Brooke Harris loved her job teaching eighth grade at an inner-city charter school in Michigan -- but
Brooke says she was fired for teaching her kids about Trayvon Martin,
an African-American teen who was recently shot and killed because
someone thought he looked suspicious.
had heard about Trayvon, and she saw they wanted to know more in part
because they identified with him: "They are young, black and brown kids
who walk to the corner store after school every day," Brooke says.
"They've been stopped by police because they 'looked like' some kids who
did something illegal."
Many of Brooke's
students wanted to go beyond writing essays and classroom discussions
-- they wanted to raise money for Trayvon's family. For helping the
kids plan the fundraiser, Brooke says that she was suspended and
eventually fired, and that she was told, "you're a teacher, not an
the idea for a fundraiser to the school superintendent, Jacqueline
Cassell. Rather than embracing the students' idea, Brooke says,
Superintendent Cassell rejected the fundraiser, then refused to meet
with Brooke's students when they wanted to appeal her decision.
worse: Brooke says she was suspended for two days just for asking for
the meeting, and that when she tried to clarify what she had done wrong,
she was suspended for two weeks, and then fired.
"I just feel bad for my kids," Brooke says. "I hope I haven't let them down."
If thousands of
people speak out for Brooke by signing the petition to get her job back,
Superintendent Cassell won't be able to sweep the issue under the rug.
Pontiac's next school board meeting is in one week, so Brooke says it's
especially important to gather as many signatures as possible before