VIDEO: The Story of Katrina Guarascio in Her Own Words
Highlights from the Interview:
“When you’re young, and starting out, and you have all these crazy ideas, sometimes you just need people to listen to you. Especially when young writiers are starting out, and their jummping for the shock value, you need to showm them that, “okay, yes your writing is shocking, no it’s not good.”
“One of the things I discovered, allowing students to kind of have that freedom to explore their woice and to not censor them is that they would try for the shocking stuff right away, and then they would realize, ‘eh!’ and actually start getting into real writing, and so by the end of the semester I would see some really good writing that progressed a lot since day one to the final day in their daily writes as well as in their actual final drafts that they’ve turned in.
“It’s always been how I’ve run my class, it’s always been successful in the past.”
“They [CHS adminsitrators] were asking things about, not just about the use of language and ethics, but ‘have I ever exposed the kids to seually explicit material?'”
“Those are things that are really attacking my character, and even though I try really hard to show the kids the real world and to expose them to things that I think are important, I dont want to hurt them in any way. I would never show them something that would intentionally scar them.”
“With this new ultimatum, I felt really targeted like they were just waiting for a reason to fire me, and it was stressful and it got to the point where my students even were like, ‘Ms. G, they’re just not treating you right … we love you but if you but if you need to go, we understand.”
“One of the breaking points was, during Thanksgiving I had gone to my boyfriends family’s house for Thanksgiving and his neice is friends (with) or sat next to the girl who made the intial complaint and I guess that girl had boasted to her about how she going to get her writing teacher fired.”
“It was a student actively trying to get her teacher out of there.”
“At the intial complaint, she was getting a D in the class. When I returned from my leave, she was still in the class.”
“If this girl is so offended, so uncomfotable in my classroom, why hasn’t she been moved out?”
“I’m for freedom of speech. You probably should’ve know that before you gave me journalism. I don’t censor students.”
“Banned the ‘Banned Book Club’.”
“We’ve had a lot of teachers leave Cleveland this year.”
What are your thoughts? Was Guarascio treated unfairly? Should high school students be given an uncensored environment in order to practice using free speech effectively and responsibly?
Check out my editorial column in the Rio Rancho Observer to hear my two cents, and be sure to read my four part series on free speech.