8th-grade ‘privilege test’ calls out straight white males, intact families, people with money

8th-grade ‘privilege test’ calls out straight white males, intact families, people with money
An eighth-grade "privilege test" at a Wisconsin middle school called out straight white males, intact families as well as people with money and without disabilities. And not everybody was happy with the exercise. (Image source: WITI-TV video screenshot)

A “privilege test” was given to 150 eighth-grade students at a Wisconsin public school in December and consisted of 55 statements participants checked off such as:

  • I am white
  • I am a man
  • I am heterosexual
  • I feel comfortable in the gender I was born in
  • My family and I have never lived below the poverty line
  • My parents are still married
  • I do not have any physical disabilities
Image source: WITI-TV video screenshot
Image source: WITI-TV video screenshot

Teachers at Badger Middle School in West Bend wanted to start a conversation about privilege after students read the classic book “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which deals with racism in the Jim Crow South, the district told WITI-TV.

How did one parent react to the ‘privilege test’?

One parent told the station the “privilege test” wasn’t age appropriate.

“For a lot of children, they don’t even understand what most of it means,” Kim Goldman told WITI, noting that her seventh-grade daughter didn’t receive the test but knows all about it because of the controversy at the school.

Image source: WITI-TV video screenshot
Image source: WITI-TV video screenshot

Other statements on the “privilege test” included “I have never tried to hide my sexuality,” “I have never been called a terrorist” and “I have never been catcalled,” WITI reported.

Image source: WITI-TV video screenshot
Image source: WITI-TV video screenshot

“My child doesn’t know what that means, and she’s 13,” Goldman added to the station. “This is the age they’re teaching it? She doesn’t know what being catcalled means.”

WITI noted that an upset parent called West Bend police about the “privilege test.” A police spokesman confirmed to WITI that the call occurred but that police told the caller it was a school district matter.

What did school officials have to say?

“Some of the language in the questionnaire I can see why, as a parent of a 13, 14-year-old eighth grader, some people may feel as though those are topics that should be discussed in the home and not the classroom,” Badger Middle School Principal Dave Uelmen told the station.

Image source: WITI-TV video screenshot
Image source: WITI-TV video screenshot

Following the controversy, the district decided to stop administering the “privilege test,” but officials told WITI they stand behind the test’s core ideas.

“If we want our students to be successful when they go out into their careers in the future, they have to understand that not everyone is like them,” Assistant Superintendent Laura Jackson told the station.

Image source: WITI-TV video screenshot
Image source: WITI-TV video screenshot

The school’s job — or the parents’ job?

Goldman told WITI she ought to be the one to decide when such topics should come up with her daughter.

“As a parent, it’s my responsibility to teach my children the difference between right and wrong,” she told the station.