In a perfect microcosm of today’s outrage culture, a Dallas, Texas high school is apologizing after a teacher listed Kyle Rittenhouse as an option for students to write about in an assignment that focused on the concept of a “hero for the modern age.”
Rittenhouse is, of course, facing murder charges in the deaths of two men in Kenosha, Wisconsin last month during violent protests, but the 17-year old’s attorneys have said that he was acting in self-defense. In fact, Rittenhouse wasn’t the only person connected to the Kenosha shootings who was listed by the teacher as a possible “hero.” Joseph Rosenbaum, who was killed by Rittenhouse after Rosenbaum began chasing him, was another option for students to choose from.
Actually, going through the list of possible heroes, virtually all of them are controversial to one degree or another. Mahatma Gandhi was on the list, even though statues of the leader of Indian independence from the United Kingdom have been vandalized in recent months and critics have issued calls for other statutes be removed from campuses and public squares. César Chávez, Malcolm X, George Floyd were the other potential “heroes” that students could choose to write about, and it’s not difficult to find critics of any of them, including George Floyd.
In other words, it sounds like the teacher was intentionally trying to make students choose between controversial figures as they wrote about their concept of a hero. Rather than viewing the assignment as an exercise in critical thinking, however, some students and parents have simply deemed the whole thing unacceptable.
CBS 11 News spoke to a relative of one of the students who complained. Concerned about retaliation, she only wanted her first name — “Kristian” used. She said there is just so much wrong with the assignment and believes that the teacher cannot be trusted in a position of authority over students.
“From the spelling, to the grammar, no women on the list… and then a white supremacist murderer,” she said, questioning the teacher’s character.
I’ve yet to see any evidence that Kyle Rittenhouse is a white supremacist, but to folks like Kristian facts apparently aren’t nearly as important as the narrative that the Left has created surrounding the shootings in Kenosha.
Yes, the spelling errors and the grammatical mistakes on the part of the teacher are embarrassing, but they’re not nearly as mortifying as the reaction from those who took offense, including the Dallas Independent School District itself, which issued this statement.
“An unapproved assignment posted in Google Classroom yesterday has been brought to our attention. Understandably, this caused some concern for the impacted students, and we apologize. Campus administration immediately removed the unapproved content and students are not required to complete that assignment. Due to personnel policies, we are not able to comment further, however, the appropriate steps are being followed pending investigation.
Racial equity is a top priority in Dallas ISD, and we remain committed to providing a robust teaching environment where all students can learn. It is important that we continue to be culturally sensitive to our diverse populations and provide a space of respect and value.”
With all due respect, the job of the Dallas ISD and every educator employed by the district is to ensure that students graduate with not only the basic foundations of a good education, but also the critical thinking skills necessary to help them throughout their lives. As much as some parents and students may be loath to acknowledge the fact, some people do see Kyle Rittenhouse as a hero. Others see Joseph Rosenbaum as a hero. There’s also a fairly large contingent of Americans who don’t view either one in heroic terms, but see them as two sides of the same coin.
The Dallas ISD appears more interested in ensuring a sanitized education devoid of any controversy rather than challenging students to explain and support their ideas. Was this the greatest assignment any teacher’s ever come up with? No. Should the teacher be punished or disciplined for it? Once again, no. The freak out on the part of grown adults, including professional educators, is the most disheartening part of this entire story. In a story about heroes, there aren’t any to be found in the district’s decision-makers.