Fig leaves and frescoes in Frisco

The Texas Education Agency's fine arts curriculum framework for fifth graders describes a model lesson from a real classroom: the teachers "replicate painting on the ceiling as the Renaissance painters did by taping butcher paper to the bottom of students' desks and asking students to lie on the floor to paint." It's a clever idea (at least for classrooms with clean floors) and a clear endorsement of the world's most famous example of Renaissance ceiling art, Michelangelo's glorious Sistine Chapel frescoes, which happen to depict naked figures in various postures for all eyes to behold. But then why would the Frisco (TX) school board suspend 28-year veteran teacher Sydney McGee merely because she permitted her fifth graders to stumble upon a nude sculpture on a museum field trip? In this rash act of censorship--apparently motivated by a complaint from a single parent--the board is not unlike Monsignor Sernini, ambassador from Mantua, who organized the so-called "Fig-leaf Campaign" to protest the exposed genitals on Michelangelo's ceilings. (Not unlike this other prudish leader from more recent history.) What's next: no more visits to the monkey habitat at the local zoo, either?

"Teacher reprimanded after student sees nude art on museum trip," Houston Chronicle, September 26, 2006