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Monday, May 13, 2013

Cincy Teacher Ties Up Her Kindergarten Students to "Teach Them" to "Sit Still"




"A Catholic school in Westwood fired a kindergarten teacher Thursday after she was accused of tying up two students with yarn to teach them to 'sit still.'
 
"Charlene Riva, a teacher at Our Lady of Lourdes for more than 40 years, lost her job because her actions violated the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s child protection policies, a church spokesman said Saturday.
 
"School officials sent a letter to parents Thursday notifying them of the violation and said such behavior would not be tolerated.
 
“'The safety of children under our care is our primary concern,' said archdiocese spokesman Dan Andriacco.
 
"He said another teacher spotted the children tied with yarn on Tuesday and notified principal Aimee Ellmaker. Riva was placed on administrative leave Wednesday and fired Thursday.
 
"Andriacco said the children were lightly restrained with yarn and did not suffer injuries. The archdiocese’s Child Protection Decree, in place since 1993, forbids physically restraining children.

"Andriacco said school officials previously received one other complaint about Riva, but he would not discuss it in detail. He said an investigation in that case by the school, children’s services and parents determined the complaint did not amount to a firing offense.
 
"Riva previously taught fourth grade at Our Lady of Lourdes. A parish newsletter from last year indicates she has taught kindergarten for at least a year.
 
"Riva was not available for comment on Friday."

 
 
I understand Charlene Riva is innocent until proven guilty. But, I am assuming she did these actions. 
 
What kind of ignorance pervades the populace when educated, seemingly responsible teachers resort to such disciplinary measures in times of stress? I admit that I was a teacher who made my fair share of idiotic mistakes. I fully understand the error of my questionable actions on hectic days when a student drove me close to the brink, but this teacher tied up two of her kindergarten students with yarn. 
 
One student, Jacob Adams, spoke out after learning his former teacher had been fired. Adams called Riva “one of those teachers you'll remember” but said he understands what she did was wrong.
 
"I don't think they really needed to be restrained like that,” Adams said. “I think she could have just, like, sat them down and talked to them or sent them to the principal."

School administrator Father David Sunberg also believes Riva was a quality educator while at the school. He said she was a “good teacher who made a bad decision. ”

Any teacher can make a bad mistake in the heat of a trying day, but Riva's actions seem miles beyond the slightest sliver of reason. In fact, they are simply tortuous and cruel. I am amazed by her total lack of concern for school rules, for student safety, and, most of all, for basic human rights. Did she just burn completely out? Forty years in the teaching trenches is a long, long service.
 
What do I think? I believe this incident is indicative of something I frequently observe regarding authority and dominance. Too many people believe control and power, especially physical dominance, are admirable qualities. Today it seems power and strength are often used to gain unfair advantage in every conceivable distressful situation. Let's face it: Intimidation and size count for those with "dog-eat-dog" mentalities. Madison Avenue, Hollywood, and MTV endorse the view.

Am I a brute at times? Yes, I am guilty of shouting through steaming ears when I become very upset, yet I'm almost always sorry for my visible and audible displays of displeasure. However, restraining people and threatening them can do serious emotional harm and usually lead to sustained, increased violence. Exerting power over the weak is bullying.

I am no fan of the thug, the bitch, or the gangster. Perhaps Charlene Riva, in all her wisdom and experience and age, has fallen under the influence of those today who preach that dominance is power. On the other hand, maybe she is just lucky she hasn't been fired years ago. I don't know.

All I really know is that tying people up and restraining them -- Children! -- even with loose bindings of yarn is criminal, thuggish behavior. Her methods are not play and are not minimally invasive.

My cries go on like this... Please, please, replace your ignorance with knowledge. Please, teach your children that intellect and morals serve them best. Please, reduce incidents of being a bad role model to insure youth have sensible, logical alternatives to dominance and force when they face a tough, stressful situation. And, please, take time to make good decisions. Even if you must force yourself to have a little patience, take on that burden so you do not create needless trouble for others.

And, Ms. Riva, assuming all of this is true, I am sorry you lost your job after 40 years of teaching. It's a tough penalty to pay for learning a very simple lesson: "You can't teach kids to sit still by abusing them with bondage." I thought you might have already understood that. At least now, you can retire and use your yarn for knitting or another more humane activity. Damn, woman, what were you thinking? Maybe I really don't want to know.
 
 
"Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits
to whatever is dictated to it."

--Thomas Paine
 
 

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