Backlash Over Philadelphia Teachers’ Plan for ‘Black Lives Matter’ Week in Classrooms

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By Kyle Foley | 2:37 pm, January 22, 2017

In the City of Brotherly Love, teachers will be bringing the Black Lives Matter movement into the classroom this week—and some people aren’t happy about it.

The plan is to get students steeped in the movement through a variety of classes ranging from coloring books for younger students to science lessons on skin color for the older ones. “This is a critical issue of our time—in our society, but also in our students’ lives,” said Charlie McGeehan, an English and history teacher in Philadelphia.

“We have to validate our students’ experiences,” he said. “Many of my students have had negative experiences with police officers. To ignore that is to deny their reality in a way that doesn’t make sense.”

While some like McGeehan believe this is a crucial lesson for students, others disagree. “It challenges nuclear families, and our justice system,” said Christopher Paslay, a local English teacher. “I don’t think kids should be taught that Western society is perpetrating a war on black people.”

This isn’t the first time public school teachers have banded together for the Black Lives Matter movement. In October, hundreds of Seattle teachers attended a Black Lives Matter rally while also planning similar Black Lives Matter lessons.

A district spokesperson in Philadelphia said this was not an official part of the curriculum but essentially encouraged the teachers to go ahead with the plan. “The district regularly encourages schools to look to current-event topics for appropriate teaching content that is also aligned with grade-appropriate standards,” the statement said.

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