WASHINGTON, D.C. – Two top teacher union leaders say the recent acquittal of George Zimmerman has important ramifications for America’s educators.
zimmerman-coluministNational Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten are calling on teachers to join the NAACP-led effort to get the U.S. Justice Department to charge George Zimmerman with civil right violations for his role in the death of Trayvon Martin, an African-American teenager, reports The Washington Post.
“As educators, it is our responsibility to our students to set the example by acting to seek justice, to teach fairness, and to provide comfort to students and families who grieve,” Van Roekel wrote in a recent letter to NEA members.
Weingarten echoed those views in her appeal to AFT members.
“This case reminds us that the path to racial justice is still a long one, and that our legal and moral systems do not always mesh,” Weingarten wrote.
“Sign the (NAACP) petition,” Weingarten continued. “George Zimmerman must face the consequences of his actions.”
Economics professor and syndicated columnist Walter Williams agrees that the Zimmerman trial should be a wakeup call to teachers, but not in the way Van Roekel and Weingarten say.
Instead, Williams says the performance of Rachel Jeantel, a witness for the prosecution in the Zimmerman trial, “put a face on (the tragedy of black education) for the nation to see.”
According to Williams, Jeantel’s performance on the witness stand was an indictment of the public school system that has been educating her. He cites Jeantel’s inability to read cursive handwriting and her overall poor grammar and communication skills as an indication that her teachers have failed her.
Jeantel is a senior at Miami Norland Senior High School, which has a predominately African-American student body.
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