Sub fired after telling students they had atrocious grammar

Wednesday, June 5, 2019
Michael F. Haverluck (

Empty teacher's desk

A substitute teacher working at an Iowa high school was taken off the sub list a few weeks after telling students that they had horrendous grammar during class.

S. Keyron McDermott opened up her piece in a local newspaper saying the high school terminated her last fall for telling students that their grammar skills were subpar – by around 10 years.  

“Last Halloween, I dressed up like a teacher – not exactly an alter ego; I have a certificate – went to the local high school, and substituted in Family & Consumer Science,” McDermott wrote in an op-ed for the Des Moines Register. “There was a small ruction in third period; the principal and I discussed it amicably, and I barely gave it second thought.”

I'm what?

Believing she had done absolutely nothing wrong or beyond her limits as a high school teacher, McDermott was shocked any disciplinary action over the “incident” was taken – let alone a termination.

“However, a couple weeks later, I received a letter informing me he was removing me from the sub list!” the educator exclaimed. “Explanation (from said letter): he ‘visited with the class,’ and the ‘interactions between yourself and the students were not such as meet our expectations for substitutes.’”

The incident was apparently recorded on video by a student.

“A parent reported that a student had videotaped me on his cell phone, [s]o, no doubt if there were a hint of unethical practice – singling a child out for ridicule, touching anyone, or making unreasonable demands – either on the video or in student testimony, my infraction would have been fully detailed … [but] Nothing,” McDermott explained. “What students apparently objected to was me handing back their papers, hectoring them about language errors.”

She recapped what she said to students that had apparently “offended” them.

“I told them unapologetically, ‘This is your native language, people! Second grade mistakes – not distinguishing between ‘your’ and ‘you’re,’ misspelling ex(c)ercise, leaving off caps and periods – from freshmen and sophomores are unacceptable…’” McDermott recounted. “So I wouldn’t be accused of making unreasonable demands, I wrote corrections on the board. All they had to do was copy them.”

Needless to say, this did not settle well with students, who were anything but receptive to the constructive criticism.

“McDermott said students apparently got ticked off at her criticisms of their papers – particularly language errors,” TheBlaze recapped.

Not giving in to a failed system

The high school teacher had a reputation at the school for being “grammatically correct.”

“Most of the older students in school know I don’t accept ‘textlish,’ and  they know why – I am panic-stricken for American kids – so, if I made a mistake that day, it was not giving students I’d never taught before a thumbnail bio they could act on,” the substitute noted.

Having taught and tutored English-as-a-Second Language to immigrants abroad decades ago – from Asia to Europe – McDermott speaks from experience when saying American students are behind in the world in their English skills.

“I am not just whistling in the wind about the globalized world – I have taught in it,” she asserted. “Ask yourself how prepared our kids are to compete in that world. Is it any wonder American businesses beg for more H1B visas?”

It was also noted that youth from abroad studying in the United States think high school in America is a piece of cake compared to the rigors of education back home.

“In a new survey, 9 out of 10 foreign exchange students say American high school students have it easier than they do back home,” McDermott pointed out.

She was amazed that after everything was reviewed, school officials would not back down from their politically correct move in the name of diversity, inclusion and inflating students’ self-esteem.

“I went to the next school board meeting and requested reinstatement,” the frustrated instructor informed. “The board members sat there like five frogs on a log, nary a croak! Then I met with the superintendent of the district – an affable guy who convinced me he was deeply concerned – and did nothing.”

She soon found out that she was not the only victim of the system.

“After a little research, I located another teacher bounced off the sub list under similar circumstances and filed a complaint with the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners,” McDermott wrote. “In mid-April, Executive Director Dr. Ann Lebo wrote, refusing to investigate or hear our case because, among other things: ‘the magnitude of the alleged violation must be sufficient to warrant a hearing by the board.’”

Identifying the problem

McDermott then identified the problem she felt is plaguing the public education system.

“It’s not sufficiently serious that there are principals, superintendents and board members in this state who will not defend the most basic currency of a school: correct expression?” McDermott posed. “Frankly, I suspect the Lori Loughlin phenomenon here – it’s not just wealthy, west-coast parents trying to give their kids an advantage and/or a positive experience in school.”

The fed-up educator attempted to summarize today’s state of education in America.

“Teachers, principals, superintendents and boards feel forced to accommodate this – it has inadvertently undermined the whole system, destroying the standards that make education, education,” McDermott concluded. “Without standards, the whole system is a sham – a very expensive waste of money, cheating both kids and taxpayers.”

She also took to social media to inform Americans about how teachers are essentially straightjacketed from candidly warning students about the true condition of their academic performance.

“My generation and the generation behind us have destroyed an education system that was the envy of the world,” McDermott posted on Facebook Saturday.

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