To: United Federation of Teachers, NYC teachers who wore "NYPD" shirts, NYC Chancellor of Public Schools Carmen Farina, NYC Public Advocate Leticia James, NYC Department of Education

Racial Justice Starts With Teacher Cultural Competency, Not "NYPD" T-Shirts

Racial Justice Starts With Teacher Cultural Competency, Not "NYPD" T-Shirts

-- UFT: Issue a press release with public condemnation of the *actions* of t-shirt wearing teachers, and affirming cultural competency as a core value of the teaching profession

-- NYPD t-shirt wearing teachers: Public apology to the families at your school (58% POC student body, 48% faculty participated) acknowledging hurt and distrust sown by your actions

-- NYC Department of Education: Coordinate a district-wide investigation with Dignity Act Coordinators in all affected NYC schools to see if t-shirt wearing teachers created a “hostile environment” by pointedly promoting the NYPD when community wounds created by the death of Eric Garner and abuse of others are still fresh

-- UFT: Work with the NY DOE and the NYC Chancellor of Public Schools to make cultural competency a hiring requirement of all NYC teachers and school staff under the Dignity For All Students Employee Training Program

-- NYPD t-shirt wearing teachers: Cooperate with their school’s Dignity Act Coordinator information-gathering for the district-wide report

-- NYC Department of Education: Urge NYPD t-shirt wearing teachers to participate in anti-oppression training, and open this opportunity for training to all teachers who desire it

-- UFT: Call for all Dignity Act Coordinator teacher representatives to cooperate in reporting on these incidents across the affected schools, with results to be gathered and sent to the Chancellor of NYC Public Schools Carmen Farina and NYC Public Advocate, Leticia James, and other bodies as required under the Dignity Act, under Education Law, section 15

-- NYPD t-shirt wearing teachers: Enter into dialogue with community groups to understand the work of youth activists fighting to end “stop and frisk”

-- NYC Department of Education: Work with student and youth groups to end “stop and frisk” in schools and sever the “school-to-prison” pipeline using insights from the Dignity Act report sent to NYC Chancellor of Schools Carmen Farina and NYC Public Advocate Leticia James

Why is this important?

When mostly white teachers all around New York City wore NYPD t-shirts in opposition to their union’s participation in a community rally against police brutality, and in defiance of their union’s cautioning, they rubbed salt in the wounds of the families and communities they serve -- many of whom look like and live in neighborhoods similar to the one where an African American father and husband was recently choked to death by police using illegal restraint.

Those wearing the t-shirts showed individual failures of compassion and reflected societal failures of inequality. Their actions undermined the vital trust each teacher must build with each and every student in order to be effective, and their insensitivity shocked the nation. If teachers wear t-shirts with messages such as “God hates f---s” or “B----s suck,” under New York’s education law The Dignity Act they would also face consequences for provocation and creation of a hostile learning environment for their students and their families.

We call upon the United Federation of Teachers, the individual teachers who organized and wore NYPD t-shirts, and the NYC Department of Education to truly enact Dignity Act laws that are meant to counteract hostile learning environments. Each party must 1) make public amends, 2) strengthen the Dignity Act by complying with its investigative and reporting requirements, and 3) carry forward the insights gained from a report to ensure that cultural competency is a core value of the teaching profession.

How it will be delivered

Email / press conference

Reasons for signing

  • To be trusted with our most valued and vulnerable populations teachers should not only be skilled in their subject matter. They must also belief in the intrinsic value of the students and their families. Wearing those t-shirts seem to show a disregard for that life principle.
  • Cultural awareness is an important element that makes a classroom teacher a world-class teacher.
  • If these are the people hired to educate youth, especially youth of color, there is a SERIOUS problem. Empathy and cultural competence is not only a teaching skill, but a life skill!


2014-09-18 12:00:32 -0700

Thank you for helping us get more than 100 signatures! You should know that families feel intimidated in the neighborhoods where the NYPD t-shirt wearing teachers teach, according to this DNAinfo news piece:

This is exactly the loss of trust we decry, and urge the NYPD-supporting teachers to rebuild.

Here's also an investigation that found Staten island has the smallest narcotics bureau in the city but the largest concentration of officers with lawsuits filed against them in the entire region:

Let's make our schools places where we learn and foster mutual trust and community. Please help us urge all parties to take concrete steps under the Dignity Act to make this so, keep sharing this petition!

2014-09-17 19:25:09 -0700

100 signatures reached

2014-09-17 05:44:11 -0700

50 signatures reached

2014-09-16 19:54:51 -0700

25 signatures reached

2014-09-16 14:48:20 -0700

10 signatures reached