Is this considered a “teachable moment”?
Lincoln Brown, a 48-year-old Chicago Public Schools teacher, has filed a federal lawsuit against the district after being suspended without pay for five days for using the “n-word” as a part of a lesson highlighting the “perils of racism,” the Chicago Sun-Times reports:
The incident occurred last October when Brown said he used the n-word after two of his students were passing notes with rap lyrics that included it, according to the Sun-Times. The lawsuit alleges Brown used the word during a “teachable moment” in the context of the book Huckleberry Finn in order to show how such language can hurt. But as the words left Brown’s lips, the school’s principal walked in to the Murray Language Academy classroom.
Murray Principal, who is Black, George Mason charged Brown with “using verbally abusive language to or in front of students” as well as “cruel, immoral, negligent, or criminal conduct or communication to a student, that causes psychological or physical harm.”
Brown has just served the first of his five days of suspension, but told WLS-TV he’s worried that this has ruined his reputation as a teacher.
“This cannot be a part of what people think I am,” Brown told the station. “My character has been assassinated.”
In response to the lawsuit, CPS Director of Communications Robyn Ziegler issued a statement. According to WLS-TV:
“The principal determined that the way the teacher used the word was improper and imposed a short suspension…. The teacher has received sufficient due process. In our opinion, his federal lawsuit is without merit.”
Although CPS didn’t explicitly accuse Brown of racist language, schools’ political sensitivity to issues of race are prevalent across the country. And when they’re not, their communities have shown to make the issue known.
Do you think teachers should be able to say the “N-Word” in class when discussing school subjects or should the word be censored out completely in an academic setting with children?