With support from the University of Richmond

History News Network

History News Network puts current events into historical perspective. Subscribe to our newsletter for new perspectives on the ways history continues to resonate in the present. Explore our archive of thousands of original op-eds and curated stories from around the web. Join us to learn more about the past, now.

Nat'l Teacher of the Year Has No Plans to Stop Teaching Controversial Material

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- National Teacher of the Year Kurt Russell told a City Club of Cleveland audience Monday that he would not back down from teaching “controversial” subjects state lawmakers are considering banning.

Russell received the award in April from the Council of Chief State School Officers, which aims to recognize and praise exceptional educators across the country. Russell was one of four finalists competing for the prestigious title.

A 25-year veteran of the Oberlin City Schools, Russell teaches African American History and Race, Gender and Oppression classes at Oberlin High School. He said in recent years, he has seen as many white students elect to take his classes as students of color.

“I don’t want to be defiant, said Russell. “My sole purpose as a teacher is to provide my students with a holistic education and I don’t believe -- through my lived experience -- that taking away certain subjects or certain books will do so. I want to make sure that my students feel comfortable and valued in my class and all voices should be respected.”

Russell said his elective classes were developed in 2006 as a response to questions his students were asking.

“The students wanted more. They wanted to see themselves, more, and I wanted to provide more,” he explained. The “Race, Gender and Oppression” classes dive into issues that might be considered controversial but understanding those is critical for young people and the future of the nation

Read entire article at Cleveland.com