“It was almost like reading a suicide note,” Kate Gurka said.
That was the Texas mom’s reaction to a 9/11 homework assignment her 7th-grade daughter brought home this week.
KRIV-TV obtained a copy of the language arts assignment from Fairview Junior High in Alvin, Tex., about 30 miles south of Houston. It read in part, “If you knew you were about to die, who would you want to be the last person that you talked to? Write a letter to that person. What would you want them to know? Please give a lot of thought to this letter.”
Gurka said she noticed a letter in her 12-year-old daughter’s folder on the eve of Sept. 11.
“She told me, ‘Mom the teacher wants us to write a letter like we were stuck on a tower or on a plane’ and then she showed me the paper,” Gurka told the station. “I just thought it was absolutely ridiculous.”
“They are supposed to pretend that they are…not going to make it out,” Gurka adds. “This is their goodbye letter.”
KRIV posted the assignment on its Facebook page and received many comments, both pro and con in regard to the assignment.
“Simply tasteless and insensitive…” user Shadia Khanter wrote, “too soon and too much for 7th graders.”
“I see nothing wrong with this… [it's] empathy, reflection & opens the mind,” Angelique Berry commented. “I wouldn’t mind my children doing this assignment at all. Kuddos [sic] to the teacher.”
The Alvin school district in a statement apologized to any families who found the assignment “insensitive.”
“We sincerely apologize to any of our families that found this activity to be insensitive. As educators, we strive to meet the individual needs of our students both instructionally and emotionally while maintaining a high level of sensitivity,” the district said.