Mother of Student in Death Panel Assignment Decides to Speak

StudentDeathPanelSurveyThe mother of the student given the death panel assignment agreed to discuss the issue with me.  The reason she did was because of the misinformation provided to their local paper by Principal Brian Brooks. Mr. Brooks told them:

Brooks said no parents contacted the teacher or the school with concerns over the assignment.

However this was not true.  A friend of the family had called Mr. Brooks directly. The second aspect of why she wanted to discuss the issues was the backlash against her.  There were some on the community, including teachers, that discovered her identity and was complaining that she was trying to destroy the teacher who gave the assignment.  She said this was also untrue. In fact she was careful to never provide the teacher’s name. She stated her problem was with the assignment itself and not the teacher.  The assignment asked for moral judgments of students whose minds are not fully developed enough to really handle these type of discussions.  These are moral discussion that should take place in the home at this age. Her daughter told her on Tuesday night about the assignment, not the teacher.  She was very upset and asked to see it, which she did on Wednesday.  After reading the assignment she said she was even more upset since the demographics given in the assignment had her daughter decided whether to kill off most of her own family.  The following members of her family are ostensibly described in the assignment:

  • Autistic child
  • Elderly bed ridden grandmother
  • Herself, the mother

She stated,

“I am a special needs advocate and deal with denial of services on a daily basis in my own home. I live this. People want to spin this their own way and make me out to be the bad guy. Where is your spine? You either stand up for whats right, or you fall for anything. If I have to stand up and say this is wrong, for CHILDREN to be taught ethics on morals and values in an institution outside of the home…then so be it. I will help preserve your rights as a parent, to teach your own children your own morals and values and nurture that. Based on the discussion, my child had to kill off most of her family. Lets discuss how “distraught” someone is. If an adult is “distraught” over this… how do you expect a CHILD to rationalize this?

She did make it clear she saw this as a morals and ethics issue not a death panel issue. Quotes from the student (taken from comments on the articles, identifying information excluded):

As a student I don’t feel this was appropriate.   I was forced to play God and choose who was to live and who was to die.   I have a paralyzed grandma, my mother is a homemaker, and I have a disabled brother.   This hurt to do.
I understand life is hard, and so are decisions. But what are they trying to teach us?  That some people’s lives are more valuable than others?   This was bullying and I don’t tolerate it.   My class learned from this assignment that certain people don’t matter.
No, the class was taught that. The assignment put that thought into their head. Yes, it was bullying. Basically my entire family has medical problems, so they all would have died in that assignment. This was bullying, and its sick. We were told to use no emotion and to give it to the most important people, based on the information on the worksheet.  This isn’t critical thinking; when are we going to have to decide who lives and who dies in real life? Never. I understand how hospitals run out of medicine, but wouldn’t you just go to a different hospital in this situation? There is no need to give this assignment, especially to freshmen.

To be clear, the following is my personal take on the situation.  Young students are deciding who lives and who dies.  It is a defacto death panel assignment.  The curriculum in many schools deserves to be watched closely by the parents.  Many teachers and administrators are using the kids as pawns in a political agenda.  In fact the day after this death panel assignment was given, the discussion turned to abortion and it’s appropriateness all the way up to birth.  Are these types of lessons part of the approved school curriculum or are these the political agenda of a particular teacher?

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About Lennie Jarratt

Small Business Owner, Education Watchdog, FOIA expert, Founder of For Our Children's Future