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A Fifth Grade Teacher Has Been Suspended After Asking Students to Justify the KKK’s Actions

A fifth grade teacher in South Carolina is now on administrative leave after asking her students to imagine they were members of the KKK and justify their treatment of African Americans, The New York Times reports. 

Teacher Kerri Roberts assigned her fifth graders at Oak Pointe Elementary School a controversial worksheet focusing on the Reconstruction period. Tremain Cooper, the uncle of one of Roberts’ students, shared the assignment on Facebook, pointing out the question that asked the children to imagine they were KKK members. 

“This is my little 10-year-old nephew’s homework assignment today,” Cooper wrote, even identifying Roberts in the post. “He’s home crying right now…How can she ask a fifth grader to justify the actions of the KKK? We are contacting everybody from the school to the media.”

The timing of the homework assignment is particularly unlucky, given the summer’s deadly white nationalist march and similar racial incidents reported in elementary and middle schools this year. 

School district spokesman Katrina Goggins revealed that Roberts was on leave and that the context of her assignment has led to an “ongoing investigation.”

“South Carolina standards for fifth grade require lessons on Reconstruction and discriminatory groups, including the KKK,” a statement from the school district read. “We must teach the standard, but we are taking steps to ensure this particular assignment will never be used again in District Five Schools.”

Cooper has talked to the media about the issue, revealing in an interview, “I think the conversation needs to continue. The conversation should be elevated but yet go deeper. I think the larger issue of class assignments and curriculums for African-American children that are more culturally sensitive and less offensive is where the conversation should go.”

When the homework assignment was discussed on Tuesday’s The ViewCooper disapproved of the way the panel handled the topic and sent several Twitter messages to the show’s account. 

“Why ask a 10-year-old black child to project himself vicariously into an illogical and unscientific ideology to prove hate?” Cooper tweeted. “I would like you all to present the entire picture if addressing such sensitive topics to your audience. This is my family.”

Roberts has not commented on the incident. 

Kristen is a 2017 graduate of Siena College with a degree in English and minors in Writing & Communications and Journalism. Although she constantly pines for life in London after studying there for a semester, she calls New York home for now. In addition to previously working as a writer and Senior Editor for Her Campus Siena, she has worked for Her Campus as a News and Pop Culture blogger and a national editorial intern. Kristen has previously written for New York Minute, London's Health and Fitness, and Electronic Products. She makes far too many references to "Friends" and the British royal family. Her blog, where she talks about books, TV, and film, can be found at Bookworms and Fangirls. Follow her on Twitter @kperroney.
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