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ERIC Number: EJ851025
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 18
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 60
ISSN: ISSN-0737-5328
"Fahrenheit 9/11" in the Classroom
Dahlgren, Robert L.
Teacher Education Quarterly, v36 n1 p25-42 Win 2009
The polarized political mood engendered by the most sharply partisan Presidential election campaigns in recent memory has had an especially deleterious effect on the image of public education. This increased scrutiny has largely fallen on the shoulders of rank and file teachers who now face the most precarious moment in terms of job security since the height of the McCarthyite movement of the 1950s. While this trend has scarcely been reported in the national mainstream media, a close monitoring of local newspapers from across the country uncovers numerous disturbing incidents. For example, Madrid (2004) has detailed how a drama teacher in Paradise Valley, Arizona, was fired after a parent complaint about a skit her students wrote and performed about the Holocaust. In April 2006, Sidney McGee, an art teacher from Frisco, Texas, was fired after parent complaints about the "nude art" that her fifth grade class viewed while on a field trip to the Dallas Museum of Art (Pilkington, 2006). More recently, Al Gore's Oscar-winning documentary on global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth," has been the subject of furious debates in school board meetings (Libin, 2007). These stories and others like them lead to a startling conclusion: it is remarkably easy to lose one's job merely for attempting to teach one's subject in a public school in the United States today. In this article, the author examines this dark, telling picture of the teaching profession in the 21st century through the explosive reaction to the use of Michael Moore's provocative documentary film "Fahrenheit 9/11" in American classrooms. The author argues that the concerted campaign against the use of the film by teachers reveals the activities of a complex network of parents, advocacy groups, and right-wing media pundits that has been organized specifically to challenge the curricular choices made by classroom practitioners. This network has, in a few cases, lobbied successfully with school administrations for disciplinary action against individual teachers. In the end, the case of "Fahrenheit 9/11" in the classroom indicates the ways in which this new network has destabilized the ordinary channels of communication in schools, exerted pressure on school administrations, and created a chilling effect on the teaching practice. (Contains 1 note.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Adult Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A