Talk:Part One: Summary of Facts

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Was Ms. McGee really fired in response to this field trip?

The facts of this controversy are far from clear. The school district, in the wake of the intense media backlash against Ms. McGee's firing, claims that she was fired for performance deficiencies unrelated to the field trip to the Dallas Museum of Art. A memo that Ms. Lawson sent to Ms. McGee detailing problems with her performance as a teacher included complaints that Ms. McGee did not display enough student art and that she wore flip-flops to class (which Ms. McGee maintains were classy Via Spiga sandals). Additionally, the school claims that there are other performance issues that precipitated Ms. McGee's firing, but that rules of confidentiality prohibit the school from releasing any details. Others claim that Ms. McGee received outstanding performance evaluations throughout her entire career at Wilma Fisher, until the field trip incident, when the administration began complaining about her performance. On first blush, it certainly looks as though the school, by raising these mysterious factual issues, is attempting to muddy the waters, to deflect criticism for its decision to fire Ms. McGee. However, it is also possible that the school has substantive reasons for firing Ms. McGee which it feels it cannot, in good conscience, reveal.

The fact of the matter is that no outside observer has all the facts of the matter. The Court of Public Opinion, for better or worse, does not subpoena power and extensive discovery, complete with in camera review of sensitive materials, is not possible. The story that the New York Times and Washington Post have accepted is that this firing was precipitated by the field trip. Those newspapers, along with dozens of independent blogs, might plausibly be said to reflect the general impression of the facts as received by the Court of Public Opinion, so they are the facts I am working with. If the school should suddenly break confidentiality and reveal some damning evidence showing conclusively that Ms. McGee was an unfit teacher, then this discussion may quickly become moot. Until then, I might as well carry on with such facts as are available, and fill in the blank spaces with my best hunches.

Does the script accurately reflect these facts?

The script accurately reflects the general facts of the incident, but simplifies, stylizes, or abstracts from many of the particular details of the case that would obscure or detract from the core conflicts involved in this issue. The project is an exercise in empathic argument, not in navigating the procedural particularities of the Frisco Independent School District's decision making processes. As a result, the script takes for granted that Ms. McGee was simply fired, not put on some sort of administrative suspension or career-improvement program. Principal Victoria is posited as the sole decision maker as to whether Ms. McGee will be reinstated, and Principal Victoria is shown to be relatively responsive to the perceived desires of the parents of South Park Elementary students. By removing factual disputes and simplifying the decision making process, the script can focus on the core conflicts within the community over the question of whether it was wrong to show students nude art, and whether that wrong justified Ms. McGee's termination. The point of abstracting, simplifying, and stylizing the facts for use in the script is to highlight the role that empathic argument can play in resolving this dispute.