The San Juan Unified School District, California is under severe public scrutiny after one of its teachers discriminated against students and the Black Lives Matter movement.
The teacher has been accused of singling out and prohibiting Black Lives Matter posters created in an art class about activism after a parent volunteer identified as Magali Kincaid gave a lesson and encouraged students to create art about a cause they cared about.
Four students created posters in support of Black Lives Matter, which upset David Madden, the classroom teacher, who confiscated the artwork.
In front of their peers, he forced the students to re-do the posters, throwing the originals in the garbage, according to the American Civil Liberties Union and that both the school principal, and the District’s counsel backed Madden’s actions, calling the art and student’s message of support for Black lives “inappropriate.”
According to ACLU, Madden became agitated about the students’ drawing and told them that the topics in his classroom would be limited to “a bunch of old dead white guys” and later described the posters as “irrelevant.”
Kincaid who has been a frequent volunteer at the Del Paso Manor Elementary School from speaking at the school after she was invited as an art docent to teach a class arranged a meeting with the school principal when she learned about Madden’s action.
The principal sided with Madden and she was banned from teaching any further classes in retaliation for speaking out.
“(The teacher) pressed our parent to say why she felt that Black Lives Matter was an appropriate topic to be discussed at school, and also to explain how Black Lives Matter was something they should be talking about when there’s no shootings that happened at the school,” ACLU Foundation of Northern California attorney Abre Conner wrote in a letter sent to the San Juan Unified School District on behalf of the students and parent, who were censored and retaliated against by school officials for expressing support of Black Lives Matter.
Conner also said the school could not “single out” the artwork and removing it is “an impermissible viewpoint restriction.”
The San Juan Unified School District on its part issued the following statement saying: “San Juan Unified is committed to developing an equitable environment in all of our classrooms where students feel comfortable sharing their voice. Some of the assertions made in the letter from the ACLU are new information to the district and we will be investigating to determine their validity.
“Art docent volunteers are welcomed into our classrooms to deliver district developed lessons aligned to grade-level standards. In this case, Kincaid was allowed to provide a lesson that was not prepared by the district’s art program and without having been trained. That should have not occurred and unfortunately led to disagreement between Kincaid and the classroom teacher on the assignment’s final outcome.
“As stated in the letter from the ACLU, the teacher’s understanding of the resulting assignment was for students to produce artwork related to a change they wanted to see within the school itself. Students whose artwork focused on large social issues, which varied in topic, and was not directly tied to the school, were asked by the teacher to complete another poster the next day.
“All artwork that met the assignment’s purpose was displayed in the classroom.
“It is inconsistent with our values and never our intent or desire for any student to feel uncomfortable or unwelcome to discuss issues that are important to them. We sincerely apologize if this experience made any student feel such discomfort. Censoring a student’s assigned work because of its content would not be acceptable. We are open and committed to continuing our work with students, staff, community partners and others to ensure that our school communities embrace a diversity of thoughts and experiences.”
That notwithstanding, would the teacher had thrashed the artwork if it had focused on white lives matter? I believe he wouldn’t. He would have been totally cool with it.
What happened at the Del Paso Manor Elementary School was a manifestation of the unabated efforts which are deep-rooted in history to suppress African Americans and preserve racial order, keep black people in their place.
It is very disheartening, to say the least.