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Teacher Fired for Organizing Fundraiser for Trayvon Martin Family

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"I was told I was a bad teacher, that I was being unprofessional, that I'm being paid to teach, not to be an activist."

Brooke Harris, an English teacher at Michigan's Pontiac Academy for Excellence Middle School, was inexplicably fired recently with little to no explanation - and according to Harris, the reason is that she tried to organize a rally to support the family of slain teen Trayvon Martin. Yahoo News caught the item:

Harris said while the school's principal signed off on the fundraiser, Superintendent Jacqueline Cassell said no because of the manner in which they would be wearing the hoods - over their heads. Harris asked Cassell to meet with the students so they could present their case, but Harris was suspended for two days.

"I was told I was a bad teacher, that I was being unprofessional, that I'm being paid to teach, not to be an activist. When I tried to defend myself, it was construed as insubordination," Harris told the Detroit Free Press.[...]

"I asked her if she could please tell me what I did wrong to come to the first meeting," Harris said in a report by The Detroit News. "After I asked that question twice, she never gave me an answer — then she fired me."

The Superintendent has denied that the firing had anything to do with Harris' alleged activism, and has claims that she only refused to approve the protest because exams are coming up. The Associated Press report sheds little light on the subject, only adding that the students would have asked to wear hoodies in place of their uniforms, and that Harris had encouraged them to make the request in person to the superintendent.

The incident has already sparked protests from groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, and from Detroit Area Black Churches.

Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the Academy's decision was a "travesty" that would only hurt students.

"It taught the students who tried to organize and tried to raise their voice in terms of social justice that they will be repressed," Walid said at a news conference at a Detroit church. "Instead of empowering our children ... the Pontiac Academy is actually teaching children to internalize oppression and internalize racism."

A rally about the Martin case and Harris' firing was scheduled at the church — King Solomon Missionary Baptist — for Tuesday evening. Harris was expected to be there.

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