By John Kanelis / email@example.com
Allow me this bit of unsolicited advice to educators everywhere: Do not engage in “jokes” that seem to mirror hideous news events.
So it is, then, that a Greenville Independent School District teacher has resigned after being suspended over a picture of her placing her foot on the back of a Lamar Elementary School student’s neck. Sound familiar? Yep, the teacher took part in this supposedly good-natured stunt on the day that a Minneapolis jury convicted former cop Derek Chauvin of murdering George Floyd by pressing his knee on the back of Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes in 2020.
The ”joke” went over like the proverbial lead balloon. Could the timing of this incident have been any worse?
When the picture went viral, the school district suspended the teacher. The youngster on whom the supposed joke was perpetrated said he didn’t take offense. The boy’s mother said her family has a good relationship with the teacher and she, too, spoke in support of the educator.
Then the teacher quit. I should point out that the teacher is white and the student is African-American.
KETR’s Mark Haslett reported: “We take this situation very seriously. It will be thoroughly investigated, and appropriate action will be taken,” Superintendent Demetrus Liggins said in an email that went out to parents of Greenville ISD students. “We have heard from many community members, and we understand their concern and anger.”
The anger apparently prompted the teacher to resign rather than face possible recrimination for her action.
The entire world’s sensitivity to this kind of conduct has been heightened tremendously by the Chauvin trial and the incident that resulted in his conviction of murdering George Floyd. Chauvin is a white former police officer who applied unreasonable force to restrain Floyd, a black man who was arrested for – get this – passing some counterfeit currency in a Minneapolis convenience store.
So, for a Northeast Texas educator to take part in a so-called prank and have the image of her foot on the back of a youngster’s neck released on the very day of Chauvin’s conviction smacks of the height – or the depth – of poor judgment.
So, there’s a lesson to be learned from all of this. I believe the world’s eyes have opened wide to people’s perception of actions intended ostensibly to be done as a good-natured joke.
NOTE: This blog post was published initially on KETR.org.