'Inexcusable' Assignment at Middle School Spurs Outrage

'Blatant racism,' remarks one parent who's publicizing the Spanish homework at NY school
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2022 11:13 AM CST
Middle School Assignment Slammed for 'Blatant Racism'
   (Getty/Jardul)

(Newser) – A Western New York middle school is making headlines for a Spanish homework assignment that's drawing cries of "blatant racism." CNN reports that the assignment distributed last month to sixth graders at the Williamsville Central School District's Mill Middle School, located in a suburb of Buffalo, featured 10 sentences in English that the students had to translate into Spanish. Among the sentences were innocuous ones, including "We are serious students" and "I am a student at Mill." Others, however, immediately raised eyebrows, and drew outrage.

"You (friendly) are Mexican and ugly," read the second sentence on the worksheet. Further down came "You (politely) are pretty and American." Allison Wainick—a Hispanic parent in the district who was born in Colombia and whose spouse was born and raised in Latin America—slammed the school on Twitter after her stepdaughter brought home the assignment, noting she was "shocked" at the assignment "loaded with such blatant racism," per the Buffalo News. "Can we even begin to unpack all that is wrong here?" she wrote in her Jan. 10 tweet. "Who is developing this curriculum & where is the oversight?"

Her husband, Marcelo Florencio, likewise weighed in on the homework, telling the News he was "extremely disappointed" about the "disgusting and inexcusable language" contained in the assignment. Others who say they've attended the school (or are parents of those who have) made similar comments on social media, with at least one commenter noting they'd complained about this exact assignment three years ago at another middle school in the district, per CNN. The outlet notes the school district has fielded complaints in the past about possibly racist or offensive behavior.

Wainick notes she alerted the principal about the assignment on Dec. 21 but that her family didn't get any response until Jan. 10, when her husband warned they would escalate things if they didn't hear back. On Tuesday, the school district posted a public notice online decrying the "unacceptable" assignment it says was created by the teacher, who wasn't named. "We are addressing the situation to ensure this does not happen again," the district noted, adding it "does not condone any instructional material that denigrates our students, families, culture, or beliefs." A district spokesperson said no further comment would be made other than the statement, including on what, if any, discipline the teacher will face. (Read more racist stories.)

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