Vermont Teacher Tells 4th-Grade Hunter She Won't Abide 'Killing' Talk

June 21st, 2008 2:25 PM

Cam Edwards at shared this story with me about how one Bennington, Vermont teacher demonstrated the state's clash between gun culture and "peace" culture in a fourth-grade classroom. From Dennis Jensen in the Rutland Herald:

[Mother Wendy] Bordwell said that, during snack time, [her son] Jared was discussing the recent spring turkey hunting season with a classmate when [teacher Kathleen] Backus interrupted the conversation, insisting that there be no talk of "killing" in her classroom.

Reached through a relative, Backus declined to comment.

At Monday's board meeting, Bordwell read from a prepared statement.

"I believe that Ms. Backus' perception of hunting and hunters have led her to treat Jared in an inappropriate manner, singling him out unfairly," she told the board. "The breaking point for us, his parents, came when Jared was sharing a conversation during his free period snack time at school. He was talking with a friend about the recent spring 2008 turkey season. Both boys had been out hunting with their dads and Jared was asking his friend where he had gotten his first turkey.

"Jared's teacher covered her ears, trying to block the conversation, and singing 'la la la la.' When asked by another school employee about her odd behavior, the teacher claimed she did not want to hear about the boys and their 'killing.' The boys were left feeling that they were not legitimate hunters, but 'killers' in the eyes of an important authority figure in their lives," Bordwell said.

Then the mother relayed  how when the boy's father, Martin Harrington, who owns a sporting-goods story, confronted the teacher, she lost it (to me, it starts sounding like an ad by

Bordwell said that after the incident at school, Jared's father approached Backus, questioning the teacher about her "reprimand" of his son.

"The confrontation ended with Ms. Backus demanding that Marty leave the classroom, screeching, 'I went hiking this weekend and saw a moose and a bear, and I will never tell you where they are because you might kill them," Bordwell said.

The school principal said it would be settled, and students will be able to freely discuss their hobbies within "the parameters of good taste." But in Vermont, those tastes might vary widely.