Teacher Calls Minority Students “Future Criminals” Not Fired

You know, it’s one thing to suggest that kids in urban communities are failing because they come from broken and impoverished homes. The validity of this I won’t necessarily argue, as this is true for some. However, at some point we have to look at teachers who are failing said kids from the inner city.

You know, teachers who aren’t fully invested in the success of said children? You know, teachers like Jennifer O’Brein? O’Brien, a veteran teacher in Paterson, New Jersey whose students are mostly Black and Hispanic? Well, O’Brien is currently on a paid suspension for a post on Facebook where she referred to her students as “future criminals.” Oh, and, she says she feels more like a “warden” than a teacher.

Nice on Ms. Jennifer O’Brien:

O’Brien came home from work, North Jersey.com reported, and expressed her genuine feelings after what must have been another tough day in the “blackboard jungle.” Wrote O’Brien, “i’m not a teacher — i’m a warden for future criminals.”

Six hours later, North Jersey.com reported, she posted again, wondering why she couldn’t put her first-graders into a Scared Straight program, which introduces hardened criminals to youngsters. Wrote O’Brien, “They had a scared straight program in school — why couldn’t i bring 1st graders?”

Unsurprisingly, given that O’Brien had 333 friends on the social networking site, her feelings didn’t remain among those friends for long. Complaints came into the school board, and O’Brien was suspended. O’Brien appeared before a government school inquisition last week.

According to North Jersey.com, “O’Brien told an administrative law judge that she wrote the post in exasperation because six or seven unruly students kept disrupting her lessons, distracting children who wanted to learn.”

According to O’Brien’s testimony:

One boy had recently hit her, another had struck another child, and she had given the principal several disciplinary reports on students during her three months in charge of a class of 23. She said they also stole a box of stickers she hid in a closet to use as prizes.

“I was speaking out of frustration to their behavior, just that build up of ‘I don’t know what else to do,’ and I’m actually scared for their futures, for some of them,” O’Brien said. “If you’re hitting your teacher at 6 or 7 years old, that’s not a good path.”

Now we’ve all had bad days at work; yes we have. Some of us deal with those days momma told us about in many different ways. Some of us take to the bottle, beat up the wife and kids, smoke a joint or maybe even harder drugs etc. Yes, we do many different things at the end of our shitty days. In today’s social network wired society, it’s not uncommon for us to log on and talk to ourselves vent our frustrations much like O’Brien did. However, as free as this country is, it doesn’t mean that what we say or do on these sites are appropriate.

Point blank: in her position and given her duties, what she said was wrong.

Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing easy about being a teacher. It’s often a thankless job. And yes, kids can actually drive you to drink, or maybe even say some really foul stuff on Facebook about them. But the truth is: you can’t. And I know it sucks, but especially if you’re a white teacher, you most definitely can’t say what this teacher said. To do so calls into question whether she is actually racist. And of course, nobody wants that label, right?

Yes they may very well be some future criminals in her classroom; and yes, you may see what she said as no big deal, or as some truth. However, given her chosen profession, and the location where she choses to exercise said profession. Can it be said that she is truly vested in the success of the children she is entrusted to impart knowledge? having asked that question, should she be allowed to continue teaching chuildren in that particular school or district?

She may very well lose her job; but if she does, would it be wrong?