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Classroom reflections

November 10, 2008|By CLAUD KITCHENS

I was principal of a large elementary school and the minister of the largest evangelical church in the city had made an appointment to meet with me. School had been in session only a few days and his purpose was to get me to agree to transferring his fifth-grade son to another fifth-grade classroom.

At no time, however, did he give any reason for his request. I refused the request.

He stormed out of the office and his car kicked up gravel as he left the parking lot. In a relatively short time, the superintendent called me. As he always did in controversial matters, he said it was my decision to make, but he would like for me to think about it.

After giving the problem further thought, it dawned on me what the problem really was. The boy's teacher was Catholic - anathema to the minister's denomination.

What I did not know at the time was that the minister was under intense pressure from his wife to get something done.

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What I did know was that the current teacher was not going to do anything right in the eyes of this family. Unfair, but true.

I concluded that it was in her best interest to transfer the boy. Some lessons we learn can be terribly distasteful.

Claud Kitchens has been an educator for more than 35 years, retiring in 1990 as the deputy state superintendent of the Maryland State Department of Education. Prior to that, he was the superintendent of Washington County Public Schools.

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