Creative Writing at Its Worst

St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), March 27, 1995 | Go to article overview

Creative Writing at Its Worst


Members of the Ferguson-Florissant School Board may not think much of Cissy Lacks' teaching methods, but they show great promise in her subject matter - creative writing. The statement they issued Friday to justify firing her created a skewed interpretation of the case and a justification that was designed more to protect their own authority than to further what should be their main focus - the education of the students in their care.

The issue, of course, is Ms. Lacks' allowing students in her creative writing class to use obscenities in a video. She defended their language and her teaching style as the best way to bring out how they feel and to have them create out of what they know best. Ferguson-Florissant deplored the language and Ms. Lacks' encouragement of it, insisting that the issue was not censorship but the district's responsibility to control how its teachers teach.

That authority is undeniable. In dispute is how it should be exercised. Did Ms. Lacks willfully defy a clearly defined policy against obscene language in the classroom, one that would bring the same career-ending consequences to any teacher who acted in a similar manner? Or was she singled out because of her unorthodox style in the classroom?

The board's statement is filled with innuendo and misdirection. …

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