‘God is Dead’ draw­ing re­moved

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - GABRIEL KHOULI gkhouli@cov­news.com

The “God is Dead” draw­ing based on the play “The Cru­cible,” which up­set a par­ent and sparked a com­mu­nity dia­logue, is no longer hang­ing in an Al­covy High School class­room.

The stu­dent draw­ing was taken down Tues­day be­cause “The Cru­cible” is not cur­rently be­ing taught in the class and there­fore stu­dents have no con­text in which to view it, New­ton County Schools Su­per­in­ten­dent Sa­man­tha Fuhrey said Wed­nes­day. She noted that the is­sue is not one of re­li­gion and the draw­ing could be put back up later when the play is be­ing taught.

Fuhrey added Thurs­day that “items posted in a class­room must sup­port the cur­ricu­lum or be in­nocu­ous and/or dec­o­ra­tive in na­ture.

“Art­work that re­quires an in­struc­tor to have pro­vided a great deal of ex­pla­na­tion and back­ground in­for­ma­tion should not hang on the class­room walls,” Fuhrey said in an email. “Most im­por­tantly, it must be linked to what is be­ing taught in the spe­cific course — you shouldn’t go into a Co­or­di­nate Al­ge­bra class­room and see im­ages of Auschwitz from The Diary of Anne Frank.”

Af­ter her daugh­ter said the draw­ing made her feel un­com­fort­able, par­ent Crys­tal Mitchell spoke with Fox 5 At­lanta and later with The News and other me­dia, and the story has been widely dis­sem­i­nated on the web.

Mitchell de­scribed the draw­ing as a “pic­ture of a noose with the wings hang­ing and then be­tween the wings it says, ‘God is Dead;’ and then there is a pic­ture of the lady … ap­par­ently hold­ing like a voodoo doll, and then there is a noose hang­ing be­hind her and it says, ‘God is Dead.’ Then there is an­other pic­ture of the devil. And it says, ‘The Devil is Alive,’ and it’s just a col­lage of th­ese pic­tures.

“They are not al­lowed to pray in schools; they

are not al­lowed to speak re­li­gion,” Mitchell told The News pre­vi­ously. “Per­son­ally, I just don’t feel like it has a place on the school walls in a pub­lic school.”

How­ever, Fuhrey said Wed­nes­day the is­sue had noth­ing to do with re­li­gion or free speech.

“Ul­ti­mately, the mat­ter in­volv­ing ‘The Cru­cible’ is not about re­li­gion or free speech; it is, how­ever, a case about rel­e­vant course cur­ricu­lum and in­struc­tion.

“Cur­rently, the teacher does not teach Amer­i­can Lit­er­a­ture, the course in which ‘The Cru­cible’ is taught; there­fore, the art­work has no con­text--- no back­ground knowl­edge upon which the stu­dents in the class­room could re­flect to make mean­ing of the for­mer stu­dents’ art work,” Fuhrey said in an email Wed­nes­day.

“The stu­dents were left to de­velop their own un­der­stand­ing of the art­work in the ab­sence of speak­ing to the teacher di­rectly or con­tact­ing an ad­min­is­tra­tor for pur­poses of clar­i­fi­ca­tion.

“The stu­dents in the class in ques­tion will study ‘The Cru­cible’ when they take the Amer­i­can Lit­er­a­ture course and in do­ing so, will be pro­vided the con­text that will help, ret­ro­spec­tively, ‘make sense’ of the art­work.

“I (and the school sys­tem) sup­port the teacher’s use of the stu­dents’ re­sponse (the art­work) to lit­er­a­ture in­struc­tional tech­nique, but it must be tied to the cur­ricu­lum she is charged to teach,’’ Fuhrey said.

“In this par­tic­u­lar case, when pre­sented with the afore­men­tioned in­for­ma­tion, the teacher made the de­ci­sion to re­move the art­work un­til such time that she teaches the Amer­i­can Lit­er­a­ture course and ‘The Cru­cible’ as part of the as­so­ci­ated cur­ricu­lum.”

Mitchell took to the Face­book page she cre­ated, “God is Alive in New­ton” to thank ev­ery­one in­volved for tak­ing down the draw­ings.

“I would like to pub­licly thank the (Board of Ed­u­ca­tion and) es­pe­cially the teacher for re­vis­it­ing this sit­u­a­tion and talk­ing with our daugh­ter and ob­vi­ously un­der­stand­ing her view....this wasn’t easy for her or us. We never had the in­ten­tions of any reper­cus­sion to the teacher at all....we re­spect her po­si­tion in the class­room and hope that the stu­dents will now be ea­ger to learn the book them­selves and have an open dis­cus­sion of the Salem witch tri­als and hope­fully ask ques­tions that per­tain to this quote that got so much at­ten­tion,” Mitchell said.

County Com­mis­sioner John Dou­glas first men­tioned that the draw­ing had been re­moved dur­ing Tues­day night’s New­ton County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers meet­ing.

Dou­glas pre­vi­ously ex­pressed his dis­ap­point­ment in the school sys­tem’s ini­tial re­sponse to leave the draw­ing up. He said Fuhrey made the de­ci­sion be­cause the play isn’t be­ing stud­ied, but also be­cause she didn’t think the school sys­tem needed a national dis­trac­tion.

The New­ton County School Sys­tem ini­tially said it would not re­move the draw­ing, be­cause it was sim­ply “re­flect­ing a ma­jor quote and event in the play, ‘The Cru­cible,’ a piece of lit­er­a­ture read by thou­sands of stu­dents across the na­tion each year.”

‘The Cru­cible’, a drama­ti­za­tion of the Salem witch tri­als in 1692-93, was writ­ten by Amer­i­can play­wright Arthur Miller and was first per­formed in 1953.

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