When you think about the issues that are important to you, where do race and social justice rank? Students at the Center School, in Seattle, believe they are of the utmost importance. That is why they are protesting the transfer of Jon Greenberg, the teacher who teaches the Citizenship and Social Justice class there.
Last year, the class created quite a stir when one student complained that he felt uncomfortable discussing white privilege and rights. The school board did an investigation about whether the class was making others feel the same way and whether it should continue to be taught. They decided it could continue under the stipulation that it would be “taught in a non-threatening manner.”
The class went on, but the family of the same student complained again. This time, they said they felt like the teacher was retaliating against the student for complaining and that the class still had an intimidating feeling.
Again, the school board investigated. Greenberg was cleared, but was told he violated the District’s harassment policy by allowing students to circulate a petition during class. More than 600 people ended up signing it in favor of “citizenship and social justice.”
“When he is gone, there will be nobody to teach the race-and-justice curriculum,” said Center School senior Yasab Pfister, referring to Greenberg’s “Citizenship and Social Justice” course.
Kimberly Della Luce, whose daughter is a Center School student, backed up the students. “I’m incredibly disappointed,” she said. “My daughter is a junior who would be taking the course next year. As a parent, I chose this school for its social justice curriculum. I’m not sure I want my child here next year.”
Now many students and families are trying to get the school board to reconsider the transfer.
“They are taking from us a great teacher, an award winning teacher,” said Zak Meyer, the protest organizer. “It will have a chilling effect, here and around the school district.
So far there is no word on whether Greenberg will attempt to teach the class at Hamilton.