Marilyn Zuniga, a third-grade teacher, has been suspended with pay for sending Mumia Abul-Jamal get well letters written by her students. The board is deciding on what, if any, further action will be taken.
“Growing up in a predominantly white suburb, attending a majority white school district, my teachers and peers marginalized me as a first generation immigrant, Peruvian-American. The cultural gap between my educators and me caused me to feel disconnected from my school work and learning altogether. It wasn’t until my experience in the classroom my senior year of high school that I realized I could be the teacher I never had.”
Ok, fair enough. I hope that every teacher in the country has a passion to help all students learn and to think for themselves. That is what a teacher should be doing. The problem is that she is going beyond that mission. She is putting her viewpoints into the classroom and to the heads of very innocent 8-year-olds.
Now the problem with the supporters of Mumia is that they never answer the question about why he has never told who the murderer of Officer Faulkner is. There is no dispute that he was there and witnesses it. There is no dispute that he had a gun. There is no dispute that his brother assaulted Officer Faulkner. There is no dispute that the police arrived on the scene within minutes of the shooting. There is no dispute that Mumia was shot by the police officer. He was a very short distance away with a gun shot wound and a weapon when the police arrived.
Most people want to say he was arrested due to his political beliefs. The problem is that he was arrested within minutes of the police arriving on the scene. They didn’t have time to find out about his political beliefs and writings. Writing that includes talk about “killing pigs”. For those that may be unclear what that means, it is police officers.
Anyone that has read my writing over the years knows that I am against the death penalty. I have no problem with him be taken off death row. But I certainly don’t think he is some innocent lamb that is being led to slaughter.
She is entitled to her beliefs, but she isn’t entitled to bring those beliefs into the classroom. No teacher is. What really kills me is the people who were at this meeting supporting her.
“It is teaching children at a tender age one of the most valuable lessons that they need to absorb in order to mature into adults who sympathize with the plight of their fellow human beings,”
It goes on:
“The lesson that was taught through this project is that in order for society to be peaceful and just, we must care about or reach out to those members of society who are most vulnerable, including children, the frail, elderly, the sick and disabled, the poor and, yes, even prisoners.”
What about the family of the dead officer? Don’t they deserve someone to reach out to them as well? What about the compassion for the young woman who had to go the hospital in very early hours of the morning to see her husband with a gunshot wound to his face? A wound that was done at very close range and literally blew most of his head off. Where is the compassion for a woman who didn’t have her happily ever after simply because her husband was doing his job? A car was driving down the wrong way on a one-way street so he pulled it over. He didn’t pull that car over because the driver was black. He pulled it over because is was posing a safety hazard and violated the law. She has lived her life without the man she loved enough to marry and pledge the rest of her life to.
“We are here tonight because Marylin Zuniga is our hero,” Larry Hamm, chairman of the People’s Organization for Progress, said to the board members. “We ask that you restore her to her job and let her continue to teach the compassion that our children need to learn.”
Sorry to tell you Mr. Hamm, that isn’t her job. Teaching compassion is the job of the parent. Her job is to teach children how to think for themselves, not what to think. Did she go over the evidence of the case? Did she tell these students that this man has had two trials and numerous hearings and the best the defense can come up with is that it was a racist police force that sent an innocent man to jail because he was black and a political activist? If not, that isn’t compassion, that is indoctrination. There are two sides to this story. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think this way beyond what a third-grader should be taught in a classroom. But the point is still the same.
Yes Ms. Zuniga should lose her job. She wasn’t doing her job. She was making political points in a classroom. That is a job of an activist, not an educator. She should lose her job the same way the teacher who went an anti-Obama rant should lose hers. You are not there to push your point of view. You are there to help them develop their own point of view.
If you have any doubts that she is an activist her tweet that caused this uproar says it all:
Just dropped off these letters to comrade Johanna Fernandez. My 3rd graders wrote to Mumia to lift up his spirits as he is ill. #freemumia
Comrade? Oh yeah, she doesn’t have an agenda.
The part I think I like best about this whole thing is this:
“In April, I mentioned to my students that Mumia was very ill and they told me they would like to write ‘get well’ letters to Mumia,”
That’s right, lets throw the eight-year-olds under the bus.