Monday, October 02, 2006

Sydney McGee Part II

A few days ago I discussed the issue of teacher Sydney McGee in Frisco, Texas getting fired from her teaching post after 28 years allegedly due to complaints that one of her students saw a nude sculpture during a museum trip. Read that here.

A reader from Frisco, Texas has responded to the report by offering the other side of the story. Angel writes:

I am very disappointed in the one-sided slant to the news stories regarding this Fisher Elementary Art Teacher who is being put on leave WITH pay with a recommended non-renewal of her contract next spring. Frisco, Texas citizens and one of its' largest employers - FISD - support the arts!

I do not want to have a debate on the subject of nude art at the DMA as I know very well that the district would never put a teacher on a growth plan solely for this reason. I know that the administrators, school board members, principals, and teachers support the visual arts in a very positive way.

Many districts have cut their art programs, but not FISD.

FISD’s art programs have received several award winning recognitions in the visual arts. Our district was honored for the Outstanding Youth Art Month Observance Award from the Texas Art Education Association for involvement on a state level. One can go to the district’s website at www. and find several news articles on art endeavors and art student recognitions.

Each year the district puts on a district wide art show in honor of Youth Art Month which is celebrated in the spring. The district allows budget monies for the art program including not only supplies but fine art prints to share with students in the classroom. They support and allow field trips to such places as the Dallas Museum of Art, Hall Office Park’s outdoor sculptures, and the like.

Student artworks are continually displayed in our community. The City of Frisco voted to pass a proposition regarding public art being an integral part of our city. Our city has the highly regarded Hall Office Park collection of outdoor sculptures open to the public for ground tours. One can drive around various locations in Frisco and discover public works of art everywhere.

You cannot tell me that we are some culturally-insensitive group of citizens and that our school administrators are as well. It is simply not true!

I feel bad that the media attention (including forums like this, talk radio, newspapers, and television broadcasts) brought on our town has put us in such a negative light.

This is pure smoke and mirrors brought on by this teacher in an attempt to take the heat off of the real issues at hand. She was never fired, only asked to improve. Instead of trying to improve, she went straight to the media bad-mouthing her principal and her employer which is FISD. I think they have every right not to renew her contract at this point.

Thank you for hearing my opinion which is factually driven and personally driven for me to want to communicate.

By the way, her 28 year tenure was NOT all served in the FISD and not all of those years were as an ART teacher.
Some observations:

I'll agree that generally there are always two sides to most stories, but I still have some reservations with this story, the flavor of which comes to us strictly through what is published in the press. Either everyone in the printmedia is doing, as Angel alleges, "smoke and mirrors," or FISD is doing one of the worst information (lack thereof) campaigns of all times to address an obviously sensitive subject.

As a reader in commented, "if Frisco ISD has been having a problem with this teacher it should have been put down in-writing on previous performance reviews. Where are they?" By the way, there are loads of good comments, both pro and con the issue at

I'd like to add that if the issue for not renewing the contract was NOT as a result of the parent complaint over the nude sculpture at the museum, then the board, or the school or FISD should have explained it immediately and come out and said "this award winning, experienced teacher's contract is not being renewed because "fill-in-the-blank" and not because of the complaints raised by a parent as a result of the museum trip."

Then we'd all know why she's being let go, and also know (at least officially) that it was not as a result of the parent's complaint over the museum trip.

Until that happens, the museum trip and the subsequent complaint, immediately followed by the events reported in the press, continue to shed a bad light on FISD.