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A 13-year-old girl is harassed and thrown out of school for an essay her teachers found offensive, because she dared to point out their negligence.
Brian Mayers's profile photoStefen Randall's profile photoScott Bonner's profile photoRoderick Webb's profile photo
Wow, that's all kinds of messed up. Thank you for sharing it, Sarah.
What is so sad to me, the fact that the child felt the need to say it. It does show a tremendous failure that even though it may only be perceived by her, it is still there to be perceived.
She is a very brave girl,and I admire her courage,why do we keep doing this to other races?Why!?
A few things about her essay seemed off to me. Nonetheless, this story is a sad example of continuing race relation problems.
It clear that she understood that knowledge is the key to freeing one self. Fredick slave master, this kid and otber know that but not those the refuae to learn
Perhaps her essay is a bit slanted, but I think that under the circumstances, that's natural. Even a 13 y/o black girl will have already seen and experienced some degree of racism in her short life. I have no doubt that will change one's perceptions.

The point is, IMO, that many, if not most, teachers today are driven to teach data, rather than the art of thinking. That is, in great part, the fault of our system. To stifle a student that actually manages to learn how to think, rather than simply meeting the minimum standards, is a damning symptom of a failed system, at least on a local level (does anyone really think this is only a local problem?).
You're proving the point yourself, +Jeremy Steele. Although her parents did take her out of the school, what other choice did they have? It's like being asked to leave versus someone dragging you to the door. She was thrown out.

And what was her poor behavior? She was kicked out of class for "laughing." She was given poor grades on tests, and when questioned, the teachers refused to provide those tests to her parents. Teachers called her home to verbally harass her and her parents.

She was an excellent student who was taken down by teachers who couldn't admit they might be part of the problem. Instead they proved how much of a problem they really are.
+Sheldon Campbell true. I'm just sad that racism has affected her to such a great deal already, that it never occurred to her that her teachers could be victims of the educational system as well. I'm sure we've all met someone with a college education and wondered how they ever graduated. Are her teachers racist, or just not good teachers?
What a brave girl, and intelligent too. Yes literacy and education aren't good for slaves, they may get ideas above their station, you know that we are all equal and equally made in God's image.

Has anyone heard of the expression "the bigotry of low expectations"?
Would be nice to read about this from a less-biased source
If I were to write an essay about fascist Germany and felt that my teacher was too strict is it appropriate for me to equate that teacher with a Nazi party member?
She accused her "white teacher" of being on-par with a slave holder. Who is the racist here?
Oh the girl is definitely racist, which is unfortunate. There's such a simpler explanation for the issues she saw.
If you weren't there to see the circumstances leading up to the essay and the resulting after effects, how can you make a judgement either way? The old saying "Don't criticize a man until you walk a mile in his shoes" becomes more and more appropriate now that the internet allows instant communication (and miscommunication).
The trouble here is the issue of race has been brought up so people jump to default positions "angry black girl", "they are in denial", "they are playing the race card" etc.
Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they opress. - Frederick Douglass

She chose words.
Jim so dont read newspapers or magazines, dont watch tv, dont do anything! What are you doing on the internet?!?!
Btw is it just me or did she take offense at even being assigned Fred Dougglass? Like it was some weird racist reverse-psychology thing to assign it
Wow! I love America, since I have traveled there several times, but this is not how you gonna change the conception about you.
+Patrick Hutton I can't speak for anyone else, but my default position is to go with the simplest explanation, unless the person in question explicitly states otherwise. How are we to know if the teachers are racist, or simply incompetent? Is it not better to determine whether or not someone has the capability of performing a task, before we conclude that they fail to do so because they are racist?
Wow. Yes, +Jeremy Steele, anything is possible, but highly unlikely. She went from a "mostly straight-A student" to drastically worse grades, and it just happened to coincide with the timing of her essay?

Also, the article clearly states that the teachers never entered her essay and they were not pleased by it.
I urge everyone to go read the actual essay, linked above by +Lisa Cohen . The girl argues that her white teachers are equivalent to slave owners, and are actively trying to keep black kids from learning to read. I can see why that would bother her teacher. I can also see where the girl might get that idea, and how wrong she is - how little she understands - about history or the present.

As to the narrative after the essay was turned in, we've got hearsay from unreliable sources, so make of it what you will.
Derek I think I am probably much more active in expressing my opinions and displeasure than you give me credit for. You obviously stopped reading my remarks somewhere in the middle, just before the "I agree" parts, eh? Read the rest man. I am trying to make a point, not argue that the whole deal is a publicity stunt.
+Jeremy Steele : Well I have been, and still am a big supporter of the US of A. But when I see all those religious numb nut politicians or when I hear of schools teaching creationism as an equal theory to evolution, or when I hear about 70% of teenagers not finding the UK on a world has to wonder what is going on...
Do we know if everything in this article is true? No.

But here's how I see it. Articles like these should be used as starting points for a discussion. Why would a little girl read this book and see these correlations? And when she tries to explain herself, she gets attacked.

She's 13 years old. She sees what happens in her class and is trying to understand why her black classmates aren't doing as well as her white classmates. Perhaps it's a financial issue - the teachers don't have the time/resources to deal with kids who can't read. Maybe it's bad teachers, maybe they are racist. It could be a number of things.

So what can we as a society do to help? Every student should be able to get a basic education. Every child, and every adult, should be LITERATE, no matter how rich/poor they are and no matter the color of their skin.
I totally agree, there really isn't much else to say...
+Michael Straubinger fair points on a lot of those, but I can't help but question how important that last one is. No offense to the UK or anything like that. I just can't help but wonder how much time we should spend on teaching people where countries are, when it's a quick search away, and has no use in day to day life. I say teach kids how to get the information they need, and let them decide what they need.
She wasn't saying her teacher's are like white slave owners she was comparing the two because they do not understand the background of the kids they are teaching. Also she seems to have a pretty good understanding just not the vocabulary to express it since she is only 13. I think some people are being to critical of a junior high school essay.
Sorry Jim maybe I'm missi g part of your comment. I can see only "One cannot judge except from firsthand experience." My paraphrase, obviously ^ ^
+Kevin Burger Heresy.

Indoctrination: Teaching what to think.
Education: Teaching how to think.

Explain how the system, which was designed, got to be the way it is.
+Quentin Taylor I'm being critical because there are several things about her essay that, and her reading of it in the video that make me think that she isn't the sole author. I for one have never met a 13 year old with "speaks volumes" and "cross reference" in their vernacular.
+Kevin Burger I have a ten year old that does.

Mind you, he hasn't watched any television in the past 4 years.
Kevin I agree, something seems fishy from her style to her tone
Of course, we all agree that everyone should be literate, regardless of race or income level. In fact, I bet this little girl's teachers believe that, too.

Unfortunately, the article you linked to, +Sarah Olson , appears to be a propaganda piece from a Republican organization (one of their 3 goals is to be actively Republican) that has an axe to grind against public schools. We need to keep the biases of the source in mind. The article itself is worth commenting on, I think, but the other details around the story are suspect at best, including what action was taken against her by the teachers, what actions were or were not a result of her essay, or reports of her being a great student before the essay. We don't have the other side of the story -- from her teachers or her school -- and we likely never will, as teachers and schools don't usually engage in this sort of online speculation, and may be required to be silent if there is a possibility of a lawsuit (which is pretty likely, given the agenda of the Frederick Douglas Foundation and how gleefully political conservatives have taken up and promoted this mess -- this little girl is being used as a poster child for tearing down public schools).
What +Scott Bonner said. Blame is a crutch for two legs that work just fine. It is injustice to imagine injustice where there is none. Teachers are slaves for the pay, work, and critique ratio we have.
Wait.. Michael are you suggesting the problems in our education system aren't born of racist conspiracy? Ludicrous!
After reading the essay and argument, I have these questions:

Why would the teacher suggest a book that would expose her "racism" to exploitation? A want for humiliation?

Did the girl cherry pick a theme from the book?

How does a teach discriminate if the classroom is integrated? Do teachers provide two different lesson sets?


After making the above comment, I mused that maybe the book only had one theme or motif. Well, given the book is the "Life of Frederick Douglass", that consideration was not likely. So, I browsed over to Spark Notes and found these themes and motifs of the book:

Ignorance as a Tool of Slavery*
Knowledge as the Path to Freedom - (Douglass writes of his self-education)
Slavery’s Damaging Effect on Slaveholders
Slaveholding as a Perversion of Christianity
The Victimization of Female Slaves
The Treatment of Slaves as Property
Freedom in the City

* I can at least understand the reason a slaveholder uses ignorance to dominate someone but where is the same profit for a school teacher? How does a school teacher benefit from purposely suppressing education? Anyway, isn't it interesting that Douglass recognized the problem and found a way to circumvent it via self-education some 150 years ago when he had few resources, such as the internet of today? So, I would offer the following advice to the young girl: do as Douglass did.
+Chris George That's awesome, sounds like a good kid. I hope that should he have a rebellious phase, it is short lived. Lord knows dealing with the average teenager in that time is tough enough!
One of her (evil) teachers picked the book. From her essay: "The Rochester City School District supplied us with this novel to read and expected me to expound on what I read and how it made me feel, as I myself being an African American and an eighth grader in the Rochester City learning institute."

And, yes, she does indeed equate her teachers with slave holders, specifically saying that both parties want to prevent black kids from learning to read.

And then those same teachers gave her a book to read. One that would make her more sensitive and informed about racial issues in general, and the need for racial justice. Pretty shortsighted of her teachers. Unless.....
damn teachers r in the gov't pockets you really cant learn nothing thats worth learning anymore
+Scott Bonner I'm a Democrat. I love public schools and I admire the heck out of teachers. I'm friends with quite a few teachers myself, and they do amazing work for crap pay and they don't get much credit for it.

However, there are problems with public schools. Some kids get left behind. Some kids get bullied. Neither should happen.

Yes, we don't have both sides. I'm sure with all the attention this is receiving, there will be an investigation. And that is the point of this article - to make sure that if these allegations are true, that it won't happen again.
+Sarah Olson come on. They gave her the book. She got offended. Wrote something untrue, unkind and uninformed.
So if the validity matters not... If i wrote a fabricated article about Canadian officials taking advantage of people crossing the border it's cool that its all BS because I have sparked important discussion about how bad taking advantage of people is?
Look if education was equal and fair across the board you'd see a huge difference in our country within a few years. Just saying that our country should've realized this along time ago. I'm on another subject all together but shit like this wouldn't happen if every child had an equal opportunity at education.
+Quentin Taylor That's true, but it's not going to change until this country decides to spend a lot more money on education. If a teacher has more than a dozen or so students, then there just won't be enough time to give each student the attention they need when they struggle.
One major problem I see here is the idea that there are "two sides" to this. That's just a clever way to always maintain skepticism towards the side you disagree with.

There is one side, one reality, one history. But people confuse the telling of it with the thing itself. The narrative of events in this story give both the prejudiced issue that is trying to be conveyed (in an effort to predetermine what sorts of meaning we gather from it), and also enough real events to piece together the existence of a contemptuous 13 year old. Anybody read the book Atonement? I bet that's how it all went down.
I've had enough of the attacks on the little girl. She's 13 years old, people.

Name-calling or other such bullying will get you blocked.
Looks to me like she has realized the same thing I did when I was in school: one is ultimately responsible for one's own education. A good teacher can't force you to learn, and a bad one can't stop you.

Looks like she learned it younger than I did, too. Good for her.
I live in Sardinia....I'd have called if I could
+Sheldon Campbell you make a great point..
I also belive that people are afraid the social penalties for expressing any truth that in some way offends any or none of the demographic. Here un the UK its almost out of control ..
I too have read the book. It is sad that there are people trying to control other's thoughts and actions instead of working together to achieve a common goal. I see this a bullying. One needs to feel safe to be able to learn. It would be good to hear from the school to see if their actions achieve the desired goal.
Life is a bitch and then you die. Stop crying about the past. Learn from it move on buff said
this is over the top. it's just an opinionated essay, arguably a pretty badly written one due to the lack of support for the arguments. should have just marked her down on that and call it a day.
then again, the girl is definitely thinking too much. seriously, questioning the motive of teacher for providing that particular book?? she could well have gotten upset by reading Nelson Mandela's legacy.
If it is true that there was absolutely NO finger pointing or hostility in this essay, I would gladly call someone to personally tell them I do not agree w/their decision - to complain at them as you request; but you ask an awful lot of people to suggest they should take your word so quickly and join you in your reaction to complain or fuss at another, based on the tiny bit of information you have provided. I would have to read the entire essay myself so that I could judge for myself if any hostility was displayed within it - the tiny excerpts provided in your article are not enough to "take sides". I prefer to develop my own opinion and reaction and would not feel comfortable assuming I would agree w/you - though I very well may. Is there anywhere one can read the entire essay?
This black vs white thing is so old. It's called history get over it and move on. We are now just people!
+Valerie Lemon, the link to the entire essay is provided by +Lisa Cohen towards the top of the first comments.

After reading it myself, I am confused as to why any intelligent instructor/teacher would find this insulting, rather than taking it in as a subject to discuss with students and other teachers within the school district. This student is obviously intelligent and I didn't get a sense that she was trying to be snotty; she was being honest and frank about her experience. Instead of getting defensive and punishing her, why not ask her what it is that makes her feel this way? None of us are above learning anything from anyone at any age. Use it as a tool where everyone can take something away from it in a positive light. How the teacher and school reacted shows more about who they really are, than what they could become.
+will willson I don't see this as a black vs white "thing" it doesn't really matter WHAT the essay topic is - teachers are suppose to encourage not oppress.
+Rebecca Nguyen if we can't understand, we can hardly be expected to be supportive. Being white doesn't mean there aren't obstacles to overcome.
<Right clinched fist in the air, showing approval and solidarity.>
I can't possibly walk in this girls shoes. As a parent, all I can do is to teach my children to endeavour to understand how ugly the real world can be and has been. My philosophy taught to my children is the old "do unto others". Show empathy and patience towards your fellow man, no matter how they treat you because you just don't know what their life has been like up to that point.
Black and angry is a stereotype we see too often.
Somehow the article is unavailable. I can't read the story.
+Sarah Olson I believe all of what you said. This is real and it happens (2012). +Quentin Taylor I think that's why the teacher got so offended the teacher seen herself. "compared" +Kevin Burger so she had help in writing the essay. I know I've seen parents do assignments, etc...for there child.
Ace Ace
it disgusts me that this kind of racism is still going on. I had a very similar experiences as a black student going to predominantly white schools. My parents sent me to "white" schools because the quality of education was better there. In a "black" school i was learning things in 11th grade that they were teaching in the "white" school in 9th grade. After i found that out i quickly went back to the "white" school and had to tolerate being treated as less than by the students and staff in order to get a quality education. It seems like "blacks" and minorities are being intentionally under educated to keep the blacks or minorities ignorant and therefore limited in the progress its possible to make in life.
kia ora tatou katoa mini mini maui kai ra taranga kawhiua kamata kamate kamati kamato kamatou tiki tane ahau. o nga tutae kuri whare ahau. TENA KATOU TENA KATOU KIAORA TATAU KATOA! haumi e hui e tae ki e. BLAH
Ah, you're from the Islands, too!
I think most people here are getting too into what seems a simple conflict of interest... In no way does an essay written as a school assignment justify any mistreatment of that child by educational staff.

Now, maybe it sponsors the requirement of parent/teacher meetings, but that did not seem to have happened. Moreover, the school system has admitted to handling the situation poorly, but no comment has been made to address what may be misconduct by the teacher in question.

So this is not about free speech (it was an assignment, not meant as an opportunity of pure self-expression), or even about race issues (has anyone even confirmed the tone of skin of the teach in question?). In the end, it is a lack of professionalism by the educators involved which should be held accountable and rectified.
That is very wrong, the people that work there I guess are crazy but if what i am saying is wrong please tell me. Cause I do't think it is.
We would like to think that in 2012 this would not happen. But racism is real and alive in America. This is absolutely uncalled for, this is a child the article is referring to. Who is protecting America's children?
"Furthermore, I myself began to question,” as to why the Rochester City School District would supply us with a novel that would evoke such emotions?” ~Jada Williams

At the core of all political systems, is identity politics, where republican versus democrat is no different than white versus black, Jew versus Muslim or male versus female, with the objective of divide then conquer. It is the same dialectic process of thesis versus antithesis to converge into synthesis that is used to get one to think in terms of being a member of a group, rather than as an individual, because as an individual, the system is criminal.

What is sad, is that a 13yr old can get it, where 90% of the population can't.
+Roderick Webb Are you serious? Do you know what lynching is? People die from lynching.

Hyperbole like this cheapens the past you reference, and muddies the present. It's like calling every bad thing a holocaust, or every person you don't like a fascist. Those words have meaning, some of the most brutal and powerful words in the language, and we need to preserve the power of those meanings lest we lose track of the truth. There was a book out a couple years ago arguing that the fascists were left-wing, not right-wing. Such absolute idiocy is only possible after the word has lost meaning, and history is forgotten.

Let's not lose the meaning of lynching, too. It's too big, too horrible, to be used as if it were not.
Its a lynching of the mind body and soul. This child is 13 yrs old and being oppressed and bullied by her own educators Umm! I call it moderen day lynching. Read about the 17 yr old in Florida who was shot in the chest by the neighborhood watch dog with only a bag of Skittles in his pocket how cheap is that?
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