I am the Michigan teacher removed from teaching African-American history

Scott Craig has taught social studies for 32 years at Seaholm High School in Birmingham (though the class that is the subject of this column was taught at neighboring Groves High). Craig has a master’s in African American and Labor History from Wayne State University.

In the past two weeks, Birmingham Public Schools has been embroiled in controversy around the teaching of African-American history and the district’s approach to race relations instruction. Bridge Magazine printed two articles about the removal of a white teacher who was teaching African-American history at Groves High School. New Superintendent Mark Dziatczak sent a message to 8,000 members of the community and staff, criticizing the course syllabus and substantially agreeing with the Bridge opinion piece.

I am that teacher.

I was offered this opportunity to write a response in Bridge. What is at stake here is the trend in education to stifle teachers’ ability to instruct in areas laden with controversy. Districts will do anything to avoid negative publicity, including throwing their own teachers under the bus.

“What is at stake here is the trend in education to stifle teachers’ ability to instruct in areas laden with controversy. Districts will do anything to avoid negative publicity, including throwing their own teachers under the bus.”

At a heated school board meeting on Feb. 26, the Birmingham African-American Family Network (BAAFN) listed seven demands that included that the parents be allowed to rewrite the course curriculum, and that a black teacher be found to teach the course. The result of this controversy is that Birmingham Public Schools is targeted for mishandling race-based issues.

As a result, many of the district’s 600-plus teachers feel unsupported by the district, and feel like they could be targeted next if parents complain about instruction.

The African-American history course that I created was criticized in an opinion column by Bridge reporter Chastity Pratt Dawsey, who has two children in the class. Pratt Dawsey portrayed the course syllabus as problematic, noting in particular the presence of fictional movies, including the much acclaimed, seminal film, “Boyz in the Hood.

Several discussions were held with Groves Principal Embekka Roberson. While I agreed not to show “Boyz In The Hood,” I would not agree to omit information about a 25-year period following the Civil Rights Movement when urban black communities were torn apart by drugs, gang violence, and mass incarceration. In Los Angeles alone, thousands of African Americans died in a turf war between the Bloods and the Crips. By age 14, 25 percent of black children in the U.S. have experienced a parent being imprisoned.

After expressing reluctance to put a more positive spin on the course by omitting these events, I was removed as the teacher. An African-American teacher was put in my place who, presumably, would agree to the course content changes demanded by parents and administrators.

While the original article may leave readers with the impression that some random white guy was assigned to teach the African-American course, I created the course out of a deep commitment to civil rights and ending prejudice. I come from a family where both parents were involved in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. I have a master’s degree in African American and Labor History from Wayne State University. And I’ve been a participant in nearly every district initiative around issues of race and diversity. I’m the sponsor of the Diversity Club (25 years) at neighboring Seaholm High that organizes school exchanges and provides a forum for open discussion. I’ve also organized 12 of our past 15 MLK Day assemblies at Seaholm.

I created the course because I saw a need. American history texts hardly mention African Americans from Reconstruction until Rosa Parks. Then, they drop most discussion about African Americans after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. They also gloss over the rich debate and controversies within the African-American community as they faced over 100 years of second-class citizenship after Reconstruction. Most white students in Birmingham have little understanding about the real history and conditions faced by African Americans. Many of our black students are truly interested in learning more about their history.

Both the Bridge column and the superintendent’s letter to the staff and community portrayed the course as shallow, inappropriate and as somehow avoiding proper review. This was not the case.  

In 2015, I researched existing African-American history syllabi, mostly taught in colleges. I examined and selected the best, most challenging readings ‒ such as works by Malcolm X, Frederick Douglas, Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey and W.E.B. DuBois ‒ and chose films that reflected a variety of points of view.  

The course was reviewed and approved in 2015 by my principal, department head, and our district Education Council that included three or four African-American parents. Approval was unanimous and widely praised, especially by the African-American parents on the Council. The course was reviewed again and I created a longer curriculum guide in the summer of 2018. The administrators who reviewed it also offered praise.

While my name was not used in Bridge or in the letter, within days hundreds of staff and community members figured out I was the teacher. I decided to speak openly in defense at a district board meeting Feb. 26, especially when I learned members of BAAFN, the parent group protesting my class, would be speaking.

At the meeting, I listened as the head of the parent group argued for a revamped curriculum approved by the parents, and a black teacher to teach this course. By the time I spoke, 35 to 40 district teachers had contacted me. All of them offered support, and most of them expressed the fear that they could be next.

As I was leaving, I was stopped individually by five African Americans. One was a district teacher who expressed strong support and said he wanted to speak, but his wife told him he could not risk his job. Others were parents. One said she did not know who I was or my background at the time that I was dismissed from teaching the class. The district had not offered much explanation. Another parent said her son was in my class, liked it, and that about a dozen students talked about staging a sit-in at the principal’s office demanding to know why their teacher had been removed.

As a result of this and other incidents, teachers have now expressed fears about teaching any controversial materials where racism or ethnocentrism is discussed. This includes classic literature, such as “To Kill A Mockingbird” or “Huck Finn.”

These fears are very real, and if this continues in Birmingham and across the state, students will not be asked tough questions and teachers will not take risks; they will play it safe. Changes in state laws in 2011-12 created a tough evaluation system where teachers can be rated low for a number of subjective factors. Parent complaints are a high priority in Birmingham. If fired for a series of low evaluations, the new “arbitrary and capricious” standard makes it far more likely that a teacher will lose an appeal before the state Teacher Tenure Commission.

The final irony comes from Jelani Cobb, an African-American writer for The New Yorker. The same day as the board meeting, Seaholm High showed a video on its student television network that upset some parents. The video, which featured Cobb and other African-Americans, used a satirical approach to highlight that so much of African-American history is reduced to a few incidents and not explored in depth.

“The problem with sanitizing black history is that we really neuter it of its usefulness in the present,” Cobb said in the video.

His warning serves as an apt rebuke to those parents and Birmingham administrators who did not want “Boyz in the Hood” shown or any information taught about the damage done to black communities across the U.S. over a 25-year period.  

They want a sanitized version of history; one that excludes events they find controversial or uncomfortable. As a historian, I know we’ve been down this road before, debating what should and should not be taught about Native American history, or about anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. I hope the truth prevails. Only with open and frank discussions do we have a chance to combat prejudices in our society.

Bridge welcomes guest columns from a diverse range of people on issues relating to Michigan and its future. The views and assertions of these writers do not necessarily reflect those of Bridge or The Center for Michigan.

Like what you’re reading in Bridge? Please consider a donation to support our work!

We are a nonprofit Michigan news site focused on issues that impact all citizens. In an era of click bait and biased news, we focus on taking the time to learn both sides of a story before we post it. Bridge stories are always free, but our work costs money. If our journalism helps you understand and love Michigan more, please consider supporting our work. It takes just a moment to donate here.

Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Donate now

Comment Form

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Comments

Kevin Grand
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 7:04am

A better question to ask, and something that I was reminded about over the weekend, is why the fixation on hyphenating AMERICAN History.

Facts are facts. It's either American History or it's not.

Eric
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 10:01am

That would be great if Blacks, Latinos, and all the other minorities' contributions to our society were reflected in history books. But they are not. That is why we need to use a remediation method like teaching specific classes on African American history and the like.

Kevin Grand
Wed, 03/13/2019 - 7:11am

Your "remediation method" only contributes to the balkanization of America.

You cannot on one hand tell people that prejudice is bad, and then turn around and do what you tell people the very same thing they shouldn't be doing by focusing solely on one group because of political correctness.

Fracturing the subject into smaller categories doesn't solve the underlying problem.

Fixing the history curriculum does.

A Black Educato...
Thu, 03/14/2019 - 10:01am

I wonder if you say the same thing about European History which has even become an Advanced Placement course recognized by the College Board? Or on St. Patrick's Day when every non-Irish person has on green to celebrate the Irish culture? Why must it be political correctness when it is tied to African American History? You are apart of the problem.

Kevin Grand
Thu, 03/14/2019 - 11:14pm

And, thank you for proving my point...

Lew Cannon
Sun, 03/17/2019 - 3:40am

You are the Balkanizer here, pal. A hyphenated class simply focuses on one aspect--and in this case a critical, foundational aspect--of our shared history.

Matt
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 8:10am

A simple mistake, thinking history meant actually meant history. When in actuality what was wanted is a course in grievance studies. Likewise, no American should attempt to teach Russian, Japaneses, Greek or other histories either, given the oppression experience involved in each culture. It is even highly doubtful whether you should even be allowed to teach Spanish, or any other languages, after all how can a Gringo presume that they understand the cultural complexity involved? Remember your tribe's version is yours, my tribe's version is mine. and this will work out well!

Bones
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 2:08pm

Leave it to Matt to completely misrepresent the topic at hand while tossing out Fox news buzz words.

Matt
Wed, 03/13/2019 - 10:28am

I don't have cable so don't watch Fox. I'll leave them to you.

Jeff
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 8:37am

So my question to you, Scott, is did the parent, the writer of the article, contact you when she was upset by the syllabus or did she just go over your head without giving you a chance to explain?

Richard Helder
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 8:56am

It is not surprising to see why so many teachers are leaving the profession in Michigan as well as not encouraging their kids to become teachers. I’m sure Mr. Craig provoked many a young mind in his years as a teacher. Sad epilogue to a passionate career.

Jeff Patterson
Mon, 04/22/2019 - 9:02pm

I am a former student of Scott Craig’s. I think what the district did here is an absolute travesty and truly a loss for the students in the class. In the classes I was in he touched on many important subjects that would be considered uncomfortable for many to confront, but served to open your eyes and you mind to bettet understand our world and our history.

Willie Wilson
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 8:59am

This actually goes on a lot. Most simply avoid controversy by not teaching actual history. It happens at the college level as well.

Willie Wilson
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 9:02am

Chastity Pratt Dawsey cost this conscientious instructor his position. She should apologize. What are her credentials in the subject which he taught?

Timberscot
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 9:19am

Unfortunately the history we were taught is not an accurate account of the history that occurred! I applaud this teacher for attempting to teach history as it occurred. Shame on the administration for bowing to the racial pressures. Can you say discrimination?

Joe
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 9:28am

Great article in response. Two issues: one, certainly censorship regarding African-American history and, two the ruling administrative stream of conscious regarding what should be taught and t he connection to evaluations. I hop that the local school board takes exception to the administrative mistakes made here.

Jake Morse
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 9:28am

As a retired Michigan public school teacher, I’m saddened at a teacher’s inability to utilize his abilities. School districts caving in to parental demands is far from new. After all, (I’m also the father of three sons educated in the public MI system), parents need to advocate for their students. However, the prejudice of this Birmingham case is grotesquely evident on a number of levels - maybe the most glaring being the BAAFN’s rejection of what appears to be a well thought out/researched, approved, needed, and extremely valuable class because of the presenter’s race. The kids deserve so much better.

ltrucks
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 9:51am

I'm of a somewhat advanced age so the version of American History that I was taught was pretty much let's wave the flag for the great American democracy. Absent was the interment camps during the second world war, the significant labor struggles especially during the late 1800s and the 1930s. Wounded knee was a scrape that a kid got during recess. Nobody mentioned the colonial period that brought us the Philippines and Puerto Rico among other possession. I can understand how it can be painful to face actual history, I don't think that sanitizing it is the answer. Kids already know that we are fallible and to pretend that we're not just produces cynicism. There may be some room for compromise in the curriculum, but let's be real.

Diane Shaw
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 10:05am

At first glance around this topic, I liked the idea that this district should have at least one or two teachers of African American descent ready and able to teach this class. But of course that doesnt mean that someone with credentialed study in an area, in this case AA history, should be prevented from teaching it! I believe strongly that more white teachers as well as more teachers of color (every color) need to study and learn and be able to teach this class! It may be just what some teachers can use in their day to day to relate to others.
About censorship- no. Just, no. If a credentialed teacher has a curriculum that was approved by a board including a panel of affected people, then teach it. I think my only concern about that movie would be the R rated nature and making sure to get parent approval for under 17s to watch it. But if it is used for a discussion topic, critical thinking skills get involved and our kids learn how to talk about difficult subjects. If our kids do not learn how to talk about difficult subjects, and how to address controversy in ways other than simply turning away or disallowing controversy, we have a problem. (and here you can insert an imagined but very long discussion about how talking about politics, religion, race and sexuality at home -and to some small degree even at school- is vital to our society and to our democratic processes!)
Teaching isnt easy, and I salute anyone who chooses that profession (I also work in education and love schools and the learning and growth environment.) Oversight is important; we have learned this from textbook situations and omissions, and the ongoing struggle over what to include or exclude from our childrens' education. I do not think we should blindly allow teachers to teach whatever they want. In this case, the curriculum was vetted, the teacher was teaching his specialty and area of interest, and it was in place until someone in the class with power complained. We cannot gloss over the parts of our history we do not like or understand. We cannot forget that much of the reasons for economic and social displacement of African Americans post MLK assassination is due to struggling race relations and the racial inequality endemic in America. We cannot forget that the responses and survival mechanisms used by people in crisis, even when difficult and unpleasant and sometimes criminal, do not represent every black American. But all of the differing aspects of the African American/Black/People of Color communities and are real and are an outcome of racial relations that we can and should still address.
We cannot ignore social inequalities by sweeping them aside, especially in our educational settings. We cannot simply say, "This course needs to be taught by someone whom this course affects" because we may lose out on an opportunity for it to be taught by someone who is interested in the area or has made it their life's work. But yes, we should have competent and credentialed teachers of African American descent ready and able to teach this class, as well as math, English, science, and every other course that needs to be taught. And we should switch out every year or semester or two between teachers so that many teachers teach this controversial and difficult subject matter! And if we disagree about it, and if we have intense feelings on an issue- all the more reason we need to bring it up in our classrooms. Our kids deserve this from us, and they need to learn the skills to navigate theory, reality, and discourse in their educational arenas, as well as in our American life.

Audrey Kennedy
Sat, 03/16/2019 - 4:10am

White people have a history... an actual HISTORY of twisting the truth to make themselves feel better about the treatment of the black community. You did just that in your above response. What’s more important is that the black community felt misrepresented by an educator. It doesn’t matter how qualified he is— he’s not African-American and therefore is missing a crucial sensitivity that the subject requires. A sensitivity that they are completely valid for wanting, look back at history.

Alfonso
Sun, 03/17/2019 - 10:17am

Your argument states that no matter how qualified a person can be, an educator must be of the race that he is teaching in order for the class to be meaningful/fairly representing a community. It turns out, that history contains many different races! It is improbable that every public school contains 10+ teachers for a world history class due to the "crucial sensitivity that a subject requires." There have been plenty of genocides throughout history including The Holocaust, Soviet famine of 1932–33), Polish genocide, Cambodian genocide, Armenian genocide, and many others. Despite the various ethnicities, religions, and races of affected by these genocides, it is unlikely that to make these core subjects of world history "sensitive", we need to include a teacher with the same ethnicities, religion, and race as the genocides. Regardless of these attributes, a genocide will remain a genocide and if taught correctly, will deeply affect those who learn about them.

Similarly, though Craig wrongfully fails to represent the accomplishments of African Americans during the "Unit 4- From Civil Rights to Today" section of the syllabus, he addresses other important historical events. If a teacher were to censor the material contained in an African American History course, then the students would not learn to avoid the mistakes in the future. Therefore, Craig should not have been hired, but his choices of media should be altered to create a more complete representation of the African American accomplishments.

Grady
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 10:18am

Identity politics is becoming the standard. The younger and more "woke" the more identity will trump logic, reason and facts. Discourse will not be needed. Everything is based on identity.

We are on the slippery slopes now people.

Francine Gross
Sat, 03/16/2019 - 4:12am

But what’s wrong with having an identity?

Ann Farnell
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 10:19am

In the future, all teachers of English Literature must be born in and from England. Further, teachers of Shakespeare's plays must be of royal blood if not a practicing King or Queen or at the very least of noble heritage.

Mrs. T
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 11:58pm

I am appalled by how ignorant this comment is. The issue is Mr. Craig's inability to appropriate blackness. If he doesn't see the wrong in teaching the last 50 years of black history through fictional movies, then remove him from the position. And if you believe the same is true, join him.
A black mother and educator.

Grady
Wed, 03/13/2019 - 9:16am

Is your position that art cannot be used as a teaching enhancement but other educators utilize art for this very purpose in classrooms everyday? If this is your position, please provide context. Simply stating something is "wrong" is not an argument; you have to back it up.

"If he doesn't see the wrong in teaching the last 50 years of black history through fictional movies BECAUSE a. b. c. etc. "then you have made an argument. Otherwise, you are simply stating an opinion that you believe has more credence apparently because of your status as a black mother and educator.

Jmk
Sat, 03/16/2019 - 5:39am

Madam, are you of the opinion that this educator only intended on showing one film and not providing context? That no other aspects of the subject would be taught? His syllabus included a focus on AA history in the most recent 50 years including the very real hurdles faced by a given group due to incessant discrimination. The movie is simply a tool to engage students with. You may be an educator and a mother but other than being of a particular ethnic background is your degree in the relevant subject?

AJC
Wed, 03/13/2019 - 11:13pm

So my question is would a movie like Deliverance be a good representation of rural southerners? Would the God Father be a proper representation of Italian Americans? Is there historical value in those movies?
African American History is American History and in my opinion can be taught by anyone. However, this nonsense about blood and crips is just ridiculous! The average American doesn’t know who invented the traffic signal, cell phone, or plasma storage. There’s so much more history to be taught, but he felt there was relevance in Gang violence. There should have been a better way to mediate this situation, but I question how much of a historian this teacher really is?

Willie Wilson
Thu, 03/14/2019 - 11:28am

What an appallingly ignorant response. He is teaching an academic subject, not "blackness." You threaten people who know things with dismissal if they know more than you do.

Cindy Miller
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 10:23am

First and foremost, our teachers are teaching critical thinking skills. This might even be frowned upon by parents and administrators. Teachers should not have to shy away from truth, especially if presented in a safe and accepting atmosphere where discussion follows issues presented.

Barb
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 10:33am

First of all, I want to thank Bridge for encouraging this second article to be written by the teacher. Second, Scott, thank you for sharing your well-thought out response, your credentials to teach this type of course, and the process of course evaluation. Not only do I understand your point of view, but I also agree with it. If we don't initiate a dialogue about uncomfortable subjects, how will we ever be able to be open to active discourse and participation as members of an ethnically diverse society. I would ask the question of the parents who want to write their own version of a curriculum - how much educational background do you have or cultural diversity have you experienced in your own personal lives? We have so little contact with other cultures, have so little understanding of each other's hardships and life experiences that it makes it all too easy to denigrate something we don't understand or wish to experience.

Michelle
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 10:33am

When I read the orginal article it was obvious the author had an axe to grind and you were the easiest scapegoat. The syllabus was appropriate and she tried to mislead readers by omitting what else was being taught in the course.

Instead of publicly humilating you, she could have set up a meeting to talk with you.

Anonymous
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 6:46pm

Two points:

Michelle,

With all due respect, Chastity did not identify the teacher in either of the original articles.

Second, Chastity made sure to obtain and embed in her column the full syllabus so that readers could judge for themselves whether the class material was serious and respresentative in covering that history.

If you go back and read her full article you would see that it was about far more than the choice of coursework and teacher for that particular class. Chastity broadened the subject considerably to convey to readers across the state just how little guidance even well-meaning teachers and school districts are given in the teaching of this history, if it is taught at all. So it strikes me as unfair to characterize the original column as some kind of hit job on a particular teacher.

Yes, her column was kind of a hybrid in that she was speaking and reacting in part as a parent in a class that her two children were taking. But she was also speaking as someone with a breadth of professional experience on a topic that is (or can be) as incendiary as it is relevant and essential to get right. Chastity Pratt Dawsey has spent decades of her life covering educational issues in Detroit and across Michigan.

Agree or disagree with her treatment of this subject, but I can think of no one in Michigan better qualified to bring this tough conversation into public view.

That’s exactly what great journalists do, provoke and get people to think twice about topics they thought they knew.

David Zeman
Bridge Editor

Justin
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 11:28pm

This defense of a poorly conceived article that threw a white teacher under the bus for teaching a full view of African American history--including difficult historical realities--is not convincing. Just because you included the syllabus doesn't mean you've fairly represented "both sides," because your 'reporter' was including only her snide comments. And just because you don't include a teacher's name doesn't mean you aren't tangibly responsible for the consequences to his life and career.

This was definitely a hit job on a particular teacher, because it was used as leverage to get him removed from the course--just because his name wasn't included doesn't mean he didn't become liable to Dawsey's intention to make waves in her world. When you admit that your "great journalist" was emotionally invested in this "hybrid" issue that directly involved her children and blurred the lines of journalistic professionalism, the rest of your defense takes on a hollow ring. Beyond inviting him to respond on the very same platform that produced his public humiliation, your organization owes this teacher an apology for treating him like a pawn in your racially-incendiary clickbait.

Provocateurs provoke people. Tabloids and entertainers provoke people. Great journalists report evenly and fairly.

S
Wed, 03/13/2019 - 8:30am

Very well said!

Michelle
Wed, 03/13/2019 - 2:22pm

Great points. This journalist used her job as leverage to take down a teacher because of her own personal issues, whether Bridge cares to admit it or not. I'm very disapointed to see they would defend her bias.

Yes, the syllabus was attached, but she decided to exaggerate things to manufacture a crisis and outrage.

fox1george@aim.com
Wed, 03/13/2019 - 4:54pm

Thanks Dave. I had decided to contribute to The Bridge just yesterday and had it on my list of "to do"s. After reading your
note, no thank you. No money supporting you after reading this response.

Chuck Jordan
Wed, 03/13/2019 - 8:31pm

Mr. Zeman,
Do you really think this is what great journalists do? You can say this journalist's article was objective?

Pat
Thu, 03/14/2019 - 9:44am

The words you use to defend her article discredit bridgemi.com

Barb
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 10:34am

First of all, I want to thank Bridge for encouraging this second article to be written by the teacher. Second, Scott, thank you for sharing your well-thought out response, your credentials to teach this type of course, and the process of course evaluation. Not only do I understand your point of view, but I also agree with it. If we don't initiate a dialogue about uncomfortable subjects, how will we ever be able to be open to active discourse and participation as members of an ethnically diverse society. I would ask the question of the parents who want to write their own version of a curriculum - how much educational background do you have or cultural diversity have you experienced in your own personal lives? We have so little contact with other cultures, have so little understanding of each other's hardships and life experiences that it makes it all too easy to denigrate something we don't understand or wish to experience.

David Harris
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 10:35am

Kudos to Scott Craig for his pointed response to the criticism of his African American history course and his eloquent statement in defense of academic freedom.

Malissa Bossardet
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 11:45am

I cannot believe that our new superintendent is engaged in such "knee-jerk" reactionary behavior. He was a bad choice for our district! My kid had Scott Craig for US Government and thinks he is an awesome teacher! He really inspires his students. I am sorry that great teachers get treated so poorly!

Kathy
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 11:18am

This is just another way of dumbing down our public schools by taking the true history being taught with a watered down version. Shame on the school board. It sounds like you are very qualified to teach this class.

Chastity
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 11:28am

The genesis of this dust up is the complaint that came from my son (who was in the class and is headed to Harvard in the fall): Boyz N Da Hood is not history. It is fiction.

Robert Honeyman
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 5:02pm

History is as much about cultural changes as it is about facts and figures. Using a fictional vehicle as a way of gleaning cultural nuance is common to the best history teachers and professors. Understanding the fiction *as* history is a failed understanding of teaching methods and of how one best transmits and teaches history in an ever changing landscape.

Nathan Corzine
Wed, 03/13/2019 - 7:41am

Movies provide a lens through which Americans talk about themselves, the issues confronting them, and a space in which to deal -- often in fictions -- with very real problems in our society. As one of our most important arenas of self-invention, film and fiction have a critical place in the history classroom - to spur conversation if nothing else. As a professional historian, I use fiction and film frequently.

The syllabus for this contentious course is in line with the best courses on African American history that I've seen across several college systems. It is similar, in intent and design, to the course I prepared at my community college a few years ago.

The outrage here over both the course in general and more specifically the "fictional" films is misplaced. It betrays a fundamental, albeit likely unintentional, misunderstanding of the craft, utility, and teaching of history.

Justin
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 11:31pm

Harvard includes the critical examination of fictional historical narratives as part of its history courses. Best of luck to your son.

D
Wed, 03/13/2019 - 8:27am

Ms. Dawsey,
Your college bound Harvard student sounds very intelligent. I only hope that he realizes the color of a persons skin does not make them unqualified to teach a class, especially when the person has a Masters in the subject and has spent his life fighting for equality. I can only hope he doesn’t carry on your legacy of discrimination.

Chastity
Wed, 03/13/2019 - 11:38am

Hi,
First, thank you for reading Bridge. For clarity, while my son did inform school officials that the teacher used the n-word in class, my son never said the teacher was unqualified to teach the class nor did he ask for a teacher of any particular color. In fact, nobody did. One parent asked if the district would consider an African American teacher. That was never a demand. You can watch the exchange here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMRX5pvTPeA (starts at 35 minute mark). Secondly, the teacher was removed before my column ran due to problems with the class that preceded my son's complaint. This issue is hairy and scary. Our only hope is that further discussions aim to solve problems and build bridges. Thx,-cpd

Pat
Thu, 03/14/2019 - 9:48am

From the looks of it you used your platform and serious national issues to oust a teacher you disagreed with instead of being a member of a community and creating a dialogue for improvement.

D
Thu, 03/14/2019 - 11:40am

Ms Dawsey,
Your son did not imply the teacher wasn’t qualified... you did by writing that article. Not only did you make him sound unqualified, you twisted it to make him sound racist. Which is so untrue. I was implying I hope your son doesn’t discriminate like you have.

Max
Thu, 03/14/2019 - 3:32pm

Chastity,

I am a passionate believer in education, especially when it comes to cultural histories and racial theory. While you may have chosen different curriculum, your view of education cannot be so shallow to think that an educator with decades of experience couldn't provide some sort of substantial insight through the selected materials. I understand that there should be a black educator, and quite frankly more educators of all races who are capable of teaching such a course, but you should petition the schools to increase funding to add another teacher on staff, or get another teacher certified to teach the course; there's no reason to remove him from the position. To be frank, your actions are seriously troubling and represent a lot of critical issues we are facing as a society, we need to change.

Secondarily, in that video you linked that man straight up claims to know what Martin Luther King Jr. would say to this situation, and goes to elaborates as to what MLK "would say". He cannot put words in MLK's mouth or pretend to know his assessment of this current situation. I really don't think he would agree with your actions. You people are crazy.

Grady
Wed, 03/13/2019 - 8:49am

With respect, Boyz n the Hood is not fiction, it is art. Art is often used to enhance teaching methods in various ways. As an undergrad taking a political science class, we watched several movies that were based on history. Working today, in professional education, instructors will show movies that both inspire and teach. Some simply show clips that demonstrate a point. The classic movie "12 Angry Men" is shown to demonstrate how to influence others using communication methods. The movie "13 Days" is also shown to demonstrate how complex decision making can be comprised by competing agendas.

I have no idea if Boyz n the Hood added value to the class or not, or if it even took value away. That is not for me to say. But to simply suggest Boyz n the Hood is fiction and therefore not appropriate in class is an ignorant statement and ignores that many educators use this medium to enhance teaching.

Caleb D.
Wed, 03/13/2019 - 11:02am

As an African American man with an advanced degree in African American studies from Harvard myself, I fear that your seemingly entitled son will soon be swallowed alive at Harvard if his views are so myopic that he feels the need (as a high-school senior, no less) to run to mommy when confronted with something that makes him uncomfortable. (Which, apparently, comes from something he learned from you: certain movies about black culture are somehow shameful and something from which to distance ourselves, holding no relevance to actual historical situations and, ergo, not worthy of discussion thereof.)

I can think of several instances in both high-school and college where teachers and professors used fictional stories and movies as tools in history classes. A good teacher can use those tools to start worthwhile discussions with their students. It is irrational and deliberately obtuse to argue that works of art--whether film, music, or prose--have no place in a history class.

As for the content of the class, you do realize (I hope) that this is but one class. It is impossible to cover all aspects of ANY history (or any other subject, for that matter) in one class, otherwise college degrees would take little more than a semester or two to earn.

Let's face it: you took offense that a white man was teaching an African American history class, and pulled out your race card. We studied people like you in graduate school.

Anonymous
Thu, 03/14/2019 - 10:29am

Caleb,

You made so many assumptions in your response that I actually question if you are a Harvard graduate. If you read the original article or the author's responses, the teacher was removed prior to her article. If you had even critically read this article, you would have learned a parent from Birmingham's school district asked for a Black teacher to teach this class, not Chassity.

As an African American with a terminal degree, I do not think Boyz in the Hood is appropriate in any context in a high school classroom. Having seen the movie several times, I do not believe the movie is age-appropriate for students (hence the Rated R rating). There are several documentaries and works of fiction that would have been more appropriate tools to teach Los Angeles Gang history.

Your false assumptions lead to a flawed analysis of Ms. Pratt's article and subsequent remarks. You appear to have a subjective perspective that does not allow you to be objective in the context.

Carol
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 11:46am

So if you aren’t Jewish you can’t teach about the Holocaust? I know Jewish people that know very little about it. Yet you are well qualified but you are the wrong race? Sounds like prejudice to me.
Shame on the parents and school board. I’m glad I retired from teaching .

Robert
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 11:51am

Wow, the aroma of expired mayonnaise is strong with this one. Trotting out your education and works of your parents does naught to improve the optics of your course syllabus, as it appeared on the day this controversy broke. So you researched collegiate black history classes... and what, learned nothing? I certainly hope that "Boyz n the Hood" is not wasting the precious time of college history professors or students.
My dear butt-hurt comrade, these films amount to what is effectively a showing of Jud Suss (I'm sure you'll have to look that one up, being all historically challenged, and such), something the ADL would never allow to pass. Furthermore, you wouldn't dare challenge the ADL nor deign to prioritize your feelings or education over those of the historically oppressed. The reason these movies are problematic is they reinforce the already negative stereotypes present in many of your (former, yay) students. If you want to talk about Bloods and Crips, OK cool, lets take it all the way back to how these are both offshoots of the Black Panther Party. Lets go further to highlight why the BPP was formed (with many of those same situations playing out today) and the difference between reality and how white American culture has engendered fear around the organization. Lets talk about how the Mulford Act was just one of arrow in the quiver of white supremacy that was used to dismantle the BPP with the ripple effect of history amounting to the NRA silent in cases of black men otherwise minding their own business gunned down in cars in full view of their children (Philando Castille). Lets talk about how the BPP was shattered into pieces forming the Bloods and Crips and yet the KKK persists, and in fact experiencing a membership boom today. Lets talk add COINTELPRO to the supplemental research list to add a little flavor on how these offshoots of the BPP were corrupted into the organizations we see today. And as a "historian" we expect you to be able to run these things down as readily as I can, and I'm a FINANCE major, I do charts and graphs and I should not be here educating you, and yet, I am.
THAT, is why it was a problem.
Bottle your tears and sell them, I'm sure some snowflakes need the moisture.

Bones
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 1:37pm

Preach

karla
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 2:35pm

This is a fellow who researched his subject and developed a curriculum to teach it. He's more qualified than parents (who based on my observations) will probab ly introduce their own prejudices into the classroom and the students still won't learn the truth.

As an educator, we must pick and choose what to hightlight and how deeply to dwell into a subject based on the time constraints. If you think he needs to delve more deeply into the root causes of the history, lobby for more time to teach the course. Maybe make it a two term course.

Logic
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 2:53pm

Nowhere in your ceaseless rambling (intended to somehow impress us with your vast knowledge of history) did you make any point that was worth the time I foolishly gave to reading it. Thank you for wasting my time, good sir.

Justin
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 11:33pm

Your finance degree doesn't qualify you to lecture professional educators, and it's too bad you didn't look carefully at the syllabus.

Jim
Wed, 03/13/2019 - 6:35pm

Did this comment just equate John Singleton (writer and director of Boyz n the Hood) with Joseph Goebbels? And Boyz n the Hood with Jud Süß?

Wow.

Carolyne Blount
Thu, 03/14/2019 - 1:19am

Robert AMEN

Birmingham Publ...
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 12:35pm

The Birmingham Public Schools stands by the letter that was written by the Superintendent on February 21 and published in Bridge Magazine on February 25. We are committed to continuing the good work being done to create an African American History course that reflects the necessary input from our community, including the voices of many students, parents, teachers, subject matter experts and administrators.

Marie
Wed, 03/13/2019 - 8:52am

Maybe your school district should include a class on Discrimination 101. Only I think not only students should take it, but schools board, administration and parents.

Ed Haynor
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 12:50pm

A very impressive first-hand opinion piece by Mr. Craig, since he was the teacher who was removed from teaching a class, that he himself created. Although it appears that Mr. Craig’s course syllabus was highly reviewed and given approval twice, I’m surprised that the Birmingham African-American Family Network (BAAFN), who made demands that the curriculum be rewritten and a black teacher be selected to teach the class, wasn’t included in the curriculum review, since BAAFN appears to be quite active in the community.

But most troubling for me is that although Mr. Craig has a masters degree in African American and Labor History, he is not qualified to teach African American history, because he is not black. Why would a person’s race be a deciding factor in what a teacher teaches if they are highly qualified? Wouldn’t a school board and/or superintendent be discriminatory if they hired or placed a teacher in a classroom based on race?

Unfortunately, teachers have been thrown under the bus for various reasons for years. As to Mr. Craig, he can be rest assured that no prophets are liked by people in their own hometown.

Glenn
Thu, 03/14/2019 - 5:15pm

Agreed, Ed. It is very troubling.
Racism cuts both ways, as BAAFN has proven.

Doug L
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 12:51pm

How is it that removing a white teacher and replacing him with a black teacher, at the insistence of a parents group, is not considered an obvious violation of his civil rights, and totally racist!?

Justin
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 11:35pm

Smells like a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Ruqayyah Perkin...
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 1:11pm

But why focus on LA? Would you be discussing the COINTELPRO movement to infiltrate the Black panther party? Would you be discussing the bombing in Philadelphia of MOVE? Would you be discussing the simultaneous war on Drugs, three strikes, and the flooding of African American communities with drugs? Would you be discussing the rolling back on protections to African Americans during the Regan administration? Would you be discussing some of the critical black intellectual who published during this time and the topics of their publications such as Derrick Bell, Kimberle Crenshaw, Molefi Asante? And what are the aims of this course? Would you discuss the way Blacks have actively resisted subjugation despite state sanctioned violence and the ascendency of the #BlackLivesMatters group? Would you be showing documentaries such as Ava Duvarney’s 13 or the Khalid Bowder Stroy? If not, why? If this is not a media studies course then why do you feel the need to show Boys in Da Hood? Many white people are performing epistemically violence on marginalized communities with their ethnic studies degrees. How would your course have been any different?

Justin
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 11:37pm

Did you read the syllabus?

It's available on this platform and would've saved your jargon-filled social-justice ruminations from embarrassing you.

Parent Groves HS
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 1:38pm

My child was in this class and I support the Mr Craig and his curriculum. The replacement “teacher” was a school counselor who showed movies as well or gave study time in the media center. No blame to the replacement but bad decision. He was a African American man and this was the schools solution.

Race integration at BPS is not dealt with effectively and this is just one example of a very racially divided district that must change. Two high schools Seaholm mostly white and 2 miles away Groves highly diverse (I do not know the actual percent but as a parent there I can say it’s large).

This is just a symptom of a greater issue within the district and again I support this teacher and his curriculum and stand to not waterdown history but present many sides of the important and ongoing themes in African American studies.

I’d ask the administration to closely look at deeper issues that sparked this controversy and not attack a teacher. The district must evolve because of the demographics. My solution is to make one high school north and south campus and have the diverse populations experience both campuses equally.

Dr. Lyn Behnke
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 2:02pm

I am so sorry that this happened to you. I am proud to read your story. While it doesn't put food on the table or pay the mortgage, your shining light needs to be an example to all of us.

Roy
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 2:48pm

As a white historian who teaches African American history, I'm so glad I do it at the University level. Over the years, I've taught African American history at a large state university, a mid-size state university, an HBCU, and a diverse private institution. Never once did administration question what I taught in my classes.

michael guss
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 3:01pm

Looks like the politics changed and the Reparations crowd got him

Doris
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 3:47pm

After perusing most of the comments it seems to me that The Birmingham School System is not standing by their teacher who seems to be a dedicated and honest teacher with proper knowledge of a too often but historical racist issue. We should not be allowing whites to teach students about white issues only or blacks to teach about black issues only. We are together in this education of America be it positive or negative issues. Again the parfents asking for a black person to teach black history puts a very negative and racist view on American History or any history of our past cultures. All of these are what have put us in the problems we have today. Are we one nation under God or are we two or ten different nations? I hope we are One. Let's keep it that way. Birmingham School System, you can help change that. Stand by this teacher who seems to have it right. Let's stop the divisions based on color.

Lori Gilbo
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 3:54pm

The more I study our American history as a retired MI educator the sadder I get that when I was young I was not taught it correctly. We must stop sanitizing our troublesome history and look at as it was played out and is being played out. Give our teachers the credit that is due to them...parents didn't get the degrees...teachers did! Let them do their job, AND let us educate our youth with the truthful facts. Let us give these students the opportunity to think critically. Teachers fight for your students education. Bring him back to the classroom and allow the students to think, not just sit!!!

I.M. Fletcher
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 6:37pm

My question is for this teacher, if you are "WORKING" for the district wouldn't the ultimate decision for what is taught to the children in that district be the decision of the Birmingham Board of Education? I am going to assume either Board Policy or your Master Agreement reference the Board as having the final decision as to what is taught in their classrooms. While it is unfortunate you disagree with the administration acting on behalf of the Board, it is not and never should be the sole discretion of the teacher to decide what is taught. From what I read you were not reprimanded or removed for writing the curriculum that was originally approved, it sounds as though you were removed for refusing to comply with administrations directives. You insisted on teaching material that the Birmingham Board of Education (through their administration) had directed you NOT to teach. I am not from the Birmingham District nor do I have any personal stake in this matter, however, I am an educator as well and get frustrated with fellow educators who feel as though their seniority in a district and standing during their tenure afford them the right to not follow either their master agreement or Board Policy because they feel as though they "know better" than those in authority over them. While your curriculum might well be based on facts and historically accurate that still does not give you a right to teach them if you are directed not to. To think parent complaints, public perception and controversy are not valid reasons NOT to teach or share certain things with CHILDREN is absurd. Some in authority over you as well as some parents of children in your care might feel children are not ready to hear everything from history that is factual. That does not mean they are denying those facts or trying to squelch history but might prefer it not be taught to a minor due to the sensitivity of the information or content.

Anonymous
Thu, 03/14/2019 - 5:41pm

Boom! Mic drop. Somebody from the inside drops some knowledge.

Edward
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 8:55pm

African American history isn't solely about the Civil Rights movement. I think an African American teacher teaching this class would recognize this and broaden out the class's focus. This is why representation matters.

BV
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 9:23pm

I am a former Seaholm student ('09) who learned a great deal from Mr. Craig. He was my teacher for four years in the Flex program. Mr. Craig is a uniquely talented educator who is committed to challenging his students to learn how to think, not what to think. I've spoken with a handful of my former classmates since learning of this debacle. Many of us are appalled. It is obvious to anyone who remembers Mr. Craig, particularly anyone who was in the Flex program, that this situation was (quite predictably) mishandled. It could have been an excellent teaching moment.

The idea that a white man cannot be trusted to credibly teach a course on African American history – a course that he personally developed – such that he must be removed mid-semester boggles the mind. It sends a terrible message to his students and to the broader BPS community.

Mr. Craig, if you're reading this, please know that so many of your former students are outraged and appreciate you.

Birmingham Dist...
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 10:25pm

Shame on Birmingham Public School Administrators.
Nothing good was done by letting go of a great teacher with incredible credentials. Too bad you were blind sided by some parents that can't handle the truth behind our history and your more afraid of a law suit and a bad name.
Karma will come back around and hopefully will hit you hard. I'm ashamed of this district!
It makes me sad and this makes me question why I even have children in this district. Our History is important weather it's a comfortable matter to discuss or not. Our history will never go away. We need more teachers like Mr. Craig that actually have the credentials to teach.

Justin
Tue, 03/12/2019 - 11:41pm

It would be really great if this got picked up by big media, because it's a valid demonstration of social justice politics gone sour.

Denny
Wed, 03/13/2019 - 1:30pm

Superintendent Mark Dziatczak actions, show he is not really qualified to be in that position, and does not have backbone. He won’t back teachers, if one member of the public doesn’t like something.
He reacts to an opinion, written by Chastity Pratt Dawsey, because he doesn’t want any hint of controversy. She shows her prejudices, bias, and ignorance. She thinks, if kids watch the movie, they’ll learn something about real world. They already know more than she thinks. They took the course to learn about black life and history.
The school system will be hard press to find a more knowledgeable, and dedicated educator, to replace Scott Craig. He is one who started the course, and spends all this time and energy
to educate students. Look at his credentials, degrees and the time he spent preparing to develop this study.

BB
Wed, 03/13/2019 - 10:51pm

So Birmingham continues its century-long tradition of profound isolation. Why feign surprise when the town was once denounced by the US Supreme Court for its racist housing practices, while taking a lead in eliminating busing as an option for desegregation in the early 1970s. By removing a veteran teacher obviously dedicated to avoiding a MAGA view of African American history, the new Superintendent (and the "reporting" by Bridge magazine) further inflates the Birmingham bubble of suburban snobbery. Relevant art and fiction can supplement any good history course, yet a new organization of Syllabus Police are rediscovering the value of whitewashing history. Welcoming people of color to the table of the ruling class, as long as they say nice things about the past, hardly resonates as progress. The clumsy editorial disclaimer about not mentioning his name when the intrepid instructor can be easily traced reeks of a self-righteous smugness usually absent in Bridge. Maybe it's time to change the name of the publication to Wall?

Bill Lorumon
Wed, 03/13/2019 - 10:56pm

It's funny how Birmingham Public Schools is attempting to be "progressive" in their own odd way yet it wasn't too long ago that they lifted the a ban of discussion of Transgender people in many classes which is a large issue especially with High School students struggling with identity. Imagine for YEARS them not discussing the issues that relate to that aspect of the LGBTQ+ community. I hate to pull this card; a majority of the people on the school board are just a bunch of white old republican people that want to keep their jobs and get brownie points. They don't actually give a shit about these issues, the actual people who care and want to educate people about history are the ones that suffer I guess.

Tom Pedroni
Wed, 03/13/2019 - 11:11pm

Scott, sounds like you were and are doing great work around racial justice. if you need support, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m a prof and former social studies teacher at Wayne State— pedroni@wayne.edu. Hang in there.

A T D
Wed, 03/13/2019 - 11:51pm

This isn’t right. His credentials qualify him. My black child just needs a balanced education. The curriculum seemed great. History isn’t pretty and I lived through the crack era. Some things need to be discussed. I’ll supplement whatever I feel is missing:

A T D
Wed, 03/13/2019 - 11:51pm

This isn’t right. His credentials qualify him. My black child just needs a balanced education. The curriculum seemed great. History isn’t pretty and I lived through the crack era. Some things need to be discussed. I’ll supplement whatever I feel is missing:

Dr. Richard Zeile
Thu, 03/14/2019 - 8:46am

This episode reminds me of the trial scene in Zora Neal Hurston's "Their Eyes were Watching God."

A random dude
Fri, 03/15/2019 - 12:21am

I've never read their eyes were watching god but I'm pretty sure zora neal hurston would find that offensive. Just sayin.

Tracy Morgan
Thu, 03/14/2019 - 9:43am

I ALMOST fell for your piece, until I read this from the original essay:
"This a part of the curriculum…,” his text message read, and he attached a photo of a page from the syllabus.
It read, “Unit 4- From Civil Rights to Today”:
“Boyz ‘N the Hood”
“Inside the Bloods and Crips,” a documentary
Readings, including “The New Jim Crow”
These were the planned classroom topics the teacher listed to cover the past 50 years of African-American history: an R-rated fictional movie about gang banging, a documentary about gang banging and a reading on mass incarceration.
Other topics such as school segregation, affirmative action and the rise of African-American political leadership were listed as readings for students to research on their own, seemingly minimizing their importance.
I have never seen my kid’s U.S. history class devote an entire unit to gangs and prison or movies about them. There are no showings of “The Godfather” or “The Untouchables” in American history class, to my knowledge."

She's right. Do you feel that discussions about HOW communities have been mired in poverty and the systemic racism that put them there aren't interesting enough without providing volatile subject matter can't be accomplished? You give the teens in your class very little credit.

Anonymous
Thu, 03/14/2019 - 11:18am

As a retired Detroit public school teacher who taught for thirty four years I am in full support of Scott Craig. I began my teaching career in 1959 and at that time there were few learning materials that featured Afro-americans, other than Ebony and Jet magazines. Through the years efforts
to provide an honest history of black Americans have been made, but few non- educators have had the courage to present the good, the
bad and the ugly results of institutional racism in our society. Educators must be allowed to present truth to their students even when a dissident
group finds fault in the presentation. I am disappointed in the decision of the superintendent in this matter. David Sharpe

JML
Thu, 03/14/2019 - 11:54am

I applauded Chastity Pratt Dawsey’s BRIDGE Opinion Piece “The Miseducation of Michigan: how state fails kids in black history" (February 19,2019). I agree with her statement: "We need to take racial, cultural, gender and religious competency in our classroom lessons and among our teachers seriously." It is a sad reflection on the trivialization of education when Hollywood entertainment is offered up as history.
I just read the BRIDGE Guest Commentary response (March 12, 2019) by Michigan teacher Scott Craig and was struck by yet another aspect of Mr. Craig’s viewpoint.
Scott Craig (who self-identifies as a “white guy” in the Guest Commentary) rails against teaching “...a sanitized version of history; one that excludes events they find controversial or uncomfortable. “ He states that he has chosen to “ ….combat prejudices in our society” and has “… selected the best, most challenging readings ‒ such as works by Malcolm X, Frederick Douglas, Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey and W.E.B. DuBois as having something to say to his students about African American History …” along with films such as “Boyz in the Hood” which was written and directed by John Singleton and starring Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr., Morris Chestnut and Laurence Fishburne. There is a a passing reference that Rosa Parks along with Martin Luther King, Jr. are mentioned in the curriculum. He also notes in passing that some teachers are even becoming anxious about teaching “classic literature” like “Huck Finn” and “To Kill a Mockingbird”. Mr. Craig concludes with a quote from "Jelani Cobb, an African-American writer for The New Yorker” : “The problem with sanitizing black history is that we really neuter it of its usefulness in the present.”
I note that Mr. Craig chose Mr. Cobbs’ statement about neuterizing history in railing against prejudice but has failed to notice that his list of “the best” and “challenging” writers and creative persons are male. The one female author (novelist Harper Lee ) is mentioned only as of interest to teachers who choose to teach “classics". Save a passing mention of Rosa Parks, not a single African-American female writer or historian or creative person is identified as being worthy of reading and teaching . He must not be aware of, or even worse, find "controversial or uncomfortable”, to overlook the important work by so many women like Pauli Murray, Septima Clark, Lorraine Hansberry, Ida Wells-Barnett, Mary Mcleod Bethune, Dorothy Haight, Zora Neale Hurston, Amy Ashwood Garvey, Ella Baker, Marion Wright Edelman, ETC ETC ETC
And since Mr. Craig stresses that he is a historian, he might even ponder the irony in choosing to publish such a defense of “..a sanitized version of history” during Women’s History Month.

Cyndi Summers
Thu, 03/14/2019 - 12:32pm

Birmingham Public Schools should be PROUD of teachers like Scott Craig, who see a need and fill it. If controversy ensues, welcome it, discuss, learn, get better together. As a BPS parent (Mr. Craig was a favorite of my kids), I'm embarrassed by the way the new BPS superintendent handled this situation.

Ed Timm
Thu, 03/14/2019 - 7:21pm

Dawsey's article was shallow and problematic if politically correct.
At least Bridge has allowed for a rebuttal but the damage is already done.
Anytime I see Dawsey's name on an article I will be suspicious that her agenda does not include intellectual honesty.

Audrey Kennedy
Sat, 03/16/2019 - 4:02am

I’ve only seen white people comment on this issue. I find it disgusting that it’s not obvious to people that the parents and students are upset because they don’t feel like the education their children are receiving is representative of their community.

I feel like...DUH!! It’s actually quite simple, and of COURSE this proud, old white man won’t take this human request lying down.

Congrats dude, you have a boujee degree that has provided you with a great excuse to play the victim. Now, stand aside and let young people learn about the African-American experience throughout history from an African-American.

The excuses need to stop. The white, Protestant community of Birmingham, Michigan is not under attack because a minority group would prefer their voices be heard and respected.

This is not cool. Be better.

Anonymous
Sat, 03/16/2019 - 12:26pm

Rather than have impressionable high school students watch a recent 1991 fictional movie which reinforces so many negative stereotypes about African-Americans, why not teach about the contributions of the following African-Americans--Sarah Boone, John Stanard, W. H. Richardson, Jan Matzeliger, Garrett Morgan, Lewis H. Latimer, P.B. Downing, G.F.Grant, Madame C.J. Walker, Ralph Bunche, Shirley Chisholm to name only a few?

Lloyd A. Conway
Sun, 03/17/2019 - 8:22am

Shame on Birmingham for this display of moral cowardice. We need a school rating system that evaluates boards and administrators on their fidelity to truth and academic freedom, both disregarded in this instance.

Dawn Payne
Sun, 03/17/2019 - 8:50am

I would love to take this class!

BPS parent / ed...
Mon, 03/18/2019 - 11:50pm

One article/person didn’t get him removed. This class has received complaints for years. My AA child was encouraged to take the class in 2016. He heard it was a blow off and didn’t take it. The syllabus was under scrutiny then and the teacher was directed to revise the syllabus (rightfully so, IMO. Boyz n the Hood?!?). He did not. More complaints followed. He was removed. Had he revised syllabus as directed, we wouldn’t be here.

When will this ...
Wed, 03/20/2019 - 4:52pm

Should all restaurant owners be shut down if they choose to sell food of a culture other than their own?

Should we only allow native speakers of a language to teach their native language?

Should we only allow caucasians to teach caucasians? Mexicans teach Mexicans...and so forth?

How are we not reversing the progress our country has made...by segregating our students and teachers?

I would be outraged as a parent and writing to their (third) superindent since 2018. Godspeed to the teachers.