An award winning 6th grade teacher at Nature Hill Intermediate in Oconomowac, Michael Krill, was suspended after accidentally sending an audio excerpt of his personal journal to his grade school class.
Now I am a man who has an unhealthy distrust of our local state media, but even I was shocked at how the majority of the local State media decided to cover this story. They chose sensationalism over journalistic integrity. They chose laziness over ruining a good teacher’s name and career.
While I felt a little dirty listening to Krill’s personal journal (just as I would if I was reading a stranger’s personal diary), but to get an honest opinion for this piece, I deemed it necessary.
Now, the media has seemed to focus on these quotes as damning offenses:
“The more and more I work in education. The more and more I despise education.”
And then later in the 7 minute audio excerpt:
“I’ve hated school since I was a little boy. I’ve never liked school. I never wanted to be in school. The only reason I stayed in school was I kept being told my whole life that I need to make money.”
Listening to the full audio, it is clear as day (or to the grade schoolers Krill teaches) that he was discussing his frustration with Act 10, the loss of Collective Bargaining and his ability to teach the children in a more effective way. When he’s talking about “education”, he’s not talking about learning or teaching, but the foundation and the system in which children are taught. Parents at that school should look at this as a good thing, not a bad thing. They should look at him wanting to push the envelope and trying new concepts as commendable. Can’t these parents see he is trying to improve the system?
The State media has also latched on to this quote knowing it would cause an emotional response.
“For some reason the Christians are afraid to see the truth, and the non-Christians are afraid to say the truth. And the truth is what is bothering me.”
Again, I am shocked by the blatant omission of the local media on what Krill was actually discussing. If you listen to the full audio, before that quote, he says this:
“The Christian schools don’t have it right either. You go to a Christian school for an eternal education. You go to a public school for an earthly education. It’s that simple.”
Afterwards he states:
“The truth of the matter is, none of this matters at all, and it says it in the scriptures, it says it in the bible many, many, many times. It is finished and it is over and that God has complete control on our destinies and all the things that we do and he gives us a choice. The battle is between ourselves and God.”
They all seemed to have left out that Krill is a devout Christian that, throughout the audio clip, praises Jesus and quotes scripture.
The local media reacted to this story as if the readers or viewers are just too dumb to comprehend the more complex ideas and thoughts Krill was actually articulating. Sure, some of it was brash, some of it was biting, but all of it was intellectual, smart and apparently too sophisticated for the local media to understand.
Out of all the media outlets in the State, I was appalled with Fox New 6 in Milwaukee the most.
So let’s take them as an example. Here is a link to Ben Handelman’s story/news segment.
- Fox News 6 stated it was a podcast when it was actually a personal journal from his I-Pad that was accidentally sent out. The news segment describes the audio as bizarre and as a rant. I would describe it as neither.
- Handelman reported what was in the audio was Krill’s “hatred for his own profession and religion.” Actually no. If you listen to the full audio, it’s clear his love for teaching children and his love for his religion is why he cares so deeply about the breakdown within its own institution. A news organization should be smart enough to distinguish this.
- Handelman mentions how the full audio was taken down, but not before they were able to attain it and post it on their website for all to listen to. He seemed very proud of this. But should he be? That’s like if a teacher leaves his/her diary on the podium for the night and reporters came in to photocopy the pages. Sure it was out there, but these were supposed to be his own private thoughts and I find no distinction between an audio or written diary that was accidentally placed out in the open to see (or listen to).
- At the 1:14 mark in the news segment, when Handelman is questioning Krill’s mental state, Fox News 6 decides to put the most crazy, unflattering photo Krill has probably ever taken.
- This is the REALLY bad part. In the news segment, at the :55 second mark, Fox 6 decided to edit two audio clips together (the “I always hated school” clip and the “Christian school clip”) to make it appear as one incoherent rant from Krill. This is what is called in the business as bull shitting. My jaw dropped when I watched the news segment. Hell, I’m a shady, ranting blogger and even I would never edit two audio clips together making it appear as one continuous thought. They sunk lower than me! That’s bad.
- After the news segment, the anchor of Fox News 6, Ted Perry, seems to make some demeaning and negative comments about Krill stating, “You make podcasts because you want people to hear what they have to say”…he then later asked, “Was he really hiding it all that well? Clearly not”. I remember a day when you couldn’t tell the opinion of the local TV news anchor.
Now, within the news segment, they stated that many parents are fearing for their kids safety because of this audio. I’m not sure if that was true at the time.
However, they did find one parent who stated that she found the audio scary and that she didn’t want Krill near the kids. I am perplexed by this. I would ask the parents, or Principal Mike O’Connor who questioned Krill’s mental state and suspended him: Why? Why do you feel that way? What in that 7 minute audio clip makes you question his mental state? What in that 7 minute audio clip, that was meant to be only for him, makes you think he is a danger to your children? You may not agree with what he said, but there was nothing, absolutely nothing, in that audio clip to warrant such an overreaction from the school and from parents.
When Krill won the Kohl award in April of 2012, Principal O’Connor stated this: “Mike is probably one of the most creative human beings I’ve ever met. He’s a nonstop fountain of ideas. He’s written musicals for kids to perform, started a photography club for students, and created a summer school science program for kids,”
When Krill reworked a program called Mad Science and found a way to cut costs and make it more affordable for more families, O’Connor stated”The numbers (attending the course) have exploded,”. He then later said, “But, that’s Mike. He’s a kid magnet and they learn so much from him.” These quotes are from a Living Lake Country article that you can read here.
What really has changed? Nothing. And that is why Mike Krill should be immediately reinstated with a full apology from the school that suspended him.
But don’t take my word for it, here is the full audio, decide for yourself.
Full Disclosure: I happen to know the brother of Mike Krill. With that being said, no one has influenced me or has pointed me in any direction whatsoever. These opinions are mine and mine alone. I do not believe I have ever met Mike Krill and if I have, I do not remember. The only reason this piece interested me enough to write it was because of the subject matter. As a ranty blogger, I am passionate about the separation of a person’s private and professional life.