Middle school students in Florida were asked to choose between saving the lives of whites or blacks from a sinking ship in a controversial school assignment stirring outrage among parents.
Valerie Kennel, whose 11-year-old daughter Leah attends Giunta Middle School near Tampa, says sixth grade students were presented a “Lifeboat Test” in which they were forced to save only nine people out of 15.
“It’s racist in every form,” Kennel told WFLA-TV. “This had nothing to do with history, nothing to do with it. What is it teaching them?”
Several high-profile figures including President Obama and Donald Trump were included on the test alongside whites, blacks, a Hispanic woman, a male and female doctor and a rabbi and minister.
“Leah is 11. How is she supposed to pick people based off of what they’re saying? To her, everybody matters. Everybody should have a chance,” Kennel said. “They didn’t do anything wrong. Everybody deserves to be saved.”
According to Leah, she and her fellow classmates immediately protested the assignment.
“Everybody in the classroom got upset about it and said, ‘This is racist. This is racist,’” Leah notes.
One student, Leah adds, became so upset that they ripped up the assignment before being forced into “time-out” for opposing the test.
In response to protest from both parents and students, the Hillsborough County School District stated that the assignment was merely a “team-building exercise” and denied any racial connotations.
“This school has a culturally diverse population,” a school district representative said. “The test brought up good debates on how to work together, building relationship.”
Kennel, who now plans to meet with the school’s principal, argues the school’s leadership needs to better monitor what is being taught to students.
“They need to be careful with what their teachers are putting out there,” Kennel said.
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