Sunday, May 24, 2015

Should the School System Have Fired The Teacher For Engineering Her Students To Write A Letter To Abu-Jamal?


The anecdote is that Marylin Zuniga, a third grade teacher at Forest Street Elementary School in Orange County, New Jersey, was suspended for asking her students to write get well letters to Mumia Abu-Jamal, a former member of the black Panther’s Party who was convicted of killing a Philadelphia police officer called Daniel Faulkner in 1981.[1] This article will not attempt to prove the guilt or innocence of Abu-Jamal, but it will focus on the wrongness or rightness of the actions of the teacher. As usual, we will look at three aspects: American law, The Bible and professional ethics to form our arguments.
I will just summarily paraphrase excerpts from an article written by AELE Monthly Law Journal.[2] The Supreme Court decisions defended the rights of the inmate to send and receive mails. Pell v. Procunier, #73-918, 417 U.S. 817 (1974); Procunier v. Martinez, #72-1465, 416 U.S. 396 (1974). Inmates have the right to receive publications like books, newspapers and or magazines from the outside world (Thornburgh v. Abbott, #87-1344, 490 U.S. 401 (1989). The only restriction is on inmate to inmate (Turner v. Safley, No. 85-1384, 482 U.S. 78 (1987). The kids were not inmates. Therefore, legally, there was nothing wrong with the kids sending letters to Abu-Jamal. The next step will be to look at her act biblically. 
People always tell me that we cannot talk about the bible as a canon for morality because not everyone believes in God. Unfortunately, there is not a single person on earth who is perfect, so we have to look out of the human race to establish our morality, and that will be God. The only book we know to have been established by God as basis for morality is the Bible. Thus, we will peruse through to see what it says in this situation.
Jesus said, "…Do good to them that hate you (Mt 4:43)."  There is nothing bad in the kids writing letters to Abu-Jamal, even if we all know he hated us to a point where he killed a police officer. The commission is to do good, even to our enemies, including Abu-Jamal.  Solomon had counseled people to do good to their enemies (Prov 25:22), and Paul reiterated the philosophy when he said, "Therefore, if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head (Rom 12:20).”  When Solomon encouraged people to do good to their enemies, he did not exempt Abu-Jamal. If the intent of sending those letters was to do good to Abu-Jamal, then the act correlates with Christian ethos. Her act teaches her students the virtue of forgiveness. It is still our obligation to do good to Abu-Jamal, even though we all know he is a violent criminal. By disciplining the teacher, the school implies that her act was morally wrong. In that case, they allow themselves to be overcome by evil.
Paul told the Romans to instead overcome evil with good (Rom 12:21). As long as God and his word are concerned, humans must acquiescently obey because although the way of God may not seem right, the end thereof is life.  
             Our last step will be the The New Jersey Uniform Code of Ethics.[3] There is nothing in the code that prevents her from creating such an assignment. Look, it will not be any different from killing an innocent person simply because you hate their associations or company. We should teach our kids forgiveness. In addition, Zuniga's actions will bolster the creativity and writing skills of the kids. As Christians, we are morally bound to speak and defend the truth, even when we don’t agree with the individual.

Until then, the teacher should be reinstated and the discipline erased from her record because she did nothing wrong.

St. Arrey of Ntenako







[1] "EXCLUSIVE: NJ Teacher Suspended For Allowing 3rd Graders To Write Get-Well Letters To Mumia Abu-Jamal Says We Should Rethink "Leadership"" News One RSS. N.p., 17 Apr. 2015. Web. 24 May 2015.
[2] Page, Aele Home. Jail & Prisoner Law Section –June, 2007 Prisoner Mail Legal Issues (n.d.): n. pag. Web.
[3] "New Jersey." State Constitutions of the United States (2006): 260-68. Web.


“Bonyfish beware because the same net that caught the jawless fish, caught the cartilaginous fish” (Hamilton Ayuk). Beware earthly paradise seekers because there is a serpent in every paradise"(Hamilton Ayuk). "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." (I Cor 15:19). "It is not how well you know a person; it is how well you treat them that they will live longer and happier with you." Hamilton Ayuk. Idle people write, idler people read, and idlest people read and whine that idle people are taking their time (Hamilton Ayuk).

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