By Hank Berrien
A New Jersey high school student who posted a Trump campaign banner on the wall behind him in his home stated that two teachers told him to remove it, with one of them telling him if he left the banner up he would have to leave the virtual class.
Anthony Ribeiro, 17, an honor student at Toms River High School North in Toms River, NJ, told the Asbury Park Press that after his chemistry teacher gave the ultimatum on October 8 to either take down the banner or leave, Ribeiro waved goodbye.
Ribeiro said that the very next day, his English teacher asked him to remove the banner, claiming it might “offend” other students; Ribeiro acceded to her request but later expressed his regret that he had done so, saying, “Looking back I kind of regret it because I have the right in my house to do what I believe. This should not happen to anyone.”
Ribeiro’s mother, Tara Jost, was furious, telling the Asbury Park Press, “It bothers me because it’s in my home. He is an honor roll student, and if it is in my home … For this teacher to tell him to take it down and then kick him out of class is absurd. I think they have to make an apology to my son.” She added that the school’s vice principal later informed him that her son had done nothing wrong and the chemistry teacher was wrong. She said, “He was in agreement with me and said they were 100 percent wrong. He said to leave it up.”
The school district said removing Ribeiro from the class contravened district policy, telling the Asbury Park Press, “The student was not in violation of any general code of conduct or any policy specifically related to virtual learning. We have worked with and are continuing to work with all involved parties to resolve the issue and move forward.
Ribeiro pointed out that the chemistry teacher said to him, “There is no room for politics in my classroom,” but earlier in the year, according to Ribeiro, “He made it a political subject talking about global warming and saying Democrats are the only choice you have to make for this because they look at facts and science.”
Earlier this month, after the diagnosis of President Trump’s coronavirus had been made public, a 10-year-old student in Tacoma, Washington, made the mistake in a remote class of answering his teacher’s question asking which person he most admired.
He answered “Donald J. Trump.”
Brendan Stanton, a middle school teacher at P.G. Keithley Middle School in Tacoma, reportedly asked his students to reply in the online chatroom to the question, “Who is the one person you admire and why?” Elsy Kusander’s son replied:
I admire Donald J. Trump because he is making America great again. And because he is the best president the United States of America could ever, ever have. And he built the wall so terrorists couldn’t come into in the U. S. Trump is the best person in the world. And that’s why I had admire him.
Jason Rantz of My Northwest reported of the teacher, “Stanton almost immediately kicked the student out of the chatroom, deleted the chat, and proceeded to attack the president, while calling out the student for mentioning him.”
Elsy Kusander overheard Stanton, prompting her to film the comments on her cell phone, Rantz reported. Stanton stated, “The example that was shared in the chat, which I went ahead and erased for us, was not appropriate right? Especially as that individual has created so much division and hatred between people and specifically spoken hatred to many different individuals, ok? … Again, that individual has spoken hate to many individuals and I don’t think is an appropriate example for a role model that we should be admiring.”
Kusander told Rantz, “I went into my son’s room and I heard the teacher saying that this individual is hateful and divisive, etc. I started to record. How can a teacher be teaching to his students horrible things about the president of the country without facts?”
Kusander contacted Stanton later in that afternoon after the incident, informing him she was recording the call.
Kusander said that Stanton told her he deleted her son’s comment because it wasn’t germane to the question, which he claimed was to urge students to select a computer programmer they admired or someone from their community. He stated, “Donald Trump would not fit that prompt… just because it was a little bit off topic,” adding that another student was offended by her son’s answer and that triggered Stanton deleting it.
Stanton claimed, “My perspective has nothing to do with Donald Trump himself, right? I try to keep politics out of the classroom.” After Kusander questioned his version of the incident, Stanton asserted, “I do try to keep politics out of the classroom… because students have different opinions, right? And so if the way that I said it was not perfect, I do apologize. What I was trying to say is just ‘Hey, hey, guys, let’s get it back to our topic of the day because we really need to get moving into our content, which was on our computer scientists.’”
Kusander informed Stanton, “I came into the room, and you were talking, I got my phone and I recorded part of your conversation. I clearly saw and recorded what you were saying…”
Stanton then said, “I do apologize if my words were not perfect at the time. If I used… if I said that Trump was ‘hateful and divisive,’ that may have been what I used at the time, but my purpose was in bringing us back to the conversation of computer scientists and the positive role that they’ve played in our history.”
He said of her son, “I totally respect him as an individual — and his opinion. I am always interested in student feedback and also parent feedback as well. So I appreciate you having this conversation with me.”
Author: Hank Berrien