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Student gets zero for religious drawing

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  • Ken
    This article was in the national news on Tuesday. It s an interesting story of art teacher vs student vs religion. Student Sues Wisconsin School After Getting
    Message 1 of 12 , Apr 4, 2008
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      This article was in the national news on Tuesday. It's an interesting
      story of art teacher vs student vs religion.

      Student Sues Wisconsin School After Getting a Zero for Religious Drawing

      Tuesday, April 01, 2008

      MADISON, Wis. — A Tomah High School student has filed a federal
      lawsuit alleging his art teacher censored his drawing because it
      featured a cross and a biblical reference.

      The lawsuit alleges other students were allowed to draw "demonic"
      images and asks a judge to declare a class policy prohibiting religion
      in art unconstitutional.

      "We hear so much today about tolerance," said David Cortman, an
      attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal advocacy
      group representing the student. "But where is the tolerance for
      religious beliefs? The whole purpose of art is to reflect your own
      personal experience. To tell a student his religious beliefs can
      legally be censored sends the wrong message."

      Tomah School District Business Manager Greg Gaarder said the district
      hadn't seen the lawsuit and declined to comment.

      According to the lawsuit, the student's art teacher asked his class in
      February to draw landscapes. The student, a senior identified in the
      lawsuit by the initials A.P., added a cross and the words "John 3:16 A
      sign of love" in his drawing.

      His teacher, Julie Millin, asked him to remove the reference to the
      Bible, saying students were making remarks about it. He refused, and
      she gave him a zero on the project.

      Millin showed the student a policy for the class that prohibited any
      violence, blood, sexual connotations or religious beliefs in artwork.
      The lawsuit claims Millin told the boy he had signed away his
      constitutional rights when he signed the policy at the beginning of
      the semester.

      The boy tore the policy up in front of Millin, who kicked him out of
      class. Later that day, assistant principal Cale Jackson told the boy
      his religious expression infringed on other students' rights.

      Jackson told the boy, his stepfather and his pastor at a meeting a
      week later that religious expression could be legally censored in
      class assignments. Millin stated at the meeting the cross in the
      drawing also infringed on other students' rights.

      The boy received two detentions for tearing up the policy. Jackson
      referred questions about the lawsuit to Gaarder.

      Sometime after that meeting, the boy's metals teacher rejected his
      idea to build a chain-mail cross, telling him it was religious and
      could offend someone, the lawsuit claims. The boy decided in March to
      shelve plans to make a pin with the words "pray" and "praise" on it
      because he was afraid he'd get a zero for a grade.

      The lawsuit also alleges school officials allow other religious items
      and artwork to be displayed on campus.

      A Buddha and Hindu figurines are on display in a social studies
      classroom, the lawsuit claims, adding the teacher passionately teaches
      Hindu principles to students.

      In addition, a replica of Michaelangelo's "The Creation of Man" is
      displayed at the school's entrance, a picture of a six-limbed Hindu
      deity is in the school's hallway and a drawing of a robed sorcerer
      hangs on a hallway bulletin board.

      Drawings of Medusa, the Grim Reaper with a scythe and a being with a
      horned head and protruding tongue hang in the art room and demonic
      masks are displayed in the metals room, the lawsuit alleges.

      A.P. suffered unequal treatment because of his religion even though
      student expression is protected by the First Amendment, according to
      the lawsuit, which was filed Friday.

      "Students do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse
      gate," the lawsuit said. "No compelling state interest exists to
      justify the censorship of A.P.'s religious expression."
    • Larry Seiler
      I strongly suggest watching this movie trailer ..by Ben Stein, called Expelled- No Intelligence Allowed http://www.expelledthemovie.com/playground.php
      Message 2 of 12 , Apr 5, 2008
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        I strongly suggest watching this movie trailer ..by Ben Stein, called
        "Expelled- No Intelligence Allowed"

        http://www.expelledthemovie.com/playground.php

        something is really frightening to me when we are moving toward a
        time where thoughts, expressions, are a violation. Are shut down in
        the marketplace of ideas.

        It rings a familiar tone to the controls a dictating totalitarian
        system by use of terror brings upon their people...

        I teach in Wisconsin...but I am so so very glad I teach in a smaller
        district and where I do. I swear we are 20 years in values behind
        everyone else in many ways, which sometimes culturally is a challenge
        for me, but in other ways more reasonable.

        I have a senior girl just now that created a wire sculpture with
        plaster mixed media piece. The whole advanced art year is one of
        stepping out of the box, teaching that artists think...and think out
        loud visually.

        They had a classmate dearly loved that was in an auto accident two
        years ago. The car rolled and two of three of the students were killed.

        This senior made a pair of praying hands, a crucifix of wire...and
        interesting molding of plaster as a way of working thru her yet very
        poignant grief.

        She added text art to the work...and what? We are to teach art
        students that expression, thinking thru and working out REAL human
        emotions must pass thru the thought police rose colored glasses of
        political correctness? Instead...I see such as an opportunity to
        team up with the social studies teachers to explore past histories
        where thought control led to the worst of human violations...

        ridiculous in my opinion...and leading to some very very scary things
        in my opinion!

        What ever you think of the subject in Stein's film...the point
        is...should science be above defending the right of free thought,
        contrary ideas? I think he is hitting on something very important
        for today. Those that value freedom and expression especially...

        I have also taught in districts where students had a right to give a
        speech on satanism...where history classes freely teach Buddhism,
        Hinduism...etc., and I remember one student quite upset back in 1985
        because the teacher teaching religions in a history class
        intentionally skipped Christianity, saying if students wanted to
        learn about that there were churches they could go to!

        What are students to draw as a conclusion to such? Teaching by
        omission...
        where is equality truly?

        I can see why folks do come to a point they feel they have no other
        recourse but to take some stand and say they aren't taking it anymore.

        Larry Seiler
      • Marvin Pedigo
        Hello, You can suppress just about anything else but artistic expression. We are all in gifted with this inherit need to create. Some have found a way, and
        Message 3 of 12 , Apr 5, 2008
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          Hello,
          You can suppress just about anything else but artistic expression. We are all in gifted with this inherit need to create. Some have found a way, and some haven't The ones that have found an expression mode, find that the more they do the more the need to do. It is an never ending well of Love that grows as it is given away. If you try to suppress someone who is full of Love, and needs to give it away, you are asking for internal combustion. That is just one energy that cannot be suppressed. You put someone in a cell that has nothing in it, and the need to express will work itself our by great sculptures and pictures on the walls, with nothing more then a pebble to scratch a masterpiece on the wall. For Governments and school boards to try and stop a spiritual expression is like trying to stop a freight train. It will only result in a doorway for a rebellious spirit. Even that spirit will try to express it's self and that is where the insanity comes in. I can not for the life of me understand why there is such fear over an expression of spirituality that represents a certain belief. If it is not true it does not have power beyond the mind of the artist. On the other hand if it is done in truth/love then there is power,  and love in the painting. The projected power is not something that will hurt you unless it may influence you to give up a false reality. Then it would have ultimately good fruit.
          Bro. M Hopeless Artist.

          Larry Seiler <lseiler@...> wrote:
          I strongly suggest watching this movie trailer ..by Ben Stein, called
          "Expelled- No Intelligence Allowed"

          http://www.expelled themovie. com/playground. php

          something is really frightening to me when we are moving toward a
          time where thoughts, expressions, are a violation. Are shut down in
          the marketplace of ideas.

          It rings a familiar tone to the controls a dictating totalitarian
          system by use of terror brings upon their people...

          I teach in Wisconsin... but I am so so very glad I teach in a smaller
          district and where I do. I swear we are 20 years in values behind
          everyone else in many ways, which sometimes culturally is a challenge
          for me, but in other ways more reasonable.

          I have a senior girl just now that created a wire sculpture with
          plaster mixed media piece. The whole advanced art year is one of
          stepping out of the box, teaching that artists think...and think out
          loud visually.

          They had a classmate dearly loved that was in an auto accident two
          years ago. The car rolled and two of three of the students were killed.

          This senior made a pair of praying hands, a crucifix of wire...and
          interesting molding of plaster as a way of working thru her yet very
          poignant grief.

          She added text art to the work...and what? We are to teach art
          students that expression, thinking thru and working out REAL human
          emotions must pass thru the thought police rose colored glasses of
          political correctness? Instead...I see such as an opportunity to
          team up with the social studies teachers to explore past histories
          where thought control led to the worst of human violations.. .

          ridiculous in my opinion...and leading to some very very scary things
          in my opinion!

          What ever you think of the subject in Stein's film...the point
          is...should science be above defending the right of free thought,
          contrary ideas? I think he is hitting on something very important
          for today. Those that value freedom and expression especially.. .

          I have also taught in districts where students had a right to give a
          speech on satanism...where history classes freely teach Buddhism,
          Hinduism...etc. , and I remember one student quite upset back in 1985
          because the teacher teaching religions in a history class
          intentionally skipped Christianity, saying if students wanted to
          learn about that there were churches they could go to!

          What are students to draw as a conclusion to such? Teaching by
          omission...
          where is equality truly?

          I can see why folks do come to a point they feel they have no other
          recourse but to take some stand and say they aren't taking it anymore.

          Larry Seiler



          Alpha Impressions-2155
          Love, Peace, Serenity
                              
                   
        • Stephanie Cavallaro
          This poor student was the victim here and it is discouraging to hear how the art teacher handled this situation. How do the rest of you feel about this?
          Message 4 of 12 , Apr 5, 2008
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            This poor student was the victim here and it is
            discouraging to hear how the art teacher handled this
            situation. How do the rest of you feel about this?


            ____________________________________________________________________________________
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          • Jeff Pridie
            Not totally knowing the intent or reasoning by the teacher for their decision I caution all to be objective. Was the teacher following district policy? Was
            Message 5 of 12 , Apr 5, 2008
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              Not totally knowing the intent or reasoning by the
              teacher for their decision I caution all to be
              objective.

              Was the teacher following district policy? Was she
              consistent in her handling the matter with other
              students art work? Was she following policy and other
              teachers not?

              Now seeing the image and even if I did not I would
              have accepted the image as following the objectives of
              the assignment. It is a landscape with a perspective
              point of view. It is a surrealist style. The values
              are strong.

              This again is "political correctness" gone crazy. I
              feel sorry for the student who is caught up in all
              this. This raises a level of concern for all of us.
              We should all be checking what policies are in our
              school districts and see how they are in line with
              constitutional law and if there are concerns start
              raising discussion about it.

              Jeff (Minnesota)

              > This poor student was the victim here and it is
              > discouraging to hear how the art teacher handled
              > this
              > situation. How do the rest of you feel about this?
              >
              >
              >
              >
              ____________________________________________________________________________________
              > You rock. That's why Blockbuster's offering you one
              > month of Blockbuster Total Access, No Cost.
              > http://tc.deals.yahoo.com/tc/blockbuster/text5.com
              >




              ____________________________________________________________________________________
              You rock. That's why Blockbuster's offering you one month of Blockbuster Total Access, No Cost.
              http://tc.deals.yahoo.com/tc/blockbuster/text5.com
            • Jeff Pridie
              Not totally knowing the intent or reasoning by the teacher for their decision I caution all to be objective. Was the teacher following district policy? Was
              Message 6 of 12 , Apr 5, 2008
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                Not totally knowing the intent or reasoning by the
                teacher for their decision I caution all to be
                objective.

                Was the teacher following district policy? Was she
                consistent in her handling the matter with other
                students art work? Was she following policy and other
                teachers not?

                Now seeing the image and even if I did not I would
                have accepted the image as following the objectives of
                the assignment. It is a landscape with a perspective
                point of view. It is a surrealist style. The values
                are strong.

                This again is "political correctness" gone crazy. I
                feel sorry for the student who is caught up in all
                this. This raises a level of concern for all of us.
                We should all be checking what policies are in our
                school districts and see how they are in line with
                constitutional law and if there are concerns start
                raising discussion about it.

                Jeff (Minnesota)

                > This poor student was the victim here and it is
                > discouraging to hear how the art teacher handled
                > this
                > situation. How do the rest of you feel about this?
                >
                >
                >
                >
                ____________________________________________________________________________________
                > You rock. That's why Blockbuster's offering you one
                > month of Blockbuster Total Access, No Cost.
                > http://tc.deals.yahoo.com/tc/blockbuster/text5.com
                >




                ____________________________________________________________________________________
                You rock. That's why Blockbuster's offering you one month of Blockbuster Total Access, No Cost.
                http://tc.deals.yahoo.com/tc/blockbuster/text5.com
              • tmwillis72
                I have to say I disagree with the decision of the student receiving a zero. I feel we are supposed to be teaching students to express themselves through their
                Message 7 of 12 , Apr 5, 2008
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                  I have to say I disagree with the decision of the student receiving
                  a zero. I feel we are supposed to be teaching students to express
                  themselves through their art. That art is a way for them to connect
                  with themselves and make sense of the world. By telling this student
                  to remove something from his work that is about him teaches him that
                  his views and feeling are not valid. After reading that the school
                  has many different images that could be viewed as controversial and
                  then they ask the student to remove his I think is unjust. We are
                  supposed to be models of what we want our students to be. The school
                  to me seems to be choosing for the students what is controversial.

                  Just my thoughts

                  Tammy


                  In art_education@yahoogroups.com, "Ken" <kenroar@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > This article was in the national news on Tuesday. It's an
                  interesting
                  > story of art teacher vs student vs religion.
                  >
                  > Student Sues Wisconsin School After Getting a Zero for Religious
                  Drawing
                  >
                  > Tuesday, April 01, 2008
                  >
                  > MADISON, Wis. — A Tomah High School student has filed a federal
                  > lawsuit alleging his art teacher censored his drawing because it
                  > featured a cross and a biblical reference.
                  >
                  > The lawsuit alleges other students were allowed to draw "demonic"
                  > images and asks a judge to declare a class policy prohibiting
                  religion
                  > in art unconstitutional.
                  >
                  > "We hear so much today about tolerance," said David Cortman, an
                  > attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal advocacy
                  > group representing the student. "But where is the tolerance for
                  > religious beliefs? The whole purpose of art is to reflect your own
                  > personal experience. To tell a student his religious beliefs can
                  > legally be censored sends the wrong message."
                  >
                  > Tomah School District Business Manager Greg Gaarder said the
                  district
                  > hadn't seen the lawsuit and declined to comment.
                  >
                  > According to the lawsuit, the student's art teacher asked his
                  class in
                  > February to draw landscapes. The student, a senior identified in
                  the
                  > lawsuit by the initials A.P., added a cross and the words "John
                  3:16 A
                  > sign of love" in his drawing.
                  >
                  > His teacher, Julie Millin, asked him to remove the reference to the
                  > Bible, saying students were making remarks about it. He refused,
                  and
                  > she gave him a zero on the project.
                  >
                  > Millin showed the student a policy for the class that prohibited
                  any
                  > violence, blood, sexual connotations or religious beliefs in
                  artwork.
                  > The lawsuit claims Millin told the boy he had signed away his
                  > constitutional rights when he signed the policy at the beginning of
                  > the semester.
                  >
                  > The boy tore the policy up in front of Millin, who kicked him out
                  of
                  > class. Later that day, assistant principal Cale Jackson told the
                  boy
                  > his religious expression infringed on other students' rights.
                  >
                  > Jackson told the boy, his stepfather and his pastor at a meeting a
                  > week later that religious expression could be legally censored in
                  > class assignments. Millin stated at the meeting the cross in the
                  > drawing also infringed on other students' rights.
                  >
                  > The boy received two detentions for tearing up the policy. Jackson
                  > referred questions about the lawsuit to Gaarder.
                  >
                  > Sometime after that meeting, the boy's metals teacher rejected his
                  > idea to build a chain-mail cross, telling him it was religious and
                  > could offend someone, the lawsuit claims. The boy decided in March
                  to
                  > shelve plans to make a pin with the words "pray" and "praise" on it
                  > because he was afraid he'd get a zero for a grade.
                  >
                  > The lawsuit also alleges school officials allow other religious
                  items
                  > and artwork to be displayed on campus.
                  >
                  > A Buddha and Hindu figurines are on display in a social studies
                  > classroom, the lawsuit claims, adding the teacher passionately
                  teaches
                  > Hindu principles to students.
                  >
                  > In addition, a replica of Michaelangelo's "The Creation of Man" is
                  > displayed at the school's entrance, a picture of a six-limbed Hindu
                  > deity is in the school's hallway and a drawing of a robed sorcerer
                  > hangs on a hallway bulletin board.
                  >
                  > Drawings of Medusa, the Grim Reaper with a scythe and a being with
                  a
                  > horned head and protruding tongue hang in the art room and demonic
                  > masks are displayed in the metals room, the lawsuit alleges.
                  >
                  > A.P. suffered unequal treatment because of his religion even though
                  > student expression is protected by the First Amendment, according
                  to
                  > the lawsuit, which was filed Friday.
                  >
                  > "Students do not shed their constitutional rights at the
                  schoolhouse
                  > gate," the lawsuit said. "No compelling state interest exists to
                  > justify the censorship of A.P.'s religious expression."
                  >
                • julie
                  last month i went to a symposium at my alma mater called On the Strange Place of Religion in Contemporary Art, based on a fascinating book by the same title by
                  Message 8 of 12 , Apr 6, 2008
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                    last month i went to a symposium at my alma mater called On the Strange Place of Religion in Contemporary Art, based on a fascinating book by the same title by a very influential art theorist/historian from Chicago, named James Elkins, who was the keynote speaker at the conference.  in addition there were several other artists and theorists there to begin a dialogue abut the relationship between faith and contemporary art-making.  as i listened, it seemed to me that the obstacles between the two tend to come from the art world and not the Christians...it was the art world that seemed almost afraid to address Christianity...

                    from the Elkins website: My concern here is the fact that serious talk about religion and spirituality is excluded from contemporary art, unless the art is in some way critical, ambivalent, or ironic, as in Andres Serrano's work. The famous counterexamples--the Rothko Chapel, Barnet Newman's religious work--only prove the case by their rarity. This book provides a brief history of the exclusion of religious discourse, and some contemporary examples of the clandestine existence of religious meaning.

                    :-) julie t.
                    southern california

                    ‹(•¿•)›



                  • wmvanhorn
                    Re:Student gets zero for religious drawing Political correctedness may be carried too far sometimes but its purpose is about expressing beliefs that are
                    Message 9 of 12 , Apr 6, 2008
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                      Re:Student gets zero for religious drawing

                      Political correctedness may be carried too far sometimes but its
                      purpose is about expressing beliefs that are directly hurtful to
                      others. Showinng stereotypical portraits of a group of people (like
                      dumb blacks, bomb-toting arabs, etc.) are proscribed, but positive
                      portraits of one's own beliefs would not be.

                      It can be a difficult and individual decision for the teacher on what
                      to allow under free expression and what not to allow. I let one
                      student use Nazi symbols in his art work because he said they
                      represented evil, and the artwork was in line with this explanation.
                      Another student's use of the Nazi symbol appeared more arbitrary and I
                      made him erase it. Were my judgments correct? I am not 100% sure.
                    • Marvin Pedigo
                      I would say that an art teacher unlocks the creativity and that is about it. There may be some technical aspects to teaching but because true art has no rules,
                      Message 10 of 12 , Apr 6, 2008
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                        I would say that an art teacher unlocks the creativity and that is about it. There may be some technical aspects to teaching but because true art has no rules, then the freedom of expression is key. In cases I have heard of especially in writing, the art is an outlet for a very troubled individual. The writings provided a way vent and went on to free the individual of some very dark demons. I understand in a school environment the need to put boundaries on the expression to a degree. I would simply say to a student that there are some types of art we will be studying here and some you will have to express in the privacy of your home studio. I think that being an artist, and I believe we all are, has a responsibility with it. It may be proper to teach that while in the process of learning that light objects come forward, and dark look farther away.
                        Blessing,
                        A hopeless artist,
                        Brother Marvin

                        wmvanhorn <vivalaarte@...> wrote:
                        Political correctedness may be carried too far sometimes but its
                        purpose is about not expressing beliefs that are directly hurtful to
                        others. Showinng stereotypical portraits of a group of people (like
                        dumb blacks, bomb-toting arabs, etc.) are proscribed, but positive
                        portraits of one's own beliefs would not be.

                        It can be a difficult and individual decision for the teacher on what
                        to allow under free expression and what not to allow. I let one
                        student use Nazi symbols in his art work because he said they
                        represented evil, and the artwork was in line with this explanation.
                        Another student's use of the Nazi symbol appeared more arbitrary and I
                        made him erase it. Were my judgments correct? I am not 100% sure.




                        Alpha Impressions-2155
                        Love, Peace, Serenity
                                            
                                 
                      • loveylemmon
                        Julie, That sounds like an interesting conference. Thanks for sharing about that. I share your take on this issue. I went through a school for contemporary
                        Message 11 of 12 , Apr 7, 2008
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                          Julie,

                          That sounds like an interesting conference. Thanks for sharing about
                          that.

                          I share your take on this issue. I went through a school for
                          contemporary arts, and it was highly politically correct. It was very
                          conceptual, and you had to very strongly be able to justify all
                          decision making in your artworks. And it was as if many topics were off
                          limits because of the pc-ness.

                          My personal take on it, is that religious is religious. If anything
                          about beliefs is to be encouraged in student art, then I would think
                          the teacher and school would have to be quite tolerant... (not
                          tolerating anything hateful, mind you...).

                          abby
                        • dutchbluek
                          It is ridiculous to me. Like there has to be more to the story. Was this student in the habit of evnagelizig as he walked through the halls? Does he attend a
                          Message 12 of 12 , Apr 12, 2008
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                            It is ridiculous to me. Like there has to be more to the story. Was
                            this student in the habit of evnagelizig as he walked through the
                            halls? Does he attend a school where students have a strict dress code?

                            In high school, I did a 3-D piece that included Christian, Jewish,
                            Hindu, and Islamic symbols in it. There was never any thought that my
                            artwork adversely affected anyone.

                            Currently, all of my students are completing projects for an upcoming
                            artshow. Not only did I allow them personal references to family
                            religion in their work, but I also shared my mother's rosary (and the
                            story behind it) with them. We live in a military community, and I
                            asked them to think of a family memory to illustrate or of some object
                            with sentimental value. It was highly successful! An added plus is that
                            we've now connected in a way that is often difficult to do in 45
                            minutes a week.

                            Additionally, much of the fine art in our SRA Art Connections series
                            reflects religious icons and stories. One fourth grade image is of
                            sketches that someone did while preparing to paint the scene of a
                            saint's execution. There are no clear images of violence in these
                            sketches, yet I think the kids could handle it anyway!

                            Our nation's principles are muddied and have been litigated to pieces.
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