KATY, TX -- Is the existence of God fact? Opinion? A myth?
It’s an interesting intellectual discussion, perhaps, but is that topic appropriate for a seventh grade public school classroom? Well, we suppose that's debatable too.
Either way, 12-year-old Jordan Wooley says she felt her teacher was undermining faith by introducing this issue and assignment. So she went straight to the gods of the Katy district: the school board.
“She told anyone who said "fact" or "opinion" was wrong and that God was only a myth,” Wooley told the board, “I felt like this was really wrong, and I don’t think it's fair for my faith or religion to have anything to do with what I learn in school.”
After looking into the matter, the West Memorial Junior High released a statement saying in part: “The activity, which was intended to encourage critical thinking skills and dialogue by engaging students in an exercise wherein they identified statements as fact, opinion, or common assertion was not intended to question or challenge any student’s religious beliefs as reported by some media outlets. The teacher is distraught by this incident, as some commentary has gone as far as to vilify her without knowing her, her Christian faith, or the context of the classroom activity. Still, this does not excuse the fact that this ungraded activity was ill-conceived and because of that, its intent had been misconstrued. As a result, the activity will no longer be used by the school, and the teacher has been advised and appropriate personnel action will be taken.”
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) October 29, 2015
Katy ISD Superintendent Shares Results of Investigation on West Memorial Junior High Incident during Press Conference
October 28, 2015 – Today Katy ISD Superintendent Alton Frailey, Board President Charles Griffin and West Memorial Junior High Principal Gina Cobb shared the results of the investigation conducted regarding a class activity administered in a seventh grade class.
On October 26, two West Memorial Junior High parents contacted the school’s principal to share their concerns over a classroom activity that they felt questioned students’ religious beliefs. One parent and her student addressed the Board of Trustees on Monday and engaged various media outlets prior to allowing the principal an opportunity to investigate the incident. However, the investigation is now complete, and the District was able to provide the findings at a press conference today.
As he opened the press conference, Frailey said, “No student from Katy ISD will have their faith denounced. No student will be forced to take a failing grade for that. That’s just not going to happen.”
He added, “As a Christian, I too would be very concerned.”
The principal’s investigation revealed the following:
- The teacher did not ask students at any point to deny God and the statements of 11 students interviewed, including the student cited by the media, further corroborate that.
- The activity was not graded, nor was it ever intended to be graded. The teacher’s lesson plan also indicated that this was independent work. Statements from multiple, randomly selected students support the teacher’s statement that she never indicated that this activity would be graded, nor did the teacher indicate that it would be a test.
- No other teachers at WMJH used this activity in class. The teacher in question, did however, use it with her earlier classes on October 26.
- According to the teacher and other students interviewed, the teacher did not use the word “myth”. She asked the students to participate in a class activity in which they were to identify whether statements were a fact, opinion or commonplace assertion.
- According to student statements, the activity did not result in any arguments in the classroom. The teacher welcomed all students’ views.
- The school principal immediately investigated the incident and determined that the classroom activity included an item that was unnecessary for achieving the instructional standard.
- The teacher- developed activity is no longer being used by the teacher in question or the campus, and appropriate personnel action has been taken.
Today’s press conference was broadcast live. Click here for FAQs released by the District.