Parents outraged over 8th-grade grammar homework that tells of teacher’s brutal murder

Parents outraged over 8th-grade grammar homework that tells of teacher’s brutal murder

The assignment, intended for 8th-graders at an Oklahoma City school, was straightforward enough. Students were provided with a list of sentences that more or less told a story and asked to circle the verbs. Take a crack at it yourself. Here are several of the sentences from the worksheet:

He followed his teacher to the bathroom, beat her, and slit her throat.

He, then, dumped her body in the woods behind the school.

Police were notified when a pool of blood was found in the women’s bathroom.

No one knows what caused him to kill his teacher.

If you’re horrified by the age-inappropriateness of the subject matter, you’ll be more horrified still to learn that the events described are taken, with modifications, from an actual 2013 murder case in Massachusetts. In that killing the assailant — 14-year-old student Philip Chism — raped 24-year-old Colleen Ritzer with a tree branch before slashing her throat with a box cutter and dumping her body, which was naked. So perhaps the OKC teacher deserves points for changing some of the more lurid details of the story.

Colleen Ritzer and Philip Chism
Colleen Ritzer and Philip Chism

Station KWTV reports that the hopelessly misguided assignment was brought to their attention after 13-year-old Wyatt Nethercutt, a student at Western Heights Middle School, showed the worksheet to his parents. Said Larry Nethercutt, the boy’s father, “I don’t expect my son to be subjected to violence and they’re handing it out. He’s not looking for it, it’s given to him.”

Nethercutt said he met with the school teacher and principal and they told him his son could be exempt from uncomfortable assignments in the future. He wonders if other parents know the subject matter of their kids’ homework.

“I feel like I speak for the rest of the parents that this is not, this material shouldn’t even be in this school building. This should not even be an option,” Nethercutt told News 9.

Western Heights Superintendent Joe Kitchens said he was unaware of the assignment and promises to look into it. Kitchens said he is concerned about the content of the assignment and does not think it is appropriate.

This is not the first school handout to cross the line — in March a fourth-grade class was given an assignment that featured adultery — but this one certainly raises the bar on questionable teaching practices.

Its inappropriateness is punctuated by the many stories that have emerged in the last year that betray overzealous zero tolerance policies by school administrations. These include the expulsion of an 8-year-old who made a “gun” out of rolled-up paper and the first-grader facing a 1-year suspension for turning in toy gun accidentally brought to school.

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Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy has written for The Blaze, HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.


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