fierce

Teachers and Principal of Predominately Black and Brown Students Bring Noose to School

@amollenbeckKFI / Twitter

Early this month in Palmdale, California (outside of Los Angeles), four teachers, and the principal, were seen holding a noose in the school office after a photo of them circulated social media. The four teachers and the principal of Summerwind Elementary School were placed on leave but not fired.

Following the incident the Superintendent of Schools, Raul Maldonado issued a statement meant to reassure parents, “I am appalled that this incident occurred. “I am committed to the Palmdale Promise’s values of equity, integrity, and multiculturalism, and I know that most of the district believe[s] in the same values the Promise upholds.” However, parents remain concerned about these apparently racist acts and a lack of diversity and sensitivity in their district.

Parent Shaka Phillips, “The integrity of the school is completely compromised. To the black community, a noose is a weapon, a symbol of slavery and lynching.”

A school environment that somehow encourages, or normalizes joking about a noose by teachers, is especially concerning in a school where the student body of is 18% Black, 65% Latino, and 9% White. Summerwind, like most elementary schools in the US, is staffed mostly by white teachers and administrators.

This is true for elementary and high schools all over the United States. The National Center for Educational Statistics found during the 2014-2015 school year that the overwhelming majority of teachers teaching in Elementary and Secondary schools are white: 80%. Individual schools are not mandated to make public the diversity (lack of diversity) of their teachers. They are mandated to make public their student demographics and are even given high ratings for the diversity of their student body.

Meanwhile, data shows that increasing teacher diversity can improve student success and reduce dropout rates.

Schools may be slow to reform but parents at Summerwind wasted no time mobilizing a protest outside the school on May 9. They protested outside the school until the teachers in the photo were removed from classrooms. The principal in the photo, Linda Brandts, was herself, not on campus that day. The four teachers were, eventually, sent home per the demands of organized parents.

In various reports about the Palmdale school’s noose incident, community members are calling for a variety of reforms and citing incidences like this one as a reason why many are leaving the district. Some believe the incident has created an opportunity for teaching and learning, but many want racist teachers fired. “We drop our kids off with the idea that we are sending them to a culturally competent institution for learning. We think that we’re sending them to a school; they’re safe,” said Breyson Clemmons, “Never do we think we’re sending them to a plantation where they got nooses hanging up, and holding on to nooses. Taking pictures and smiling, where’s the humor?”

Others are in disbelief, Community activist Miguel Coronado, whose wife works for the District, said he couldn’t believe it when he saw the picture.

An unnamed teacher who works at the school reportedly said, before the incident, that the predominately white teachers are a problem.

Twitter user @davitydave expressed his outrage by pointing out there is no way in 2019 that educators can claim innocence. He calls their actions “racist AF.”

Telemundo52 News Reporter, Dinorah Perez, tweeted about the story by quoting a parent from Summerwind Elementary. The parent, like many others, expressed worry and fear about bringing her child to school.

@techSMIF, a former resident of Palmdale, where the incident took place, cites people like those trolling the comments about the incident as the reason he’d never move back to that city.

Based on reports by residents, and former residents, the city of Palmdale, or at least the schools, are inequitable places where the seats of power are reserved for the privileged few, and where some of those with power abuse it. Not unlike the Idaho teachers, who last Halloween, posed in photos wearing a Mexican border wall costume that said, “Make America Great Again.”

We send our kids here to school to get educated and we trust the teachers and want them to feel safe,” she said. “When you get a picture like that you don’t trust the school. You don’t want your kid coming back here. It shows what they think about us. Even if it was a joke and it wasn’t supposed to surface and it did, it backfired. You’re not supposed to be joking about stuff like that. Because still to this day it happens.”

People In The US Find It Easier To Flee The Country Than Pay Back High Student Loan Debts

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People In The US Find It Easier To Flee The Country Than Pay Back High Student Loan Debts

Joe Brusky / Flickr

Financial analysts have long predicted that the next bubble that will burst and lay damage on the economy of the United States (y por ende of the whole world) is the student debt bubble. Millions of college graduates owe so much money as a result of their graduate degrees that it will take a good amount of years before they can enjoy a clean slate, un nuevo inicio with no malditas deudas. As employment prospects grow dimmer in troubling financial times, these graduates just can’t get the jobs that will allow them to live comfortable, grow their wealth, and pay their student loans. It is a monetary bottleneck that has everyone scratching their heads. What to do? Condone debt and give people with university degrees a chance? That is sort of unfeasible, as the financial system is sustained through futures, bonds and the selling and buying of debt, so sometime, somewhere, there would be a huge hole in the system.

Some graduates are finding an alternative that is as legally tricky as it is ethically controversial: they are leaving the United States to avoid paying their debts. Some live in Europe, others look for alternative citizenships based on their heritage and some others just migrate to places like Australia, where Anglo migration (read, white migration!) is given a free pass even if their visa status is not crystal clear.

This option has sparked fiery debates on the Internet, as more and more news outlets report on members of an arguably lost generation who chose to leave rather than to live in debt. 

Vice published an article on Americans who now live almost debt-free in Europe. This happened all the way back in 2016, so this is not quite new.

Credit: @FeministGriote / Twitter

The phenomenon has been present for at least three years (could the election of POTUS be a factor, we guess?). Anyway, users such as Sister Outsider were not happy at all is that who the country is, she asked? 

Others thought that this was a very smart move because student loan debt interest rates are nearly impossible to overcome.

Credit: @Hippington / Twitter

This dude James Hipp seems to take it a bit more lightly. Well, anything goes eh?

The article sparked some seriously opposing views, despite the growing fear that millions of students will remain in debt indefinitely.

Credit: @that1laura / @Mchacon49r / Twitter

These two couldn’t possibly be farther apart in their views. One calls these “Debt Dodgers” as the VICE article called them, “selfish, entitled, and arrogant”. Meanwhile, a user who is actually wearing graduation regalia simply says that she doesn’t blame them. Perhaps she is facing similar fears and uncertainty in terms of her future in the workplace. Because let’s be honest: things are pretty grim the world over. Not to mention that there have been recent articles about people entering retirement with student loan debt left to pay.

Some people just don’t understand how someone could run from their student loans.

Credit: @xavifred / Twitter

Did Xavi dude just calls them “deadbeats”, huevonesperezosos. But sometimes these are people who actually want to work, but find little or no prospects at home and look for a better horizon. Isn’t that what the immigrant spirit is made up from?

Just last year a CNBC article set fire to Twitter over the same issue.

Credit: @airfarceone / Twitter

This user, who we assume is a conservative Internet keyboard warrior, equates debt dodgers with the young men who dodged the draft during the Vietnam War. Is this a fair comparison? Yes, they decided to get an education, but this is the core of the controversy: should education be a right or a privilege?

Should some people just not go to college? @AlephBlog seems to think so.

Credit: @AlephBlog / Twitter

The CNBN article told the story of a graduate in debt who now lives in India, caring for elephants. User David Merkel simply says that these people should not go to college at all. Is he right? His savage judgment evidences a worldview in black and white. Obviously, people don’t want to leave.

No one asked them to go to university? Well, things are a bit more complicated than that, @TeresaGillia.

Credit: @TeresaGillia / Twitter

The contemporary social and financial status quo demands that young people acquire skills in information management and professional work. Manual work in the United States is generally underpaid, so if folk want to get ahead in life a university education seems to be the only way. So the choice is limited: yes, young people can choose not to go to university, but in doing so are risking not advancing in life, in monetary terms. But what happens when people get a degree, work hard and still see no descanso in sight?

User Jim Robinson has a point: the banks and other financial institutions are also to blame.

Credit: @ThatJimR / Twitter

Just as the 2008 Global Financial Crisis revealed (you can see it explained with peras y manzanas in the movie The Big Short), the addiction to debt and the trigger happy nature of the banking system has generated a lot of immediate wealth that ultimately leads to financial ruin. Banks have chosen to loan so much money knowing that students won’t be able to pay it back, that their bad decisions have come to bite everyone en el culo. Jim Robinson is right: some loans are indiscriminate. These financial practices border criminality de cuello blanco

Student debt has been on everyone’s mind this past month, ever since this billionaire wiped off the debt of an entire graduating class.

Credit: @ijsvv / Twitter

It might seem to be the feel-good story of the month, but the fact that Robert F. Smith made this magnificent donation and gave a whole class of students an Oprah-like moment is more like the symptom of a broken system, rather than a sign of pure goodwill. He must have looked at all those young people, mostly Black, and knew that they would face a lot of hardship unless he interfered, that the joy of graduation would soon turn into the darkness of precarious financial prospects.

Let’s get some context on the current political climate: this tweet sort of sums up what many are facing.

Credit: @rideatdawn/ Twiter

At the other end of the political spectrum, we find another millionaire, Betsy DeVos, the US Secretary of Education, who is actually cutting the budget for debt forgiveness. This tweet captures the feeling that many are having at the moment: any life-changing step (such as having kids or buying a house) is stalled due to the lack of support that the government is able or willing to give to those taking their first steps into adult life. What is the solution?

 The “Debt dodger” controversy got new traction a few days ago.

Credit: @lany891 / Twitter

New reports point to a spike to this trend, and the conversation has gained momentum given the prominence that the student debt crisis has had leading to the presidential election next year. This user references the plan drawn by Dem presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren, who proposes to wipe out student debt by taxing the wealthy. According to a Politico/Morning Consult poll, 56% of registered voters support the Massachusetts senator’s proposal. It is hard to judge either side, but something’s gotta give and the student debt crisis will either puncture or strengthen the idea of the American Dream (our take, solidarity is always best).

READ: The SATs Have A Problematic And Racist History Fueled By The Creator Of The Test Who Praised Eugenics And Racial Separation

Charges Against Disgraced Parkland Officer And New Florida Law Raises Questions for Teachers

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Charges Against Disgraced Parkland Officer And New Florida Law Raises Questions for Teachers

@libertynation\ Twitter

The arrest of Scot Peterson, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School sheriff’s deputy who heard shots fired inside the school and hid outside is raising some troubling questions for teachers.

Labeled a coward cop by many, Peterson has been charged with eleven counts of child negligence, culpable negligence, and perjury for his inaction and lies he made about his role while under oath.

Armed and tasked with providing security for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Peterson can be seen hiding in video footage during the Parkland shooting. Many parents of slain children, such Manuel and Patricia Oliver, believe that Peterson should have risked his life and entered the school and do whatever he could to stop the shooter, Nikolas Cruz on February 14, 2018.

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The aftermath of the shooting has resulted in an uprising of teen activism, the arrest of Peterson, and changes in the law.

One such law passed in Florida last month, allows teachers to carry firearms.

The law has raised many questions and much controversy, such as concerns about racism and implicit bias that many fear could result in the shooting of black students. The charges against Scot Peterson and the passage of the gun law that allows teachers to be armed in classrooms has raised questions about the responsibility of those teachers who might choose to arm themselves at school. The Florida Education Association, Florida’s teachers’ union, is particularly concerned because they fear that Peterson’s arrest, could set precedence for holding armed teachers accountable for injuries or death of students on their watch, should they choose not to use their weapon to subdue a school shooter. Tort law speaks very specifically about negligence which the teacher association fears teachers, like Peterson, could be charged with under the new law: “Negligence is the unintentional failure to live up to the community’s ideal of reasonable care, having nothing to do with moral care. An individual who has behaved negligently is one who has not lived up to a certain imputed duty or obligation to conform to a certain standard of conduct for the protection of others against unreasonable risk of harm.”

While many believe that Peterson’s case is an anomaly and won’t set precedence, in August of 2018 the Florida Department of Education made an amendment to its insurance policy that makes it clear that armed teachers will not be covered for claims involving “armed instructional personnel while acting in the scope of their activities for the educational institution.”  And while state lawmakers have responded to the Parkland shooting by allowing more guns in public places, in this case schools, the Florida department of education has protected itself itself from lawsuits brought by parents or relatives of those who could be injured as a result of an armed teacher.

Twitter

When a state passes a law that encourages teachers to arm themselves to protect children in the classroom from school shooters, presumably other children, many other questions should be raised?

Is the hero teacher narrative at play? Is it fair to encourage teachers, trained to educate America’s children, to arm themselves and protect them or face neglect charges when they don’t or couldn’t?

Shouldn’t we be focused on common sense gun laws? Does it make sense to allow firearms in school?

When it comes to both a rallying cry for common sense gun laws and charges of negligence against Scot Peterson, many on Twitter are asking some of these questions and more.

TruthBeTold wants to know why the federal government isn’t being held responsible for not enacting strict gun laws and asks “What about Congress” What about the president? Didn’t they also fail to protect those children?”

12yearlagavulin and jon-e-lingo point out the irony of laws that protect police offers who shoot unarmed men but convict of negligence. Jonelingo points out how unlikely it would have been for Peterson to face jail time had he actually shot someone rather doing what he did which was not shoot.

Many on Twitter called Peterson a coward for not doing his job or being willing to “put his life on the line. Others, like Junebug, believe he’s being unfairly scapegoated.

Twitter user @LopezMaddox made a donut joke about the Broward cop to make about about Peterson’s lack of action.

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