Two Sunset Middle School teachers resign amidst slavery assignment controversy


Two Sunset Middle School teachers resign amidst slavery assignment controversy

BY ALEXANDER WILLIS

Two teachers at Sunset Middle School in Brentwood have resigned following the continued controversy over an assignment that had tasked students to imagine if they were slave owners.

Questions reportedly asked students to “create a list of expectations for your family’s slaves,” with another asking students to compare and contrast the lives of plantation owners and their slaves.

After a strong backlash from the community, the Williamson County School District held a meeting Tuesday night, inviting parents to openly voice their concerns to the school district’s superintendent, Mike Looney. Media were not permitted to attend the meeting.

One such person who attended the meeting was Inneta Gaines, who said that this most recent case has not been the first instance of cultural insensitivity at Williamson County Schools.

“I don’t have a student at Sunset Middle, but I have friends that have students there,” Gaines said. “One in particular, there was an incident that happened about building a wall in a classroom, this [being] the Trump wall. This is stuff that’s going on in our school that doesn’t get brought to light. There’s so many more bigger issues that are going on in our schools, besides the racial insensitivity.”

The two teachers, Kim Best and Susan Hooper, could not be immediately reached for comment. Both teachers had previously issued an apology, stating that “it was never [their] intention to hurt any of [their] students.”

Other parents who attended the meeting also called for the teachers’ resignations, arguing that an apology was simply not enough.

“My feelings are outrage – I am appalled, both my husband and I,” Gaines said. “I can’t believe a teacher who’s taught social studies for at least 40 years, from my understanding, would be that clueless as to not understand that that was not an appropriate assignment to give, especially in the political climate that we’re in, especially with the diversity training that they are supposed to be getting.”

Following the announcement that both teachers had resigned Wednesday afternoon, Gaines said that she believed that to be the right decision.

“I think it was the right decision because I don’t think her ideology, being a 45-year tenured teacher, is really going to change, and from what I’ve seen and heard about all of this, she really didn’t think that she did anything wrong, and that’s most concerning,” Gaines said. “I think it’s best for her to move on.”

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