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Parents Are Livid After Teacher Asks Children To Fill Out 'Privilege' Worksheet

ryan.ford 22 Feb 2019

Having seen up close and personal how much work goes into teaching as a career, I will always defend their efforts as much as possible. Yes, there are some bad teachers out there, just as there are some bad accountants and bad programmers, and so on.

But teaching requires so much of you that bad teachers generally don't last.

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And the teacher behind this well-intentioned, if poorly thought out lesson, might have to take a step back and re-consider things, because they've made a whole lot of parents angry, and not without good reason.

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A business class at Saratoga Springs High School in New York got a shock for an assignment when the teacher handed out "privilege reflection forms."

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The worksheets ask students to generate a score for their own privilege based on multiple factors.

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For example, if they're white, students give themselves 25 points, if they're male they give themselves 25 points, and if they're straight they give themselves 20 points.

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At the other end of the spectrum, the sheet takes away points for many other factors.

For example, black students would deduct 100 points, female students take away 50 points, and gay students subtract 150 points.

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Countries of origin, religion, disabilities, economic status, attractiveness, and profession were all taken into account as well.

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And, if you were filling out this scorecard on a Friday or Saturday (misspelled "Saterday") night instead of socializing, you were to subtract 15 points, too.

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At the end of the exercise, students were asked to total their scores and compare them against a guideline.

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The form also noted that "If you can't add -30." If students scored below -100 overall, they were considered "very disprivileged," while those scoring above 100 were informed to check their privilege daily.

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When parents saw the form, they almost uniformly hit the roof.

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"It's not acceptable. It's inappropriate. It's inexcusable to be even introduced into a classroom," said Michelle King, whose daughter was in the class, according to WTEN.

Many cited privacy issues for teens, especially where things like religion and sexual orientation are concerned.

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This worksheet had something to offend everybody.

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Even if you don't mind the idea of "checking your privilege," the sheet contained several offensive words.

"When we looked at that form, we felt a lot of terms on there could really be offensive to a lot of kids," one parent told The Daily Gazette.

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"I felt like this lesson being pushed in the classroom is being more divisive than bringing kids together."

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While in some ways, the sheet was more inclusive than you might expect — including asexual in the sexual orientations, for example — in other ways it's completely out of touch.

If you're so woke about privilege, how do you not know that "retarded" isn't okay?

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Certainly some people will disagree with what is and is not considered a trait that provides or takes away privilege.

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And how much, too, which many parents felt played on cultural stereotypes.

For example, Jewish was considered the most privileged religion, providing 25 points, while Christianity provided five points, while being Muslim subtracted 50 points.

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There even seems to be some wry commentary about geographical locations.

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Europe is divided into four categories: Top (mostly Scandinavian countries), "meh" (UK, Germany, etc.), Low (France, Spain, Italy), and I'm sorry if you happen to be from places like Greece, Ukraine, or Poland.

Whatever derogatory term they used to describe those countries — the only European ones with a negative score — was actually covered up.

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Naturally, angry parents posted the sheet on social media and vented their concerns.

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The Daily Gazette reported one poster as calling the worksheet "emotional abuse" on Facebook, saying "Students are either made to feel guilt for being white, or made to feel like victims based on the negative score associated."

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A spokesperson for the school district didn't defend the worksheet, but suggested the goal of it reinforced the district's core belief of "equity of opportunity."

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The district added that the worksheet shouldn't have used the offensive language that it did. "The district does not condone the use of the document with these insensitive words," their statement said.

After a related school board meeting, the school's principal said that many teachers were eager to foster classroom discussions around equity and diversity.

h/t The Daily Gazette

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