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Tucson Unified teacher on administrative leave after using N-word in classroom

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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) – A Tucson High teacher is on administrative vacation after using the N word in his classroom.

The students captured part of the discussion on video that was posted on KOLD News 13.

The person who sent us the video said the footage was new – within the last few weeks.

The entire discussion can be heard on the video so we don’t know all that has been said to put it all into context.

We were told by two insiders that the exchange started when students were playing hip hop music during class.

One student recorded part of the subsequent conversation between the teacher and the students.

The video shows the teacher defending his use of the N word.

The video picks up on an already heated discussion between science teacher Bruce Riseborough and his students.

The use of the N-word is recorded with the camera – once.

“Calling others n ***** is part of their culture and not mine,” Riseborough is heard asking.

At the beginning of the recorded conversation, students argue that it was wrong for Riseborough to use the word.

“You could have said a bad word besides this one,” said one student.

Riseborough then asked if any words besides this were okay.

Then he utters two derogatory expressions (d *** and f **) as examples of other bad words.

Riseborough then tried to justify himself with the word.

“Hey, I chose the carotid artery,” he said. “Absolutely correct, but as you know, my children are half African American. Why does {student} have the right to say it? “

One student replied, “Because that’s part of his culture.”

Riseborough then asked, “It is part of his culture and not mine to call other people n *****?”

KOLD attempted to ask Riseborough for comment but received no response until Thursday December 9th.

We also contacted Tucson Unified to confirm Riseborough is on leave. We asked for an interview to discuss how staff are trained to deal with such racially sensitive incidents.

“We can confirm that Mr. Bruce Riseborough is on leave. However, TUSD has no practice of commenting on personnel matters or pending investigations, we cannot grant an interview, “the district said in an email.

So we have to wait for the result.

The debate over whether the N word should be used in the classroom is not new.

The controversial topic re-emerged after the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery in the winter and spring of 2020 because of the normalization of the word by younger generations.

Tucson Education Association President Margaret Chaney recently taught history – a culturally relevant curriculum – in TUSD.

“When I was a mentor-teacher in the CRC department, we started looking at it and we started getting questions about the N-word and its appropriateness and so on. And it just got too ho, ”she said.

Chaney believes in academic freedom.

She said she has defended the use of the N-word by teachers in classrooms but in cases where it is used in the context of the story or a novel being studied to understand why the word is an insult.

“You can have this discussion, and you should have this discussion, because that’s how kids learn,” Chaney said. “They know that for the most part they are used to hearing them in popular culture through entertainment, music, and movies.

“That’s unfortunate. That was a mistake. Sorry, that was just a mistake. You have no historical background. It’s a strong word. It’s written on the back of many people in history. So much blood has been spilled.” . “

There are other schools of thought on the same subject.

Dr. Neal Lester taught the first grade at the college level on the N word in the state of Arizona.

“There can’t be a gray area,” he says. “You shouldn’t read it out loud. We don’t have to say. That means controlling the word and not the word controlling you. “

Lester does not say that the word needs to be deleted from the text. Like Chaney, he believes that people must begin to critically withdraw the layers of the N-word to understand its full meaning.

He disagrees with people who believe that their association with black culture justifies the use of the word.

“We can certainly dispel these myths that if I have a black or brown partner that I’m kind of excused from, that won’t be the case,” he said. “The word is the problem, but this should be part of a larger conversation.”

A discussion, he said, should involve the youth who are misinformed about their right to have the floor back.

“We never heard that word and we don’t use it,” he said. “I’ve seen people, blacks, physically fight and baptize each other on this word while blood was flowing.

“So please don’t tell me that when you use an“ A ”that word somehow smells cleaner, tidier and better. It has a story of what has not changed at the root of that word, and how that word is still rooted in belittling people who look like me. “

Both Lester and Chaney said school principals should do more to train teachers to use the word.

Copyright 2021 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.

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