Parents are demanding an explanation from administrators after discovering a fifth-grade teacher showed their children an anti-abortion video during class.
The New York Daily News reports Ju Ling Wei played the “Life Flight” performance for her second-period dance class two weeks ago.
All quiet outside of Shuang Wen School, where the city announced today it is replacing principal after investigation. pic.twitter.com/g5egUPYg
— Chalkbeat New York (@ChalkbeatNY) April 20, 2012
Wei, a 14-year Education Department veteran, is a teacher at Public School 184, also known as the Shuang Wen School.
As the Daily News reports, “the video depicts adolescents acting out an unborn fetus’ musings on abortion.”
Isabella Alvarado, an 11-year-old student in Wei’s class, said the video sparked conversation among her and her classmates about abortion.
“It was my first time hearing about it.”
After she left school, she asked her father to tell her more.
Ishmael Alvarado, Isabella’s father, recalled:
“She said to me, ‘What’s abortion?’ My kids still believe in Santa Claus. They’re still innocent.”
The Daily News reports that days later, Isabella still recalls parts of the video.
Isabella quoted the performance saying:
“‘It burns, mommy! It burns.'”
Further, after Wei showed her class the film, Isabella says the teacher asked, “What do you think abortion is?” The 11-year-old then said Wei told them abortion is when a doctor gives a mother “a shot to kill the baby.”
In a portion of the performance, the actors say:
“That doctor’s a meanie. He lied to you. Liar! He called me a blob. Do I look like a blob?”
Liset Reyes, the mother of 10-year-old Shiloh Lee Morales, was particularly outraged. She told the news source that she hadn’t even talked to her daughter about sex yet.
“I was really, really upset and angry and appalled. I was crying. We don’t even discuss the birds and the bees.”
According to the Daily News, neither parent shared their personal stance on abortion. However, Isabella’s father is wondering what the teacher was trying to achieve.
“I believe in the separation of church and state. I’m trying to figure out what was the agenda of the teacher putting this out there in a non-sex ed class.”
However, Doug Cohen, the spokesman for the city’s education department, provided a possible explanation. He said Wei may have been using the video to demonstrate a dramatic technique.
Although, he said:
“We expect our teachers to practice good judgment, and there is absolutely no reason to show this video in an elementary school.This lesson was completely inappropriate, and the principal immediately addressed this incident and reported it for investigation.”>
According to the Daily News, PS 184 principal Iris Chiu sent a letter to parents two days after the incident.
The letter stated:
We are writing to let you know that it has been reported that an unsuitable video was shown to a class in the past two days. We apologize for any confusion that may have caused you or your children.
However, Reyes isn’t here for the principal’s excuses. She feels there is no explanation to justify Wei showing the performance to students of her child’s age.
The mother stated:
“She’s trying to cover up. This is something they should be discussing in middle school, not elementary. She’s got no excuse.”
The Daily News reports that both Chiu and Wei have refused to comment on the matter.
However, this isn’t the first time the school has found itself in the midst of controversy. In 2011, the city replaced founding principal Ling Ling Chou after a school fundraising and enrollment scandal, the Daily News reports.