A chemistry teacher at a public high school in Arlington, Virginia has been relieved of classroom duties amid uproar over an exam question that critics claimed made an insensitive reference to George Floyd.
The H-B Woodlawn School, whose student body is 4.4% black, has been holding virtual classes amid nationwide coronavirus shutdowns. The secondary-school program has been called “Hippie High” for its liberal approach to education, ARLNow reported.
The brouhaha erupted last week over a 10th-grade chemistry test question that read, “George Floyd couldn’t breathe because a police officer put his _____ George’s neck.”
The correct answer was the chemical element “neon,” which sounds like “knee on.”
As a science lesson at H-B Woodlawn High, students were asked to fill in the blank. “George Floyd couldn’t breathe because a police officer put his ______ George’s neck.” The answer “neon” is an element that sounds like knee on. The school is 4.4% Black. pic.twitter.com/9RJhOBJVia
— conscious_couture (@consciouscoutu1) November 22, 2020
Shortly after the virtual class, a screenshot of the question circulated on social media. Several angry parents complained to the school, claiming the question was insensitive.
One student lamented on social media that “there is no diversity in my school and apparently there was a bunch of white silence when this happened this morning.”
The unidentified student further claimed that “white students were making excuses or seemed ‘too tired to talk about it’ shame on those people that’s disgusting.”
The student claimed the teacher “tried to pass it off as something ‘everyone would know/easy to get.'”
Basically, the implication was that the teacher flippantly referenced George Floyd‘s death.
H-B Woodlawn’s principal, Casey Robinson, reacted by condemning the test question, saying the school “does not tolerate any form of cultural or racial insensitivity.”
Robinson said counseling is being offered to students who were traumatized by the exam question.
Francisco Durán, the superintendent of the Arlington Public School system, also issued a statement rebuking the incident.
Duran said the incident “reinforces the importance of the work we have been doing, and must continue to do, to employ culturally responsive teaching practices and to combat systemic racism.”
He said the teacher has been “relieved of classroom duties while an investigation related to this matter takes place.”
“The content referenced the killing of George Floyd in an unacceptable and senseless way, which hurt and alarmed our students, staff, families, and the community,” Duran said. “The reference showed extremely poor judgement and a blatant disregard for African American lives.”
In September, a California school district banned five classic American novels, claiming they promoted “racism” because they made historical references to slavery.
— Conservative Tribune (@conserv_tribune) November 21, 2020
In a comical irony, one of the censored books was written by a black author who’s the great-granddaughter of a former slave.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.