Teachers at a Washington, D.C. area middle school were fired in front of students after giving their two weeks’ notice. Howard University Middle School’s social studies teachers resigned en masse, which prompted the school’s new principal to issue their pink slips, in class, and have police then escort the teachers from the building. Some parents and students believe this was because the teachers were teaching black history.
Howard University is an HBCU establishment. HBCU stands for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and the student population is primarily black, according to ABC 7 Washington. Parents are angry about how the teachers were fired, and bewildered that the administration wouldn’t want them to teach black history, given the school’s demographic makeup.
One parent said to ABC 7:
The school administration does not want the social studies teachers to teach African-American history. We are on the campus of an HBCU. We need to know our culture. The school is 90 percent African-American.
And a student said:
They were all escorted out by police officers, because they were trying to teach us things about our African heritage, and stuff like that.
NBC 4 Washington reports that the teachers were teaching black history beyond what’s in the curriculum. Parents believe that’s not sufficient reason to fire the teachers, or make them feel they need to resign. They say that is unacceptable, and they’re right.
NBC 4 quoted Lateefah Bilal, a grandmother who heads up Howard University Middle School’s parent group, as saying:
If you know your culture, if you know from whence you came, it tends to build your self-esteem.
There will be people who say that teaching more black history than deemed appropriate by the school’s administration warrants the firing. There will also be those who question why we teach black history at all, when we don’t teach white history (hint: We do teach white history. American history in general is white history). Black history is still trivialized here, except for where slavery and parts of the Civil Rights Movement are concerned. These teachers were doing exactly what they were supposed to be doing as educators.
As long as they weren’t going so far outside the curriculum that it interfered with teaching other things, then what’s the problem? And if it does come out that all three social studies teachers were teaching black history to the exclusion of other parts of the curriculum, then was it absolutely necessary for the administration to fire them, and have police escort them from the building, in front of students? They couldn’t do it quietly and explain it to the students the following day?
Both ABC 7 and NBC 4 say they were unable to reach anybody at the school for comment. NBC 4 says that D.C. Council Education committee members are looking into the allegations that the teachers were fired for teaching black history, and will release a statement later. They also say that the D.C. Public Charter School Board will release a statement on the matter later on.
Watch ABC 7’s report on the situation below:[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xR1ChHDZEmY?rel=0&w=560&h=315]
Featured image via screen capture from ABC 7 report