A New Jersey substitute teacher is in a sticky situation after she allegedly slapped tape across loud-mouthed third-graders as part of something she called the “quiet game,” school officials said.
The teacher has been removed from a list of possible substitutes used at Winfield Scott School No. 2 in Elizabeth after the May 29 incident, when five children told their parents, who told school administrators, of the cruel “game.”
"We consider this serious," Donald Goncalves, spokesman for the school board, told The Newark Star-Ledger. "We took the teacher out of the classroom and she will no longer be working for us."
The unnamed teacher allegedly used “a pink, fabric-based tape” to cover the kids’ mouths, according to the newspaper.
"I don't understand what she was thinking," the girl’s father, Munford Henderson, told WNBC-TV. "We're talking about kids. You're sworn to protect and teach, not to hurt them and put them in fear."
Elizabeth police and the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency are both looking into the allegations.
It's interesting how a substitute teacher in New Jersey is under fire for taping the mouths of students shut but education reformer Michelle Rhee was feted for the same thing:
Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee's talk to the new DCPS teachers Wednesday included two anecdotes I had not heard before -- one remarkable for its content, the other for its delivery. They described her struggles 18 years ago as a fledgling second grade teacher at Baltimore's Harlem Park Elementary.
"The worst and in many ways definitely the toughest year of my entire life," she said.
Rhee had poor class management skills, she said, recalling that her class "was very well known in the school because you could hear them traveling anywhere because they were so out of control." On one particularly rowdy day, she said she decided to place little pieces of masking tape on their lips for the trip to the school cafeteria for lunch.
"OK kids, we're going to do something special today!" she said she told them.
Rhee said it worked well until they actually arrived at the cafeteria. "I was like, 'OK, take the tape off. I realized I had not told the kids to lick their lips beforehand...The skin is coming off their lips and they're bleeding. Thirty-five kids were crying."
Rhee walked that story back after Bill Turque published it in the Washington Post
Rhee said in an e-mail Friday that the students' mouths weren't covered. "I was trying to express how difficult the first year of teaching can be with some humor. My hope is that our new teachers will bring great creativity and passion to their craft while also learning from my own challenges." Still, it's difficult to imagine a DCPS instructor, first-year or tenth-year, surviving the masking tape stunt without suspension at a minimum.
The story, like many stories about Rhee, is clouded in mystery and myth.
Did Rhee really tape students' mouths shut?
Did she really eat a bee to garner her students' attention?
Does she really not remember being informed about widespread cheating at Noyes when she was DCPS chancellor?
Or how she tried to convince young women who were alleging her fiance at the time, now her husband, Kevin Johnson, had engaged in unwanted sexual contact with them to drop their stories?
Why is Rhee still celebrated in the culture when so many of these questions circulate about her?