Disturbing Incident involving Davis High School

A few weeks ago, a Davis High School student, a 4.0 honors student heavily involved in student government and community causes, turned in a poster for one of his classes on Malcom X. On the poster appeared the phrase, “by any means necessary” along with other phrases from one of Malcom X’s most famous speeches.

This is a phrase comes from this context:

“We declare our right on this earth…to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.”

The next day, the student came back and found that the poster had been taken down and in front of the class was told that this was a “terrorist” message.

A few weeks later, this same student was asked to give a speech in front of the school during Human Relations Week about a civil rights incident that he had experienced. He was given a choice and decided to do it on this specific incident. He then gave them an advanced copy of the speech which they approved. He was told that he could not specifically mention the teacher and he agreed to this.

He then delivered the speech, he did not mention the teacher’s name. Apparently the teacher however walked out during the speech, he and his parents were called in by the Vice-Principal.

There were several different meetings between the father and the school, but suddenly unbeknownst to the family, the student was informed that he was suspended for three days. The father went to complain and was told to leave the campus and he ended up calling his lawyer.

These are the preliminaries on this story, more is likely to emerge in the coming days. But this appears to be a big story in the making. To me on the surface this seems to have been handled very poorly. The Malcom X quote was clearly not intended to be a “terrorist” message. The teacher clearly overreacted there. I mention this since the terrorist issue arose, that this student is an American-born Muslim. Apparently the ACLU has been contacted, CAIR is involved, and many of the student’s peers are outraged.

The three day suspension is a very harsh penalty given the facts involved. Now did he break his word? I do not know. But that seems an extreme punishment for a student involved in an academic exercise who is not dealing drugs or starting fights.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

Author

  • David Greenwald

    Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Categories:

Civil Rights

112 comments

  1. “A few weeks ago, a Davis High School student, a 4.0 honors student heavily involved in student government and community causes, turned in a poster for one of his classes on Malcom X. On the poster appeared the phrase, “by any means necessary” along with other phrases from one of Malcom X’s most famous speeches.”

    If this student is “a 4.0 honors student,” I hope he at least knows how to spell Malcolm X’s name.

    One other thing to consider: with the 5.0 scale for an A in an AP class, 4.0 is not what it used to be. I did some research on grade inflation for a column and found that most students in every AP course get an A. This grtade inflation phenomenon is not unique to Davis High School, though it is more prevalent at wealthier suburban schools than it is at poorer inner-city and rural high school campuses.

    Since the early 1990s, when the “self-esteem movement,” giving honest grades became impossible. Since that time, schools in towns like Davis do not reward children with an A for an excellent performance. Rather, every kid who gives an ordinary effort gets an A. B’s and lower are reserved largely for the kids who didn’t try. (Some teachers don’t play this game, but they are punished for their sincerity.)

    “Meanwhile now the student’s academic career is in jeopardy because of this suspension. The UC’s apparently have a provision that any student suspended for three days or more is ineligible for enrollment.”

    What is your source for this?

    “To me on the surface this seems to have been handled very poorly. The Malcom X quote was clearly not intended to be a “terrorist” message. The teacher clearly overreacted there.”

    Malcolm X is a difficult subject to teach at the high school level. If you grab one or two quotes from him, positive or negative, you can slant how he should be seen. But any mention of him, by a student or by a teacher, should be mindful of the fact that for the vast majority of his public life Malcolm X was a very controversial figure, intimately tied to a deeply racist and anti-Jewish group, The Nation of Islam (which is not mainstream Islam). It was only at the very end of his life, when he turned against The Nation and they (very likely) set out to have him killed that he renounced the hatemongering of men like Farakhan and Elijah Muhammed.

    As such, when a student wants to give a talk about Malcolm X, and his talk does not incorporate Malcolm X into a fuller context of his controversial public role, it is not surprising that a teacher may have problems with that.

    “The three day suspension is a very harsh penalty given the facts involved.”

    Do you know all of the facts involved? Or are you really just hearing from one side?

  2. “A few weeks ago, a Davis High School student, a 4.0 honors student heavily involved in student government and community causes, turned in a poster for one of his classes on Malcom X. On the poster appeared the phrase, “by any means necessary” along with other phrases from one of Malcom X’s most famous speeches.”

    If this student is “a 4.0 honors student,” I hope he at least knows how to spell Malcolm X’s name.

    One other thing to consider: with the 5.0 scale for an A in an AP class, 4.0 is not what it used to be. I did some research on grade inflation for a column and found that most students in every AP course get an A. This grtade inflation phenomenon is not unique to Davis High School, though it is more prevalent at wealthier suburban schools than it is at poorer inner-city and rural high school campuses.

    Since the early 1990s, when the “self-esteem movement,” giving honest grades became impossible. Since that time, schools in towns like Davis do not reward children with an A for an excellent performance. Rather, every kid who gives an ordinary effort gets an A. B’s and lower are reserved largely for the kids who didn’t try. (Some teachers don’t play this game, but they are punished for their sincerity.)

    “Meanwhile now the student’s academic career is in jeopardy because of this suspension. The UC’s apparently have a provision that any student suspended for three days or more is ineligible for enrollment.”

    What is your source for this?

    “To me on the surface this seems to have been handled very poorly. The Malcom X quote was clearly not intended to be a “terrorist” message. The teacher clearly overreacted there.”

    Malcolm X is a difficult subject to teach at the high school level. If you grab one or two quotes from him, positive or negative, you can slant how he should be seen. But any mention of him, by a student or by a teacher, should be mindful of the fact that for the vast majority of his public life Malcolm X was a very controversial figure, intimately tied to a deeply racist and anti-Jewish group, The Nation of Islam (which is not mainstream Islam). It was only at the very end of his life, when he turned against The Nation and they (very likely) set out to have him killed that he renounced the hatemongering of men like Farakhan and Elijah Muhammed.

    As such, when a student wants to give a talk about Malcolm X, and his talk does not incorporate Malcolm X into a fuller context of his controversial public role, it is not surprising that a teacher may have problems with that.

    “The three day suspension is a very harsh penalty given the facts involved.”

    Do you know all of the facts involved? Or are you really just hearing from one side?

  3. “A few weeks ago, a Davis High School student, a 4.0 honors student heavily involved in student government and community causes, turned in a poster for one of his classes on Malcom X. On the poster appeared the phrase, “by any means necessary” along with other phrases from one of Malcom X’s most famous speeches.”

    If this student is “a 4.0 honors student,” I hope he at least knows how to spell Malcolm X’s name.

    One other thing to consider: with the 5.0 scale for an A in an AP class, 4.0 is not what it used to be. I did some research on grade inflation for a column and found that most students in every AP course get an A. This grtade inflation phenomenon is not unique to Davis High School, though it is more prevalent at wealthier suburban schools than it is at poorer inner-city and rural high school campuses.

    Since the early 1990s, when the “self-esteem movement,” giving honest grades became impossible. Since that time, schools in towns like Davis do not reward children with an A for an excellent performance. Rather, every kid who gives an ordinary effort gets an A. B’s and lower are reserved largely for the kids who didn’t try. (Some teachers don’t play this game, but they are punished for their sincerity.)

    “Meanwhile now the student’s academic career is in jeopardy because of this suspension. The UC’s apparently have a provision that any student suspended for three days or more is ineligible for enrollment.”

    What is your source for this?

    “To me on the surface this seems to have been handled very poorly. The Malcom X quote was clearly not intended to be a “terrorist” message. The teacher clearly overreacted there.”

    Malcolm X is a difficult subject to teach at the high school level. If you grab one or two quotes from him, positive or negative, you can slant how he should be seen. But any mention of him, by a student or by a teacher, should be mindful of the fact that for the vast majority of his public life Malcolm X was a very controversial figure, intimately tied to a deeply racist and anti-Jewish group, The Nation of Islam (which is not mainstream Islam). It was only at the very end of his life, when he turned against The Nation and they (very likely) set out to have him killed that he renounced the hatemongering of men like Farakhan and Elijah Muhammed.

    As such, when a student wants to give a talk about Malcolm X, and his talk does not incorporate Malcolm X into a fuller context of his controversial public role, it is not surprising that a teacher may have problems with that.

    “The three day suspension is a very harsh penalty given the facts involved.”

    Do you know all of the facts involved? Or are you really just hearing from one side?

  4. “A few weeks ago, a Davis High School student, a 4.0 honors student heavily involved in student government and community causes, turned in a poster for one of his classes on Malcom X. On the poster appeared the phrase, “by any means necessary” along with other phrases from one of Malcom X’s most famous speeches.”

    If this student is “a 4.0 honors student,” I hope he at least knows how to spell Malcolm X’s name.

    One other thing to consider: with the 5.0 scale for an A in an AP class, 4.0 is not what it used to be. I did some research on grade inflation for a column and found that most students in every AP course get an A. This grtade inflation phenomenon is not unique to Davis High School, though it is more prevalent at wealthier suburban schools than it is at poorer inner-city and rural high school campuses.

    Since the early 1990s, when the “self-esteem movement,” giving honest grades became impossible. Since that time, schools in towns like Davis do not reward children with an A for an excellent performance. Rather, every kid who gives an ordinary effort gets an A. B’s and lower are reserved largely for the kids who didn’t try. (Some teachers don’t play this game, but they are punished for their sincerity.)

    “Meanwhile now the student’s academic career is in jeopardy because of this suspension. The UC’s apparently have a provision that any student suspended for three days or more is ineligible for enrollment.”

    What is your source for this?

    “To me on the surface this seems to have been handled very poorly. The Malcom X quote was clearly not intended to be a “terrorist” message. The teacher clearly overreacted there.”

    Malcolm X is a difficult subject to teach at the high school level. If you grab one or two quotes from him, positive or negative, you can slant how he should be seen. But any mention of him, by a student or by a teacher, should be mindful of the fact that for the vast majority of his public life Malcolm X was a very controversial figure, intimately tied to a deeply racist and anti-Jewish group, The Nation of Islam (which is not mainstream Islam). It was only at the very end of his life, when he turned against The Nation and they (very likely) set out to have him killed that he renounced the hatemongering of men like Farakhan and Elijah Muhammed.

    As such, when a student wants to give a talk about Malcolm X, and his talk does not incorporate Malcolm X into a fuller context of his controversial public role, it is not surprising that a teacher may have problems with that.

    “The three day suspension is a very harsh penalty given the facts involved.”

    Do you know all of the facts involved? Or are you really just hearing from one side?

  5. “If this student is “a 4.0 honors student,” I hope he at least knows how to spell Malcolm X’s name.”

    Becos thet is relevent, specially senz the ked is not the wun righting this blog

    “Do you know all of the facts involved? Or are you really just hearing from one side?”

    One thing that I can guarantee to you–he knows more about it than you. I’m betting this is the first that you have heard about this incident.

  6. “If this student is “a 4.0 honors student,” I hope he at least knows how to spell Malcolm X’s name.”

    Becos thet is relevent, specially senz the ked is not the wun righting this blog

    “Do you know all of the facts involved? Or are you really just hearing from one side?”

    One thing that I can guarantee to you–he knows more about it than you. I’m betting this is the first that you have heard about this incident.

  7. “If this student is “a 4.0 honors student,” I hope he at least knows how to spell Malcolm X’s name.”

    Becos thet is relevent, specially senz the ked is not the wun righting this blog

    “Do you know all of the facts involved? Or are you really just hearing from one side?”

    One thing that I can guarantee to you–he knows more about it than you. I’m betting this is the first that you have heard about this incident.

  8. “If this student is “a 4.0 honors student,” I hope he at least knows how to spell Malcolm X’s name.”

    Becos thet is relevent, specially senz the ked is not the wun righting this blog

    “Do you know all of the facts involved? Or are you really just hearing from one side?”

    One thing that I can guarantee to you–he knows more about it than you. I’m betting this is the first that you have heard about this incident.

  9. This *grade inflation phenomenon…

    Since the early 1990s, when the “self-esteem movement” took over, giving honest grades became impossible.

    It was only at the very end of his life, when he turned against The Nation and they (very likely) set out to have him killed that he renounced the hatemongering of men like Farrakhan and Elijah Muhammed.

    As such, when a student wants to give a talk or compose a poster about Malcolm X…

  10. This *grade inflation phenomenon…

    Since the early 1990s, when the “self-esteem movement” took over, giving honest grades became impossible.

    It was only at the very end of his life, when he turned against The Nation and they (very likely) set out to have him killed that he renounced the hatemongering of men like Farrakhan and Elijah Muhammed.

    As such, when a student wants to give a talk or compose a poster about Malcolm X…

  11. This *grade inflation phenomenon…

    Since the early 1990s, when the “self-esteem movement” took over, giving honest grades became impossible.

    It was only at the very end of his life, when he turned against The Nation and they (very likely) set out to have him killed that he renounced the hatemongering of men like Farrakhan and Elijah Muhammed.

    As such, when a student wants to give a talk or compose a poster about Malcolm X…

  12. This *grade inflation phenomenon…

    Since the early 1990s, when the “self-esteem movement” took over, giving honest grades became impossible.

    It was only at the very end of his life, when he turned against The Nation and they (very likely) set out to have him killed that he renounced the hatemongering of men like Farrakhan and Elijah Muhammed.

    As such, when a student wants to give a talk or compose a poster about Malcolm X…

  13. One thing that I can guarantee to you–he knows more about it than you. I’m betting this is the first that you have heard about this incident.

    Right on both counts.

  14. One thing that I can guarantee to you–he knows more about it than you. I’m betting this is the first that you have heard about this incident.

    Right on both counts.

  15. One thing that I can guarantee to you–he knows more about it than you. I’m betting this is the first that you have heard about this incident.

    Right on both counts.

  16. One thing that I can guarantee to you–he knows more about it than you. I’m betting this is the first that you have heard about this incident.

    Right on both counts.

  17. Rich, Please…

    Suspension is only to be used after other forms of discipline are used and found to be ineffective. Three days suspension? What is this teacher’s name. I want to know.

    Sharla Harrington

  18. Rich, Please…

    Suspension is only to be used after other forms of discipline are used and found to be ineffective. Three days suspension? What is this teacher’s name. I want to know.

    Sharla Harrington

  19. Rich, Please…

    Suspension is only to be used after other forms of discipline are used and found to be ineffective. Three days suspension? What is this teacher’s name. I want to know.

    Sharla Harrington