A popular Los Angeles high school science teacher has been suspended after students turned in projects that appeared dangerous to administrators, spurring a campaign calling for his return to the classroom.
Students and parents have rallied around Greg Schiller after his suspension in February from the downtown Cortines School of Visual & Performing Arts. Supporters have organized a rally on his behalf at the campus for Thursday, gathered hundreds of signatures on a petition calling for his reinstatement and set up a social media page.
Schiller was ordered to report daily to a district administrative office pending an investigation after two students turned in science-fair projects that were designed to shoot small projectiles.
One project used compressed air to propel a small object but it was not connected to a source of air pressure, so it could not have been fired. (In 2012, President Obama tried out a more powerful air-pressure device at a White House Science Fair that could launch a marshmallow 175 feet.)
Another project used the power from an AA battery to charge a tube surrounded by a coil. When the ninth-grader proposed it, Schiller told him to be more scientific, to construct and test different coils and to draw graphs and conduct additional analysis, said his parents, who also are Los Angeles teachers.
A school employee saw the air-pressure project and raised concerns about what looked to her like a weapon, according to the teachers union and supporters. Schiller, who said he never saw the completed projects except in photos, was summoned and sent home.
Both projects were confiscated as "evidence," said Susan Ferguson, whose son did the coil project.This reminds me of the recent case in New York where a Spanish teacher was (alledgedly) not just suspended but fired for teaching Spanish. She used the word 'negro', which of course means 'black' in Spanish and would seem to be a word worth knowing to someone who wants to speak Spanish. But one of her students said the word was offensive, and God forbid a student should be offended, so the teacher was fired.