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Thursday, July 29, 2021

Georgetown ISD family considers other districts after daughter's 'disturbing' class assignment on slavery

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Author Jennifer Sanders
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

Georgetown ISD family considers other districts after daughter's 'disturbing' class assignment on slavery

GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) — It was a call Martine and Amos Keith never thought they would get from their fifth-grade daughter about a class assignment.

She’s a student at Carver Elementary School in the Georgetown Independent School District, and during one of her remote-learning courses she received this assignment: “Record a speech from the viewpoint of a Southerner explaining why slavery is necessary.”

Picture of a computer screen showing the Georgetown ISD assignment, which reads, "Record a speech from the viewpoint of a Southerner explaining why slavery is necessary." (Courtesy: Martine Keith)
Picture of a computer screen showing the Georgetown ISD assignment, which reads, “Record a speech from the viewpoint of a Southerner explaining why slavery is necessary.” (Courtesy: Martine Keith)
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“When I pulled out the assignment, I couldn’t believe my eyes, what I was reading, it was very disturbing, especially in the time we are in now,” said her mom, Martine.

The Keiths said the teacher told them their daughter had a choice whether to do the assignment, and she (the teacher) was just teaching the lessons provided by the district.

The next day, the Keiths pulled their daughter out of that class.

“I was informed that this particular bonus assignment has been removed from the curriculum, but how long has it been going on?” asked Martine. 

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After KXAN asked several questions about the assignment and its origin, Georgetown ISD sent the following statement.

“Georgetown ISD is aware of this and deeply regrets the pain this may have caused for students and their families as a result. This is not reflective of Georgetown ISD or our beliefs.

We believe in equity for all learners, which includes developing and nurturing a true sense of empowerment and belonging for every learner no matter their race, gender, ethnicity, language, ability, family income, sexual orientation or any other social factor. We realize that questions like the one posted can be setbacks in making meaningful progress in that area.

We have taken measures to ensure the lesson is no longer available and will continue to engage our staff, our parents and our community in our work to ensure equity for all learners. Curriculum resources have been updated.”
-Georgetown ISD Office of Communications & Community Engagement

A spokesperson for the district also said the assignment has not been in circulation and has not been used otherwise. The spokesperson said it is her understanding that it was part of an older curriculum draft that was never used and simply overlooked in our files.

The spokesperson added the Civil War is a sensitive topic — in and out of school. Georgetown ISD said it is continuing to do work around equity and professional learning, including how to teach sensitive topics in ways that honor Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) while being inclusive and thoughtful to students.

The Keiths want accountability and assurance other students aren’t impacted by this. In the below handwritten letter, their daughter explained people have suffered from slavery, and she wants to make an impact in a world where people aren’t judged by their skin color.

Letter from Martine Keith's daughter explaining how the Georgetown ISD assignment made her feel (Courtesy: Martine Keith)
Letter from Martine Keith’s daughter explaining how the Georgetown ISD assignment made her feel (Courtesy: Martine Keith)

“We always taught her to stand up, if you know something is right or wrong, let us know, and she knew that this was wrong,” Martine said. “We were hoping both of our children would be able to graduate from Eastview High School [in Georgetown ISD], but that’s not the case anymore, so we are looking for another district.”

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Georgetown ISD family considers other districts after daughter's 'disturbing' class assignment on slavery
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