"Patriotic" school diffuses social media outrage
A lesson in critical thinking may show the need for more, as a classroom discussion sparks a controversy online.
This time, the internet outrage machine strikes the Adams Central Patriots.
“We're about as patriotic as they come,” superintendent Shawn Scott said.
The social media backlash came after students snapped photos and video of a discussion on gun control, with a poster equating Republicans with Nazis, showing the GOP elephant logo next to a swastika.
Scott said, “From my understanding we had a student bring in a flyer as part of a classroom discussion, that was probably politically charged and some people didn't like, some students didn't like.”
Commentators online picked it up, with some urging the district to fire the “communist teacher”, and others saying the school ought to lose funding for its "leftist" views.
“People blew it out of proportion and it caught a lot of attention nationally,” Scott said.
It got to the point the school responded on its Facebook page twice during the Easter holiday.
Scott said, “The school district uses social media all the time and there's a lot of positive things we try to promote, especially our students doing great things. here's the other side of it though. It can take a life of its own and grow in the wrong direction.”
Scott said they're investigating, but here's what they've learned: A student brought the flyer to an English class.
“It was not handed out, the teacher did not push it upon the students, it's a lot of the rumors out there,” Scott said.
He says kids were supposed to do a critical analysis, as they prepared for the pre-ACT test.
“They had a discussion on do you believe everything you see. You have to rationalize and make sure it's true before you react to it,” he said.
The district's lawyer helped craft a statement, saying, “The lesson was intended to develop students' ability to distinguish reliable viewpoints from unreliable viewpoints. Based on some of the comments we have received, it appears this is a skill worth developing.”
Scott said, “I guess word to the wise, we're all learning something out of it.”
The superintendent says much of the negativity has come from those outside the district. In some cases, he diffused that by reminding people what the mascot is, and how patriotism matters at the school.
“I told somebody on the phone in at least 10–15 years every day we have people stand up, say the pledge of allegiance every morning, I've never had a staff member or student object to that. Adams Central's just a great rural community,” Scott said.
To be clear, Scott says the district does not agree with the flyer's message.