Texas Art Teacher Sacked Over Nudes

I’m not sure if the nude incident is the whole reason behind the Texas teacher losing her job, but it’s still interesting. Sydney McGee claims that she was fired after a complaint from a parent of a student, relating to a school field trip to the Dallas Museum of Art. He was concerned about his child seeing “an abstract nude”, which was a 4BC Greek marble torso.

Part of the letter sent to McGee from the school said.. “During a study trip that you planned for fifth graders, students were exposed to nude statues and other nude art representations.”

But the school board is saying that it is not the whole reason for her being fired..
“The school alludes to other complaints against Ms McGee, but says it cannot go into details because of confidentiality agreements. It has only suggested that the teacher wore flip-flops to work and did not plan the field trip sufficiently.
The teacher disputes all these claims. Ms McGee’s lawyer, Rogge Dunn, told the Guardian: “If the museum trip had nothing to do with it, why did the principal give Ms McGee a dressing down about it the day after the trip and why did they put it in writing a couple of weeks later?”
Guardian

Some parents just have too much free time on their hands. If they have issues with their child seeing a Greek marble statue in a museum, how do they deal with nightly news or MTV?

Update: Coxsoft found a picture of the offending statue here. I must warn viewers that this picture shows full frontal nudity, so if you’re easily shocked, don’t follow this link.
>> Art Controversies

About Dion

Australian artist and observer of things.. all kinds of things. I like a wide variety of art, from the weird and wonderful to the bold and beautiful.. and everything in between.

Comments

  1. This parent could move to Afghanistan and meet a lot of like-minded people. Although to be fair, the anti-representational art movement in Afghanistan seems to have been instigated by foreigners (i.e., members of Al Queda).

  2. My god are we in the 21st century or the 15th? Poor kid to have parents like that. I wonder how they let the kid bathe or shower, with a blindfold? God forbid kids should see a human body!!!

  3. I had read that until the time of the incident she had an excellent record and rating as a teacher.

    I hope some of these parents don’t take their children abroad, to europe, otherwise their precious babies will suffer tremendous perversions at seeing all the architecture/fountains that incorporates nuddy angels and ladies, eeeeeeeek!!!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Welcome to North Texas, the buckle of the Bible Belt, where nudity and sin are synonamous. It must be noted that the former museum at Fair Park had several male nude statues, with at least two having in tact geneitalia. There was a “visible” woman anatomical display which also featured cut away models depicting the stages of fetal development culminating in birth. It was a commom field trip venue for fourth graders through Seniors(In the 1970′s) and I don’t remember there being a raised eyebrow over it. How sad that we allow evangelical fundamentalists to dictate and censor the mainstream (and conservative) art our children experience at the Dallas Museum of Art. (Home of the wonderful Nasher Sculpture Garden)

  5. Anonymous says:

    I have taught art in the DFW area for over 20 years and it is sad that the “squeaky wheel” always gets the attention! Most parents are very open minded and wanting their children to have the best education possible, including exposure to famous works of art!! Unfortunately, it only takes one complaint sometimes to stir up negative action. Retired and loving it!!

  6. Reminds me of the time my former church refused to play a music video because it had a skeleton in it. (Occult imagery) What was holding them together; popsicle sticks?

  7. This reminds me of that New York art teacher who had the temerity to suggest his better art students attend life classes. Sacked! Again it was only one parent who complained. Again the school tried to make out there were other issues behind the sacking. Brian Yoder championed the teacher’s cause on his website: http://www.goodart.org/
    and on the Art Renewal Centre website. I lost track of that case, so I guess it wasn’t good news.
    It seems that head teachers in US schools don’t realize they live in a democracy and that one fruitcake parent shouldn’t be allowed to dictate who is sacked. In a case like this, other parents should have been consulted. Let them vote! Even deep in bible-belt country, there might be enough sensible parents who know something about art to allow sanity to prevail. Then again…when Rodin’s The Kiss visited Salt Lake City on tour, it caused outrage and was banned!
    Little green Martians? More like little green Americans.

  8. P.S.
    I’ve just posted the offending statue on Coxsoft Art News. If you want to see what we’re all arguing about, visit http://coxsoft.blogspot.com/

  9. How ridiculous. Parents can be so freaky.

  10. I updated the post with a link to the offending statue Coxsoft.

    It is shocking.. shocking that there are people like this in the US.. and shocking that these people have the power to influence others with their backward thinking.

  11. Parent Chaperone says:

    I was a parent that chaperoned that trip. I am also in management. The ignorance of the ill-informed shocks me. This is not about a nude sculpture. This is not about potentially one parent complaint. I too felt the trip was chaotic, the DMA staff was rude and over-booked. I blamed the DMA frankly, but some accountability belongs to the organizer. Accept the criticism and grow from it. Trying to hide behind the one complaint is to avoid recognizing her short-comings. I never have had my children complain about her class, but at the same time, their apathy is a sign of her lackluster teaching. My kids rave about learning yet they barely mention this class. I have asked myself why my kids don’t know the basics of art. Why did my 5th grader not have any understanding of the purpose of the field trip? Why was it not part of unit of study? If they learn about the ocean and then they visit the aquarium – the knowledge is applicable to the trip. I wonder why the children did not truly have a clue about the intent. I don’t presume to know all of the facts that led to this point as no on truly ever does in an employee/manager situation due to privacy laws. However, I do know that this is a phenomenal school that has spirit, parental support, intelligent, considerate kids and a mission to educate our kids. It’s goal is to drive from “Good to Great” and Ms. McGee may not have been willing to get on the bus to get us there. If that is the case, then I would ask her to please move on and let our children and school in peace. As for everyone else, please get informed, wait for all of the facts and stop making baseless statements.

  12. Yeah, it does seem that there is more to the story, but why would the school mention the nudes in a letter to Ms. McGee? They must think that being “exposed to nude statues” is an issue if they mentioned it in a letter.

    “During a study trip that you planned for fifth graders, students were exposed to nude statues and other nude art representations.”

  13. At first glance and without knowing the details it’s very easy to jump to conclusions of who is right and wrong.

    I think we need to remember (as we all know it’s easy to forget )that there are at least two sides to the story.

    If the reason is because a child’s parent made a complaint against this teacher because she exposed students to works of art of which some are nudes, then we have a huge problem that’s completely out of whack and crazy. But if you read Parent Chaperone’s comment, then maybe it’s not so out of whack.

    Nevertheless, nude artworks are not pornograpy and therefore parents should not fear this art. If you don’t want your child to see this, then don’t allow them to go on a field trip such as this one.

  14. Anonymous says:

    There are ususally more than two sides to a story yet many people resort to my new favorite catch-phrase, “I reject your reality and substitute my own.”(Thanks to Adam Savage)
    In this case the media has capitalized on a parents’ protestations over their childs exposure to nudity. The school district is saying that her performance as a teacher was lacking; however they had renewed her contract just a few months before this incident. Her records contained commendations rather than condemnations. The tipping point seems to be the complaint over exposure to nudity and not an ill-organised experience at the DMA. If the teacher’s performance were simply average or below par, then why was she fired so early in the school year? If she continued through the school year end, and didn’t have her contract renewed for next year, how much damage could she do? Her dismissal midterm means we have to take the complaint of nudity seriously. The person who claims to have chaperoned on this trip misses the point; if all sub-par, passionless or disorganized teachers were fired in Midlothian, Wilmer-Hutchens, Mansfield, DISD, GISD, et al, then there we be 30% to 60% less instructors in our school districts, and I’m being kind.

  15. Anonymous says:

    There are times in teaching when everything seems to go wrong no matter how well you plan. This trip to the museum could have been one of those times. No teacher should be fired over this. All art teachers need to carry drapes with them on field trips and run ahead of the students to cover up the nudity. What fun…….People need to grow up.

  16. Parent Chaperone says:

    Those of you that keep saying she was fired need to remember that it is not the case. She chose this path. She was provided an opportunity to improve which she chose to reject by filing a grievance and requesting a transfer. The transfer was denied. She was only put on administrative leave when she was using class time to not teach but rather conduct radio and newspaper interviews on her cell phone. She is being paid through the end of this school year. I would have supported her seeking remedy on the transfer request. I don’t support her using our kid’s learning time to her own end. I think it is narrow to focus on the field trip issue. The issues were not new. They were worsening. Hence the memo and plan to improve. Does anyone out there truly believe she did not have any room to improve? I would have welcomed my kids coming home with interest in art. Why is it that they didn’t even understand the basics? They are A students and have been exposed to museums. I assure you that it is not about fear of nudity or art. The criticism about the chaotic trip is driven to the fact that field trips are inherently meant to support learning that has taken place in the classroom. As there was no teaching on this point – this trip was about Sydney rushing to try to meet a job expectation without having to do the entire job. Cutting corners can cost you -I am sorry that this is the case. I would have supported her had she sought to seek excellence instead of hiding behind this false martyrdom.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps Parent Chaperone can explain why the teacher was fielding questions from local radio and TV in the first place. The argument she makes seems to be “a priori.” I cannot tell if her argument is sincere yet ideologically driven or a rationalization to defend the district. All related news articles cite the complaints of a parent against his/her child’s exposure to nudity as the primary reason for the teacher being censured at that specific time. All other details seem to be added as justification after the fact. I think we can all see that this horse is now officially dead.

  18. Fisher parent says:

    To answer your question – she sought the media. That is why she is courting them. The responses are a direct result of all of the speculation which is fed by her one-sided and reported story. All we ask of you is to withhold your judgement until all the facts are in. At least let the decision rest where it belongs and stop painting our school and district with the negative press. I am normally not this vocal, but it offends me as a parent and as a resident to have people make crass statements about us. All I have tried to do is provide you all some insight from personal experience.

  19. hey i remember watchin errections go up in the 5th grade which was only 10 years ago; and i studied the form of a female body. why would such naive people freak out about today’s society? like another said, do we live in the 15th or the 21st century? i mean it’s not like we hire someone to hold our dicks while we piss so we don’t know whats down there maybe that angry parent does who knows people who think like that are usually the f-ed up people who end up having a right to vote which usually screws the rest of our nation over with their defective decisions

  20. Anonymous says:

    jen is the cutest girl ever!

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