The parents of a St Augustine High School junior tell Historic City News that their son is the target of hazing from members of his class as well as a language arts teacher at the middle of a flap over a politically charged question on a vocabulary test given at the public-school Monday.
The teacher, 49-year-old John W Blackford who lives at St Augustine Beach, has been teaching in St Johns County public schools for 27-years; and, by many accounts, he is popular with his students. Some students describe him as a “hippie” on websites where you rate your teacher and some mention that Blackford is a “surfer”. He also uses some rather vulgar language for a language teacher about our 45th President. Hashtags like #FUCKTRUMP were found on the teacher’s social media accounts.
“A public-school teacher who we pay $61,000 a year made a poor decision — and now my son and some of his friends are paying for it,” the student’s father told local reporters. “I understand that some of them want to fight him because they had to retake a completely new test today with all new questions.”
In Monday’s fill-in-the-blank test, question seven read:
“Right when it appeared the nation was becoming increasingly tolerant of alternative lifestyles, immigration, and minorities, the vocal and angry right wing forced the nation to make a complete (“volte-face”), embracing bigotry, xenophobia, and sexism.”
Logan Parham told his mother Reanna that “The words Mr. Blackford used seem to be very degrading.” He went on to say other students in the Advanced International Certificate of Education class were also talking about the way Mr. Blackford worded question seven. Logan used his
By the time Logan returned home from school, his father said that Logan “had enough” and wanted to talk about the situation. According to Reanna, her son and his friends started a Young Republican Club at the high school a week or so ago. Logan noticed that some of the Ron DeSantis signs that the Young Republicans placed outside the school had been stolen earlier that day. Now, Logan said, “tons” of Democrat Andrew Gillum signs had taken their place.
It was clear that Blackford did not like one of his students criticizing his choice of words on a vocabulary exam, regardless of their inappropriate use. According to Logan, Blackford became increasingly sarcastic towards him after the classroom incident. When Blackford announced that the Monday test was “thrown out” and that a new test was being given today, he first told the class that they had to take the test over again “because someone cheated”. Later he sarcastically said it was because someone was “too sensitive”.
Logan says this is the type of “passive-aggressive” behavior directed toward students who disagree with Blackford. Another example today occurred when Blackford’s class finished reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. At the conclusion, Blackford remarked, “Frankenstein was a monster.” Then, being insolent, he retracted and said, “No, no I’m not going to call him a monster, he was a creation and so he had a creator.” Then to exaggerate the point even further, Blackford retracted again and said, “But I can’t really call Frankenstein his creator because that might offend Christians.”
By the end of the school day, Logan had been told that several students want to “throw hands” with him because of what he did, and some students said that they didn’t want to be friends anymore.
Jamie and Reanna Parham say that they intend to get to the bottom of the matter. They intend to contact the School District Office, Superintendent Tim Forson, and individual School Board members who are elected. Historic City News has initiated a request to our contact at the St Johns County School District and we will update this article as more information is learned.