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Nate Fisher can get on with his life


Confirmation today that Nate Fisher, the teacher in the Guildford High/Eightball #22 case, will not face any charges in what now was clearly just an error in judgement and not a crime. You’ll recall that Fisher was forced to resign his job after parents complained to school board officials over his giving a 13 year old student a copy of Eightball #22 to read as a summer reading make up assignment. The police were brought in and Fisher was investigated, but no charges will be filed.

Finally free to talk, Fisher goes on record in the New Haven Register:

“It’s something that had been hanging over my head, and my entire family had been affected by this,” Fisher, 29, said. “It was a very, very hard thing to sit around for a month and wait to find out whether or not I’m going to be arrested, and I was relieved when I found out that I wasn’t going to be; it was kind of a signal to me that now I could move on with my life.”

There may be some difficulties with that, but hopefully, everyone can just move on:

“This whole thing has done damage to my reputation,” he said. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to teach again, but I’m hopeful that there are school systems out there that will see this for what it is, and I’m hopeful that this isn’t something that’s going to define me for the rest of my career as a teacher.”

  1. This is good news. While the material may have been too graphic for the child involved, it is a great piece of comic book fiction.

    I was worried we would get a Wertham-style approach to comics on this one. We may have got away somewhat unscathed.

  2. Initially, she said, she was concerned about the teacher’s intentions because he gave the graphic novel to only her daughter. But she added that she now believes he made a mistake.

    “It is what it is, and we really hope that his intentions were the best, and if that’s the case, then we hope that he’s able to go on and find another job and continue with his life,” she said.

    I don’t know, Heidi. “Danielle” doesn’t really sound convinced, regardless the reporter’s best-face application. She does get to remain anonymous though.

  3. I’ve jotted some comments about this on my own blog (click JBC), but I’ve also added this site to my links section. I appreciate The Beat following up on this story and will visit more often!

  4. I dislike those parents so much. Her wishing Nate Fisher well after driving him out of town makes me feel ill.

    Children should be protected from harm. Can speech do harm? Yes, if it’s bullying, if it incites people to do physical harm, or if it’s so constant and awful that it constitutes abuse. Can an inappropriate book do permanent or serious harm? Can anyone cite a case where it did? Do parents have the right to defend their kids? Yes, and parents have an advantage in any situation where they go up against an individual teacher. The system is set up that way.

    Why is speech protected in the constitution? Is there something sacred about speech? I really don’t think there is. You should speak responsibly the way you should act responsibly. I think Mike Diana acted like an idiot! I gave some money to help in his defense, but he acted like a moron. If I ever meet him I’ll probably want to ask him “what’s wrong with you?” Same with Nate Fisher. But speech, a book–they don’t do damage like, say, throwing a chair at someone does (like my 4th grade teacher did). Don’t call the cops. Go into the school and demand to be heard. Mention copys if you want to–you’ll get some attention. But dammit, listen to the other side. I hate that school board and superintendant too.

    Probably everyone else is ready to move on in this “case.” But I had to rant. Have a nice sunday! : )

  5. Hello,

    While I’m well on my way in my effort to move on and I have mixed feelings about generating MORE press, I’d like to send out a note of thanks to the blogosphere for all the passionate and reasoned posts I’ve been reading over the past few months. While I am tempted to address the numerous factual errors and outright affronts to my character that have been made public (at times anonymously) concerning this incident, I’ll instead address a larger outcome that I see as tragic and one better suited to the audience here: This has been bad for comics in education.

    My uncle Gary Cummings is one of a handful of influences in my life who ushered me into a life of reading. He was the library director at one of the best libraries in the country (Henry Carter Hull in Clinton, CT) until he died a few years ago. When I was about 11 he gave me an X-Men book: God Loves, Man Kills. After that I attacked his bookshelf: Ronin, Watchmen, American Splendor… needless to say I’ve been hooked on comics ever since. When I model my own passion for reading to my students, I reach back and talk about the books that fired me up when I was their age. So I think of my uncle Gary and I talk about comics.

    Comics engage multiple learning styles. Comics motivate reluctant readers. Comics allow students with poor reading skills to interact with the grown-up themes that coincide with their own personal growth as teenagers. Since I started at Guilford High School I strove to implement every goal set down to me by my administration by using the methods that my principal and department head encouraged. Strictly following my district’s mandates, I sought to expand literacy and encourage independent reading habits by allowing increased book choice and exposing students to a variety of literary genres and forms. I used comics to achieve these goals with the consent of my department head. I have had students read and enjoy works like Y: The Last Man, V for Vendetta, Kingdom Come, Black Orchid, and Maus. Neil Gaiman’s version of the Orpheus myth became a useful tool in my mythology unit.

    Teachers: Don’t let what happened to me deter you. My mistakes were not of bad intent or flawed pedagogy, but of haste, careless preparation, and miscommunication. Carefully read (and re-read!) books you intend to recommend. Show your materials to your principal. Communicate with parents about your students’ independent reading if their child’s preparation is lacking. Comics are a great tool that can pull students past their fear and get them flipping pages.

    Comics Professionals: Market to schools. The only way I could get comics into my school was for me to physically bring in my own. Produce scholastic editions edited and priced for purchase by school departments. Think about what works you have that offer schools the chance to engage students in all subjects. Solicit educational consultants to help prepare supplemental materials that guide teachers through the successful use of the medium. Advertise in catalogs that teachers use to order books. There is a gulf between comics publishers and schools. Both sides need to stretch in order to reach out to the other side. The result will be good for the comics industry and good for kids.

    Before I sign off, I’d like to thank in particular some supportive individuals for their reason and passion online: Charles Brownstein and the CBLDF, Frank at Region 19, Eric Reynolds, The Minivan Diaries, Vex Karoli, Art Speigelman, Chris Arnott, Rick Green, JBC… apologies to anyone I missed. What you wrote made a difference to my family and me during this difficult time. Thanks, and keep it up. To quote the often inappropriate Robert Crumb: Keep on truckin’!

    Nate Fisher

  6. Best of luck for the future, all the way from the UK, Mr Fisher!

    I first read Daredevil Born Again, Batman Year One and Dark Knight Returns, among others, in my first year of high school, because one of my school’s English teachers was good enough to lend me them.

    So keep on, keepin’ on, mate!



  7. Reading’s great, and there are plenty of things to read.

    Teachers need to consider that parents may wish to have some “say” as to what’s being provided to their kids to read or what they’re being exposed to in school, particularly in cases where the reading material crosses easily (or obviously) into areas where one might logically assume parents might object.

    I still feel that Nate Fisher’s decision to give the girl EIGHTBALL to read was unbelievably presumptive and just plain stupid. As a parent, I would certainly question whether based on THAT alone I would want that teacher teaching one of my kids.

    I’d feel the same if a teacher gave my child Ronin, Watchmen, American Splendor, V For Vendetta, the works of Neil Gaiman, Batman Year One or Dark Knight Returns as well.

  8. You are barking up the wrong tree when it comes to marketers. Sadly, they are so mired in the Diamond mine, the thought of distibuting and soliciting to schools is enough to set their heads spinning. They can’t even get comics in convenience stores and supermarkets, let alone public schools.
    Thanks for fighting the good fight though.

  9. Nate Fisher: “This has been bad for comics in education.”

    Actually, YOUR ACTIONS were bad for comics in education.

    Nowhere do you address the enormously poor judgment that led to your “resignation.”

    Nowhere do you express any compassion for the pre-teen girl who suffered taunts and bullying simply because her parents took their concerns to the school administrators.
    Ironically, you helped put that child in a position of social pariah…not unlike that experienced by the girls in GHOST WORLD.

  10. Mr. Fisher,
    In re-reading your post, I suppose you DID address your bad judgment in that you cautioned other teachers to be more careful in choosing materials and to discuss their choices with administrators. You did actually refer to your “mistakes,” so I stand corrected.

  11. I’d just like to say that not everyone in Connecticut is crazy. Living in New Haven I’ve repeatedly heard the schools in Guilford described as reactionary. I really hope you do well in your future Nate!


  12. Dear Mr. Fisher,
    If you made a mistake, and that is a big “if,” it was in giving a student a break, according the Guilford Bd. of Ed. That seems to be the great overlooked issue here. That student was hurt, but it certainly wasn’t becuase of you. It was because of hasty, poorly-thought out responses by the parents and the school. How much time is there between classes, when you gave her the book? 2,3,5 minutes? If you had just said, “Too bad, you didn’t do your summer reading. You start the term with a failing grade,” none of this would have happened. I wonder how many teachers at GHS, in Connecticut, in this country will think twice before going the extra mile that you did? Much is made of the student’s age; she is in high school, and the summer reading list does not discriminate between grades; it is there for all students, first year through senior. That reading list includes Bukowski and Burroughs, both of which authors do not, in my opinion, belong on a high school reading list. However, they are, and Eightball pales in comparison. I may not be the fan of comics that you are, but I applaud your willingness to go out of your way for the student.
    I wish you great good things in the future.
    best, Hester

  13. Hester, the student was new to the school. The day she received the book from the teacher as a make-up for her summer reading was actually her second day in the school system.

    I can’t see how this is actually giving the student a break.

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