I ran into a former student in the Love Cafe today as I was getting my coffee. The student told me that they recently had an essay assignment to discuss someone who was exiled and eventually made changes to society. The student said that they wrote about me. I was flattered that some one would actually compare my situation to that of a Mandela, Gandhi, or Voltaire. This student explained that they got a good grade for the assignment.
There have been points during my exile that I thought maybe I should just give-up and be a quitter, but that’s not in my nature. Instead I have turned this into a learning experience. Believe it or not there are some principals in this system who still care about education, unlike the situation Manhattan Center. There are a lot of great teachers out there who go above and beyond what their job description states. Unfortunately, this system has beaten many of them down and a majority of them feel that our union has sold us out. Many of us have chosen to become teachers not for the money, but to make a change.
The reality is my situation became a teachable moment that helped a student gain a better understanding to why people like Mandela, Gandhi and Voltaire chose their path to change society after witnessing injustice.
Oddly enough, the walkout of May, 2012 was actually a great Teachable Moment. I had heard rumors that a walk-out was going to occur. I took full advantage of the rumor and used it to both teach something and explain the policy under the chancellor’s regulation. The unfortunate part is that Mr. Jimenez was observing me that day.(Now Dennis pay attention so you’ll learn something about the first amendment.)I started the class off talking about the rumor and explained that in the case of Tinker vs. Des Monies the Supreme Court noted that “It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” I also noted that in the decision the Supreme Court stated, “The Court held that in order for school officials (This means Administrators) to justify censoring speech, they “must be able to show that [their] action was caused by something more than a mere desire to avoid the discomfort and unpleasantness that always accompany an unpopular viewpoint,” (Simply stated Dennis, you didn’t like Mr. Thomas’ blog that portrayed you as a toilet brush then don’t read it!.) (Simply stated David, Students want a petition to save a teacher’s job as long as they are not disrupting the education process then they are allowed to do it.) allowing schools to forbid conduct that would “materially and substantially interfere with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school. (This means disrupting the educational process.) The Court found that the actions of the Tinkers in wearing armbands(They were protesting the Vietnam War.) did not cause disruption(This is called peaceful protest like handing out flyers on a corner) and held that their activity represented constitutionally protected symbolic speech.” After going over the case and the issues that surrounded it we talked about the walk out and how since it disrupted the education process and according to the Supreme Court Decision in Tinker vs. Des Monies the Department of Education has the right to suspend students who took part in it. On the day of the walk-out I had thirty four students in my class, because they had chosen not to participate in the walk-out.
This lesson was brought out in my 3020A hearing and the U-rating that I received was dismissed.
Martin Luther King once wrote,” that the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in the moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at the times of challenge and controversy.”
The truth is that a number of us have faced the challenges and controversies that Jimenenz and his cronies have tossed at us. I personally had to sit and listen as they made up stories about me and wrote me up for frivolous offenses, yet I always stood before them with my head held high.
My blog, like Mr. Thomas’ http://mcsmledger.blogspot.com. and Mr.Decruz’s blog http://decruztruth.wordpress.com/. http://evandecruz.wordpress.com/2014/02/06/dearmralbetta/.
And Ms. Bray’s case http://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/new-york/nysdce/1:2011cv07884/387092/39 are about justice that is fair. It is not about revenge that would make us exactly like Jimenez and Albetta. These men have abused their power and placed themselves above the law. it is time to end this injustice.