A fifth grade teacher at Oak Pointe Elementary in Irmo, South Carolina has been put on administrative leave after giving her class a homework assignment with the following question:
“You are there… You are a member of the KKK. Why do you think your treatment of African Americans is justified?”
A Facebook user named Tremain Cooper shared pictures of the homework assignment, eliciting a strong response from those who interpreted the question as the same type of “gotta hear both sides” rhetoric President Donald Trump issued after violence caused by white nationalist protestors in Charlottesville, Virginia in August.
While the possibility exists the teacher was playing devil’s advocate, Cooper didn’t seem particularly convinced.
“How can she [the teacher] ask a 5th grader to justify the actions of the KKK,” Cooper wrote in the caption to his photos, which appear to have since been deleted.
The assignment featured a grid of questions asking students to speculate on the Klu Klux Klan’s “purpose and motivation.” Other questions ask students to reflect on the KKK’s “effects on the opportunities of African Americans” and ask students if newly freed black citizens are satisfied with their new lives.
“South Carolina standards for 5th grade require lessons on Reconstruction and discriminatory groups including the KKK,” wrote Lexington-Richland School District 5 director of communication Katrina Goggins in an official release about the teacher’s suspension. “We must teach the standard, but we are taking steps to ensure this particular assignment will never be used again in District Five schools. We understand the seriousness of this matter particularly in light of the events taking place in our country at this time. We want to ensure that our students, parents, staff and community know that we are giving this matter our full attention.”