For Tiffani Eaton, the sweeping reforms that Common Core standards are imposing were less of a concern to her than a more immediate and non-metaphorical use of a broom. The Detroit teacher was recently fired for using a broomstick to break up a violent fight between two students in her classroom. The event was captured on a cellphone camera and that video resulted in the Pershing High teacher being fired. The good news is the immediate outpouring of support for Tiffani Eaton. The principal of Pershing High School, Gregory King, criticized the lack of a proper investigation and stated “our teachers are called upon to the impossible every day: counselor, security guard, teacher and more.” So who fired Eaton if her own principal defends her actions?

The Education Achievement Authority, or the EAA, is the governing body of the Education Achievement System, a Michigan statewide school system for failing schools. It was created by Republican Governor Rick Snyder to basically take command of failing schools in the Detroit Public School System. Now, Gov. Snyder is a very smart man; he had three degrees by the time he was 23 and has had great success in the business world as well. Something had and has to be done about schools that fail to produce competent graduates. But it seems to come hand in hand with something of a war zone mentality, and a top down approach. Especially in Tiffani Eaton’s classroom where a fight broke out over an article of clothing apparently and, as the video shows, got rough quickly. What is the official policy regarding such a situation? Call security and stand back. If this sounds a little like the code of conduct for an official at a maximum security prison, might that be because some — and only some and right across the economic and social spectrum — of students have bought in to a convict mentality? It’s not your fight, don’t get involved, she had it coming to her … The language and the behavior of a convict is something some kids mimic intentionally if, thank goodness, imperfectly. Now, we can argue endlessly about the why and the how this happens, but happen it does. A teacher swinging a broomstick becomes a lot more understandable in such an environment, especially when she’s trying to break up the fight before someone gets badly hurt. She did call security by the way, and they took their time coming, perhaps due to faulty walkie talkies.

Officials at the EAA have reinstated Eaton, perhaps being painfully aware themselves of how tough it is for a teacher in a violent classroom,or perhaps because the firing, aside from being patently unjust, was not preceded by due process. Let’s hope the EAA shows some flexibility in setting standards for the teachers under their care and realize that step one for the EAA should be getting some students to stop behaving like violent thugs.

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