A charter school teacher in Milwaukee was suspended this week after she gave students an assignment in which they were asked to defend the Ku Klux Klan.
In a letter given to students to describe the lesson, the teacher, who has only been identified as an African-American female, wrote “when we return in January, students will watch the movie To Kill a Mockingbird and do a research paper on the history of the Ku Klux Klan. This paper will be a persuasive paper defending Klan members on trial. The research is being done leading into Black History Month 2017. The goal of this paper is not to teach the students the Klan was correct in their behavior, but rather to teach the students to write persuasively.”
While the teacher was clear that the paper was not to be teaching mechanism used to praise the KKK, parents were upset at the assignment. Damaris Dorsey, mother of one of the 7th-grade students given the assignment at Business and Economics Academy of Milwaukee (BEAM), felt that the topic might be appropriate for older students, but not for seventh graders.
“How do you have a 7th-grade student take a side on someone who has hated our culture and our background and our ethnicity for so many years?” she asked local news. The school seemed to agree, placing the teacher on suspension while the matter is investigated.
BEAM issued a statement saying they feel “that the objective of teaching students how to write persuasively is important. However, we feel that the choice of topic is inappropriate for a seventh-grade class. A new topic will be selected for the assignment.”