art by Ron Sanders
Regarding your Position as our Third Year Teacher
by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley
Dear Miss Vesta,
The board has reviewed your current contract and regretfully has come to the conclusion that you are not right for the position teaching third year students at the School for Off-World Learning for Space Station Children.
In order to help you understand the decision, we have drawn up a summary of the instances which were reported to the board as requiring investigation.
* Your insistence upon a Thanksgiving celebration, despite warnings that the holiday, which is not celebrated on AS3745, might draw negative reactions from parents was not in itself an issue. However, you then engaged in arguments with the children and later their parents regarding the "proper" way to draw pumpkins, turkeys, and horns of plenty. Your students have never seen any of these items and do not have the background and cultural context required to create this imagery. A more successful creative endeavor would have been to allow the children to draw their local entertainment platforms, or perhaps a view of the dome. Your choice of coloring assignments however, especially the sunny day in a grassy field with an apple tree, speak to your own nostalgia and not at all to anything our students have ever experienced.
* Your threat to take the class to the Triple X Entertainment Platform in zone 9 to show Miss Jade Martinez, age eight, "where you'll end up if you don't do your homework" was inappropriate and may lead to legal action against the school.
* The day trip to the planetarium seemed like an excellent idea when you first broached it with the board. However, a number of parents have taken issue with your description of AS3745 as "just a fly-speck in the greater scheme of things, meaningless, just like our lives" in the letter accompanying the permission slip.
* Disciplinary proceedings regarding the under-floor projector fire during the field trip are still in progress. However, the children are in clear agreement that when the planetarium fire alarm sounded, you did not follow the standard fire drill procedure. Instead, they say, you hissed that "this is what happens to children who don't respect their elders" and allegedly told little Nasir in particular that he deserved to "burn in starfire" for whispering during the display of the Milky Way.
* Having taken the decision to allow you to continue with your classwork while the situation was investigated, we were then subjected to a wave of complaints over the writing exercise you assigned. Quite frankly, the essay question "How much would you give to be back on Earth and away from this insipid rock with an utter lack of modern amenities such as a decent Thai restaurant or even a half-way palatable cappuccino, for God's sake" is not appropriate for children in the eight to nine age range. Hope, in a mining operation, is the hope that the drill doesn't break, that the tunnels don't flood, that the sonic blasts are targeted well enough. Hope is not about escape from AS3745 because AS3745 is their home and all they've ever known.
* Finally, we feel we have to ask whether you truly believe that telling the students that children are jettisoned from the launchpad when they do not sit still and listen to their teachers was truly the best way to deal with the situation. We understand that Tapti was repeatedly jumping up and down causing you much frustration but perhaps you can see that your response bordered on the excessive?
We hope we have made the reasons clear as to why we have decided to terminate your contract immediately.
When you agreed to come to the colony, it was with the understanding that you would stay a minimum of ten years. Under the circumstances, we think it wise to terminate this agreement early. The board has kindly agreed to fund your transfer back to Earth by fast shuttle and the remaining nine years and eight months of your contract have been struck.
We wish you every success in your future endeavors.
This story was first published on Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014