Controversies

'White Privilege' survey in high school class sparks parents’ ire

High school seniors given survey with racially charged questions

 

A high school in Oregon is coming under fire from some angry parents after students in one class were assigned a “White Privilege Survey,” leading to accusations the school was trying to push a particular brand of politics.

The assignment was for a Literature Composition class at Aloha High School, KATU reported Thursday. Students responded to statements including, “I can be in the company of people of my race most of the time,” “I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me” and “I am never asked to speak for all the people in my racial group,” scoring them on how often they felt the ideas were true.

“I think he should be learning actual education and not be a part of some social experiment or some teacher’s political agenda,” commented Jason Schmidt, whose son is in the class.

“With the amount of money we pay for schools, they should be educating, not indoctrinating our students about the latest political fad or political agenda a teacher wants to get across,” Schmidt added.

School officials were quick to defend the assignment.

“The survey is just one activity that engages students in exploring this area,” Maureen Wheeler, the Beaverton School District spokeswoman, told NWCN. She said the class was meant for students to explore social issues, specifically in relation to race, class and sexuality, with the aim of having students “gain empathy, understanding and to build bridges.”

Some parents agreed with the school district.

“I want [my daughter] to have opinions. Whether it’s for or against, you have to create those, but you can’t without good information so I applaud teachers getting out that information,” parent Sarah Rios-Lopez responded.

Just west of downtown Portland, Aloha County is 79 percent white, a 2000 census report found. The school itself is 47 percent white and 34 percent Hispanic, according to the school district.