Being a teacher is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Aside from a child’s parents, they are the people who have the greatest influence in the development of the next generation, but, in the modern world, they have to work under particularly challenging conditions.
Due to widespread cutbacks, many teachers in the public sector have been forced to deal with increasingly large class sizes, and many of these classes contain children with additional needs which they must cater to, with the occasional help of learning assistants. A teacher’s working day does not end when the bell rings. Anyone who has worked in education or knows someone who has can tell you that they have to spend most of the evenings and weekends planning lessons and marking their students’ assignments. To make matters worse, many teachers haven’t had a pay rise in years, despite the fact that the cost of living has gone up. Some have even taken a pay cut when their school boards said there isn’t enough money to pay them so that they can keep their jobs. So when Louisiana teacher Deyshia Hargrave discovered that Vermilion Parish school’s unelected superintendent Jerome Puyau was going to receive a $38,000 raise she was understandably upset and decided to make her feelings known at a meeting about his contract. In the United States, a teacher’s starting salary is 39k, which means that another member of staff could have been hired to help deal with the school’s overflowing classes. It has been estimated that the raise would have taken Puyau’s salary from $190,000 to $228,000. Questioning the superintendent’s colossal rise, Hargrave said, “I feel like it’s a slap in the face of all the teachers, cafeteria workers, and any other support staff. We work very hard with very little to maintain the salaries that we have.” In the now-viral footage of the incident, which took place on Monday, Hargrave continued, “As I’ve been teaching the last few years, I’ve seen class sizes grow enormously. You’re making our job even more difficult. At the top, that’s not where kids learn, it’s in the classrooms.” “And those teachers, like myself, are not getting a dime and that’s unspeakable.” Check out the shocking footage for yourself below:
While questioning the pay rise, Hargrave remains calm and makes her points in a clear and concise manner. Despite this, the board of education decided to shut her down for having the audacity to question the raise, even though the meeting was about the superintendent’s contract. A member of security is then sent into the room to remove Hargrave. “You’re going to leave or I’m going to remove you,” the officer said. “Are you serious?” a shocked Hargrave replied. She then asks the board if it’s against their policy to stand while questioning them, and, without any provocation, the guard grabs her arm. It is at this point that she chose to leave the room and the other teachers immediately began to complain that she had been treated unfairly. In fact, another member of staff also decides to leave in protest. But then the unthinkable happened in the school’s hallway. “I just put her in handcuffs,” a voice said, out of shot. In response to this, another teacher turned around and said, “He did not?!” The person filming the event then goes out into the hallway where the security guard is handcuffing Hargrave with extreme force. The other teacher who left the meeting exclaimed, “What are you doing?!” “Stop resisting,” the officer said. “I am not,” Hargrave replied, clearly upset. “You just pushed me to the floor.” The officer can then be seen escorting her from the building. All because she had the audacity to question a decision. Hargrave was subsequently forced to spend several hours in police custody, according to court documents, before being granted bail on two charges – “remaining after being forbidden” and resisting an officer. Superintendent Puyau has said that the school board will not be pressing charges against Hargrave. Now, a number of organizations are seeking to justice for Hargrave, who was named “Teacher of the Year” in 2016, including the Louisiana Association of Educators who have now released a statement about the incident. “As an organization that advocates for the dedicated school employees of Louisiana, we firmly denounce the mistreatment of Ms. Hargrave, a loving parent and dedicated teacher serving the students of Vermilion Paris.”