After comments about parents, teacher says 'context' matters

After comments about parents, teacher says 'context' matters

Jenna Barbee, a Florida fifth-grade teacher, is shown on CNN discussing the controversial Disney movie she screened for her class that triggered an investigation. The teacher's comments to CNN about parents have caused even more controversy. 

After comments about parents, teacher says 'context' matters

A Florida public school teacher acknowledges she is “under fire” for comments that criticize parental involvement in school but insists those viral comments were taken out of context.

Jenna Barbee, a fifth-grade teacher at Winding Water K-8 School, has become a cause célèbre among liberal media after she got in trouble for showing Disney movie “Strange World” to her class. That PG-rated film includes a male character who is a homosexual and for that a parent lodged a complaint.

The school district and Florida Board of Education are now reviewing the matter to see if showing the film to her class violated the Parental Rights in Education bill that Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law last year.  

Barbee is now being portrayed in liberal media as a victim of the Republican governor, such as a news story at NPR. But it was her recent comments on CNN – a parent’s  rights are “gone” when a child is in the public school system – that are causing quite a stir on top of the current investigation.

Reached by AFN for comment, Barbee responded via email. "The parent’s rights statement was taken out of context. Of course, parents have rights. I have a child and understand why, when taken out of context, that phrase sounds so bad.”

The context for her bad-sounding comment was over a school board member, Shannon Rodriguez, who said at a May 9 meeting it’s not a teacher’s job to “impose their beliefs” on children.

"What she's missing,” Barbee told CNN, referring to Rodriguez, “and what these parents are missing is they're not in the school system. That just shows me that she is ignorant and has not come and volunteered at all.”

Barbee further explained that Rodriguez and parents would be surprised if they knew the controversial topics her fifth graders are looking up and talking about on their mobile devices, likely referring to tablets and smartphones carried by the kids. So the guidelines set by a parent at home, she said, don’t matter when their child is exposed to that at school.

Bridget Ziegler, vice president of school board leadership programs at Leadership Institute, tells AFN a teacher suggesting parent’s rights end at the school door was “alarming” to hear.

“I am sorry. I'm a mother of three children,” Ziegler says. “I have hundreds of friends with children in public education, and they would adamantly disagree with that as I would, too.”

In additional comments she made to AFN, Barbee also quoted a Bible verse about Jesus commanding us to “love each other” like He loved us.

“We are supposed to spread the LOVE for everyone and everything just as Jesus has commanded, right?” the teacher wrote to AFN.