The assignment, which was first created in the early 1970s, asked students to write a journal entry from the perspective of an American colonist who witnessed a group of settlers being slaughtered by Native Americans. The prompt included language like, “Explain your conflicting feeling toward the Indians.” It did not provide context for the attack.
“It’s just so one-sided,” Shawna Gallagher, mother of a fifth grader at Meadowdale Elementary, said. “It perpetuates segregation and hate. It perpetuates racism.”
Gallagher brought her concerns to the school’s principal last week, who held a meeting with her and her son’s teacher.
“During that meeting, no one in the room disagreed with the inappropriateness to use that curriculum,” said Edmonds School District spokeswoman Debbie Joyce Jakala.
The homework assignment was treated as a supplement to the standard curriculum, satisfying a requirement that Jakala called a “point of view, perspective” assignment. However, that specific prompt is not required and had not been previously reviewed by administration or the district.
“We are now looking systemically… to make sure something like this does not occur again,” Jakala said. “A mistake was made, but I hope our community respects that we are all going to learn and grow from this.”
Gallagher emphasized that she did not bring forward her concerns from a place of anger.
“I wanted to empower other parents,” she said.
She said she wants to help bring change.
“The kids are really our foundation for our future. If we continue to impose systematic racism through our teaching, we’re not changing anything,” she said.
Gallagher provided the following statement:
First, the purpose of involving social media is to ensure this curriculum is removed permanently from the Edmonds School District, and eventually banned from all schools. Secondly, to encourage parents from all ethnic groups to bring their concerns forward and advocate for change. If we truly want equality within our communities, we must be the agents of change.
I have chosen not to identify the teacher by name, as I do not believe she had ill intentions, this is just a prime example of the blinders that generally accompany privilege. I refer to this as “white privilege” or “unconscious racism,” and my intent is to expand the faculty’s understanding of how these lessons have a negative impact on all the students; of course, these teachings are harmful to my son, but they are harmful to the entire classroom. This curriculum is a form of systematic brainwashing and in-turn perpetuates hatred, segregation, and systematic oppression. And as educators we must move away from conditioning our students with the untruths, if our true goal is to create healthier societies.