A Defense of My Livelihood To The Community

Jordan McGowan
18 min readApr 25, 2022

To The Community — the only People who are fit to render judgment;

This will serve as my first public comment on my case and it comes after months of waiting and waiting to speak my truth. I have debated with myself many long nights and even longer days; struggling to find an answer within my own brain on if and, more importantly, when I should speak up. Ultimately, to stand on what has been taught in Room 11 over the course of the last five years at Rio was a decision I knew I had to make for these students if I ever wanted to be able to look them in the eyes again. We have ALL learned about Kalief Browder, the Central Park 5, Assata Shakur, Fred Hampton, Malcolm X(El-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz) and so many more. We know that “the schools we go to are reflections of the society that created them” and so therefore we know why I must speak this truth. It is my ONLY choice!

For those who may not be as familiar with me: I am a tenured history teacher at Rio Tierra Jr High; I serve as the History/Social Science Department Chair, Boys Basketball coach, Black Student Union advisor, and formerly the club live advisor as well. This is my community, I live in the neighborhood, I see my students at the store, I see them out at the taco truck, I go to their birthday parties at the park, they eat dinner at my house; THIS IS MY COMMUNITY.

To be clear: TWIN RIVERS UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT is trying to fire me under false and illegal pretext. Let’s be clear that I DO NOT HAVE ANY PREVIOUS DISCIPLINARY ACTIONS taken against me by the district. So the obvious question must be then: what kind of action on my part could warrant such drastic action? Let us set aside the national teacher burnout/shortage, the conflict between teachers and unions across the State of California, and the district’s own teaching union (TRUE) claiming to “acknowledge the existence of institutionalized racism and commit[ing] to actively confront the racism that exists in our systems and structures.” The allegations against me not only are false, but they hold substantial weight for my current employment status and my career in general.

At this point “the what” in what I did must seem as if I am a menace to children; truth be told I am being fired for a one-on-one basketball game that was used in lieu of a suspension or detention to meet a student where they were at. A student who had been caught ditching my class earlier that day and was given detention asked our campus safety officer (we…

Jordan McGowan

Afrikan Griot — Music Lover — Former Athlete Turned Coach — Unapologetic — Political Scientist — Afrikan