By: Victor Ochieng
A middle school in Ohio has since apologized, after receiving backlash when an assignment came to public knowledge, asking students to hypothetically decide who is deserving of life based on race, sexual orientation and ethnicity. The school has now apologized for the controversial assignment.
Adam Miller, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio 6th Ward City Councilman posted the photo of the assignment calling it “inappropriate.” In his post he wrote, “Inappropriate project for young kids. In my view, it clearly uses conjecture which is suggesting this behavior is somehow an accepted pattern. Additionally, it’s implanting prejudicial thoughts in these young impressionable minds. This is NOT building a – “culture of caring” – this is building a culture of animosity, antagonism & hostility! Why can’t kids be kids? Sad to see this indecent indoctrination forced upon our kids.”
The assignment which is titled “Whom to Leave Behind,” was given by an unnamed teacher at Robert Middle School in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. According to the Huffington Post, the assignment “instructed students to examine a list of 12 people selected to fly on a spaceship to another planet to avoid the Earth’s destruction. However, due to the ship’s space limitation, students must cut four people, ranking the list into “most deserving” and “least deserving” of life.”
Reports have it that many parents raised their concerns to the school on August 20th. The superintendent of Cuyahoga Falls City Schools, Todd M. Nichols issued a statement saying, “They were just made aware of the situation and are investigating.”
A parent at the school, whose child also received the assignment told WKYC news outlet that, “What does her being Muslim have to do with it? What does being female have to do with it? It’s hard for me to put it into words. It’s just hard.”
She continued by saying, “This paper divides, it doesn’t pull anybody together.”
On Facebook, Miller also highlighted the fact that after complaints from parents went unanswered by the school, they decided to reach out to city councilman as a “last resort.” He also said that the assignment was part of a seventh-grade math class assignment.
Many parents criticized the assignment, writing their views in the comment section of Miller’s post. One parent said, “I’m honestly having a hard time believing that anyone thought this was appropriate to give to kids.”
Another person also wrote, “Liberal or conservative, thinking about how damning your kids’ answers could be if the teacher didn’t agree with their viewpoints.”
After the storm of criticism that the school got from the parents and the public, it issued a statement with what they term as an apology. The statement reads, “With regard to the assignment recently issued by a teacher at Roberts Middle School, it is important to provide context. One of the District’s goals this year is training in the areas of diversity awareness and social justice. In this case, the intent of this assignment aligned with the goals of the District and was issued in four seventh- and eighth-grade classes. The intent of this lesson was to engage in an activity in diversity designed to promote tolerance and break down stereotypes..”
“The Diversity Activities Resource Guide is a collection of exercises, often developed by third-party sources. While UH did not create this specific activity, we use it as a resource for college students in an effort to create awareness about cultural bias with the hope of sparking productive discussions and enlightening self-reflection. We encourage facilitators of this exercise to be trained in diversity and inclusion issues to appropriately handle difficult conversations that could arise,” reads a statement from the University of Houston representative sent to Yahoo Lifestyle.