By Tanzi West Barbour
It’s not often that I agree with the teachers union, especially when I see them protecting adults who absolutely have no business being in the classroom. Working as part of a Superintendent’s cabinet in a large urban school district, I have seen and unfortunately, worked next to, teachers who were accused of harming children – physically, emotionally, and academically.
Every day that an ineffective teacher stands in front of a classroom and “teaches” is an additional day that a child is harmed.
But that wasn’t the case with Jeff Canady, a D.C. Public School teacher, who, according to this Washington Post article, was fired nine years ago and has been fighting for his job ever since.
Some of you may remember former D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee and the firing spree she went on during her 3 ½ year tenure ultimately letting go 1,000 teachers. Canady was in that number. After 18 years of being in the classroom, Canady was let go, and from his point of view, wrongfully so.
He fought his dismissal saying he was wrongfully fired and “the city was punishing him for being a union activist and for publicly criticizing the school system.” This is where I support him. Any and everyone should have the right to say whatever they want to say – even if it’s against the very system they are working in simply because this is America and we have rights and protections under the United States Constitution. And that very first Amendment says we can talk. It’s called Freedom of Speech.
I do not agree with firing someone who, by the accounts of his school leaders and unions – was an effective employee, simply because he spoke out against the injustices of his workplace. If we were to be honest with ourselves and each other, I think we’ve all been the disgruntled employee a time or two. What makes Canady any different? He’s not.
I’m happy he had his union to back him up and support him. The article said he has been without a job and/or income for nine years. That’s a long time to fight without any resources. But he knew his truth and for that, I applaud him. As activists, that’s what we’re called to do – stand up, speak out, don’t back down, keep going until the victory is won.
Canady did. He fought for his rights and he won. That too, is America.