Billy Green: NY 'Teacher of the Year' slammed by parents for focusing on 'social justice' rather than skills
Billy Green, who teaches chemistry at A Philip Randolph Campus High School and assists LGBTQ youth, far too frequently put 'wokeness' before academics
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK: A Harlem educator and state's Teacher of the Year in New York faces complaints from some parents for not educating fundamental skills. Billy Green was named New York State’s Teacher of the Year this month but few parents raised concerns that he is highly focused on social justice and not teaching basic skills.
According to members of the parent advocacy group Undercover Mother who spoke to the New York Post, Green, who teaches chemistry and occasionally math at A Philip Randolph Campus High School and assists LGBTQ youth, far too frequently put "wokeness" before academics. Green, for instance, tweeted a list of discussion topics for his algebra class on January 6, 2021, immediately after the Capitol riot.
Cultivating genius in black and brown children is an intentional act by teachers. I was in the middle of my Inequalities unit and then there was the siege of the US Capitol Building, what a great way to teach about the language of inequity: greater than, less than, not equal, etc pic.twitter.com/f8Bo82CQcq— Billy Green (@YourBestTeacher) January 8, 2021
Green captioned the post that reads, "Cultivating genius in black and brown children is an intentional act by teachers. I was in the middle of my Inequalities unit and then there was the siege of the US Capitol Building, what a great way to teach about the language of inequity: greater than, less than, not equal, etc." The message is referred from the book 'Cultivating Genius' by Department of Education consultant Gholdy Muhammad, who supports an "equity framework" for teaching.
The photo he posted has his discussion points, which reads, "I will use the vocabulary of inequalities to empower my identities in America. Students will develop a deeper understanding of how the vocabulary of inequality impacts their lives and the communities they ascribe to."
One of the leading members of Undercover Mother, a loose national network of anonymous moms that formed in NYC in 2021 and have since expanded nationally stated, "If you want to know why public schools are underperforming it’s because we have allowed education officials to focus and revere activist teachers like Billy Green and Gholdy Muhammad who prioritize social justice over serious classroom subject matter."
According to Green, who works as a public school teacher in New York City, his career has had some ups and downs, including at least one firing for his activism. Frederick Douglass Academy, one of the last schools where he taught chemistry, has test results that are significantly below the state average. Only 9% of students at Douglass received a passing grade in chemistry, which is Green's primary subject.
Green stated, "Those schools didn't choose me; I chose to work there. They require my services at the worst schools." The member said, "Billy Green does not hold a position at Brooklyn Tech or Stuyvesant High School. There's a good reason why failing schools have the best teachers. The teacher who puts in the most effort does the real work. Instead of just focusing on Billy Green's high schools, they must fix the DOE."
Twenty years ago, Green began his career as a teacher, spending time at the challenging East River Academy on Rikers Island. He claimed he overcame a childhood marked by frequent homelessness for ten years that started in East Harlem. The family ended up in city shelters after his mother was forced to move out of the family apartment because she couldn't afford a $15 monthly rent increase, and Green even spent some time sleeping in abandoned buildings, he claimed.
Green, 42, spoke to The Post Thursday, "I teach chemistry and some math and I sprinkle some social justice in. I have been studied by the greats. I come in here every day and win. The city tried to fire me but the state recognizes diversity and social justice. I am a champion for these kids. And don’t say I am doing the Gholdy Muhammad framework. She is a friend but I am doing the Billy Green framework. I will never let anyone put me in a box."
Congratulations to 2023 NYS #TeacherOfTheYear Billy Green, pictured with this year’s finalists, past NYS Teachers of the Year, his supporters from home, Chancellor Young, Commissioner Rosa, and @nysutEVP Jolene DiBrango. https://t.co/H90sSWZafQ @NYCSchools pic.twitter.com/K0u8qFxmbf— NYS Education Department (@NYSEDNews) September 13, 2022
He added, "I’m Puerto Rican, black, ghetto, gay, too many ism-s. I’m not the person people want to see succeed. The DOE doesn’t want me to succeed. The mayor of the city hasn’t said anything to me. Why are they looking to tear me down rather than uplift me? At the end of the day, I am teaching chemistry first, everything else comes after that."
One activist parent claimed that, if not for his activism, Green's background is impressive. Maud Maron, a parent advocate, and former Democratic congressional candidate said, "I respect that he has taught at Rikers Island." The parent added, "My issue is more with the people who are handing out these awards. They don’t seem to prioritize teachers who are just quietly getting the work done. They go after these larger-than-life characters who are gender fluid or are men who wear nail polish but it’s not something that’s really helping kids learn math and science. They are rewarding performativity. Children are being conscripted to be the audience which isn’t fair to them. The criteria should be an academic success."