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.
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.