Aah the N Word and the Classroom

htp Harriet’s Daughter for the video (seen below)

I originally heard this story on the local news the same night of the debate and shoved it so far down that it took seeing the video today at HD’s to remind me . . .

A Teacher and Coach at Marianna middle school used the “n” word in his 7th grade classroom to describe the Obama campaign. He asked his students what Change meant, writing the word on the board. Then he wrote:

CHANGE = Come, Help, An, “N,” Get Elected

While the video below claims he is no longer working at Marianna repeatedly, the reality is that he is still technically employed there. On Sept. 29 the unnamed teacher was suspended with pay pending an investigation. When parents began to complain, he was issued a letter stating his suspension would be without pay. He is banned from teaching and coaching at Marianna Middle School for 10 days. 10 days is not the same as fired.

Worse, the school district simply switched the teacher to an Adult Education classroom, where he is currently teaching. Should he ultimately lose his job at Marianna Middle School it will not prevent him from spreading hate to adult learners in the County.

Neither the School District nor the Marianna Middle School Principle were willing to be interviewed about the incident. However, they did release information stating that the teacher has been mandated to diversity training (no date/deadline was given as to when he must take this training) and that he has been reported to the License Board. While the latter is serious, as it may result in his teaching license being revoked in the state, so far no one in a position of authority has shown any sign of preventing this teacher from working in education in their area as long as he wants.

Watch the video from local news on the issue:

On the positive side, as you can see from the video both local parents and members of the local McCain camp have condemned the teacher’s actions.

Among the many negatives, this story makes me think of school teacher Karen Salazar who lost her job in Watts for including journal assignments and experiential knowledge in the teaching of school district approved excerpts from Malcom X. Salazar lost her job for teaching approved material about people of color to mostly students of color in a historic black neighborhood. Her name was not withheld. The teacher in Marianna used the “n’ word in class in an unapproved lesson to promote his own political (and racial) opinions and was initially suspended with pay and now suspended for 10 days with his pay coming from his school district approved shift into an adult education classroom.

This is N. America at its most important, the level of education of our youth. Racism exists because we keep teaching it to every new generation and because even with laws to prevent discrimination and bigotry the system punishes teachers who teach empowerment, pride, and equality and rewards those who teach hate.

While these incidents may seem isolated, I can tell you how many of my colleagues who teach things similar to Salazar have not made it past tenure and how many who teach things similarly to the unnamed Marianna MS teacher have flourished here. But don’t let my anecdotal evidence stand alone. Look at the studies on evaluations of women faculty and faculty of color that show they are rated lower than white colleagues even when using the same syllabus and pedagogy and that their lowest ratings are when they are teaching diversity courses. Then recall that most women and people of color disproportionately teach the diversity courses in the college classroom. Finally take a good look at the statistics of women and people of color with tenure, running departments (no WS and ES do not count here), and/or are Presidents of Universities. Trust me, it is more than an anecdote.

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