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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Is punishment enough in Manatee teacher's Facebook comment case?



Manatee County music teacher Lauren Orban has come under fire across the country as the story of her derogatory Facebook comments about a student has gone viral.

Bay News 9 was the first to report that Orban wrote on the social media site that one of her students, identified with his initials and grade level, "may be the evolutionary link between orangutans and humans."

The school district reprimanded Orban. The student's mom, Lisa Wade, has led the growing opposition to what many consider a slap on the wrist rather than a real punishment. A couple dozen people protested outside the school on Wednesday, the Herald-Tribune reports.

"Whether you're black, white, gray or purple, any parent would be upset if this happened to their child," parent and NAACP member Rodney Jones told the Herald-Tribune at the protest.

Another point of view is starting to bubble up, though. Let's call it the "who cares?" position. Broward-Palm Beach New Times writer Rich Abdill encapsulates that side in his latest column

"Teachers are not special creatures that should have special rules because they deal with our precious children. They are employees -- why is it any of our business that they think some children are lousy? Some children are lousy. If she wasn't going to write it on Facebook, she was going to say it at a bar, or in the teachers' lounge, or somewhere else. Who are we to stop her? Should we have protests for teachers who complain about their jobs at bars, too?

"Just because parents think their children is a beautiful snowflake does not mean people should lose their jobs for disagreeing."

Several hot button topics are mixed up in this debate, freedom of speech and perceived racism among them. Did this teacher go too far? Is the mom asking too much?  

[Last modified: Thursday, July 12, 2012 6:42am]


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