Teacher back in classroom after controversial KKK homework question

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IRMO, SC (WIS) –

The Oak Pointe Elementary School teacher who asked fifth grade students to justify treatment of African Americans by the KKK during the Civil War era is back in the classroom after a short time on leave.

The assignment sparked national outrage after an image of it appeared on social media. Students in a fifth-grade class were asked to picture themselves as members of the Klu Klux Klan and think of ways to justify that group’s treatment towards African Americans.

The question, which was part of an assignment on Civil War era history, reads as follows: “You are there… you are a member of the KKK, why do you think your treatment of African Americans is justified?”

Another question reads: “You are there…You are a freedman. Are you satisfied with your new life? Why or why not?”

Lexington-Richland School District Five released the following statement on Monday saying the decision was made for the teacher to return to the classroom last Friday.

After careful review and investigation into this matter, the district decided to return the teacher to the classroom effective Friday, Sept. 22.

We have discussed the matter with school leaders who work with curriculum issues in our district to ensure that this particular assignment is never again used in our schools. These conversations have led to discussions, in general, about the need for more sensitivity in our assignments to all students.

Last week, one member of the school board said he felt the question was ‘a little deep’ for a fifth grade student.

The district said in an earlier statement that the matter was taken seriously.

South Carolina standards for 5th grade require lessons on Reconstruction and discriminatory groups including the KKK. We must teach the standard, but we are taking steps to ensure this particular assignment will never be used again in District Five schools.

We understand the seriousness of this matter particularly in light of the events taking place in our country at this time. We want to ensure that our students, parents, staff and community know that we are giving this matter our full attention.

The state department of education said last week it has no problem with lessons on the Klan or other controversial issues being taught.

However, state officials said teachers need to be thoughtful in their approach and make sure the teaching materials used are appropriate for the grade level.

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