Oklahoma substitute teacher speaks out after finding offensive word in elementary school book

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MOORE, Okla. – A substitute teacher is speaking out after finding the N-word inside a book in an Oklahoma elementary classroom.

Shad Certain is a substitute teacher and recently taught a class at Sante Fe Elementary School in Moore.

Students were reading the 1976 novel titled ‘Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.’

“As I read the first or second page, I’m seeing this word or a quote that says ‘You big, black N***er,'” Certain told News 4. “Then, I went on to read another one; it said ‘One of these nights, you watch N***er.'”

Fighting back tears, Certain said what happened next bothered him even more.

“I went and talked to the principal at lunch,” he said. “I was really taken back by it, and she told me that was an approved book by the district and the kids are briefed on the language of the book.”

He said administrators told him the word is part of history, a notion with which he disagrees.

“You know, you wonder why there’s problems with racism; it starts maybe with the schools not looking at the material they’re teaching,” Certain said.

“I feel like it’s unfortunate that the word was ever used, but it is reality,” said Lee Roland, a former principal and the author of ‘Fantastic Voyage,’ a tool for educators at inner city schools. “It’s part of our culture, part of American history.”

Roland feels, even though the word is offensive, children need to know why and the history behind it.

“I don’t like it. I hate it. I wish we could just totally expunge it, but it is what it is,” Roland said. “It’s used in the movies. It’s used everywhere. I would say that word is a teachable moment for schools.”

That opinion is one many educators share. However others, like Certain, don’t think there is any need for that in the classroom.

“To me, the book should have been taken off the shelf or taken away immediately,” Certain said.

News 4 called Moore Public Schools for comment about the book, and they have not yet returned our calls.

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