A Florida school principal was fired for showing students images of Michelangelo’s David sculpture. As a result, causing quite a stir among parents. However, she explained that things are a bit more complicated.
Typically, schools require communication between faculty and parents, particularly when lesson plans involve something controversial. Because of this, schools send out flyers, emails, or permission slips. The notice lets parents know the upcoming plan and often allows them to opt-out.
Michelangelo’s David Sculpture Deemed Illicit
In this case, Michelangelo’s David sculpture is a piece of art and history but depicts nudity, which some may see as inappropriate for children. Former principal, Hope Carrasquilla, spoke with the Tallahassee Democrat explaining a “series of miscommunications” led to failing to send out the intended permission slip.
Many parents were so outraged that one referred to Michelangelo’s David as “pornographic.” Meanwhile, other parents expressed concern or disdain for the decision made by the school. The school board gave Carrasquilla the choice to resign or she would be fired. Sadly, she was less than a year into the job, a harsh reality for the school, which had trouble with keeping faculty.
Difficulty Keeping Faculty
According to the Tallahassee Democrat, the school has only been open since 2020 and has already has had three principals. It’s unknown if the previous principals quit or were let go. However, one has to wonder, are parents impossibly hard to please? Are the working conditions unbearable? Or is the school simply trying to work out the kinks of being an up-and-coming school? Regardless of what the school is battling, parents should always be involved in the decision-making process for their children. Therefore, some responsibility should be taken for the mistake that was made.
Michelangelo’s David is Art
In contrast, art is an important aspect of history. Although certain pieces may not be suitable for children of all ages, exposure to the arts is good for mental health and can help nurture children’s passions. Furthermore, certain sculptures have been used for scientific purposes. For example, nude statues were used to teach anatomy to med students in the late 1600’s.
In this case, Michelangelo’s David is a world-famous part of history, dating back to the 16th century. Made entirely of marble, the sculpture was created between 1501-1504. The Italian artist was a mere 26 years old when he began constructing the popular art piece, and no one expected it to become a historical masterpiece. Currently, the original is still available for the world to appreciate in the Italian Gallery, Accademia. Meanwhile, a handful of replicas exist throughout Italy.
Because the Renaissance was a bit of a revolution, art from that era can be considered controversial. Carrasquilla, who’s taught classical education for years, explained that “once in a while you get a parent who gets upset about Renaissance art.” Therefore, she wasn’t surprised by the reactions of parents and had intended to send the letter out to parents.
School Board Representative Comments
Barney Bishop is the chair of the School Board, and his response to parents’ reactions was sympathetic. Bishop shared with HuffPost that the incident with Michelangelo’s David was just one of many that took place leading up to the firing of Carrasquilla. He further explained that he has been pushing for legislation giving parents more input regarding their children’s primary education. “Parental rights trump everything else,” he said.
Associated with Conservative Ideologies
The Tallahassee Classical School is run by a non-profit board of trustees and has a reputation for being “centered on traditional Western liberal arts.” However, the school has also been associated with a conservative Christian College, Hillsdale, meaning that some of its concepts contradict “leftist” or liberal ideologies, including those associated with teaching about slavery and racial equity. The New York Times ‘1619 Project’ was one such banned historical lesson. It highlights the struggles endured by and the contributions made by Black Americans throughout US history. However, because the charter school’s ties to Hilldale also involve funding, it’s unlikely that the school will do anything to contradict the college’s overall messages. “We don’t use pronouns. We don’t teach CRT and we don’t ever mention 1619 — those are not appropriate subjects for our kids.” Explained Bishop.
Although a number of parents have expressed concern, Carrasquilla explains that many parents and other faculty members have been supportive of her during this difficult time. What could have been just a simple misunderstanding regarding students’ permission to view Michelangelo’s David has turned into a life and career-changing event for one woman. Furthermore, we as a nation seem to be divided now more than ever. Moving forward and creating an environment that’s safe for everyone may prove to be one of America’s greatest challenges.
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- “Florida principal out after viewing of Michelangelo’s ‘david’ upsets parents.” HuffPost. Sara Boboltz. March 23, 2023.