Thanks to widespread publicity — contributed by bloggers such as our intrepid DCG — that school teacher who docked his students’ scores for saying “bless you” in class is now backing off.
Steve Cuckovich, who teaches health at the Will C. Wood High School in Vacaville, California, had docked his students’ scores — by as much as 25 points — on the grounds that “talking of any kind is disruptive and takes time away from class.”
Lori Preuitt reports for NBCBayArea.com, Sept 29, 2011, that Cuckovich had told the Fox affiliate in Sacramento: “The blessing doesn’t make any sense anymore. When you sneezed in the old days, they thought you were dispelling evil spirits out of your body. So they were saying, ‘God bless you,’ for getting rid of evil spirits. But today, what you’re doing doesn’t really make any sense.”
Some parents were furious with the teacher, claiming his rule was anti-religious. So Cuckovich now says he will no longer deduct points from assignments for the disruption, but he added he will continue to control his classroom.
On Thursday, the district made its first comments on the issue. Superintendent John Niederkorn said that Cuckovich thought the students were sneezing in dramatic fashion with the intent of disrupting class:
“It was brought to the District’s attention a few days ago that students were disciplined for being disruptive in class. The teacher believed that students were dramatically sneezing and responding in repetitive fashion “Bless You”. One of the concerns is the social convention of saying “Gesundheit”, “God Bless You”, or “Bless You” after someone sneezes. Of question is whether a series of these repeated remarks by several students constitutes freedom of speech or a classroom disruption and merits student discipline. Vacaville Unified’s Administration is continuing its investigation of this reported classroom disruption. We are reviewing the impact of this disruption and the student grading policy. Certainly a blessing by one individual to another after a sneeze is a welcomed acknowledgement of a social norm. Hopefully it is not abused as a disruption of classroom instructional activities.”
Here’s the contact info I found:
Will C. Wood High School
998 Marshall Road, Vacaville , CA 95687
Phone: (707) 453-6900 Phone | Fax: (707) 451-3656 Fax
Steve Cuckovich‘s e-mail: Click here
Principal: Clif DeGraw
E-mail: Click here
Superintendent of Vacaville School District
Dr. John Niederkorn
Phone: (707) 453-6100