Teacher lets kids mark faces of slow readers

An Idaho teacher let fourth-graders scribble with markers on the faces of classmates who didn’t meet reading goals, reports the Times-News.

The Declo teacher had let the class pick a reward for those who met Accelerated Reader goals. Instead, the class picked a punishment — no recess or a marked face — for those who fell short.

When Cindy Hurst’s 10-year-old son arrived home from school Nov. 5, his entire face, hairline to chin, was scribbled on in red marker — including his eyelids. He also had green, red and purple scribble marks over the red, and his face was scratched by a marker that had a rough edge.

“He was humiliated, he hung his head and wanted to go wash his face,” said Hurst. “He knows he’s a slow reader. Now he thinks he should be punished for it.”

Nine of 21 students didn’t meet their goals. Three chose to go without recess and six chose to have their faces marked.

Karla Christensen, whose daughter met her reading goal, defended teacher Summer Larsen.

Christensen said if her daughter had come home with similar marks, she would have felt it was a reflection on her own parenting for not making sure her daughter reached her goal.

“I think (Larsen)is just a very creative teacher who was trying to do something to motivate the students and it went astray,” Christensen said.

LeRoy Robinson, a grandfather of two of the marked-up students, said Larsen made a “poor choice and basically, it was bullying.” Children had to wear the marker all day and then found it wouldn’t wash off,  he said.

The teacher missed several days of school after the incident, but it’s not clear whether she was suspended.  A complaint has been filed with the professional ethics board.

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  1. It’s like they went to Extreme Asian Tiger Mommy in one fell swoop! I think this was a bad idea, allowing the class to decide and then rubber stamping it. Unwashable marker? Wow.

  2. The teacher should be fired, and face assault charges.

  3. Roger Sweeny says:

    Reminds me of the old libertarian saying, “Democracy is not two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.”

  4. Crimson Wife says:

    Humiliating struggling readers instead of helping them- this teacher sounds like a true gem :-0

  5. Stacy in NJ says:

    The teacher doesn’t possess the minimum level of common sense or decency and needs to be fired. Either fired or the struggling readers get to write dumb a** on her face in permanent marker.

    • You haven’t thought through where an idea like that might lead.

      If every borderline sociopath teacher is expelled from the profession then where would something like that end?

      Next thing you know there’ll be demands to dump obviously incompetent or indifferent teachers.

      Just imagine how much work principals and central office staff will have to do if they have to determine that each and every teacher’s worth their pay? It’d be a nightmare.

      Better to assume all teachers are adequate until forcefully and unignorably proven otherwise.

  6. This is a case where the teacher should’ve stopped this. When my students set up their literature circles they decided on their own ‘consequences’ if someone didn’t do their part, and as a teacher I said ‘no’ when they suggested anything from “They can’t participate” to suggesting the student be humiliated. I DID allow for time missed at recess, a fine in our classroom economy, and them getting their turn skipped as those are consequences I might use for a similar consequence. This teacher should’ve known better.
    On another note- when is it another child’s business what reading level a different child is at? I had a student this year who really struggled (in an upper grade) and STILL wouldn’t let my students comment on it as it was private between him and me.

    Usually I have some pity for the teacher. Not this time.

  7. This is disgusting – not only were the kids singled out, but the teacher cooperated in permitting bullying of those kids.

    The teacher could have handled this so much better – she could have asked for volunteers for peer tutoring. She could have celebrated those that succeeded. She could have used this to initiate contact with parents, to help them learn about how they might help their child.

  8. Stacy in NJ says:

    I find it super annoying that some of you here are suggesting that the struggling readers didn’t reach their goals because they didn’t work hard enough or have enough support at home. I some cases – not all – kids do work hard and get the necessary support and still struggle. As a mom of a dyslexic kid whose IQ is above averge, I’m aghast at the ignorance of people who should know better. Using punishment as an educational tool on kids who many be dyslexic or have a learning disability is beyond idiotic.

    • Crimson Wife says:

      There’s a difference between a child who CAN’T read and a child would could read just fine but chooses not to. Hopefully, the teacher can distinguish between the two. I have a son who is a good reader when he actually focuses on it rather than fooling around. I would treat his failure to meet a reading goal rather differently than a child who actually has difficulty with the reading part. Drawing on his face would definitely be out, though.

  9. This teacher should be fired. And while she’s going through the lengthy administrative process to determine her fate, she should have her own face drawn on with marker everyday. Unbelievable. . .

  10. My husband reminds that if we take an eye for an eye,we’ll all end up blind. What I should have said is that this story breaks my heart.

  11. Wendy Larmour says:

    So – “Lord of the Flies” is their next reading assignment?