Letters to the Editor

I’m commenting on the “Assignment Outrage” article from the Chicago Sun-Times on Feb. 20.

This article is about the assignment given to the kindergarteners for Black History Month at Sutherland Elementary School. For those of you who haven’t read the article written by Nader Issa, the white kindergarten teachers decided that the children should “take a closer look at African animals.”

Many of the black parents said that their children were sent home with pictures of monkeys to report on. The parents started a dialogue on social media referencing that animals in Africa have nothing to do with our homegrown heroes such as Barack and Michelle Obama, Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, Langston Hughes, George Washington Carver, Nat Turner, Ida B. Wells and Jackie Robinson.

The last time I was made aware of an insensitive comment was when actress/comedian Roseanne Bar tweeted about Valerie Jarrett, President Obama’s former aide, referred to her as offspring of “The Planet of the Apes.”

I’d like to presume that this was not the intention of the kindergarten teachers, but they have displayed an ignorance that may be hard to ignore.

Perhaps these teachers are tired of the children reporting on the well-known African-American heroes whose names and accomplishments appear year after year. Maybe they have trouble relating to Black History Month, but it is important for all children, no matter what their ethnicity, to learn about their American heritage. This includes the Founding Fathers, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin; American Native heroes, such as Cochise and Geronimo; Octaviano Larrazolo, the first elected Latino United States senator from New Mexico; and Ellen Ochoa, the first Latina to go into space on the Discovery space shuttle in 1993.

Teaching our children the alphabet and numbers may become redundant to some teachers, but a wise instructor should be creative enough to making learning an enjoyable task for our children. Therefore, the teachers should receive satisfaction that, as the children progress, they have done a satisfactory job. If these teachers are bored in the classroom, perhaps it is time for them to change their profession.

My family and I have lived in Beverly since 1981, and my youngest child attended Sutherland Elementary several years ago. I think that our community is a great one to live in.

I realize that times have changed and that incidents occur, but we must work together to resolve them.

Carole L. Piller