A middle school teacher in Texas faced death threats and angry parents after a school assignment appearing to be critical of President Donald Trump was called out by a state lawmaker.
The Houston-area teacher, who was not identified, was accused by a Texas state congressman of violating the “sacred trust” of parents sending their children to public school after it was learned that she gave her 7th grade students an assignment to review an essay titled, “Trump Against American Values,” the Houston Chronicle reported.
Texas State Rep. Briscoe Cain slammed the teacher and the Goose Creek Consolidated Independent School District on social media after an upset parent shared the assignment with him.
“This individual has violated the sacred trust that every parent has with the State of Texas when they send their child into a public school,” the Republican lawmaker wrote of the teacher. “They have lost the privilege of being in a classroom with Texas children, and forfeit the title of teacher. No teacher should attempt to indoctrinate a child to their ideology, no matter who is in the White House.”
The anti-Trump essay, one of 10 the teacher assigned, contended that some of Trump’s policies “have gone against what Americans value most, like freedom of opportunity” and that “we have witnessed insensitive remarks toward other racial and cultural groups.”
Multiple choice questions following the essay asked students, “Which of the following conclusions would the author most likely agree with?”
One of the responses students could choose stated, “Donald Trump should not be president.”
Another question asking about inference gave students the option to choose, “Mexican Americans are the major group upset with President Trump” as a response.
Chris Felder, the parent identified by Cain as bringing the issue to his attention, said his daughter asked for help with the assignment when she brought it home from school.
“This type of non-factual rhetoric has no place in our schools regardless of who the president is,” Felder said. “My children have experienced great teachers in the classroom, but I have also had to put up with those who see their roles as indoctrinators, not educators.”
The post by Cain condemning the teacher and the task prompted several angry calls, including death threats against the teacher, according to the school district which called the incident a mistake.
“The matter has been settled at the campus level, as appropriate,” the Goose Creek CISD said in a statement, adding that the teacher “did not use good judgment.”
“…Clearly, the teacher did not use good judgment or did not review the materials that she received from an outside source thoroughly,” Beth Dombrowa, director of communications at GCCISD, said, according to Yahoo News. “The matter was addressed with the teacher and the materials will no longer be used.”
“We received many calls at the district following the issue of a media release and social media post that told part of the story and did not reflect the fact that the matter had been resolved within the district,” Dombrowa said in the statement. “Many of those calls were deeply disturbing and threatening in nature. While we all agree that the particular passage should not have been used, the teacher made a simple error in judgement. Like all of us, teachers are human and make mistakes from time to time.”
Cain, who had his speech to the Texas Southern University Federalist Society chapter shut down due to protests back in 2017, remarked that he was glad to “bring this situation to light,” though he did not address the threats that were cited by the school district.
“I am glad that we had the opportunity to bring this situation to light and encourage civil discourse on this incident,” Cain said in the statement.
“I’m also grateful to (Goose Creek CISD Superintendent of School Randal) O’Brien and the District for the actions they took before my office brought this issue to light. I know Superintendent O’Brien personally, and have seen first-hand how much he cares for students and high ethical standards in education,” Cain added.
The lawmaker asserted that awareness is key to countering “inappropriate behavior” and “indoctrination” in the classroom.
“Some view this incident as a simple mistake, others see it as a betrayal of parents and students'” Cain said. “Sunlight is the best remedy to inappropriate behavior in the classroom. The importance of Texans being made aware of such actions is to ensure public accountability to indoctrination in the classroom.”
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