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Homework assignment gone horribly wrong: Teacher asks kids to identify ‘as a member of the KKK’

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The uncle of a fifth grade South Carolina student went on a one man mission to have a teacher disciplined for a homework assignment on the KKK, and he was successful.

The man, Tremain Cooper, went after Oak Pointe Elementary School teacher Kerri Roberts after she assigned homework that asked students to identify themselves as a member of the KKK and justify the group’s treatment of blacks.

“You are a member of the KKK. Why do you think your treatment of African-Americans is justified?”

A separate question that appeared on the assignment was “You are a freedman. Are you satisfied with your new life? Why or why not?”

It appears that the teacher wanted her students to engage in critical thinking that might have helped student better understand the follies of racism.

But that is not how Mr. Cooper understood it as he took to Facebook in a series of rants.

“CHECK IT OUT FAMILY. CHECK IT OUT FAMILY. I NEED YALL TO HELP ME. THIS IS MY LITTLE 10 YEAR OLD NEPHEW’S HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT today. HE’S HOME CRYING RIGHT NOW.

“THE TEACHER’S NAME IS KERRI ROBERTS AT OAKPOINT ELEMENTARY IN DISTRICT 5 IN IRMO, SC right outside of my hometown of Columbia, S.C.,” Cooper wrote. “HOW CAN SHE ASK A 5TH GRADER TO JUSTIFY THE ACTIONS OF THE KKK??? WE ARE CONTACTING EVERYBODY FROM THE SCHOOL TO THE MEDIA. PLEASE HELP. PLEASE SHARE.”

His reaction didn’t end with that one call to action.

Cooper compared the assignment to asking a Jewish student to justify the Nazis.

“Imagine a German teacher with the audacity to send a 10-year-old Jewish boy home with a homework assignment that would even remotely suggest justifying Nazi actions toward Jewish people. That school system would be reprimanded immediately by the entire Jewish community in the U.S.,” he wrote.

And then to a rape victim justifying rape.

“Imagine a male teacher with the audacity of sending a 10-year-old girl home with a homework assignment that would even remotely suggest justifying the actions of the man that raped her. That teacher would be reprimanded immediately by the entire community,” he said.

He went on the update his followers with the news that the teacher had been suspended.

“The teacher is under investigation and is on administrative leave until the investigation is complete,” he wrote. “We met with the school district and principals. The school is sending home letters to every family today. Your voice reached all the way to local news station journalists in Columbia and Charlotte. They are trying to contact me, I haven’t spoken to any news media. The Principals at the school have all apologized and the Superintendent apology is coming next. All of the administrators agreed the assignment was wrong and unacceptable. Oakpoint is a predominantly white school with mostly white faculty and staff, maybe this will lead to more black inclusion. It’s only right. Thank you.”

The school confirmed the suspension in a statement.

School District Five is taking this matter very seriously. We took immediate action to investigate once the concerns over the assignment were brought to our attention, and the teacher has been placed on administrative leave as part of our standard personnel investigation procedures. We have been in communication and will continue to be in communication with families to let them know our actions and next steps.

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.

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Carmine Sabia

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