Friday, June 13, 2008

With Teachers Like This

From Salt Lake Tribune:

A state commission is sending a letter of warning to a Duchesne County teacher for speaking inappropriately about a student rape victim and her family to the media.

The Utah Professional Practices Advisory Commission (UPPAC) decided Tuesday after an investigation to send a letter of warning to Tabiona School teacher Glenda Norviel. The letter comes after one of Norviel's students, a rape victim, claimed the teacher assigned her to write an essay about her rape and pregnancy in front of the class as an alternative assignment to reading My Sister's Keeper, a novel the student and her family found offensive.

Norviel then made remarks about the girl and her family to newspaper reporters who called her for comment. The Uintah Basin Standard quoted Norviel as saying the girl, "has supposedly been raped by the father of her baby." Court records show a man was convicted of raping the 16-year-old girl.

Norviel also told a Tribune reporter, "The girl is not an innocent. . . . If she has just had a baby six weeks ago, is reading the f-word going to cause her emotional trauma for the rest of her life?"

This woman's dismissive attitude is unfortunately quite common but most of those who hold this attitude don't express it so clearly and so publicly with this level of disregard for ethics. Like most people with this attitude the issues are all about the person who is dismissive of someone who was raped.

A letter of warning by the state commission and a letter of reprimand by the school district seems like underwhelming responses to such a public and unfounded attack on a student's character by a teacher. The teacher's slanderous implication was clear. This girl might be considered to be a crime victim by the criminal justice system, but this teacher views this girl as immoral and therefore beyond having any right to object to any book because of the content or language of that book.

That should be a firing offense. From the article it seems like the district will only be updating their policy regarding reading material when the bigger issue is about how teachers treat and talk about students when a dispute arises.

I suspect that this teacher views herself as being victimized by this rape victim and the girl's parents since that is a typical response from those who are dismissive of rape victims.

Ordering a student to write an essay about her rape and the resulting pregnancy -- whether it was assigned publicly as the girl claims or privately as the teacher claims -- was an act of retribution. An appropriate substitute for one reading assignment would have been to assign the girl a different novel or to approach the school administration about the teacher and student's dilemma.

With teachers like this no wonder so many students feel justified in being openly hostile to fellow students who have been raped. They are doing what they have been taught.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:15 AM   1 comments links to this post


At June 13, 2008 3:39 PM, Blogger JENNIFER DREW said...

Very true with teachers such as this hypocritical one it is no wonder both male and female students are increasingly accepting male sexual violence against women and children. This teacher deliberately abused her position and used her power to inflict humilation and pain on the female student. But sadly, it is common practice to disbelieve rape survivors as well as all forms of male sexual and physical violence against women and children. Yet this teacher will not be disciplined instead this person will just receive a 'letter.' A clear message is being sent to all rape survivors - don't you dare disclose a man has raped you because you alone are to blame due to your supposed 'immorality.' Most rapists as we know, are never charged let alone convicted, instead it is always the survivor who is held responsible.


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