I still don’t see the justification for anyone calling for the firing of the Lumpkin County history teacher who allowed her students to dress in Klan robes for a class dramatization of racism in America. I understand how the sight of the costumed and hooded students would upset a classmate, but once the project was explained, I would think that the concerns would be allayed.
The question here is intent. It seems clear that the teacher, who is well respected and liked, was trying to bring history to life for her students. (Several have posted on an earlier blog on this issue and defended their teacher and their class.) There are valid questions about whether she went too far in her effort to invigorate the history lesson.
Was it wrong to walk the kids through the school in their KKK attire? Yes, it was since other students had no warning and weren’t expecting to look up from their pizza in the cafeteria and see four Klansmen. But again, once the situation was explained, I am not sure how much damage was done.
With all the calamities befalling Georgia’s schools, this sideshow shouldn’t dominate the conversation.
Folks, the state just got rid of class size limits. The superintendent of schools says the funding cuts are so deep that the state is now only paying for 147 of the 180-day school year.
But we all seem fixated on an AP history class in Lumpkin County and a teacher’s decision to allow students to recreate a low point in Georgia and American history.
In the latest saga, the AJC is reporting:
The reaction from last week’s Lumpkin County High School history project was “blown way out of proportion,” said students who gathered at the school Tuesday afternoon.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” said senior Kevin Moore. “I think people are just making things up to get a little bit of attention out of it.”
Four students donned Ku Klux Klan outfits as part of a film project for teacher Catherine Ariemma’s Advanced Placement U.S. history class last week.
Ariemma escorted the group of white students through the cafeteria on the way to being filmed, not anticipating the reaction from a mixed-race student, Cody Rider, who told the AJC on Monday that he was outraged.
While most students — as well as those around town Tuesday — said the reaction was unwarranted, Ariemma on Tuesday found herself at the center of an administrative debate as well as a media circus.
The Rev. Markel Hutchins, a civil rights activist, said in a news conference after the meeting that Lumpkin County High School teachers would have sensitivity and diversity training. There have been measures put in place to make sure nothing like this happens again, he said.
There also will be a student assembly in a couple of days to discuss the situation, and a town hall meeting will be held in a couple of weeks.
Hutchins has encouraged the school system to further investigate and take disciplinary action, if warranted. Ariemma is on paid administrative leave.
“We all must learn to live together as brothers and sisters, or we will die together as fools,” Hutchins said.
Ariemma, who attended the meeting, did not speak at the news conference. Fifteen to 20 students and some parents were on hand, and several students hugged Ariemma.
“Leave her alone,” one woman said as she ushered Ariemma into a car.
The population of Lumpkin County, located about 70 miles north of Atlanta, is 94 percent white, according to Census data. Dahlonega, with a population of about 4,000, is the county seat.
Historic Dahlonega square was fairly quiet on a late Tuesday afternoon, but shop owners and visitors said they’ve been talking about last week’s incident
“People were saying it’s a big to-do about nothing,” said Kate Munson, an employee at The Humble Candle.
Gerald Eardley, visiting with his wife from Savannah, called the reaction, “political correctness gone crazy.”