Top Nebaska H.S. History Teacher Shown the Door After Showing Baghdad ER

Historians in the News

Michael Baker worked for the Lincoln, Nebraska, public schools since 1981.

But after he showed the documentary “Baghdad ER” to his geography class on April 18, his career there was over.

This, despite the fact that in 2006, Baker was one of only 47 teachers in the state to win National Board Certification, according to the Lincoln Journal Star, which broke the story.

Baker tells The Progressive that he cannot talk freely about what happened because he reached an agreement with the school district. Part of that agreement prohibits him from saying anything “disparaging” about it, he says.

But he does acknowledge this: “The morning after I showed the documentary ‘Baghdad ER’ was my last day in class.”

HBO, which aired “Baghdad ER,” describes it this way: “2-time Emmy Award winner producer/director Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill capture the humanity, hardships and heroism of the US Military and medical personnel of the 86th Combat Support Hospital, the Army’s premier medical facility in Iraq. Sometimes graphic in its depiction of combat-related wounds, Baghdad ER offers an unflinching and honest account of the realities of war.”

Even the conservative magazine the National Review gave it a good review, calling it “refreshingly earnest.”

Baker waxes philosophical about his departure. “Teachers that teach against the grain often have difficulties with school systems,” he says. “What has happened to me is certainly not unusual.”

But his supporters are not so circumspect.

Michael Anderson taught with Baker at East High School for eight years. Now he’s the director of the school of education at the University of Wisconsin at Platteville.

“It’s outrageous,” Anderson says of Baker’s departure.

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