When does the punishment not fit the crime? I have reference now to a lawsuit filed by a white public school teacher in New York City who was canned because of a lesson she prepared on slavery for her middle school students (“Teacher fired for making black students play slaves plans $1B lawsuit,” New York Post, Jan. 11).
There’s no doubt that Patricia Cummings used atrocious judgment when she had black students lie on the floor while she allegedly stepped on their backs to teach them about slavery conditions. That’s like having Jewish students wear black-and-white striped pajamas to teach them about the Holocaust. In both cases, students would feel humiliated.
But unless Cummings has a record of using similar practices or was otherwise ineffective, I think she should be given another chance. First offenders in criminal cases are routinely placed on probation for a stipulated number of years and ordered to comply with other conditions. Cummings did not commit a crime. Why is she different, particularly because she is now unemployable as a result of the publicity surrounding her dismissal?
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