Greg Schiller’s classroom seems to be a fruitful learning environment. One of his students recently stated, “He’s a really great teacher, and he really cares, he really wants to teach and he loves teaching.” It’s no surprise that he’s such a popular science teacher. It is astonishing, however, that he’s now apparently being punished for making science fun.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Schiller, who teaches at the Cortines School of Visual & Performing Arts, in Los Angeles, California, is in hot water because two of his students turned in science projects designed to shoot little projectiles. One of the projects used compressed air, the other consisted of a tube surrounded by a coil and was powered by a standard AA battery.
Sounds pretty cool, and very ingenious. But an unnamed school employee caught sight of one of these devices and “raised concerns.” Officials with the Los Angeles Unified School District then reportedly accused Schiller of “supervising the building, research and development of imitation weapons.” And now he’s been suspended.
As the Times notes, President Obama not only supervised but actually operated a more powerful air-pressure device at a White House Science Fair that could launch a marshmallow nearly 200 feet. Perhaps, he, too, should be reprimanded for corrupting the youth.
We’ve written before of children who have been suspended over “level 2 lookalike firearms” made with their own thumbs and forefingers. While these suspensions are ludicrous, Schiller’s is unique, not only because it involves a teacher, but also because the harm of Schiller’s suspension will impact his students as well. For example, students in Schiller’s classes, particularly those who would like to pass AP tests for college credit, are now left with a substitute teacher.
Fortunately, Schiller’s fellow teachers and the parents of his students aren’t standing for it. “As far as we can tell, he’s being punished for teaching science,” Warren Fletcher, president of the Los Angeles teachers union, told the Times. Schiller’s suspension is now a cause célèbre, prompting rallies drawing hundreds of parents and students, a petition drive, and a flurry of social media activity.
Perhaps there is more to this story. The Los Angeles Unified School District on Thursday published a statement saying that, while it does not comment on ongoing investigations, “We will always err on the side of protecting students.” While no one wants to see another school shooting, one wonders if the “concerns” voiced about Schiller’s students were driven less by the prospect of violence than by politically correct concerns about promoting a “gun free culture.”
Educators shouldn’t be punished for doing their jobs, nor should students’ education suffer because of political correctness. Barring the revelation of damning undisclosed facts, Schiller’s suspension should be lifted.