Last week, Brooke Harris, a literature teacher in Michigan, was fired for supporting some students who planned a "Wear a Hoodie to School Day" in memory of Treyvon Martin. The idea was similar to when we have our "Hat Day" here at Pilgrim... Students would pay $1 to wear a Hoodie to school and the money raised would be sent to the family of Treyvon Martin. Just as at Pilgrim where hats are not normally allowed, hoodies are not normally allowed at Pontiac Academy for Excellence Middle School.
Harris claims she did everything "by the book"... she sent a proposal and request to administration, and when it was determined that the fundraising event would cause too much of a distraction the proposal was rejected. Harris then encouraged students to make their request in person to the superintendent for which she was suspended then quickly fired.
The case raises issues of how much teachers should be allowed to discuss their own personal politics and beliefs in their classroom... an issue I know I struggle with when it comes to topics of politics, religion, and a host of social issues...
In a similar issue concerning free speech, Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen has been suspended for comments he made in support of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Guillen was quoted as saying "I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that [expletive] is still here." His comments sparked outrage in the Miami community, which is home to a large Cuban-American population... many of whom risked their lives to escape Castro's Cuba.
Guillen was forced to make a public apology and has been suspended for five games for his comments... comments that are supported by the First Amendment. The Miami Marlins want it made clear that Guillen's feelings were not representative of the Marlins or anyone else in the organization. ESPN, sports radio, and new media outlets all over the country have been slamming Guillen and anyone supporting him...
Is supporting Guillen's right to make such comments the same as supporting the comments themselves?