District suspends 'race and social justice' class after complaint

SEATTLE -- A curriculum controversy has a Seattle school teacher and some of his students speaking out about how issues of race should be taught.

Center School teacher Jon Greenberg's "race and social justice" curriculum was suspended recently after a student's parents complained about the material.

Now many of Greenberg's other students are teaming up to help their embattled teacher.

"He looked so sad that he couldn't talk about what he loves to teach," said student Yasab Pfister.

The district began investigating the class after a parent complained that her child felt intimidated by the material. The district agreed with the parent and released a statement addressing the class.

"These are important conversations for our students and staff. But we don't want to put any child into a situation where he or she feels so intimidated by the manner in which these issues are taught that the course is no longer effective," the statement reads.

Greenberg denied he singled out any students and said he has never received negative feedback about the class. After the decision, he emailed current and former students to let them know what happened and encourage them to help his cause.

"Throughout the first few weeks of the Race Unit, this student ... always seemed engaged, interested, and participatory. It was only after the parents demanded a meeting that this dynamic started to change," he said in the email.

Other students say there was nothing wrong with the course or the way Greenberg taught it.

"He has never made me feel uncomfortable," said Zak Meyer. "He's never called me out in front of the class, no student has ever called me out in front of the class."

Pfister agreed.

"It's really upsetting that this whole thing has to stop because a family made a complaint," he said.

In the letter to students, Greenberg encouraged them to testify at Wednesday's school board meeting.
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