BUSTER SOUTHERLY, GREEN LEFT WEEKLY - On May 1, poet, teacher, youth
poetry coach and Green Left Weekly writer Bill Nevins received a terse
notice from the Rio Rancho School District informing him that he has
been fired from his Rio Rancho High School teaching position, effective
from August. Reasons for his termination were not stated. Nevins has
requested an explanation.
Nevins was suspended on March 17 from his job as a humanities teacher
and coach of the RRHS Poetry Team/Write Club. RRHS is the largest public
high school in New Mexico, built with funding from the Intel Corporation
in the late 1990s. Nevins' suspension came soon after a student poetry
club member read "Revolution X", an anti-government, anti-war
social-commentary poem, over the school's closed-circuit TV system.
Following Nevins' suspension, student poets were questioned by the RRHS
administration and their poems were "investigated" for "profanity and
incitement to violence", according to the student author of "Revolution
X" and other student writers. The Poetry Team/Write Club has been
disbanded. . . The firing of Nevins is a blow to the outspoken student
poetry movement, which was inspired in large part by the Poetry 180
national program launched by US Poet Laureate Billy Collins. . .
The staff member who complained about the reading of "Revolution X" has
been identified by the administration as Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence
Morrell, the school's military liaison officer, a school guidance
counselor and member of the administration's appointed staff development
committee. Morrell is notorious for his bellicose pro-war, pro-Bush
pronouncements over the school's communications system. He is also known
for his vigorous recruitment of students into the US military.