Dirty Politics in English Class

A Jefferson High School teacher has been removed from the classroom after a student complained of racist remarks.

Senior Augustine Ortiz said he was in English class one day late last week, and his teacher began the class with a discussion of the changes to immigration enforcement law in Arizona.

The new law has created a firestorm of controversy in recent weeks, sparking a series of protests and plans for legal challenges.

Ortiz, who was wearing a jersey from a Mexican soccer team, said the teacher told him to sit in the front row.

She proceeded to single him out repeatedly, Ortiz said, pointing at him as she made comments like, “The Mexicans with their attitudes are the racist ones.”

Continuing to point at Ortiz, she allegedly told the class that Mexicans always “expect handouts” and “soon it’s going to be the United States of Mexico,” according to Ortiz.

There are about only about 12 class days of school left before summer break.  I predict this teacher will not have her contract (Teachers in Texas are typically under contract) renewed.

And why should she?  Assuming the report is accurate, rather than being some spur of the moment comment made in poor taste, she actually planned to single this boy out in front of his class to belittle him and his family’s culture.  To make him feel like less of a person.  How would anyone from any point on the political spectrum think this is acceptable?  It’s simply not.

I can understand classes having spirited discussions over the pros and cons of various political/policy issues – classes like social studies or history or government or anything like that.  In speech class we practiced each side of a debate for the sake of learning to argue effectively.   But these debates and other class discussions were intelligent, well-thought out in advance by the educator, and based primarily on facts.  They were not one-sided, and most importantly, they never involved students’ personal situations.

I noticed also that this was an English class.  What business does politics of this nature (assuming you can call this politics, because it sounds to me like a racist rant with no foothold in reasonable logic whatsoever) have in an English class?  What happened to Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet, for Pete’s sake?

I hope young Mr. Ortiz gets a proper apology and I hope that the teacher involved, if this turns out to be true, is not renewed for next year, because she’s not the sort of person we need inspiring our children.  Our kids need to be inspired to create, to succeed, and to lead…not to hate one another.

h/t to Alan.com.



  1. Meghan said,

    May 18, 2010 at 8:39 am

    Is it possible she was trying to make a point about how absurd the Arizona law is? I am just trying to imagine how a teacher would ever think that is OK. I can see a scenario in my head where a teacher might read about this law and how law enforcement are supposed to demand proof of residency to anyone they “reasonably suspect to be in this country illegally” (in other words, singling out based on race) and thought she might make a point because the student was wearing a Mexico soccer team sweatshirt. Perhaps the students did not understand her point or she didn’t do a good job of making it. Or maybe she is just a racist pig. Either way, it was a poor choice, as you point out, to bring a student’s personal situation into the equation even if she was trying to educate by doing it. And it was English class, not Civics or government class.

    • May 18, 2010 at 8:53 am

      Good point, Meghan. I’ll be interested to see what happens, if we hear anything at all. Did you see the video this week of that (other) teacher beating the tar out of a 6th grader? While I think the overwhelming majority of teachers are positive influences on their students, there are always nutjobs in any profession. I do find it odd that the teacher has already apologized before any real investigation took place, but I suppose it could be a “I’m sorry you misunderstood” type of thing. I’ll post any updates if I see any.

  2. pino said,

    May 18, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    h/t to Alan.com.

    I think that if you actually link to Alan’s site, your backlink will appear on his.

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