Sunday, April 12, 2009

Teacher Censored for Telling Truth about Food

By JOCELYN ALLISON - jallison@nwherald.By JO

Teacher says he was sent home for preaching vegan lifestyle

FOX RIVER GROVE -- A Fox River Grove Middle School art teacher said he was ousted from the classroom Wednesday for teaching students about the benefits of a vegan lifestyle and the dangers of eating meat.
Dave Warwak, 44, said District 3 Superintendent Jacqueline Krause and
Middle School Principal Tim Mahaffy told him that he was being insubordinate and needed to leave after he refused Wednesday to stop sharing his viewpoints about animal cruelty and veganism in the classroom.
"When you´re talking about teaching art and leaving out the animals, I can´t do that," said Warwak, a vegan who referred to Krause and Mahaffy as "ardent meat-eaters."
"It´s impossible," he said of not sharing his viewpoint. "It´s something they´re asking me to do, and I just can´t."
Krause said Wednesday that Warwak still was employed with the district, but declined to comment further because the issue involved personnel.
"This is a matter that´s currently between the employee and the district, and I have no further comment," she said.
Warwak, who became a vegan in January, said he encouraged students to do Internet research about animal cruelty in raising livestock and how hormone manipulation and other factory-farming practices could negatively affect human health.
He also distributed copies of John Robbins´ The Food Revolution, which lambastes factory farming and advocates vegetarianism, to 10 eighth-graders. He gave other students excerpts from the book and informational pamphlets about vegetarianism and cruelty-free shopping, he said.
Warwak said he distributed the materials after the school´s cafeteria
supervisor declined to take down posters advocating the health benefits of drinking milk, which Warwak contends contributes to obesity.
Mahaffy sent Warwak a memo Tuesday addressing the teacher´s efforts to share his viewpoints with colleagues and students.
"If you share your opinions with other colleagues and they are either not receptive or ask you not to discuss the matter with them in the future, I expect you to honor their request," the memo stated.
"The office must approve all literature given to, or sent home with,
students," the memo continued. "I am requesting that you not use your literature or ideas about what is an appropriate diet to influence the students against our school lunch program."
Warwak said he began clashing with school officials last spring when staff members objected to an art display he created that showed marshmallow Peeps "locked" in a cage, smashed in front of a truck or positioned in other ways that demonstrated how people use animals.
In a series of e-mail exchanges between Warwak and Mahaffy in April,
Mahaffy expressed concern that the project was turning into a PETA advertisement and the school was being used as a soap-box for the opinion that non-vegetarians supported cruelty to animals.
Warwak eventually removed the display, but continued to look for ways to get his message out to students, who he said needed to learn at an early age to respect animal life.
He said he was unsure whether he would return to the classroom today and that it was up to the district to make the next move.
"All they have to do is give me something in writing that it´s against the law or against district policy to talk about what´s happening with animals,
" Warwak said. "But until then, I´m going to keep talking about that."
Several teachers and school board members either declined to comment or could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.
School board member Gerry Blohm declined to comment, aside from saying the board would discuss the situation in the future.
"It´s a personnel issue that the board will discuss," he said.

No comments: