(NewsReady.com) – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) has fiercely protected parents’ rights to teach and enforce wholesome, conservative values to their children, free from doctrines or influences like critical race theory (CRT) or inappropriate references to gender identity, sexual orientation, or non-traditional family units. So when a teacher posted TikTok videos of children acting like slaves, the school district swiftly placed the educator on administrative leave on Friday, February 17, while investigating.
Orange County Public Schools Superintendent Maria Vazquez issued a statement to media outlets on February 17, saying language arts teacher Ethan Hooper’s lack of judgment in filming and posting the videos “appalled” her. She said the sixth-grade teacher at Howard Middle school in Orlando used his students “as political props,” and the school district wouldn’t tolerate that sort of “exploitation” by anyone.
This Florida teacher made students participate in a skit for black history month where white students act like servants for black students pic.twitter.com/g29SgNd3pn
— Libs of TikTok (@libsoftiktok) February 17, 2023
Yet, students filmed in the videos say the ideas and content were theirs, and Hooper only helped them record skits during lunch hours. Jaida Jackson, one of the students, told media outlets, “We were definitely not forced. We all agreed.” She added that her classmates agreed the teacher did nothing wrong, and they wanted him back in the classroom. Calling Hooper one of her favorite teachers, Jackson complained about the unfairness of the situation.
A Black History Month skit showed white girls taking coats, seating, feeding, fanning, and bowing to three black girls. Other skits addressed “book bans,” including “Wonder,” “Holes,” and the “Harry Potter” series. One skit even included the dictionary in its portrayal of state book bans. Hooper served as a narrator in some skits and acted in others.
Jackson’s mother, Shauna Thompson, opined Hooper couldn’t have used the kids as political pawns because the students created skits on the topics, addressing issues that mattered to them. Thompson, a former educator, spoke with parents of other students in the videos, and none of them saw anything wrong with the English teacher’s actions.
Yet, CJ Johnson and other parents find Hooper’s involvement and poor judgment potential cause for termination. Johnson objected to teachers potentially using students for political gain or teaching values possibly in opposition to those held by parents.
Hooper has offered his apologies. The teacher claimed he helped students make the videos as a fun project without any political agenda and said, “I am truly sorry. My heart is for my students and the parents, first and foremost.” The Orange County Public Schools Office of Professional Standards was investigating at the time of publication.
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