Student said teacher told him to read more ‘blacker’

Posted at 5:23 PM, Mar 18, 2012
and last updated 2012-03-18 17:36:35-04

(CNN/WJLA) A lesson in poetry has turned into a lesson on racial sensitivity in Virginia.

A high school teacher is now under investigation for comments she made to the only African-American student in her class.

Jordan Shumate said he was told by his Freshman English teacher to read a poem aloud in class.

"When I read it in my normal voice, she told me to read it blacker,” said Shumate, a  fourteen-year-old student at George C. Marshall High School.

He was asked to read Langston Hughes' "Ballad of the Landlord."

Shumate said the fact that he was singled out and asked to read it "blacker" shows racial insensitivity by his teacher.

"It's very, very unprofessional.  It should not happen. She didn't do it to any other kids. Why did she have to do it to me?,” said Shumate.

Jordan brought it to his mom's attention after another lesson in English class brought up stereotypes.

The freshman said he was again singled out to explain why African American people like grape soda and rap music.

His mother said she was humiliated for her son.

"We're in 2012 with the first African American president,” said Nicole Page, the boy’s mother. “In this era how could such a statement be made, particularly by an English teacher?"

The student has identified the teacher as Marilyn Bart. Fairfax county schools released a statement that read: "Marshall High School administrators are taking these allegations seriously and school officials are vigorously pursuing an investigation of these incidents."

The school district statement also said; 'The school launched the investigation on Wednesday immediately after the student's mother made them aware of her concerns.'