Friday, September 10, 2021

Some thoughts about the Neosho school controversy


I just finished reading the Kansas City Star's article on the resignation of Neosho Junior High teacher John M. Wallis. Earlier today, I read the Springfield News-Leader and Joplin Globe accounts and I have read the comments on some of the local media sites and none of them surprised me.

Wallis placed a pride flag on a shelf in his classroom.

Big deal! You can see those almost anywhere and in almost any setting.

The right-wingers are lining up behind Neosho Superintendent Jim Cummins and the district, while the left-wingers are making a martyr out of Wallis.

It is not that simple.

Doesn't anyone care that less than three weeks after John Wallis signed a contract pledging that he would teach in the Neosho R-5 School District for the 2021-2022 school year, he walked away from his commitment because he was unhappy with how he was being treated?

In the Kansas City Star article, Wallis said he had asked administrators if he could put the flag in his room and he was advised against it. So naturally, he displayed the flag in his room. 

Wallis' idea of displaying the pride flag and letting his students know his class was inclusive was obviously one that meant a great deal to him or he wouldn't have even broached the subject with administration.

When he was advised against it, he should have come up with an alternative plan. Teachers have to do that every day. The best way to make a classroom inclusive is for the teacher to take the steps to make the classroom inclusive and make sure all children are treated with respect. There is nothing wrong with telling students you want to have an inclusive classroom, but the best way to do it is to forget about using the word and simply make the class inclusive.

Students are smart. They will figure out if your class is inclusive.

Instead, the articles indicate that Wallis told his students if they were uncomfortable with who he was they could be moved to another teacher's classroom. 

Apparently, there is a limit to inclusiveness.

Teachers work with the students they are given. That is the job.

Are there homophobes among the patrons of the Neosho R-5 School District? Sure there are and many of them have made that clear in their commentary on local social media.

Maybe there are some among R-5 administration. I don't know. But the evidence would indicate that is not the case. It seems certain school officials were aware of Wallis's sexual preference when he was hired. He doesn't keep it a secret and in this day and age there is no reason for him to do so.

Nor is there any reason for a teacher, especially one who is beginning his first year in the classroom and who originally came from Neosho and knows the people, to bring that preference up in discussions with his students.

First-year teachers often run into problems and occasionally, administrators let them know they won't have a job if they continue down the path they are heading.

Most first-year teachers adjust, work to become better and at the least, they make it until the end of the school year and if they are not cut out for the classroom, they find a different line of work.

If John Wallis believed he was being mistreated because of his sexual preference, he had other options that could have allowed him to remain in the classroom. He could have filed complaints, worked with his professional organization, or sought advice from more experienced teachers. Instead, at the first sign of trouble, he handed in his resignation, leaving behind all of the children he hoped to help.

He cut and run.

That's not inclusiveness, it's immaturity.


Brian said...

Agreed, he wants to be a martyr. Almost nobody cares about your sexual preferences anymore, it's gone mainstream. That hill is littered with bodies. Now he's just riding out his perceived 15 minutes while looking for another job. I'm not sure the inevitable lawsuit will work out for him.

Anonymous said...

I think Mr. Wallis indeed wants to be a martyr, I went to high school with him and that fits him. However, I don't think any other avenue he took would have gotten any ground, as the leadership/faculty in Neosho's school district is terrible. In the end it's the majority population-homophobes in the Bible Belt that probably won't change until John and my generation are in higher level school and government positions. Word around is the school may have their hands full of unwanted attention until they say something else besides their awful "All means all" press release.

Mia said...

If a headrosexual man had opened a conversation about sexuality for any reason he would have been ran out and probably charged with a sexual crime. I personally do not care what your sexuality is however, I do care that it is not the teachers position to teach our children about sex and anyone male or female doing so should be thrown out and be charged. The exposure to worldly issues are for the family and their beliefs to deal with such issues.

Mia said...

I think the big picture here is that 1st he was told no. He did it anyway. (Lack of redpect) 2.Activism does not belong ylto a teacher in the classroom just because they feel patronage about it. He was not there to teach sex education. (Parent approval is required for any teacher to teach that) 3. Even a headrosexual man opening conversations with minor children regarding sex is considered a pervert and is illegal in the whole world not just the classroom. (Opening the district for lawsuite) 4. He is not there to teach children about sex and if he cannot keep his sexuality out of the classroom then he shouldn't be there. Like any other teacher he should face jail as a preditor/pedophile like all other preditors/pedophiles.

Brian said...

I'm older, (genx) and while I agree there are still homophobes in positions of power I don't think that's the real obstacle for him. I don't know him personally, it's easy to see that his entire reason for being is tied into his sexuality. Most people I know, even friends who are LGBTQ find that boring. He's not breaking any ground here, he's relishing in being a victim while virtue signaling about just wanting to help kids. He doesn't want to do that or he would still be a teacher.
I don't think the school district did anything wrong here. As long as the rules apply to everyone.

Anonymous said...

Things to know - this same young man was hired two years ago as a library aide at the same junior high and quit after two weeks to return to St. Louis. In December he did an interview with a St. Louis publication citing what a backwater Neosho is, how much he hates it and that he'd never return, in his senior year, he attempted to hold a Black Lives Matter Rally in Neosho but cancelled it once he'd stirred the pot and got threats against himself, he tried another rally later in the park that failed, lots more backstory here than is being released to the media...

Anonymous said...

Mr Wallis,it sounds like your goose is cooked.

Anonymous said...

Good seems your way of thinking is part of the problem. It's funny how you jump to the pedophile label so quickly though......ya let's ruin his life and career because he hung a pride flag in his room. And it's heterosexual by the way.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the teacher blew it out of proportion and yes....running away doesn't help his cause any and proves he cares more about himself than the students. Yet.....there were parent complaints that they were afraid he would "make their child turn gay".....ummm what??? I know this is the bible belt but seriously folks ......people don't just "turn" gay they are born that way. So I feel the whole thing is just a huge fiasco and has been made into a bigger deal than it should have been by both sides.