Questions on an advanced English exam at St. Augustine High School in Florida didn’t sit well with some students, and now they’re parents are sounding off about political indoctrination in the classroom.
Reanna Parham told WKMG her son Logan took a picture of his vocabulary test and sent it to her on Monday, and she “had to read it twice” before it sunk in.
“I was really surprised,” she said, “shocked.”
Question seven on the “Unit 4 Quest” test read:
Right when it appeared the nation was becoming increasingly tolerant of alternative lifestyles, immigration, and minorities, the vocal and angry right wing forced the nation to make a complete _______, embracing bigotry, xenophobia, and sexism.
The desired answer, based on the available vocabulary words, seemed to “Volte-face,” which means “a reversal in policy,” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary.
Parham said she was incensed by the blatant political bias and posted the image on Facebook, where other parents were quick to share her outrage.
“It leads people to believe that anyone who leans toward the right – they’re a sexist or racist or a bigot,” she said. “That happens a lot of times. We hear those kinds of things. We are not, and this doesn’t help.”
“The words that they used seemed to be very degrading words,” said Logan Parham, who founded the school’s Republican club.
Osbert Cato, whose ninth grade daughter attends St. Augustine, told WJAX he also found the question disturbing.
“These are really trying times, and I think that as a community, people need to get together and talk things out,” he said.
Parham added that the biased lesson is especially egregious because it’s funded by tax dollars.
“That is not something an educator should be doing. I feel like these are our tax dollars, they work for us,” she told WJAX. “It is we the people. You can’t just say and do whatever you want with our kids. It’s not OK.”
Parham and many other parents contacted the St. Johns County School District about the issue, and superintendent Tim Forson told one parent he visited the school to speak with the principal in person about the matter, according to the news site.
DeArmas Graham, principal of St. Augustine High School, also forwarded a copy of a letter he sent to the teacher, John Blackford, warning him about injecting his personal politics into classroom lessons.
The SJC School District sent this letter *exclusively to @ActionNewsJax –It was sent by the St. Augustine HS principal, to the teacher involved. It reminds the teacher about following the Principles of Professional Conduct & exercising good judgement. pic.twitter.com/tirJRSr5eJ
— Courtney Cole (@CourtneyANJax) October 31, 2018
“This is a follow up to our conversation held on October 29, 2018 regarding the subject matter in one of your test questions (Unit 4 Quest, Test question 7) given to students that you stated you created,” Graham wrote.
“While you mentioned you speak to your students about controversial topics, please be reminded of the Principles of Professional Conduct for the Education Profession in Florida …. Which specifically states that the individual (educator) ‘Shall take reasonable precaution to distinguish between personnel views and those of any education institution or organization with which the individual is affiliated,’” the letter continued.
“Please be reminded of the importance of exercising good judgement when facilitating subjects that are of sensitive nature.”