An Oregon High School is answering unwanted criticism after a teacher passed out the “White Privilege” survey below to her students. The assignment, which was supposed to facilitate discussion of race and class, has done just that.
Only it hasn’t been the open-minded and heartfelt discussion that the teacher might have wanted. Instead, critics are pointing to the biased questions and the ludicrous political motives behind the exercise.
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The assignment, for a literature class at Aloha High School, asked students to respond to statements based on how much they feel the statements reflected their experiences.
Questions included statements like: “I can be in the company of people of my race most of the time,” and “I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me” and “I am never asked to speak for all the people in my racial group.”
“I think he should be learning actual education and not be a part of some social experiment or some teacher’s political agenda,” commented parent Jason Schmidt.
“With the amount of money we pay for schools, they should be educating, not indoctrinating our students about the latest political fad or political agenda a teacher wants to get across,” Schmidt said.
School officials did their best to justify the assignment, despite the fact that it was given in a literature class.
“The survey is just one activity that engages students in exploring this area,” Beaverton School District spokeswoman Maureen Wheeler told the local media. The intention of the assignment was not to cause conflict, but to “gain empathy, understanding and to build bridges.”
Wheeler made no comment on what some see as Aloha High’s cultural appropriation of the traditional Hawaiian greeting.
Not all of the parents in the predominantly white school were displeased with the assignment.
“I want [my child] to have opinions. Whether it’s for or against, you have to create those, but you can’t without good information so I applaud teachers getting out that information,” said Sarah Rios-Lopez responded, whose daughter is in the class.
Aloha High School, west of Portland, is 47 percent white and 34 percent Hispanic.