Nikki Fiske has been an elementary school educator for decades and taught many hundreds of children over the years, but her memories of Trump Administration senior official Stephen Miller are clear. And she shared them with The Hollywood Reporter.
Now, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District has placed the teacher on “home assignment,” according to the San Diego Times Union while it considers her future.
Fiske shared details of Miller’s habits as an 8-year-old including that he ate glue, was smart but “weird” and was a “loner.” Some who admit they’re not fans of Miller and his administration policies are nonetheless disturbed by the educator’s decision to reveal details about him as an elementary school child. Others defend Fiske.
Trump’s senior advisor for policy, Miller is credited with being the engineer behind the administration’s program of breaking up families crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, part of the ‘zero tolerance’ immigration strategy. The Washington Post reported Miller is committed to acting to ramp up the practice saying separating children would discourage illegal crossings.
Here’s what you need to know about teacher Nikki Fiske and her former student Stephen Miller:
1. Fiske Likened Miller to ‘Pig Pen’ From the Peanuts Comic Strip & Called Him a ‘Loner’
The Hollywood Reporter, whose online publication features what appears to be perhaps an excerpt, adding the story was first published on Oct. 10 in its magazine, has a first-person account from Fiske, as told to one of its reporters:
“I can still picture him sitting in my classroom.
Do you remember that character in Peanuts, the one called Pig Pen, with the dust cloud and crumbs flying all around him? That was Stephen Miller at 8. I was always trying to get him to clean up his desk — he always had stuff mashed up in there. He was a strange dude. I remember he would take a bottle of glue — we didn’t have glue sticks in those days — and he would pour the glue on his arm, let it dry, peel it off and then eat it.
I remember being concerned about him — not academically. He was OK with that, though I could never read his handwriting. But he had such strange personal habits. He was a loner and isolated and off by himself all the time.
At the end of the year, I wrote all my concerns — and I had a lot of them — in his school record. When the school principal had a conference with Stephen’s parents, the parents were horrified. So the principal took some white-out and blanked out all my comments. I wish I could remember what I wrote, but this was 25 years ago. I’ve taught a lot of third-graders since then. Of course, Stephen wasn’t political then — it wasn’t until later that he started to make waves.”
2. Fiske Works for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. She Was Sent Home While it Decides Her Fate
According to her Facebook profile and the school’s website, Fiske, 72, works at Franklin Elementary School. As of Friday, she is still listed as a third-grade teacher on the school’s staff page.
The school has a anti-bullying policy in place since 2011. Some on social media and elsewhere say Fiske’s disclosures amount to bullying.
Following her comments to the Hollywood Reporter, the San Diego Times Union reported that the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District placed the longtime teacher on “home assignment” as a decision is made on what to do. It’s against policy to disclose information about a student.
The paper reported the district’s issue is related to a “release of student information, including allegations that the release may not have complied with applicable laws and district policies,” schools spokeswoman Gail Pinsker was quoted as saying. Pinsker told the paper, “This has been picked up by other digital publications and blogs, and some issues have been raised.”
But criticism is not reserved just for Fiske. Some have been critical of The Hollywood Reporter for running the piece which is not a report, per se; it’s a lengthy quote in the first person.
Criticism is also being leveled at the reporter to whom Fiske spoke, Benjamin Svetkey.
3. Fiske’s Facebook Page, Which is Private, Included a Post She Shared Which Allowed Comments & People Commented. Even Folks Who Are Not Fans of Miller Are Angry. But Not Everyone
There were around 20 comments early Friday and many included derogatory and expletive-laden language. And while a number appeared to be from people who are supportive of Trump and Miller, a number said that while they are not Miller fans, they’re teachers and found her comments about Miller as a boy unacceptable: “…the way you disclosed confidential information about your former student Stephen Miller reflects a total lack of professional integrity on your part. You should be ashamed of yourself…”
“Ms. Fiske, I come from a family of teachers. They would rarely, if ever, discuss their students with family members, much less the national media. If they did they were always certain not to use the child’s name. It would not have occurred to them to do so because that would have been unethical and they have high values. I have far greater concerns with you as an educator than I do with the fact that Stephen Miller ate glue off his arm in the third grade.”
“Shame on you. Parents sent their Children to you to teach and you make fun of them. Any child you may teach today has the possibility that you will bully them decades later.”
“I’m no fan of Stephen Miller but what kind of educator takes to the press to drag a former student for being a “loner”. Those are the kids that need the most help and compassion, not ridicule.”
“I hate hate hate Stephen Miller but fu*k Nikki Fiske, his third grade teacher, for this. Nikki Fiske is garbage.”
In response to a Twitter user who said Fiske should be ashamed, there’s this comment:
“Why should she be ashamed? She’s not a priest or a doctor. Is she required to take her observations to the grave? She is describing someone who showed highly unusual, aberrant behaviour at a young age. Ironically, now SM is a man making decisions that do hurt children.”
There are already calls of ‘free Nikki Fiske.’
According to the Times Union, she’s a registered Democrat.
4. Originally From New York, Fiske Studied at Rutgers & Loyala Marymount Universities. Fiske Has Frequently Shared Her Liberal Political Views on Facebook & While Those Posts Had Previously Few ‘Likes’ or Comments, Not Anymore
According to her Facebook page, Fiske studied at City College of New York, Rutgers University, and Loyola Marymount University. She attended the Bronx High School of Science.
She’s been living in southern California for decades. She has a grown son and daughter, according to her Facebook.
According to minutes from a recent board of education meeting of the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District, Fiske earns around $45 an hour.
Fiske has not been quiet on her Facebook page about her politics. And again, while her page is private, when she shares others’ posts, people not in her friends group can comment on those posts. And though when she made the original posts, many from 2017, they had few if any comments, that changed a day ago.
Now, Trump supporters and others have inundated her page with some vitriolic comments as they shared their views about her views.
5. And While Fiske’s Politics Are Not Opaque, Neither Are Miller’s, Who as a Native Southern Californian Became a Conservative Voice as a Teenager
Miller, 33, was born in Santa Monica to a Jewish family “whose ancestors fled persecution in what is now Belarus. His family was liberal-leaning, but Miller says he became a stalwart conservative at an early age,” it was reported by Business Insider.
When he was 16 and attending Santa Monica High School, he wrote a letter to the editor of the Santa Monica Lookout. His views were then crystal clear.
“My name is Stephen Miller. I am a sixteen year-old junior at Santa Monica High School, and I was recently a guest on the Larry Elder Show to discuss the rampant political correctness that has consumed Santa Monica High School and the entire Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District.
When I entered Santa Monica High School in ninth grade, I noticed a number of students lacked basic English skills. There are usually very few, if any, Hispanic students in my honors classes, despite the large number of Hispanic students that attend our school.
Even so, pursuant to district policy, all announcements are written in both Spanish and English. By providing a crutch now, we are preventing Spanish speakers from standing on their own. As politically correct as this may be, it demeans the immigrant
population as incompetent, and makes a mockery of the American ideal of
And while we are on the subject of personal accomplishment, should any student accomplish the opportunity to have sex, our school is happy to help. As district policy says: “Condoms are available to students in grades 9-12 in a manner which promotes greatest accessibility.” Problem here?
Legally speaking, sex between minors is statutory rape. Not to mention 14-year olds are a little young to be having sex regardless of the law. And just in case your son or daughter decides at their tender age that they are gay, we have a club on campus that will gladly help foster their homosexuality. Do they notify parents if their teenagers have chosen an alternate lifestyle? Of course not.
Santa Monica High School doesn’t always obey district policy though. For instance, despite district policy, our school refused to say the pledge of allegiance in classrooms for years. In other words, they only adhere to the liberal guidelines. It took months of effort to get the School to stop resisting and finally bring back the pledge, and required intervention from the Superintendent. Even then, it is still only said twice a week, while policy dictates it should be said every day.
At least, one would hope, that on Veterans Day or thanksgiving students are taught about our brave US soldiers or the courageous pilgrims. But no such explanations are given. And rightly so, many misguided people would say.
After all, the United States has used our soldiers to kill innocent people, and the same Indians that helped the pilgrims were either shot, or put on reservations. I suppose then, that our country would have been better off if our soldiers never killed anyone, and we watched as our nation was obliterated by the evil in the world, as we sung songs of peace and love.
Or, better yet, we could have lived with the Indians, learning how to finger paint and make tepees, excusing their scalping of frontiersmen as part of their culture. Forget about being the nation that stopped Hitler, brought communism to its knees, and feeds more hungry people around the world than any other country — forget all of that, and let us just agree that we’re a horrible nation. Or, we can raise our flags, lift our guns, and proclaim that we are Americans, that we enjoy personal freedoms Islamic nations could only dream about, we are the land of the free, the home of the brave.
Sadly, my school has forgotten all of this. That is why we do nothing for American holidays but everything for Mexican holidays. That is why history teachers denounce the US as wickedly imperialistic, some supplementing standard history texts with something comfortably more liberal. That is why teachers insult and demean the President. That is why we invited a Muslim leader to the school to explain the splendor of Islam, but no such proclamation was ever made about America.
That is why scarcely a student at my school covered their heart when the national anthem was played in the September 11th memorial, but instead of finding error in that, our school found error in our attack on Afghanistan. The school newspaper condemned our military response. Administrators, worried students might become
patriotic, were also quick to preach non-violence. Osama Bin Laden would feel very welcome at Santa Monica High School.
If you feel, like me, that political correctness has crossed the line, call the school or the district. Ask them to leave their liberal agendas at the front gate. Enough politics, it’s time for common sense.”
Miller would go on to write a number of OpEd pieces in local media and then became a regular voice on conservative talk radio.
Miller, as senior policy advisor to Trump, is described as the architect of the Administration’s immigration polices including the much criticized family separation policy.
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