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Teachers Behaving Badly…Again

Scott on November 8, 2008 at 12:45 am

As an educator, there are few things that offend me more than teachers who bully their students and use their classroom as a launchpad for intimidation and indoctrination.  In my mind, the worst are the elementary school teachers who work to push their young and impressionable students to hold to beliefs that match their own.  Those students who are different or who believe differently are singled out and belittled until they evidence the “correct” set of beliefs.

Case in point: Diatha Harris, 5th grade teacher in North Carolina.  She was filmed for a Swedish documentary about education in the U.S.  Check her out in action:

YouTube Preview Image

Here’s the transcript of the video starting 23 seconds into the clip:

TEACHER:  I want to ask you – Who are you pullin’ for?  Raise your hand.


TEACHER:  You pullin’ for Obama.  Who you pullin’ for?  And if you pullin’ for John McCain, that’s fine, say him as well.



STUDENT:  John McCain

TEACHER:  John oh Lord John McCain

STUDENT:  John McCain

TEACHER:  Oh, Jesus!  John McCain.  OK, now I want to ask you something.  WHY are you pullin’ for John McCain?  And it’s OK, but why are you pulling for John McCain?

STUDENT:  I think it’s because my parents are going for him, too.

TEACHER:  OK, your parents are going for him.

TEACHER:  (to another student)  Why are you going for Barack?

STUDENT:  Because I just want a black president sometimes

TEACHER:  OK, you want a black president,

STUDENT:  The reason why I would pick Barack Obama because he’s making good changes and the good country and stuff like that

TEACHER:  So he’s making good changes for our country.  OK now can you tell me just a little bit more.  What type of changes?

STUDENT:  Like not having a fight between Iraq and having soldiers killed.

TEACHER:  So in other words, Barack is going to end that war in Iraq.  What do you all know about that war in Iraq?  (To a girl who had spoken earlier)  Talk to me ’cause your dad’s in the military.  Talk.

TEACHER:  It’s a senseless war.  And by the way, Kathy, the person that you pickin’ for president sayin’ that our troops could stay in Iraq for another 100 years if they need to, so that mean that your daddy could stay in the military for another 100 years.

As my grandfather would have said, this teacher is about a subtle as a lead pipe and/or a ton of bricks.

And her comment at the end of the clip bears repeating:

(to the documentary interviewer) – I can support whomever I want to support as long as I don’t brow beat another person for the candidate that they support.  Like I have some students who support John McCain and when they told me that I said, “Oh, that’s good,” and I just moved on.  So I think everybody’s entitled to their own personal opinion.  We have something in our school system called Kids Voting.  In my class Barack Obama won.

She doesn’t consider what she was doing to the girl browbeating?!? And she seems to be clueless as to how HER behavior in class could be considered intimidation.  When she says “In my class, Barack Obama won,” she is so proud as though that is PROOF that she is doing nothing wrong.  What about the students in the class who saw the girl mocked and made fun of and who then decided they would rather go along with the teacher rather than stand their ground and be ridiculed?

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