You just came into a healthy inheritance.
You married a millionaire.
You’re going back to school so you can get something that pays better than slinging coffee drinks.
Or, you’re mad as hell and you’re not going to take it any more.
That’s the one that finally made sense to Jennie Brown, a teacher at Sherwood Middle School in Portland’s southern suburbs, whose passion and specialty was teaching drama. Brown, you may recall, was the author and director of Higher Ground, a play about bullying at school, which she wrote based on extensive conversations with the kids in the show. It talked about bullying for all sorts of reasons: because kids are overweight, or don’t wear the “right” clothes, or they’re the “wrong” race, or maybe they’re gay, or … you get the picture.
At the last minute, parents of three kids (out of 52 involved) protested to Principal Anna Pittioni, who called the show off. That was in February. The kids themselves voted not to water down the script so they could take the stage in a censored version (some of them claimed the show already diluted the harsh realities of life in their blackboard jungle), and the Portland Center for the Performing Arts invited them to present the play as it was written in downtown Portland, where it was received enthusiastically.
But for Brown, it was the beginning of the end. Her relationship with Pittioni crumbled. She was investigated by the school board (at one point her school-issued computer was seized and her email messages scrutinized). She felt marked. And last week, with nothing else concrete on the horizon, she quit a job she had loved.
Just another day in the Nanny Dearest environs of the public schools, you might think. And indeed, a similar case sprang up a few months later, when Portland actor Wade Willis sued the Beaverton School District for $125,000 because, he said, administrators at Southpark High School had “harrassed, intimidated and humiliated” him to such an extent that he was forced to resign.