PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - In the last couple of days, angry parents have called and emailed our newsroom, asking us to investigate the firing of a popular teacher.
His crime they say? Asking his students to read.
That teacher told us he’s out because he was asking students to read novels, and not always teaching to prepare students for Florida’s standardized tests.
7th grade English teacher Elliott Herman never got to say good bye to his students.
Herman claims he was forced out of his position at Franklin Academy, a charter school in Palm Beach Gardens.
“Teachers want to teach more but we’re told not to,” said Herman.
He was teaching his English class “The Giver,” a book he taught the class last year, too.
However, this year the school removed “The Giver” from the curriculum.
“They said we don’t want you wasting time reading in the class,” said Herman.
So Herman had his students read the book at home and asked them to be ready to analyze the book in class.
But after his most recent in-class review, he learned the school didn’t want that either.
“Why are we just teaching to a test,” said Herman. “It’s not teaching them to understand or think. It’s just teaching them to pass a test.”
Herman decided to explain the abrupt change to the parents in his weekly email.
“I knew I was taking a risk by talking about it,” said Herman. “I was just trying to create a dialog and a conversation.”
It was a decision Herman believes led to his termination. And while the school wouldn’t discuss the situation, the parents did, both online and to our cameras.
“My son looked forward to language arts,” said Jennifer Burjan, who says her son was devastated about Mr. Herman. “We would read the book the giver together and discussing it.”
Burjan says she believe the novels should be part of the curriculum.
Franklin Academy Charter School told NewsChannel 5 it does not discuss employee personnel decisions.
However, the school did explain that Mr. Herman was an “at will” employee, and that novels are not against the curriculum as long is it helps students demonstrate skills related to writing listening and reading for information.