MINNEOLA, Fla. – A first grade teacher in Florida is under investigation for an unapproved, controversial “lesson on racism” that left some students in tears.
Parents are complaining about a “lesson on racism” for first grade students at Minneola Elementary Charter School the day after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in which the teacher segregated her 7- and 8-year-old student by eye color then discriminated against some for several hours, WESH reports.
The teacher, who was not named in media reports, gave students with blue eyes candy and hugs, and ignored students with brown eyes, according to WFTV.
“I think the teacher probably … intended good for it, but the only problem with that is that the kids being so young and not understanding the point she was trying to bring across,” parent Michael Ruffin told the news site.
Other parents were far more upset.
“It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard that a teacher did to teach a child something,” Lychelle Bland told WESH.
Aniyah Rodriguez, a brown-eyed 8-year-old in the class, said she got nothing while her classmates enjoyed hugs, candy and toys.
“She only wanted white people that had blue eyes to get hugs. And she said she didn’t want any of our cooties,” Rodriguez said. “Everybody in the class was crying.”
Minneola principal Sherry Watts told WFTV the lesson was not approved by administrators.
“The experiment shouldn’t have taken place at all,” she said. “It’s not appropriate for first grade.”
Watts told WESH the teacher is now under investigation, through it remains unclear whether the educator will face disciplinary action.
“She felt like it was just an opportunity to show them how important it is for us to be treated equally. Again, not an appropriate lesson for first grade,” Watts said. “I can tell you this will not happen again.”
The teacher would not talk to WESH about the incident, but she did sent a letter home to parents about what happened – which was also not approved by the school.
“(I)n the letter, she described it as a ‘tough lesson’ meant to highlight the importance of equality, letting kids ‘feel what it was like to have been people back about 50 years ago,’” according to the news site.
Not all parents thought the lesson was a bad idea.
“I don’t personally see anything wrong with that because I think it needs to be learned,” parent Melissa Allred said.
Online commenters seemed to be split on the lesson.
“I see nothing wrong with the lesson, although I agree it would have been more appropriate with kids a bit older,” aimhigh1 wrote.
“Wonder if there would have been a hub bub had the blue eyed children been the ones who didn’t receive hugs?” TeeBee Sanford questioned.
“You can’t win for teaching about racism if you are a white teacher,” imagooddriver responded. “If the teacher were black, there would be no problem.”