What do you do if a parent thinks you're a racist

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by kfhsdramaqueen, Jun 17, 2010.

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  1. kfhsdramaqueen

    kfhsdramaqueen Rookie

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    Jun 17, 2010

    I am in a dilemma . . .

    About a month ago, in a fit of anger and frustration brought on by a very long and draining year (whole 'nother story), while talking to myself outloud, which I do often, I said a very inappropriate word about one of my classes. It was the "n" word. A group of my students went to the principal and reported it, and very quickly, it has gotten around school. It has also gotten to some parents, and apparently the school board. I have formally apologised to the students that it was directed at, and I am prepared to do any other formal apology that is required. I will even accept any punishment that comes my way, because I realize that I was in the wrong, and will accept my consequences. At this point, being that almost a month has passed, and the school year is about to end, I don't see any punishment coming my way. The statement is uncharacteristic of me, and I am not racist in any way.

    Well, now one of the students in this aforementioned class is failing the course with a 65. She failed her exam. She failed 1st semester with a 58. She does very little work, doesn't study, and doesn't read any of the plays (this is a theatre arts class). Her mother called me today concerned about the child's grade, and basically said I am failing her daughter because I am a racist. Although if you look at my top students in my two AP classes, the majority of them are black, so I don't think the racism card works here. I explained the grades in detail to the mother, and I hope she realizes that her daughter earned what she earned, and it is not a reflection of her color. So, I'm hoping the matter's dropped. Any thoughts?
     
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  3. VANewbie

    VANewbie Devotee

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    Wow! You really said that...and no punishment. Wow is all I can say, just wow.
     
  4. kimrandy1

    kimrandy1 Enthusiast

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    Which is exactly why I don't use that word, ever, even in conversations outside of school. I found it too hard to censor myself to only using certain words in certain situations, so I dropped them out of my vocab completely. I can't imagine the use of that word directed AT students.....
     
  5. PCdiva

    PCdiva Connoisseur

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    Yeah, I don't use that word, I dont really understand calling a class that either...but I guess this could be a regional thing...do kids call each other that in your area frequently? Not that it would make it ok, but you would hear it more often. What were they doing to be called that?

    That mother can very well make a stink to the board about it and it wouldnt be good for you.
     
  6. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    That is one of the most offensive words in the English language. I'm kind of hoping the kids I teach would know better than to utter it in my presence, regardless of their race or their intent in using it.It doesn't matter what the circumstances are, that word is racist and offensive. To the best of my knowledge my 3 kids have never heard it, and if I have my way they never will.

    Good luck to you. I have the feeling you're going to need it.
     
  7. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    I wouldn't bet on the matter being dropped. You have really placed yourself in a very difficult situation. How do you prove you aren't a racist? By your actions . . and your actions spoke loudly. If this mother chooses to press the issue (and I am betting she will), it really will be difficult to prove. Saying you have top students who happen to be African-American really proves nothing.
     
  8. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    Now you know not to think out loud again. You have no idea who's around listening.
     
  9. TiffanyL

    TiffanyL Cohort

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    Oh good grief :huh:
     
  10. Joyful!

    Joyful! Habitué

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    Jun 17, 2010

    YIKES!!!!
    Well, I would say that you might think about extra credit for said child to save yourself a great amount of grief. Two wrongs don't make a right, but hey, in this case it might mitigate the immediate damage.
    I would imagine that you realize that the word is one best left in a previous decade, so I will not take you to task, after all, who am I? People err. You erred in a major way. The best thing you can do is to learn from it, move forward and eradicate it from your vocabulary.
    Additionally, I might suggest that you consider taking a day off once in a while if you tend to get stressed to that degree. You don't want to end up on the news some day for something really out of character.
     
  11. funshine2381

    funshine2381 Companion

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    Jun 17, 2010

    I do find that word extremely offensive and like Alice, I would hope that my son hasn't heard that word- but in reality, in my area, he probably has. I hear it quite frequently at my school by the black students. We have a large population of African Americans and I repeatedly tell them to stop it whenever I hear it in the halls or whenever. They then informed me that n*g*a is something you call your buddy or whatever. I don't understand it at all and I don't pretend to...but I made it very clear that I don't want to hear any variation of that word in my class. I'm sorry that you are in this situation...you are obviously remorseful and I hope the best for you! I understand the feeling of doing something you wish you could take back (don't we all).
     
  12. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Jun 18, 2010

    I hope you don't really expect us to sugar coat this for you, because I for one can't. That's pretty much inexcusable. Accidents happen, but unfortunately, this is not an accident. You, by your own accord, offended an entire group of students, and you got caught. I'm not surprised in the least that this mother is questioning you. Mothers tend to question teachers for a lot less. You did what you could, and you better hope that you have detailed documentation of all students' grades. Be prepared to have your every move questioned.

    We had a very good program this year at my school about bullying and cyberbullying. Basically, the message was that once something is said, it is VERY hard to take it back. What is said is said. They demonstrated this point by using a can of silly string-it's really easy to spray this string out of the can, but once it's out, you can't put it back in.

    Good luck getting this back-as Alice said, you're gonna need it. Like it or not, fair or not, reputations can be built on just a few words. Just ask Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen, Fuzzy Zoeller, Michael Richards...
     
  13. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jun 18, 2010

    I think it IS fair.

    We are defined by our actions. We can talk until we're blue in the face about the kind of person we would like to be perceived as. But it's what we do that counts.

    I've had what some might call a "draining" few years as well. But some words, like the one being discussed here, are beyond the pale for any reason. There simply is no excuse.

    My son is Asian. If he EVER said that a teacher had made a deragatory comment about his race, you can bet there would be hell to pay. And that every single instance of his or her judgment would be called into question.
     
  14. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Jun 18, 2010

    I personally don't feel the word is automatically racist, but it is extremely offensive and should simply never be used.

    There is a double-standard with the word, but that doesn't make it acceptable for anyone else to use it.

    There is a phonetically similar word that means "stingy", but use of that word can also be dangerous, even though the two are etymologically unrelated. In 1999, David Howard was forced to resign his position as an aide to Washington, D.C. mayor, Anthony A. Williams, after using that word in reference to a budget.

    The bottom line is that there is no defensible excuse for using the word, due to it's highly offensive and derogatory nature.

    I'm sorry you've put yourself in this controversial situation, dramaqueen. I hope things will work out for you.
     
  15. Reality Check

    Reality Check Habitué

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    Jun 18, 2010

    You probably should have just passed her instead of taking on yet another battle, in light of the circumstances you're now operating in, in order to diffuse the situation.
     
  16. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Wow! I would never use this word...ever. As teachers, we are professionals and should uphold ourselves as such. I'm surprised that no consequence has been given, but I don't think you've heard the end of it either.
     
  17. Unbeknownst

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    I also agree wholeheartedly that what you said was entirely inappropriate and offensive, especially in an educational environment.

    I disagree, however, that this word should be enough to press charges on someone. It is a word, no matter how offensive, and I disagree that a word should be enough indict someone with criminal charges, or end a career for that matter.

    I believe you understand that you've gotten yourself in a pickle. Learning from mistakes (instead of committing the same mistake over and over) is where growth occurs.

    Hopefully you can grow from this experience.
     
  18. Unbeknownst

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    Disagree.

    As Alice said, actions speak for your character.

    The OP already has one huge strike against her. How would passing someone (who hasn't obtained mastery) merely based on your own mistake help the situation?

    The other students and subsequently their parents will catch wind of this, and you then have another questionable action on your hands.
     
  19. WhatchaDoin?

    WhatchaDoin? Comrade

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    Jun 18, 2010

    Wow.

    Again, this may be regional, but a comment like that in my area would result in A LOT of trouble. Not just between the students and the teacher. It just would not be good.

    Are you sure you want to teach? Maybe a different age group? I just can't imagine getting to the point of saying something that would be so ---I can't think of a word to describe it. Maybe the summer would be a good time to really rethink your occupation.


    You may also want to watch your posts on here. Your username, subject area, and location could make it pretty easy for people to identify you.

    Good luck.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2010
  20. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    I don't think anyone mentioned pressing charges. And I do disagree, this is something that could end her career. Education is a small, small world and principals talk while they are playing golf at principals conferences, at curriculum meetings, and all the other numerous meetings principals attend. While this isn't something that could get her license revoked, it could most definitely damage her chances of ever getting a job in her area.
     
  21. Unbeknownst

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    After re-reading the posts, it was one of your posts that I misinterpreted.

    You mentioned if the mother "pressed the issue," and I accidentally read it as pressing charges.

    I just need to sloooooooooooow down :)
     
  22. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    I am a very strong advocate of free speech. I teach my son there are no "magic" words (with multilingual children it becomes a bit hard to justify anyway). He can say the F word and the S word in front of me (I don't think he knows what the F word actually means), and all he'll get is a warning.

    However, I would punish him for that word. If I heard that a teacher used it to students, I would be contacting the office the next day even if it weren't to my son (who isn't black, so it wouldn't be -- but you get the idea). It isn't just a racial epithet, it's a racial epithet that evokes memory of slavery.

    I don't know, maybe you can explain it through ignorance? Otherwise, it's probably one of the most vicious things you could have said, and if I were that parent I would be continually suspicious too, even if you did apologize.
     
  23. Soccer Dad

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    Just be grateful you don't teach my own kids.... and I'm saying that as a white republican.

    Not to attack you, but how on Earth did you let THAT word slip!?!?!?! It doesn't make sense to me. I really can't think of a nastier word other than the derogatory word for Spanish people.
     
  24. futureteach21

    futureteach21 Habitué

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    I agree with Soccer Dad. That word is not one that just slips out if its out of character for you.
     
  25. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I'm not trying to hijack this thread, But how do other people react when your child uses the "f" and "s" word in front of them? I guess I'm not as liberal as you because in my house, the child would be sent home if they used that kind of language around my children.
     
  26. kfhsdramaqueen

    kfhsdramaqueen Rookie

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    In response

    In reply to the poster who said "I need to rethink my occupation" I have been teaching for nine years, and I love my job, and would never change it for a year. I do have documentation of every grade the said child has received, and I have spoken to the principal about this child's grade, and she, although she has put me on notice that I am being closely monitored next school year for any lapses, she feels the child has failed legitimately (mine is not the only class she is failing)
    I am surprised how little acceptance of human flaws there is here. It is not an excuse for my behavior, but this school year has been a doozy (see other post). A child can tell me to f *** myself, key my car, and threaten to "get me", and they get a day of detention, but my entire character, career and life is being called into question because of a slip of the tongue. I am blamed for things I didn't do because I'm the one that uses the space the most, and I have to shut down an entire theatre program for two weeks, but a child who is caught having sex in the same space is sent home for two days.
    I was not expecting sympathy, but I guess perhaps a little "what you did is wrong, but it's not the end of the world". I'm glad my colleagues are more forgiving than you all.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2010
  27. Soccer Dad

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    But the fact is that if you're using the n word in a classroom with the kids whose parents are paying your salary to them.... I think that you need to get reconnect with the part of you that wanted to be a teacher.

    I know we all let things slip, that's life. But if I ever heard a McDonald's worker, a bank teller, a waitress.... say that word, I'd be furious. Then to have a teacher say it... well, don't get me started.
     
  28. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    It is the word you chose . . . if you would have dropped the F bomb I think we would have said "what you did is wrong but it's not the end of the world." But the word you used makes it SOOOO different. And I am sorry, using the N word is NOT a human flaw!!

    And yes, a child can tell you to f yourself, get caught having sex and get sent home for two days. You are an adult and held to a higher standard. Students and adults do not have the same behavior expections, the same responsiblities nor the same punishments.

    I am sorry if you thought you would recieve sympathy and even more I am surprised you did recieve sympathy from your colleagues.
     
  29. TiffanyL

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    Well, when I first read your post, I was appalled but I tried to keep my opinion out of this one as you seemed truly remorseful. Its a shame that you really aren't remorseful at all. You are right that students do those things you commented on. They are students, children in fact. Many are from homes where appropriate behavior is not modeled for them. For some, the classroom teacher or the school administrator is the only person in their life modeling moral and ethical behavior. You have stated nothing that justifies calling a child/children n*****.
     
  30. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    This is hypocracy at it's finest.


    You teach your child that it's acceptable to say those words to the person he should respect the most in his life and then drop the hammer when anyone else does it.

    Why should it be acceptable for him to say to you but not for a teacher to say to him?????




    If you're going to accept him saying this to you, be ready to accept others saying to him and to you. Also be ready for the consequences of him saying it to others in a context where it is not tolerated. I'm sure you're thinking of a school context, but I'm thinking of him telling off a police officer who is writing him a speeding ticket (have fun talking to the judge about that one.)
     
  31. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    When I have a slip of the tongue, usually a word that pops out is one that I am accustomed to using...
     
  32. shasha379

    shasha379 Devotee

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    Same thing I was thinking.
     
  33. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    I'm not sure what you are complaining about. You still have a job. The principal agrees with you about the grade. Hopefully, the parent will not raise such a fuss about the grade so that the principal rethinks her decision to not take more harsh action against you. If I were you, I would offer to do anything necessary (tutoring etc) to help the student raise her grade.

    The main difference is that you are a adult professional who is being paid to conduct yourself in a dignified and professional manner. The students at your school are none of those things - yet. They are there to learn to be professional and conduct themselves in a dignified manner so that they can eventually earn a living doing a job like yours.

    But more importantly, they are there to learn to be dignified and professional from you. That means that the word that came out of your mouth is a word that you are being paid to teach your students to never use.

    So in that regard, you failed. In many professions, certain failures are not accepted even once. There is no do-over. I think the question we are grappling with here on this forum is whether or not your failure was one of those certain failures and whether or not you should get the do-over.
     
  34. Soccer Dad

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    In all honesty, crap happens! No one wants their car to be keyed, no one wants to be cursed at... and no student wants the teacher that they have entrustred their education with to say the n word. The difference: you're a grown. I'm not making execuses for them, but their brains aren't mature yet. Yours should be!

    I don't sense you really understand that your word choice is horrendous. And, you've stated you've been teaching for 9 years...? Well you definitely should know better!

    What you said was wrong... don't make excuses for it.
     
  35. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    My wife swears like a sailor. But I'm pretty sure the word you said in front of your students has never passed her lips.
     
  36. Soccer Dad

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    I don't get how you even used it... so you were mumbling to yourself and you just went "...n word." I don't see it.

    And you didn't just say a curse word, you said something immensely derogatory. Saying the **** is one thing, saying that word is a different ball game.
     
  37. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Uhh... maybe my post wasn't exactly clear, because I don't entirely understand what you're saying here. It's the N word I would punish him for. Not F, and not S. If a teacher dropped an F bomb in class I'd pretty much shrug my shoulders if it weren't directed at students.

    He is clear that he faces potential consequences from saying ANY words, regardless. The F word is no worse than words like idiot, stupid, ugly, or fat.

    I certainly can be accused of being liberal on this issue -- and many may say far too liberal, but hypocrisy was not an accusation I anticipated.

    And swan, he doesn't really use the F or S word much at all -- he knows others react badly to it and refrains. But if he were sent home from someone's house for it I'd tell him that's what he gets, and that it can reflect badly on all of us. I don't think anyone knowing him would realize any difference than if I told him the words were per se immoral.
     
  38. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    100% :agreed: You are the professional adult in the situation. You should be a role model for your students. And you are really lucky that your P is so forgiving, because I don't think I would have been. If I were your P, you wouldn't be coming back next year. I'm surprised your colleagues are as forgiving as they are.
     
  39. passionateacher

    passionateacher Comrade

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    I don't use profanity even in the privacy of my home BUT if you had muttered a**holes it would have made more sense. I'm guessing they were loud and rowdy, maybe cussing at you...which would make them a**holes. Don't twist my words: It would not be appropriate for any teacher to call kids a**holes in any circumstance, but I could better UNDERSTAND that word being slipped out in this situation (although it'd be better if you thought it inside your head).

    However, saying n***** does not reflect how a person behaves....does it? It's not even an adjective! So it appears that if you use that word for a group of black students who were being wild/rude/mean it's because of their skin color. I know you were having a bad day and they were horrible, BUT WHY DIDN'T YOU MUTTER ANY OF THE FOLLOWING WORDS: stupids, idiots, dummies....get the point?

    If the group of kids had been white kids, would you have still called them n******?

    The only word that I've thought inside my head when teaching is "shutup" because I do say that word outside of school (not to kids but with adults...mostly when joking). Somedays I think I'm going to slip and say that word but ONLY because it is a part of my active vocabulary. So is n***** a part of your active vocabulary? If so, you just might have a little teeny tiny bit of racism in your blood. Unless, of course, you use it when you are angry at your cat or dog...;)
     
  40. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I couldn't even get that **** word past my lips when explaining this thread to Rockhubby, and I have a very salty tongue.
     
  41. passionateacher

    passionateacher Comrade

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    And for the record:

    I don't think it's ok to call kids "stupids, idiots, or dummies."

    I'm just saying I'd expect any of those words being muttered by a frustrated teacher versus the N word. (And no, I've never muttered those words either. Usually I just take a deep breath and get silent until I calm down).

    And I don't know why I said the N word isn't an adjective, because none of the bad names I posted would be adjectives either. So just ignore that part...:blush:
     
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