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About That Florida-Teacher-Disney-Video Fiasco

May 17, 2023

Hernando School District (FL) teacher Jenna Barbee has been put under investigation by the state for showing the Disney movie, Strange World, in her classroom. Barbee says she showed the movie because, as the BBC reports, “it related to the class curriculum of earth science and ecosystems.”

Jenna Barbee

The movie also includes a character that is gay, a fact that a spokesperson for the district concedes is “not the main plot of the movie.” Still, the BBC reports that Barbee finds herself accused of “indoctrination” by the Hernando school board.

As CNN reports, Beginning Wednesday, May 17, 2023, the state is sending investigators to speak with Barbee’s students. Parents can object to having their child interviewed.

Prior to showing the movie, Barbee, a first-year teacher, says that she secured permission slips from all parents to show PG-rated movies in her classroom.

The parent making the complaint– not directly to Barbee, but to the state department of education– and who presumably already signed a permission slip giving Barbee permission to show PG (“parental guidance”) movies to her child– and who apparently offered no word of caution to Barbee– was none other than Hernando school board member Shannon Rodriguez. From the BBC:

During a school board meeting on 9 May, school board member Shannon Rodriguez said she was the parent who complained to the department of education, according to US media outlets.

“It is not a teacher’s job to impose their beliefs upon a child,” Ms Rodriguez said during the meeting, adding that the movie opened the door “for conversations that have no place in our classrooms”.

Hernando board member Shannon Rodriguez

In her 2022 election campaign, Rodriguez was backed by the ultra-conservative group, Moms for Liberty and has already been in the news for saying that libraries have “smut” and “porn” on their shelves, according to the April 2023 Sun Coast News.

Regarding the May 09, 2023, school board meeting, USA Today adds the following:

At the end of the school board meeting Tuesday, Rodriguez said Barbee broke with school board policy because she did not get the specific movie approved by school administration….

I transcribed Rodriguez’s commentary, which is worthy of a post in its own right. She spoke for over eight minutes, beginning with the need to follow “policy and procedure”– and then says that she went directly to the principal, skipping any discussion directly with Barbee, the teacher of her child’s class.

If as a school board member, Rodriguez knows that a teacher needs to have each movie approved by school admin, why in the first place sign a blanket permission slip agreeing to allow Barbee to show “parental guidance” films in class?

Rodriguez knew that Barbee should not use a blanket permission form, yet instead of communicating as much to Barbee, Rodriguez just apparently chose to sign that blanket permission form, which communicated to Barbee, “Sure. You can show my child movies that might require guidance in processing the subject matter,” only to come back at first-year-teacher Barbee and throw her into a formal, state-level investigation.

Even if she did not sign the form, as a board member who should want to help her district’s teachers, Rodriguez could have spoken directly to Barbee about a blanket permission form for movies not being in accordance with policy and advising Barbee to instead seek approval of specific movies from school administration.

Such action would have shown, support, and wisdom, and kindness.

“Support, wisdom, and kindness” is not the option Rodriguez chose.

In her school board remarks, Rodriguez accuses Barbee as follows:

While Ms. Barbee is busy taking the light off of herself and playing the victim, the real victims are our children. At what point is there a line between parenting and teaching? It is not a teacher’s job to impose their beliefs upon a child– religious, sexual orientation, gender identity, any of the above. But allowing movies such as this assist teachers in opening a door– and please hear me– they assist teachers in opening a door for conversations that have no place in our classrooms.

We never watched movies such as this. We try so hard to be relevant. We want to be trending and have the likes on social media, we’ve lost what the real purpose behind sending a child to school is. We send them there to learn reading, math, science, history. As a parent, it is my job to teach my child about the birds and the bees in relationships and for me to decide at what age I want to embark on those conversations.

By not following policy and procedure, Ms. Barbee stripped me of my right as a parent to have to have those conversations prematurely.

Rodriguez apparently does not consider how her own very public comments about libraries having “smut” and “porn” on their shelves could well raise questions among the children in many Hernando households concerning what “smut” and “porn” are, perhaps “prematurely” inciting “birds and bees” conversations against the wills of those parents. However, since she counts herself on the side of righteousness, there is apparently no need for such considerations.

Nor does she apparently contemplate the incredible, unnecessary disruption her actions have introduced into her child’s classroom, including possibly heaping guilt on her own child for what the child may perceive as being his or her at fault for the fact that his or her teacher is now gone and does not plan to return in 2023-24. Other children may view the situation the same way and may now fear for their other teachers, that something might happen (indeed, that they might “do” something) to make another teacher “disappear,” so to speak.

Add to that the fear of having strangers come into the room and interview kids, who are at an age to internalize the situation as their own having done something bad to their class.

Barbee gets this:

Ms Barbee has also claimed an investigator with the department of education was pulling students out of class to ask them about it.

“Do you know the trauma that that is going to cause to some of my students?” she said in her TikTok video.

Meanwhile, the Hernando School District home page features a section, “priority needs, ” among which is listed, “teacher retention.”

Well. Reporting first-year teachers to the state for showing a PG movie when the reporting parent-board member has already signed such a form– and catapulting the district into international news for this foolishness– certainly veers from the path of promoting teacher retention.

As previously noted, Barbee chose to resign.

In reporting Barbee to the state rather than first taking the reasonable action of speaking with her directly, Rodriguez violated the policy of the board on which she serves:

Hernando School District policies: Community relations: Public complaints:

It is the desire of the Board to rectify any misunderstandings between the public and the District by direct discussions of an informal type among the interested parties. It is only when such informal meetings fail to resolve the differences shall more formal procedures be employed.

There was apparently no attempt at any direct, informal discussion with Barbee on Rodriguez’s part. No parent reaching out to her child’s teacher. On the contrary, Barbee presumably holds a signed permission slip with Rodriguez’s signature attesting her blanket, parental approval for Barbee to show her child any “parental guidance”-rated film. And now, thanks to her zealous overreaction, Rodriguez has given her Hernando district incredible negative publicity and yet another teaching vacancy to fill.

Moreover, strangling classroom freedoms does not accomplish the control that those imposing it think it does. Especially in this speedy, easily-accessible information age in which we live, students don’t wait for adults to “open doors” to topics.

Teachers know that students look for their own life-related answers. Whether Rodriguez likes it or not, school is a social venue where children interact and learn from other children– and not just about reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Any teacher who has caught snatches of student conversations knows as much.

Barbee knows as much:

During a school board meeting on 9 May, school board member Shannon Rodriguez said she was the parent who complained to the department of education, according to US media outlets.

“It is not a teacher’s job to impose their beliefs upon a child,” Ms Rodriguez said during the meeting, adding that the movie opened the door “for conversations that have no place in our classrooms”.

Ms Barbee says that students are already discussing this type of topic at school.

“These students are talking about things way beyond this (movie),” she told CNN. “This door that she’s talking about, it’s been open.”

Over-the-top reactions like Rodriguez’s may run off more Florida teachers, but what such reactions will surely not do is quell the inquisitiveness of young minds.

On the contrary: Suppression efforts pique young interest.

I do not have time to comment on Rodriguez’s entire speech at that May 09, 2023, school board meeting, but it is clear in her condescension that her cemented perspective is”them” versus “us” and that what needs to happen is that “they” need to see how right “we” are and that being like “us” is what is best for the district.

If you have any doubts about her sincerity, rest assured that Rodriguez supports teachers– the right teachers. I’ll leave you with Rodriguez’s own words on the matter:

We live in a great community filled with great teachers. So, don’t let all of you teachers that are listening, or any of you that get to hear this, please don’t think that I don’t believe in you, that I don’t have immense respect for you. I absolutely do. Don’t allow this minority that has come forward and put themselves on display to convince you otherwise. …

I thank you all for coming here tonight and showing your support. There is a thing called “victim mentality.” When you guys get a chance, look it up.

Teachers spoke at the meeting, which they are allowed to do during time for public comment. If some were unprofessional, that is unfortunate. However, that does not excuse any ugly dig from a board member.

What speaks loudly here is that Rodriguez did not have enough “immense respect” for her own child’s teacher to speak directly to the teacher and to do so in a timely manner, thereby avoiding this whole awful situation.

Do read the whole of Rodriguez’s May 09, 2023, comments from the 6 p.m. meeting. (I added links for background context, where needed.)

Effective leaders emanate respect, including for those with whom they disagree (even strongly disagree), and their inviting attitude seeks to work with others (even those with whom they strongly disagree) for the good of all.

Effective leaders soothe with their words and actions whenever possible, including in public disagreements, seeking peace and pursuing it for the good of all.

Effective leaders seek remedies that value direct communication and relationship-building and are as least intrusive and disruptive as is possible when correction is necessary.

Rodriguez is not an effective leader.

My best to Barbee as she moves forward with her life.


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  1. Jenna Barbee posted a TikTok video, which makes clear just how much of a loss her students will suffer:

  2. speduktr permalink

    Thank you. Please keep following this story. Jenna Barbee deserves better although I doubt Rodriguez will be her only saboteur.

  3. Tiffany permalink

    As a resident of Hernando County and a mom of 4, thank you for telling the real story. I hope more people are able to see Shannon Rodriguez and her Moms for Liberty cohorts for what they are- pot stirrers intent on destroying public education. It’s also interesting to note that Shannon has caused much more controversy locally, from telling teachers she doesn’t care about them to calling black students “low income colored kids”.

  4. fullerhunt permalink

    There are plenty of good movies for children to see about ecosystems that do not include any form of sexuality. She should be fired.

    Also, if the far, far Left BBC champions the movie you can be assured that woke ideology is pushed throughout, including the myths and lies about manmade climate change, fossil fuels, and not so “green energy”. John Stossel for the classroom, for example, along with a myriad of other non-Left sources that tell the truth about ecosystems, the Earth, and how “green energy” is destroying many land and sea ecosystems, not to mention the brutal lives of children who are forced to mine for the precious minerals, et al, that make “green Energy” work. I teach these truths to my students and they know the truth when they finally get to hear it. And, again, there is never any reason to interject any sexuality. Even in Biology.

    • And yet, humans are sexual beings. How do you square that fact with your radical approach to human beings?

      • fullerhunt permalink

        My radical approach to human beings? How am I radical? Sexuality, gender ideology, & CRT, simply does not belong in the classroom. I had to speak about haploid cells, genes on the sex chromosomes, animal, plant, and single-celled sexuality, etc. and I always kept it scientific. Even when there were giggles, I never talked about the student’s sexuality, my sexuality, their preferences, et al.

        Meanwhile, as the far Left Maoists are pushing these communist ideologies, students are not learning to read, write, arithmetic, math, and true history. The solution? School Choice where tax dollars follow the students not a union. My students from the inner city cried when our charter school had lost its charter because they were forced to go back to their horrible home schools. School choice will be the biggest boon for poor students since public schools were created.

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