Courageous- Part II

     Though Jada had never mentioned any specific teacher by name, her English teacher pressed her for more information, saying she didn’t like being “lumped in” with a group that Jada had claimed isn’t doing their job. Jada mentioned that she really hadn’t referred to her, but her teacher scolded her not to demean her colleagues. After this, Jada saw her grades begin to plummet, and she was threatened with in-school suspension for laughing in class. When her mother Carla began getting phone calls from teachers, things got even more heated. The callers wanted to know why Jada was so “angry”. Carla had known that Jada’s essay had caused one teacher to become offended, but this was getting out of hand. Carla kept asking the teachers at the school to tell her why they were labeling her daughter as “angry” but “they could never clarify why they were saying that.” Multiple meetings between her and the teachers proved fruitless, as she could never get them to explain their attitude towards her daughter, who had always been referred to by teachers as a well-behaved student.
     When they started calling Jada’s father at work, he requested a meeting. That meeting included not only school administrators, but also the vice president of the teacher’s union and a social worker. Again, there was no resolution, because, as Carla explained in a second Glenn Beck interview yesterday, they were really just interested in “working on” Jada.
     Jada’s parents, not wanting their daughter to be harassed any further, pulled her out of that school. She was placed into another public school, but not the one of her parents choosing because the school board said they had no openings at that particular location. Her second school experience proved bad as well because it was a school where “unteachable” and troubled students end up. After witnessing multiple fights in the course of a few days, she was pulled out of there as well. This interruption in her education took its toll on Jada emotionally, as she tearfully related in the first Beck interview, “I feel misunderstood, because most grownups are making it a racial issue, when it’s a learning issue. I also feel hurt, because I’m not in school right now. They’re taking from me the one thing that I do love, and I feel confused because I thought I lived in a country of freedom of speech.”
     So this is what happens to kids nowadays who decide to become critical thinkers and think “outside the box”? Have schools just become places where teachers are teaching for whatever standardized test is required of them? Where the students do nothing more than memorize and then repeat back what’s required of them on these tests? At least one student had the guts to challenge what public education has become, and hopefully, she’ll always feel free to ask questions, and not allow herself to be put in a box.
     She’s much more fortunate than many of her peers because she has two parents that are also actively involved in her education. Sadly, many low-income students—regardless of their race—lack that support. Jada has a pretty good chance of not ending up as a casualty of a public school system that she compared to modern day slavery. She should be applauded for taking the initiative to read a book like The Narrative Life of Frederick Douglass. It is definitely not an easy read (or an easy “listen”) for someone of any age to get through, given that it was written in the 1800’s by a man that was very intelligent. The fact that she understood what he was trying to say in the book and was able to relate it to her own life says she is wise beyond her years.
     The story does have a happy ending. When the Frederick Douglass Foundation of New York found out about her story, they wanted Jada to come away from this experience with something positive. So they created the “Spirit of Freedom Award” and presented it to her last month during Black History Month. They commended her for being a “21st Century Abolitionist”…and so she is. You can watch that presentation and see Jada reading her full essay here.
     Jada’s also back in school now. It seems the school board had a change of heart and found a spot for her at PS #58 after all. The school, called the World of Inquiry School, is one of Rochester’s Blue Ribbon Schools. That sounds like just the place for a thinker like Jada.

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