The principal of a high-profile public school in Manhattan is retiring after controversy ensued when a teacher under her leadership showed a pro-life video to a classroom of fifth-graders.
Ju Ling Wei, a teacher at Shuang Wen School, also known as PS 184, played the student-led video for her class in April, prompting complaints from some parents.
Liset Reyes, whose 10-year-old daughter Shiloh Lee Morales saw the video, told The New York Daily News she was “really, really upset and angry and appalled” Wei showed the nearly five-minute-long video.
“I was crying,” she added. “We don’t even discuss the birds and the bees.”
Another student, 11-year-old Isabella Alvarado, later asked her father about the meaning of the faith-based video, in which a group of seven teenagers eerily chronicle each stage of pregnancy before abortion.
“She said to me, ‘What’s abortion?’” Ishmael Alvarado recalled. “My kids still believe in Santa Claus. They’re still innocent.”
Following the ordeal, Principal Iris Chiu announced this week she is retiring. Two parents told the Daily News that Chiu said during a recent parent-teacher forum that her last day on staff will be in August.
Alvarado said he is “happy that the principal is gone.” He also noted he was told by Carry Chan, the school superintendent, that Wei was “reprimanded” for showing the video to her students.
Danielle Filson, spokeswoman for the New York Department of Education, thanked Chiu for her service to PS 184, adding, “We will name an interim acting principal before the start of the school year, and continue to engage the school community as we search for a new permanent leader.”
As for why she’s choosing to retire now, Chiu said in her June 10 note to parents it’s because she needs to return to Taiwan to tend to her “ill and aging parents.”
“I cannot tell you how grateful I am for having this opportunity to work, grow, and learn with all of you over the years,” she added.
Reyes said she is “very happy” with the principal’s decision to leave the Manhattan school.
At the time Wei showed the video, Department of Education spokesman Doug Cohen rebuked the teacher. In a statement, he said 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,” he told The Gothamist.
Cohen could be right — it might be inappropriate to show a group of fifth-graders a video about abortion. It’s more concerning, though, to expose young students to sex education, often with material prepared and endorsed by organizations like Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union, each of which either provide or endorse abortion.
While the former happened at a school in New York City, the latter is taking place all across California. The state’s recently approved Health Education Curriculum Framework was been described by some parents as “pornography,” according to CBS News.
The nearly 1,000-page framework does not directly require any particular information to be taught in the classroom, but it does offer tips to teachers regarding how to discuss — in graphic detail — masturbation, ways to interact sexually without becoming pregnant or contracting STDs, as well as the navigation of gender identity.
It even gives teachers handles on how to navigate conversations about transgenderism with kindergarten-age students, noting, “The goal is not to cause confusion about the gender of the child but to develop an awareness that other expressions exist.”
Educators are also encouraged to foster “an environment that is inclusive and challenges binary concepts about gender” with students entering, in the middle of, or exiting puberty.
“It’s just scary what they are going to be teaching. It’s pornography,” said Patricia Reyes, a 45-year-old mother. “If this continues, I’m not sending them to school.”
If everyone from kindergarten through 12th grade is learning about sexuality and gender identity, a primer on abortion is probably not that out of place. And it’s definitely not a bad idea.