Psst, Teachers: Don’t Give Kids ‘Most Likely To Be A Terrorist’ Awards
‘Most Likely To Blend In With White People’ is off limits, too
Another teacher has learned the hard way that distributing end of year awards based on stereotypes and prejudice can cost you your job. After giving one girl a “Most Likely to Become a Terrorist” certificate and giving another a “Most Likely to Blend in With White People” certificate educator Stacy Lockett no longer has a teaching position with the Channelview Independent School District in Channelview, Texas.
“We have concluded our investigation and the teacher responsible is no longer employed by the district," a spokesperson for the Channelview Independent School District in Channelview, a suburb of Houston, said in a statement on Tuesday.
[quote position="left" is_quote="true"]I couldn't believe a teacher could be that bold.[/quote]
The awards were handed out in late May in Lockett’s seventh-grade classroom at Lance Cpl. Anthony Aguirre Junior High School. Lizeth Villanueva, the 13-year-old who received the terrorist certificate told CNN affiliate KPRC that the teacher said the awards were a joke but they “might hurt feelings.” But Villanueva didn’t think it was funny. "I do not feel comfortable with this... I do not feel comfortable being in the same classroom with [the teacher],” she said.
Lauren Easton, whose little sister Sydney Caesar received the white people award told CNN that her "initial reaction was shock" and “I couldn't believe a teacher could be that bold."
And those two awards weren’t the only ones to cross the line. Villanueva said one student got a “Most Likely to Cry About Every Little Thing” and another was handed a “Most Likely to Become Homeless in Guatemala” certificate. Word of the awards spread across the Houston suburb, and outraged parents and community members demanded that the district take action.
This controversy in Clearview comes on the heels of two teachers in suburban Atlanta giving a 14-year-old girl with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder a trophy with the words “Most Likely to Not Pay Attention” written on it. After an investigation, the school district said those teachers would not be returning to their positions.
You have to wonder what exactly is going through the mind of a teacher when they decide it might be a good idea to give out a “Most Likely to Become a Terrorist” certificate—and to do it at a time when bullying is so pervasive in America’s schools, that 160,000 students stay home every day because they’re afraid of being harassed. Educators have clamored for more trainings and resources to help them with the problem, and in 2014, the federal government stepped up and created a free online anti-harassment toolkit for schools. But what’s clear from these offensive awards is that all the digital tools and in-person workshops in the world won’t stop students from harassing each other as long as teachers are the ones doing the bullying.