Brooklyn English Teacher Suspended for Providing Books to Students
An award-winning veteran English teacher has been put on administrative leave in retaliation for his ongoing conflict with his high school’s curriculum decisions.
From the NYPost:
Todd Friedman, a 29-year public-school veteran who teaches at Midwood High School, was put on administrative duty — and faces possible termination — after the city Department of Education slapped him with disciplinary charges.
His crime: He personally ordered 102 paperback copies of the novel from a publisher last September for his Advanced Placement students.
Friedman, 61, paid for the books out of his own pocket — about $220 with shipping — then sold them to students for $2 apiece to recoup most of the expenses.
But when Midwood Assistant Principal Suzanne Thomas heard about the transaction from students, she told Principal Michael McDonnell, who filed a formal complaint, records show.
While Friedman is technically guilty of selling copies of Frankenstein to students, it’s also worth noting that the school sells books like Hamlet in its bookstore for $6 each, and that the investigators' report noted that Friedman didn’t profit off students, nor had any student protested. The invoice, in fact, shows he sold the paperbacks "at a financial loss".
Friedman contends that this suspension was retaliation for his filing unfair-labor charges against Midwood High School last year. According to the local NBC affiliate, the school had shifted to a new English curriculum which focused more on non-fiction, and Friedman said he filed the charges to protest the new “dumbed down” curriculum and unfair evaluations.
Since he apparently also bought the books to circumvent the new curriculum policy, it’s not inconceivable that the administrators are retaliating.
It;s also no surprise that Friedman is fighting against the new curriculum, because this isn’t the first time Friedman has found himself in conflict with his school’s administration.
In 2005, the NY Daily News reported that Friedman was one of a number of teachers who left his previous school over curriculum decisions:
In a particularly notable case, veteran teacher Todd Friedman took a job at Midwood High School after McCaskill barred him from teaching the book "Continental Drift" in 2002. The book was a Pulitzer Prize finalist, but McCaskill called it sexually explicit and unacceptable. Friedman is being honored this week with the New York Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Award for fighting McCaskill over the censorship. "People don’t generally want to leave a good school like Brooklyn Tech, but McCaskill and Tracy Atkins-Zoughlami are breaking the morale," Friedman said. "That’s why many teachers have left.
And now Midwood has given him the boot.