Here's an update on Diatha Harris, the teacher from North Carolina who belittled a young girl who is a McCain supporter. Diatha Harris of Fayetteville teaches fifth grade at Mary McArthur A+ Elementary School in Cumberland County near Fort Bragg, an Army base. The teacher, states that the video is edited to show her as a person she is not, stating now that she has received "nasty" phone calls to her home, and implies that she is the victim in all of this. And testifies to her personality with "I give them whatever I have, 100% every day", while in tears.
A Swedish-language Finnish documentary who was documenting about the upcoming election, included a visit to the North Carolina school and Harris' classroom. In the video that was taken, Harris, a black teacher, takes it upon herself to victimize, belittle and embarrass a young white female student who states she and her parents support McCain.
In the video, the teacher tells the young girl that the person she is picking for president has said that US troops will be staying in Iraq, a "senseless war", for another hundred years if need be. She then tells the student "So that means your daddy is going to be in the military for another hundred years."
Later, the teacher said in response to her actions in the video to an Asheville, NC reporter that "I wasn't necessarily pulling for one person or the other." She added "If I was pulling for just one person then I would have never said the other person's name." At the end of the segment, Harris can be seen wearing an Obama button multiple times.
NOVEMBER 07, 2008
The superintendent of the school where Diatha Harris works made an official announcement regarding Harris' schoolroom actions on the CCS Web site stating that "I was shocked when I saw the clip of an interaction between a Cumberland County Schools teacher and her students as posted on YouTube."
Additionally, the superintendent also posted a video on YouTube while stating the official announcement.
So a bit more about Harris. WRAL had an interview with Harris, the teacher who has been been teaching for 27 years and has been with the Cumberland County Schools for four years, said Friday:
"...that the comments that appeared on the video were taken out of context and were edited to make her look bad. She said she does regret the comment she made to Cathy.
"I was wrong for saying that. I was truly wrong for saying that, but I would do nothing on this Earth to hurt this child," Harris said, adding that she fears the comment could end her career.
Harris said the video is "only portraying one side of all the events that went on in that classroom" and that she made similar suggestions and comments about Obama. ...
Cathy's mother, Angela Moore, said neither she nor her daughter were upset by Harris' comments.
"I don't necessarily think she is beating her options onto the students," Moore said. "That is her opinion just as everyone else."
Moore said the video is portraying Harris "to be someone she is not."
NOVEMBER 08, 2007
In a November 8th article from the Citizen-Times, an Asheville NC newspaper, from the city where Harris once worked, the headline reads "Students defend former Asheville teacher on hot seat."
But the parents of that student, and the student herself, said Friday that teacher Diatha Harris did nothing wrong.
"She is usually messing around," said Cathy Thompson, who was in Harris' fifth-grade class in May when a Swedish film crew visited for a documentary on American politics. "When she said that, I knew she was messing around." ...
... Harris turns to Cathy Thompson and asks her to speak up about her choice because her father is n the military.
Cathy is shown biting her lip and looking upset. She remained silent. ...
Cathy Thompson said Friday she wasn't upset at the time. Her parents, Angela Moore and Army Staff Sgt. Robert Thompson, also said they weren't mad at the teacher.
Moore said her daughter never mentioned feelings as if she was being picked on.
"Mrs. Harris is always active with the children like that," Moore said. "I have sat in her class when my Cathy was a student, and she was very active with the children. She tries to get them involved with everything."
Robert Thompson said when he first watched the clip on Friday, he understood why some would see it as Harris trying to change his daughter's mind.
But after hearing Harris' side and talking with his daughter, he now things Harris is "getting a rough deal." ...
The Thompson family, along with other parents who visited Harris at her home in Fayetteville, said they don't want Harris punished.
"There should be no repercussions at all," Thompson said. "There was no harm done to anybody." ...
Harris on Friday said she regrets making the comment about her student's father. She said she was not intending to advocate for one candidate over another.
"I called the parents, and I apologized," she said. "And apologized to Cathy. If I could take anything back from that video, it would be that statement. I should not have said that."
NOVEMBER 09, 2008
WRAL news in North Carolina interviewed Harris and Cathy. In the below video Cathy plainly states that what Harris said to her emotionally shocked her: "I was gonna start to cry because I was nervous cause I was worried about my dad when he was in Iraq."
Harris on the other hand is trying to portray herself as a victim since she has received "nasty" phone calls to her home and to the school district, in tears: "I give them whatever I have, 100% ever day." Harris contends that the video was edited to make her look bad. [NOTE: What part of editing could make the statement of "So that means your daddy is going to be in the military for another hundred years" could make her look bad, other than herself? Maybe someone needs to take responsibility for her own words.]
Believe it or not Angela Moore, Cathy's mother, defends Harris saying: "It's portraying Ms. Harris as being someone she is not."
On the WRAL web site, there is a poll regarding Harris actions. An overwhelming 935 (95%) out of 981 total votes (as of this writing) viewed Harris' actions in negative light. A total of 767 votes (78%) view Harris' actions as negative based on expressing support or disdain for a particular candidate. A total of 168 votes (17%) view that Harris should have never broached the subject with fifth-graders. And only 46 votes (5%) see absolutely no problem with Harris' actions.
In a separate video titled "Web Only: Teacher Discusses" (Very Slow Loading) on the WRAL web site Harris defends herself saying "They are only portraying one side of all the events that went on in that classroom" and that the "video is one sided" and that whoever put the video on YouTube edited the video to make her look bad. [Note: The entire video can be seen HERE. The specific that needs to be watched is from 13:30 ~ 22:00. The YouTube video is from about 19:00. Judge for yourself.]
Harris does admit in the video below that there is one thing that she said she wishes she could take back. That is the statement about Cathy's father being in the Army for the next 100 years. Harris states she has apologized for that statement which is about 6 months later after she made the statement, not around the time she made the statement in May of 2008, after the world sees the video.
Additionally Harris states that the reason she is speaking out is because she doesn't want "people lying on me, and my character tarnished as a teacher."
Hindsight is always 20-20 when people find something out that you have done wrong. Tell me, would Cathy and her family have gotten an apology IF this video had not made it on the Internet? Even murders say "If I knew then what I now now, I wouldn't have done it!" Drunk drivers who are in accidents say "If I knew this was going to happen, I wouldn't have driven drunk." Once a person is busted, they always say they are sorry and shouldn't have done it. They never say it before. The fact is, you can't change the past.
And I always love how people try to put the responsibility of their actions on someone else. Harris states in the video below that the videographers asked them to talk about the election, thus its their fault she acted the way she did, and she is in no way responsible for her own actions. The videographers made her do it.
Personally I don't care if the video is edited to one sided, it still does NOT condone the words and actions of a teacher to push a student to cry because of her beliefs. And again, it is not appropriate to use the words "Jesus" and "Lord" in a classroom. That is a violation of church and state. Harris' words of "Oh Lord" and "Oh Jesus" when Cathy states she is a McCain supporter, is NOT appropriate in the use of words, and in the reaction to Cathy being a McCain supporter.
Let me again ask you the question. Do you think Harris would have apologized IF this had not made the news? And if this was a white McCain teacher browbeating a black Obama supporter, what do you think would happen?
Harris should be terminated. PERIOD.