Indian Head, MD – A Maryland special education English teacher recently gave his students an assignment requiring them to list the names of “black people killed by police.”
Henry E. Lackey High School teacher John Folse issued the assignment through the Charles County Public Schools’ (CCPS) online learning platform on Sept. 9, The Southern Maryland Chronicle reported.
Folse touted his “Say Their Names” assignment as being “even easier” than the previous homework he had doled out, a photo of the message showed.
“Slight change of plans,” the message to students read. “Instead of doing the questions on synergy, I want you to do something even easier, an assignment I am calling, ‘Say Their Names.’”
Folse told students to compile “a list of black people killed by police since Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri,” including their names, the dates of their deaths, and the locations where they died.
“For extra credit, write a sentence or two about the circumstances of their deaths,” he suggested.
A photo of the email ended up on a community Facebook group and sparked a hot debate, WUSA reported.
CCPS said in a statement that it became aware of the assignment on Wednesday morning.
“A topic such as the one raised in this assignment is inappropriate as a stand-alone written assignment,” the school district said. “The teacher presented the assignment without background, lesson plans or in-class discussion guided by a teacher.
CCPS said that teachers receive training regarding “how to engage students in discussions about current events that might involve sensitive issues,” and noted that “social justice topics are a meaningful way to engage students in the curriculum,” WUSA reported.
The district aid that teachers are expected to use the curriculum to guide lessons and discussions.
“We encourage thoughtful discussion of current events and expect teachers to approach these lessons with sensitivity for all viewpoints,” CCPS said.
The school district did not name the teacher, nor did it indicate whether or not he would face any potential reprimand, WUSA reported.