For Freshmen. By Freshmen.
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Oct 18 2017
by Melissa Cordell

A High School Teacher Told Her Class To Speak American

By Melissa Cordell - Oct 18 2017

A teacher at Cliffside Park High School in New Jersey told her students that U.S. soldiers were not "fighting for your right to speak Spanish; they're fighting for your right to speak American" in this viral video. One student got up and left the room after she said this, to which the teacher responded with a taunting "goodbye."

"She’s said 'don’t speak Spanish; this is America' last year to two students," said Sarai Ferman, a senior at Cliffside Park High. "My freshman year she told a Muslim-American friend of mine to take off his coat because she 'doesn't know if he has bombs underneath,' and proceeded to tell him that people like him are the reason they should have metal detectors in the school."

This is the first time students at the school have had video footage of the teacher saying something like this to her students. "No one has ever gotten evidence or even reported it before," said Ferman. 

Cliffside Park High School has an overwhelming minority enrollment percentage, with less than half of the school being white. 

"We had a walk out yesterday [October 16] to protest," Ferman said. "80% of the school speaks another language, so we all found it disgusting that she’d say that."

Mirna Canon, a junior at Cliffside Park High, said this teacher is the only problem her school has had with race. 

"I would say our school is very diverse and welcoming to any race and ethnicity," she said. "Our teachers and staff are also very diverse. It's just that one teacher that we had a problem with. She does not represent what our school is all about."

Some people on Twitter have agreed with the teacher and her lewd talk with students. 

"Honestly, they don’t really understand the situation," said Jamillet Martos, a senior at Cliffside Park High, about Twitter users defending the teacher. "This isn’t the first time the teacher has said something like this before. It’s fine to have your opinions but understand that she's a teacher to a school full of hispanics and other minorities. Most of us students are grateful that there’s finally evidence of her behavior."

Students organized a walkout on October 16 in protest of the teacher. Cliffside Park High School administration has yet to give an announcement on what the teacher's fate will be.

"I hope administration will do the right thing and fire her," said Canon. "She's been saying things like this for a long time. Even students who graduated years ago are saying the same thing; [it's] just that this time we had actual proof to report her and show our principal. If she does come back, it won't be a good idea; it will be a bigger problem, probably outrag[ing] all the students even more."

"I hope everyone does not think of our school to be a horrible place, she does not in any way represent how our other teachers are like and the school in general," Canon concluded. 

Ferman hopes the teacher is fired, too, and said, "I can't see why she should be allowed to teach in a minority school if she has those beliefs."

Lead Image Credit: amany_hamdan via Twitter

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Melissa Cordell - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Melissa Cordell is a junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, majoring in Political Science and Peace, War & Defense, with a Women's Studies minor. She loves working on campaigns, activism and writing. Follow her on Instagram @meldelissacor and Twitter @MM_Cordell!

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