On Tuesday, House Rep. Briscoe Cain of District 128 posted an image to Facebook of an assignment given to middle schoolers in the Goose Creek Consolidated Independent School District in Baytown. “A 7th-grade teacher in Goose Creek ISD gave students an assignment of reading an essay named ‘Trump Against American Values’ in an effort to teach them ‘inference,'” Cain wrote.
The text referred to President Trump’s “insensitive remarks toward other racial and cultural groups” and one multiple-choice answer asked students to choose whether “Donald Trump should not be president.”
A parent named Chris Felder had shared the literature with Cain. “This was an assignment my 7th-grade daughter received that I found to be very out of place, to say the least,” Cain quoted Felder on Facebook. “This type of non-factual rhetoric has no place in our schools regardless of who the president is. My children have experienced great teachers in the classroom, but have also had to put up with those who see their role as indoctrinators, not educators. As a fellow graduate of Goose Creek ISD, I’m embarrassed that this is what our District tolerates.”
“This individual has violated the sacred trust that every parent has with the State of Texas when they send their child into a public school,” wrote Cain. “They have lost the privilege of being in a classroom with Texas children, and forfeit the title of teacher. No teacher should attempt to indoctrinate a child to their ideology, no matter who is in the White House.”
On Tuesday, a press release from Cain said the teacher should be fired, according to The Baytown Sun.
Beth Dombrowa, director of communications at GCCISD, tells Yahoo Lifestyle the content was not approved by the district and was used to help students prepare for an upcoming state test. “…Clearly, the teacher did not use good judgment or did not review the materials that she received from an outside source thoroughly,” she said. “The matter was addressed with the teacher and the materials will no longer be used. The matter has been settled at the campus level, as appropriate.”
“We received many calls at the district following the issue of a media release and social media post that told part of the story and did not reflect the fact that the matter had been resolved within the district,” said Dombrowa. “Many of those calls were deeply disturbing and threatening in nature. While we all agree that the particular passage should not have been used, the teacher made a simple error in judgment and had no ill intent. Like all of us, teachers are human and make mistakes from time to time.”
The essay is published on the website Youth Voices and was purchased from the online business Teachers Pay Teachers, for buying and selling classroom materials. The district is not naming the school or the teacher for their personal safety.
Other parents said Cain should not have meddled in a privately-resolved dispute. “Cain overstepped his boundaries,” Christina Hutchison whose daughter is a 7th-grade student in the district, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Still, no matter the president, we should respect the office. And kids are impressionable — they may interpret the essay as fact without input from their parents.”
And mom Susan Cummings tells Yahoo Lifestyle, “I’m disappointed that an elected official would use social media so irresponsibly and disingenuously. He put the teacher in danger because anyone in our community can easily identify [the teacher]. That’s a severe invasion of privacy. It was like throwing a bomb.”
Cain was not immediately available for comment when reached by Yahoo Lifestyle. However, he told the Houston Chronicle that he’s “glad” the situation was brought to light and that it has encouraged civil discourse. “Some view this incident as a simple mistake, others see it as a betrayal of parents and students,” he told the paper. “Sunlight is the best remedy to inappropriate behavior in the classroom. The importance of Texans being made aware of such actions is to ensure public accountability to indoctrination in the classroom.”
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