Mr. Starney turned to the world map at the front of his class and pointed to Italy. “Benito Mussolini,” he said simply, before turning back to his students. “If you ask people these days about the leader of Italy during World War II, you’ll hear what a bad man he was. And, truly, he and his government did some awful things. But, also truly, some good things were done under his rule. As they say, even a stopped clock is right twice a day, so I suppose even Mussolini could accomplish some good. Maybe by accident or unintended side-effect, but still, good is good. Are you following me, Kyle?”
Kyle slumped back in his chair. “Yeah, I guess so.”
“Now, if our discussion in this class about Italy during World War II just included the good things, which truly did happen, and I never mentioned anything bad about Mussolini and his followers, would I be lying, Kyle?”
“No, I guess not.”
“Would I be showing political bias?” A slight smile danced across Mr. Starney’s face when Kyle didn’t respond. “Class, it seems Kyle has lost his voice. Would I be showing political bias if I only told you good facts about Mussolini’s reign and failed to mention the bad things he did?”
“Yes, Mr. Starney,” the class responded together.
Before Mr. Starney could continue, he and his students heard a light tapping on his classroom door. They all looked to the source and saw the face of a young female teacher smiling in the window and giving a little wave to Mr. Starney. He nodded and beckoned for her to enter.
“What can I do for you, Miss Walsh?” Mr. Starney asked. His colleague was a petite and pretty young woman, whom he guessed to be in her late twenties or early thirties. Her blonde hair was drawn back in a simple ponytail and her clothes were more conservative than those worn by most of the other female teachers in Branner Glen High School. Mr. Starney did not know her very well, for she taught in the Math department and there were few interactions between her department and the History and Social Studies department.
“I’m sorry to interrupt,” Miss Walsh answered with a friendly smile. “After this period, there is going to be a short meeting in the Romeo room. You and I have been asked to attend.”
Mr. Starney raised his eyebrows. “We have? That’s odd.”
“I can’t go into details right now,” Miss Walsh answered, slightly inclining her head toward the students who were watching their conversation, “but in general I can say that I think we’ve been ‘volunteered’ for something.”
“OK,” he answered with a shrug and a dismissive gesture, “whatever the school wants. I will see you there. Good thing I have a planning period next.”
Miss Walsh nodded. “I do too. It’s probably not a coincidence. Sorry again for interrupting.” Without further discussion, she turned and left the room, shutting the door quietly behind her.
“Hey hey, Mr. Starney,” spoke up one of the male students in the front row, “meeting Miss Walsh in the Romeo room!”
Mr. Starney grimaced. “It was the English department that convinced the school to name our meeting rooms after literary characters, and that’s the one I am least pleased with.”
“With which you are least pleased?” one of the young women piped up with a smirk.
“This is Advanced US History, not English,” Mr. Starney shook his head. “Political bias was the topic, I believe.”
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