A teacher—identified as only Ms. Gardner—working for the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District in Alaska was placed on paid administrative leave after hosting a questionable conversation in her class, which included in-person and virtual students.
The situation was uncovered by a concerned parent while checking on how their child was doing during a Zoom class. What she heard being discussed disturbed her so she began to record a video of the class.
Gardner was giving students advice on how to conduct themselves if they were to be confronted by police. And though she did not condone Derek Chauvin's actions against George Floyd, she did discuss what she thought Floyd did that caused him to be murdered.
"I'm an old White lady and if the cops came up to me and said, 'Ma'am, put your hands behind your back, you're going to jail,' then I'm putting my hands behind my back, and I'm going to jail."
She also expressed the importance of appearances.
"Look at how you guys are dressed. You're dressed nicely. You don't look like thugs. You don't have your pants down around your knees."
Gardner's teacher's aid spoke up and said the discussion was problematic. She stated how a person is dressed should not affect how the police treat them.
Gardner continued the conversation, however, at least until the parent recording the conversation spoke up. The parent did not believe Gardner had the background knowledge or experience required to lead such a conversation.
The parent stated:
"I just disagree with the conversation in whole."
"I feel like this is something that you just don't know, Ms. Gardner. I don't feel like you're really able to address this with you being a White woman."
"You know I am a person of color."
You can see the portion of the conversation the parent recorded here:
Many were upset by the teacher's ignorance and oversimplification of the issue.
While it may be comforting to believe the answer is to dress in a manner acceptable to the majority culture and always comply, FBI statistics include too many BIPOC who died while committing no crime, like Elijah McClain, Atatiana Jefferson and Zachary Bear Heels.
Racial bias in law enforcement and the justice system is well documented and backed by years of statistical evidence.
@TheRoot So a suit and tie is the best way to keep from being killed by police?— RD_DERAIL (@RD_DERAIL) 1620563395.0
@JackPosobiec She's entitled to her opinion but do you want her teaching your kids?— uk brit (@uk brit) 1620356296.0
@JackPosobiec She should keep her opinions to herself. Doesn't matter if the parents agree...leave these discussions up to the parents.— John Paul (@John Paul) 1620384996.0
@JackPosobiec Fire her butt.— SarahTheWise (@SarahTheWise) 1620413283.0
@JackPosobiec She should have been fired.— Darkman! (@Darkman!) 1620386118.0
Gardner was placed on paid administrative leave indefinitely while the school investigates the situation and further explores the conversations had in the teacher's classroom.