I was encouraged upon learning of the Culver City Unified School District School Board’s decision to reinstate Sheila Silver, a drama teacher and the creative director of the Academy of Visual Performance Arts.
Soon after leading her students to back-to-back regional top honors at the California Educational Theatre Association High School Theatre Festival, the immensely popular teacher was asked not to return to her teaching post at Culver City High School. From what I’ve been able to glean from my perch, she got axed because some other teachers didn’t get along with her. Apparently, the adulation she received from her students was not shared by some of her colleagues. I suppose that some people simply never outgrow high school, and I find it only fitting that they return to teach it.
What kind of example does Silver’s dismissal paint for the students? The lesson, one must conclude, is that if you don’t get along with someone, get that person in trouble (or in this case, jeopardize a person’s career and/or ability to earn a living).
To digress for a moment, I find it shameful that employers, even in the public sector, have the power to so casually fire a dues-paying union member with credentials like those of Silver. If her job’s not safe, whose is?
I’m still unclear as to what Silver is accused of doing or not doing. One of the only accusations I’ve unearthed is that she didn’t eagerly seek out mentors (a charge, I understand, that she refuted with emails to the contrary), and if that’s the case, it sounds to me a little bit like Jennifer Aniston’s character in the movie Office Space, who is chastised by her boss at a theme restaurant for not wearing enough pieces of flair.
I imagine it’s quite possible that spending copious amounts of time in the presence of teenagers might bring out the baser aspects of a person, but we really need teachers to try to behave like adults. I applaud the students and parents who voiced their outrage at what appears to have been an abuse of authority, prompting a school board member to come around, resulting in a 3-2 vote in favor of fairness.