Andrew Buck, who has headed the Middle School of Art and Philosophy in Brooklyn since it opened in 2007, sent the e-mail last week to explain why he believes the school does not need more textbooks, the New York Daily News reported. The e-mail ended up being circulated to parents as well.
"Our principal denies us books and then he sends this nonsense," Paulette Brown, a nurse assistant and mother of an 8th grader, told the newspaper. "You can't understand what he's saying in the letter. He has to go."
In one egregious sentence, Buck confuses affect and effect and leaves out the apostrophe in students', after saying textbooks often made him feel inadequate when he was a student: "Personal experience aside, which surfaces a concern about the potential adversarial affect of textbooks to students learning, let;s return to the essential question of learning and how it is best achieved."
In addition to bad grammar and spelling mistakes, with textbooks sometimes appearing as two words, Buck's e-mail has some murky metaphors, the newspaper said.
"Text books are the soup de jour, the sine qua non, the nut and bolts of teaching and learning in high school and college so to speak," he wrote before changing course and arguing that students can't learn to read from textbooks, while misspelling the French phrase "soup du jour."
Alan Ettman, a veteran English teacher at Hewitt Clinton High School in The Bronx, called the letter a "confusing mess" and told the News he would give it an F.