A 6th grade teacher has been placed on leave after creating a series of skits throwing shade at Florida’s consistent efforts to erase Black History, per WESH 2 News. The TikTok videos of the skits infuriated the school district. However, both parents and students are left wondering what the fuss was all about.
Our take: It’s Florida, and that’s the big deal.
In the videos, Howard Middle School teacher Ethan Hooper performs a series of skits with his students. In the first one, he mocks the state’s book ban by going around to each student holding “problematic” books including “Harry Potter” and “The Hate U Give” and closing the books shut. Then, the camera pans to all the students reading plain ol’ dictionaries. In another hilarious clip, Hooper is seen making the students read lines off the chalkboard which were, “I shall not read books. Books are bad. If I read, it’s approved by the Feds.”
However, the clip that has right-wing parents in a tizzy is the one entitled “POV: A Florida Classroom” where three Black students sit side-by-side, being fed candy and fanned by their white peers. Hundreds of students were recreating the reparations-esque skit at the beginning of Black History Month.
Even as the children visibly and audibly laughed in each clip, the Orlando County Public Schools district accused Hooper of making his students “political pawns” and “exploiting them for political purposes.”
Oh please, it was just a joke: just like Florida’s efforts to erase Black literature from schools. Hooper’s students even came to his defense saying he didn’t do anything wrong.
Read more from WESH 2 News:
One student in the video said she doesn’t think they were used in a political way. She also said it was their idea. They recorded the videos during lunch. “We all agreed to it,” said Jaida Jackson, who appeared in one of the videos. “He didn’t really do anything wrong.”
She said other students in her class agreed and want Hooper back in the classroom soon. “None of them think that this should be really happening. He’s one of my favorite teachers. He’s probably the best. It’s just not fair,” Jackson said.
Another mother sent a statement supporting Hooper, saying, “He did nothing wrong. It’s so sad. My daughter said they were simply doing skits. I saw one of the videos, and it’s nothing bad at all. She was in tears and said that’s one of her favorite teachers that takes time and allows all students, no matter race or gender, to be themselves.”
Some parents were frustrated they received a random email from the school saying a staff member was placed on leave but offering no other details. Then, others were angered by the incident, believing Hooper should get fired.
“If one of the teachers was using my kid for political gain, that would upset me. What if I don’t believe in that, and, you know, that’s not what I’m teaching my kid,” said CJ Johnson (a Black parent) to ClickOrlando.
Do you believe your child’s library should be censored and exclude stories they could identify with or use to understand their history? Once again, children are not the ones considered in the education-politics battle. Now, they’ve nearly lost a beloved teacher.