e can all agree that the Ku Klux Klan is bad.
That is non-negotiable.
So why did a teacher of a fifth-grade class in South Carolina ask young kids to think like a KKK member? To write out a justification for the "mistreatment of African Americans"?
Unfortunately, the incident of the ill-conceived homework assignment is not the only one of its kind. Far from it.
Somehow, there's no shortage of stories of racist, sexist, and otherwise inappropriate homework assignments that have been sent out from schools around the country.
In 2012, a 3rd-grade math assignment from an elementary school in Georgia sparked outrage because of word problems that referenced slavery.
The assignment included outrageous questions like, “Each tree had 56 oranges. If 8 slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?” and “If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in 1 week?”
A similarly inappropriate incident occurred in Los Angeles in early 2017.
Second graders at Windsor Hills Elementary School received math homework that contained this word problem: “The master needed 192 slaves to work on plantation [sic] in the cotton fields. The fields could fill 75 bags of cotton. Only 96 slaves were able to pick cotton for that day. The missus needed them in the Big House to prrepare [sic] for the Annual Picnic. How many more slaves are needed in the cotton fields.”
It was assigned during Black History Month.
The severe lack of judgment shown by educators in these instances is astounding.
We're not done yet.
In April 2017, a Florida teacher was fired for giving her sixth-grade class a homework assignment so comprehensively shocking it’s almost impressive.
The questionnaire, called, “How Comfortable Am I?” gave students hypothetical situations and asked students to rate how comfortable they would feel if faced with them. The scenarios were strangely offensive, racist, sexist, homophobic, ageist, ableist, and in all other ways inappropriate.
The jury’s still out on why in the world that sort of questionnaire A – was assigned as homework, and B – exists in the first place.
In today's fraught social and political climate, educators need to be extra careful about the kind of discussions they instigate in their classrooms.
According to the National Education Association, Donald Trump “creates fear in children.”
He’s emboldened hate groups like the KKK with his wishy-washy rhetoric and policies based on xenophobia and racism.
School is supposed to be a safe place, but increasingly, schools across the United States have become microcosms of the nation as a whole, where violent expressions of hate are constantly being normalized.
That’s why it was a big deal when Tremain Cooper posted his 10-year-old nephew’s inappropriate homework assignment on Facebook.
It blew up the Internet, and for good reason…