While the nation grapples with the tragedy of Trayvon Martin’s murder by a white vigilante in Florida, a Michigan middle school teacher, Brooke Harris, has been fired for trying to educate her students about the case, according to Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Harris is not some knee jerk activist teacher who slapped together a seat-of-the-pants lesson on racial profiling or pushed her students out onto the barricades. Good Education reports that she was named teacher of the year for two of the last three years at Academy for Excellence Middle School in Pontiac, Michigan. Harris even asked her principal for approval before organizing a fundraiser in which students would donated $1 and wore hoodies to school. Taking action wasn’t even her idea, initially. The Teaching Tolerance website says that her students were so impassioned about the case that they wanted to do something to help the family.
Superintendent Jacqueline Cassell refused to approve the plan, despite having previously approved other “dress down” fundraisers. Several of Harris' students asked to accompany her to meet with Cassell, which so enraged the superintendent that she suspended Harris. Two weeks later she was fired.
Harris taught at a charter school and had no union, due process rights, or recourse for appealing her firing.
There is a change.org petition calling for Brooke Harris’ reinstatement.