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Teacher reprimanded for teaching students a perfectly good English word!
Posted 9/04/02

Niggardly
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According to Webster's Dictionary, "Niggardly" is an adjective meaning:
          1.  Grudging and petty in giving or spending.
          2.  Meanly small; scanty or meager: left the waiter a niggardly tip.


"Teacher reprimanded for word choice" (from The Wilmington Star, Star-News Online, 09-04-02)

          [Wilmington, North Carolina]   "A fourth-grade teacher at Williams Elementary School has received a formal reprimand for teaching her students the word "niggardly," the teacher's son said Tuesday.

          "Last week, teacher Stephanie Bell said she used the word "niggardly," which means stingy or miserly, during a discussion about literary characters. But parent Akwana Walker, who is black, protested the use of the word, saying it offended her because it sounds similar to a racial slur.

          "Ms. Bell said the N.C. Association of Educators has told her not to talk to anyone about the situation.   "I really wish I could," she said.

          However, teacher Stephanie Bell's son, Tar Bell, 17, who is not restricted from discussing the incident, according to the Wilmington Star "... said a letter from Principal Susan Hahn stated that his mother used poor judgment.  The letter, he said, also instructed his mother to send an apology to her students' parents, a step she took last week.  The letter, which Mr. Bell said he has read, also admonished Ms. Bell, who is white, for lacking sensitivity to the school's diverse population of students and not being aware of cultural differences, he said."

          The teacher's son, Tar Bell, reported to the Wilmington Star that the letter also required his mother to attend sensitivity training and threatened that if she did not she could face further action.

          "In addition to the letter, Ms. Walker's [black] daughter was moved to another class, and Ms. Bell agreed not to use the word again with her students.

          "Deputy Superintendent Norm Shearin reiterated that Ms. Bell made a bad decision when she taught her students the word "niggardly."  It was an inappropriate word to teach children at that grade level, he said.

          "... [T]he Wilmington Star-News has received more than 100 e-mails from readers across the country.  In addition, more than 120 people commented in an online forum and more than 1,200 have voted in an online poll.  The response, although in no way a scientific sampling, has been overwhelmingly supportive of Ms. Bell.

          "... Tannis Nelson, president of the N.C. Parent-Teacher Association and a New Hanover County resident, ... added that this incident shows the need for effective diversity and sensitivity training throughout the school system.  "Incidents such as this can polarize the community," Mrs. Nelson said. "We can't allow that to happen.  This can be captured as a teachable moment, and we can learn from it."

From the Wilmington Star story written by reporter Sherry Jones.  You may email reporter Sherry Jones at:
sherry.jones@wilmingtonstar.com

Last Known Original Link (printer friendly):
http://www.wilmingtonstar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?Site=WM&Date=20020904
&Category=NEWS&ArtNo=209040302&Ref=AR&Profile=1004&template=printart

Last Known Original Link (normal format):
http://www.wilmingtonstar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2002209040302&Profile=1004

Last Known Alternate Link:
http://www.newsobserver.com/nc24hour/ncnews/story/1699649p-1717688c.html

END of Teacher Reprimanded for Word Choice (Niggardly) 09-04-02


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