The assignment was to study The Narrative Life of Frederick Douglass, and form a connection with the abolitionist’s struggle of literacy during a time when African Americans were prohibited from learning to read.
Jada says that’s exactly what she did.
“I was explaining that this stuff still goes on in the district and the schools today,” Jada said.
Jada drew a parallel between Douglass’ struggles and the problem in her school’s classrooms; at one point, comparing illiteracy among her school peers with a modern day form of slavery.
“When I myself sit in a crowded classroom with no real concrete instruction is taking place, it makes the saying, ‘history does repeat itself’ all the more true,” Jada said.
Once she submitted the essay to her English teacher, she noticed a difference at school. Jada says she felt as though some of the staff was treating her differently for expressing her opinion.
Carla says Jada, a straight-A student, started earning poor marks.
“You know, the grades, the Ds, where that never was going on the first two marking periods,” Carla said.
The story was picked up by Kevin D. Williamson at NRO yesterday:
Her teacher was so offended by the essay that she circulated copies of it to the rest of the faculty and to the principal. Miss Williams, an A student, suddenly began to receive Ds. According to accounts, her mother received harassing telephone calls from teachers who suggested that she was in some way disturbed rather than merely observant. She was forced eventually to withdraw from the school and enroll in an even worse one. (The Blaze has more.)
The best Mr. Vargas could say was this: “We could have responded better. This is a situation that was definitely not handled the best way.” To say the least: Teachers refused to show Miss Williams’s mother the schoolwork she had allegedly performed poorly on, and they refused to answer many of her questions about her daughter’s performance and alleged behavioral problems.
The teachers also failed to enter Miss Williams’s essay in the contest for which it was written — intentionally sabotaging her chances at an academic honor.
Miss Williams received an award from the Frederick Douglass Society of New York and had the chance to tell her story on Glenn Beck’s television show. But most students in her situation will never have such an opportunity.
As Douglass observed: “Find out just what any people will quietly submit to, and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them.” How about it, Rochester? How much of this are you willing to quietly submit to?
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