Spring Hill Teacher Fired After Assigning Questionable Survey to Middle School Students

| April 15, 2017


Hernando County School officials have fired a middle school teacher who assigned students a survey asking their comfort level in dozens of potentially charged hypothetical social situations regarding sexual orientation, race and religion.

The survey was assigned by a newly hired teacher in a class described as “The Leader in Me.”  Karen Jordan, a public information officer for the school district, said the questionnaire was a supplemental assignment left for Fox Chapel Middle School students in the teacher’s absence.

Students have said they expressed concerns about the assignment and asked about taking it home to their parents. It has been reported that the teacher asked students not to show their parents and instead throw the surveys away or return them to the teacher.

The questionnaire titled “How Comfortable Am I?” included more than three dozen situations. Students were asked to rate their comfort level from 1-4 in each scenario including:

“A friend invites you to go to a gay bar,” “Your mother comes out to you,” “Your new roommate is Jewish,” “Your dentist is HIV positive,” and “A group of young black men is walking toward you on the street.” The questions may have been intended to make the students aware of their biases, but questions referring to “your new roommate” and “A fellow RA,” clearly show that the survey was intended for college students.

The school district did not identify the teacher at fault but did indicate that they had joined the Spring Hill school in January and were still under a probationary period at the time of termination.

The Washington Post reported that “Many of the questions appear to have been lifted from a book titled “Exploring White Privilege” by Robert P. Amico, a philosophy professor at a private and Catholic University in New York. An examination of the previewed pages of the book on Amazon.com revealed that an almost similar survey, with the same rating scale that the teacher gave her students, was included in its Appendix portion.” The author told the Post that the questions he wrote in his book are clearly meant for adults, “or at least, at best college students.”

A spokesman for the school district said: “In no way does that assignment meet the standards of appropriate instructional material.”

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