New Jersey teacher suspended after calling George Floyd a ‘criminal’ in rant during class

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JERSEY CITY, NJ – A high school teacher in New Jersey was suspended after going on a profane tirade and calling George Floyd a “criminal” in a virtual class.

 

A discussion about climate change on Zoom last week turned into an airing of grievances by Howard Zlotkin, a science teacher at William L. Dickinson High School in Jersey City.

“He’s not a hero, he’s like a criminal,” yelled the teacher, Howard Zlotkin, who is white, to a class of about 15 students. In a video, He chastised students for, as he described it, making criminals into heroes “because they’re black or because they got a bad story.”

During the rant, Zlotkin chastised people for “whining and crying about Black Lives Matter.”

Zlotkin told the students:

“He got arrested and he got killed because he wouldn’t comply and the bottom line is we make him a f—–g hero.”

George Floyd died while being taken into custody by Minneapolis police officers including Derek Chauvin, who was convicted last month of the black man’s murder.

At one point, Zlotkin turned his anger directly at his students, shouting at them:

“If you think I’m privileged then f— you, because my daughter thinks I’m privileged and I don’t speak to her.”

A Senior student, 17-year-old Timmia Williams, filmed the rant on her cell phone and contacted school officials. The school did not immediately respond, so the student forwarded the video to local news station, NBC New York, which reported on the story.

An investigation has been opened by the school district, and Zlotkin has been suspended with pay pending the outcome, according to Mussab Ali, president of the Jersey City Board of Education. Zlotkin has also been suspended from his position as an adjunct professor at Hudson County Community College.

Zlotkin has been a teacher in the district for 20 years and has tenure.

Ali stressed that Zlotkin’s “comments are not representative of the values of the board of education.”

Zlotkin told local media on Sunday that his words were taken out of context:

“I am being judged on a snapshot out of a 60-minute class. I tell the students it’s all about facts, and I was teaching those facts. I am a science teacher. My little snapshot that was posted to the world was out of this context.”

Williams said the rant started after students turned in short research papers. When she turned her paper in, Zlotkin asked her about how humans and involved in climate change.  The conversation deteriorated when he brought up his disagreement with Black Lives Matter, according to Williams.

Four black students in the class, including Williams, challenged his position, and he grew angrier and gave the four black students an assignment not given to the other students. He told them to write an essay on “why Black lives should matter,” according to Williams.

Williams, who had been accepted to college on the same day as the rant, said she could not celebrate with her family:

“This is the first time I ever felt somebody telling me that my opinion doesn’t matter because I’m young and because I’m black and stuff. It just threw me off. I just started crying.”

When Williams returned to class Thursday, she and the other black students were allegedly confronted by the teacher again, which was also reportedly caught on cellphone video. When they said they did not complete the essay. He reportedly told Williams she did not complete the essay because she could not support her position:

“Why? You can’t make a case for yourself. No, you can’t, Timmia, that’s why.”

When Ms. Williams started to defend herself, Mr. Zlotkin cursed at her and later told her to “talk to the hand.”

He chastised another student who refused to do the essay and kicked a third off the remote class meeting after he defended his classmates, she said.

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L.A. teachers’ union calls plan to reopen California schools ‘structurally racist’ (op-ed)

March 4, 2021

 

This article contains editorial content written by a current staff writer for Law Enforcement Today.

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LOS ANGELES, CA – The United Teachers of Los Angeles, the largest teachers’ union in California, has referred to Governor Gavin Newsom’s school reopening plan as, “a recipe for propagating structural racism.”

Just when you thought all avenues of alleged forms of racism have been exhausted – the seemingly cheap term in today’s contextual use and allocation of the word comes right back around the corner to taint the innocuous once again.

This latest instance of alleged racism being touted by the UTLA came from their union president, Cecily Myart-Cruz. Apparently, Governor Newsom has introduced a plan to incentivize schools to reopen within California. 

Basically, Governor Newsom has attached some good, old-fashioned money-motivating measures to get kids back into physical classrooms in California. 

Both Governor Newsom and Democratic leaders within the state are setting aside $6.6 billion for schools to get the ball rolling on getting schools opened before the end of March. 

According to a press release from Governor Newsom’s office, the $6.6 billion for this endeavor would be allocated as follows: 

“Elk Grove Unified and public schools throughout the state will be allocated $6.6 billion under the proposed budget package.”

“$2 billion would fund safety measures to support in-person instruction, such as personal protective equipment, ventilation upgrades and COVID-19 testing. $4.6 billion would fund expanded learning opportunities, such as summer school, tutoring and mental health services.”

But, there’s of course a caveat for schools who don’t act fast, according to the press release. Schools serving kindergarten through 2nd grade students, or schools serving “high-needs” students of all grades, will lose potential funding if they’re not open before April:

“All public schools would be required to offer in-person instruction to grades K-2 for all students and for high-needs students in all grades by the end of the month, losing 1 percent of eligible funds every day thereafter if they do not.”

Seems pretty straight forward, and even across the board. 

But, UTLA president Myart-Cruz says that the governor’s plan is somehow racist…because the teachers’ union doesn’t want to conduct in-person learning in “unsafe conditions”, and now funds are on the chopping block if the schools refuse to open back up: 

“Until we are out of the purple tier, until staff has been given access to vaccines, and until we have robust health and safety measures at each school — such as access to PPE, social distancing, ventilation, and a cleaning regimen — we will not accept an arbitrary date to return to school.”

“If you condition funding on the reopening of schools, that money will only go to white and wealthier and healthier school communities that do not have the transmission rates that low-income Black and Brown communities do,”

“This is a recipe for propagating structural racism and it is deeply unfair to the students we serve.”

For those trying to wrap their heads around this logic, here’s a nifty bullet point presentation of UTLA president Myart-Cruz’s logic on the matter: 

  • California is offering funds to incentivize expedited reopening of schools in the state – with dedicated funds to address pandemic safety measures.
  • The UTLA is refusing to “accept an arbitrary date to return to school” because of pandemic concerns.
  • Myart-Cruz is aware that other schools outside of the UTLA’s vice grip are likely going to be reopened prior to April to access the funding.
  • Myart-Cruz says that’s racist because those school districts might be situated in areas with either wealthier and/or predominantly white residents or lower infection rates of the virus.

Now, what’s all the more dumb in this entire debacle is that the science isn’t even on the side of the UTLA’s concerns over the pandemic. 

The director of the CDC, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, has been saying for the past month that schools can safely reopen without teachers having to be vaccinated

The entire crux of Myart-Cruz’s cries of racism regarding Governor Newsom’s reopening plan is based upon the union refusing to adhere to the reopening date deadline to get ahold of the full funding allocated for reopening. 

Albeit, Los Angeles County is still in the “purple tier” within California…but so are 39 other counties in the state. There are 16 counties in the “red tier” which is right below “purple” and only 2 counties in the “orange tier” as of March 3rd.

But this still doesn’t change the fact that the CDC says that transmission of the virus is nearly non-existent within schools. 

At this point, I can’t tell if teachers’ unions like the UTLA is just run by a group of folks with a collective IQ below room temperature…or they’re simply made up of teachers and advocates who just want to desperately cling to their salaries while continuing working from home.  

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