Brooke Harris loved her job teaching eighth grade at an inner-city charter school in Michigan -- but Brooke says she was fired for teaching her kids about Trayvon Martin, an African-American teen who was recently shot and killed because someone thought he looked suspicious.
Brooke's kids had heard about Trayvon, and she saw they wanted to know more in part because they identified with him: "They are young, black and brown kids who walk to the corner store after school every day," Brooke says. "They've been stopped by police because they 'looked like' some kids who did something illegal."
Many of Brooke's students wanted to go beyond writing essays and classroom discussions -- they wanted to raise money for Trayvon's family. For helping the kids plan the fundraiser, Brooke says that she was suspended and eventually fired, and that she was told, "you're a teacher, not an activist."
Now there's a petition on Change.org demanding that Brooke's school, the Pontiac Academy of Excellence, give Brooke back her job, and her students back their teacher. The folks at the Southern Poverty Law Center -- a group that does a lot of work to combat racism -- started the campaign because they think it's wrong to fire someone for teaching about Trayvon Martin.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Petition: Reinstate Brooke Harris at Pontiac Charter School
This story hits close to home in Pontiac, Michigan (a suburb of Detroit). I still cannot believe she was fired for wanting to create a fundraiser with her students on behalf of Trayvon Martin. Such insensitive administrators. This is ANOTHER reason why charter schools should not replace public education.