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Teacher in YouTube video remains on job

Posted November 17, 2008

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— A Cumberland County teacher shown in an online video telling a student her father might be deployed for years because the family supported John McCain for president remains on the job, officials said Monday.

Superintendent William Harrison has completed his investigation of the incident, but details weren't released, school district spokeswoman Wanda McPhaul said.

A Scandinavian film crew making a documentary last spring on support for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama captured Mary McArthur Elementary School teacher Diatha Harris talking to her fifth-grade students about Obama and McCain.

When student Cathy Thompson said she was backing McCain because her parents were, Harris responded, "Oh Lord." She later called the war in Iraq "senseless" and told Cathy that McCain planned to keep U.S. troops in Iraq for 100 years, if necessary.

The video was posted on YouTube.com, and some bloggers called for Harris to be fired.

Harris, who has taught for 27 years and has been with Cumberland County Schools for four years, apologized for her comment to Cathy but said her statements were taken out of context and were edited to make her look bad.

Cathy's mother, Angela Moore, said neither she nor her daughter were upset by Harris' comments.

58 Comments

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  • Axtel Nov 19, 2008

    Give the school system a break. They do not have the money or resources to challenge the NAACP. That is what they are there for. I guess we should live with it and move on.

  • Broker - Back from Lurking Nov 18, 2008

    Again I say: Fire her.

    Freedom of speech has limited application when it comes to the real world. The Feds cannot throw her in jail for her words, but that's about as far as the constitution protects professionals. As a stock broker, I cannot give stock advice on this forum. While that some consider that a freedom-of-speech issue, it is not. It is for the good of all who may be harmed by such a reco. For example, I cannot say anything that sounds like I'm saying someone is a fool for buying XYZ stock. In the same way it is inappropriate for a teacher to give political advice, including dramatic "oh no!" kinds of remarks.

    If I'd be fired, she should be fired. Not based on race, but based on being inappropriate and unprofessional.

  • PJM Nov 18, 2008

    Just get over it. She should have kept her job there was no reason for any displinary action. She gave her opinion which we are all entitled to give. Case in point this blog! Should either one of our priviledges be revoked for giving our opinions on certain topics. Come on its not the end of the world. The parents were on the side of the teacher...the question is how did it get on "you tube" and further why did whomever have a cell phone (assuming that is what was used) and recorded it. Could this have been a set up?

  • mramorak Nov 18, 2008

    she just a product of what she has lived with most of her life

  • readme Nov 17, 2008

    I am a white republican, and this teacher has my support, and I won't blow this out of proportion. I am everyone returns the favor when I say something stupid about Obama on the job.

  • monkeybusiness Nov 17, 2008

    Again, if this teacher had been white, she would have been disciplined &, yes, the NAACP would have been there demanding action. Reverse discrimination at its finest. She sounded ignorant & prejudiced on the tube & there is no excuse for how she made that student feel(verbal abuse). She was in now way teaching & was making children feel like they could not express their beliefs. She should be teaching & demonstrating how to be repectful of others beliefs & opinions.

  • thinkb4uspeakplz Nov 17, 2008

    Am glad she didn't kick a dog. She would be sent to th eelactric chair. Maybe we should get Secerary Beeety to respond. His opion is better th an a Judge. Even Troopers can't be involved with political agendas.

  • ignc73 Nov 17, 2008

    The woman said nothing wrong. Everything she said was 100% true. She did nothing wrong.

  • ccacrabbitdog Nov 17, 2008

    i don't think she needs to b fired, but maybe she should be transfered to a school on the other side of the county. isn't that what wake county did to that teacher that had an anti muslim speaker come to class.....fair is fair......

  • Fike Teacher Nov 17, 2008

    I am a teacher in the public schools and we are forbidden to influence our students based on our political and/or religious views. My students asked me who I voted for and I told them it was none of their business. I could have told them, but I couldn't tell them that the other candidate was the wrong choice or mine was the right choice. I can tell them what religion I am, I just can't tell them theirs is right or wrong. This teacher clearly crossed that line. Should she be fired? Not necessarily, if she's had a clean record until now. But she should be at least be reassigned to a less desirable assignment like the teacher from Enloe who was reassigned to an alternative school after he had a guest speaker who was anti-Muslim.

    Unfortunately the race card is something that both sides can play. Would I have my job as a white male had I done the same thing? Probably not. I know my superintendant would receive a visit from Al, Jesse or the NAACP wanting my job.

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