School photograph doesn’t inspire trust in teachers


And deeper into the wormhole we descend.

Or perhaps, a photograph making its rounds on social media is simply void of some badly needed context.

We were skeptical, but the Durham Morning Herald reported that a photograph of teachers and students at a Durham public school in which they appeared to be re-enacting an act of vandalism, the toppling of the Confederate soldier in that city, was not what is now being labeled as fake news.

Most of the 13 people in the photograph appear to be adults, even if they aren’t acting their age; one, mostly likely a student, is wearing a mask. They appear to be yukking it up in what is being characterized as an endorsement of the vandalism of that statue.

Remember as well that these genuises posed for the photograph and then allowed for it to be dessiminated on social media.

The School for Creative Studies is a Durham Public Schools magnet school for students in grades sixth through 12th. Said William Sudderth, spokesman for the school system, in an email that lacked for details: “I can confirm that this happened after school hours and was not part of a class.”

We are all in favor of a conversation about Confederate statues, and we can think of few places better for that to happen than in a classroom. But we aren’t a big fan of the glorification of criminal acts, especially by people in positions of authority when the audience is one of young and impressionable minds.

As we have said, this ship has sailed, and these monuments will be coming down one by one, if not sooner then later, but that should happen in a thoughtful and orderly manner — and also with an understanding that not all Confederate monuments are created the same.

Sudderth provided little insight, and we believe a larger explanation of what was happening is needed. This, after all, happened in a public school.

The Durham Confederate statue, which was made of bronze, was brought down by rope on Aug. 14, two days after the violent confrontation in Charlottesville between neo-Nazis and protesters near a monument of Robert E. Lee during which one person died. What happened in Durham was vandalism, and as many as 11 people have been arrested and charged with that crime.

In North Carolina, as recent weeks have reminded us, opinion and emotions are strong when the topic is the Civil War, War Between the States, the War of Northern Aggression or however you want to label a four-year conflict that killed 600,000 Americans, more than all of our other wars combined. Whatever it is called, it was about slavery and the South’s dependence upon that forced labor for an economy based on agriculture.

We would like for Mr. Sudderth to provide additional information. For instance, who participated and what was the context of this after-school clowning around? And was a contrary point of view permitted?

The public schools should be places where our children are presented all the information and then challenged to come up with their own conclusions, not a place for indoctrination. There is nothing about that photograph that inspires confidence that the teachers depicted were meeting their obligation to the public or those students.

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