It must be a struggle to come up with new lesson plans every year for Martin Luther King Day. How do you bring Jim Crow alive for second graders? This year, some teachers in Glendora got a bright idea (possibly while high): why not segregate them.
Non-white children at Willow Elementary School were forced to run laps without water, while the white kids got to play on the playground. The tables were supposed to be turned the next day — with the white kids running laps and the non-white kids playing on the playground — except by that point so many parents had complained that it was called off.
So the white kids never had to suffer, which actually made it more like real segregation.
As you might guess, the parents of the non-white children were not happy.
“My son called me from school crying,” Anna Gonzales told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. “He was very upset and didn't understand what was happening. I really had to talk to him for about two to three days.”
The note home from the principal conveys pitch-perfect bureaucratic contrition:
“The lesson was intended to address the inequities of assigning privileges and obligations based upon the color of a person's skin. Regrettably, it sent a different message to the participants and their families.”
Actually, it seems like that's exactly the message that was sent. The superintendent of Charter Oak Unified School District says they're looking into it to see if any district policies were broken. (And if they weren't, then something is seriously wrong with the policies.)
So what can the school do now to make up for it?
Gonzales said she would like to see the school do something nice for the children who had to run, maybe an ice cream party.
“I would like (the school) to take the kids that went through (the lesson) aside and I want them to do something constructive to help bring up their self-esteem again,” she said. “It's something that they're never going to forget.”
If history is any guide, this sort of affirmative ice cream will breed white resentment, which white kids will then use to win student council elections. This lesson keeps on giving!
Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.