Why we published the teacher story | March 27, 2009 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |


Mountain View Voice

Opinion - March 27, 2009

Why we published the teacher story

Last week's front page story titled "Parents up in arms over 'abusive' teacher" generated many dozens of passionate e-mails and online comments, with several taking us to task for publishing the story at all.

This story contains 683 words.

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Posted by Former MVWSD Parent
a resident of Rex Manor
on Mar 27, 2009 at 9:25 am

Mr. Frances,

I'll never dispute your obligation to inform our community. Unfortunately, I believe the modern 24/7 news cycle and our extensive communications networks make it harder to distinguish between informing and inflaming. You and I must have different ethical standards when it comes to the treatment of educators. I can recall at least three instances in the past where I've criticized you for inflaming, and you have insisted you and your paper were just informing.

Fortunately, we live in a society that encourages (generally) that debate to continue.

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Posted by eric
a resident of another community
on Mar 27, 2009 at 10:59 am

It is unrealistic for the Voice to expect an employer to comment on a serious ongoing personnel issue. The Voice knows that.

The 4 parents that came to the Voice were clearly co-ordinating their efforts. I suspect that the 5th person was probably in league with them as well. The Voice knew that.

Did the Voice attempt to reach out to other Huff parents for any different perspective, or did they take as gospel the views of those that sought out media attention?

The Voice got used here.

When I first read the article, I had the same reaction that most would have-- how could this person be allowed to teach in our district? If I had all the facts, I might still have that reaction, possibly even stronger.

But the vitriolic, juvenile level of discourse here-- much of it likely driven by the same accusers-- makes it impossible to accept the accusations at face value.

I'm actually glad that the worst of the posters on this topic remain anonymous, lest they teach their children that the best way to resolve a problem is to accost, defame and insult anyone that might have a different perspective on the issue.

if-- IF-- the parents that went to the Voice are painting an accurate picture of this teacher, I hope she leaves the profession. I have no issue with parents aggressively working in what they percieve as the best interests of their kids (I've been there, too). I do have an issue with the ugly tone that this group has given the discourse, and with the Voice for a less than thorough job covering this story

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Posted by Steve Cutcomb
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Mar 27, 2009 at 2:52 pm

Don Frances and the Voice team,
Three cheers for you for revealing an unresolved education issue in your recent coverage of the controversial Huff teacher. Issues like this can go unreported and parents and students suffer for it. If any teacher displays questionable judgement and people are feeling hurt, we need a Dr. Phil moment and it's great that you outed the issue for us all to become aware of it. Keep up the good work!

Steve C.

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Posted by Ned
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 27, 2009 at 6:03 pm

"judging from the Web remarks"... hardly an objective method of justifying why you printed such a ridiculous article. You would have done better to lay more of the accusations made by parents at the foot of the school district administation rather than unleashing a lynch mob. Just read the posts by the parent Christine... she's running with this with all her post and really making a mockery of due process.

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Posted by Moderate Response
a resident of Whisman Station
on Mar 27, 2009 at 6:13 pm

I would say thanks for running this article, it allowed my wife and I to discuss what we would do as a parent in this situation. It also encouraged me that we do not need to accept poor teaching just because of the tenure system.

In an area where we have a high school that is rated a 10 and elementary schools that range from 3 to 10 (on a 10 scale, with 10 being the best), we need to work to change the things we can and this teacher had to go. Now there is more work to be done. Let's hope that the MV Voice can help shine a light on the issues to address as it did so well in this case.

Let's not compare this to the enflamed press coverage we experience on a national level with OctoMom or who Jennifer Aniston is dating. This issue was local and relevant and it turns out actionable - well done MV Voice.

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Posted by Enough!
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 28, 2009 at 8:41 am

This teacher clearly has issues regarding her style. However, had the district administration addressed them as they came up, with counseling, remedial training, peer reviews of her teaching style, etc, perhaps she could have better developed as a teacher. It seems, however, that the district administration has a hands-off approach to dealing with parent complaints, etc, and this festered into something way bigger with damaging effects on all, to include, most importantly, the children. Many are to blame here, but mostly, in my opinion, the district administration.

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Posted by curious
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 28, 2009 at 8:42 am

Mr. Frances

Congratulations for running the article. Your newspaper is a breath of fresh air and you reported the story objectively and accurately. This is an important issue on many levels. Not the least is the School District stonewalling the parents. The function of the press is to shine light on situations that otherwise could be hidden by an unaccountable bureaucracy. Keep up the good work.

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Posted by smart growther
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 28, 2009 at 9:47 pm

I agree with "enough". A problem that lingered this long should have been dealt with by the usual methods. She may have been a good teacher at some point and may have had some personal problems that affected her. At this point it appears that she is burnt out from teaching and needs to move into another profession

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Posted by Huff parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on Mar 28, 2009 at 10:09 pm

This is an example of why we are transferring our child to a private school. We have had good teachers at Huff. However the district educrats are more concerned with their careers and their agendas than with the students. I am amazed that they covered for Polifrone all these years. A leader with integrity and committment to the students would have solved this problem when it first arose regardless of the personal consequences. And would the school board have backed such a principal or Supe? Unlikely. My child dislikes Polifrone intensely. Mrs. P walks out at lunch and bops kid on the head with a book. She grabs food out their lunch boxes, not to mention her other well documented transgressions.
Look at the fool's parade of principals at Huff, Graham, Bubb and the Superindent's position. Polifrone is not the only bad actor employee at Huff. Or the lack of a coherent plan for teaching "english learners", only the slavish committment to what looks and feels good. The cowardly approach to closing schools, the bloated staff at district. The crowing about how great the district performs while producing terrible results.
We spent many years volunteering and supporting Huff.
We are outta here.

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Posted by bubb parent
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 28, 2009 at 11:59 pm

Sheesh. Dont let the door hit you on the way out.

"parade" implies a long line of people coming through and failing. Solid long-term super who has improved test scores. Bubb principal position rolled after a retirement, replaced with a solid administrator. Former Huff principal successfully promoted, effectively keeping our district ahead of the wave of state budget trouble. Hires at Graham and Huff that didnt fit the campuses culture replaced--isnt that a good thing?

I think you'll fit in nicely in many of the private school environs I've witnessed

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Posted by ex huff parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on Mar 29, 2009 at 12:24 pm

Sorry I got in wrong on Bubb.
But let's not bring up Polifrone in polite company, nor the bureaucrats who let her abuse 9 year-old children for years. That makes the schools and teachers look bad, some kind of henious act these days. The educrats are appeasers and enablers. What does that make you who defend Mrs. P and her co-dependents? What about those of you who blame the kids and parents for Polifrone’s abusive of them?
Our child will fit in fine in the environs of a school whose goal is education, not perpetuating a failing government program.

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Posted by WF
a resident of The Crossings
on Mar 29, 2009 at 1:25 pm

Anyone know what rock ms p is hiding under??????????

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Posted by Jenn
a resident of another community
on Mar 29, 2009 at 8:20 pm

Oops. I meant to type "interpreted" as abrasive

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Posted by Mr. J
a resident of Whisman Station
on Apr 14, 2009 at 9:16 am

I am very happy with the actions by the district. Mrs. "P" taught both of my children at Slater Elementary. She was very abusive, we personally witnessed her actions, discussed the same with the principal and Mrs. P was talked to. Things never changed. One incident, she would not let my Son use the restroom for the entire length of class. My Daughter was upset the year she found out that her next classroom teacher was Mrs. P, based on the experience her older Brother had. My kids are now 16 and 13, many years later, I cannot believe that I am reading this story and hearing that she has continued this style of teaching.

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Posted by Mr. J
a resident of Whisman Station
on Apr 14, 2009 at 9:34 am

One more thing... at a middle school in Mt. View, unbeknownst to my Son, one trouble-maker student put a sign on my Son's back that read, "RAPE ME". When discussed with the principal, they said; "you parents need to grow up, and realize what it takes to handle a mix of students like this". This principal went on to say how big my Son was and said, "Do you really think one of these kids could rape your Son". I said, "What if this was a beautiful petite girl, you'd have Schwarzenegger down here right now, getting to the bottom of this"... we moved our kids out of the Mt. View school district.