In an effort to calm the nerves of their fourth grade students prior to taking an important test, two teachers at Westchase Elementary in Tampa, Florida reached for the bottle. The pill bottle, that is.
The teachers, who have not been officially identified, distributed prescription medicine bottles filled with mints to their students as they prepared to take the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test last week. The drug bottles were made more realistic with labels that read in part: “Watson’s Whiz Kid Pharmacy. Take 1 tablet by mouth EVERY 5 MINUTES to cure FCAT jitters. Repeated use may cause craft to spontaneously ooze from pores. No refills. Ms. Falcon’s authorization required.”
The teachers’ unusual calming tactic was discovered by Sandy Young, who was greeted with the sight of a pill bottle on each student’s desk when she visited her grandson’s classroom. The teacher assured her that the pills were fake and just a lighthearted attempt at reducing the stress of the test-taking students.
Young was shocked that a teacher would encourage students to take pills to calm their nerves. She complained to the principal, who later met with students to determine that the bottles were, in fact, filled with mints and not drugs. The students were then told to dump the mints and the bottles were trashed.
Linda Cobbe, a school district spokesperson, said the teachers got the pill bottle idea from a children’s book the students had recently read. “George’s Marvelous Machine” features a boy who creates potions in an attempt to improve his cantankerous grandmother’s disposition.
The district is sticking up for the teachers and Cobbe says they will not be disciplined as they didn’t intend to promote drug use. Still, grandmother Sandy Young is concerned about the mixed message this little attempt at pharmaceutical humor may have on impressionable children.
While what the teachers did may not be a firing offense, I agree that it was profoundly stupid. Not only does this potentially confuse children about what might be in a pill bottle, it also sends a message that drugs are an appropriate way of dealing with stress.
Image: Charles Williams/Flickr