Award-Winning Teacher Fired, Test Opt-Outs, Orcas, Oregonian Cliches

By : Johnny Beaver


As the State Turns

Award-Winning Teacher Fired, Test Opt-Outs, Orcas, Oregonian Cliches



The Man, the Myth… the Legend


Brett Bigham, the man who has occupied the hearts and minds of America since his 2014 Oregon Teacher of the Year award… has been ousted by the Multnomah Education Service District. Fired. Flimflammed. Let go, even. Pink slipped.


To grab the situation by the short hairs, the drawn-out fight centered around two main things: attendance and alleged discrimination. Bigham missed 16 days of work due to over 200 public appearances as a result of his Teacher of the Year award, nine of which had been approved by the district ahead of time. Bigham claims he was pressured by the school district to not discuss his sexual identity in public, followed by subsequent harassment. Eventually Bigham filed a complaint with the Bureau of Labor and Industries that spawned two separate investigations (though fruitless so far). He has stated that he believes the district fired him out of retaliation and is further mounting a smear campaign to quash any legal appeals he may make.


I also read something about him claiming proper termination procedures weren’t made, but by that time I was mustache-deep in a bowl of Cocoa Krispies.


The district seems to have little to say, repeating a line that sounds something like, “We are like, totally sorry to see that Bigham chose not to focus on his students and the school.” Which, of course, sounds like total @!#%@%. But it’s hard to tell with these PR-focused, soulless corporate types. Except only it’s not.


Brett Bigham is the first special education teacher in Oregon to win the award, as well as the first gay one. He is also expertly bald and has a sweet goatee.


An Indescribable Number of Students Have Opted Out of Tests


Or that’s what most Oregon media is saying. And as usual, it’s sensationalism.


The new, beleaguered Smarter Balanced exams, which have taken it where the sun don’t shine over their difficulty and length, have seen a whopping 1,271 students duck and cover on religious or disability grounds (the only way out). My first thought is probably similar to yours: that’s it? Yep, that’s it. You can actually get out of an obnoxious standardized test as easily as telling them you’re a follower of Frood, Shunner of Tests… and you don’t? Oh Lawdy.


Oregon has about 560,900 kiddos in public school, and though it’s only given in certain grades, etc… only 0.23% of them slipped their district a Mickey. I, just… if this is reality, then Oregon schools really are in bad shape. Kids should be smarter than this. And parents, oh you parents… I don’t even want to get started on you.




More Orcas Spotted off Oregon’s Coast





University of Portland Students Do Something


Students Britta Geisler and Irene Sutton have created the BeYou-ty Pageant (because all the other terrible names were taken) in an attempt to change the way beauty and women are seen by focusing on the brain rather than the booty. Yeah, another one of those. How refreshingly Oregonian!


Inspired by the Miss World Pageant’s choice to remove the swimsuit competition and subsequent calls for the pageant to disappear altogether, Geisler and Sutton thought to themselves, why the hell can’t we still celebrate beautiful people? And hey, fair enough. Especially with the idea having been given a serious makeover. For the inaugural event, four women from Portland will discuss their work in fields that aren’t considered traditionally female. Very cool stuff, ranging from tech to equipment made for female mixed martial arts fighters and more.




Stuffing this all into a rather low brow, cliché package and repeating the phrase “flip the concept of the beauty pageant on its head” over and over (and over) is… not compelling on even the best day. If they’re successful and grow the event, swiping a boot tip across the left nut of convention, I applaud them. But in the meantime I think I’ll still hold out for a feminism that can’t be bought at Whole Foods… one that doesn’t reject the very possibility of judging physical attractiveness simply because it feels like it’s supposed to.


Then again, I’ve never seen beauty or brains as two sides of a dichotomy, let alone some kind of absolute measurement of a person’s true worth.


I’d make such a terrible politician.