An anti-police, pro-BLM assignment was rescinded after an uproar from parents and alumni at a private Catholic high school in the Twin Cities.
The assignment had an anti-police sentiment, which schools should not be teaching kids, according to a parent who requested anonymity.
“The media is villainizing the police right now. I don’t think that’s a good lesson for kids,” she said.
Kathryn Fetterly, a teacher at Cretin-Derham Hall (CDH), gave her ninth-grade “Values” class an assignment entitled “Say Their Names.” The assignment asked students “to honor” a black person who has been killed by police.
The parent said the assignment was politically-motivated, one-sided, and inappropriate for a school setting.
“The first quote on the top of the assignment is from BLM, which I view as a political agenda. The teacher hand-selected the people [the students] would write about instead of letting the kids decide who they wanted to write about,” she said.
Annie Broos, communications director for CDH, said the school “took immediate action to correct the issue.”
“Assignments shouldn’t be reflective of a teacher’s own political, personal beliefs, and we’re very committed to balanced discourse in our classrooms,” she said. “The school took immediate action to correct the issue and to bring it in line with what we’re trying to do here.”
Students in one class have already completed the assignment but it won’t be required of those in the two additional Values classes.
The assignment directed students to “research and honor” a black man or woman who has been killed by police by “learning their story.” Students were instructed to “say their name” in class “with one sentence about how they died.”
Some names on the list were Breonna Taylor, Daunte Wright, Michael Brown, and George Floyd.
In April 2021, 300 students at CDH walked out to protest “racial injustice.” According to a parent, they marched around the school chanting “f– the police” while holding signs.
Another parent said she got a screenshot of the assignment from her student last Wednesday.
“I read the assignment and thought, ‘What educational value is this?'” the parent said. “In my opinion, BLM is anti-police. It’s not a positive group. They’re not pushing for positive change.”
The parent said she immediately contacted the school and spoke with the principal and the “director of dignity and inclusion,” commonly known as the diversity officer, who agreed to cancel the assignment.
CDH has a commitment to “dismantling racism within ourselves and our system” on its website.
“They said they didn’t know the assignment was in the curriculum, and they didn’t agree with it being taught. They said they’re going to enact a lesson plan review before lessons are taught,” the parent said.
The “Say Their Names” campaign is a derivative of the “Say Her Name” campaign, which was launched by the African American Policy Forum to bring “awareness to the often invisible names and stories of Black women and girls who have been victimized by racist police violence, and provides support to their families,” according to a statement on the group’s website.
The parent took exception to the assignment for several reasons.
“I took particular offense that it says ‘to honor.’ I don’t agree with all of the shootings. Some of them are very wrong, but some of them were not,” she said. “Students weren’t required to look at the circumstances as to why [the shooting] happened. They are just giving a snapshot of what happened. In some of these cases, I don’t think we should be honoring the person that was killed.”
Sheila Qualls is an award-winning journalist and former civilian editor of an Army newspaper. Prior to joining Alpha News, she was a Christian Marriage and Family columnist at Patheos.com and a personal coach. Her work has been published in The Upper Room, the MOPS blog, Grown and Flown, and The Christian Post. She speaks nationally on issues involving faith and family.