“I have no words that can express my gratitude and thanks for the support you have shown toward me during this turbulent time of my career,” Alan Barron said on his Facebook page. “Each day I preach to my students far more than history. I preach about choices, commitment and community service as I try to practice what I teach.”
Barron — only a month from retirement — had been suspended for two weeks after a school administrator deemed one of his lessons inappropriate.
The lesson in question: While teaching his eighth-grade history class about America’s struggles with racial segregation and inequality, Barron showed students a video featuring white Americans using blackface to mockingly imitate blacks as part of a broader social scheme of repression.
Many parents and students spoke out following Barron’s suspension, saying the teacher was merely giving students an honest look at America’s past and that his actions were in no way racist.
In a statement posted on Facebook, the superintendent of Monroe Public Schools defended the decision to place Barron on paid leave to give the district “time to fully consider what occurred in this classroom” and went after “social and print media” for spreading “incorrect information.”
“[T]here is a perception that the district was opposed to a teacher providing students with information about the history of racial issues in this country. This simply is not true and is a misinterpretation of the concern,” superintendent Dr. Barry Martin said. “Monroe Public Schools, following Michigan curriculum, requires and values the teaching of African American history and issues of race as part of our social studies instruction. The teacher in question was placed on paid leave to give the district time to fully consider what occurred in this classroom.”
The post generated dozens of negative comments, with commenters criticizing the superintendent’s statement as defensive and disingenuous.
“Wasn’t the Assistant Principal sitting IN the classroom and the one that started this whole circus?” asked one commenter. “How much time does the district need?”
“Wow that cleared up nothing but I’m sure a lawyer was well paid to write it,” another commenter quipped. “Yet again a school district’s foolish actions put it in the spotlight.”
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