Laura Garon Mayhew
By Reform Sasscer Staff:
Kids and parents say this Prince George’s County Public School (PGCPS) teacher needs a lesson — in racism.
Dwight D Eisenhower Middle School teacher Laura Garon Mayhew shocked and traumatized children in her social studies class when she singled out black students and told them to pose as slaves to serve as a visual representation to the three-fifths rule. She had 5 students go to the front and told them that 3 of them equaled one slave master. The other Social Studies teachers did not act out this scenario.
Later, Ms. Mayhew was asked by a student why they were not celebrating Black History Month and she mentioned that she was not celebrating it until everyone had a month and that it’s ridiculous to single one culture out,” students and a staffer said. A different student mentioned to another teacher that she mentioned wanted to have white history month.
Fast forward to March, according to the students and staff in the school, she has the students doing a project celebrating Women’s Month and Irish History Month.
For the insensitive comments, the principal recently sent out a letter to her 6th-period class, apologizing to the parents for the incident. This was after the principal required her to complete an incident report. (See below the letter sent out to the parents).
There are reports, this past Friday, Dr. Briscoe, made the teacher to verbally apologize to the students as well. Students and staff are not sure if she went out on leave, but they are doubtful of it.
There are confirmed reports that, this teacher has a history of berating black students because she was reported calling 2 students “niggers” under her breath. The statements were given to last year’s Instructional Director and nothing happened. The staff familiar with the situation believe it was because these were students who caused a lot of trouble within the building.
Students said Mayhew, who is white has been at Dwight D Eisenhower for over 5 years. She’s taught different subject areas in the past but now teaches social studies. Mayhew pulled the insensitive stunt in middle school grade classes as part of a unit on the infamous Middle Passage, in which Africans were kidnapped and brought to America as part of the slave trade. The population of slaves would be counted as three-fifths in total when apportioning Representatives, as well as Presidential electors and taxes. The Three-Fifths Compromise was proposed by James Wilson and Roger Sherman, who were both delegates for the Constitutional Convention of 1787.
Kids and adults in Dwight D Eisenhower Middle School, where the student body is 54.77% black, Hispanic 37.37% and 3.32% white and just 2.68% Asians, were horrified by the offensive lessons they said occurred in her class roughly two weeks ago.
“It was a lesson about slavery and the Triangle Trade as well as visual representation to the three-fifths rule,” said one of Dwight D Eisenhower Middle Schools’ students, who asked to remain anonymous.
“She picked the black kids,” the boy said, and instructed them to pose as slaves to serve as a visual representation to the three-fifths rule in front of the class. “She said, ‘You see how it was to be a slave?’ She said, ‘How does it feel?’ “
Dwight D Eisenhower Middle Schools’ ill-conceived lesson isn’t the first time a school teacher has grabbed headlines for giving offensive instruction involving slavery.
In 2013, two teachers from Manhattan Public School 59 taught a lesson that used killing and whipping slaves to teach subtraction and multiplication.
Those teachers weren’t disciplined, but they did receive training in cultural sensitivity, Education officials said.
In recent past, teachers who have displayed racism have been heavily disciplined.
However, in neighboring PGCPS Laurel High School, Principal Dwayne Jones who advanced misconduct and racism with Deborah Toppins is still on the job due to his connection and cover ups with ties to Monica Goldson who is the interim CEO.
In the Maryland legislature this year, House of Delegates voted overwhelmingly to censure Delegate Mary Ann Lisanti over her use of a racist slur during an after-hours gathering with colleagues in which she called Prince George’s County “a nigger district”.
There are reports that, there are racial issues at Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School and this has caused many of the former teachers at the school to leave the school or the profession altogether. Majority of the administrators are not strong instructional leaders in this school and they heavily lean on IB Coordinator Stephen Mellen, who happens to be white, but runs the school. Some of the students believe this their real principal and ignore the current one. This is based on information received. “That being said, it causes for a hostile work environment because the current Principal favors the majority of the white teachers who are empowered to treat our minority children and teachers the way in which they do,” the staff member who wanted to remain anonymous said.
Many staff members hope that the school would receive the help that it deserves. “I am surprised that this situation is happening in PG County,” the staff member stated. “Teachers and staff have been thrown out for less in that building,” the staff member emphasized. “They have been put out of the school for selling candy and/or making inappropriate comments,” the staff member added.
“It is very unfortunate that my journey here at Eisenhower has been filled with disproportionate consequences and opportunities among staff. The vast variety of disciplinary procedures, professional development opportunities, and leadership roles appears to all be based on either race, who you know, or who the principal is scared of instead of giving all staff equal opportunities,” statement issued anonymously stated.
“I just want someone to help out our building because we are suffering in silence”, the staff member concluded.
We reached out to the teacher Ms. Mayhew for a response to these allegations and by the time of publishing, she had not yet responded.
A parent found out what happened at Ms. Mayhew class and this is what she emailed the teacher.
My name is —— and I am the mother of —-. Explain to me in full detail why you thought it was appropriate to have my African-American daughter and another student pose as slaves to serve as a visual representation to the three-fifths rule. Your discernment as an educator is cause for concern as that behavior is intolerable, insensitive and abhorrent. Making African-American children relive the trauma of discrimination that is a symptom of white supremacy is an act of violence. And you, a white woman inflicting harm on African-American children is a clear indication that you should not be allowed around our children, much less in a position of authority over them. Do you re-enact the Holocaust in your curriculum? Do you re-enact the Trail of Tears in your curriculum? My guess is no. So, why in a school where the majority of students are African-American did you commit this heinous act with no regard for the emotional trauma it would result in? Also, Black people were NEVER slaves. Black people were ENSLAVED. There is a big difference that impacts how our children view themselves. Everybody was born free. Black people were stolen, hunted, murdered, discarded and forced to perform inhumane, physical labor. We were enslaved by colonizers. I would appreciate that you teach our children the accurate history of their origins instead of cracking at their self esteem with the notion that they were born inferior. Additionally, my daughter came home to tell me that you said you weren’t celebrating Black History Month until everybody has a month and that it’s ridiculous to single one culture out. As an African-American studies major from the first university to teach African-American studies as an academic discipline, let me share this helpful piece of information that you should know; Black history IS American History. You are not singling out Black culture when you celebrate Black History Month. In fact, you’re re-inserting it into the fabric of America.
Jonathan Mayhew, her husband, also works as a teacher at the school.
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