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Parents outraged after young students subjected to 'segregation experiment' to simulate racism

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Texas parents are voicing their outrage after their elementary students were subjected to a "segregation experiment" in the name of equity, according to WOAI-TV.

What happened?

In January, students in a fifth-grade classroom at Leon Springs Elementary in San Antonio were forced to participate in a classroom experiment in which they were separated into groups based on their hair color.

Brandi Lininger told WOAI that students with dark-colored hair "were treated as the privileged ones" while blonde and red-haired students were "treated not so nicely."

To simulate systemic racism, the group of non-privileged students were discriminated against in three ways:

  • They were told they were "not as intelligent" as the group of dark-haired students.
  • They were given a game with missing puzzle pieces.
  • They were forced to clean-up after the students of the privileged group.

Lininger said of her 10-year-old daughter, "She was hurt, her friends, and she named to the principal and to district officials, names of her friends that were crying."

To compound the problems, the teacher reportedly showed students a Spike Lee documentary about the infamous 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing in Alabama, which killed four young black girls in September 1963. The issue was the documentary contains graphic autopsy footage, which reportedly traumatized some of the fifth-grade students.

How did the school respond?

Northside ISD told WOAI in a statement the experiment will never be conducted again.

"The activity and video in question were part of a larger fifth-grade project-based lesson around the inequity of segregation," the statement said. "While the campus did receive positive feedback from several parents ... District and campus administration recognize the parent’s concerns and agree that the activity and video are not age-appropriate and will not be used again."

Still, Lininger said one of the problems with the experiment is that parents were not notified beforehand.

"They send us notes and newsletters about everything else. Your child is going to see The Polar Express and it's pajama day on Friday before winter break, and we get no notice that they're going to do a social experiment on segregation," she said.

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