Skip to main content

Message to teachers: Sit down and shut up.

Cross-posted from Eclectablog.

In April of 2012, Brooke Harris, a teacher at the Pontiac Academy for Excellence charter school, was fired for attempting to assist her students hold a fundraiser for the family of Trayvon Martin. A petition demanding that she be reinstated gathered 233,009 signatures.

Brooke Harris (in red) at the Save Michigan's Public Schools rally flanked by rally organizers Stephanie Keiles, Betsy Coffia, and Rochelle Noel. [Photo credit: Save Michigan's Public Schools]

After her firing, Harris took a job with the Michigan Education Achievement Authority, a special district comprised exclusively of "failing" schools, and began teaching at Mumford High School in Detroit.

Harris has been helping her students speak out about the poor conditions at their EAA schools and the inferior education they were receiving. In addition, she herself testified before the House Education Committee as well as the Education Achievement Authority Board meeting on May 9th, helping to expose the EAA's failing of Detroit students.

Two weeks ago, Harris learned that she may very well be on her way to being fired again.

On the evening of Thursday, June 13, Harris received an email from her employer informing her that she was on paid leave pending an investigation. She was out of the state for an institute on mass incarceration (not related to her job) and just happened to check her email that evening before they deactivated her email account the following morning. Today, she found out by certified mail (that was sent to the wrong address on July 3) that she has a "pretermination hearing" on July 15th. Fortunately Harris had requested that all of her correspondence via mail be sent certified. This resulted in the U.S. Postal Service forwarding the mail that otherwise may never have reached her.

I asked Ms. Harris how she ended up at the EAA. "The honest answer is I needed a job after being fired from Pontiac Academy for Excellence charter school after filing paperwork on behalf of my students requesting a fundraiser in honor of Trayvon Martin," she told me. "I'm from metro Detroit, always wanted to work in the city, and the EAA had a lot of open positions. I was offered the position at Mumford at a Starbucks in Southfield and took it immediately."

"Did your new employer know about your firing from Pontiac?" I asked.

"I honestly don't know if the EAA knew," she said. "I checked the box on the application saying I'd been fired before and always answered that questions honestly in interviews. But the EAA hiring process was outsourced through Harvard and was so unorganized in the end (hence the interview and offer at a Starbucks)."

Brooke Harris' experience with the EAA tells us a great deal about how poorly it's being managed. Job offers in coffee shops, wrong addresses for critical, sensitive communications, and a hiring process that was outsourced. Harris says that her English students are now on their 4th substitute teacher this year. "Every class that was taught by a sub last quarter (and there were quite a few) was missing grades for students which messed up their GPAs," she said.

What is happening to Harris is that she is being used as an example to frighten other teachers into keeping quiet and not speaking out about what's happening in the EAA schools.

There is a petition that can be signed HERE. Wayne State University professor and education activist Thomas Pedroni has started a Facebook page titled "Save Our Teacher Brooke Harris!! Stop Eli Broad's Vile Experimentation!!"

If you wish to attend Brooke Harris' pretermination hearing, it is on July 15th at 9 a.m. at the EAA headquarters at 3022 W. Grand Blvd. in Detroit.

Originally posted to Eclectablog - eclectic blogging for a better tomorrow on Wed Jul 10, 2013 at 05:15 AM PDT.

Also republished by Motor City Kossacks, State & Local ACTION Group, and Michigan, My Michigan.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site