student dropping out of school becomes significantly less.

    When a student's scores are low, instead of pointing fingers, we need to find the cause and see what kind of help we can offer. It takes teachers and parents working together as a team.
  17. SisterSteve
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    SisterSteve - November 16, 2012 9:21 pm
    43 years ago when I was in 3rd grade, it was acceptable practice (or so I thought) for the teacher to use humiliation to motivate students. My teacher used to take sadistic pleasure out of displaying all my homework mistakes to my classmates. She nicknamed me "slow poke" and encouraged all my classmates to call me that. I thought the reason no one liked me was because I was a bad person. Her actions had a direct affect on my self-esteem and caused me to struggle in other areas, including my social relationships.

    Today, I am an educator and I would NEVER consider allowing my students to treat each other with such disrespect. Negative reinforcement DOES NOT motivate. We don't even treat students who misbehave this way. The only reason Karla Christensen is supporting Larsen is because her daughter got to be the bully and not the victim.

    I have always told my daughter that no one, even a teacher, has the right to treat you as someone who is undeserving of respect. I hope these parents can help their children understand that what the teacher did was wrong and that they did not do anything to deserve such deplorable treatment.
  18. TrainChaser
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    TrainChaser - November 16, 2012 6:57 pm
    Our public schools are flat-out incapable of teaching your kids, folks! When are parents going to get that through their heads? We like to sneer at France and other industrialized countries, but you can hand any kid over there any kind of document and they can read it; they may not understand all the words, but they can read right through it. There is no reason why average American 9-yr-olds can't read. It isn't dyslexia, it isn't a learning disability, it's bad teaching. Most parents don't even know their kids are struggling in school. Well, listen up, Parents! Hand your kid something he hasn't seen before and ask him to read it. If you've been depending on the schools and haven't been contributing yourself, he probably can't read it. So WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO? Nothing, right? Yeah. That's the problem. Just keep doing what you're doing and you'll keep getting what you're getting. And your kids are going to pay.
  19. ChrisER
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    ChrisER - November 16, 2012 6:10 pm
    I couldn't agree with you more. This case is poised to attract national attention. This is like a scene out of Oliver Twist. We don't live in the dark ages anymore. She needs to be fired.
  20. ChrisER
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    ChrisER - November 16, 2012 6:08 pm
    Summer Larsen should be fired immediately. This is a clearly prosecutable case of bullying. There are nationwide initiatives to stop exactly such behavior, usually aimed at students. To have a teacher INSTRUCTING students to humiliate others is unconscionable. It is now incumbent on the school district, if they are not to be in collusion with bullying, to demonstrate to students, parents and other teachers that such behaviors are entirely unacceptable. Publicly shaming students is not education -it's abuse. The students who were instructed by Summer Larsen to humiliate their classmates were encouraged to bully. This is diametrically opposed to the efforts of educators across the country to stop the kind of cruelty that leads to, in extreme cases, suicide, drop out and psychological scarring. For the parents who are so ignorant as to say it's fine, your callousness is shocking. Imagine what it would feel like for your child to endure such a shameful ritual. And you might be angry that your child was directed by an adult into whose care you entrust them to hurt their classmates.
  21. sglenna
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    sglenna - November 16, 2012 6:01 pm
    This is wrong on so many levels - morally, ethically, and legally. As a special educator, with a graduate degree, I work with children who struggle with learning issues, and/or behavior. I am absolutely shocked. An adult, in a position of power, has set up children to bully other children. Why was there an option of punishment at all in this situation? Positive reinforcement with intrinsic motivators always work, and kids then want to perform more.
    I can't believe any teacher from any teaching program in the last 30 years has not had at least one course in differentiating student performance and achievement, along with the current educational laws. Yes, there are laws that protect children and adults who are discriminated against because of their ability to perform in a classroom or on the job - IDEA, PL-94-142 and Section 504 (which is a civil rights law), are a few. For any teacher, administrator, and adult in that school who saw and knew what was going on and didn't report it as abuse - you are also culpable. It was abuse - plain and simple.
    Where are the mentors to this teacher and in the school district?
    And the parents who thought it was okay, especially when their child was achieveing - one day your child will struggle with something. Would you like them to push through, work harder, and feel good about themself, or would you want them shamed, belittled, and punished? Better yet, adults who agree with this type of punishement, when you make a mistake or don't meet a goal at work, or at home, scribble all over your face with markers and go on about your day - see how it feels. Let people know it's because you didn't meet that goal.
    Fear in children rarely motivates, it usually paralyzes, and affects them the rest of their life in some way. They're still developing their self image - how they fit in with others, who they are, etc. Can you imagine attaching fear to a basic skill - like reading, that is so necessary for future success?
    This teacher should be removed and placed with another teacher who demonstrates better judgement and empathy toward students and can mentor. If the administrator supported this behavior, then they need to be removed as well. If that doesn't happen, then these children need to be removed and placed in another more caring educational environment, at the school district's expense (maybe you need an attorney), and hopefully they will get the supportive help they need to forget these shameful actions at the hands of their classmates and teacher and then move on and achieve.
  22. concerned USA
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    concerned USA - November 16, 2012 5:27 pm
    I could not believe what I was reading today, that such a thing could be done by a teacher to a class of 10 year-olds in this USA. I emailed the article to all my friends reminding them of all the fun we had during election battling back and forth between democrats and republicans and their sordid lives and which was best, and here we had this type of situation in Idaho. I not only suggested that in the future we pick our battles and choose those deserving of our time, but that we also write and let Idaho know what we believe the school should do with this teacher and with the parents who are backing her. The teacher has been there six years, time enough to learn the do's and don't's with children's lives. A few days out of school is not enough. It should be a couple months without pay and an experienced teacher being with her in class for the rest of the year, preferably one that loves and understands children. Cindy Hurst, this was your son. You must not take this sitting down.
  23. Mike Tolman
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    Mike Tolman - November 16, 2012 4:42 pm
    I am astounded that this has happened in today's times. Any way, you look at this situation, it is still wrong. During my years at Declo, I had friends who had difficulty reading and never had a teacher use these types of tactics. They spent extra time working with them on reading but we would never have dreamed of painting their faces. Rather, if they were what was considered slow learners, we made sure they didn't get teased as did the teachers. I live far away now but am shamed to hear of this. My heart goes out to Leroy and Karla's grandchildren. Hopefully Supt. Smyers, will have the support to ensure this never happens again. Great teacher or not, that is a serious lapse in judgement, that is further compounded by hiding it from parents and making the children feel doubly shamed.
  24. DetroitTiggerFan
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    DetroitTiggerFan - November 16, 2012 4:19 pm
    There is a lot of talk in education these days to make students more responsible for their own learning. So I understand the teacher's motivations for allowing her class to choose their own consequences for meeting or not meeting their AR reading goals. Obviously she didn't think through all the consequences FOR the consequences the kids chose. Since she's receiving support from some parents she must be doing some things right. People make mistakes, that's why pencils have erasers. Teaching is often a thankless job, but next time...think things through more, Miss.
  25. jamest
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    jamest - November 16, 2012 4:02 pm
    Thia kind of thing is way too serious to let go. I am a 68 year old successful business man who was continually humiliated about my spelling and slow reading as a student. I became an avid reader at about age 21 and have been one since. I attained graduate levels of college work. My library is a couple thousand volumes. I am way more "bookish" than most of my "educator" friends have ever been. So reading abilities 10 years old ain't no big deal! The manner in which I was treated regarding other learning opportunities, sports, clubs, school politics etc because of reading defeciencies I look back on as deplorable. NO KID SHOULD BE TREATED IN THE WAY ALL OF THESE KIDS WERE TREATED! THE BULLYS WHO PAINTED FACES HAVE LEARNED THAT THAT KIND OF TREATMENT IS OK...IT IS NOT. THE PAINTED FACE AND THE OTHERS TOO HAVE HAD A POSSIBLE LIFE CHANGING EXPERIENCE. NOT A POSITIVE ONE! This "teacher" should be pulled from the classroom before she harms anymore children! Her principal is no prize either for that matter. (in answer to 484436: I know how she came to be a do we get rid if her)

  26. I care
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    I care - November 16, 2012 3:00 pm
    I'm wondering, has Summer Larsen never heard of the learning disability called dyslexia?
    Has she never heard of The American Disability Act? In my opinion, she's left herself and the school district wide open for legal action. Praise, not shame, encourages learning. One would hope that an adult teacher would set perimeters of behavior in her classroom around kindness and encouragement and compassion, not shame and bullying. Has she ever read LORD OF FLIES? Is she unaware of the suicides of young in this country due to bullying? It appears Summer Larsen needs further education herself before she's fit to teach young children the fundamentals of being a decent person.
  27. Vovoly Tampetti
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    Vovoly Tampetti - November 16, 2012 2:53 pm
    Don't know what's in the water down there but that teacher is way out of line. Positive reinforcements work, negitive krap does not. Have no idea where anybody's head is at that thinks this was okay. Should not have ever been left up to children to pick the reward. This is just plain scary. Teacher is in the wrong line of work...period!
  28. Tumbleweed49
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    Tumbleweed49 - November 16, 2012 10:03 am
    I had problems learning to read. This is a form of Bullying and the Prosecutor should have a look at this one! Never heard of such nonsense, how did this person ever become a teacher?

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