NY POST-An award-winning Brooklyn English teacher’s decision to provide each of his students with a copy of the Mary Shelley classic “Frankenstein” has thrust him into a real-life horror story.
Todd Friedman, a 29-year public-school veteran who teaches at Midwood HS, was put on administrative duty — and faces possible termination — after the city Department of Education slapped him with disciplinary charges.
His crime: He personally ordered 102 paperback copies of the novel from a publisher last September for his Advanced Placement students.
Friedman, 61, paid for the books out of his own pocket — about $220 with shipping — then sold them to students for $2 apiece to recoup most of the expenses.
But when Midwood Assistant Principal Suzanne Thomas heard about the transaction from students, she told Principal Michael McDonnell, who filed a formal complaint, records show.
In a March 21 report, the DOE’s Office of Special Investigations ruled that Friedman violated Chancellor’s Regulation A-610.
“Materials and textbooks supplied by the Department of Education for use in classes, shops or laboratories shall not under any circumstances be sold, nor shall any charge for them be made to the student,” the regulation says.
Friedman, a winner of the state Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Award, was booted from his classes and reassigned to the administrative duty.
“I was providing a service to the students. This isn’t sexual abuse. This isn’t child molestation. I’m not a danger to the students,” Fridman said.
He noted that students spent $6 for “Hamlet” at the school bookstore, triple what he asked to recoup his layout for “Frankenstein.”
“Nobody had an issue with that,” Friedman said. “This has been going on for decades.”
A survey by the United Federation of Teachers found the average teacher spends about $500 out of pocket each school year.
Investigator with the Office of Special Investigations did not recommend any specific disciplinary action and instead referred their findings to the DOE’s administrative trials unit to determine Friedman’s punishment.
Five students were interviewed as part of the probe, and none complained about paying the $2.
Friedman said the action by Midwood’s administrators was retaliation for his filing unfair-labor charges against the school in March of last year. He said he filed the charges to protest a new “dumbed down” curriculum and unfair evaluations.
We are going to delve into this story like the Wire. I’ll explain the perspectives from three different parties involved, and every single view point will justify this guy getting fired.
From the students: I don’t know if this was a mandatory read or not, but judging by the fact that Friedman had to shell out his own money to buy these books, makes me think he was just going on a power trip and trying to go with the “broaden his students horizons with one of the most significant pieces of fiction in the last century” type deal. This guy has been a 29 year veteran of the school system, and he still hasn’t quite caught on to a very strong sentiment among high school students: no one likes to read. You may be one of those people who likes a good book every now and then, but your high school students don’t read the shit that’s forced down their throats, let alone some extra curricular Mary Shelly.
Also, if your gonna go all black market book slinging, at least make it something worth reading. The very least make it the Catcher in the Rye so we can have some prostitution and alcohol discussions in class.
From the Parents: Get this fucking guy away from my children. Ok he likes to read, I get it. But this guy couldn’t display any worse business skills if he tried. Putting chips on all the roulette numbers would be a smarter economic lesson to teach your kids than letting him see how this teacher operates.
The investigators noted that Friedman didn’t profit off students and that the invoice, in fact, shows he sold the paperbacks “at a financial loss.”
Really? Shocking! I’m no financial advisor, but assuming that EVERY single book was sold to a student, you are still out about 16 bucks. Can’t imagine that more than 5 of these were sold, so when my son comes home and tells me this story, I can’t help but think what other totally ass backwards life lessons this guy is downloading into our youths brains.
From the Administration: Lets face it. They were waiting for you to break any little rule for an excuse to fire you. You can’t be the unfair-labor guy, ranting about curriculum and unfair evaluations and slip up like this. You have to walk on eggshells and be squeaky-motherfucking-clean. On top of that, you can’t step on the big dogs toes in his own house!! The school was selling Hamlet for $6 in the book store. They are embracing this little known phenomenon called capitalism. You can’t be the anti-union guy, peddle shit the students don’t want, AND disrupt a Local P.S. 118 cash cow! Not gonna work Todd.
P.S. Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Award has to be one of the funniest award drops ever. You know this guy keeps this framed above his presidential fitness honorable mention, and his CPR certification certificate.