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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Where Angels Fear to Tread (not about the book) (09/08/11)

TITLE: I Could Get Fired Over That
By Patricia Turner


Maria had slept little the past night. Her stomach was in knots and she decided it would be best to skip breakfast altogether. A tension headache had begun to throb in her left temple and was spreading across her forehead the closer she got to the school.

Stopping at the door to her eighth grade classroom, she took a breath, straightened her skirt with a twitch, and walked boldly to her desk.

The usual chaos of students finding there seats while conversing with friends seemed even more heightened today.

“Probably just me,” she thought, taking another deep breath to calm her nerves.

She'd even considered skipping this topic when she saw it in the syllabus the principal handed her on the first day of the semester. But it was important and she couldn't avoid it any longer.

“Boys, girls, take your seats. I want you to turn to page two-hundred-fifty-six in your text” she said, turning to write the topic on the white board at the front of the class.

A snicker arose, then another as the rustling of pages brought each student to the chapter heading: “Human Sexuality”.

“Hey, Miss Cortez, want me to teach the class today?” Tony Estrada's dark eyes darted salacious glances around the room, accompanied by laughter and shouts of “Yeah!”

“Not asking for volunteers, Mr. Estrada,” Maria responded, more calmly than she felt.

“Everyone take a few minutes to read the first two pages of the chapter and we'll review and discuss.”

“Quietly,” she added, addressing Eric and Angela at the back engaged in whispers.

“Miss, Cortez, are you going to explain how babies get made?” asked Veronica, a heavily made up and scantily dressed blond.

“'Course, she is,” returned Tony, twisting around and throwing an arm up on the back of his chair. “And I'll be glad to take you out Saturday night and show you.” This accompanied by more peals of laughter.

“That'll be enough,” responded Maria with a pointed look at Mr. Estrada.

“Now, class, there are diagrams in your book of the female and the male reproductive systems.”

“Not exactly anatomically correct, if you ask me,” spouted Eric from the back of the room. “See, Angie, I'll show you...”.

“Eric and Tony, both of you come up to the front of the room.” Maria speared each with a look as she spoke, crooking her index finger for emphasis.

The two boys swaggered up to the front of the room, grinning boldly around at the room.

“Want a piratical demonstration, Miss Cortez? I get Veronica for my partner,” leered Tony at the made-up blond.

“Eric, Tony, have a seat.” Maria indicated a couple of desks at the front of the room. Placing a piece of paper and a pencil on each of their desks, she continued. “I want each of you to write: “I will respect everyone” one-hundred times.”

“Miss Cortez...” whined Eric.

Maria held his gaze for a moment. “Mr. German, write.”

Having regained control of the class, and of her dignity, she continued.

“Angie, I'd like for you to read the first section for the class.”

“The female reproductive system, located in the lower abdomen, consists of a pair of ovaries, a uterus,...”

Two more students took their turns reading about zygotes and cell division. a somewhat dry and clinical depiction of human conception.

“Miss Cortez, I'd like to read next, please.” Helen was a quiet girl who excelled in her work and aced tests.

“Certainly Helen.”

“For you formed me in my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother's womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made...”

“Helen, where are you reading that?”

More snickers.

“It's from the Bible, Miss Cortez: Psalm 139.”

“Helen, you know we can't allow religious literature in class. Please bring that book up and put it on my desk. You can have it back after class.”

“Miss Cortez, if we can talk about the human body and sexuality in school, why can't we talk about God's word?”

“Helen, school rules are school rules.”

After class, Helen came to the desk to retrieve her book.

“Miss Cortez, what's harder; talking about sexuality, or talking about the Bible?”

“In school, frankly both. I almost think the Bible; ironically, I could get fired over that.”

Ironically, indeed.

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Member Comments
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Tracy Nunes 09/15/11
Unfortunately, this depiction of today's classroom is accurate and may even be mild compared to what it's really like. Well written and sadly right on the mark.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 09/17/11
This is a great story. I felt for the poor teacher. You grabbed me at the beginning and held my interest to the end.

In the beginning you used there instead of their. Also I didn't think piratical is a word a teen would use, I think maybe you meant practical:)

You did a fantastic job with the teen characters, they were very realistic. The message was wonderful!
Glynis Becker09/17/11
Very nicely done. Great dialogue and what a point you've made with this little piece. Too bad that it's more true than it should be.
Allison Egley 09/17/11
This depicts a sad reality in many schools.

I realize you were probably, as I said above, depicting reality in most schools, and you probably know this, but, if a student brings up a Biblical topic in class, a teacher is allowed to address it, and students are more than welcome to have Bibles in school. As an education major in college (though I've never actually taught) I wish you'd had addressed the rights students DO have, even if it had been in the context of explaining it, then saying "but in THIS school..." or something to that effect. :)

Overall, and excellent story, and you did a great job capturing the students' voices and attitudes.
Sydney Avey09/18/11
You've captured well the discomfort of the teacher and her students in dealing with the subject of sex in the classroom. It's sad when prescribed dialogue overules honest communication on an important topic. I would have like to see the teacher struggle a bit more at the end with the dilemma of having to address a complex issue on a superficial level. Kudos to you for tackling a tough topic.
Linda Goergen09/19/11
A realistic depiction of what could be a real incident! Thank God places like "The American Center for Law and Justice", ACLJ, are fighting this kind of misunderstanding of student’s rights! The court declared school-sponsored, government funded Bible reading and recitation unconstitutional, but so many interrupt it wrongly, violating the student’s rights! So many schools, ban it all because they don’t want to deal with the interruption or someone else’s misinterpretation of the law. Your story was so well written and it is ironic indeed that all manner of sexuality seems to not be feared to discuss in schools, but the word of God is! Sad, sad, sad state of things! God Bless!
C D Swanson 09/22/11
Congratulations. God bless~
Linda Goergen09/22/11
Congratulations Patrica on your well deserved HC and EC win!