Some parents and students are expressing concerns and anger at Bishop McDevitt High School near Philadelphia and a teacher after they say a high school assignment appeared to contain a distinct bias against George Floyd.
Criminal justice students at the school, which is located in the Philly suburb of Wyncote, were given a 10-question assignment about the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted last week on two counts of murder and one count of manslaughter in connection with Floyd’s death in May 2020.
Some questions asked whether Chauvin should have been charged and convicted of murder if he didn’t directly act to kill Floyd, noting that he had drugs in his system during the incident which left him dead. Also, one question sought an answer to how students could make the distinction between a police officer being “basically a jerk” compared to one who is overtly racist.
“Is this a #biased assignment? Parents of a student at Bishop McDevitt HS say it is. A teacher told students to answer these questions after the #DerekChauvin verdict. Student was too uncomfortable to do the assignment. Archdiocese of Philadelphia has apologized,” wrote ABC6 correspondent TaRhonda Thomas on Twitter in a post that contained the questions.
Is this a #biased assignment? Parents of a student at Bishop McDevitt HS say it is. A teacher told students to answer these questions after the #DerekChauvin verdict. Student was too uncomfortable to do the assignment. Archdiocese of Philadelphia has apologized #GeorgeFloyd @6abc pic.twitter.com/Pd8bizcFMs
— TaRhonda Thomas (@TaRhondaThomas) April 27, 2021
One of the questions asked criminal justice students: “Chauvin did not follow protocol and had a knee on Floyd’s neck for way longer than necessary. Floyd was resisting arrest, so why is Chauvin still considered breaking the law through negligence? Explain. If you don’t know what negligence is then look up the word.”
Another queried: “It is said that the death of George Floyd was due to the amount of drugs in his system that then affected his heart. The cop Derek Chauvin aggravated the issue by putting a knee on Floyd’s neck. Should Chauvin have been charged with murder if he did not directly kill him? Why or Why not. Must explain in at least 5 sentences.”
But some parents reacted with a combination of bewilderment and anger.
“You can’t discuss something that’s so fresh. And then you don’t have facts in there, you just want people to answer your opinion,” one parent whose child complained, going only by Tim, told ABC6.
“It was just questions about the teacher’s opinions,” added the student’s stepmother.
“This teacher has placed her political views in the classroom and she is manipulating her students with it,” the student’s aunt, Kimberly Jones, told the outlet.
The student sent the teacher a message, which the family shared with the station.
“I feel as if the questions asked are highly insensitive. I am uncomfortable reading let alone answering the questions provided,” it read.
The teacher responded, according to correspondence shared by the family on social media, “I’m sorry you feel this way. It was just an assignment to have you critically think from all perspectives. I understand if you do not wish to complete the assignment and would rather take the [zero].”
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia said in a statement that a small number of families contacted the school about the assignment.
“A handful of school families contacted Bishop McDevitt High School administration late last week to voice concerns regarding portions of an assignment in one class section designed to analyze press coverage following the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial,” the archdiocese said.
“School administration immediately communicated with those families after reviewing the assignment in question to apologize and discuss a plan of action moving forward to address the concerns. Those families with whom school administration was in contact expressed that they were pleased with the planned resolution,” the statement added.
But Tim pushed back on that.
“They never reworded anything (in the assignment),” said Tim. “I haven’t seen anything that was reworded. They haven’t talked to me about anything else since then. So that statement is completely false.”
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