UTHS student starts petition that accuses teacher of bias in classroom

A petition accusing Mark Kaczmarek, a United Township High School teacher and former head coach, of bias launched Sunday night.

It reads: “United Township teachers are employed to provide instruction, educate and inform students. Our concern is that Mr. Kaczmarek’s personal views and biases are taught as part of his curriculum. There is no place for bigotry, racism or sexism in the classroom, yet he consistently teaches his hate-filled views in his class."

The petition, which had been signed more than 300 people Sunday night, refers to Kaczmarek’s recent social-media post about the Women’s March on Saturday in Washington, D.C., and other cities. It reads: “an impressive turnout. Lots of pink hats & stuff. Then they all went home to make dinner. Well done, ladies!” The tweet included a photo of the march alongside a 1952 advertising stock photo of a smiling woman in a dress and apron, stirring a bowl with a wooden spoon in a gleaming kitchen.

#WomensMarch an impressive turnout. Lots of pink hats & stuff. Then they all went home to make dinner. Well done, ladies! #tcot pic.twitter.com/znSPkchilv

— Mark Kaczmarek (@CoachKacz) January 21, 2017
The petition will be delivered to United Township High School administrators and the schools.

Kaczmarek did not want to comment when reached by phone Sunday night.

School Superintendent Jay Morrow said this is a personnel matter, and it would be inappropriate to comment. The matter is under investigation, he said.

UTHS student Collin West started the petition. He said Kaczmarek, instead of teaching political science, has given hour-long lectures on how Barack Obama was ruining the country. He also called West a “liberal schmuck,” and has said in class that health care and housing are not rights, but privileges.

Another student corroborated the description of Kaczmarek's classroom behavior.

West, 17, who will graduate this year, said he lost motivation to attend the class. West reported his concerns to administrators, “but it was brushed off as freedom of speech,” West said.

“We need accountability within the school system,” West said.

“The school board needs to hold their teachers accountable and we need to make sure there is a line they can’t cross,” said his father, Andrew West, a Rock Island firefighter. He does not want to vilify a teacher, he said, but Kaczmarek’s beliefs “spill into the classroom.”

“If the line is not drawn here, where is it at, then?”

Among the petition signers is Liz Mayer, who has two sons at UT (neither is in Kaczmarek’s class). “It was shared by a friend of mine on social media,” she said. “I did not start this. I just made it public. For me, it’s not just about a tweet.

“This is somebody who has to be held accountable for his words and how they are directly, adversely affecting the students who are taking his classes.”

In regard to the Women’s March, she said, “Everyone felt so empowered and so proud. Here was a moment in history they were taking part of. To have somebody who is an educator and a public employee denigrate that was disheartening.”

At work, she had to sign a social-media contract “that we won’t say anything that’s going to be detrimental to our company. This is somebody who is in the public eye, who is in charge of educating our youth, and I feel like those stands should be held accountable.”

Bambi Suits, who graduated from UT in 2000, said she received a “top-notch education” there, then went on to become a sign-language interpreter.

Language is very important to me,” she said, and a good teacher “is the gatekeeper to the world.”

While she was a student at UT, she formed a feminist club with other students. “I’m just really sorry to see that those same issues are still plaguing women,” and that a person in a teacher’s position “would contribute to these issues, she said: “His words really carry weight.”

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