Target: School Board President Helen Howard
Goal: Demand that school administrators rehire the teacher who was fired for defending a child from race-based bullying
Pam Aister, a woman who has been teaching in Arizona for 25 years, was fired for trying to put an immediate halt to the racist bullying of a nine-year-old black child. Other kids were allegedly calling him the n-word, “monkey,” and “crackhead,” telling him that he belongs in a zoo, and even throwing rocks. Parents accused Aister of threatening the bullies and telling them to “shut up,” and demanded that she be fired for this. The school caved to these demands, and Ms. Aister is now out of a job for the crime of taking racism and bullying seriously.
Bullying in schools has been a problem for many years, and victims are frequently targeted specifically for what makes them different from other kids. These young victims learn early on that their skin color, accent, gender identity, etc. is not okay and not “normal.” This has a severe negative effect on the child’s self esteem and causes extra stress that impedes their ability to learn and develop. Furthermore, these children often find little to no help from school administrators who let bullies off with warnings or blame the victim.
Bullying of all kinds has continued unabated in US schools for too long because school administrations have failed to address it with the seriousness that it deserves. Ms. Aister was right to be angry and shut down the bullying in her classroom without hesitation. Firing the teacher is yet another lesson for kids that children of color are on their own—that no one will help them if they become victims of racist violence. Sign this petition to demand that Pam Aister be reinstated and that the school district works to punish bullies, not the people who stand up to bullying.
Dear President Howard,
Recently, you fired a teacher from one of your schools for allegedly telling her students to “shut up” when they started using racial slurs and other racist language to bully a nine-year-old black boy. This educator, Pam Aister, had been teaching for 25 years when she decided she wasn’t going to tolerate this hateful behavior.
Though I understand that telling children to shut up might not have been the best course of action, it is outrageous to resort to such harsh punishment when all Ms. Aister was trying to do was demonstrate that racism is completely unacceptable. Racism and race-based bullying is responsible for a wide range of struggles that children of color have to face, while their white counterparts get to navigate school free of any concern about how they will be treated based on their skin color.
I urge you to reinstate Pam Aister to her former position. We need more teachers who are willing to take a stand against bullying rather than turn a blind eye to it. As educators, it is your responsibility to protect these vulnerable students from harmful racism by showing that you will not tolerate any amount of it from students. By firing Ms. Aister, you send the message that not only will you tolerate it, you’ll get rid of those who don’t.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Diego Grez via Wikimedia Commons