A Dallas, Texas-area high school teacher was apparently deemed out of order after requiring students in a freshman class to act as mock jurors in the Derek Chauvin trial without their parents’ knowledge.
The assignment is no longer part of the curriculum, however, after one or more parents found out and registered their disapproval in writing.
The project reportedly included watching 45 minutes of the trial livestream in class and more of it at home. In the process, the students also were reportedly exposed to the disturbing video of Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, to the outrage of the parents who made their feelings known in a letter to the Cedar Hill High School teacher.
“It is unfathomable to me that you felt it appropriate to force my child to watch George Floyd’s murder on television in your classroom, and then move on with his day as if nothing had happened. This murder seen by millions around the globe was triggering and traumatizing for adults,” one parent’s letter read, according to Dallas-based WFAA. “Yet, you left students to handle their own emotions and mental health as they left your class, without proper and professional support.”
Watch a report from WFAA about the controversy:
Making matters worse perhaps, the teacher, who is so far unidentified, allegedly told the students to avoid discussing with anyone their observations about the trial for six weeks, presumably as a way to simulate an actual jury proceeding, although he also appeared to write that he was “kidding.”
“The teacher allegedly provided parents a breakdown of the class assignment, after they began complaining,” WFAA added.
Ex-Minneapolis police officer Chauvin is facing charges of second degree and third degree murder, and manslaughter, in the death of George Floyd. The trial has today entered day six and is expected to run about four or five more weeks.
The Cedar Hill Independent School District subsequently issued a statement that implied that it gave the mock trial project a failing grade: “The assignment was not approved by campus or district administrators. The matter has been addressed with the teacher, and the assignment was removed.”
The high school principal agreed about the controversial assignment. “I don’t feel that viewing and discussing this case in school is age-appropriate for scholars,” Jason Miller said.
As of this writing, Cedar Hill officials have yet to release any further information about this matter.
The reaction to the story generated a mixed response on Twitter as to whether the class project served as an appropriate civics lesson. Here is a sampling:
It’s high school. It’s world news.
— FeGe_Cakes 🍰🎂🧁 (@FeGe_Cakes) April 3, 2021
God forbid they grow up with an awareness of the criminal justice system.
— Andypants (@laidbackupright) April 3, 2021
I disagree, but with huge caveats that it needs a peer-reviewed lesson plan and parental consent. These events are happening, students are exposed, it would help them to have an educated guide through them. But must be done competently, wisely, age-appropriate.
— ShoeQueenMO (@ShoeQueenMO) April 3, 2021
So? We watched the OJ trial in class and I’m doing just fine.
— Jessica Moers (@JessicaMoers) April 4, 2021
Teachers have been doing a lot of things over the past few decades without parental consent. That’s where the story is!
— Sam🇺🇸✡️ (@101SAM10) April 3, 2021
A lot of bad stuff has happened in history. We can’t shield them from it. I’m surprised they haven’t seen it already. I have a 17, 19 and 24 year old. We talk about these events all the time.
— Carolyn Mendoza-Canales (@FaerieTxn) April 4, 2021
I’m so glad I went to school back in the old days
when they teach trade skills so helpful this days when you have to run a household.
— DB21 (@DB2115354002) April 3, 2021
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