History teacher under fire for ‘liberal bias’ in school
A history teacher at Haverhill High School in the United States is under fire for assigning a dubious assignment on whether President Donald Trump is a fascist.
The teacher Shaun Ashworth assigned the homework, “Some People Claim that Donald Trump is a Fascist: Time to Check it Out,” to students last week, according to The Eagle-Tribune.
In response, Haverhill High School Principal Glenn Burns wrote to parents that “it is evident to us that the prompt may have skewed the debate or provided the perception that we were looking for (students) to prove Donald Trump was a fascist.”
“This was not the intention of the assignment, and we apologize to those that felt that was the experience we were trying to create,” Burns continued.
The assignment ignited a debate on whether it contained liberal bias.
“Now, I have an older child that had the same teacher a couple of years ago,” the parent wrote on a Facebook group for Haverhill Public Schools parents.
“He did not receive the assignment: Why or why not is Barack Obama a fascist?’”
According to BostonHerald: Burns wrote that students “were provided a graphic organizer for each characteristic and a place to write evidence from the texts they read as to why or why not Trump demonstrated that characteristic.”
Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini said at Thursday’s school committee meeting that the issue wasn’t on the program and that there are no “actions being taken or contemplated.”
Spencer Zbitnoff, a freshman in Ashworth’s class, said the debate is being overblown.
Parents “have ironically been influenced by bias themselves … they don’t know the full picture.”
These sort of social media firestorms “concerns me,” said Anthony Parolisi, an eighth-grade Haverhill civics teacher.
“I worry that the kinds of attacks we’ve seen on social media and reported in the news … have a very detrimental effect on all our students and public education overall.”
“I worry that such bad publicity will frighten districts into further restricting an educator’s professional autonomy.”
“Teachers may likewise hesitate to challenge their students, worrying that parents may choose to address their concerns in a public forum before so much as an email or phone call to the teacher or the principal,” Parolisi said.
“I see an assignment that asks tough questions and encourages children to think for themselves … they are taught to be critical thinkers, and don’t we need more of those,” said one parent at the meeting.
According to whav.net: Students and teachers defended the history teacher following the social media debate over whether a weekend assignment masked a political agenda.
High school students Angelina Parolisi and Spencer Zbitnoff backed their teacher, Shaun Ashworth.
“I have never seen or heard from him trying to impose a personal opinion on any student and, instead, he teaches us to consider every source and to view everything from an unbiased perspective,” said Parolisi.
Parolisi is the daughter of Haverhill Education Association First Vice President Anthony J. Parolisi, who also spoke.
Freshman Zbitnoff told members most students concluded Trump is not a fascist and that he likely “learned more from social media than from my assignment.”