An 8th-grade Wisconsin student received an "A" from his social studies teacher for answers to a politically charged classroom assignment that suggested Republicans are destroying the "pathway to citizenship" for immigrants.
Teacher Gracie Davis gave her students a handout that included an editorial cartoon titled "The Pathway to Citizenship" from the Chattanooga Times Free Press showing two brick layers paving a walkway -- one with dark skin wearing a Democrat donkey logo, the other man, white, wearing a Republican elephant logo. While the implied immigrant is securing his bricks to the ground, the white Republican is removing the bricks and tossing them over his shoulder.
Davis instructed her students to use the cartoon to answer these questions:
- Who are the men in the picture (What is their job? Look at what they are doing for a hint.
- What are they building?
- What do the symbols on their shirts represent?
- What is action being done by each man?
- What might this mean to us about immigration and citizenship?
The student was able to answer the questions to Davis's satisfaction. His answers to the last two were, "The Democrat is building, the Republican is destroying" and "Democrats want immigrants to come in and Republicans don't."
The student brought home the assignment to show his father who checked to see if perhaps the opposing view was offered. He discovered, "[T]here's nothing, just one side of paper." Because his son was awarded five out of five points, the father said, "[A]pparently those answers that he gave were the ones she was looking for," and added, "Wow, it definitely looks like she wanted a certain answer."
The father confronted Davis over the assignment who revealed that she only wanted to expose her students to a different viewpoint. But when the man said it doesn't sound like she's offering the other view, Davis told him, "Well, the semester's not over."
The school district's communications director, Jim Strick, weighed in on the matter ensuring that it wasn't intended to influence the children's political views:
It was basically a skill-building unit for reading and understanding a political cartoon. It was basically the simplest cartoon that [Davis] could find for an eighth-grade level as far as understanding the concept of a political cartoon.
This makes for the second questionable classroom assignment reported in a Wisconsin school in as many weeks. Another assignment given to Wisconsin high school students asked them to rate the beliefs of each represented party -- communist, liberal/Democrat, moderate, conservative/Republican, and fascist -- across the political spectrum. One student posted a picture of their corrected paper online (see below). The first question, "We should not help the poor, it’s a waste of money," was corrected for the student from "fascist" to be a "conservative/Republican" belief. Another question, "Don’t ever forget that you have the right to read anything you want," was corrected by the teacher to show that to be a belief exclusive to the "liberal/Democrat" viewpoint.